Good Thursday morning.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried launched a new ad campaign Wednesday as she competes for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis in November.
The ad, titled “Shoulders,” is running on social media platforms, and the campaign said it plans to put money behind it all week on digital and social channels.
The 30-second video was shot at yesterday’s “Freedom to Choose” rally in Miami and highlights the support of abortion rights in Florida following the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, removing the constitutional right to abortion.
Fried claims she is the most popular Democratic candidate for Governor and has the largest organic following. This rally was organized overnight following the draft U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“We are standing on the shoulders of the women who came before us. And we are fighting for the next generation of women to make sure they have access to affordable reproductive health care,” Fried says in the video.
“We are disgusted by this, but we are not speechless. We are angry, but we are more resolved today than we were yesterday. The way we keep democracy in this country is by showing up at the ballot box and voting all of these people out of office.”
The ad drops after recent polling showed Fried with a higher favorability rating than her chief rival for the Democratic nomination — Public Policy Polling found her with a plus-35 rating among Democratic voters compared to a plus-28 for U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.
Her campaign has used the measure to rebut other polls of the race that show Crist with a sizable lead in terms of whom voters say they will tick the box for at the polls.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
“Internal poll shows Fried with strongest favorability among Democratic field” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An internal poll shows Fried holds the strongest favorability rating among Democrats running for Governor. It also found her leading among those voters reached by text in a head-to-head matchup with Crist, though trailing him among voters reached by traditional landlines. The campaign commissioned Public Policy Polling, a high-rated Democratic pollster, to check on the sentiment of Florida Democratic voters. It found Fried as the most liked candidate in the field.
“In latest poll, Crist opens wide lead vs. Fried” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — More than half those Democrats surveyed would vote for Crist if the Primary were held today. More than 52% of those surveyed support Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat and former Republican Governor. Comparatively, about 19% prefer Fried, right now the only Democrat holding statewide office in Florida. State Sen. Annette Taddeo rings in with just over 5% support.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@JamilSmith: When Roe was decided in 1973, a woman in the United States needed her husband’s permission to get a credit card. Marital rape was legal — as was sexual harassment. Pregnancy could get you fired. @, on the past, present, and people (Samuel) Alito ignored.
—@GlennKesslerWP: One can never assume where a leak came from. Maybe it was a liberal. But a WSJ editorial last week suggested real concern Roberts was trying to peel off a vote for a compromise, overturning 5-4 opinion written by Alito. This leak makes compromise harder.
—@MattGaetz: How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?
—@mkraju: Joe Manchin, who opposes abortion rights, says he believes inflation — not Roe — will be the defining issue in the midterm election. “Inflation is the number one driving factor … I believe in my state right now it’s hurting everybody,” he told us. “Follow the money.”
—@ChrisMurphyCT: It isn’t popular to ban abortion or contraception. It isn’t popular to bully gay kids. It isn’t popular to ban books. It isn’t popular to attack Disney. Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to call out Republicans for their extreme, hard right turn. We can run on this and win.
—@ChristinaPushaw: Those who constantly lecture about how much they support “democracy” should be overjoyed at the prospect that abortion laws will be decided at the state level by representatives elected by voters, rather than by 7 men who were Supreme Court justices in 1973.
—@RealJacobPerry: Seeing @ getting curb-stomped in the polls is a reminder that likability matters
—@PaulG: Cellphones are now so ubiquitous that someone waiting somewhere without looking down at a phone in their hand looks suspicious.
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 1; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 7; property insurance Special Session begins — 18; 2022 Florida Chamber Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit — 20; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 21; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 22; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 28; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 33; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 36; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 43; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 54; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 64; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 75; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 77; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 96; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 108; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 118; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 120; 2022 Emmys — 130; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 154; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 172; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 173; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 173; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 190; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 196; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 200; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 200; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 201; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 225; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 287; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 305; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 323; 2023 Session Sine Die — 365; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 365; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 393; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 449; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 533; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 694; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 813.
“In draft abortion ruling, Democrats see a court at odds with democracy” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — For nearly half a century, Republicans have railed against “unelected judges” making rulings that they claim disenfranchise voters from deciding for themselves what laws should govern hot-button issues. But since the release this week of the draft Supreme Court opinion, Democrats have been the ones embracing that complaint, flipping the script as the party vents its frustration with elements of the U.S. system that have empowered a minority of the country’s voters to elect lawmakers who have successfully reshaped the high court. With SCOTUS’ conservative majority likely to last for the foreseeable future, the critique from the left that the court’s rulings are not only misguided, but also evidence of a deeper rot within American democracy, has become a recurring theme.
