Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.26.22

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Dave Matthews Band was in Tampa last night. But after the tragedy in Texas, it just didn’t feel like a typical DMB concert. There were a lot of tears.

Thanks to Phil Ammann, Drew Wilson, Ryan Nicol, and Joe Henderson for really helping to put together today’s edition of Sunburn.

People sometimes call Florida the “Gunshine State,” and we indeed live in a staunchly pro-Second Amendment place. The National Rifle Association pays a lot of money so that Republican lawmakers will do its bidding.

However, some Florida GOP legislators bucked the NRA and incurred its wrath not so long ago. With the leadership of then-Gov. Rick Scott, they passed a so-called “red flag” law in the wake of the 2018 Parkland massacre and endured threats and insults from the all-guns-all-the-time crowd.

But as we try to make sense of the latest mass murder of children, this time in Texas, it’s worth remembering what Florida’s law accomplished.

The school shooting in Uvalde is prompting action, something Florida knows well. Image via AP.

“That law has been used 5,000 times in Florida since the bill’s passage. It has prevented gun violence and saved lives, but it is limited,” Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said.

However, none of that would have happened if Republicans like Scott and Bill Galvano hadn’t put principle ahead of politics.

This was after Republicans agreed just weeks after the shootings to raise Florida’s minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. They enhanced security at schools and some other safety measures.

The red flag law — or risk protection order — is a game-changer. It allows police, with court approval, to temporarily seize weapons from people deemed at risk of harming themselves or others.

Before that law, police couldn’t intervene before Parkland murderer Nikolas Cruz carried out his bloody mission. He left a long trail of warning signs for what he intended to do. Seventeen students and staff would be alive today if the red flag law were in place.

Galvano was a pariah to many Republicans for standing up to the NRA. Some considered him a traitor when his political committee accepted a $500,000 from Democrat Mike Bloomberg‘s Everytown for Gun Safety gun-control group.

Donald Trump, Jr. told The Daily Wire that the last thing Florida needs is “a liberal, gun-grabbing Bloomberg minion.”

But the very junior son of the ex-President didn’t bother to tour the scene of the slaughter as Galvano did shortly after the killing spree.

“The shocking images, the horrifying feelings, the unbridled outpouring of grief and outrage — these are all still so fresh in our minds as we reach the sad one-year milestone since that senseless, heartbreaking day,” he wrote in a letter to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. ” I visited the crime scene just 48 hours after the shooting occurred, and I will carry that experience with me for the rest of my life.”

It’s one thing to see news reports from afar and offer thoughts and prayers. It’s quite another to see bullet holes and splattered blood up close.

Senators Tom Lee, Ed Hooper, Keith Perry, and Travis Hudson joined Galvano to get enough Republican support to push the law over the goal line.

We all know the government will never go door-to-door and confiscate every weapon it finds. It’s also more than a little disturbing that Gov. Ron DeSantis is a huge advocate for open carry with no permit.

He might want to rethink that one considering current events.

But there are many disturbed people out there. They crave a chance at notoriety by shooting up a school or a grocery store. Those sick puppies should never get close to owning a weapon.

The red-flag law works.

State Rep. Dan Daley, a Democrat, said it best.

Of Galvano, he told the Sun-Sentinel: “I think he’ll be pleased with his place in history when he looks back.”

___

Markel Trial Day 8 — Wednesday morning began with Judge Robert Wheeler ruling on the admissibility of two State exhibits: a phone call from the undercover agent to the Adelson Institute, and a call from Charlie Adelson to the agent.

Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman argued that the call from the undercover agent to the dental practice served as an additional bump, intended to “stimulate more discussion,” which succeeded in doing so. The bump, she said, was “for the purpose of the ruse, as we’ve discussed before.” Regarding Charlie’s return call to the undercover, Cappleman noted, it resulted in his assessment that the “blackmailer” was actually law enforcement, and this assessment is discussed in later calls.

Luis Rivera speaks at the retrial of Katherine Magbanua. Image via Tallahassee Democrat.

Defense attorney Christopher DeCoste argued against admission of these calls, saying they “are being entered for the truth of the matter asserted” and says this was clear to him based on the State’s questioning of witnesses the previous day. DeCoste argued that the State shouldn’t be able to play the calls, only to reference they occurred.

Wheeler’s response: “Both exhibits will be admissible.”

As readers would know, but this jury would not, a transcript of their conversation exists but was ruled inadmissible for trial by Wheeler. The subtitled version significantly reduces the effort needed to hear certain statements.

Click here to read today’s roundup.

Dan Markel murder: State rests its case, wiretaps cross on Day 8 of Katherine Magbanua retrial” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — After days of testimony, prosecutors rested their case against Magbanua Wednesday. Defense attorneys will begin presenting their case with witnesses appearing Thursday morning. It is still unclear whether Magbanua will testify on her behalf or whether the father of her children, convicted Markel murderer Sigfredo Garcia, will testify. Closing arguments could come as soon as Friday, with jurors beginning deliberations the same day.

___

According to a new survey released by Florida Atlantic University, Floridians are shelving plans to make purchases and trips amid the highest inflationary period since the Ronald Reagan administration.

FAU’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative found that nearly half of Floridians believe the national economy is in poor shape, and five out of six say addressing inflation and cost of living increases should be a top priority.

Respondents echoed those broad strokes concerns in several other economic sectors. More than 93% told the pollster they were at least a little concerned about rising housing costs, including 24% who said they were “very concerned.” Meanwhile, 91% said the same about increasing homeowners’ insurance premiums.

Inflation is forcing Floridians to scale back on vacation plans.

Some said economic issues were not mere concerns. They’re already having an impact on their day-to-day lives.

Nearly two-thirds of Floridians said they are cutting back on grocery spending. Cutbacks were even more common for non-necessities — 75% are driving less, 79% are traveling less, and 80% are spending less on entertainment.

A sizable proportion is also struggling to make ends meet, cutbacks or not. A full 58% said they were tapping into their savings to pay bills, while 38% said they’ve bill payments.

The FAU BEPI survey was conducted online May 20-22. It has a sample size of 532 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.24 percentage points.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JohnPavovitz: You have two choices today: hopelessness or resolve. Only one will save someone else. Choose.

@Public_Citizen: Today is the 144th day of 2022. The Uvalde shooting is the 212th mass shooting of 2022. Gun violence is a public health crisis.

