Rise 'n' shine. Wake up to the best blurbs on politics and policy in Florida.
Good Monday morning from the Grosvenor House. Yes, I’m at our hotel in London, which is not where I expected to be at this point today. But, alas, after two years of dodging the coronavirus, it caught up with me late last week.
Because I was vaccinated and boosted, the symptoms are not exactly mild (my ribs genuinely hurt from deeply coughing so often), but they are manageable.
The real difficulty is that I am currently marooned in London. The U.S. requires a clean COVID-19 test before re-entering, and I keep rolling snake eyes.
Michelle and Ella tested negative and are flying home today. They had a lovely time. But since Friday, I’ve been waylaid, missing some of the planned vacation adventures in the works for more than a year.
And yet, I am grateful.
Grateful that the girls are healthy and headed home. Grateful that I’m vaccinated, and that this virus is not life-threatening to me. Grateful that I can order comfort food in a nice hotel room. Grateful that I was even on vacation in the first place.
So many millions of people have had their lives interrupted by this virus and they persevered. So will I. Now I’m not exactly sure how and when I will be getting home, but first things first: I need a clean bill of health.
If I may ask anything, it’s that you please consider supporting the work of my colleagues while I am stuck. Open the emails. Please click on the links to our stories. Retweet the stories worthy of others’ time. Consider dishing a scoop to one of our reporters. Whatever you can do. I cannot be as hands-on as I would like right now — and can really use your help.
As for our trip to London, this remains the cutest highlight:
—@ElonMusk: Making life multi-planetary expands the scope & scale of consciousness. It also enables us to back up the biosphere, protecting all life as we know it from a calamity on Earth. Humanity is life’s steward, as no other species can transport life to Mars. We can’t let them down.
—@DJRothKopf: The chief of staff to the Vice President of the United States reached out to the Secret Service about a threat he perceived might come from … the President of the United States. If we had not lost all sense of perspective, this would be utterly blowing our minds right now.
—@POTUS: Why should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30-round magazines and fires hundreds of bullets in minutes? The damage was so devastating in Uvalde parents had to do DNA swabs to identify remains of their 9- and 10-year-old children. Enough.
—@SteveHoffstetter: 14 people were shot on Philadelphia’s South Street last night. I don’t understand how this could happen, as I just spent a week being told that the cause of mass shootings is doors.
You are seen. You are valued. You are loved. This month we celebrate our LGBTQIA+ community in all it's glory. Happy Pride Month ❤️ pic.twitter.com/OkkN2rhDhv
—@Kylamb8: The left is caught in an uncomfortable position. Because in order to keep making this about ‘saying gay,’ they have to double down on defending exposing kids to this. If they don’t, the charade is exposed.
—@AndrwMoss_FL: The Washington Post seems like as great of a place to work at as the White House: disorder, people going behind each other’s back, and an old person (Taylor Lorenz) runs the show with no idea how much they are disliked.
Man seen pulling surfing dog through flooded streets of Las Olas earlier today.
—@SheaSorreno: re-watched Breaking Bad, and now I’m re-watching The Wire, and I am zero percent closer to an answer to “which is better, breaking bad or the wire?”
—@PoliticsReid: Monopoly is bringing back the thimble token
— DAYS UNTIL —
California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 1; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 4; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 11; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 22; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 31; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 43; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 46; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 65; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 73; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 76; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 86; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 86; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 88; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 94; 2022 Emmys — 98; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 122; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 140; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 141; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 141; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 158; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 164; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 168; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 168; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 169; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 177; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 177; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 191; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 255; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 273; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 291; 2023 Session Sine Die — 333; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 333; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 361; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 417; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 501; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 662; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 781.
He shooed away protesters who demanded action on gun violence by telling them that “nobody wants to hear from you,” and he also signed the state’s largest budget at $101.5 billion.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference Friday, highlighting the state’s robust economy, buoyed by high tourism numbers and an infusion of federal COVID-19 relief money. “It’s a good place to be.”
But critics say DeSantis is ignoring real issues in the state to wage war against “wokeness” that mainly appeals to his Republican base. DeSantis is up for re-election in November and is seen by many as a possible presidential candidate in 2024.
— STATEWIDE —
>>>Florida gas prices are creeping closer to $5 a gallon, according to AAA – The Auto Club Group. The state average jumped 18 cents last week, reaching a new all-time high of $4.76 per gallon on Sunday.