“Joe Biden wants to make the Roe v. Wade decision about much more than abortion” via Laura Barrón-López and Alice Miranda Ollstein of POLITICO — As he prepared to board Air Force One, the President foreshadowed the message he would relay in the weeks and months ahead: If the high court’s draft opinion remains unchanged, it will threaten a larger collection of rights long taken for granted by the public, from contraception to marriage. “It’s the main reason why I worked so hard to keep Robert Bork off the court,” Biden said of his work to defeat President Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee in 1987. “It concerns me a great deal that we’re going to, after 50 years, decide a woman does not have a right to choose.”
“In a post-Roe America, expect more births in a country where maternal mortality continues to rise” via Robin Fields and Adriana Gallardo of ProPublica — Government data released this year shows that U.S. maternal deaths increased 14% in the first year of the pandemic. The death rate for Black women was almost three times higher than that for white women. The stats for 2020 were no surprise. For every U.S. woman who dies because of pregnancy or childbirth, up to 70 suffer dangerous and sometimes life-threatening complications. Many public health officials and experts say the landscape for maternal health post-Roe would change swiftly, and not for the better. A brief submitted in the case on which the court is ruling, signed by about 550 public-health and reproductive-health researchers, draws a straight line between lack of abortion access and increased risk of maternal death.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis deflects again when asked about addressing abortion in Special Session” via Zac Anderson of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis doesn’t seem eager to rush through new abortion restrictions in the wake of this week’s bombshell report indicating that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn abortion rights under Roe v. Wade. Asked Wednesday again whether he is considering addressing abortion in an upcoming Special Session, the Governor again deflected. Responding to the abortion question Wednesday during an appearance in Clearwater, DeSantis noted that Florida’s property insurance market is in crisis. DeSantis also was asked Tuesday during an appearance in the Fort Myers area about addressing abortion in a Special Session. He responded by pointing to the abortion bill he signed recently that outlaws the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy, noting he already has taken significant action on the abortion issue this year.
“Florida’s new abortion ban may require ‘extreme measures’ to ensure women can get legal abortions” via Issac Morgan of the Florida Phoenix — Though the Supreme Court’s draft opinion could change in several weeks, Florida’s abortion clinics and independent providers are already preparing for the 15-week ban, including out-of-state help from a network of clinics in abortion-friendly states. “As many as 40% of our clients from the Tampa Bay area will need to leave the state for care,” when the Florida ban launches, Kelly Nelson, founder of the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund, told the Phoenix in an email. Nelson said that the group had added supportive states to its network of clinics for access to abortion services, including Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. “We are relying heavily on the national abortion network for support ….”
“With abortion in jeopardy, minority women have most to lose” via The Associated Press — If the U.S. Supreme Court allows states to further restrict or even ban abortions, minority women will bear the brunt of it. The numbers are unambiguous when it comes to the effect on minority women. In Mississippi, people of color comprise 44% of the population but 81% of women receiving abortions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health statistics. In Texas, they’re 59% of the population and 74% of those receiving abortions. The numbers in Alabama are 35% and 69%. In Louisiana, minorities represent 42% of the population, according to the state Health Department, and about 72% of those receive abortions.
“Leak heightens the perception of a politicized Supreme Court” via Shawn Hubler and Michael Wines of The New York Times — The bombshell revelation of the court’s draft opinion on Roe, leaked in unprecedented fashion, for unknown motives, gave pause to Americans who know the justices more from their annual photograph than their rulings. In interviews across the country, even some opponents of abortion expressed unease with news that a majority of the court had coalesced behind the sweeping draft written by Justice Alito, one of six Republican appointees on the nine-member court. An overwhelming majority of adults, 84%, said the justices should keep their political views out of their judicial decisions, but only 16% of that group felt the court did a good or excellent job.
— ROE ON THE TRAIL —
“Florida Democrats hope anti-abortion Supreme Court ruling could supercharge Governor’s race” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida Democrats spent the 24 hours following the bombshell leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion angry, then motivated, they said. The shock waves quickly reached the Governor’s race, as all three of the Democratic candidates running to replace DeSantis hosted or attended rallies Tuesday. Aubrey Jewett, a political-science professor at the University of Central Florida, said both Republicans and Democrats in Florida could be energized by an eventual Supreme Court decision striking down abortion rights — the former out of a sense of victory, and the latter due to fear. But in a state that already has a governor who’s constantly pushing the state’s politics rightward and firing up his base, Democrats might have more to gain.
