Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.15.22

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Start the day right — your morning briefing of what you need to know in Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

Welcome to the worldEvangeline Lynne Nungesser, daughter of the brilliant Natalie Kato and Tim Nungesser, was born yesterday at 2:41 p.m. I’m told mom and baby are doing well. Baby Evie will hang in the NICU briefly to put on a little weight.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@SpectatorIndex: BREAKING: The World Health Organization says it is working on a new name for monkeypox

@DavidAxelrod: The question is, and will be raised throughout these hearings, does it matter? In deeply polarized times, when 70 percent of Republicans accept a blatant lie that the election was stolen, will minds be changed by evidence? Right now, (Donald) Trump remains ’24 @GOP front-runner.

@EliKlein: On Sunday, Ron DeSantis gave a speech here in NYC. Democrats banded together to protest that the venue was allowing DeSantis to come talk. When I was growing up in NYC, my liberal family would not have even considered that speakers be banned. I feel like the left is in a free fall.

@Leonardkl: Gov. DeSantis, who is 43, still has over $21,000 in student loans. He doesn’t trade individual stocks. His net worth is $318,987, far lower than many top politicians and if he runs for President, he may clock in at the lowest net worth in a crowded field.

@Jenny122: With both @AnnaForFlorida AND @CarlosGSmith endorsing @CharlieCrist I’m going to have to trust that he’s not as terrible as I thought. Changed my voting plan!

@MDixon55: Sounds like if a @GovRonDeSantis endorsement for (Jason) Fischer’s property appraiser race didn’t come today, a DeSantis endorsement for @AaronPBean’s congressional race was coming in a few days. A plank walk disguised as a choice, ya know

@Scott_Maxwell: Interesting move for an attorney general. Three people — including 1 who worked directly for (Jason) Brodeur — were charged just last month with committing crimes in his race. The cases still pending. More may come. And Florida’s top law-enforcement official jumps in to endorse.

@JonHeyman: The pitch clock is a big success on an experimental basis in the minors. Games w/o pitch timers r averaging 2:59, games w/pitch timers 2:35, MLB is reporting now at the owners’ meetings. There’s been only 0.6 violations per game. MLB hopes to implement clocks in majors next year.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 2; ‘Civil: Ben Crump’ premieres on Netflix — 4; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 13; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 22; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 34; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 38; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 56; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 64; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 67; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 77; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 77; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 79; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 85; 2022 Emmys — 89; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 114; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 131; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 132; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 132; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 148; FITCon 2022 begins — 155; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 155; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 159; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 159; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 160; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 168; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 168; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 182; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 246; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 264; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 282; 2023 Session Sine Die — 324; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 324; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 352; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 408; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 492; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 653; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 772.

— 2022 —

Elon Musk leaning toward voting for Ron DeSantis for president in 2024” — Billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he is leaning toward voting for Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 presidential election. Musk said last month that he plans to vote Republican in upcoming elections. On Wednesday morning, he said he voted Republican for the first time ever, casting his ballot for Texas Republican Mayra Flores who won a special election to serve as the first Mexican-born congresswoman in the United States. A Twitter user asked him if he would vote for a Republican for president in 2024. Musk said “TBD,” or to be decided. When asked who he was leaning towards, Musk said “DeSantis.” “I supported [Democratic candidate Andrew] Yang last time, but DeSantis has a better chance of winning,” the billionaire added.

Nikki Fried, Charlie Crist slam Ron DeSantis for putting gas tax “politics” over relief at pump” via Stephany Matat of The Palm Beach Post — DeSantis‘ two Democratic rivals accused him on Monday of playing political gamesmanship with rising gasoline prices. In the past few days, the Tampa Bay Times has revealed that DeSantis’ director of legislative affairs, Stephanie Kopelousos, drafted legislation limiting the fuel tax cut to October, the month before the November election, instead of immediate relief. “While Floridians are struggling to get by, Gov. DeSantis is playing politics with their pocketbooks. It’s unconscionable — Florida deserves a Governor that works for the people, not themselves,” Crist said in a statement. “As Governor, she would issue a gas tax break immediately, unlike DeSantis,” Caroline Korba, the Press Secretary for Fried’s campaign for Governor, said.

