Good Wednesday morning from London, and happy birthday to the Mary Poppins of Florida Politics, my friend Kathy Mears.
Just read the Wikipedia description of Mary Poppins — “a magical and loving woman who descends from the clouds … She is firm in her use of authority but gentle and kind as well …” — and tell me that does not sound like The Florida Senate’s Mearkat?!
Joining me in wishing Kathy a happy birthday is her beloved boss, Senate President Wilton Simpson:
Happy Birthday to the great Kathy Mears!
In her more than 25 years of service, Kathy has worked at the highest levels in state government in the Florida Senate, Florida House of Representatives, Governor’s Office, and as the Chief Legislative Affairs Officer at Florida State University.
Moving to Florida to work for Speaker (Daniel) Webster when Republicans took control of the House for the first time since Reconstruction, over more than two decades, Kathy has been a driving force in crafting, passing and implementing the conservative policies that have made our state the envy of the nation.
While her professional accomplishments clearly place MearKat in a league of her own, Kathy’s top priority is always her family. For her dozens of nieces and nephews, there’s not a better aunt, cheerleader or friend you could have. Kathy cares deeply for other people and is always looking for the next card, toy, craft project or kind word to make a child, friend, or co-worker feel special.
What’s truly amazing is that on top of everything we have accomplished over the last two years, Kathy made time to tutor. We know that teaching someone to read is a priceless gift that person carries for the rest of their life. For all her successes in the legislative process, she would say the time spent with Ken-moni and Zaryc was most important.
At any given time, Kathy can tell you what’s1happening anywhere in state government, so it still amazes me that my wife Kathy and I were able to pull off the ultimate surprise when we had the idea that I would wear my MearKat tie in my official Senate portrait. It’s fitting to see Kathy have a permanent place in the Chamber she has so greatly impacted.
Thank you, Kathy, for your fighting spirit, strong work ethic, and being the greatest ally a person can have in Tallahassee. Best wishes for a great year ahead!
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
New WSJ-NORC poll finds 83% view the economy as poor or not so good. https://t.co/yxBGNLWyjQ pic.twitter.com/8M4VkUCILu
— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) June 6, 2022
—@SawyerHackett: Fox News ran 1,098 prime-time segments on Benghazi from the day of the attack until the committee hearings, which they carried live for more than 7 hours. Today they announced they won’t cover the hearings on the January 6th insurrection.
—@Sullydish: @DaveWeigel is the best journalist at the WaPo — fair, smart, balanced, relentless. They punish him for a retweeted joke and promote humor-free fanatics who lie and spin and get stealth-edited.
—@MaggieNYT: As (Donald) Trump prepares to possibly announce his campaign in the next two months, multiple sources say the Club for Growth has regularly tested Trump v (Ron) DeSantis in its polls in different states. A Club official insists it’s been to test Trump’s strength in the Party.
—@KyLamb8: A new report authored by the state Auditor General is being purported by some in the media to claim cases and deaths were “undercounted” in Florida. This is absolutely false. The report does not state that. It is being misunderstood and misrepresented.
—@EricHoov: Offices of communications that simply don’t respond to queries should be called something else.
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 2; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 9; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 20; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 29; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 41; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 45; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 63; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 71; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 74; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 84; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 84; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 86; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 92; 2022 Emmys — 96; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 120; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 138; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 139; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 139; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 156; FITCon 2022 begins — 162; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 162; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 166; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 166; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 167; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 175; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 175; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 189; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 253; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 271; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 289; 2023 Session Sine Die — 331; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 331; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 359; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 415; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 499; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 660; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 779.
— TOP STORY —
“Ron DeSantis’ aide first pitched October gas tax break, emails show” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Days after DeSantis publicly called for a five-month suspension of Florida’s gas tax last year, his team drafted legislation to delay the break until October.
Republican lawmakers said they decided on October because it’s the month with the fewest tourists, although data doesn’t support that claim. Lawmakers said they wanted to ensure Floridians, not tourists, would benefit from the tax break.
But critics note that October is also a crucial month for DeSantis’ re-election campaign. It’s when voters start casting ballots for him and his Democratic challenger in the Governor’s race.
DeSantis first proposed cutting the gas tax on Nov. 22 last year, blaming President Joe Biden for rising gas prices. Nine days later, DeSantis’ director of legislative affairs, Stephanie Kopelousos, drafted legislation to make the cut for October only.
“Can you please put this in bill drafting?” she wrote on Dec. 1 to Dee Alexander, an aide to Sen. Aaron Bean, the vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. On Dec. 15, Bean’s aide responded to Kopelousos with a slightly modified bill that still included an October timeline.
— STATEWIDE —
“Ron DeSantis scraps another Cabinet meeting, canceling state business; Nikki Fried calls it ‘an insult’ to Floridians” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix — The three Cabinet members — Fried, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — are top statewide elected officials who conduct the state’s business, along with the Governor. Fried, a Democrat seeking her party’s nomination to campaign against Republican DeSantis in November, said DeSantis’ office gave no reason for cancelling a Cabinet meeting set for June 28 and a June 29 meeting of the Board of Executive Clemency. The notice arrived via a terse email fromCaroline Redshaw, DeSantis’ aide for Cabinet affairs.
“DeSantis signs school package” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed an update to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act Tuesday to bolster school crisis intervention and include charter schools in some safety requirements. The new law aims to improve earlier legislation passed in response to the state’s worst school shooting in 2018 at MSD High School in Parkland. Testimony during this year’s Senate and House hearings on the update revealed none of the state’s 67 school districts were entirely in compliance with the law that aimed to improve school safety. So, the new law will cement some new requirements and increase school districts’ accountability.
“DeSantis quietly signs school-safety bill that adds more mental health training” via Ryan Dailey of the Miami Herald — Two weeks after a deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, reignited debates about gun violence and securing schools, DeSantis signed a bill Tuesday that will require mental-health “crisis intervention” training for on-campus officers. The measure also will make other school-safety changes, including giving the State Board of Education rule-making authority over emergency drills. The Legislature formally sent the bill (HB 1421) to DeSantis a day after the May 24 shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two adults dead. DeSantis’ office announced the signing Tuesday in a news release without a public appearance. He also signed four other bills from the 2022 Legislative Session.