@AdamCBest: Uvalde: AR-15 Buffalo: AR-15 Boulder: AR-15 Orlando: AR-15 Parkland: AR-15 Las Vegas: AR-15 Aurora, CO: AR-15 Sandy Hook: AR-15 Waffle House: AR-15 San Bernardino: AR-15 Midland/Odessa: AR-15 Poway synagogue: AR-15 Sutherland Springs: AR-15 Tree of Life Synagogue: AR-15

@HWinkler4real: 50 Senators separate us from the simplicity of keeping our children alive

Tweet, tweet:

@ZacJAnderson: Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, former Mayor of Parkland, recounting aftermath of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting “You could hear the bloodcurdling screams of parents who were told their children won’t be coming home.” Said people are becoming “numb” to these tragedies.

@JessicaBakeman: Broward schools asked reporters via email to avoid live shots outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS & to be thoughtful about the use of archival photos. “The presence of cameras reopens old wounds … Please consider how seeing images from that day affects our families and staff”

@JaredEMoskowitz: I have an F- rating from the @NRA. So proud of the minus

@RepMikeCaruso: No parent should worry if their child will come home after a day at school and no child should live in fear that a normal school day may be their last. I look forward to sponsoring the Florida minimum security standards for school construction act next year.

@DavidHogg111: I’ve been working on this for four years and spent every day studying in college the history of how we got here, political science, behavioral economics, and reflecting on how we win. Mark my words. This time will be different.

@HarryBoscheQuote: How did we put a guy up there bouncing around on the moon when things are so fucked up down here?

— DAYS UNTIL —

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 1; Hyundai Air and Sea Show National Salute to America’s Heroes, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association — 2; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 7; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 12; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 14; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 22; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 33; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 43; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 54; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 56; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 75; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 83; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 87; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 97; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 99; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 105; 2022 Emmys — 109; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 133; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 151; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 152; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 152; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 169; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 175; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 179; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 179; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 180; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 202; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 266; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 284; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 302; 2023 Session Sine Die — 344; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 344; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 372; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 428; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 512; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 673; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 792.

— FLORIDA REACTS TO TEXAS SHOOTING —

‘Not expecting much to change.’ Gun control bills ignored in Florida, ‘constitutional carry’ still in play” via Skylar Swisher and Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — The Texas elementary school massacre is putting new scrutiny on a proposal to allow Floridians to carry handguns without a permit, a measure DeSantis promised to sign before he leaves office. Gun control advocates don’t expect the Republican-led Florida Legislature to back off its pro-gun stance. Patricia Brigham, president of Prevent Gun Violence Florida, said she is “not expecting much to change” regarding Tallahassee’s attitude toward guns.

Nikki Fried wants Special Session expanded to tackle gun violence” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fried wants a Special Session already underway to also tackle gun violence. In the wake of a deadly school shooting in Texas, she said political leaders must act. “I want to be completely clear: offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ is not enough,” said Fried. “It’s past time for us to take serious and meaningful action to prevent gun violence. The Legislature must add gun violence prevention reform to the current Special Session agenda. There cannot be any more children massacred or lives destroyed by mass shootings while our government sits idly by.” The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services handles Florida’s firearm permitting process, but Fried has no power over lawmakers. Fried cannot expand the call on the Special Session, which DeSantis called to deal with escalating homeowners’ insurance costs.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough; Nikki Fried wants a Special Session. Image via Tallahassee Democrat.

—“Here’s what Tampa Bay school leaders are saying about the Texas shooting” via Thomas C. Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times

Randy Fine ‘warns’ Joe Biden in posts that critics say threaten President after school shooting” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — Rep. Fine sparked controversy and widespread media coverage once again with a pair of social media posts that critics say amounted to threats against Biden. “I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place,” Fine wrote in a Twitter post Wednesday morning. A nearly identical post on Facebook referred to Biden as “Traitor Joe.” Supporters and critics flocked to the posts Wednesday, which had amassed over 11,000 comments by noon, with some accusing Fine of threatening the President.

Tweet, tweet:

‘I’m in physical pain with what they’re going through.’ Parkland father reacts to Texas massacre” via Susannah Bryan and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Parkland families have become spokespeople for a cause they didn’t sign up for. Family members of students and employees who died at the shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday focused on the latest school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. They’ve publicly shared their anger and grief. At least one, Fred Guttenberg, plans to travel to Texas to meet with families, although he’s unsure how soon that will be. Parents of Parkland victim Luke Hoyer attended the sentencing trial for the confessed Stoneman Douglas killer and stopped for a moment in the hallway of the Broward County Courthouse to talk about the shooting.

BSO increasing patrols to protect schools following Texas shooting” via Amanda Batchelor and Roy Ramos of WPLG Local 10 News — Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said his agency will be enhancing patrols at schools throughout the County following Tuesday’s school shooting in Texas. “For every single time that one of these school shootings or active shooter events happens anywhere in the U.S., it jogs up the memories of our own tragedy, and it creates a level of fear and uncertainty in our communities,” he said Wednesday morning at a news conference. The Sheriff said he received more than 100 text messages and calls following the shooting from politicians, faith leaders, friends and family members asking whether it was safe to send their children to school Wednesday.

Brevard law enforcement increases patrols at schools as precaution after Texas school massacre” via J.D. Gallop of Florida Today — A day after an 18-year-old shooter killed 19 elementary school students in Texas, patrol cars turned up at dozens of campuses across the Space Coast as a precaution, assuring safety to worried parents. There were no immediate threats, law enforcement officials said. “Brevard Public Schools reached out to us and asked that in between our calls, if we had people in the area, to swing by some of our schools,” said Sgt. Ben Slover of the Melbourne Police Department.

Defense, state debate over what impact Texas school shooting could have on jury selection for Parkland case” via Christina Vazquez of WPLG Local 10 News — The defense team for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz and the state debated Wednesday morning over what impact the school shooting in Texas could have on the jury selection process for the case. “We have to find a way to address this,” lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill said. “We cannot ignore this.” McNeill asked Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer for clearance to ask questions of prospective jurors related to Tuesday’s deadly elementary school shooting in Texas. “I think people who maybe could have sat yesterday, could not today, understandably so,” she said.