Charlie Crist blasts Ron DeSantis for not doing enough to relieve pain at the pump.

—“Crist has a new fiance as he seeks a new office” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

Happening today — Crist and Fried are scheduled to take part in a forum, 7 p.m., The Box Gallery, 811 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.

Marco Rubio campaign hits Val Demings on police immunity vote” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The contest between Sen. Rubio and Rep. Demings continues to focus on her ties to law enforcement, as Rubio’s campaign released a video in which police blast her for her vote last year on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. That policing reform bill (HR 1280) was inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 that arose from George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis police. It passed the House along party lines but died in the Senate. Specifically, Rubio’s campaign video shows law enforcement officers expressing outrage that the bill includes provisions that would strip police of qualified immunity and protection against lawsuits over what they do on the job.

DeSantis’ ‘insurrection’ jibe irks Democratic AG candidate” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis’ characterization of Supreme Court pro-choice protesters as partaking in “insurrection” got a rise out of a Democrat running for Attorney General. Santa Rosa Beach lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder condemned DeSantis’ “absurd” turn of phrase in a media release. “On the issue of peaceful protests, the First Amendment is clear,” Uhlfelder. “Ron DeSantis’ absurd labeling of peaceful protest as insurrection is a dangerous betrayal of free speech. Not only is free speech protected by the Constitution, it is a core value of our American democracy.”

Jason Fischer drops bid for Congress, possibly clearing path for Aaron Bean run” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — State Rep. Fischer said Tuesday he’s ending his run for Congress, a move that will give state Sen. Bean a less contested path in the upcoming Republican Primary. Fischer had taken to the airwaves for weeks with ads touting his congressional campaign and conservative record, but he will bow out and concentrate on running for Duval County Property Appraiser in the spring 2023 Election. “After much prayer and reflection, my family and I have decided now is not the right time to pursue a seat in Congress, and the best way for me to continue my public service is to remain at home and pursue the office of Property Appraiser,” Fischer said.

Dream Defenders endorse Maxwell Frost for CD 10 — The Dream Defenders on Tuesday endorsed Democrat Frost in the crowded Primary for Florida’s 10th Congressional District, citing his ties to the organization and others such as March for Our Lives and the ACLU. “Congresspeople have immense national, statewide and local power, and the decisions they make impact our daily lives,” said Lenisha Gibson, political director for Dream Defenders. “From issues like funding community violence intervention programs and student debt abolition to legalizing marijuana, Max has vowed to serve as the voice of the people both in Florida and the federal government.” Frost is seeking the nomination against several other Democrats, including state Sen. Randolph Bracy, Terence Gray, Natalie Jackson, and former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Alan Grayson runs for Congress again, seeking Demings’ seat” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Ignoring calls from the Democratic Party to keep Black representation for a congressional seat, Grayson announced Tuesday he is a candidate for Congress again, this time to succeed Demings as she runs for U.S. Senate. The decision by Grayson, who has represented parts of Central Florida twice in the U.S. House between 2009 and 2017, inserts a prominent White name into a Democratic primary that so far had drawn mostly Black candidates, including gun rights activist and Black Lives Matter protester Frost, state Sen. Bracy, attorney Jackson, pastor Gray, and investor Jeff Boone.

The return of Alan Grayson. Again.

Poll: Anna Paulina Luna handily leads the pack in CD 13 Primary” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — An internal poll shared with Florida Politics shows Luna is primed to win the Republican nomination for Florida’s 13th Congressional District for the second time. According to the survey conducted by Spry Strategies, Luna is drawing 36% support among likely Republican Primary voters in the Pinellas County-based district, giving her a 20-point edge over her closest competitor, Kevin Hayslett. Amanda Makki followed with under 10% support, while Christine Quinn brought up the rear with 1%. The poll found that 38% of Primary voters have not decided who they will vote for in the Aug. 23 election, leaving room for a tighter contest than the top-line numbers indicate.