“‘Worst Governor in modern history’: Charlie Crist calls DeSantis ‘authoritarian’ in campaign anniversary speech” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — In a speech marking the anniversary of his campaign, gubernatorial candidate Crist called DeSantis an authoritarian who is the “worst Governor in modern Florida history.” DeSantis imitates the worst authoritarian leaders aligned against the United States, Crist said, with the Governor’s approval of increased abortion restrictions, creating an elections police force, erasing Black congressional districts and attacking Disney for its opposition to the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill. He pointed out that none of those actions are helping Floridians and are meant to lay the groundwork for a potential 2024 presidential run.
Fentrice Driskell endorses Crist for Governor — Rep. Driskell, the Democratic Caucus Policy Chair and House Democratic Caucus Leader-Designate Elect, is a Tampa Bay native, community leader, and a champion for Democratic values and policies in the state Legislature. She is recognized as a trailblazer, consensus builder, and impassioned advocate who has fought for access to affordable, high-quality health care, quality public education, and the freedom to cast votes safely. “Charlie Crist is the best candidate to take on Gov. DeSantis and deliver a new tomorrow for Floridians,” Driskell said. “Charlie is uniquely suited for this moment, not only because of his previous experience as Governor, but because he has the heart and commitment our state is crying out for. Charlie is the change we need to see.”
“Michael Waltz: ‘Be prepared for scorched-earth tactics’ after Supreme Court Roe leak” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — News of a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case was still circulating Tuesday morning when Congressman Waltz predicted anti-abortion activists will “burn it down.” Waltz, a Republican who represents Volusia and Flagler counties, and other officials from both sides of the abortion debate were pointed in their initial reactions. “Be prepared for the scorched-earth tactics of the left on this issue,” Waltz said.
— MORE 2022 —
Florida Forestry Association endorses Jimmy Patronis for re-election — The FFA endorsed CFO Patronis Wednesday for his re-election bid. The organization represents an industry that provides 124,000 jobs across the state and has a massive impact on preserving the forests of northern Florida, including those in CFO Patronis’ hometown in Bay County. “On behalf of the 1,450 members of the Florida Forestry Association, I am pleased to announce our endorsement of CFO Patronis’ re-election campaign for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. He has been a vocal advocate for forestry throughout his time in public service. As a small-business owner, his common-sense, solution-driven approach to issues reflects the outlook of many who work in the forest industry. Time and again, he has acted in the best interest of our state and its people,” Florida Forestry Association President Carlton Jones said.
Jared Moskowitz announces another wave of endorsements — Moskowitz on Wednesday announced his congressional campaign had received endorsements from CFO Alex Sink, state Rep. Robin Bartleman, Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon, Palm Beach School Board Member Alexandria Ayala, and Palm Beach Soil and Water Board of Supervisors Chair Rob Long. “He has strong Democratic values and the work ethic to act on his ideals. Jared has always stood up for reproductive rights, and he will be instrumental in the fight to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. He has proven his ability to create positive change, and I’m proud to endorse him in this congressional race,” Sink said. Moskowitz has now received 79 endorsements from current and former elected officials in his bid to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in CD 23.
“New ‘Center Street’ group to go after Anthony Sabatini, ‘extremists’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new group calling itself “Center Street” and pledging nonpartisan, middle-of-the-road politics is emerging with the goal of taking on political extremists on both sides, starting with Rep. Sabatini. Led by veteran consultants Jacob Perry and Matthew O’Brien, the Tallahassee-based super PAC is largely made up of former Republican operatives and modeled in philosophy on The Lincoln Project, which emerged three years ago as a national opponent of Donald Trump and his wing of the party. Perry insisted the group will be going after extremists on both sides, but largely is starting out opposing Republicans on the extreme right. The organization starts with 10 races nationally, including Florida’s 7th Congressional District in Central Florida.
“Oldsmar Mayor Dan Saracki backs Amanda Makki in CD 13 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Saracki is endorsing Makki in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, becoming the 11th Pinellas Mayor to back Makki. Saracki was elected Mayor of Oldsmar in March, taking the seat from incumbent Eric Seidel. He served on the Oldsmar City Council for seven years and is a vocal conservative. Saracki’s endorsement comes following the approval of the state’s new congressional map. The city was previously represented by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis within Florida’s 12th Congressional District, but now, Oldsmar is a part of CD 13.
