Good Thursday morning.
Oops. Spoiler alert.
That’s the punchline of a new TV commercial that Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Rep. Charlie Crist is launching in the Orlando market. It attacks Gov. Ron DeSantis’ legislative culture war battle with The Walt Disney Co. The ad charges that Governor’s Disney ire could result in tax increases in Orange and Osceola counties or statewide.
The 30-second ad, “DeSanTAX” responds to the Governor’s Special Session effort last week to push through and sign SB 4C. It set the clock ticking to abolish Disney World’s special district government in June 2023 in response to Disney’s perceived disloyalty toward DeSantis’ political agenda.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District holds $79 million in outstanding utilities revenue and refunding bonds and $766 million in property tax-backed bonds. If Reedy Creek is abolished, as called for by SB 4C, then some other government entity would have to take responsibility for those debts.
Orange and Osceola counties may be in line to do so. The Crist ad quotes Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, saying that could mean a 15-20% property tax increase in his county.
The spot quickly rolls through “DeSantis vs. Disney” news reports and Randolph’s assessment, then turns to Crist. He begins with his frequent criticism of the Governor: charging that all he really wants is to run for President.
“And he’s whipping up his base by attacking Disney. He doesn’t care that Disney brings thousands of tourists to Florida, or that his bill would cost taxpayers millions,” Crist says in the ad.
“Ron, if you want to run for President, do it,” Crist concludes. “But don’t make us pay your DeSanTAX.”
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
“Crist adds 10 more endorsements for his gubernatorial campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Crist has announced endorsements from 10 more elected officials for his 2022 gubernatorial campaign. The endorsements are from officials in Alachua, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties. They include Rep. Nick Duran, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe and Palm Bay Deputy Mayor Kenny Johnson. He also received support from former state Sens. Daryl Jones and Perry Thurston. “I’m honored to have earned the support of some of the most hardworking and committed leaders the Sunshine State has to offer,” Crist said.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings announced Wednesday that her U.S. Senate campaign will make a seven-figure investment into a Democratic voter mobilization group as she seeks to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
In a news release, the Congresswoman’s campaign said it would send $3 million to One Future Florida, which Florida Democrats launched last earlier this year in coordination with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Launched in January, One Future Florida is the earliest ever start to a midterm Democratic statewide coordinated campaign in Florida, Demings’ campaign noted. The organization houses Florida Democrats’ organizing, voter registration, voter protection, and data infrastructure for local, state, statewide and U.S. Senate election campaigns in 2022.
“We are building a historic movement across Florida to elect Chief Val Demings and Democrats up and down the ballot backed by unprecedented midterm fundraising from grassroots donors,” said Zack Carroll, Demings’ campaign manager.
“We know when voters hear our message, we win. Democrats will have the infrastructure we need to deliver our message in every community from the Panhandle to the Keys as we knock on doors, make calls, and engage voters wherever they’re found to defeat Marco Rubio and win throughout this state.”
Florida will add an estimated 4 million residents by 2030, and more people in the state means more people on the roads.
The state’s explosive growth presents some challenges, but it also brings opportunities to connect Florida’s communities to one another and global markets.
The intersection of those challenges and opportunities will be front and center at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2022 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit.
Kicking off this morning in Jacksonville, the event will feature panel discussions and talks delivered by some of Florida’s top business and transportation leaders, economic developers, logistics leaders, land and water experts, lawmakers and more.
Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson will open the event with an overview of how Florida can prepare for future growth, paving the way for a packed slate of speakers who will spell out how the Sunshine State can move forward.
Talks include a “Roadmap to Growing Florida to 2030” delivered by John Kaliski of Cambridge Systematics, “A Vision for Florida’s Infrastructure Future” by Rep. Sam Garrison, and “Leveraging Federal Infrastructure for Florida’s Future” by Florida Transportation Builders’ Association President and former Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad.
Panel segments will include discussing connected vehicles between Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority CEO Greg Slater and Honda chief engineer and division director Sue Bai.
The final frontier will also get some airtime when Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello, Lockheed Martin Space Florida site operations director George “Gordy” Houser, and Airbus OneWeb Satellites CEO James Hindstake the stage later in the day.
Here is the full agenda and link to registration.
“Survey: Americans support Holocaust education — and many of them need it” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a new survey shows that 10% of Americans believe the Holocaust has been exaggerated or did not happen and nearly a fifth think Jewish people are at least partially culpable for their systematic murder at the hands of Nazi Germany. The Holocaust Education Research Council survey asked 850 adults across the United States various questions about the Holocaust, finding a sizable portion are either underinformed or believe falsehoods. Still, the survey found that 93% of Americans think it is important to continue teaching about the Holocaust, and 80% believe something horrific like it could happen again. The survey was conducted by Sachs Media on April 21 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%.
Here is the link to the survey
Americans for Prosperity-Florida announced Thursday that it is adding longtime legislative policy and communications professional Carrie Patrick as its new deputy state director.
Patrick comes to AFP-FL with nearly two decades of experience in communications, policy, legislative, state executive government, and private industry.
“Filling the deputy state director position with a leader as experienced and dedicated as Carrie makes our organization even better equipped to continue advocating tirelessly for reforms that remove barriers to individual opportunity and success,” AFP-FL Director Skylar Zander said.
Patrick honed her policy and public affairs expertise working for Govs. Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, where she helped influence legislative and budget decisions for Florida. She also worked on the 2002 Bush-Brogan gubernatorial campaign and 2004 presidential campaign for George W. Bush.
Patrick also has private sector experience, having held positions at CoreMessage and, most recently, The GTM Group. Drawing on her extensive experience, she founded her own firm, Care-Comm, working on behalf of clients to influence public opinion and policies.
“Carrie’s knowledge at both the federal and state levels, combined with her private sector experience, is exciting for AFP-FL. I’m looking forward to working closely with her and our organization to help drive long-term solutions, and work toward resolving Florida’s and our country’s challenges,” Zander said.