Dale Holness qualifies in CD 20, headed for rematch with incumbent” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Florida’s 20th Congressional District has its first candidate qualified to run in the 2022 election. Holness, a former Broward County Commissioner, was denied the congressional seat once held by U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings by just five votes when he lost to now-U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in last November’s Special Democratic Primary. Now, the two appear headed for a rematch. Holness, a longtime fixture in Broward County’s political scene, qualified by petition Monday. Filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show the Democrat is likely headed for a Primary with Cherfilus-McCormick and state Rep. Anika Omphroy. Omphroy submitted FEC filings on June 3 to be a candidate in the district.

Happening todayJared Moskowitz, a candidate for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, joins incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in a virtual event on preventing gun violence, 6 p.m. Registration online here.

— MORE 2022 —

DeSantis endorses Corey Simon in newly launched SD 3 bid” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis has endorsed former professional and Florida State football player Simon in his bid to represent Tallahassee in Senate District 3. In a tweet sent Tuesday, the morning after Simon announced he would run as a Republican to unseat Sen. Loranne Ausley, DeSantis noted Simon’s experience, including as the Governor’s pick for CEO of Volunteer Florida. “From Pompano to Doak Campbell to the NFL to leading Volunteer Florida, Corey Simon has been a leader and would make a great addition to the Florida Senate. I’m proud to endorse my friend (Corey Simon) for Senate District 3,” DeSantis tweeted.

Corey Simon nabs a big endorsement in his bid for the Florida Senate.

Jason Brodeur draws Primary challenger in SD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sen. Brodeur may get Primaried before he has a chance to advance to what is expected to be one of Florida’s marquee elections in the Legislature, against Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil in Senate District 10. On Tuesday, Denali Aziza Charres filed to run as a Republican in SD 10. If she qualifies for the ballot this week, she will primary Brodeur in the district spanning Seminole County and part of northern Orange County. Seminole County Republicans were raising eyebrows Tuesday about Charres’ candidacy in a county still reeling from ramifications of a “ghost candidacy” in the 2020 elections.

Mike Hill files to run against Michelle Salzman in Republican primary” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Hill has filed last-minute paperwork to challenge current District 1 Rep. Salzman in the Republican Primary. Hill’s last-minute filing comes during Florida’s qualifying week for the August 2022 primary. Salzman unseated Hill as the District 1 representative in 2020 when she won the GOP Primary by more than 1,000 votes, a 5-point margin. Hill’s previous terms as a legislator have been controversial, and he often filed bills designed to appeal to the Republican base without much chance of passing. Hill never passed a bill directly or an appropriation during his five years in the Florida Legislature. In the latest Legislative Session, Salzman passed two bills directly and successfully appropriated $12.1 million in projects.

Gallop Franklin takes early fundraising lead in HD 8 race” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Franklin, one of more than a half-dozen people vying for a Florida House seat left open by the abrupt exit of state Rep. Ramon Alexander, has taken an early fundraising lead. Franklin, a pharmacist who has long hoped to succeed Alexander, his best friend, in the District 8 seat, raised $74,460, including a $20,000 loan from himself to his campaign. According to campaign finance reports from May, more than two dozen pharmacists and two pharmacist-related political committees gave more than $13,000. The rest of the field reported raising far less: Hubert Brown collected $8,600; Marie Rattigan raised $3,180, including a $1,000 check — her single biggest donation — from City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow; Gregory James collected $1,000; Trish Brown reported no contributions.

Tweet, tweet:

Mike Chitwood tops first round of endorsements for Elizabeth Fetterhoff in HD 29” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Volusia County Sheriff tops a list of supporters announced by the DeLand Republican. The lawmaker said Chitwood called her to offer his support. “Being supportive of law enforcement and first responders is something I’ve always been proud of, and these leaders understand and respect that,” she said. “Members of our community can come home and know they are taken care of because they can count on our local Sheriff and police departments.”