“DeSantis finally comments at length on Buffalo, Uvalde, Parkland and Columbine mass shootings” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — Following Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa, DeSantis finally commented publicly and at length Friday about the recent mass shootings that have shocked the nation. DeSantis and his team had been mostly mum about the horrific events: The White supremacist who killed 10 Black people May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York; The 18-year-old man who shot and killed 19 children and two teachers at school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, and another mass shooting Wednesday night at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, leaving four dead. Prompted by a reporter’s question at a Friday news conference, DeSantis responded for at least seven minutes about a wide range of topics related to mass shootings.
“DeSantis says law enforcement must be held accountable in school shootings” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In comparing the apparent failures of law enforcement in Uvalde, Texas, to stop a recent school shooter with the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, DeSantis pushed accountability of law enforcement and schools. DeSantis, asked at an Orlando news conference about his thoughts on the Uvalde mass shooting last week that killed 19 young children and two teachers, said a lesson from the 2018 school shooting in Parkland was that law enforcement must be held to high standards and must be held accountable to those standards. “We’re going to figure out definitively what happened with this response or non-response,” DeSantis said.
“Top lawmakers passed DeSantis’ priorities. It didn’t save their Tampa Bay projects.” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — When DeSantis signed the state’s $109.9 billion budget Thursday and announced a whopping $3.1 billion in line-item vetoes, he was flanked by smiling Republican leaders whose local projects took some of the heaviest hits. That’s despite the fact that the Legislature passed many of the Governor’s often controversial legislative priorities, including during two recent special sessions DeSantis called that required lawmakers to come back to Tallahassee to tackle property insurance issues, Disney’s special taxing status and redistricting. On that last topic in particular, legislative leaders passed a congressional map drawn by the Governor’s office even though they initially questioned his legal rationale.
“DeSantis’ vetoes slash Senate’s sprinkle list, goes light on House’s” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — DeSantis whacked $3 billion from the state’s $110 billion budget before he signed it, and the veto list didn’t spare priority projects from legislative leaders, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson. But more red ink spilled on Senate projects than spending preferred by the House. DeSantis vetoed 49 projects with $115.9 million in spending on the Senate’s sprinkle list, or about 31% of the projects on the entire list. Those vetoes reached $157.8 million because some of the sprinkle list funding was to boost money for projects already in the budget.
“DeSantis says Rays veto driven by opposition to funding pro stadiums, not necessarily team’s gun violence tweets” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis doesn’t want a penny of taxpayer money paying for professional sports stadiums. DeSantis made national headlines Thursday when he vetoed $35 million for a new spring training facility for the Tampa Bay Rays in Pasco County as part of his $3.1 billion budget veto. The sports and politics publication OutKick reported DeSantis would veto the funds over the Rays’ response to last month’s shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. However, DeSantis told reporters on Friday the veto was coming anyway. “I don’t support giving taxpayer dollars to professional sports stadiums, period,” DeSantis said. “At the end of the day, that was just the decision that was going to be made.”
“State solicits information on Medicaid managed care program; 54 entities respond” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The state Agency for Health Care Administration said it wanted to hear from providers about ways the state could improve its mandatory Medicaid managed care program. And the providers obliged. More than 50 entities, ranging from managed care plans to statewide medical associations to a national health care accrediting organization, want to provide the state with insight on the upcoming Medicaid managed care procurement. AHCA received 54 responses to the Request for Information it posted in May.
“Report: 1 in 5 Florida corporations paid no income tax on 2020 revenue” via Jason Delgado of the USA Today Network — One in five of the wealthiest corporations in Florida paid zero corporate income tax in 2020, according to a report published Thursday by the Florida Policy Institute. The report is a damning indictment of Florida’s corporate income tax law and was released hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on Florida’s “Freedom First Budget,” which Democratic lawmakers decried as a favor to corporations. The institute reported that 475 corporations — that earned over $50 million in 2020 — paid no corporate income tax, according to data acquired via a public record request from the state Department of Revenue.
— 2022 —
“DeSantis tops Donald Trump in another straw poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Western Conservative Summit 2024 straw poll in Colorado saw 71% approval for a DeSantis run, four points ahead of Trump. No other candidate drew even 30% support, suggesting that DeSantis continues to combine the “Anybody but Trump” lane. This event, associated with Colorado Christian University, is the second recent straw poll far away from the Sunshine State to show DeSantis atop Trump. A poll of 325 attendees, reported by WisPolitics.com, saw DeSantis get 38% of the vote in a hypothetical 2024 GOP field that included over two dozen potential candidates. Trump got 32% of the vote. Only 43% of poll respondents wanted Trump to run again.
