Good Wednesday morning.
Welcome to the world — Congratulations to Sen. Ben Albritton and his family. His grandchild, Brooks Alexander Goodwyn, was born Saturday around 7:30 a.m. Brooks came in weighing 8 lbs., 10 oz. I’m told Mom and Baby are doing great!
“We are beyond blessed,” Albritton tells me.
Tonight’s match between the Lightning and Avalanche won’t be the only Tampa vs. Colorado faceoff on Wednesday.
Ahead of game four of the Stanley Cup Final, former Downtown Denver Partnership CEO Tami Door will be speaking to Tampa’s top minds about how Tampa and Denver have built similar quality of life success stories.
Though Tampa boasts more Stanley Cup titles than Denver, the Mile High City leads in the standard of living and salary growth — it ranks No. 11 and No. 16, respectively, while Tampa ranks No. 25 and No. 44.
Door says when she looks at Tampa, she sees all the signs of where Denver was 10 to 20 years ago — meaning there’s a path for the Big Guava to reach the same heights as Denver.
“Downtown Tampa is poised to be a premier example of urban growth and city building in our country. ” Door said, “Strategy, leadership, and resilience will set the course to leverage all of the opportunities ahead.”
“On Wednesday, I’ll be sharing insights and lessons learned from other Downtowns, including Denver, with Tampa leaders to support efforts to envision and create a Downtown that is primed to grow current businesses and create new industries, attract the future workforce, build inclusive and well-connected neighborhoods, and bring people together around a shared vision.”
Door’s talk begins at 11:30 a.m. at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street.
A group of health care advocacy organizations sent a letter to the Florida congressional delegation on Tuesday urging them to make Advance Premium Tax Credits permanent.
Passed under the American Rescue Plan, the tax credits expanded health care coverage eligibility to millions of Floridians. They cap health coverage costs at 8.5% of an individual’s income and save the average enrollee about $2,400 a year.
According to a recent report from one organization that signed the Protect Our Care letter, more than 513,000 Floridians could lose health insurance coverage if the credits expire at the year’s end.
“Nothing keeps Floridians up at night like the cost of health care,” said Protect Our Care Florida Director William Miller. “And with the rising prices of food, rent, and child care, too many families are left worrying about how to pay the bills and make ends meet. Voters are counting on Congress to do something about it.”
In addition to Protect Our Care, the letter was signed by For Our Future Florida, Florida Voices for Health, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and the Florida Health Justice Project.
Suppose you’re interested in knowing what motivated members of the Florida Legislature to run for public office. In that case, the Institute of Politics at Florida State University has a bundle of videos for you to watch.
[email protected] released 31 new videos on Tuesday in its “Why We Serve” series. The playlist includes 10 Senators and 21 Representatives. Most interviews were filmed in person during the 2022 Legislative Session, with some recorded via Zoom last year.
The videos spotlight members of both parties — including previously released episodes, there are 20 videos featuring Republican lawmakers and 14 featuring Democratic ones. All members of the Legislature were invited to participate in the project.
The Why We Serve project is led by student fellows at [email protected] The videos are in a one-on-one interview format and are geared toward providing up-and-coming leaders a chance to hear from lawmakers about their experiences, the value of civic engagement, and the need for civil discourse.
Florida State University President Richard McCullough hailed project workers and state legislators for the education and inspiration they’re providing.
“On behalf of Florida State University, I thank these esteemed legislators for participating in the Institute of Politics’ Why We Serve initiative,” McCullough said. “As experienced elected officials, they have a deep understanding of policymaking in Florida. We hope these interviews inspire our students and educate them about the power of careers in public service.”
To watch House Speaker Chris Sprowls‘ entry, click on the image below:
Roxey C. Nelson has been elected executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, representing 25,000 active and retired caregivers throughout Florida.
1199SEIU is the state’s largest union of health care workers. Its members serve in about 80 nursing homes and 30 hospitals across the state in a range of direct caregiving roles, including registered nurses, certified nursing assistants and medical technicians.
Nelson has served the union for over 15 years, most recently as 1199SEIU’s vice president of Politics and Strategic Campaigns in Florida.
Nelson succeeds Executive Vice President Dale Ewart, who is retiring after a 40-year career with 1199SEIU and other labor, economic and social justice organizations.
“Roxey is an exceptional talent to direct the organization forward in serving our membership and the needs of all working Floridians and their families,” Ewart said. “Our members made a tremendous choice in electing an astute, passionate and eminently qualified leader.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@ReedGalen: This is why they use violence: To make good people doing good work to ask themselves why they’d put themselves in a position where they’d have to deal with threats and harassment.