Andrew Learned reports strongest fundraising month, collects $50K in May” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — May was Rep. Learned’s largest fundraising month since launching his re-election campaign for the newly drawn House District 69. Learned raised $50,327 in May between his campaign account and affiliated political committee, Serve Florida. The incumbent faces Danny Alvarez, who reported raising $5,525 last month. Alvarez launched his campaign in mid-February and so far has amassed $116,577. On the other hand, Learned has now raised $309,344 between his campaign and the political committee. A third candidate, Republican Megan Angel Petty, filed in early March to run for the House seat and reported raising $31 in March.

Fiona McFarland facing Derek Reich in HD 73” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. McFarland and Reich have each qualified in one of Florida’s most closely divided House districts. On Monday, the House District 73 incumbent qualified to run for a second term. The Sarasota Republican welcomed the challenge. “Giving the voters a choice every two years of who represents them in Tallahassee keeps elected officials responsible to our districts and is critical to a healthy democracy,” McFarland said. “I’ve spent my first term working hard for the people of Sarasota and am looking forward to re-earning my position at the ballot box in November.”

Fiona McFarland gets an opponent.

—“Janet Cruz continues to outraise Shawn Harrison, collects $36K in May” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—”Allison Tant adds $58K to coffers in May for re-election campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—”Dean Black holds large cash advantage in HD 15 Primary” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—“With $72K haul, Wallace Aristide leads Miami-Dade Commission field in May fundraising” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

—”Jordan Leonard nears $300K for HD 106 bid with help from real estate” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

—“Demi Busatta Cabrera adds $42K in May for HD 114 defense with Associated Industries of Florida push” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Happening tonight:

— STATEWIDE —

>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference at the American Legion Post 273 in Madeira Beach. Major General James O. Eifert and Major General James S. “Hammer” Hartsell also to attend. 10:30 a.m.

South Florida synagogue sues to block 15-week abortion ban — The Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Boynton Beach on Friday filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 15-week abortion ban that’s set to go into effect next month. As Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reported, Rabbi Barry Silver on Tuesday said the synagogue filed the suit in Leon County Circuit Court last week. It argues that the ban violates religious freedom protections in the state constitution because, under Jewish law, abortion is required in cases where it’s necessary to protect physical health, mental health and well-being. The synagogue’s lawsuit is the second court challenge to the ban, following a lawsuit filed June 1 by the ACLU of Florida and Planned Parenthood.

Power grab. DeSantis got a militia and now wants to control sports, schools, more” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis’ lust for power isn’t any secret. It’s one of the things his fans like most about him. He created an election-crimes police force. He has removed public officials from local office — even if they were duly elected and not accused of any crimes — so he could replace them with his hand-picked associates. He created his own state militia. But apparently, that’s just the tip of DeSantis’ power-grab desires. Records obtained by the Sentinel show the DeSantis administration has also drafted plans to take control of everything from state universities to the association that controls high school sports. Some people say Ron DeSantis wants to be President if his political godfather, Trump, allows him to run. Really, though, it looks like he wants to be king.

Ron DeSantis has a militia. Is this just the beginning?

Jimmy Patronis warns of ‘shrinkflation’ as prices rise” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — Price increases make everyone pay more attention to what they buy, how much, and how often. Inflation across the country remains high, and almost nowhere is as high as in Tampa Bay, where the inflation rate is nearly 3% higher than the national average. As inflation keeps costs increasing, Florida’s state leadership warns residents to keep their eyes peeled as they go shopping for essentials. According to Patronis, shrinkflation is reducing the size of a product while maintaining its sticker price, a form of hidden inflation. Patronis told Floridians to keep an eye on the volumes and sizing of their favorite products. He said that while amounts might shrink, prices may stay the same or even rise.