“Eddie Geller endorsed by Sean Shaw in race for CD 15” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — Geller announced an endorsement from Tampa’s Shaw. Shaw spent two years in the Florida House from 2016-2018. He made a bid for Attorney General in 2018, nabbing the Democratic nomination, but losing to Ashley Moody in the General Election. Since 2018, Shaw has remained active and influential in the political realm. He launched the organization People Over Profits in 2019, vehemently opposing 2020s Amendment 3, which would’ve established nonpartisan primaries in Florida. Geller is a political newcomer. Shaw said the country needs more of that. “Our politics are broken, and we already know we can’t count on career politicians to fix them,” he said.
—“Fraternal Order of Police backs Dean Black in HD 15” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics
“Chet Stokes amasses nearly $260K in April for HD 16 bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Stokes entered the race in the new House District 16 last month and has already claimed the fundraising lead. The Jacksonville Beach City Council member will report $259,844.99 between his campaign account and his political committee, Strengthening Florida’s Future. The candidate is betting on himself, with $150,000 of the launch money being self-fund, but it’s clear that a group of reliable stakeholders is betting on him also. Stokes is one of four candidates in the field, albeit the best-funded.
“U.S. Senate candidate leads first lawsuit challenging dissolution of Disney World’s Reedy Creek” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Three Central Florida taxpayers represented by a lawyer running for U.S. Senate are suing DeSantis over the dissolution of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. The lawsuit filed this week in federal court is the first in what could be a barrage of legal challenges to ending The Walt Disney Co.’s private government in Florida. The plaintiffs are Michael and Edward Foronda and Vivian Gorsky. They are represented by William Sanchez, a Miami lawyer and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.
“Bail bond agents on hook for transportation costs under new law” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed a bill Tuesday that could reduce expenses for the state’s sheriffs by requiring bail bond agents to pick up more of the cost to transport a defendant back to the county where they were first arrested. The measure (HB 381), sponsored by Rep. Patt Maney, who is an attorney and former Army general, tweaks state law and the definition of “jurisdiction” so that bail bond agents can no longer drop off defendants in counties that are part of the same judicial circuit and put the costs of transporting defendants and the sheriffs.
“Lori Berman ready for 2023 Session with draft of law that would guarantee abortion access” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Florida’s 15-week ban on abortion hasn’t gone into effect yet, but Sen. Berman said Wednesday she’s already drafted a law that will roll it back. The Delray Beach Democrat was galvanized to immediate action after a Supreme Court opinion leaked Monday night indicating the court will uphold the Mississippi law that bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. Florida’s ban is based on Mississippi’s.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Attorney General Ashley Moody will make a major announcement, 9 a.m., Tampa office of the Attorney General, 3507 E. Frontage Road, Tampa.
“FWC gives OK to all-day gator hunting” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The recovery of alligators in Florida is a real conservation success story, so much so that the state feels comfortable with opening alligator hunting to 24 hours a day and including methods that could make hunting gators easier. The new rule opens alligator hunting between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., which Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff say provides more opportunities for youth and senior hunters and reduces the possible time crunch some people face between harvesting and landing their alligators. “Florida’s recreational alligator harvest is recognized nationally and internationally as a contemporary approach of meeting our user needs while employing a science-based sustainable use management,” said Brooke Talley, FWC Alligator Management Program Coordinator.
Feds open applications for $1B in conservation grants — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Wednesday that it is accepting applications for $1 billion in grant money to support conservation initiatives over the next five years. As reported by Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory made the announcement in Polk City at a wildlife crossing situated in the proposed Florida Wildlife Corridor. “The America the Beautiful Challenge will help mobilize new investments in locally-led, voluntary conservation and restoration projects across the country while making it easier for communities to access these resources,” she said in a statement. The America the Beautiful Challenge grants application window runs through July 21.
“Florida flights face worst delays in years thanks to private jets and space launches” via Alan Levin and Mary Schlangenstein of Yahoo News — For much of the pandemic, many U.S. travelers experienced delay-free flights as air traffic plummeted. The skies are jamming up with leisure travel roaring back, nowhere more so than in Florida. Thanks to private jet flights, space launches, and severe weather, the Sunshine State sees its worst gridlock in years. Airline officials and federal regulators met this week in Florida to address the problem. The increased delays are testing an aviation system that has faced COVID-19-related upheavals for airline employees and federal air traffic controllers for more than two years. Carriers are having to reduce Florida flights this summer despite growing demand.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“‘MAGA is the most extreme political organization in American history’: Biden warns of Republicans’ ‘ultra MAGA agenda’ and suggests they’ll ban LGBT children from classrooms if Roe v. Wade is overturned” via Morgan Phillips of the Daily Mail — Biden called the ‘MAGA crowd’ the ‘most extreme political organization in American history’ in a full-throated attack on Republicans and their ‘ultra-MAGA’ agenda. He also warned that the GOP could ban LGBT children from classrooms if Roe v. Wade is overturned and signaled they could even reverse the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut case that struck down a state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples. A ramp-up in rhetoric from Biden following the Supreme Court leak caused a firestorm and protests across the country.