“DeSantis signs fleet of bills on sexual misconduct and more” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis capped off his busy week by signing a half dozen bills, including a law that makes it a felony to touch a 16- or 17-year-old in a lewd or lascivious way and other legislation related to sexual misconduct. It is already a felony to touch someone under 16 in an unwanted, sexual way, and a misdemeanor to do the same to someone aged 16 or 17. On Oct. 1, the measure (SB 444), filed by Sen. Keith Perry and Rep. Linda Chaney, will increase the latter to a third-degree felony, if committed by someone 24 or older. DeSantis also signed a human trafficking initiative (HB 615), backed by Attorney General Ashley Moody and filed by Sen. Ileana Garcia and Rep. Toby Overdorf. Another measure (SB 752), filed by Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Patt Maney, aims to improve Florida’s probation system and reduce recidivism.
“DeSantis spokeswoman belatedly registers as agent of foreign politician” via Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post — A spokeswoman for DeSantis this week registered as a foreign agent of a former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, belatedly detailing work she performed for the politician between 2018 and 2020. The spokeswoman, Christina Pushaw, made the disclosure following contact from the Justice Department, according to her attorney, Michael Sherwin. She began her work in 2018 as a volunteer in the post-Soviet country, Sherwin said, and was ultimately paid $25,000 over the course of two years.
“Absent Republican support, Democrats plead for gun violence Special Session” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Following the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Democrats in Florida are pleading with Republicans to join them in passing legislation to stifle gun violence. In a “Hail Mary” effort to enhance Florida’s gun safety measures, Democratic lawmakers are proposing a Special Session package they hope will convince the Republican majority to act on gun violence. However, Democrats have failed to garner support from their Republican colleagues. Rep. Joe Geller, a Broward County Democrat serving his last months in the House, is spearheading the effort to call a Special Session amid a rash of prominent shootings across the country.
“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.
Happening today — The Florida Gaming Control Commission meets, 9:30 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room.
“Amid turbulence in Florida property insurance market, homeowners still have options — but not many” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — With the first named storm of the 2022 hurricane season, Alex, already leaving its mark on South Florida, the turmoil in the state’s property-insurance market continues to worsen. Tens of thousands of Florida homeowners are scrambling to find coverage, as the insurance industry grapples with “an existential challenge,” as described by a leading financial rating agency. Southern Fidelity, which announced May 26 that it would cancel existing policies and will not write new ones, was downgraded Friday by financial-stability rating agency Demotech, essentially putting it out of business in Florida. Meanwhile, FedNat, Monarch, and Maison, all part of FedNet Holding Company, are canceling 68,200 of their homeowner and renter policies on June 29.
— 2022 —
“DeSantis campaign hits back at George Soros-funded election ‘manipulation’ with ad buy on Hispanic radio network” via Brandon Gillespie of Fox News — Gov. DeSantis’ re-election campaign is hitting back at attempts by liberal billionaire Soros to “manipulate” the Midterm Elections by purchasing an ad buy on two Miami radio stations being acquired by a new left-wing radio network targeted toward Hispanic Americans. “Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking [on] Soros on his own turf with a Spanish language ad buy on the Soros network, serving as a PSA to Hispanic Floridians to warn of the pro-socialism, radical agenda behind The Latino Media Network,” read a statement the DeSantis campaign provided to Fox News Digital. The formation of the Latino Media Network, a new network set to be made up of 18 Hispanic radio stations across 10 different markets, was announced last week.
How mature — “Conservative commentator Dave Rubin gave DeSantis an anti-Joe Biden ‘Let’s go Brandon’ T-shirt during interview” via Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider — DeSantis has some new anti-Biden swag. Conservative commentator and activist Dave Rubin gifted the Republican governor a “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirt when he appeared on “The Rubin Report” live show in Orlando. The chant has become a stand-in for the chant “F-ck Joe Biden” in GOP circles and is often seen on flags, bumper stickers and T-shirts among grassroots Republicans in Florida. “It seems that he should put it on right now and rip it off Hulk Hogan style,” Rubin said as DeSantis, a Republican, held the shirt up in front of himself and smiled.
“Chelsea Piers in NYC should cancel event with DeSantis, say local LGBTQ pols” via Shant Shahrigian of the New York Daily News — Pride Month in the heart of Chelsea, a birthplace of the modern LGBTQ movement, is no time for DeSantis to come to the Big Apple, says a group of local lawmakers. State Sen. Brad Hoylman and two fellow LGBTQ Democrats are calling on Chelsea Piers to cancel an event at one of its venues set to feature the conservative firebrand next Sunday. They say his backing of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law — which restricts discussion of sexual identity and gender at Florida schools — makes him unworthy to speak in Chelsea during Pride.
“Nikki Fried accuses DeSantis of courting ‘White supremacist insurrectionist’ backing” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In a pitch to donors, Fried offered her latest in a series of ad hominem attacks on DeSantis, accusing him of catering to violent racists. Spotlighting a budget veto of 83 full-time equivalents for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, positions that would have reviewed concealed weapon permits, Fried suggested that DeSantis vetoed those positions for political gain ahead of a national run. “It’s no wonder why DeSantis denied us funding — he wants permitless carry in Florida, no matter how many lives are put at risk, and he wants the support of violent, White supremacist insurrectionists when he runs for President in 2024,” Fried claimed in a fundraising email.
Assignment editors — Fried will hold a news conference to discuss the affordability challenges Florida seniors face and her Lower Costs, Higher Standards Plan, 10:30 a.m., 4108 W Vine St., Kissimmee. RSVP at [email protected].