— DATELINE TALLY —

Lawmakers pass insurance bills with $10,000 for home upgrades” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — State lawmakers are reviving a 16-year-old state program that could give homeowners up to $10,000 to harden their homes, an attempt, legislators hope, to curb skyrocketing homeowners’ insurance rates. While the program, known as My Safe Florida Home, could help thousands of homeowners get free home inspections and money to replace their windows, doors and roofs, it’s unlikely to make a significant dent in rapidly rising rate increases for the vast majority of Floridians. The program’s past iteration was troubled during its two-year stint, and lawmakers this year are giving it 40% less money than they did in 2006 when the state was experiencing another property insurance crisis triggered by a series of hurricanes.

Condo safety bill clears Legislature, heads to Governor’s desk” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Aging high-rise condos will have to undergo safety inspections while condo boards will have to save money for structural repairs if the Governor signs a new condo safety bill that cleared the Legislature on Wednesday. The bill is meant to prevent another catastrophe like last year’s collapse of the Champlain Tower South in Surfside, killing 98 people. Earlier this year, during the Regular Session, the bill failed to clear the Legislature but will now go to DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis gets his wish for condo safety — will it be enough? Image via AP.

MSD Public Safety Act update hits Governor’s desk — DeSantis’ office on Wednesday evening received nine bills passed by lawmakers in the 2022 Regular Session, including an update to school safety laws. The bill (HB 1421) cleared both chambers unanimously in March and aims to rectify the difficulties that schools have had complying with the previous act’s requirements. If signed, it also will mean the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will continue to oversee the implementation of safety measures until 2026, extending it beyond the scheduled sunset in 2023. Other bill provisions require school safety reports to be made in a uniform, easy-to-read format, allow the state Board of Education to set the timing and frequency of emergency drills, and require districts to leverage social media and other information to speed up student-parent reunification after an emergency.

Five things to know about the Legislature’s proposed condominium reforms” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — The Legislature says it has reached an agreement on some significant reforms for high-rise condominiums. Under the provisions included in the draft of the bill released Tuesday, here are some of the key points to know. Inspections of condominiums three stories in height and above will be required when the buildings reach 30 years of age (as determined by occupancy certificate) and then every 10 years after that. For condominiums within 3 miles of the coast, the first required inspections will be when the buildings reach 25 years of age and then every 10 years afterward. For buildings occupied before July 1, 1992, the first inspections must be completed by Dec. 31, 2024.

Jeff Brandes: Property insurance measures are too little, too late” via Paul LaGrone of WFTS Tampa Bay — When the Session was announced, Sen. Brandes was hopeful it meant meaningful legislation was ahead, but as he said, some of the changes that are coming are too little, too late. The Senator warned that the part of the bill that prohibits insurance companies from not covering older roofs is not particularly great for homeowners. “When you restrict the company’s ability to actually manage their book. What they are likely to do is just pull back more, not to engage more. … while this looks like a consumer-friendly provision, it ultimately hurt consumers in the end because they are going to have less competition in the marketplace,” said Brandes. The other cold reality is any impact from whatever bill they pass won’t be felt by homeowners for at least a year.

Lawmakers deliver home insurance reforms sought by Ron DeSantis. Will they work?” via Zac Anderson and Jason Delgado of USA Today Network — Pressed into action by DeSantis to stem a growing crisis, Florida lawmakers delivered property insurance reforms sought by the Governor and primarily favored by the insurance industry. Now the questions are whether they will work and who will benefit. Homeowners struggle with higher rates, while insurers fail and drop coverage. DeSantis was under pressure to get something done. The solution lawmakers produced is a bill that the Senate sponsor said focuses on stabilizing struggling insurers than delivering immediate rate relief.

FJRI lauds Gov. DeSantis, Legislature for passing property insurance package — The Florida Justice Reform Institute praised DeSantis and the Legislature for passing legislation (SB 2D) meant to address the current crisis of availability and affordability in the property insurance marketplace. “Despite assignment of benefit reforms in 2019 and additional reforms last year with Senate Bill 76, property insurance lawsuits have exploded over the last several years, overwhelming Florida’s insurance market,” FJRI President William Large said, adding, “Senate Bill 2D contains significant litigation reforms and gets to the heart of escalating rates and limited coverage — lawsuit abuse. Passage of these significant reforms represents a major victory for Gov. DeSantis and his bold style of no-nonsense leadership.”

Tick-tock: Will DeSantis sign “misleading” Everglades bill?” via Christine Stapleton of The Backstory Blog — Let’s begin by making sure we understand the meaning of the word “notwithstanding.” If you don’t understand what “notwithstanding” means, it’s easy to believe that SB 2508 will bring about Everglades armageddon. If you do understand what “notwithstanding” means, SB 2508 simply forces the South Florida Water Management District to make a promise that it did its homework like it was supposed to do. Opponents of the bill, including Eric Eikenberg — the top dog at the Everglades Foundation — spoke at the meeting, along with members of Captains for Clean Water, a nonprofit that the Everglades Foundation has heavily funded. So, why did Eikenberg say SB 2508 would “eliminate the EAA reservoir from funding?” Was the mere sight of a black line through the “EAA reservoir projects” so discombobulating that he simply overlooked the “notwithstanding” clause? SB 2508, they said, would take away money from building the EAA reservoir, cause more toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie Estuary and Caloosahatchee River, and take water desperately needed in the Everglades and Florida Bay and give it to farmers. Eikenberg either deliberately misled Captains for Clean Water, or he did not do his homework. If I had missed that and drafted a story saying SB 2508 would cut funding for the EAA reservoir, I would have had to write a correction.

Eric Eikenberg — did he mislead or just fail to do homework? Image via Ricardo Rolon/news-press.com.

Happening today — The Florida Transportation Commission meets, 10 a.m. Call-in: (850) 739-5589. Meeting code: 715528254.

Happening today — The Florida Supreme Court releases opinions for the week, 11 a.m.

Engineers praise post-Surfside condo safety reforms — The Florida Engineering Society (FES) and American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida celebrated the passage of a bill to boost safety at older condominiums on Wednesday. “The importance of this legislation cannot be understated. The periodic inspections of condos will help ensure that all Floridians can rest at night knowing that their building, particularly older condos, are structurally sound. This legislation is good for Floridians and good for Florida,” said Allen Douglas, the Executive Director of FES and ACEC Florida. The organizations also offered “special thanks” to House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Senate President Wilton Simpson, Sen. Jennifer Bradley, Sen. Jason Pizzo and Rep. Daniel Perez.

Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies thanks Governor, lawmakers for insurance reforms — After the Special Session adjourned, the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies released a statement thanking the Governor and lawmakers for taking action to address rising property insurance rates. President of LAAIA National Lissette Perez thanked DeSantis, Sprowls, Simpson, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, and bill sponsors, saying they “came together to tackle these difficult issues and took crucial first steps in passing significant property insurance reforms to provide much-needed relief to Florida consumers and to begin to stabilize the insurance marketplace. The LAAIA looks forward to continuing to work with the Legislature to bring additional reforms for the stabilization of the insurance marketplace and the Florida consumers.”

Lobbying compensation: Johnson & Blanton clears $1.2M in first quarter” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Led by Jon Johnson and Travis Blanton, the firm’s Q1 team also included lobbyists Diane Wagner Carr, Darrick McGhee and Eric Prutsman. They represented more than 80 clients last quarter, tallying $755,000 in legislative lobbying fees and $465,000 in executive branch lobbying fees. Team J&B’s top legislative client last quarter was Multitype Library Cooperatives at $45,000. Team J&B represents several numerous health care interests and has cultivated a reputation as one of the top health care lobbying firms in the state. Their client roster also included Advent Health, the Florida Hospital Association, BayCare, DaVita, the Florida Dental Association, and others. Overall, the firm earned no less than $1 million in Q1 and could have earned as much as $1.5 million at the top end.

Lobbying compensation: Capitol Alliance Group snags $405K in Q1” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Lobbyists Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl represented 61 clients for the quarter, collecting $250,000 in pay from their legislative clients and an additional $155,000 for executive branch lobbying. The firm reported six contracts at the $15,000 level in the Legislature and the same clients also paid $15,000 apiece for executive branch lobbying. Those clients included the City of St Petersburg, the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Wendover Housing Partners and Willis Towers Watson. The firm earned no less than $350,000 in Q1. At the top end, the firm could have earned as much as $540,000.

— 2022 —

DeSantis reaches new highs in 2024 prediction market” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — PredictIt markets concerning both the Republican nomination and the Presidential Election are showing DeSantis has hit new highs in recent days. In the still-hypothetical race for the 2024 GOP nomination, DeSantis has trended of late toward parity with Trump. The latest “Yes” price for DeSantis was 33 cents, and in the last week, DeSantis shares have closed at 35 cents. Trump’s latest “Yes” price is 37 cents. While Trump action has stayed relatively static, with prices near or at 40 cents a share, DeSantis has seen increased enthusiasm. The spread between “Yes” shares for the former President and the Governor was around 10 cents three months ago. The momentum here jibes with that of various polls showing DeSantis as an increasingly viable Trump alternative. No other Republican is really a factor for investors here.

Redistricting map: How will your new district look — and vote?” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s political landscape has been redrawn. Every 10 years, after the census, lawmakers redraw the maps for Florida’s Senate and House and its U.S. congressional delegation. How they divide up the state is vital to each party’s chances of securing as many seats as possible. Knowing the demographics and voting patterns of certain neighborhoods makes it easier to guess how the electorate of a district will vote in the future. These maps will be in effect for Florida’s state primary election in August and general election in November unless a court blocks them. While the state’s highest court has already approved the Legislature’s new state House and Senate district maps, the congressional map is in legal limbo.

Democrats’ top candidates for Governor to appear at public forum in South Florida” via Anna Wilder of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade Democratic Party is hosting a public forum Saturday evening in North Miami Beach for its top three gubernatorial candidates. CBS4’s Jim DeFede will moderate the event. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Agriculture Commissioner Fried and state Sen. Annette Taddeo will speak at North Miami Beach’s Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater. Robert Dempster, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, said the event would be a forum instead of a debate. He said the event is intended to be livestreamed on the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s YouTube channel and that they are working through technical aspects with the venue.

The big three are heading to Miami for a talkfest — don’t call it ‘debate.’

Jared Moskowitz adds $665K in first 27 days of congressional campaign, Q1 reports show” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — With his campaign announced on March 4, Moskowitz added $665,641 in the first quarter, which ended March 31. He is vying to represent the district that straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties. That amount includes a $5,800 donation Moskowitz made to his campaign and a $250,000 loan. His campaign ended the first quarter of 2022 with $647,601 cash on hand — even though his campaign was active only 27 days in that period. Notable names donating to his campaign include Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who gave the maximum, along with her father, lobbyist Ron Book. John Morgan of the personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan also gave the maximum. Sen. Janet Cruz chipped in $250. Former Pompano Beach City Commissioner Barry Dockswell gave $1,000.

Ashley Moody endorses Laurel Lee in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “I’ve seen firsthand Laurel Lee’s commitment to serving the people of Florida, from our days as young lawyers volunteering to assist victims of domestic violence through her service as Secretary of State for Gov. DeSantis,” Attorney General Moody said. “Like me, Laurel has been a federal prosecutor and a judge. She’s worked side-by-side with law enforcement to protect Floridians and ensure that the laws of our state are respected.” Lee resigned from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration to run in the newly drawn Florida’s 15th Congressional District. The Thonotosassa Republican entered a crowded GOP Primary field.

Broward lawmaker Anika Omphroy running for Congress” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — State Rep. Omphroy, a Central Broward Democrat, is running for Congress. Omphroy announced her intentions via a banner on her campaign website: “Anika Omphroy Congress.” She hasn’t issued a formal announcement, but rumors about her plans have been circulating for weeks. Omphroy, 43, is in her second term in the state House of Representatives. She lives in Lauderdale Lakes, which presumably would have her challenging U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who won a January Special Election in the Broward-Palm Beach County 20th District. Also running in the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary is former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, who lost a Special Primary Election last year to Cherfilus-McCormick by five votes.

Feds say one-time West Palm Beach candidate bilked $816K from small business loan programs” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — A former West Palm Beach City Commission candidate with ties to DeSantis has been accused of bilking federal small business loan programs out of more than $800,000. Sean Pierre Jackson, 33, who used his platform as chair of the Black Republican Caucus of Florida to defend DeSantis against accusations of racism, filed false applications to get loans intended to help businesses hurt by COVID-19 closures or natural disasters. He faces a maximum 20-year sentence if convicted of wire fraud. According to federal prosecutors, Jackson submitted 11 applications on behalf of four companies.