“Nevada warms up to DeSantis in ‘feeling thermometer’ poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A University of Nevada poll showed the Governor ahead of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in a so-called “feeling thermometer” survey. Respondents were compelled to rate political figures on a scale of zero to 100, with the higher number representing a more favorable feeling. DeSantis’ rating of 48 was five points ahead of Pence and six points ahead of Trump. DeSantis performed better with Democrats and Independents than either of the two other Republicans. DeSantis was at 34 with Democrats, three points ahead of Pence and 14 ahead of Trump. With Independents, DeSantis’ 42 was one point up on Pence and three on Trump.
This crowd loves the free state of Florida and our rockstar Governor! 🇺🇸
“Democratic gubernatorial candidates are debating how many debates to have” via Steve Bousquet of WLRN — Three major Democrats seek their Party’s nomination for Governor and a chance to take on DeSantis in November. Now, they’re arguing over how often to debate each other. Charlie Crist is the best known and best-financed of the three Democrats running for Governor, and he’s making his seventh try for statewide office. In an interview, the St. Petersburg congressman said he has agreed to debate his opponents, Nikki Fried and Annette Taddeo, only once and that his time is better spent doing other things. “It’s not going to happen because I have other stuff I want to do, like talk to voters,” Crist said. “I’m not going to convince my opponents to vote for me, so I want to win, and the way you win is go out and talk to voters. It’s more important to me.”
Sierra Club endorses Charlie Crist — The Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club is the oldest, largest environmental advocacy organization in the nation, has endorsed Crist for Governor. With nearly a quarter of a million members and supporters across the Sunshine State, Sierra Club Florida cites Crist’s long record in support of addressing the climate crisis including Charlie’s historic sugar land deal for Everglades restoration and his commitment to fighting against offshore drilling. “It’s no secret that this election cycle will have deep repercussions for Florida’s communities, economy, and environment. We believe that Charlie Crist is the only candidate in this race that can defeat Ron DeSantis, take action to protect our environment and confront the ongoing climate crisis,” said Luigi Guadarrama, Political Director of Sierra Club Florida.
Cory Mills makes $12K ad buy in CD 7 — Republican candidate Mills made a $12,378 ad buy in the race for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The ads will air on June 4-10 on Fox News Channel in the Orlando media market, according to data from Ad Impact. Mills is one of several Republicans running for CD 7, a largely Seminole County-based district expected to perform Republican in November. He faces Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Erika Benfield, Brady Duke, Rusty Roberts and Scott Sturgill in the Primary. Democrats running include Tatiana Fernandez, Karen Green, Al Krulick and Allek Pastrana — none are big-name candidates.
“Daniella Levine Cava endorses Jared Moskowitz for CD 23” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Levine Cava is supporting Broward County Commissioner Moskowitz’s bid for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. I” know that Jared will be the same fierce advocate and Democratic leader as a Member of Congress,” Levine Cava said. According to polling data released in February, she continues her second year in office; and faces high favorable ratings across all party lines and cultural demographics.
“Big assist: Udonis Haslem endorses Ken Russell for Congress” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami Commissioner Russell’s campaign for Congress just got an assist from the longest-tenured Heat player in the franchise’s history. In a video posted to Twitter, Heat veteran big man Udonis Haslem threw his support behind Russell, running to unseat U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Haslem’s relationship with Russell began after the basketballer wrote a March 2020 essay for The Players’ Tribune titled “The Real Miami,” which highlighted vulnerable communities, particularly children, overlooked early on in the pandemic.
“Cord Byrd reassures Florida election security after CISA report outlines Dominion system vulnerabilities” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — In an advisory sent Friday, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) outlined “vulnerabilities” within the Dominion Voting Systems Democracy Suite ImageCast X, but ultimately found no evidence that flaws in Dominion voting machines were exploited, including in the 2020 election. Although the system is not and has never been used in Florida, the report prompted a response from the recently appointed Secretary of State Byrd. In response to the report, which also provided advice on election system security, Byrd released a statement thanking the CISA for “reassuring Florida’s voters that voting systems in our state have been and continue to remain secure.”