Patrick fills the position previously held by Starla Brown, who left AFP-FL earlier this year to take the top position at Americans for Prosperity-Mississippi.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@MittRomney: Desperate polls call for desperate measures: Dems consider forgiving trillions in student loans. Other bribe suggestions: Forgive auto loans? Forgive credit card debt? Forgive mortgages? And put a wealth tax on the superrich to pay for it all. What could possibly go wrong?
She is eligible to vote. https://t.co/uvogou9D2j
— Al Cardenas (@AlCardenasFL_DC) April 27, 2022
—@TinaPolsky: Today, we remember the 6 million Jews who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis. Unfortunately, our area is ground zero for modern-day antisemitism, and we must constantly speak out against it and always remember the victims
—@Annette_Taddeo: Ron DeSantis cites the upcoming hurricane season as reasons for a Special Session on insurance — we’re from Florida, we knew hurricanes were coming during the Regular Session.
—@GrayRohrer: Looking forward to seeing Theodore Hayes‘ whiny letter to @GovRonDeSantis now that he’s vetoed the net metering bill.
—@JacobOgles: Are all these bots supposedly following people this week completely uninterested in the latest Florida redistricting news, or am I doing this wrong?
— DAYS UNTIL —
2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 1; White House Correspondents’ Dinner — 2; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 8; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 14; property insurance Special Session begins — 25; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 28; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 29; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 35; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 40; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 43; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 50; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 71; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 84; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 103; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 115; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 127; 2022 Emmys — 127; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 161; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 180; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 180; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 197; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 197; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 203; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 207; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 207; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 208; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 232; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 313; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 330; 2023 Session Sine Die — 372; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 400; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 456; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 540; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 701; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 820.
“Gov. DeSantis vetoes net metering bill” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — His reasoning: inflation. “Given that the United States is experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years and that consumers have seen steep increases in the price of gas and groceries, as well as escalating bills, the state of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing,” DeSantis wrote. Under net metering, electrical companies must buy back “banked” energy stored by homes at the retail rate. That energy is added to the utility’s grid and redistributed to non-solar customers. The measure — dubbed by critics the “anti-rooftop solar bill” (HB 741) — aimed to end the buyback mandate. The bill would have kicked in at the start of 2023 when panel owners will collect a 75% credit. Subsequently, returns would’ve fallen to 60% in 2026, 50% in 2027, and drop to the market rate in 2029. The measure also would have grandfathered in solar panel owners and lessees, allowing them to maintain their entry credit rate for 20 years.
Solar industry praises ‘net metering’ veto — DeSantis’ decision to veto a bill (HB 741) to decrease the rate Floridians are paid for the excess solar energy they generate earned him kudos from the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, a statewide organization that represents several corners of the solar industry, including manufacturers, contractors and financiers. “The rooftop solar industry employs more than 9,000 Floridians and gives every Florida resident the freedom to choose how they generate and use electricity,” FSEIA President Justin Vandenbroeck said. “Gov. DeSantis understands the value of solar as an economic engine and a powerful tool for energy independence here in the Sunshine State. His decision to veto this bill will allow our industry to continue growing and give more homeowners in our state the chance to lower their electric bills with solar.”
— 2022 —
Fox News to hold town hall with DeSantis on Thursday — The Ingraham Angle is coming to Orlando on Thursday for a town hall with DeSantis. The special edition is titled “The Ingraham Angle Town Hall: Florida and the American Comeback” and will cover topics that have made national headlines in recent weeks. According to a news release, the substance will primarily focus on the controversial parental rights legislation — dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics — and the fallout since DeSantis signed it into law. Others will take the stage alongside DeSantis, though Fox didn’t indicate who, simply saying that host Laura Ingraham “will moderate a panel of lawmakers and experts.” The guests will also take questions from a live audience throughout the forum. The town hall airs at 10 p.m. Thursday on Fox News.
“DeSantis amplifies 2024 chatter with trip to Nevada to campaign for Senate candidate Laxalt” via Steve Contorno of CNN — Coming off a showdown with Disney and a month of headlines for waging fights over hot-button social issues, DeSantis introduced himself to Republican primary voters in Nevada during a Wednesday campaign stop for US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt. DeSantis recounted for a packed Las Vegas bar his battles against the Biden administration and Disney and rattled off his conservative victories. He called Florida the ‘tip of the spear’ — a hint at possible future fights — and said Laxalt ‘will represent my voice in the United States Senate.’ ‘This is our opportunity to rattle the foundations of this decaying administration in Washington,’ DeSantis said.” … Ninety minutes before the event, more than 100 people were waiting outside Stoney’s Rockin’ Country near the Las Vegas Strip… ‘DeSantis is the future president of the United States, so I had to see him,’ said Jamie Fulmer, a practice manager for a local orthopedic surgeon who had vacationed in the Jacksonville area amid the pandemic ‘just to be in his state.’”
“Crist calls Reedy Creek dissolution ‘probably unconstitutional’” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — Crist said he believes the Legislature and DeSantis’ approval of legislation to strike Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District is “probably unconstitutional.” What spurred the legislation is The Walt Disney Co.’s vocal opposition to HB 1557, which bans the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity from K-3rd grade and opens the door for further limits at other grade levels. DeSantis said he was irked by a Disney statement while signing the bill that dissolves the district in 2023 last week. While signing the bill, DeSantis said Disney’s statement against HB 1557 was a move from an out-of-state corporation to “marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state.”
—“Crist rails against math textbook bans” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics
“‘A Governor for all her constituents’: South Miami Mayor, Commissioners endorse Annette Taddeo” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Four members of the South Miami City Commission, including the Mayor, have endorsed Miami Democratic Sen. Taddeo to be Florida’s next Governor. Taddeo’s campaign announced the endorsements Wednesday. They join numerous other current and former elected leaders who have thrown their support behind her. “I’m honored to receive the endorsement of these South Miami Commissioners and Mayor Sally Philips,” Taddeo said in a statement. “These representatives work tirelessly to serve the people of South Miami and are valuable additions to a statewide coalition of leaders committed to creating a better state for all Floridians.” Philips, who took office in February 2020 and has yet to decide if she will run for re-election, said she is “pleased and proud” to back Taddeo.