— STATEWIDE —

Al Lawson: Cord Byrd brings Donald Trump philosophy to State Department” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Lawson says new Secretary of State Byrd is bringing former President Donald Trump’s election lie philosophy to the Florida Department of State. “What you hear from the rhetoric coming out of the Secretary of State’s Office with a new person over there, it’s just ridiculous,” said Lawson. “It’s really ridiculous to be not wanting to admit that there were no problems in the state of Florida.” Despite Lawson’s characterization, Byrd did say Florida’s 2020 election was successful and accurate.

Al Lawson is no fan of Cord Byrd.

53% of third graders passed the state’s reading test this year” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Just over half of Florida’s third graders performed at or above the passing level on this spring’s statewide reading test, essentially the same result as a year ago. This group of children had their first grade interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and their second grade marked by quarantines and distance learning, before returning to a mostly normal school year for 2021-22. About 99% attended in-person classes for third grade, with the majority sitting for the exam. That makes the data valuable in determining where children found success and where they need more attention, said Jacob Oliva, Florida’s interim Education Commissioner.

Startling exodus to Florida accelerating despite New York reopening after COVID-19 restrictions” via Selim Algar of the New York Post — New York has fully reopened after the strict restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic — but migration from the Empire State to Florida has accelerated this year, according to new data. A total of 21,546 New Yorkers swapped their driver’s licenses for the Sunshine State version during the first four months of this year — a 12% increase from the same period in 2021 and 55% higher than the first four months of 2019. Mayor Eric Adams has speculated that the Florida exodus would wane once the city reopened. But the end of COVID-19 restrictions and the return of full-time schooling have so far failed to stem the outward tide to cities like Miami, Palm Beach and Jacksonville, according to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety.

Median home price soars to $410,000; affordability a statewide crisis” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — The median home price in Florida hit $410,000 in April, further eroding the options for working-class residents to find housing. All of Florida’s 22 metropolitan statistical areas experienced increased home prices over the past year, most in double digits, with prices continuing to rise. The statewide year-over-year increase was 21.8% percent, the report found. Only the Tallahassee metro, with a median home price of $299,000, saw a decrease from its price in February, which was $306,950. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA had the sixth-highest home prices with a median of $425,000, a 23.9% raise. This is higher than April’s Orlando Regional Realtor Association report, which includes a broader coverage area than the MSA.

— D.C. MATTERS —

The White House keeps walking back Biden’s remarks” via Ashley Parker and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Biden’s team was quick to claim that the administration’s policy had not changed. But the moment was reminiscent of one two months prior, in March, when Biden ended a speech in Warsaw by ad-libbing the line that Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power as Russia’s President, which his advisers again raced to walk back. Bonnie Glaser, the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said she has counted five times the President has spoken about Taiwan, and each time she says he has misstated America’s foreign policy.

The White House is in a regular pattern of walk backs. Are we surprised? Image via AP.

Pessimism abounds as Senate confronts another tragic mass shooting” via Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — Members of the Senate, the ash heap for decades of federal gun-control proposals, confronted another gut-wrenching mass shooting with a distinct sense of fatalism Wednesday, with most Republicans standing firm in defense of expansive gun rights as Democrats said they were desperate to pursue even meager attempts to prevent another tragedy. Much of the reaction inside the Capitol to the horror in Uvalde, Texas, followed a familiar script, one that has played out repeatedly since 2012, when the tragedy at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School prompted a monthslong failed effort to forge bipartisan compromise.

After Texas tragedy, Chuck Schumer says Democrats will negotiate on guns” via Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — Facing yet another gut-wrenching mass school shooting, Schumer and his fellow Senate Democrats signaled Wednesday that they are open to further negotiations with Republicans over potential gun-control legislation, modest and ill-fated as they may be. Schumer’s remarks Wednesday indicate that he is, for now, siding with members of his caucus who want to try at least to work with Republicans firmly opposed to existing Democratic gun-control bills.

Why this time could be different” via Alayna Treene of Axios — Nihilism about the Senate’s ability to do anything after yet another horrific mass shooting, this one taking the lives of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, permeated social media and the halls of Congress on Wednesday. There are at least five reasons to believe the dam may finally be ready to break. The majority of Americans support background checks. The National Rifle Association is weakened. Children were murdered. Again. It happened in the Republicans’ backyard.

Congressional budget office says inflation to last into 2023” via Fatima Hussein of The Associated Press — The Congressional Budget Office released an economic outlook Wednesday saying high inflation will persist into next year, likely causing the federal government to pay higher interest rates on its debt. The nonpartisan agency expects the consumer price index to rise 6.1% this year and 3.1% in 2023. This forecast suggests that inflation will slow from current annual levels of 8.3%, yet it would still be dramatically above a long-term baseline of 2.3%. The 10-year estimates do contain positive news as this year’s annual budget deficit will be $118 billion lower than forecast last year.

Fed minutes show urgency for raising rates to tame high inflation” via Nick Timiraos of The Wall Street Journal — Federal Reserve officials thought they would need to raise interest rates by a half-percentage point at each of their next two meetings when they approved an increase at their gathering earlier this month. Minutes from the Fed’s May 3-4 meeting show that officials discussed the possibility that they would raise interest rates to levels high enough to slow economic growth deliberately as the central bank races to combat high inflation. Officials “noted that a restrictive stance of policy may well become appropriate,” the minutes said.

Trump recalibrates his standing in GOP after primary setbacks” via Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer and Ashley Parker of The Washington Post — Trump has long been the dominant force in Republican politics, but as he has faced a spate of setbacks in recent weeks, the former President has been privately fretting about who might challenge him. Trump has been quizzing advisers and visitors at his Mar-a-Lago resort about his budding rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, including DeSantis. Among his questions, according to several advisers, who like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations: Who will actually run against him? What do the polls show? Who are his potential foes meeting with? Trump’s deliberations follow prominent defeats this month for his chosen candidates in Idaho, Nebraska, North Carolina, and now Georgia.

Donald Trump may have to change strategies. Image via AP.