Happening today — The Florida Division of Elections meets to workshop on a statewide voter-registration application proposal, 11 a.m., R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough St., Tallahassee. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Meeting code: 201297717.
— MORE 2022 —
Mariya Calkins clears $210K in bid for HD 3 — Calkins announced raising over $20,000 in May for her race in Florida House District 3, achieving an overall total of more than $210,000 since the announcement of her candidacy in January. The first-time candidate also raised over $50,000 for her political committee. Calkins said: “Achieving this fundraising milestone shows the support I knew was possible throughout the district. I look forward to fighting for our freedoms and conservative values in the Florida House.” A naturalized citizen born in the U.S.S.R., Mariya served on staff in the Florida Legislature, where she worked on many conservative issues, including pro-life legislation. She and her husband live in Milton with their two daughters.
“Byron Donalds backs Berny Jacques for HD 59” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Donalds is endorsing Jacques for the House District 59 Republican nomination. Donalds, a Naples Republican, was first elected to Congress in 2020. The businessman serves Florida’s 19th Congressional District, which covers the bulk of Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero and Naples. “We need Conservatives like Berny Jacques representing us in the Florida House,” Donalds said. “Berny will fight for our Second Amendment, defend the unborn, and stand up for our American values against the woke left. I strongly endorse Berny Jacques because he is a conservative we can trust to deliver results for Florida.”
“Three Fort Lauderdale Commissioners quitting two years early” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Election season is coming two years early in Fort Lauderdale. Heather Moraitis, Robert McKinzie and Ben Sorensen are stepping down two years before their City Commission terms end in November 2024. That means three new faces will be elected to serve on the five-member board in two separate elections. The two candidates replacing Moraitis and McKinzie will be elected during the state’s midterm elections on Nov. 8. The new Commissioner replacing Sorensen will be elected during a Special Election next year on a date not yet decided.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Black voters’ support for Joe Biden has cooled, poll finds” via Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Scott Clement, Matthew Brown and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post — Roughly 9 in 10 Black voters supported Biden in the 2020 election, but a Washington Post-Ipsos poll of more than 1,200 Black Americans this spring finds what appears to be diminishing support: 7 in 10 approve of President Biden’s job performance, and fewer than one quarter “strongly approve.” A 60% majority of Black Americans say Biden is keeping most of his major campaign promises, but 37% say he is not. The poll shows much more robust support for Biden in the Black community than most other groups. But that support is growing less intense among this loyal constituency heading into the Midterm Elections.
“How Biden plans to handle the Jan. 6 hearings” via Laura Barrón-Lopez of POLITICO — When the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection starts its much-anticipated public hearings next week, President Biden and his staff will be consuming it like most Americans, by quietly watching snippets on TV. Biden and his aides are carefully keeping their distance from the committee’s work, rarely commenting, if ever, on the revelations that have come as the House panel pieces together a timeline of events on Trump’s knowledge and involvement in the plot to overturn the 2020 election. For the next public phase in that investigation, their posture won’t change.
“Look who’s placing ads to support Iowa GOP: Trump and other potential 2024 contenders” via Paul Steinhauser of Fox News — Four potential GOP White House hopefuls in the next cycle have placed paid ads in the Iowa GOP’s state convention tabloid — which lists the agenda for the state party’s June 11 gathering. Appearing in the tabloid, found on the Iowa GOP’s website, are Trump; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, through his CAVPAC; and Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina, through their Senate re-election committees. Longtime Republican strategist Alex Conant recently told Fox News that “clearly anyone who’s going to Iowa or New Hampshire right now wants to be President. By going now, they’re keeping the option to run open.”
“Rick Scott says ‘rich kid’ Biden doesn’t understand inflation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Scott took questions from the Fox and Friends weekend crew Sunday, revisiting inflation with some new material to hammer the President. Scott, the richest man in the U.S. Senate, posited that “rich kid” Biden doesn’t understand inflation because he’s out of touch with the working class. “We’ve got Biden at the beach,” he complained. “And we’ve got people who moved to Florida to enjoy the beach going back to work. You can’t make this stuff up.” “Think about this. Biden’s a rich kid. His whole life has been paid for by your tax dollars. Has no idea how to deal with inflation, no plan to deal with inflation,” Scott complained. “All he does is blame everyone else, including Vladimir Putin, for inflation.”