“$34 million war of words between Marco Rubio, Val Demings rages mostly online, for now” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — To those who have been paying attention, this year’s U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Rubio and Democrat U.S. Rep. Demings has brought a deluge of personal attacks into their email inboxes or on social media. But to most people, the campaign has barely even started yet. Rubio and Demings have spent more than $17 million each already trying to define their opponent before the campaign hits the stretch run after the August primary, where both face little opposition. But almost all of that money has so far gone to web ads and YouTube videos, rather than spending the millions of more dollars it will take to get ads on television in a state with expensive media markets such as Orlando, Miami and Tampa.
“Glades Mayors ask gubernatorial candidates to ignore ‘coordinated attacks,’ help with ‘pressing issues’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Glades-area Mayors Keith Babb, Joe Kyles and Steve Wilson have written an open letter to candidates running for Governor in 2022, asking for attention to the region and to ignore “coordinated attacks” on agricultural interests. “With election season approaching, candidates are listening to concerns and developing campaign agendas. We, the elected leaders and leading voices in the Glades, want to be sure that you are hearing directly from us on issues that affect our communities,” the letter opens. Mayor Babb, Mayor Kyles, and Mayor Wilson then argue the area has been “under constant attack” from environmental activist groups who the Mayors say are “working against farmers and the working-class communities around Lake Okeechobee.”
“Leading small business association, NFIB, endorses Jimmy Patronis for re-election as Florida CFO” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — One of the nation’s largest small business groups endorsed Patronis’ re-election bid. The National Federation of Independent Business Florida PAC announced Tuesday it would back the Panama City Republican. “On behalf of our small business members, I am honored to announce the NFIB Florida PAC’s support for Jimmy Patronis,” said NFIB State Executive Director Bill Herrle. “Small business is essential to Florida’s continued financial health, and Jimmy Patronis has shown us time and again that he understands the challenges facing Florida’s job creators and will do everything he can to ensure we remain a state where small businesses can thrive.”
“Chris Sprowls endorses Kevin Hayslett in CD 13 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Sprowls currently represents a portion of northern Pinellas County in the Florida House, part of the recently redrawn CD 13. “Kevin is a Pinellas County leader with a results-oriented vision for our country,” Sprowls said. “His passion for our community is matched only by his devotion to his family. Our country needs selfless, conservative leaders who confront our challenges head-on with courage and conviction. I know Kevin will do just that in Congress, and I’m proud to call him a friend and even more proud to endorse him to represent Pinellas County in Congress.” The nod from one of the most influential Republicans of Tampa Bay gives Hayslett a positive edge in the crowded GOP Primary, which has three additional candidates competing for the nomination.
“Jerry Torres shifts candidacy to challenge Kathy Castor in CD 14” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Veteran and entrepreneur Torres will shift his campaign for Congress to the west and now plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Castor, a Tampa Democrat seeking her ninth term in Congress. “I am running to get our country back on the right track, and the best way to do that is flipping a seat currently held by a Democrat who supports the administration’s failing policies,” Torres said. “Though I have changed districts, the principles of my campaign remain the same: Put a stop to the inflationary recklessness in Washington, secure our border, uphold the rule of law, bring a vision of unity to the many races and ethnicities in our community, and protect the freedoms that make this country great.”
“‘A tireless fighter’: Annette Taddeo welcomes first wave of endorsements for U.S. House bid” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sen. Taddeo is less than a day into her campaign for Congress, but she’s already received four endorsements, three from current and former Congresswomen and one from a major labor union. Taddeo confirmed late Monday afternoon she was dropping out of the Governor’s race and would instead run to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Within hours, she received an endorsement from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), representing 15,000 workers across various industries in Florida and more than 700,000 members nationally.
Charlie Crist endorses Taddeo for Congress — U.S. Rep. Crist on Tuesday endorsed Taddeo, a former rival in the 2022 gubernatorial Primary, in her bid for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. “The people of Florida’s 27th Congressional District deserve a leader in Congress who shares their values and beliefs, and who will fight for them tooth and nail in the halls of Congress – I have no doubt that leader is Annette Taddeo,” said Crist, who in 2014 picked Taddeo as his running mate in the Governor race. “Annette is a trusted and battle-tested public servant who will never relent in the fight for what’s right. From Kendall to Key Biscayne, Annette will make sure your voice is heard and that South Florida’s working families have a champion in Washington.”
Democrats say Joe Biden’s economic plan delivers for Florida — In a Tuesday news release, the Florida Democratic Party touted some positive economic stats and attributed them to the Biden administration. FDP cited strong job numbers, growing GDP, a rise in new small businesses, and a decline in poverty. The message also said that “Democrats are taking action to address inflation,” which is an issue that has dogged the President’s approval ratings and his Party’s chances of retaining control of Congress. FDP cited Biden’s move to tap into U.S. oil reserves and House Democrats’ plan to combat price gouging on gas as steps the party has taken to address economic woes.
— MORE 2022 —
“Jay Trumbull announces campaign to succeed George Gainer in SD 2” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Rep. Trumbull has entered the race to succeed Sen. Gainer in Senate District 2. After eight years in the Florida House, Trumbull was expected to leave Tallahassee after reaching his term limit. However, with Gainer’s announcement Monday that he won’t seek re-election after six years in the Florida Senate, the door opened for Trumbull to remain in the Legislature. “Sen. George Gainer is an exemplary leader with a heart for public service, and I will work hard to carry on his legacy for District 2,” Trumbull said. “Serving in the state House has been a great privilege, and in the Senate, I will continue to fight for the small businesses and working families of Florida.” Trumbull is launching his campaign in great shape. His political committee, Panhandle Prosperity, has more than $1 million in cash on hand.