Trump said to have reacted approvingly to Jan. 6 chants about hanging Mike Pence” via Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — Shortly after hundreds of rioters at the Capitol started chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” on Jan. 6, 2021, the White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that Trump was complaining that the Vice President was being whisked to safety. According to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, Meadows then told the colleagues that Trump had said something to the effect of “maybe Pence should be hanged.” It is not clear what tone Trump was said to have used.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

‘We’ve been down that path’: How South Florida has stepped up school safety measures after the Parkland shooting” via Brooke Baitinger and Eileen Kelley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A shooting at an elementary school in Texas has left the country reeling and has scarred South Floridians reliving their own tragedy from four years ago as if it was yesterday. Students should be celebrating the carefree final days of the school year, but instead, they’re on edge with the news of another school shooting. School officials are reminding students and their families that schools are safe and secure due to measures taken after the Parkland shooting. At a news conference Wednesday morning, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony stressed the same point and offered his condolences to those in Texas. “Here in Broward County, we know precisely what that feels like,” he said. “We’ve been down that path.”

Cuba detains more than 800 Haitian migrants on the way to the Florida Keys” via David Goodhue and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — A cargo ship packed with more than 800 Haitian migrants ran aground in Cuban waters Tuesday, stopping before it could reach its intended destination — the Florida Keys. If the boat had arrived anywhere near the South Florida mainland, it would have been the largest migrant landing by people from Haiti to date. The number of people on board the freighter exceeds the 356 Haitians who arrived on a similar boat in March just yards from the beach of the ultra-wealthy enclave of Ocean Reef Club in north Key Largo — and the size of that group stunned U.S. immigration officials.

Cuba stopped one of the largest migrations of Haitians in recent times. Image via U.S. Coast Guard.

PCB police: Over three dozen arrested in Spring Break riot, child-sex sting” via Samantha Neely of the Panama City News Herald — Panama City Beach Police Department officials held a news conference Wednesday morning to unveil the arrests from Operation Rollback and Operation Rogue Wave. Beach police charged 15 people in the March 26 riot at the Walmart at the intersection of Middle Beach and Front Beach roads. All the suspects are from Alabama and range from ages 17 to 37. Operation Rogue Wave resulted in the arrest of 21 men on various charges, with three other suspects still being sought on charges of transmitting harmful material to a child and soliciting a child for sexual activity. In the five-day sting from May 18-22, police said 13 people were charged with traveling to meet a child for sexual activity.

School Board likely to restrict school name change petitions; signatures could be required” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — Following two unpopular school name change requests, the Brevard County School Board appears to be moving forward with a policy that would require people to gather signatures before an 18-month process to gather community input over name changes begin. School Board members in favor of the policy change said it will prevent needless use of district staff time to hold meetings and gather community input. “Not that anyone would do this, but as the policy said before, somebody could just come up with the idea that hey, I want to rename Manatee Elementary Groundhog Day Elementary and we would have to initiate the 18 months, all-hands-on-deck resources,” School Board member Katye Campbell said.

Tenet Health to operate Community of Caring Hospital, fourth hospital in St. Lucie County” via Olivia McKelvey of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Tenet Health is expected to manage the new 54-bed hospital planned near Becker Road and Florida’s Turnpike. Community of Caring Hospital would be the fourth hospital in St. Lucie County and the third in Port St. Lucie. It could open by the end of 2024. The Dallas-based for-profit company has surgery centers in Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Jensen Beach and Stuart, but this would be its first hospital on the Treasure Coast. It would be about 8 miles from HCA Florida St. Lucie Hospital, 9 miles from Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital, and 20 miles from HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce. The City Council approved the hospital site plan Monday.

A new 54-bed facility will be the fourth hospital in St. Lucie County.

Spain mission aims to lure tech firms to Miami” via Monica Correa of Miami Today — The Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the County’s economic development organization, has kicked off its first trade mission in Spain since 2019 to further position the area as a global business destination of choice. The Spain Economic Development Mission, joined by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, top economic and political executives of Miami-Dade, and the U.S. ambassador in Spain, continues from May 22 to 27 in Madrid and Vigo, Spain, to “build awareness of opportunities for doing business in Miami-Dade.”

From crypto to produce, four more companies are opening in Fort Lauderdale” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Four more companies, operating in industries ranging from cryptocurrency and produce to sales training and logistics, have signed leases to locate in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Tower 101, the real estate services firm CBRE announced Tuesday. The firms are Reveneer, Marathon Digital Holdings, Altar Produce and Ryan Transportation. Reveneer is a Boston-based provider of outsourced sales development services for technology companies. The company will employ an estimated 125 people and take over a large space on the 17th floor by the end of next year. The firm’s description mirrors that of an unidentified Boston company mentioned in a recent Broward County Commission agenda that discusses the company seeking job creation incentives from the County and the city of Fort Lauderdale.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

‘Ghost’ candidate Jestine Iannotti booked into Seminole jail, bonds out” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Iannotti, the former Seminole County substitute teacher whose independent 2020 bid for Florida Senate District 9 was central to the statewide “ghost” candidate scandal, was booked into the Seminole County Jail on Wednesday morning. She was jailed at about 11:30 a.m. and released roughly two hours later after posting a $4,500 bond. Her brief detention provided a rare glimpse of Iannotti, 36, who never campaigned for the seat and spent weeks before the November 2020 election in Sweden, where she moved after the race was decided.

Jestine Iannotti never campaigned in the race where she played spoiler. Image via Orlando Sentinel.

Orange school board picks three semifinalists for new superintendent” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — In its search for Orange County’s next school superintendent, the Orange County School Board on Wednesday picked three semifinalists who will get further consideration as the possible next leader of one of Florida’s largest school districts. The three are Rafaela Espinal, an assistant superintendent for the New York City school system; Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for the Palm Beach County school district; and Maria Vazquez, the deputy superintendent for Orange County Public Schools.

Hillsborough Commissioners: Ferry could sail without Pinellas support” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — The Cross Bay Ferry could set sail in the fall with Pinellas County left ashore, two Hillsborough County Commissioners said. “That’s what I’m supporting,” said Commissioner Pat Kemp. “I’m not willing to see this whole thing go down the drain just because they (Pinellas County officials) take their ball and go home,” said Commissioner Mariella Smith. Kemp and Smith, the Hillsborough Commission’s leading advocates for the ferry service, made their comments in separate interviews with the Tampa Bay Times. Their statements followed Pinellas County Commissioners’ May 10 vote to opt out of the local agreement calling for the two counties and the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg to subsidize service operator, HMS Ferries.