“Rory Diamond decides against CD 4 run” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — After no small amount of speculation, Jacksonville City Councilman Diamond confirmed … early Wednesday morning that he will not seek the Republican nomination for the newly-drawn seat in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. “With Gov. DeSantis’ leadership, Northeast Florida gained a new congressional seat,” Diamond said in a tweet thread.
“Eric Lynn will continue his campaign in CD 13 regardless of new map” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Lynn says he’s staying in the race for the seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. He’s also hoping the courts will step in and stop DeSantis’ controversial congressional cartography. “I refuse to let this illegal and unconstitutional map stand without a fight, and I will be running in Florida 13 regardless of what the lines are,” Lynn said. “I am a lifelong native of Pinellas, graduate of Pinellas County Public Schools, send my kids to Pinellas County Public Schools, and I am running to represent the people of Pinellas and our shared values in Washington.”
“Hava Holzhauer, former ADL Florida leader, running for Congress” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Holzhauer announced Wednesday that she’s seeking the Democratic nomination for an open Broward-Palm Beach County congressional seat. Rep. Ted Deutch, is vacating the seat. Deutch will leave office early, on Oct. 1, when he becomes CEO of the American Jewish Committee. Holzhauer, a former Florida regional director of the ADL, describes herself on Twitter as a “lifelong advocate and fighter for justice” and the “voice of possibility & progress — delivering results.” “Florida is facing many challenges, from the growing threat of climate change, the rising cost of prescription drugs, and protecting Social Security and Medicare. The country is likewise facing many challenges, with attacks on freedoms and equality having become commonplace,” she said in a written statement.
“Carlos Giménez adds $260K in Q1 through unions, GOP donors” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Giménez enjoyed the support of unions, business associations and a multitude of his fellow Republicans while raising more than $260,000 in the first quarter of 2022 to defend his seat in Congress. According to his filings with the Federal Elections Commission, by the end of last month, the former Miami-Dade County Mayor had more than $1.2 million to fend off three challengers with significantly shallower pockets. Some 90 people gave to Giménez between Jan. 1 and March 31, with donations ranging from $15 to $5,800, the upper limit of what candidates can accept from individual donors, equal to $2,900 each for the Primary and General elections.
Public employee union backs Jason Pizzo for re-election — Sen. Pizzo’s re-election campaign on Wednesday picked up an endorsement from the state chapter of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “Sen. Jason Pizzo has been a champion for Florida’s working families and a vigorous advocate for respect for all members of our community. We need strong leaders like Sen. Pizzo to protect our collective bargaining and voting rights, and personal liberties from political attacks. AFSCME Florida is proud to enthusiastically endorse his re-election,” said AFSCME Florida President and International VP Vicki Hall. Pizzo, currently the only candidate filed to run in the Senate District 37, said of the endorsement: “I am forever grateful to have the support of the workers that keep our society going each and every day.”
“Ileana García faced some new Miami Beach constituents. They were not happy” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — With the brand-new Florida Senate district map approved ahead of this year’s election, some incumbents are starting to pitch themselves to their new voters. And after a Legislative Session riddled with contentious bills and viral moments, some of those encounters come with more than a little friction. Take Miami Sen. García’s example. An unapologetic conservative — García founded the “Latinas for Trump” coalition and worked as a spokesperson for the Donald Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security — she showed up to answer questions Tuesday morning from liberal voters in South Beach. Attendees did not hold back.
“HD 36 candidate Rich Santos helps move dogs away from fire” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Well, that’s maybe one vote secured, at least. House District 36 Republican candidate Santos spent part of his Tuesday morning helping get three dogs to get away from a fire in Sanford. Santos is an Orange County master deputy, soon to retire. But on this day, he was a passerby who noticed smoke as he drove by a house, noticed frantic people running about the front yard, and finally saw flames leaping up from behind the house. So, he pulled over to see if anyone needed help. It turned out a backyard shed was on fire, and the fire had spread to a screen enclosure and another storage structure. Dogs were penned in next to it. People had already called 911.
“DeSantis signs Keys derelict vessel, land authority bills” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed a pair of bills affecting the Florida Keys’ coastline, including a measure addressing derelict boats in the Keys (SB 1432) and a second proposal dealing with a public-private agency that is unique to Monroe County (SB 442). Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Rep. Jim Mooney carried both measures through the Legislature. Lawmakers approved both bills unanimously during this year’s Legislative Session.
“Chris Sprowls’ literacy initiative hits $50M private funding goal” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Sprowls announced Wednesday that his statewide book delivery program is now fully funded thanks to $50 million in commitments from corporate sponsors The “New Worlds Reading Initiative,” a Sprowls priority, was approved by lawmakers in the 2021 Legislative Session. It aims to boost the literacy rate among elementary school students by providing struggling readers with physical books at their personal reading level. The program also provides parents with resources to help their children learn to read. When the Legislature established the program, it created an avenue for corporate sponsors to receive a tax credit for donating to the program. The initial cap was $50 million, though lawmakers upped it to $60 million in the 2022 Legislative Session.
“Bill language being ‘worked out’ as Florida’s property insurance Session nears” via Forrest Saunders of WPTV — There is a proclamation, goal, and dates for May’s Special Session on property insurance in Florida. All the public needs now is actual legislation. The Governor’s Office said the “bill language is still being worked out and will be available closer to the Special Session.” DeSantis’ priorities include dropping prices, offering more choices, and stabilizing the market ahead of hurricane season. Lawmakers tell us any significant change will likely require multiple bills targeting tort reform and beyond. Sen. Jeff Brandes, one of the loudest advocates for an insurance-focused Special Session, was hopeful the broad scope of the Governor’s proclamation meant meaningful legislation was ahead.