“Robert Samuel Kaplan again files to challenge Joe Gruters” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Kaplan will once again challenge Sen. Gruters for his Sarasota Senate District 22 seat as an independent candidate. In what will likely be his last run for public office, Kaplan said he wants to provide an alternative to voters. He plans to run as a fiscal constitutional conservative. “Politicians should practice the Hippocratic oath; thou shall not harm,” Kaplan said. Kaplan this year considered several political options, including challenging Rubio, but the Venice resident ultimately felt his voice would be best heard beside Gruters at local debates. For the moment, he remains the only candidate filed against Gruters, Chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
“Miami Beach’s Raquel Pacheco launches campaign against Ileana García for state Senate” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Pacheco, who ran twice unsuccessfully for Miami Beach’s city commission, is announcing she’s running for Senate District 36. Her announcement is paired with two endorsements, from Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Lauren Book and Ruth’s List Florida, the state organization that backs Democratic pro-abortion-rights women. Pacheco is filing her paperwork with the Florida Division of Elections later Wednesday. García had been unopposed for a week since her main Democratic opponent, Florida Rep. Michael Grieco, dropped out of the race.
“Three Democrats jump into HD 36 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In the last weeks before the qualifying deadline, three Democrats have jumped into the House District 36 race in Seminole County. H. Alexander Duncan, a former supervisor on the Seminole County Soil and Water Conservation District; Gretchen Gosline Hobkirk; and Deborah Poulalion, who in 2020 ran for Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, will be meeting in the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary Election should they all qualify next week. The winner would meet the Republican nominee emerging from the field of Rachel Plakon, Angel Perry and Rich Santos for the northern Seminole district.
Paul Renner endorses Fred Hawkins for re-election — House Speaker-designate Renner on Tuesday endorsed Rep. Hawkins for another term in the House. “Fred Hawkins has delivered for Central Florida,” Renner said. “I look forward to campaigning and working with Fred to share our vision for making the Sunshine State free and prosperous for all Floridians.” Hawkins currently represents parts of Osceola and Polk counties in HD 42, but redistricting has moved him into the new HD 35, which includes portions of Osceola and Orange counties. Kenneth Davenport and Dianna Liebnitzky are running against Hawkins in the GOP Primary, and three Democrats have also signed up to run for the Central Florida seat.
“Daisy Morales picks up Fried’s endorsement in HD 44” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Morales has won the endorsement of Fried for a re-election bid in Orange County’s House District 44. Morales faces Democratic official and activist Rita Harris in an Aug. 23 Democratic Primary Election for the new district, which spans much of south-central Orange. Morales is seeking a second term. “During her time in the FL House, Rep. Morales has demonstrated her relentless dedication to her constituents. She has a proven track record of getting bills passed and signed into law,” Fried in an endorsement statement released by Morales’ campaign. “Selfless dedication to serve is hard to come by, and we’ll continue to need that in Tallahassee. I’m proud to endorse Rep. Morales for Florida House District 44.”
“Bill Olson leaves U.S. House race to challenge Josie Tomkow in the Florida House” via Gary White of The Ledger — Olson, caught among a group of Republican challengers to U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, is instead now challenging a Republican incumbent for the Florida Legislature. Olson of Davenport has filed to run against Tomkow in Florida House District 51. Tomkow of Polk City is in her third term in District 39, which covers northern Polk County and part of Osceola County. The Florida Legislature redrew the 80 districts of the state House this year in response to the 2020 U.S. Census, and Tomkow opted to run in District 51.
“Ken Welch endorses Michele Rayner in HD 62 run” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The St. Petersburg Mayor is endorsing Rayner for re-election in the state House. The pair have both broken barriers upon their respective elections. Welch became St. Petersburg’s first Black Mayor after a victorious campaign in 2021, and Rayner is the first openly gay Black woman to be elected to the Legislature. “Rep. Michele Rayner has been a champion for the people of Pinellas County since well before she was elected to serve in the Florida House and I’m proud to endorse her in her re-election campaign,” Welch said.
“Alina García campaign reports $427K raised to take HD 115, credits ‘outpouring’ of community support” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — García raked in about $72K last month toward her bid to take House District 115 this November, her campaign reported this week. That haul, combined with what García raised between her campaign account and political committee over the prior four months, places her total gains since she began running for state office this year at more than $427,000. García’s official fundraising numbers aren’t due until Friday. “I am thrilled by the outpouring of support from so many people through our community,” García said. “It’s a true testament of their faith in my ability to forge a brighter future for all Florida families.”
“State Sen. Audrey Gibson announces run for Jacksonville Mayor in 2023” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — State Sen. Gibson ended the suspense over her next political move by entering the race for Jacksonville mayor, bringing two decades of experience in the Florida Legislature to her candidacy in an expanding field for 2023. “We have a strong mayor form of government, and I will be just that while knowing that for the least of these to the most of these, I am but a humble servant,” she said Tuesday in an announcement speech in front of the Duval County Supervisor of Election’s office. She becomes the second Democrat to file for Mayor. Donna Deegan has already launched her campaign. Mayor Lenny Curry cannot run again because of term limits.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Hopes for quick gun deal fade as Senate negotiators plead for patience” via Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — The calls for patience came as a small bipartisan group of senators continues delicate talks on a legislative package that could include the first significant new federal gun restrictions in three decades, along with provisions dealing with school security and mental health. But they are fighting the tide of recent history, demonstrating that Congress’ appetite for action tends to quickly fade as tragedies fade from the headlines. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer upbraided Republican opponents of gun control and said he would move to a vote if the talks did not “bear fruit in a short period of time.” Speaking Tuesday, Schumer did not issue any new ultimatum or outline a timeline for action, telling reporters only that the Senate would vote “in the near future.”
“Matthew McConaughey brings messages from Uvalde to the White House” via Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call — The Academy Award-winning actor’s advocacy for new gun laws brought him to the White House, where he spoke of the discussions he has had in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, since the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school there. He told of meeting, along with his wife, Camila Alves, with a local funeral director as makeup artists and morticians worked around the clock to prepare for the burials of the 19 students and two teachers murdered. “Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?” McConaughey said at the White House.
“McConaughey calls for gun legislation” via The Associated Press — McConaughey called on Congress to “reach a higher ground” and pass gun control legislation in honor of the children and teachers killed in last month’s shooting rampage at an elementary school in his hometown of Uvalde. In a highly personal 22-minute speech, McConaughey exhorted a gridlocked Congress to pass gun reforms that can save lives without infringing on Second Amendment rights. He specifically called on Congress to bolster background checks for gun purchases and raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 style rifle to 21 from 18. “We want secure and safe schools, and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get the damn guns,” McConaughey said.