Medicaid managed long-term care complaints are increasing” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The number of complaints about Florida’s Medicaid managed long-term care program has been on the rise in recent months, members of a statewide medical care advisory panel were told Tuesday. Paula James, the administrator for the Agency for Health Care Administration Bureau of Plan Management Operations, presented data showing 312 calls in May complaining about the contracted managed care plans that provide long-term care services in the state. About a third of the calls were about Sunshine Health Plan, the largest managed care provider in the state. James attributed the 111 call complaints about Sunshine Health Plan to the company’s acquisition of StayWell and subsequent merger. The state hit Sunshine Health Plan with a record-breaking $9 million sanction in March for not making payments or delaying payment on 121,277 claims.

Amber Mariano joins computer science education nonprofit — Rep. Mariano has joined Code.org, an education nonprofit with a mission to allow every student to gain experience in computer science as part of a core K-12 education. The Pasco Republican will help expand access to computer science in schools, focusing on participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups. “I have always put students first,” Mariano said in a LinkedIn post. “I can’t wait to help make strides in expanding access to computer science education across the nation.”

Amber Mariano Davis goes to bat for computer science education, focusing on girls.

— D.C. MATTERS —

White House fires back at Rick Scott ads, says he is ‘exploiting inflation to rip off working families’” via Brooke Singman of Fox News — The White House is firing back at Sen. Scott after his latest television ads targeting Joe Biden, slamming the Republican senator for “exploiting inflation to rip off working families with more welfare for the rich.” Scott on Monday released a television ad blasting Biden for having “destroyed America’s economy.” “It’s time to be honest with the American people. Joe Biden is unfit for office and should resign,” the ad says. The ad features a video of the President referring to Scott as being from Wisconsin and warns that Biden is forcing America into a recession.

Joe Biden pushes back against Rick Scott’s dis.

Mitch McConnell ‘comfortable’ with framework for gun control bill” via Ariana Figueroa of Florida Phoenix — McConnell said he is comfortable with the bipartisan deal Senate Democrats and Republicans struck on gun control legislation, signaling that he will join in passing a bill when it comes to a vote. “For myself, I’m comfortable with the framework,” McConnell said during a news conference. “And if the legislation ends up reflecting what the framework indicates, I’ll be supportive.” Sen. Chris Murphy said a component of the bill would be an expansion of mental health, with somewhere in the billions for funding. But he did not give more details on how much money will be provided for those services.

‘An important first step’: Florida lawmakers react to Senate gun safety deal” via Chris Hippensteel of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida politicians, including Republican U.S. Sens. Rubio and Scott, could play a key role in determining whether the bipartisan gun safety legislation passes into law. In a tweet, Rubio expressed approval for the bipartisan deal before it was announced, citing red flag legislation he introduced in 2018 as a “cornerstone” of the new agreement. A representative for Scott said he “will review the proposal,” and pointed to several bills Scott is working on to “make our schools safer.” He and Rubio are both sponsoring the Luke and Alex School Safety Act and the EAGLES Act. The first would set up a federal “clearinghouse” to identify and distribute information on school safety best practices. The second bill would expand the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, with an emphasis on countering school violence.

How to steal $250 million” via David French of The Dispatch — All told, the Trump campaign raised a stunning amount of money to support an election steal effort that it knew was bogus from the beginning. Not only were the numbers staggering, millions of dollars were immediately diverted into the hands of Trump allies and Trump entities. In short, the plot to overturn the election wasn’t just insurrection; it was also an extraordinary financial grift. Trump created a different entity called the Save America PAC and funneled most of the funds into this new organization. it then “gave millions in contributions to pro-Trump organizations.” How could any person watch, for example, Rudy Giuliani’s display at Four Seasons Total Landscaping and believe their money was being well spent?

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami-Dade picked a new County Commissioner on Tuesday, without a single vote cast” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Former Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg became the first 2022 candidate to win a County Commission seat on Tuesday when the noon filing deadline passed and she was the only person running to succeed term-limited Sally Heyman. The county charter considers an unopposed candidate elected, said Suzy Trutie of Miami-Dade’s Elections Department, meaning the Aug. 23 Primary will not have a slot for the Commission’s District 4 election. Instead, Steinberg effectively won the race on Tuesday and is on track to take office in November with the other newly elected Commissioners. “Steinberg is elected unopposed,” Trutie said.