Seminole Tribe pauses Compact payments as legal fight continues — The Seminole Tribe of Florida has halted revenue sharing payments to the state as legal challenges seeking to invalidate the new Gaming Compact press forward in court, Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports. The stop-payment comes after a federal judge blocked the entirety of the Compact over a challenge related to provisions that would have allowed the Tribe to oversee sports betting on non-tribal lands. The Tribe had agreed to pay the state $500 million a year under the agreement, up from $350 million in the previous Gaming Compact. “Until the litigation is resolved, the Tribe is making revenue share payments based on the 2021 Gaming Compact into escrow,” Tribe spokesperson Gary Bitner said.
“Janet Cruz says racism plays a part in decision to not expand Medicaid” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Sen. Cruz contended that racism has played a role in the state’s decision not to expand the nation’s health care safety net program to low-income, childless adults as allowable under the federal law. “In my opinion, it is indeed a racist attitude to think that the poor don’t deserve health care. It’s not a privilege. Health care is not a privilege. It should be a basic right,” Cruz said on a conference call. Florida is one of 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid to uninsured adults as allowed under the federal law often referred to as “Obamacare.” Democratic candidates have tried to make expansion a campaign issue in the last several elections.
Just because it’s not illegal, doesn’t make it right — “Randy Fine’s threats to pull funding over Jennifer Jenkins feud wrong, likely not illegal, experts say” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — Rep. Fine‘s threats to pull funding from the Special Olympics and the city of West Melbourne over a personal feud with a Brevard County School Board member were probably not illegal and may not even be a violation of the Florida ethics code. Four experts in law and ethics said that while the threats seemed like a clear abuse of power, it’s not likely any laws were broken. Fine last week told West Melbourne City Councilman John Dittmore that state funding for the Special Olympics and a city flood risk reduction project was “at-risk” because city police officials had invited Brevard School Board member Jenkins to participate in a Special Olympics fundraiser held by the West Melbourne Police Department but failed to invite Fine.
“Legislators mostly silent on Fine’s threats to pull Special Olympics funding” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — State lawmakers have been largely silent in the wake of text messages showing Florida Rep. Fine had threatened state funding for the Special Olympics over a personal feud with a Brevard County School Board member. Since news of the texts broke over the weekend, at least two of Fine’s Democratic House colleagues have acknowledged the incident on social media. Few if any Republican state leaders mentioned the scandal publicly. Most of those contacted by reporters did not respond to calls and messages, and none who were reached would agree to comment.
— STATEWIDE —
“Disney government in dark about effect of law dissolving it” via The Associated Press — At the first meeting of Walt Disney World’s private government since DeSantis signed into law a measure to dissolve it next year, officials said they were still confused about what the new legislation meant, even as some ripple effects were starting to be felt. The administrator of the government, called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, said the expansion of a solar power project could be delayed because of financing challenges linked to the legislation, and the union for the district’s firefighters expressed concerns about what the dissolution might mean for members’ lifetime benefits. Donald Greer, who has been a member of Reedy Creek’s board of supervisors since 1975, said the board could not provide clear answers on those issues because “we don’t know where we are going.”
“Disney strategy is to stay silent to soften DeSantis’ blow” via Robbie Whelan and Arian Campo-Flores of The Wall Street Journal — After DeSantis pushed lawmakers to pass a bill to eliminate The Walt Disney Co.’s special tax benefits in Florida, the company, which boasts one of the largest and most influential lobbying teams in the state, crafted a new strategy: Keep its mouth shut. Disney had been burned too many times over the past two months tangling with DeSantis, the company’s allies in the state Legislature said, and keeping quiet would give the company the best shot at working out a resolution with the Governor. After initially enlisting sympathetic lawmakers to help it fight back and delay the passage of the bill, the company’s about-face is a fresh reminder of the perils companies face when they weigh in on hot-button issues.
“Another version of the Disney bill would have let DeSantis accomplish his political goals without trampling on free speech or the economy” via Sarah Rumpf of Mediaite — DeSantis and the Republicans in the Legislature could have fought their culture war against Mickey Mouse without worrying about the myriad legal challenges and complaints from Central Florida taxpayers who don’t want to foot the bill, if they’d just been a little less aggressive in their bill drafting. The bill DeSantis signed last week has been sharply criticized as a violation of the First Amendment for retaliating against Disney’s criticism of the Parental Rights in Education bill, a catastrophic burden on taxpayers of Orange and Osceola counties, and in conflict with existing Florida law. But a different version of the bill introduced by Sen. Gary Farmer would have allowed DeSantis to accomplish his political goals without invoking all these free speech, local government law, and economic issues.
“LGBTQ groups post billboards declaring Florida the ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans State’” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Following a lawsuit challenging Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education,” or “Don’t Say Gay” law, LGBTQ advocates are launching a billboard campaign that proclaims Florida “The ‘Don’t Say Gay Or Trans’ State.” According to its news release, the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization representing the LGBTQ community, unveiled billboards in cities throughout the state, where they’ll stand for the next several weeks. The sites included Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando, and South Florida. The billboards read: “Gov. Ron DeSantis Welcomes You to Florida,” with the “sunshine” part of the state nickname stricken by a red banner and replaced with “Don’t Say Gay or Trans.” The billboards criticize DeSantis and other proponents of the law limiting LGBTQ topics in classrooms.
“Program that shirked duty to help kids with brain damage could face a costly reckoning” via Daniel Chang and Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — For years, a Florida program that pledged to pay the health care costs of children who suffered catastrophic brain injuries at birth has been saving millions of dollars by shifting the costs to taxpayers. The tab was supposed to be picked up by the program using a pot of money fed with fees paid by doctors and hospitals but instead was billed to taxpayer-financed Medicaid. Now the bill for that financial sleight of hand may come due. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a whistleblower lawsuit challenging the longtime policy of Florida’s Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA, can move forward.