“Pessimism about the economy is about both partisanship and prices” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — By many measures, the American economy is doing well. Unemployment is near record lows and employment near highs. Competition for workers has helped push wages higher. But those higher wages are less useful when gas prices are at a record high. Then, it is no wonder that polling from YouGov conducted for The Economist found last month that 58% of Americans think the economy is getting worse. An inextricable part of this is partisanship. If we separate the parties in the YouGov polling, you can see how much views of the economy depend on Party. The pandemic prompted everyone to be more pessimistic, but Republican confidence recovered fast … until Trump lost re-election. Republican pessimism quickly returned.
“Janet Yellen and World Bank expect elevated inflation to persist” via Andrew Duehren and Yuka Hayashi of The Wall Street Journal — Treasury Secretary Yellen warned that the U.S. is likely facing a prolonged period of elevated inflation, while the World Bank sharply lowered global growth forecasts and flagged a risk of recession in many countries. The World Bank, in a report, projected several years of high worldwide inflation and tepid growth reminiscent of the stagflation of the 1970s. Ms. Yellen told lawmakers that the White House would likely revise upward its U.S. inflation forecast — which already showed prices rising this year at nearly twice the pre-pandemic rate. “I do expect inflation to remain high, although I very much hope that it will be coming down now,” she said.
“Rick Scott channels Conor McGregor in ‘Rescue America’ reboot” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In a video accompanying “new additions and updates” as part of a “Rescue America 2.0,” Scott quotes McGregor in signaling defiance to the critics of the proposal. “President Biden, Chuck Schumer, and even some Republicans are angry,” Scott said. “So, in the words of famous UFC fighter Conor McGregor, I’d like to apologize to absolutely nobody in Washington.” The “apologize to absolutely nobody” construction was borrowed from a post-fight interview from the then-ascendant McGregor years ago, in which the Irish fighter stunted his opposition.
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
“The Jan. 6 inquiry’s only endangered Democrat prepares herself for a fight” via Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times — U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria knew from the start that serving on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol could be a political liability in her Republican-leaning district in Virginia’s tidewater. With Democrats clinging to the slimmest of majorities in Congress, she figured last year that her letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting a spot on the panel would be rejected on those grounds alone. She did get the job, and now, with her grasp on the district more tenuous than ever, she finds herself in a tricky spot as the only endangered Democrat on a committee about to open a high-profile set of hearings examining how Trump and his allies launched an unprecedented attack on democracy.
“Donald Trump Jr. dominating Scott in hypothetical Florida Senate matchup by more than 20 points, per Donald Trump pollster” via Colby Hall of Mediaite — Axios’ Jonathan Swan tweeted a slide from pollster Tony Fabrizio’s presentation showing that in a theoretical matchup between Trump Jr. and the sitting Senator, Trump’s son has a significant lead, 56% to 32%. The seemingly intentional leak of this slide — which Swan says did not come from a poll commissioned by Don Jr. or his allies — can easily be viewed as a shot across the bow of the SS Scott. Why would the Trump campaign want to send such a message to an individual long considered a political ally? Lest we forget that Scott put forth an 11-point plan to “rescue America,” which includes, among other things, a specific call to raise taxes.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Transportation moguls fueling Miami-Dade political campaigns in line for $9 million no-bid contract extension” via Francisco Alvarado of the Florida Bulldog — A private transportation company with politically astute owners and a troublesome history could score a $9 million no-bid extension on an expired Miami-Dade contract to operate more than two dozen bus routes. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is seeking approval from County Commissioners to waive competitive bidding and re-up with Limousines of South Florida for one year while the County’s Transportation and Public Works Department transitions to a new vendor, according to a May 3 memo. The County Commission is set to vote on the contract extension on June 14. Should Levine Cava’s request pass, it will mark the sixth time since 2017 that Miami-Dade elected officials have given Limousines of South Florida, or LSF, a no-bid renewal.
“These four Miami-Dade cities may be expanding. County Commission will decide” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — A plan hatched nearly two decades ago to expand the boundaries of four municipalities in western Miami-Dade County may finally become a reality. County Commissioners will hold an initial public hearing Wednesday on a proposal to divvy up 8 square miles of mostly industrial and commercial land in unincorporated Miami-Dade among the cities of Doral, Medley, Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens. If approved, the plan would increase the size and tax base of the four cities west of Miami International Airport and south of West Okeechobee Road. Virginia Gardens would see the most drastic change; the Village, less than 1 square mile, would grow to more than six times its current size.
“Voters won’t get to decide if Broward should have an elected County Mayor” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward residents won’t get a say on whether they want to elect their own Mayor. In a ‘don’t-fix-what’s-not-broken’ approach, the Broward County Commission on Tuesday opted against having voters decide who becomes the County Mayor. Whether to have a strong-Mayor position last went to voters in 2000, and it was defeated. The current working proposal was for the County Administrator to still handle day-to-day affairs, but the new Mayor would be the public face of the County.
“Mayor is under fire for how he treats others. He says he’s fixing a town that was a mess.” via Lisa Huriash of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — A mayor who’s been accused of mistreating some of the town’s workers is saying conditions instead have improved since he took office three years ago. Pembroke Park Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs has been publicly clashing with the town’s top staff, which has led to requests for resignations, calls for sanctions and accusations of sexism. But in the end, Jacobs said he’s the one working to put the town back together. “This was a s——-, absolute s——-, three years ago when I got here,” he said at a recent public meeting.
“Royal Palm Beach’s longtime village manager earns 5% raise, praise from Village Council” via Valentina Palm of The Palm Beach Post — The Royal Palm Beach Village Council gave a five-star review to Village Manager Ray Liggins at his annual performance review. The five Council members unanimously voted to boost Liggins’ annual base salary of $213,931 with a merit pay of 5%, or roughly $10,696. “We are very fortunate to have him. We have a well-run city,” said Council member Jeff Hmara at its May 19 meeting. “It’s a 24-hour job, and it’s performed like a 24-hour job.” Liggins has been village manager since 2010, overseeing daily operations in the Village, which employs about 150 workers and is home to about 40,000 people. He began working for the Village in 2001.