“Matt Gaetz says he supports voters arming themselves at polls” via Mychael Schnell of The Hill — Rep. Gaetz said he supports voters arming themselves when headed to the polls to protect against intimidation. “I sort of like [Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas] Massie’s legislation that maybe everyone who’s a voter or on their way to vote ought to have the opportunity to carry a firearm to ensure that they’re not subject to any intimidation,” Gaetz said. Gaetz’s comment came as the House Judiciary Committee marked up a package of bills seeking to tighten gun regulations. Among the measures included is legislation prohibiting straw purchases, when someone who cannot pass a background check purchases a firearm through a proxy buyer, and a bill that would raise the age requirement to buy a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21 years old.
“Mayors urge Senate to pass gun safety bills after Uvalde, Buffalo mass shootings” via USA Today Network — Sixteen city Mayors from Florida joined with more than 200 Mayors nationwide to exhort the U.S. Senate to pass two gun safety bills that got the green light from the House more than a year ago. The letter, crafted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was sent Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Mayors from Daytona Beach, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa and Miami were among those from Florida to sign the letter. “In the aftermath of the most recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, the nation’s Mayors stand united across Party lines to say enough is enough,” the Mayors’ group said.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Gov. DeSantis expected to name Renatha Francis to Florida Supreme Court after 2020 bid was derailed” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — She is widely viewed as a shoo-in for the latest opening on the state’s highest court. While a judicial nominating commission Monday will begin interviewing the 17 candidates who applied to replace retiring Justice Alan Lawson, most legal observers agree that the exercise is just window dressing. “I would be very surprised if (DeSantis) doesn’t pick her,” said Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University. “He’s picked her once before. She checks all the boxes.” Also, like most of the other hopefuls, including Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Cymonie Rowe and Judges Jeffrey Kuntz and Edward Artau, who sit on the West Palm Beach-based 4th District Court of Appeal, she’s a member of the conservative Federalist Society.
Assignment editors — The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will meet to interview applicant Kuntz, 8:30 a.m.,Zoom link here. Meeting ID: 966 2642 0672. Passcode: 804921.
“Miami-Dade Schools to ask voters to pay more for teachers and school safety” via Sommer Brugal of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade School Board will ask homeowners in November to boost their property tax bill by slightly more than $50, on average, to increase teacher and staff pay and bolster student safety and security measures on campuses. The School Board approved the final language voters will see on the ballot at its May 18 meeting and directed officials to send it to County Commissioners for final approval. This year’s request is a continuation of the earlier referendum voters approved in 2018, only with a higher tax rate: The district is asking for a millage rate of 1.0, up from 0.75, over the next four years — $100 for every $100,000 in assessed taxable property value.
“The tropical weather caused a sewage overflow in Miami-Dade. There’s a no-swim advisory.” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Heavy rainfall from the tropical disturbance that drenched South Florida this weekend has overwhelmed Miami-Dade County’s sewage treatment system, causing overflows that prompted officials to close at least one beach and issue a no-swim advisory for parts of the coast. The county’s water and sewer department is recommending that people not swim in the water between Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne and the Venetian Causeway to the north, from the mainland to the beaches to the east. This includes a swath of South Beach and coastal waters between the southern tip of Key Biscayne to the Venetian Islands. The advisory also asks the public to avoid fishing and boating in these waters. As a result, the city of Miami has closed Virginia Key Beach until further notice.
“Radio Mambi is sold to new media group with ties to national Democrats” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Two Latina entrepreneurs, backed by a slew of investors, have negotiated a $60 million deal with TelevisaUnivision to buy 18 Spanish-language radio stations across 10 U.S. cities, including Miami’s Radio Mambi, a fixture of South Florida’s conservative Cuban community. The massive buy is the first for the newly created Latino Media Network, a Latina-owned and operated media company that has raised close to $80 million, a figure the group says amounts to the largest capital raised by a Latina-led startup in U.S. history. “With minority media on the decline, now is the time to be investing in more resources to create content for Latinos by Latinos,” said co-founder Stephanie Valencia, chair of LMN’s board.
“Broward School District banning backpacks for final three days of school year” viaWells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Broward County School District is prohibiting students from bringing backpacks and bookbags to campuses for the final three days of the school year. The temporary ban, which will run from Tuesday through Thursday, is due to “overabundance of caution for security reasons,” the school district said in an email to parents and staff members. The measure will be in place for students in all grade levels at every school in the district. A school district spokeswoman said Sunday that it’s a “proactive” safety measure and that it has been done at the end of the year at “many of their district schools for several years.” For ease of compliance, the school district encourages students to return any books or devices to school by Monday.