“Black farmers line up for medical marijuana license, but wait continues” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Regulators of Florida’s medical marijuana industry are currently perusing applications from Black farmers for the highly sought license to grow marijuana. The application window for new licenses, which were newly made available because of the growing number of medical marijuana patients, lasted from March 21 to 25. But after a five-year wait, it’s still unclear when a decision will be made on which applicant will get a license. The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use oversees the industry and is reviewing the licenses.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Democrats launch attempt to rescue Biden’s economic agenda” via Andrew Duehren of The Wall Street Journal — Democrats began a last-ditch effort to cobble together a narrower version of Biden‘s once-sweeping economic plan that could win the critical support of Sen. Joe Manchin and hand the party a legislative victory ahead of the fall’s elections. Manchin met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss the possibility of a party-line package focused on raising taxes and reducing the budget deficit, and he convened a group of lawmakers from both parties on Monday to discuss ways to bolster energy production, another priority for Manchin.
“Biden signals he’s open to canceling student loans” via Seung Min Kim and Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post — Biden gave his strongest indication yet in a private meeting with House Democrats that he is poised to take significant action to relieve student loans, a move that could include canceling tens of thousands of dollars in debt for some people. Biden signaled multiple times that he was prepared to extend the current moratorium and potentially take executive actions canceling some of the debt altogether.
Spotted — U.S. Sen. Rubio on Fox & Friends, where he discussed the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S.-Mexico border, and China.
To watch the clip, click on the image below:
—“Rick Scott not sold on student loan forgiveness” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“Scott unsure of effects of ending Disney’s special status” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Speculation is swirling about what it will actually mean for Florida to end Disney’s special taxing district, and even a former Governor of the state is unsure what the path will entail. Sen. Scott said he was still trying to “understand” variables regarding the statutorily mandated sunset of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The most recent Special Session included legislation (SB 4C) to repeal the now-controversial Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which grants Walt Disney World functional autonomy to govern itself, in the wake of the company pledging to work to repeal the Parental Rights in Education bill.
“Scott sidesteps question about whether GOP wants Donald Trump back on Twitter” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Many Republicans reveled at Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, eager to see Trump back on the medium that fueled his political magic in the last decade, even as Trump says he won’t return. Yet some Trump allies are quieter in advocating the President’s return to the world of 280-character constructions. Among them: Scott. During a Bloomberg Television interview Wednesday afternoon, Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, sidestepped a specific question about the former President’s return and how it would affect Republican Senate candidates.
“Marco Rubio, Scott lead bipartisan push to bring Space Force training HQ to Space Coast” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Sens. Rubio and Scott are on board to bring the Space Force’s training headquarters to the Space Coast. So is a bipartisan group that includes U.S. Reps. Bill Posey, Crist, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto, Matt Gaetz, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, among others. The state’s two Senators and 23 of its 27 members of the U.S. House signed onto a letter to the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall this week asking for STARCOM, the Space Training and Readiness Command, which is one of three Space Force field command units, to be based at Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Brevard County.
“Steve Scalise and Gaetz meet privately after tension over leaked audio” via Olivia Beavers of POLITICO — Reps. Scalise and Gaetz met to discuss leaked audio of the House minority whip suggesting the Florida firebrand may have acted illegally after the Capitol riot. And Scalise isn’t quite offering a full-throated apology. The private sit-down followed Gaetz’s scathing rebuke of the top two House GOP leaders over leaked audio that showed them criticizing conservatives in their conference. The tape features Scalise calling Gaetz’s actions after the Jan. 6 insurrection “potentially illegal,” referencing the latter’s comments hitting Rep. Liz Cheney and other fellow Republicans.
“Ilhan Omar claims DeSantis election police force will ‘intimidate, harass, and punish poor and Black voters’” via Adam Sabes of Fox News — Rep. Omar claimed that Florida’s new police force dedicated to voter fraud and other crimes related to elections will be used to “intimidate, harass, and punish poor and Black voters.” DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that establishes an “Office of Election Crimes and Security” dedicated to investigating voter fraud allegations. In a tweet on Wednesday, Omar said that the new police force will be used to target Black voters, adding that “voter fraud is about as common as getting struck by lightning.” Bryan Griffin, deputy secretary for the Florida Governor’s Office, told Fox News Digital that Omar is making a “dishonest straw man argument.”
“This year’s House battlefield is almost locked in. The next decade is still wide-open.” via Zach Montellaro of POLITICO — The midterm House map is nearly complete. Six months before Election Day, just a few straggling states are waiting to finalize their lines, and a handful of court cases challenging new lines are outstanding. Several of the legal cases are in large states with many districts and the chance to materially affect the national map, including New York, where the state’s high court heard an argument Tuesday to throw out Democrats’ gerrymander, and Florida, where DeSantis’ new gerrymandered map has been challenged. But while more than a dozen states have ongoing redistricting litigation, operatives and legal experts say that in many places, the fast-approaching 2022 primaries leave little time for more court action this year.
“Trump officials overruled Pentagon to approve pandemic loan, emails show” via Yeganeh Torbati and Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — Senior Trump administration officials overruled Pentagon staffers to provide a politically connected trucking firm with hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic aid after a concerted lobbying effort. In 2020, career employees at the Defense Department decided that they should not certify that Kansas-based Yellow Corp. was critical to maintaining national security, which would mean the company could not qualify for a loan program created by Congress earlier in the pandemic, the investigation found. They communicated that decision to the Treasury Department on June 24, 2020. But the Trump appointees ignored that decision. Yellow Corp was lent $700 million.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“City Manager shakes up City Hall leadership in reorganization, issues $225K in raises” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Top city officials announced the promotion of nine people to senior leadership positions they say will be beneficial to the community while also not increasing the budget or number of positions. City Manager Reese Goad said the promotions are an investment in municipal employees and reflect a commitment to service. Each promotion, which includes the naming of three new assistant City Managers, comes with a substantial raise as well, totaling more than $225,700 in salary changes. “Change is rapid in today’s world, and we must keep pace to ensure organizational effectiveness as outlined in our five-year strategic plan,” Goad said in a statement.
“School district OKs funding for sheriff’s men and boy’s council to target youth violence” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Schools finally agreed to fund the Council on the Status of Men and Boys at a school board meeting Tuesday night. The district will give $70,000 of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office initiative to take on the root causes of a surge in youth violence. The money will not come out of the district’s general fund. “We need to do a deep dive into these neighborhoods and see exactly why these kids are turning to violence, especially gun violence,” said Superintendent Rocky Hanna.