“Can Fort Lauderdale tunnel its way out of gridlock? City ready to make deal with Elon Musk team” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Two underground tunnels built for whisking tourists from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the beach in Teslas might cost $100 million, but no one knows for sure. To find out, Fort Lauderdale will need to pay Musk’s Boring Company $375,000 to investigate the true cost before moving ahead with the ambitious job of designing and building the underground tunnel system, currently dubbed the Las Olas Loop. The city commission is expected to vote on the interim agreement Tuesday night and a final contract in the coming months. The Boring Company would also operate and maintain the tunnels.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Randolph Bracy touts security system grant for Jewish center” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In the wake of $3.1 billion of the Governor’s vetoes revealed last week, Sen. Bracy touted $150,000 that got through into the budget to help Central Florida’s Roth Family Jewish Community Center. While Bracy was at the center in his official capacity as a Senator, the visit may also be seen as strategic to his campaign for Congress in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which now includes Maitland. On Tuesday, Bracy expressed the need to support Central Florida’s Jewish community. Last year, the pro-Israel political action committee of the Democratic Majority for Israel endorsed him.
“Brand-new school is adding a $10M wing, another sign of Pasco’s growth” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Located along the booming State Road 54 corridor, Starkey Ranch K-8 School, which opened in August, is slated to get a $10 million, 26,000-square-foot classroom addition. The construction, approved by the School Board on Tuesday, is supposed to begin this year and be ready in 2024. The school is set to get eight portable classrooms in the meantime. At issue is the booming growth within the Starkey Ranch subdivision that the campus serves and the rising enrollment countywide. Starkey Ranch ended the school year with 1,568 children attending and expects to have nearly 2,100 enrolled in the fall. The community had 452 school-age children living there in 2020.
“Polk Commissioners reject zoning changes for Imperial Lakes, killing plan for 800 apartments” via Maya Lora of the Lakeland Ledger — On Tuesday, Commissioners considered two proposals from applicant Sarah Case with Next Level Planning and Permitting. The first was to amend the future land use designation from residential low to residential high for 41.24 acres of the Mulberry golf course. The second was for a future land-use change from residential low and development of regional impact to residential medium on an additional 21 acres. Both proposals were approved in May by the Planning Commission. Commissioners rejected the first proposal on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner George Lindsey voting to support the project. Commissioners unanimously rejected the second proposal.
“Rent control decision delayed, but Orange Commission favors it” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — A clear majority of Orange County Commissioners indicated Tuesday they are prepared to put a rent-control measure on the November ballot, despite protests from landlords and a consultant’s report suggesting the regulation would do little to ease a housing crisis. At least five board members backed the proposal after hours of discussion, during which Commissioner Emily Bonilla aimed at property management companies and the 54-page report authored by Orlando-based GAI Consultants, which was paid about $60,000. Because of other business on the meeting agenda, the board halted its discussion, deciding instead to take it up again later this month at an as-yet-unscheduled Special Session. Commissioners will likely vote on whether to put the issue on the ballot as required by state statute.
“New records: Orlando airport lawyer warned chair about emails with lobbyist” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — With the airport handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts, board member Craig Mateer called Chair Carson Good’s efforts to help lobbyist Eric Foglesong — who had pleaded guilty two years ago to stealing from Sheriff John Mina’s campaign — “not appropriate in my opinion.” Good downplayed the concerns to his fellow board members. Good said he was simply trying to open up lobbying opportunities to more people, including those with a criminal background … which struck me as an odd priority. Well, a few things have happened in the weeks since. First, Foglesong was charged with another crime — five of them actually; three felonies and two misdemeanors — connected to an alleged “ghost candidate” scandal in Seminole County.
“For full recovery of the Orlando brand — luring back international visitors” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Even when the Orlando theme parks are crowded and posting strong attendance, one key piece hasn’t returned in full numbers during the COVID-19 recovery: The international tourists. It’s the group that typically stays the longest and spends the most on vacation. To help lure them back, two ad campaigns are being launched abroad to put Orlando in the spotlight. Visit Orlando is kicking off its “Unbelievably Real” branding campaign this summer to attract more international tourists, the agency’s leader said this week. Beginning in August, Orlando’s tourism promoter will start advertising the destination in Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Brazil and some additional Latin American emerging markets, the agency said.
Happening today — The VISIT FLORIDA Finance Committee meets to discuss the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget, 3 p.m., JW Marriott Grande Lakes, 4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando.
“End of an era as Disney Dream cruise ship leaves Port Canaveral” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — The vanguard of the last new era of Disney Cruise Line is moving along as Disney Dream, which first debuted at Port Canaveral in 2011, has left the only port it ever called home to make way for the first ship of a new era. With the arrival of the new Trident-class ship Disney Wish later this month, Dream left Port Canaveral for the last time on Monday, at least for now. Dream’s christening ceremony took place on Jan. 19, 2011, amid fireworks and a performance by ship godmother, singer and actor Jennifer Hudson, who began her performing career on a Disney Cruise Line ship.
“Relativity Space’s first 3D-printed rocket stage arrives in Florida ahead of launch” via Emre Kelly of Florida Today — The 3D-printed booster for Relativity Space’s first Terran 1 rocket arrived in Florida over the weekend, marking a critical milestone for the company still targeting this year for its first launch. On Monday, more than a dozen technicians carefully monitored the nearly imperceptible movement of the rocket’s first stage from an extended semitrailer onto mounting hardware in a hangar at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The 80-foot first stage arrived from the company’s Long Beach, California, headquarters just a day before on Sunday. Next, teams will mate the first and second stages, the latter of which arrived at the Cape in late May.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Collier Sheriff’s citizen watchdog panel refuses to meet or be subject to public scrutiny” via Rachel Heimann Mercader of the Naples Daily News — A citizen panel acting as the official watchdog of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has refused to be recorded and has suspended its meetings indefinitely, citing security concerns. The move follows public backlash after the panel’s December meeting when members deliberated over CCSO’s internal investigation of a deputy who shot and killed Nicolas Morales Besanilla in Immokalee’s Farm Worker Village. The Sheriff’s Office exonerated all deputies involved in the September 2020 shooting, and the panel agreed with that conclusion. Records show Morales Besanilla, who was suffering a psychotic break, was killed by Cpl. Pierre Jean within 13 seconds of arriving on the scene.