“Did Florida’s adoption system fail Jupiter teen forced to live in a locked garage room?” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — The state of Florida may hold the hand of adoptive parents before they’re paired with a child, but once parental rights are transferred, adoptive families are on their own. This dearth of support is playing out in Jupiter, where an adopted 14-year-old and the teen’s siblings are now in the custody of the state as their parents face aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment charges. Both have pleaded not guilty. As the Ferriter parents appear in court and more details come to light about what led to their arrests, social workers, adoption attorneys and child advocates in Jupiter and far from Palm Beach County are beginning to learn about how the family became so fractured.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Brevard teacher’s ‘banned book’ drive raises over $5,000, angers Moms for Liberty” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — A Brevard teacher is running a “banned book” drive to get copies of challenged works of literature into the hands of students. Adam Tritt, a Bayside High AP English teacher, created an online fundraiser to buy copies of books like “Slaughterhouse-Five” to provide to students for summer reading. Criticism swiftly followed. The Brevard Chapter of Moms for Liberty shared screenshots of Tritt’s posts about the fundraiser on its Facebook page late last month. Tritt had posted about the fundraiser on May 19 in the private Facebook group for Families for Safe Schools, a Brevard-based group that opposed Moms for Liberty’s requests to remove books from school libraries.
“Pinellas residents rally to save Klosterman Road parcel after DeSantis veto” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — When a $3 million appropriation to save 14 acres from development in north Pinellas County passed the Florida Legislature unopposed earlier this year, activists were hopeful. State Rep. Chris Latvala sponsored the appropriations bill in the House. At a fundraiser for the property in May, Latvala told the crowd he expected the money to come through. But on Thursday, funding for the untouched forest on West Klosterman Road was among $3.1 billion in projects that DeSantis vetoed from the 2023 state budget.
“Why did Gulfport Police take weeks to arrest Pinellas politician’s son?” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — At around 1:45 a.m. on April 23, Adam M. Peters allegedly punched someone so hard at a Gulfport bar that the man had to have surgery to repair a broken nose and orbital socket. That day, Gulfport police issued a probable cause affidavit to arrest Peters, the son of Pinellas County Commissioner and former state Rep. Kathleen Peters, on a felony aggravated battery charge. When one month passed with no arrest, the alleged victim, Kyle Harris, wondered if he’d ever get accountability. Harris, of St. Petersburg, is facing $10,000 in medical bills so far. He said he’s been unable to work his automotive services technician job as he recovers.
Hillsborough firefighters’ union endorses Harry Cohen for County Commission re-election — Hillsborough County Firefighters, IAFF Local 2294, represents more than 1,000 members dedicated to public and firefighter safety. Treasurer Chris Boles said, “The men and women of Hillsborough County Firefighters serve as the guardians and caretakers of our community. We are public servants and believe our community needs individuals who think of others before themselves and inspire others to give of themselves. We see this in Commissioner Cohen and encourage the citizens of Hillsborough County to join us in supporting his campaign and successful election to another term.” Cohen is running for re-election to the newly drawn Commission District 1, including South Tampa and MacDill Air Force Base, Downtown Tampa, the Port of Tampa, and more.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Tropical system brought mainly rain to SWFL, dress rehearsal for start of hurricane season” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Fort Myers News-Press — At least 8 inches and up to 10 inches of rain fell across Lee and Collier counties from Friday to Saturday mornings, the National Weather Service confirmed. And no historical rainfall amounts were recorded for June 3, 2022, NWS data showed. “The biggest impact we saw was a potential Tropical Cyclone One, as it made landfall over Southwest Florida earlier this morning,” Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Southwest Florida, said Saturday. “We’re expecting to have an above-average season once again. It’s just a reminder to people to plan accordingly right now while you can (and) not wait (until the) last minute.”