No refunds — yet — for angry fans of Daytona’s Welcome to Rockville” via Jim Abbott of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — No refunds are yet in the cards for disgruntled fans clamoring for compensation after performances by two headliners were canceled on consecutive days because of thunderstorms at the Welcome to Rockville music festival at Daytona International Speedway. However, discussions that could yield such refunds on ticket purchases are underway, said Danny Hayes, CEO of the Danny Wimmer Presents, the heavy-metal festival’s Los Angeles-based promoter. “We are in conversations with the insurance company,” Hayes said on Wednesday of the potential for ticket refunds. “It is not solely our decision. This is a process and I need you to bear with me.”

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

County names new park after DeSantis” via Gordon Byrd of WFLA — Manatee County Commissioners have decided to name a new park after DeSantis, but not without controversy. They voted 6-1 Tuesday to place DeSantis’ name on a new park across from Kinnan Elementary School near Sarasota-Bradenton airport. Commissioner James Satcher said it was a tribute to the Governor’s firm stance against COVID-19 lockdowns and mask rules. But the debate got mired in political controversy when Commissioner Misty Servia, who represents the neighborhood in which the park is located, accused a fellow Commissioner facing an ethics investigation of pushing the name change forward to curry favor with the Governor. The Governor could remove Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.

Manatee County pays tribute to Ron DeSantis. Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr.



— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —

John Dailey wins straw poll after Tallahassee mayoral debate” via Roseanne Dunkelberger of Florida Politics — A who’s who of about 170 Tallahassee businesspeople and politicos, double the usual head count for a monthly meeting of the Network of Entrepreneurs & Business Advocates (NEBA), showed up for lunch Tuesday for the first debate of campaign season between the four candidates running for Tallahassee Mayor. But those expecting to see fireworks between the top two candidates were sorely disappointed by the primarily cordial comments, without any of the point-counterpoint one would find in a true debate. That said, the questions posed by NEBA President and debate moderator Patrick Slevin did suss out the major bones of contention between the two front-runners: A $27 million allocation to improve Florida State University’s football stadium and City Hall ethics.

John Dailey gets an early boost for re-election. Image via YouTube.

Storms and strong winds cause damage and power outages to about 6,000 in Pensacola” via Brittany Misencik of the Pensacola News Journal — Thousands were briefly left without power and some people suffered property damage Wednesday morning after severe weather struck the Ferry Pass area. In the neighborhoods around Whitmire Drive and Olive Road, the storm left a string of damage and debris. A power outage occurred at about 4 a.m. when strong winds toppled a tree and damaged power lines nearby, according to Gordon Paulus, a senior communications specialist with FPL. “It could have been straight-line winds, it could have been a tornado, but it caused a lot of damage sporadically throughout Pensacola,” Paulus said. By noon, only about 15% were still without power. Paulus said FPL is expecting more storms in the next 24 hours and staging teams to prepare for any future outages.

Santa Rosa County kick-starting efforts to improve health of Santa Rosa sound” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Santa Rosa County plans to use a $786,000 RESTORE grant to kick-start a water quality monitoring effort in the Santa Rosa sound as part of the broader Sound Water Quality Improvement Program plan. “I think everybody agrees that we need to be able to put our feet in the water and not worry about getting sick,” said Santa Rosa’s Environmental Programs Coordinator Shelley Alexander. The RESTORE grant will be used, in part, for the monitoring component of the program, which will test the pollutant loads in the Santa Rosa sound for five years. The testing is centered on the County’s decision to relocate treated effluent from the wastewater treatment facility in Navarre Beach from the sound to a rapid infiltration basin system at Eglin Air Force Base.

Discrimination lawsuit against Big Brothers Big Sisters dismissed with prejudice” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — A discrimination lawsuit against the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend naming a school board member has been dismissed. The plaintiff filed the lawsuit on May 18, but it was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff, Dakota Deyent, with prejudice Wednesday afternoon. Dismissal with prejudice means the plaintiff cannot refile the same claim again in that court. In the suit, Deyent said he was a victim of retaliation from Leon County School Board member Alva Striplin, the CEO at the time. Deyent alleged Striplin held him to a different standard because he reported unlawful employment activities and was fired in the summer of 2020 in retaliation. The lawsuit also alleged he was treated differently for being a Black man.

A Pensacola police officer was recognized at the White House last week. Here’s the story on why.” via Allie Sinkovich of the USA TODAY Network — In 10 days, Pensacola Police Department Officer Anthony Giorgio discovered that he would not just receive one of the most prestigious awards for officers but accepting the medal from Biden at the White House. Giorgio was awarded the Medal of Valor on May 16 after aiding in the rescue of five individuals from potential drownings on May 9, 2021. At the ceremony, the Medal of Valor was defined as one of the “highest awards for public safety officers.” Giorgio recalls first learning about the award when he was a cadet. “You hear stories about the people who have been awarded it, and you think, ‘These guys are heroes, and you’re humbled by it,’” Giorgio said.

Walton County high school students reportedly organizing ‘fight clubs’ at DeFuniak Springs park” via Sierra Rains of Northwest Florida Daily News — A new trend among some Walton County students is raising concerns after recent reports of so-called “fight clubs” being organized at a local park. DeFuniak Springs police suspected some “inappropriate activity” was going on at Wee Care Park, across from Walton High School, after receiving video footage of large groups of teens going and coming from the restrooms earlier in May. Fights have happened at the park on occasion before, but Lt. Richard Black said this was the first time police had seen anything like a “fight club.” Police believe the “fighting for sport” trend began circulating among high school students in early May.

Did Lynn Haven cause fish kill by dumping 500K gallons of chlorine in bayou? DEP investigating” via Nathan Cobb of the Panama City News Herald — A state environmental agency is investigating whether Lynn Haven illegally discharged 500,000 gallons of chlorinated drinking water, causing a fish kill in a bayou. In a warning letter dated May 16 to Bobby Baker, public works director for Lynn Haven, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said the discharge occurred May 5. The water came from the Lynn Haven Water Treatment Plant at 1111 Ohio Ave. DEP also noted that the city could be liable for “damages and restorations” associated with the spill, as well as face civil penalties if an investigation finds the discharge violated state water quality standards. Baker declined Monday to comment before city and DEP officials discussed the incident during a teleconference that he said was scheduled for May 31.