“State approves $3M for Charlotte tech college facility at Punta Gorda Airport” via Daniel Sutphin of the Charlotte Sun — The Charlotte County Airport Authority announced that $3 million has been approved in the state budget for a combined hangar and classroom facility for Charlotte Technical College’s Federal Aviation Administration-certified aviation maintenance technician school. “This is incredible,” Authority Commissioner Vanessa Oliver said. “It’s a boon for the entire region. Students will come from other counties, as well. It’s also great for attracting other airlines to the area.” The new hangar facility is planned to have four classrooms to accommodate up to 100 students at a time. The facility will be located within the airport’s new aviation expansion area, called the PGD AviEx. The Airport Authority plans to construct the facility and enter into a long-term lease with Charlotte County Public Schools to occupy and maintain the facility.
“Cape Coral officials believe dead animals found may be linked to religious sacrifice” via Jennifer Kveglis of NBC 2 Southwest Florida — A wild pig and beheaded chickens were dumped behind the sign of a gated community in Cape Coral. Officers believed it was linked to Santeria, a religion using livestock in sacrificial ceremonies. Before crews arrived, an FWC officer pulled up wearing gloves to examine it. FWC confirmed it is now investigating and does not want to speculate a link to religion but does not believe this was Animal Cruelty. An FWC spokesperson said, “The FWC takes these reports very seriously and encourages the public to report any sightings or any information regarding this incident to the FWC by calling the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.”
“Affordable housing crisis looking for help from Collier County officials” via Jennifer Morejon of WINK News — Collier County Commissioners and the city of Naples Council discussed the issue on Tuesday. Penny Taylor, a Collier County Commissioner, said, “we’re in a crisis; there’s no question. Affordable housing has morphed into the rental crisis, and at this point, the state is not helping at all with this.” Joe Trachtenberg is the Chairman of Collier County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. He said, “let’s not confuse this as solving the affordable housing crisis, this is going to provide relief for people that are in deep pain, but it does nothing in terms of helping us where we ultimately need to be.” He believes the rental assistance programs are only a stopgap solution. The program already handed out $5.8M in assistance. But the truth is, people are still struggling.
“Threatened burrowing owls number in the thousands in Cape Coral. Now they are being counted, protected” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — A cooperative effort between the city and the nonprofit Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, which advocates for the tiny raptors, this year’s count was delayed a day by a soaking tropical storm. Slicing the city into sections, teams start their rounds early because the birds are most active (and most visible) in the morning before temperatures rise. So far, most of the nearly 60 burrows semiretired Texas transplants Cheryl Anderson and Jim Collier have found are in front of houses, “or underneath the sidewalk or in the swales,” Anderson said — not in vacant lots. And that’s a good thing. Cape Coral’s population of 204,510 is projected to climb to 400,000 by 2070, the forecast build out date. So, if the species is to survive here, it’ll have to move even closer to people.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“State ethics panel dismisses Tallahassee firefighters’ union complaint against City Manager” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A state ethics commission has dismissed a complaint by the Tallahassee firefighter’s union against City Manager Reese Goad, saying it did not find probable cause to substantiate the complaint. Filed last July, the complaint alleged Goad misused his position by relaying a threat to union leaders seeking to find information about their budget. The firefighter’s union asked that their funding source, the city’s fire services fee, be audited by a third party. Goad, in July, initiated the audit asking City Auditor Dennis Sutton to investigate the issue. The union claimed Goad threatened its leaders to stop making public records requests seeking information about the use of the fund.
“Tallahassee lawyer hired by family of teen employee who said Popeyes manager assaulted her” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — A Tallahassee law firm said it has been hired by the family of a 17-year-old Popeyes employee who accused her manager of physically assaulting her recently. The altercation at the eatery just off Tallahassee Highway in Bainbridge, Georgia, was caught on video and had over 1.6 million views on Twitter as of Monday. The 48-second clip shows the employee on the phone and exchanging words with her manager before he eventually slaps her and is held back by employees and customers. “We are still collecting evidence and are making a game plan right now,” said attorney Charles Gee of the Gee & Lee law firm.
“UF quarterback faces fine of about $375 in speeding case, based on review of similar tickets across Florida” via Fresh Take Florida — Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson is expected in a courtroom Wednesday to learn what punishment a judge might hand down if he were convicted of speeding 105 mph. A review of similar traffic cases across Florida indicates he likely would be fined a few hundred dollars and would not lose his license. Richardson, whose agent has been pursuing six- and seven-figure endorsement deals under new NCAA rules allowing athletes to earn money from their name, image and likeness, has pleaded not guilty in the case. An Alachua County sheriff’s deputy, Eric Pai, ticketed Richardson at 4:11 a.m. on April 4 for driving 105 mph despite the road’s 60 mph speed limit.
“Celebration Church sues to evict founders from parsonage after resignation, court fight” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville’s Celebration Church has gone to court to evict estranged founders Stovall and Kerri Weems from the high-end home they occupied as the church parsonage. “The Weemses remain in possession of the … property despite Stovall Weems’ resignation of employment, the Weemses’ refusal to pay rent, and the church’s demands that the Weemses vacate the premises,” says a lawsuit filed last week in Duval County Court. The suit demands that the couple leave home and pay rent for the time they’ve lived there since Stovall Weems resigned from the megachurch on April 15. The lawsuit is separate from one the Weemses filed in February over the founding pastor’s suspension from his job.