“Warrant issued for suspected Estero turtle thief after he misses court date” via Michael Braun of the Fort Myers News-Press — A bench warrant has been issued for Jermaine Wofford, 48, of Riverview, just south of Tampa. Wofford is a suspect in the theft of 18 tortoises and turtles — worth about $30,000 according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office — at The Turtle Source. The alleged thefts were likely made during two visits, in February and March. Owner Marcus Cantos, a 30-year experienced award-winning breeder and keeper in Estero, said that most of the reptiles have been returned but a number remain missing. Cantos said that the business noticed the missing reptiles shortly after a repairman made a visit to the site. After checking the site’s surveillance cameras, they saw the perpetrator “helping himself,” Cantos said.
“North Port workshops affordable housing Monday” via Craig Garrett of the Charlotte Sun — North Port is in the Top 10 nationally in housing price increases. Housing affordability and possible fixes will be discussed Monday in a special North Port City Commission workshop. The morning hearing includes a presentation by Jon Thaxton, director of community investment for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, a nonprofit. He’ll lay out the dilemma and some successes in other parts of the country. Thaxton, a former Sarasota County Commissioner who grew up in South County, gets 15 minutes Monday to discuss the root causes of the housing/rental crisis, detail some best practices in states and cities trying to fix the problem, he said. Maryland, for instance, uses rent vouchers, fixed-rate mortgage programs, and the sale of state-owned parcels to reduce new housing costs.
“Longtime wayfinding sign project complete in Punta Gorda” via Daniel Sutphin of the Charlotte Sun — Riddled with delays and complications, city documents show the project dating back to at least 2017. “We had one meeting that was two-and-a-half hours long on wayfinding signs,” Vice Mayor Debby Carey said. The project began with a citizens’ group push because many of the old signs were incorrect. In recent years, Carey has said she wanted the project done before she leaves office in November 2022. She is not running for a third term. “I’m actually thrilled,” she said. “It kept dragging on and every time we would bring it up, we had to make changes … I think this time we got it right and I’m really excited that it’s done.”
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in J.T. Burnette bribery case” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in the case of Burnette, the wealthy businessman and political donor convicted last year in the FBI’s probe into public corruption in Tallahassee. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is tentatively set to hear arguments the week of Sept. 26 at the U.S. Courthouse in Jacksonville, the court announced. The Burnette case is one of more than a dozen civil and criminal appeals set to be heard that week. Lawyers for Burnette and the government will each get about 15 minutes to make their arguments before a panel of judges. A ruling could take weeks or months.
“T.K. Waters says he plans to soon retire from Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office” via Nick Jones and Kent Justice of News4Jax — Waters, chief of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, said he plans to retire from JSO in the coming weeks. Waters has previously announced his plans to run for sheriff of Jacksonville. Recently, current Sheriff Mike Williams suddenly announced his retirement as sheriff amid controversy over his residency, specifically a recent move from Duval to Nassau County. Waters’ statement reads: “I intend to retire from JSO in the coming weeks after transitioning my responsibilities as chief of investigations, and I will be a candidate in the special election for sheriff.” Williams’ retirement takes effect on June 10. The Special Election is expected to be set for August and November. We’re still waiting to learn who the Governor will appoint as the interim sheriff.
“Was Alachua County Public Schools overcharged for textbooks?” via Gershon Harrell of the Gainesville Sun — The district had purchased approximately 4,000 English language arts textbooks for three schools during the 2020-21 school year, costing taxpayers approximately $570,433.90. Some larger districts, however, such as Miami-Dade, appeared to have been offered a reduced rate for each book, saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process. District spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said there’s no way for Alachua County Public Schools to know whether it was overcharged, as prices are negotiated by the Florida School Book depository, a private organization that serves education publishers by distributing a variety of K-12 material. The state has been asked to investigate whether some districts are receiving special treatment.
— TOP OPINION —
“COVID-19 vindication for DeSantis” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — DeSantis became public-health enemy No. 1 by defying the left’s lockdown consensus early in the pandemic. When former state health department employee Rebekah Jones claimed she was fired for refusing to fudge state COVID-19 data to support the state’s reopening in spring 2020, national and local media outlets reported her allegations as fact. Now the Florida Department of Health Office of Inspector General has exonerated DeSantis. One reason so many Americans don’t trust the media is because they have figured out that partisan narratives drive too much reporting. We wish they were wrong.