“Rick Scott rebuts Biden jibes about his ‘ultra-MAGA agenda’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott focused on the President’s remarks Wednesday at The White House, but soon after that, the U.S. Senator from Florida got equal time on a friendly media outlet. Scott spoke after Biden blasted his “ultra-MAGA agenda” during a news conference. The Senator rebutted with an 11-point proposal marketed as a plan to “rescue America.” Scott led his segment by asserting “almost everything (Biden) said was a complete lie,” segueing into things Biden didn’t talk about, such as inflation and “people struggling all across the country.” Scott then blamed Biden for single-handedly increasing the debt during his time in politics.
“Matt Gaetz faces backlash for ‘over-educated’ women remark” via Mychael Schnell of Nexstar Media — Rep. Gaetz is facing backlash after questioning how many “over-educated, under-loved” women have participated in protests supporting abortion rights after a draft ruling from the Supreme Court showed that the bench is poised to roll back Roe v. Wade. “How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?” Gaetz wrote. Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large of The Bulwark, wrote on Twitter that Gaetz’s comment illustrated “witless and vulgar misogyny.”
“Stephanie Murphy: Jan. 6 Commission report will be done when it’s done” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Despite election campaigns gearing up now and Democrats’ tenuous control of Congress at stake in six months, U.S. Rep. Murphy expressed neither confidence nor concern about when her Jan. 6 Commission will conclude its investigation into the 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection. That will happen, she said Wednesday tersely, “When the report is completed.” Murphy, a three-term Democrat from Winter Park who decided not to seek a fourth term this year, is one of nine House Jan. 6 Commission members. Murphy was one of the first members of Congress to call for such a commission.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Fernandina Beach sign ordinance idea could spark stricter Nassau County rule” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Fernandina Beach, like a lot of other historic beach towns, has stricter ordinances on signs and other real estate aesthetics that aren’t worth the bother for a lot of inland and larger cities. “I would actually agree with this ordinance — that it makes sense for the vast majority of the city,” City Commissioner Bradley Bean said. “However, in the case of these businesses that are on the border … what that means is we end up in a situation where there are several different businesses, and that’s who approached me on this, these businesses are put into a position where they are across the street from an almost identical business … they are not allowed to have these flags on their property, but their competition in the county is.”
“2nd person arrested in voter fraud investigation at Alachua County jail; bail set at $75K” via Alan Festo of The Gainesville Sun — A second person accused of voter fraud while incarcerated at the Alachua County Jail in 2020 is back behind bars after being officially charged in the case in late March. Leroy James Ross was booked Tuesday on two counts of providing false voter information and one count of election fraud. Ross, who has eight prior felony convictions, had bail set by Judge James Colaw at $25,000 for each count totaling $75,000. Ross is accused of providing false voter registration information on or about Feb. 19 and Feb. 28, as well as knowingly voting in an election between Oct. 19 and Nov. 3, 2020, even though he is not eligible to vote, according to a charging document filed with the Eighth Judicial Circuit by the State Attorney’s Office.
“Duval School Board tables Joyce’s Parental Rights resolution after hundreds show up at meeting” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — What otherwise would have been a routine Duval County School Board meeting, with discussions over Teacher Appreciation Month and maintenance projects, morphed into a lengthy and heated culture wars debate discussing gender identity and LGBTQ+ issues on campus. The Tuesday evening meeting lasted nearly eight hours, wrapping at about 1:50 a.m., but no final decision was made. The School Board opted to table a vote on a resolution introduced by School board member Charlotte Joyce to support the State of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, thank DeSantis and overhaul the school district’s current LGBTQ+ Support Guide. More than 290 public speaker cards were filled out ahead of the meeting by people interested in discussing the resolution.
“Ex-Duval drug trafficker uses war in Ukraine to spotlight plight of woman in Thai prison” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — The Ukrainian combat unit that former Beaches resident Tristan Nettles serves in only left Donbas last month so foreigners like him could complete enlisting and get military IDs before returning to fighting. The 2015 University of North Florida graduate has joined soldiers resisting a Russian invasion and has seen devastation up close. But when he reaches out to Jacksonville from the relative safety of Kyiv, his attention seems far, far away. Nettles, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is working from a war zone to raise attention to the cause of a woman facing a frightening future on the other side of the planet. He’s doing this because, by his account, he played a key part in her suffering.