New director at Pace Center for Girls Jacksonville to lead next generation of young women” via Beth Reese Cravey of the Florida Times-Union — Chantell Miles has been named executive director of Pace Center for Girls Jacksonville after working for parts of the agency for 10 years, most recently leading the Pinellas location. Pace is a nationally recognized model that provides education, counseling, training, and advocacy for girls and young women. Jacksonville is one of 21 Florida centers. Miles began her Pace career in 2012 as an outreach counselor at the Jacksonville center, then in 2015 led program development at the newly opened Clay County center. Later she joined the Pace national office, which is also in Jacksonville, where she supervised programming at all the Florida centers. In 2019 she was an associate executive director in Pinellas, then in 2020 assumed the top job at that location.

Congratulations: Chantell Miles worked her way to a leadership position at the Pace Center for Girls.

‘The world is a less kind place now.’: Colleagues reflect on life of Carla Williams” via Alex Miller and Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — A teacher. A coach. A role model. A friend. An inspiration. Williams was all those things and much, much more to those who knew her. So as news of Williams’ tragic death spread Tuesday, the only thing greater than the community’s shock and confusion was its outpouring of love and admiration for her. An associate professor at Pensacola State College, Williams spent more than 24 years working in athletics, Collegiate High and the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. Vicki Carson spent more than two decades as the Lady Pirates’ head basketball coach. For a decade, Williams was at her side, spending two years as a player and eight years as Carson’s assistant coach. “She was one of the finest human beings I ever met,” Carson said

— TOP OPINION —

As a school year ends, America goes numb” via Stephanie Hayes of the Tampa Bay Times — It happened. Again. Nineteen children and two adults dead — so far — shot down at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. A nation wailed again, slipping into the same exhausted rhetoric, gearing up for the numb, fulsome fight, the one where everyone has an opinion, but nothing ever gets done. It’s supposed to be a sickly-sweet time, a time to exhale, reassess, rest. Instead, it’s a time to ask when, not if. When’s my turn? My family? My child? Is someone yelling because they’re having fun, or should I flee? Not unimaginable. It’s tangible and it’s real and it’s an endless, morose cyclone to nowhere. It’s a sick nation that won’t entertain a conversation about common-sense, constitutionally sound paths off this catastrophic merry-go-round.

— OPINIONS —

The real reason America doesn’t have gun control” via Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic — Polls are clear that while Americans don’t believe gun control would solve all of the problems associated with gun violence, a commanding majority supports the central priorities of gun-control advocates, including universal background checks and an assault-weapons ban. Yet despite this overwhelming consensus, legislative action is highly unlikely. That’s because gun control is one of many issues in which majority opinion in the nation runs into the brick wall of a Senate rule — the filibuster — that provides a veto over national policy to a minority of the states, most of them small, largely rural, preponderantly White, and dominated by Republicans. The disproportionate influence of small states has come to shape the competition for national power in America.

As Trump loses kingmaker status, he becomes more dangerous” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Just how dark can “Dark MAGA” get? Trump and one of his prominent acolytes have just shone some light on the matter. On Sunday, amid a growing number of signs that he has lost his hot hand in Republican primaries, Trump elevated the idea of “civil war” against an “enemy [coming] from within” the United States. Republican leaders responded, as usual, with silence. Trump on Sunday used his own hapless media company, Truth Social, to share a screen shot of a tweet from Salvadoran President (and Trump ally) Nayib Bukele saying of the United States: “Something so big and powerful can’t be destroyed so quickly, unless the enemy comes from within.” Trump “ReTruthed” that message, along with the two-word commentary a Truth Social user had appended: “Civil war.”

Did Rep. Fine just threaten the President’s life? Secret Service better find out” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Fine, a Republican member of the Florida House with a proven lack of impulse control, common sense, or human decency, tweeted what sounds like a threat against the President. The Secret Service should take it seriously. We don’t know Fine’s true intent, and his denial is more muddying than clarifying, so the authorities must find out. Here’s what Fine said on Twitter: “I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”

— ALOE —

The plant-based future of food doesn’t always taste that great” via Kenny Torrella of Vox — It’s hard to tease out the effect of subpar products on the broader plant-based meat sector, but after years of startups capturing the public’s curiosity — and food dollars — there is evidence that the category is starting to plateau. Plant-based meat is hurting at the drive-thru; analysts say sales of McDonald’s McPlant burger, made with Beyond Meat, are lower than anticipated. The single largest Burger King franchise operator in the U.S. said in late 2020 that Impossible Whopper sales had fallen by half from around 30 per store per day compared to when it first launched in August 2019.

Plant-based burgers are starting to lose their cool factor.

They spent a fortune on pictures of apes and cats. Do they regret it?” via Prashnu Verma of The Washington Post — People paid eye-popping numbers: $69 million for a JPEG file by the digital artist Beeple; $10.5 million for a pixilated image that resembled the Joker character in Batman; and $5.4 million for a token of Edward Snowden’s face made from court documents. But with the crypto market cratering by $500 billion in recent weeks, the hype over NFTs has cooled. A host of collectors have shelled out small fortunes in recent months for digital assets whose worth is now in limbo. An NFT of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, purchased last year by an Iranian crypto investor for $2.9 million, was put up for auction in April, with bids topping out at $280.

Researchers made ultracold quantum bubbles on the space station” via Ramin Skibba of WIRED — In March 2018, researchers launched what looks like a white, cooler-sized fridge to the International Space Station. That heavy box houses a $100 million facility known as the Cold Atom Laboratory, enabling an array of atomic physics experiments at freezing temperatures in zero-g of space. Scientists have now produced tiny bubbles of extremely cold gas atoms with those unique conditions, putting them on the edge of quantum physics territory.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are the great Marian Johnson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, as well as Mark Bergin, Jason Harrell, Mike Fischer (it’s his real birthday), Dan Krassner, and Dr. Jason Wilson.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


One comment

  • Stephen P Johnson

    May 27, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    What is wrong with having a system in place that requires basic rules can improve our situation? The boy in Texas bought his rifles on his 18th birthday and just walked out of the store with them. A background check, waiting period, and basic firearms class for new buyers and beginners could have revealed or stopped the impulse reactions he made in his mental state.

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