“Florida soccer coach leaving after complaints by players over comments about eating habits, bodies” via Fresh Take Florida — The new soccer coach for the University of Florida is leaving under pressure after its worst-ever season. The decision came amid unprecedented numbers of players leaving the program after his hiring and complaints by athletes who said he pressured them about eating habits and their bodies. Florida’s athletic director, Scott Stricklin, notified players of the decision regarding coach Tony Amato after only one season in a private meeting Wednesday. That came just before Stricklin and Amato were scheduled to discuss the complaints in separate one-on-one media interviews for an investigative news article that was to be published later this week. The university was careful not to describe Amato’s departure as a resignation or say whether he was fired.
“Gators football found opponent it couldn’t block: Parking enforcers” via Fresh Take Florida — The University of Florida football team found an opponent it couldn’t block: Campus parking enforcers have issued hundreds of tickets to players parked illegally around the stadium during mandatory practices. On the sprawling campus of 2,000 acres at the state’s flagship university, where finding parking can be a daily challenge for students, faculty and employees, Florida’s new coach, Billy Napier, found a solution: free parking for his players in a convenient lot and forgiving fines for up to 10 tickets each. The university athletic association, responsible for all Florida Gators intercollegiate sports, leased the parking lot for football players starting this semester for nearly $12,000 for the first year.
This story looks familiar — “Political rift dogs Orlando airport board chair at vulnerable time for OIA” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Control of Orlando’s airport has long been held by Governor appointees easily able to thwart the Mayors of the city and Orange County. Five volunteer appointees and the two Mayors comprise the airport’s board. Among their big decisions is picking one of their own as chair, rarely a Mayor, whose tenure typically evolves into a reign of influence lasting years over lucrative contracts, employees, industry players and new initiatives.
“Citrus County seeks funding solution to repave roads” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — For eight years, Citrus County Commissioners have tried to get a handle on residential road resurfacing. The task is daunting: Nearly 800 miles of county roads need repaving at an estimated cost of $123 million. Commissioners set aside a minimum of $3 million a year for road resurfacing, funding hit $6 million this year, but they acknowledge the need is greater than the amount of money to pay for it. In recent months, they’ve bantered the idea of asking voters to approve a penny sales tax increase to pay for it. An additional penny would bring in about $12 million to $16 million annually, but Commissioners acknowledge the uphill climb of convincing voters to approve it. Now, though, they’ve focused on another method.
“Carlos Beruff among suitors for Citrus County land purchase” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — A Sarasota developer who chaired the Constitution Revision Commission is the potential front-runner to buy the former Betz Farm property near Crystal River. Citrus County Commissioners delayed a decision for two weeks to allow three competing developers to submit their final offers. The county has two offers for the full ask of $5.5 million and a third offer Friday for $6 million from Beruff, managing partner of both Medallion Home and Charlie Michaels Inc., of Sarasota. Commissioners were leaning toward the Beruff offer during a meeting Tuesday but agreed on a delay when one of the developers complained he wasn’t given time to bring a counteroffer.
“Joel Greenberg, wife finalize divorce as ex-Seminole Tax Collector awaits sentencing” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Greenberg and his estranged wife, Abby Greenberg, are now officially divorced after a circuit judge on Monday finalized the couple’s break up. The pair separated just over a year ago when the former Seminole County tax collector was last arrested on March 2, 2021. He was charged with 33 federal crimes and eventually pleaded guilty to six felonies, including sex trafficking of a child, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, creating fake driver’s licenses, and conspiracy to bribe a public official.
“Chris Worrell makes first public comment on Jan. 6 role, says he’s a ‘political prisoner’” via Rachel Heimann Mercader and Michael Braun of the Naples Daily News — Worrell made a tearful plea to Collier County Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting, calling himself a “political prisoner” whose civil rights have been violated when he was charged for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. It is the first comment he has made in public following his release from federal custody to home detention late last year, citing medical conditions and the need for specialized treatment. Worrell, who lives in East Naples and is a member of the Proud Boys, is accused of attacking police officers with pepper spray gel during the riot. In March 2021, he was taken into federal custody after FBI agents executed a search and arrest warrant at his Collier County home.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Burned out in Broward: 911 system needs fixing now” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — “911, what’s your emergency?” Frantic callers across Broward hear a version of that question hundreds of times a day from the county’s highly trained 911 operators. But the true emergency is in the 911 system itself, where a crisis has been festering for far too long. Sun Sentinel reporters have documented in frightening detail how calls to Broward’s 911 centers go unanswered — 14,505 calls in February alone. What’s especially troubling is that this is not a new crisis, as this newspaper has documented the system’s shortcomings for years. These unresolved failures are a microcosm of the story of Broward County itself, where inefficiencies in government become chronic and linger, year after year.
“Report by state attorneys who declined to prosecute Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony left out key facts about perjury investigation” via Dan Christensen of FloridaBulldog — When state prosecutors decided in January not to charge Broward Sheriff Tony with felony perjury for lying under oath on his application for a replacement driver’s license, the prosecutor’s memo announcing and explaining that decision omitted significant facts. The facts are contained in the tape-recorded, sworn statement of the Florida driver’s license examiner who took Tony’s license application. A two-year FDLE investigation determined Tony repeatedly lied about his past when applying for law-enforcement jobs and training, including keeping secret his 1993 arrest for murder in Philadelphia when he was 14. Tony, who was later acquitted in juvenile court, declined to be interviewed by FDLE agents.
“Prosecutors and defense clash over motion to block the death penalty in Parkland mass shooting case” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A judge’s willingness to strike more than 200 jurors from consideration in the Parkland mass shooting trial was an error so significant, according to lawyers for the defendant, that the state should no longer be permitted to seek the death penalty. Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz filed a motion on Wednesday morning asking Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to end jury selection and prepare to sentence Cruz to life in prison for the murders of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. At the very least, defense lawyers argue, the judge must reinstate the jurors she previously struck. Prosecutors fired back with a response early Wednesday afternoon, calling the defense arguments baseless.