“Bay County awarded $40M from FEMA” via Alexia Tsiropoulos of MyPanhandle.com — After a two-year-long process, FEMA is giving Bay County $40 million to repair roads damaged after Hurricane Michael. Hundreds of trucks, hauling millions of tons of debris for about a year, caused the most damage. The county officials said they plan to start the repair work as soon as possible. Bay County drivers are quite familiar with the sound of uneven roadways. Trucks hauled more than 19 million cubic yards of debris from across Bay County right after the storm. The heavy trucks took a toll on local roads, causing ruts, divots, and potholes. The first two phases will cover approximately 31 miles. The county has already awarded the contract, and the work should begin in the next few months.
“Orlando business group endorses candidates before they even know who’s running” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Some groups are trying to get ahead of the campaign curve by endorsing candidates before they even know everyone who’s running. The official filing period hasn’t begun. For most races, it doesn’t start until June. But these groups, including, BusinessForce, which bills itself as Central Florida’s “voice of business,” want to give you their picks before they know all their options. It seems like premature evacuation to cast aside potential candidates before you even know who they might be. It also reminds me of Twitter, where people who don’t have all the facts are dying to give you their opinions.
“Tampa Bay leaders to gather in St. Pete Friday for affordable housing sustainability and resilience conference” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — It’s called the REACH Conference, Resilience and Energy Assessment of Communities and Housing, and it happens Friday, May 6. It’s a joint venture between the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the Florida Housing Coalition, Forward Pinellas and the Urban Land Institute Tampa Bay to address an emerging housing crisis. County Commissioners, City Council members, and other community leaders from Manatee, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties will meet for a full day of workshops and strategy sessions at the Carillon Park Hilton in north St. Pete.
“4 East Tampa homes may sit atop a Black cemetery with 430 graves” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Jeraldine Williams might have the distinction of being linked to two erased Black cemeteries. She asked the Times to help find one of them. It’s about 2.5 miles east of Zion, an extensive search of public records shows. The Times can’t say with total certainty that the cemetery is still there, but numerous clues indicate it is likely in the 3400 block of Genesee Street in East Tampa, under four homes and the Greater Mount Carmel AME Church parking lot. There is no evidence that the more than 400 Black residents buried there through 1940 were ever moved. But there is evidence that graves remain.
“Brevard County borrows playbook from Melbourne and effectively bans panhandling” via Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — Brevard County officials Tuesday passed a law prohibiting individuals from loitering on the public rights of way along Space Coast roads and intersections. Commissioners claim it enhances pedestrian safety, but opponents believe the true purpose of the move is to stamp out panhandling by the homeless and the needy in Brevard County. Under the ordinance, a first offense is a civil infraction punishable with a maximum $500 fine. Officials in Melbourne passed a similar proposal last year, limiting physical contact and the exchange of any items between pedestrians and vehicle occupants in the roadway. It is only applicable to those exchanges that impact traffic. The Melbourne law sanctions motorists and pedestrians, while the county only targets pedestrians.
“Key video in $20M Disney Cruise lawsuit fails to prove case” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Surveillance video exists that captures a 3-year-old being sexually abused by another child onboard a Disney Cruise ship, the family’s attorney said. But looking at the same video footage, a Disney attorney argues there’s no evidence of a sexual assault and denies such an incident ever happened on the boat. Even U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton Jr. acknowledged the video does not clearly show a crime. “Nothing in the video — and I looked at it pretty carefully — jumped out at me,” Dalton said during a recent court hearing, although he agreed the family’s attorney has a right to get more information from Disney to learn what really happened as part of an ongoing lawsuit.
— MORE LOCAL: SW FL —
“Put it to a vote: Lee Co. school superintendent could soon be elected, not selected” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — This year, Lee County voters will decide whether to elect a superintendent of schools or leave the position appointed. DeSantis signed a local bill (HB 497) to put the question on the November ballot. That could change how the local school leaders have been selected since 1974. Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka pushed the bill through the Legislative Session and will campaign this fall in favor of the referendum.
“Cape Coral art teacher fired for discussing LGBTQ topics” via Dave Elias of NBC 2 — A Cape Coral middle school teacher claims she was fired because she spoke with her students about sexuality. She says her art students then drew flag pictures expressing their sexuality. Casey Scott said school leaders made her remove the drawings and throw them out. However, the Lee County School District claims she was fired for not following the mandated curriculum. “A discussion happened in class and because of that, now I’m fired,” Scott said. That discussion centered on student sexuality. She pointed to flags she said were created by students, some identified as nonbinary, bisexual, and gay.