Micky Steinberg made winning look easy because it was.

NextEra Energy’s goal for zero carbon emissions by 2045 — NextEra Energy, the parent company of Florida Power & Light, announced Tuesday that it aims to produce zero carbon emissions by 2045. As Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reported, NextEra plans to meet the goal, which it is calling “Real Zero,” by expanding its solar and nuclear power generation capacity. “Our Real Zero goal to eliminate carbon emissions from our operations is a real goal that would make a significant difference for our customers,” NextEra President and CEO John Ketchum said in the announcement. The company’s plan comes a year after the previous CEO of the company, Jim Robo, said such goals are “disingenuous.”

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Hillsborough County high schools may change Native American mascots” via Olivia Steen of News Channel 8 WFLA — Chamberlain High School may not be “home to the Chiefs” much longer. The Tampa school’s mascot, along with East Bay High, is under fire. The Hillsborough County school board will discuss changing the mascots next Tuesday. Some people believe the mascot represents strength and honor, but others say it’s appropriation. “You don’t have the Chamberlain Jews,” Sheridan Murphy with the Florida Indigenous Alliance said. “You don’t have the East Bay Mexicans and the resulting stereotypes that come with that.”

Home of the Chiefs? Not for long.

In Tampa, FDOT secretary asks for business community’s transportation support” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue visited Tampa Bay on Thursday and stressed the need for the business community’s support as FDOT seeks to handle the demands of a growing population. He spoke for about an hour at a Tampa Bay Chamber breakfast in downtown Tampa. “Having the support of the business community is absolutely critical,” said Perdue, a Panama City native. Some audience members said one of those needs is a more robust passenger rail system. An attendee said it’s nice to see Brightline receive $15.9 million in government money but wondered if there was anything else that could be done to accelerate the project’s timeline.

Universal theme park demand is exceeding capacity despite inflation, executive says” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Skyrocketing gas prices and rising airline prices aren’t hurting theme park attendance right now, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said Tuesday. “As gas prices rise, you would expect to see a decline … as it becomes much more expensive to drive from Atlanta to Orlando,” Shell said. “We’re seeing none of that. Literally none of that. … There’s no impact on our business.” But Shell warned if domestic attendance eventually drops off, the news that international travelers can fly into the United States without testing negative for COVID-19 could lure more foreign visitors to the parks. Theme park attendance has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but international visitors remain elusive.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

Write-in candidates close high-profile Manatee County Commission Primary” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A write-in candidate for Manatee County Commission says he signed up for the race at the request of one of the Republican challengers for the seat, a move that will exclude more than 150,000 Democratic and independent voters from casting ballots in an election they otherwise could have voted in. Robert Lesher said he was asked to run as a write-in candidate in the at-large District 6 race by Jason Bearden, who is challenging incumbent Carol Whitmore as a Republican in the August primary.

Sarasota Proud Boys activist helping host School Board candidate campaign event” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A local man with connections to the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group whose former leader has been charged with seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, is helping host a campaign event for School Board candidate Robyn Marinelli. James Hoel, 50, and his wife, Kathy, are listed as RSVP contacts for a meet and greet event with Marinelli scheduled for June 23. The event is set to take place at Island Organics Cafe in Venice.

— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —

Celebration of life scheduled for fallen TPD Officer Christopher Fariello” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Tallahassee Police Department released the funeral arrangements for Fariello, a TPD officer who was killed last week in a wreck with a fleeing attempted homicide suspect. A celebration of life will be held Wednesday at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St., at 11 a.m. The procession for the funeral, which will be live-streamed, is slated to begin at approximately 9:20 a.m. from the Sears parking lot at the Governor’s Square Mall. In place of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Christopher Fariello Scholarship Fund for Law Enforcement. Checks can be made payable to The TCC Foundation c/o Officer Christopher Fariello Scholarship at 444 Appleyard Dr., Tallahassee, 32304.

End of watch: Farewell, Christopher Fariello.