“Prosecutors exonerate Miami man who spent decades in prison for murder” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Prosecutors on Wednesday exonerated Miami’s Thomas Raynard James, who has spent more than three decades behind bars for a murder he has long insisted he did not commit. James, now 55, has been in Florida prison since he was convicted in 1991 for the robbery and shooting death of Francis McKinnon in a Coconut Grove apartment. James was serving a life sentence. “The state concludes that Thomas Raynard James is actually innocent and should be exonerated of the charges,” according to the State Attorney’s motion to the judge. The decision was announced at a news conference Wednesday. “I’m so grateful that Jay gets to walk out of here and live his life,” said his lawyer, Natlie Figgers.
“Wreck Bar mermaid sues Broward Sheriff’s Office for invasion of privacy” via Bob Norman of The Miami New Times — Finding herself vilified on TikTok by a self-styled witch and spotting a Broward County sheriff’s lieutenant literally climbing her wall, Whitney Fair was at her wits’ end. She had no idea being a mermaid could be so stressful. The trouble had nothing to do with the actual mermaid shows she performs at the historic Wreck Bar on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The 41-year-old Fair enjoys swimming in what’s billed as America’s only underwater burlesque show. However, it was from the social side that her misery came, specifically in the form of a fellow Aquaticat named Mia Mellies. Mellies’ departure began what Fair describes as a three-year nightmare of harassment and conflict that now is on its way to a federal courtroom.
“Proposed federal condo act would help owners fund vital structural repairs” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Relief from those dreaded special assessments that condo owners must pay to fund building repairs is a considerable way off. But a bill recently introduced in Congress by Florida Reps. Crist and Schultz could take some of the pressure off associations whose member-owners are hard-pressed to pay, according to the Community Association Institute, a Virginia-based industry advocate that supports the measure. Under the Securing Access to Financing for Exterior Repairs in Condos Act, owners would be able to obtain low-interest loans to fund repairs through two programs guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“South Florida rents top New York area after tri-county region sees highest rent increases in the country” via Amber Randall of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The South Florida region saw the highest rent increases in the country in the past year, with some rents more than doubling. According to the latest data from Realtor.com, the median rent in the tri-county area jumped 57% from March 2021 to March 2022. The region had the highest rent increases out of the 50 metro areas analysts studied, making South Florida’s median rent more expensive than even the New York metro area. “South Florida has benefited from a broader interest in relocation. While affordability is eroding as rents rise, Florida’s lack of income tax makes it an attractive target for households looking to relocate, particularly from higher-tax areas,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.
“Health insurance members lose in-network access to Memorial Healthcare as contract disputes increase” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — France Karr woke up on April 1 preparing to arrive at Memorial Hospital Miramar for an important surgical procedure at 10 a.m. At 6:30 a.m., she received a phone call from the hospital telling her that the procedure was canceled. It was no April Fool’s prank. The caller told Karr that the operation’s cost would not be covered because Memorial Healthcare’s contract to provide services to insurance giant Humana’s Medicare Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) members expired the night before after the two sides could not reach agreement on reimbursement rates. That left Karr with two unappealing choices — stay with her preferred surgeon and pay sky-high out-of-network rates or hunt for another surgeon at another in-network hospital.
“Who wants a new $1 billion trash incinerator? Not Doral, where the old one stinks” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — They say it ruins barbecues and pool days. That it cuts short strolls through the park. That it sticks to their hair and clothes, even when they come inside. It’s that smell, that awful smell, maybe the most common complaint, right after traffic, in a booming city with good schools and low crime. “It’s disgusting. Like eggs. A chemical odor that burns your nose” said Gina Romero, who has organized with other neighbors in Doral to push the county into addressing the foul emissions from the sprawling Covanta waste-to-energy plant. The facility is the keystone of the county’s garbage processing system, burning about half the entire county’s garbage 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Of the 3,000 odor complaints the city of Doral received from 2016 to 2021, the majority named Covanta as the source.
“Where are the turtles? Inside Juno Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s water quality, staffing issues” via Katherine Kokal of the Palm Beach Post — The only sea turtles that visitors to Loggerhead Marinelife Center will see right now are those whose images are printed on T-shirts in the gift shop. The big turtle tanks at the center on U.S. 1 in Juno Beach have been empty since early April because Loggerhead is facing issues with its water quality that have disqualified it from hosting and rehabilitating sea turtles — its signature activity since it opened in 1983. The center’s problems go beyond the tanks supposed to hold the green, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles that nest on northern Palm Beach County’s beaches. The popular destination has also seen three turtles’ deaths and a run of departures from staff members.
—TOP OPINION —
“How a purple state got a bright red sheen” via David Graham of The Atlantic — In national politics, as in Florida (and some other states as well), the structural design of government, for example the Senate, allows minorities or pluralities that hold power to enact policies that are unpopular or considerably more extreme than the general population would support. But national politics also creates different constraints on the executive. A President would struggle to replicate DeSantis’s power over the state Legislature. Governors who are elevated to the presidency are often caught up short by how much harder it is to wield power at the national level.
By some indications, DeSantis may have pushed the envelope too far with his attack on Disney. The revocation of its tax status seems more likely to hurt local residents than the company itself, and DeSantis is opening himself up to accusations that he forced an increase in property taxes on citizens. Meanwhile, prominent conservative writers and donors have criticized the move as unnecessary and unwise. These critiques don’t constitute a break with DeSantis, but they might constitute a brake on DeSantis. Trump had no problem ignoring such friendly fire, because he owed little of his rise to the conservative and GOP infrastructure, but these people are DeSantis’ constituency. This might be one of the few forces able to constrain him.
— OPINIONS —
“Disney punishment signals danger for corporations that take a stand” via Darryl K. Jones of the Orlando Sentinel — The right to free speech and to participate in political debate is the biggest casualty in DeSantis’ culture wars, particularly his latest offensive against Disney for its voiced opposition to the so-called “don’t say gay” bill. Regardless of one’s position on the bill, critical race theory, or even mandated masks in public schools, every thinking person of whatever political persuasion ought to be aghast at the Governor’s use of the state taxing and regulatory power to punish political speech.