“Kevin Marino Cabrera bursts into Miami-Dade Commission race, reports $100K week” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Political and government relations specialist Cabrera is only one week into running for the Miami-Dade County Commission but based on a report from his campaign, he’s already proving to be a formidable fundraiser. On Wednesday, Cabrera’s campaign said his new political committee, Dade First PC, amassed more than $100,000 in just seven days toward his bid to succeed term-limited Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa in District 6. That puts him within striking distance of fellow Republican Orlando Lamas in the contest. His path to victory in the (technically) nonpartisan Miami-Dade Commission race became more apparent when Republican Florida House Speaker Pro Tempore Bryan Ávila ended his campaign for the Commission to instead run for a seat in the state Senate.
“‘Just an oversight:’ Miami-Dade Republicans appeal $21,000 campaign-finance penalty” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade Republican Party is appealing a $21,181 fine issued by the county elections department for being nearly three months late filing a quarterly campaign finance report last year. The local GOP blamed inexperience among new officials for the 85-day delay in filing a campaign treasurer’s report last October. According to a notice the FEC sent to the Miami-Dade Elections Office, a hearing with the Florida Elections Commission is scheduled for May 17. The treasurer’s report was due July 2021 but not submitted until October. In July, the county elections office notified the party of the overdue report and issued a fine equaling 25% of the party’s campaign contributions for the quarter.
“‘Corrupt to core’ Caribbean premier gets bond in drug case” via Joshua Goodman of The Associated Press — The premier of the British Virgin Islands, whom U.S. prosecutors described as “corrupt to the core,” was given a $500,000 bond that could see him released from prison as he awaits trial on charges tied to a U.S. narcotics sting. In a surprise decision, federal Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes rejected prosecutors’ argument that Andrew Fahie may flee the U.S. and possibly engage in criminal activity if he is freed. Instead, she said he could remain in Miami, confined to the rented apartment of his two college-age daughters, if he and his family surrender their passports and he wears an ankle bracelet monitor in addition to paying the sizable corporate surety bond.
“Asking $170 million, a Miami Beach compound aims to become Florida’s priciest-ever home” via E.B. Solomont of The Wall Street Journal — A waterfront compound in Miami Beach is coming on the market for $170 million. If it sells for that amount, the property will be the most expensive ever sold in Florida. The property is on La Gorce Island, a guard-gated community connected by a bridge to Miami Beach. Set on nearly 3 acres, the gated estate comprises four parcels and has approximately 600 feet of water frontage on Biscayne Bay. There are houses on three of the four parcels, each with its own dock. The fourth parcel has a private park with a marble gazebo, gardens and banyan, oak and palm trees.
— TOP OPINION —
“Overturning Roe is a radical, not conservative, choice” via Bret Stephens of The New York Times — Roe v. Wade was an ill-judged decision when it was handed down on Jan. 22, 1973. But a half-century is a long time. America is a different place, with most of its population born after Roe was decided. And a decision to overturn Roe would do more to replicate Roe’s damage than reverse it. It would be a radical, not conservative, choice. What is conservative? It is, above all, the conviction that abrupt and profound changes to established laws and common expectations are utterly destructive to respect for the law and the institutions established to uphold it — especially when those changes are instigated from above, with neither democratic consent nor broad consensus.
— OPINIONS —
“‘Roe’ repeal and minority rule” via Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect — The Court’s provisional ruling runs counter to the recent legalizations of abortion in a host of nations where majority opinion has shifted decisively in support of a woman’s right to choose. As “the world’s oldest democracy,” we are entrapped, as they are not, by our forefathers’ majority phobia. Increasingly, the nation’s preponderantly right-wing judiciary has been using its minority-enshrined power to overturn laws and rulings that have had wide popular and legislative support. Ridding ourselves of minority rule requires a fundamental revision of much of our constitutional edifice: the Electoral College, the structure of the Senate, our first-past-the-post electoral system, and perhaps judicial review itself.
“The GOP’s newfound abortion dilemma on rape and incest” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — A question we’ve asked before is: What happens when the GOP becomes the proverbial dog that catches that car? What happens if and when the court overturns a landmark precedent that Americans support 2 to 1 — a move that even the author of the leaked draft opinion, Justice Alito, hinted might be unpopular? It’s too simple to say this will dramatically change Democrats’ electoral prospects. Much depends on what might happen after Roe presumably falls — specifically, what those with newfound power to restrict and ban abortion do with that power. And early indications are that plenty of Republicans will go quite a bit further on this issue than the vast majority of Americans are comfortable with.