Council withdraws bill to reimburse city employees traveling for ‘treatment related to reproductive rights’” via News4Jax — The Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously to withdraw legislation that was aimed at creating a reimbursement option for city employees who travel for “medical treatments related to reproductive rights.” The bill was introduced in May by Councilman Reggie Gaffney. It came on the heels of a leaked initial majority opinion from the Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade. “Just so the record is 100% absolutely clear,” said Councilman Rory Diamond, “I am a strong, enduring and forever ‘no’ for ever using any taxpayer money or anything related to abortion.”

North Florida prison guard loses job, housing after guilty plea in U.S. Capitol riot” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — A North Florida prison guard has been fired after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, a court filing shows. Jonathan Daniel Carlton, who worked at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, “is now not only unemployed, but he will lose his subsidized housing that was provided as part of his employment,” defense attorney Richard Landes wrote in a memo to the judge in Washington scheduled to pass sentence June 29. Carlton pleaded guilty in March to parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building in return for prosecutors dropping three other misdemeanor counts. He could face up to six months behind bars, but Landes argued that probation and community service would be more appropriate.

Last-minute candidate swap unfolds in Okaloosa School Board race. Why it’s raising questions” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — As the week of qualifying to run for office in Okaloosa and Walton counties got underway Monday, incumbent School Board member Dr. Diane Kelley‘s name remained noticeably absent from the Okaloosa Supervisor of Election’s list of pre-filed candidates. The name of Niceville businessman Joe Fagundes still appeared next to that of Cara Marion as a candidate for Kelley’s District 5 seat. Strangely enough, though, Kelley is in the race. And Fagundes is out. The timing of the Kelley/Fagundes candidate swap has raised questions. The announcement came just three days after Marion pre-filed to run. In an interview last week, Fagundes was adamant that, despite rumors, there was no conspiracy behind Kelley’s sudden decision to run and his response to that decision.

— TOP OPINION —

Jacksonville’s bicentennial flop lays bare a city in deep malaise” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — Ben Becker, a reporter with Action News Jax, has an aggressive style that rubs some folks in City Hall and beyond the wrong way. So does Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

“You’re a sad human being,” Curry told Becker as he climbed into the passenger seat of an SUV.

It was as fitting a moment as any to be the most remembered about the city’s bicentennial celebration this past weekend, a festival that, rather than unifying, turned out to be divisive and kind of strange. And despite indicating that all of Jacksonville’s living Mayors would attend the festivities, none actually did. There may, in fact, be a good reason, though it’s beyond this columnist to care one way or another; one does not need a compelling excuse to avoid milling around the shadeless patch of waterfront grass we are told will one day resemble something like an actual park.

But the malaise of it all — the bicentennial flop — feels like an outgrowth of something less trivial:

The sheriff fled town, unapologetically vacating his job nearly a year before his tenure was set to end, leaving a pitiful legacy in his wake. VyStar — plagued by a stunning, widespread and long-lasting failure of its online banking system — is Jacksonville’s latest Prometheus, punished by the unforgiving gods for trying to save our cursed downtown. The damn Confederate statue in Springfield Park remains, as much a monument to treasonous slugs as it is to contemporary political cowardice.

— OPINIONS —

C’mon, Trumpers, how much longer will you fall for the con? Oh, that long …” via Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald — I won’t bother reasoning with you. As I’ve said before in this space, it’s my opinion that you folks who support Trump are, by definition, incapable of reasoning, so it’s foolish even to try. You may think that’s harsh. I think it’s timesaving. But I do have a question for you: Don’t you feel kind of stupid right now? Doesn’t the revelation that it was all a con leave you feeling like a sucker? Doesn’t simple human pride have you smarting, at least a little bit? Even though his own people told him quite clearly that there was no election fraud, he still told you something else: a bizarre fable about a vast and Byzantine conspiracy involving Democrats, Republicans, poll workers, truck drivers, a polling machine manufacturer, and — who knows? — maybe Bigfoot on the grassy knoll.