— OPINIONS —
“Against gun idolatry” via David French of The Dispatch — I remember the first essay I ever wrote for The Atlantic. My piece described a gun culture marked by kindness, empathy, and sobriety. But that culture is under threat, and I’m not talking about the threat of gun control. The threat to America’s gun culture comes from the gun rights movement itself. The threat is gun idolatry, a form of gun fetish that’s fundamentally aggressive, grotesquely irresponsible, and potentially destabilizing to American democracy. What is a gun fetish? It’s a concept that’s tough to define, but easy to observe. When a leading candidate for Senate runs on a platform that’s “pro-God, pro-Gun, and pro-Trump,” then guns (and Trump) are elevated far above their proper place in American life. The same goes for popular T-shirts and signs that declare a person “pro-life, pro-God, and pro-gun.”
“Florida’s abortion case law was born with Roe and must die with it as well” via Mike Beltran for Florida Politics — In short, the Florida Supreme Court held that because Roe allowed abortion, the Florida Constitution must do so as well. Florida’s abortion case law was born with Roe and must die with it as well. The logic of both Roe and the Florida Supreme Court are faulty. Neither the United States nor the Florida Constitution explicitly protects abortion rights. Instead, both the United States and Florida constitutions place abortion, like most subjects of regulation, squarely within state sovereignty, to be decided by the people’s elected representatives according to normal processes of bicameralism and presentment. As the late Justice Robert Jackson said, “I see no reason why I should be consciously wrong today because I was unconsciously wrong yesterday.”
“Democrats should be clear: A radical GOP is holding the country back” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — Washington is broken. Politicians can’t get anything done. They don’t listen to voters. Voters have been making these complaints for decades, but never have they been truer than they are today. The preferences of a supermajority of voters, whether that’s investigating an armed insurrection to topple our democracy or securing the right to vote or passing reasonable gun measures, or respecting women’s physical autonomy, are almost never translated into legislative output. Worse, the results, a society rife with guns, the criminalization of abortion, attempts to subvert elections, are moving the country in ways that threaten the lives and rights of Americans.
“With budget vetoes, Ron DeSantis bites the hand that feeds him” via the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board — The Villages was where Gov. DeSantis went to sign the new $110 billion Florida budget, and he didn’t disappoint the many retired Donald Trump acolytes there who applauded every time he bashed President Joe Biden. This wasn’t a budget signing. It was a presidential campaign speech. The Governor spoke without interruption for more than half an hour. But he didn’t have time to mention Biden’s role in providing billions in federal money that makes possible the largest budget in state history as he displayed his trademark flair for expediency over explication.
— ALOE —
“Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami airports top travel rebound list over Memorial Day Weekend” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — International airports in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami enjoyed one of their busiest periods since the start of the pandemic late last month when travelers filled their terminals over Memorial Day weekend in record numbers. According to secure identity company CLEAR, which operates biometric screening lanes in airports across the country, Orlando International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport (MIA) were among the top five nationwide hubs with more passenger movements over the holiday weekend last week than they did in 2019. MIA alone saw a 285% increase in passenger movements compared to the pre-pandemic Memorial Day weekend in 2019. That was despite torrential rains leading to at least 100 flight cancellations in and out of the hub.
“SeaWorld Orlando plans to open a new coaster in 2023” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — SeaWorld Orlando has playfully teased its landscaping projects on social media. You see a palm tree conspicuously next to something much bigger, presumably the park’s next big ride. Late Friday afternoon, the park confirmed what’s officially coming next: A new roller coaster opening in 2023. With the hashtag #HighSurfAdvisory, the park released a new video online that shows an ocean scene with waves rolling by and dolphins swimming. “Feel the power,” the teaser video said. “SeaWorld Orlando’s seventh coaster … Let the waves propel you.” The trailer didn’t explain what coaster style was coming, other than it was “first of its kind.”
“Florida unveils 12 new specialty license plates to benefit HBCU’s, environment and veterans” via Jason Delgado of the USA Today Network — Florida announced the addition of 12 new specialty license plates, including some recognizing a collective of historically Black sororities and fraternities known as the Divine Nine. The majority of the newly released plates celebrate the collective of historically Black Greek organizations. The new additions are among the more than 100 specialty license plates available to Florida motorists. Revenue generated by specialty plate sales provides millions of dollars each year toward special causes and organizations.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and Cameron Lee Ulrich. Belated happy birthday wishes to Brad Burleson of Ballard Partners, Jose Fuentes, Jeff Hendry, Seth McKeel of The Southern Group, and Heidi Otway.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.
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.
Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.
Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL
Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Aimee Sachs, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, and Mike Wright.
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