“Supreme Court may have handed Florida Democrats a gift. Will they fumble their chance?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — It was Florida Democrats’ worst nightmare materializing. With the party’s chances of winning elections looking bleaker, out-of-state donors began writing the state off, the Miami Herald reported last week. Now, though, the U.S. Supreme Court may have handed the party something of a Hail-Mary-pass ahead of the November elections. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, can Democrats turn public anger into votes? Or will they, in typical Democratic fashion, get in their own way? With stakes this high, state Sen. Book told the Herald her party needs to have a “laser like focus” on uniting behind abortion rights. Similar calls for a unified message have happened after stunning Democratic losses in the Sunshine State in 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections.
“The leak Is good, actually” via David Klion of the Intelligencer — The stripping away of abortion rights is only possible because of a perfect storm of anti-majoritarian constitutional provisions that have divorced public opinion from the interpretation of the law. So, it’s striking that for so many conservative and mainstream pundits, the big takeaway wasn’t that Roe is all but dead. Instead, the focus is on the reason we know all of this: because someone with access to the draft opinion leaked it to the press, in what is being characterized as an egregious and unprecedented breach of the Supreme Court’s institutional norms. The leaker has done a public service, both by giving Americans who support reproductive rights a head start on mobilizing and by damaging the Court’s mystical aura of legitimacy at precisely the moment when it deserves to be damaged.
“Biden deserves applause for excluding Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua at Americas summit” via Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald — Bravo, President Biden, for not inviting the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan dictatorships to the Ninth Summit of the Americas to be held June 6-10 in Los Angeles! Authoritarian rulers who don’t allow free elections in their own countries should not be invited to regional meetings of democratic leaders. It wasn’t an easy decision for Biden to make. Mexico’s populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other Latin American leaders had publicly demanded that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua be invited to the summit. Biden’s decision to exclude the three dictatorships is justified, among other reasons, because one of the critical goals of the Summit of the Americas will be to strengthen democracy in the region.
“Floridians expect sensible gun laws. This is insanity” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Want to carry a gun? Go ahead. No background check. No training. No registration. Take it anywhere you like. Hide it or carry it openly. Your call. Take it to work. To church. To campus. A sporting event. A state park. Use it as a convenient place to rest your hand while arguing with a store clerk about return policies. This is a glimpse of what life may be like in Florida if lawmakers pass the permitless-carry gun law DeSantis is about to unveil. We haven’t seen it yet, but most of the above changes have been proposed in Florida before and came close to becoming law. All of them are permitted in at least one other state.
“Florida must address aging condos” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Florida lawmakers wasted a golden opportunity during the recent Legislative Session to respond to last year’s deadly condominium collapse in Surfside. And the impacts are already being felt, as insurers unwilling to write policies on aging condominiums continue to leave the market. This upheaval is bad news for condo owners and taxpayers alike, and lawmakers should move quickly to restore confidence in these buildings and this industry. Legislation that initially sailed through the House and Senate during the recent Legislative Session would have helped. Legislative leaders bungled what should have been a bipartisan priority. Even a compromise that phased in more money for repairs would have been a reasonable place to start.
— ALOE —
“No easy riders: Disney’s ‘Guardians’ coaster nixes standby lines for virtual queue” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Disney-goers who want to walk up and ride Disney World’s newest roller coaster when it opens this month will be out of luck. Disney announced Wednesday that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind won’t have a standby queue. Instead, Disney plans to use a virtual queue for Guardians’ May 27 grand opening. Or you can dish out a few bucks to hop on the ride. But even that isn’t guaranteed to get onto the coaster, Disney also warned.
“Local bars & restaurants face shortages this Cinco de Mayo” via Wendi Grossman of WFLA — South Floridians heading out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo could be greeted by long lines and wait times. There may not be a lot of elbow room at local restaurants and bars packed with more people than servers and staff. Lynne Hernandez with the Florida Restaurant Association says that thanks to the pandemic fallout, most restaurants are dealing with the one-two punch of supply and staff shortages. Supply shortages are being blamed on farms, ranches, and food processors having trouble finding workers on top of a shortage of delivery drivers. On the service side, many workers say they realized they’re not getting what they deserve from their jobs, so they quit.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to the best political consultant in Southwest Florida and our favorite Goodman, Max, as well as our friends, Laura Jolly and Jim Magill, as well as Paul Flemming.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.