The conservative cruelty of an appellate court” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Conservative shouldn’t be synonymous with cruelty. But that’s how it seems at Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. That’s bad news for injured workers. All compensation appeals go there. What the court did this month to Stephen Sargent is as cruel as cruel could get. He was a correctional officer for the Bradford County Sheriff. He began as a part-timer in May 2012 and transitioned to full-time work a year later. In January 2020, he had a heart attack. Florida law presumes that’s a work-related injury for correctional and law enforcement officers and firefighters, among others, because they have very stressful jobs. They’re as entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for heart trouble as for any other workplace injury. Sargent was denied health care and lost the wage benefits he applied for.

Richie Kidwell: When will legislators deliver real relief from rising insurance rates?” via Florida Politics — The Legislature marched into Tallahassee last month for a Special Session on property insurance. Floridians were counting on them to enact changes that will drive those costs down. But what actually happened? The fruit of this labor was legislation that even its sponsor conceded won’t reduce rates in the next 18 months, if ever. A key ratings agency also says the legislative changes “are unlikely to alleviate immediate financial pressures.” In other words, the so-called reforms do nothing to help Floridians struggling to find affordable property insurance. But they did accomplish one thing: They took away rights from Floridians by making it harder for them to be made whole after suffering losses property owners thought would be covered by their insurance.

— ALOE —

Disney sets reopening date for Victoria & Albert’s” via Ashley Carter of Spectrum News — Victoria & Albert’s, the award-winning restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, will reopen soon. The restaurant, which has been closed since March 2020, will open its doors again on July 28, Disney announced Friday in a post on its official parks blog. For the reopening, Disney has updated the dining room, which has been “re-imagined” to reflect a Victorian-style setting with murals and wall coverings. Victoria & Albert’s features a fine dining menu crafted by Chef de Cuisine Matthew Sowers. Dishes include Colorado Lamb, the Wagyu A-5 Miyazaki, and the Spectrum of Chocolate dessert.

Victoria & Albert’s will make a triumphant return next month.

There’s a place in Homestead where you can swim with alligators and not get eaten (ideally)” via Madeleine Marr of the Miami Herald — Want to feel like a bona fide Floridian? Go swimming with an alligator. Yes, this is an actual thing. Don’t worry. It’s totally, um, safe. A professional runs the show. That would be Chris Gillette, best known as one of the stars of Animal Planet’s “Gator Boys.” The Palm Bay native is a wildlife biologist with cred: He earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a Biodiversity Conservation and Management certificate at Florida International University. The animals at the refuge are all nuisance gators that ended up in places they didn’t belong, like backyards, near residential neighborhoods and schools. Gillette runs tours Fridays and Saturdays at Everglades Outpost Wildlife Rescue in Homestead.

Swim with gators? Be our guest. Image via Facebook.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

A happy belated birthday to supersmart guy Drew Piers of Sachs Media. Celebrating today are Rep. Traci Koster, Ivette Faulkner of The Florida Chamber of Commerce, and lobbyist Travis Moore.

___

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

Peter Schorsch

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


2 comments

  • Pamela Roth

    June 15, 2022 at 6:04 am

    zDzdv

  • Pamela Roth

    June 15, 2022 at 6:06 am

    “Nikki Fried, Charlie Crist slam Ron DeSantis for putting gas tax “politics” over relief at pump” via Stephany Matat of The Palm Beach Post — DeSantis‘ two Democratic rivals accused him on Monday of playing political gamesmanship with rising gasoline prices. In the past few days, the Tampa Bay Times has revealed that DeSantis’ director of legislative affairs, Stephanie Kopelousos, drafted legislation limiting the fuel tax cut to October, the month before the November election, instead of immediate relief. “While Floridians are struggling to get by, Gov. DeSantis is playing politics with their pocketbooks. It’s unconscionable — Florida deserves a Governor that works for the people, not themselves,” Crist said in a statement. “As Governor, she would issue a gas tax break immediately, unlike DeSantis,” Caroline Korba, the Press Secretary for Fried’s campaign for Governor, said.

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