“What’s the brown, stinky seaweed lining area beaches? Sargassum. Why it’s washing ashore.” via Tony Judnich of the Northwest Florida Daily News — While its brown color makes it stand out more on sugar-white sand and it stinks while it’s decomposing under the baking sun, sargassum seaweed that began lining area beaches several weeks ago poses no health threat to beachgoers, according to Okaloosa County Coastal Resource Manager Alex Fogg. “It’s very much a natural-occurring thing,” Fogg said Thursday, adding that the current accumulations on local beaches pale in comparison to those in South Florida and the Caribbean. The current batch of sargassum on the beaches “is definitely more than we’re used to seeing,” said Fogg.
— TOP OPINION —
“White supremacist attacks stir GOP fears for safety of White people” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Since 2015, when the recent upsurge in political violence began, the brutality has been overwhelmingly perpetrated by the far right.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, right-wing extremists (generally either White supremacist or anti-government) were involved in 267 plots or attacks and 91 fatalities from 2015 through 2020. Far-left extremists (anarchists, anti-fascists) were involved in 66 incidents and 19 deaths. The proportion of left-wing attacks and plots increased in 2021 (40% of the total, compared to 49% by right-wing extremists), but right-wing attacks remained far deadlier, accounting for 28 of 30 political-violence fatalities in 2021.
Senate Republicans used similar arguments a couple of weeks ago to block consideration of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which would have created dedicated government offices to track domestic terrorism, including white-supremacist violence.
With no added surveillance powers or criminal offenses, that modest bill had passed the House and originally had Republican support. But at a time when Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and Republican officials — including House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik — have given voice to the “great replacement” conspiracy, Republicans have apparently lost interest in challenging White supremacy.
— OPINIONS —
“The problem with Marsy’s Law in Florida” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — When Florida voters approved Marsy’s Law four years ago, the intention was to protect crime victims’ privacy and prevent them from being further victimized. But some law enforcement agencies have applied blanket secrecy in interpreting the law, leading to basic information about crime in communities being shielded from the public. It’s an unintended consequence of the law that does nothing to help crime victims. Marsy’s Law is meant to give crime victims a “meaningful role” as criminal cases move through the justice system and allows them the right “to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family.” That disclosure piece is what has proved problematic.
“Cannabis and the violent crime surge” via Allysia Finley of The Wall Street Journal — The stigma once attached to marijuana has vanished. Nineteen states have legalized cannabis for recreational use, and politicians of both parties increasingly treat it as harmless. Asked during the 2020 presidential campaign about her pot use in college, Kamala Harris giggled and said marijuana “gives a lot of people joy” and “we need more joy in the world.” But the public needs an honest discussion of its social and public-health risks, which include violence and mental illness. THC, the chemical that causes a euphoric high, interacts with the brain’s neuron receptors involved with pleasure. Marijuana nowadays, on average, is about four times as potent as in 1995. But dabs, portions of concentrated cannabis, can include 20 times as much THC as joints did in the 1960s. Countless studies have linked chronic cannabis use to schizophrenia.
“Parents demand ‘rights.’ What about responsibility?” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In March, DeSantis declared 2022 to be “The Year of the Parent” in Florida. But which parent? Does he mean the parent who prepares children for school each day? Checks their homework? Tells them to respect the teacher? Attends conferences with teachers? Does all the hard, quiet work of raising good students? Or perhaps the Governor means the parents he tends to praise — the parents who seek out publicity. Across Florida, parents have disrupted school board meetings, claiming to be exercising their “rights.” Ban books, they say, just because we don’t like them. Yet these parents and DeSantis never talk about the responsibility that goes with those rights. One responsibility is being a proper role model for your children. DeSantis is celebrating the wrong kind of parent.
“Why Black people are afraid of ‘crazy’ White people” via Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post — I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Black people are not afraid of White people. We’re afraid of “crazy” White people. “Crazy,” of course, is not a clinical diagnosis, and what constitutes “crazy” changes by the day as much as by the generation. Right now, I am defining “crazy” as anyone who believes any aspect of the racist “great replacement” conspiracy. According to the SPLC poll, “Nearly 7 in 10 Republicans surveyed agree to at least some extent that demographic changes in the United States are deliberately driven by liberal and progressive politicians attempting to gain political power by ‘replacing more conservative white voters.’”
— ALOE —
“Michelin predictions: Which Miami restaurants we think will get Florida’s first stars” via Carlos Frías of the Miami Herald — Miami is about to learn why Michelin stars matter. The Michelin Guide, the world’s best-known international restaurant rating guide, will announce on June 9 which Florida restaurants will be designated with one, two, or a rarefied three stars. Ultimately, it’s about promotion. The state tourism and marketing agency, Visit Florida, and the combined local tourism agencies in Miami, Orlando and Tampa are paying the Michelin Guide an estimated $1.5 million over the next three years to rate Florida’s restaurants. It puts these restaurants in a printed guide that Michelin sells and puts online.
“Australians gag as KFC uses cabbage for lettuce in burgers amid shortages” via Annabelle Tismit of The Washington Post — A controversy is roiling the fast-food industry in Australia and prompting consumer complaints. It has to do with climate change, supply-chain shortages and inflation — but mostly, with cabbage. The controversy began when the Australian branch of the fast-food chain KFC notified consumers in some parts of the country that some KFC restaurants swapped out lettuce for “a lettuce and cabbage blend.” One Twitter user wrote that it “feels like a sign of the apocalypse.” It’s not the first time shortages have affected the menu offerings of KFC Australia. Earlier this year, the company said it had to drop some items from its menu amid disruptions in its chicken supply — a distressing development for a brand whose reputation is built on fried poultry.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to two highly intelligent, decent men: Chris Hand (who pens the occasional op-ed for #FlaPol) and Brad Miller, the executive director of PSTA. Also celebrating today is Rep. Kevin Chambliss, who, if you haven’t noticed, has been working really hard lately. Keep an eye on him.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.