“Florida, the vanguard of freedom?” via Brandon T. Jett for The Fort Myers News-Press — Florida is the freest state in the nation … at least this is the constant refrain coming out of the Republican Party as we gear up for the 2022 election cycle. This idea emanates from the office of DeSantis, who consistently reiterates this mantra. In his 2022 State of the State address, he boasted, “Florida has stood strong as the rock of freedom, and it is upon this rock that we must build Florida’s future.” However, if you are paying attention, this could not be further from the reality of what is happening here in Florida. While you may agree or disagree with some of the policies championed by the Republican Party, you cannot, in good faith, argue that the state is the vanguard of freedom in the country.
“Jackson County community leaders pave the way for effective redistricting — other counties should follow” via Linda Franklin for Florida Politics — In 1992, Jackson County elected its first-ever Black County Commissioner, and that District 1 seat is still held by a Black officeholder. In 2018, the county elected its first Black school board member, and that seat is also represented by the preferred candidate of the Black community. These two significant moments had one crucial thing in common: The power of Black voters. After the 2020 census, the county had an opportunity to review the accuracy and fairness of its voting districts. It was not easy to reach a consensus on new maps. But members of the County Commission and School Board, county and school district staff, NAACP leaders and branch members, and Supervisor of Elections Carol Dunaway worked together to craft new lines and try to protect local activists’ hard-fought gains of the past.
“Florida must seize chance to close digital divide” via Glenton Gilzean Jr. for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — For billions of people around the world, on-demand internet access has become such a routine part of our everyday lives. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a time when the internet has not been a click or tap away. Given this fact, it is likely to surprise most people that even today, there are still hundreds of thousands of Floridians with little or no access to broadband internet services. In my community, this is not due to a lack of infrastructure, but a more basic reason which we call the digital divide: high internet costs and/or a lack of technological skills. As my organization’s overarching mission is to end generational poverty through education, employment and entrepreneurship, we believe that achieving this goal can only come by closing the digital divide in our community.
— ALOE —
“Disney debuts first look at David O. Russell’s star-packed film, ‘Lightyear’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ at CinemaCon” via Chris Gardner, Carolyn Giardina, and Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter — The Walt Disney Co. took over the main stage at CinemaCon on Wednesday morning for a 90-minute session that promises to deliver exclusive footage of upcoming films including the anticipated 3D reveal of “Avatar 2” along with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Lightyear,” Russell’s untitled and star-packed film, and “Bob’s Burgers.” Tony Chambers, executive VP of theatrical distribution, kicked off the morning by acknowledging the changing entertainment landscape while countering with “one thing that hasn’t changed and never will is the power of the movies.”
“‘Elvis’ movie wows CinemaCon with Doja Cat, ‘superhero’ story for ‘a younger generation’” via Patrick Ryan of Yahoo News — Baz Luhrmann is throwing out the rulebook for his upcoming Elvis Presley film. “Elvis” (in theaters June 24) tracks three decades in the life and career of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, played by former Nickelodeon and Disney Channel actor Austin Butler. But as Luhrmann explained to theater owners at CinemaCon Tuesday, “this isn’t really a biopic.” Rather, the movie “is about America in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s,” viewed through the prism of Presley’s astronomical rise and fall. “You will hear the classics, you will see the story of Elvis, but we’ve also translated that for a younger generation,” Luhrmann said.
The only story that matters — “Disney Cruise Line juggles deployment with 5-ship fleet for summer 2023” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — With a full five-ship fleet at its disposal, Disney Cruise Line spread the love with its deployment for summer 2023. While the new ships Disney Wish and Disney Fantasy will remain at Port Canaveral, Disney Dream gets to travel across the Atlantic instead of sending Disney Magic like normal. Disney Magic will stay in the Caribbean sailing both out of PortMiami but also some Southern Caribbean trips departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Disney Wonder will remain on the West Coast as it performs Alaska summer sailings.
U.S. Sugar partners with the Teen Aircraft Factory of Manasota to support STEM learning — U.S. Sugar has announced a partnership agreement to support the Teen Aircraft Factory of Manasota and boost STEM learning in the Sarasota and Bradenton region. “Our state and nation’s future depends on today’s students developing the necessary skills to work in high-tech jobs, such as those in the aerospace industry and agriculture,” said Brannan Thomas, U.S. Sugar’s Community Relations Manager, in a statement announcing the arrangement. “U.S. Sugar is proud to support this exciting program that is providing our youth with invaluable lessons on building and repairing airplanes.” The program seeks out teenagers in the region to help build two-seat airplanes with the help of experienced mentors.
“Once 28,000 strong pre-COVID-19, the Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run is back — and growing” via Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald — Three years ago, when the immensely popular Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run had nearly 27,000 runners converge on Biscayne Boulevard to celebrate another year, no one could have imagined that in 2020 it would go virtual and by 2021, though back on the streets, would dwindle to 3,700 because of a disease called COVID-19. But race producer FootWorks, its race director Laurie Huseby and longtime sponsor Mercedes-Benz have hung in there, and the 38th running of the Miami Corporate Run 5K will be back up to 10,000 participants — and likely growing again next year — when it celebrates its 38th running at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at Bayfront Park.
“Purple jacaranda trees fill Tampa Bay’s landscape this time of year” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the most eye-catching signs of spring in the Tampa Bay area is the gorgeous pops of purple and light blue as jacaranda trees bloom in late April and May. Thanks to a fairly warm winter, they started blooming early, which can make some trees appear a bit thin since they aren’t blooming all at once, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “The jacaranda trees are a bit early this year,” said Theresa Badurek, a Pinellas urban horticulture agent. The density of bloom varies from tree to tree, and the amount of bloom increases with the age of the trees, she said.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to Ben Nelson and Jenn Ungru of Dean Mead.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.