—@SamStein: I guess I’m struck by how elaborate this scheme actually was. It wasn’t (Donald) Trump rage tweeting and (John) Eastman and Rudy (Giuliani) going around trying to hope something into existence. They were extremely persistent and intentional. And they had allies all over the place (in addition to foils)
—@RadioFreeTom: I mean, if the #January6thCommittee is just gonna have Trump-hating partisans like the Trump-supporting conservative AZ House speaker Rusty Bowers, I just don’t see the point
—@SarahLongwell25: I hope the 147 congressional Republicans who refused to certify the 2020 Election are watching this and filled with shame.
—@GovRonDeSantis: We need leaders with strength and conviction to stand up for what they believe in, and the Florida American Legion Boys State Program is training young men to do just that. We must continue to teach the next generation the importance of state government and civics.
—@BryanDGriffin: As a graduate of the Florida American Legion’s Boys State program myself (2006), it’s great to be with the Governor as he discusses the importance of American civics and state government with this year’s participants.
—@LoganDobson: sad to see about the retirement of Buccaneers legend Rob Gronkowski — he changed the city of Tampa, and Tampa embraced him like nowhere else. Tampa and Gronk are forever linked in our national consciousness.
Another great moment in the final days of civilization… pic.twitter.com/pdtJTgYfMS
— Reginald D Hunter (@reginalddhunter) June 18, 2022
— DAYS UNTIL —
2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 6; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 17; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 27; 2022 Sunshine Summit begins — 30; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 31; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 37; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 49; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 56; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 60; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 70; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 70; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 72; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 78; 2022 Emmys — 82; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 107; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 124; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 125; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 125; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 141; FITCon 2022 begins — 148; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 148; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 152; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 152; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 153; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 161; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 161; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 175; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 239; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 257; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 275; 2023 Session Sine Die — 317; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 317; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 345; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 401; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 485; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 646; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 765.
—TOP STORY —
“Ron DeSantis rode Donald Trump’s support to the Governor’s Mansion. Now he doesn’t need him.” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis has plenty of advantages ahead of his November re-election. More than $100 million in the bank. A growing statewide Republican voter advantage. Massive popularity with the conservative base.
What DeSantis doesn’t need and isn’t requesting: Trump’s endorsement.
According to four people connected to the Governor and former President, DeSantis has not asked Trump for a formal endorsement and isn’t planning to. It’s a clear sign that DeSantis, a little-known Congressman from northeast Florida over four years ago, has risen high in the GOP stratosphere.
A lot has changed in four years. DeSantis is now a nationally recognized Republican figure who was highly praised by conservatives during the pandemic for fighting against shutdowns and COVID-19-related mandates. He has also very publicly `battled liberals over education, race relations, and LGBTQ issues. DeSantis has received small-dollar donations from individuals in all 50 states and millions of dollars in cash from big-name GOP donors like Texas oil baron Kelcy Warren, who also donated to Trump.
One Republican donor to DeSantis, who was allowed to speak anonymously, said Trump has privately questioned DeSantis’ loyalty while raising questions about whether DeSantis is personable enough to win over voters.
— 2022 —
“Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis reveals Mamas for DeSantis: ‘Largest movement of parents in Florida history” via Cortney O’Brien of Fox News — “Through the First Lady’s leadership, Mamas for DeSantis will work in partnership with Governor Ron DeSantis’s re-election campaign as a movement for Florida moms, grandmas, abuelas, nanas, and more to get involved in the re-election campaign,” according to a press release. “With the goal of signing up a million mamas across the state of Florida, this initiative will be the largest movement of parents in Florida history.”
“Floridians give DeSantis points for his COVID-19 stance. Will it hold?” via Tim Craig of The Washington Post — Mark Schaefer is a moderate Republican who voted, reluctantly, for Trump in 2020. His wife, Deb Schaefer, describes herself as a lifelong Democrat who supported President Joe Biden. But when it comes to Florida politics, the couple are united in their excitement over Republican Gov. DeSantis. “We love him,” Deb Schaefer said outside her house in Jacksonville’s waterfront Riverside-Avondale Historic District. “He has made a huge difference in the quality of life here in Florida,” Deb said. “He took a big chance and kept things open [during the pandemic] … and I don’t want to see things shut down again.” The Schaefers’ enthusiasm highlights how DeSantis has grown his appeal in this perennial swing state.
“DeSantis offers insight into how he approaches politics in Boys State speech” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — DeSantis let delegates to Florida’s Boys State convention in on what he sees as the secret of his success in office: To fully understand the extent and limits of his powers to enact his agenda and take no notice of public opinion polls. During an address Tuesday, DeSantis said those two decisions have allowed him to succeed in the Governor’s Mansion. “I had my transition folks give me a list of all the powers of the Governor. The constitutional powers, statutory powers, customary powers. What can I do on my own? What did I need the Legislature for? … What would the courts have to check? Just really get a good idea.” he said.
“DeSantis invokes ‘Top Gun’ in contending he doesn’t poll test issues” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis said he made the decision “that when I became Governor, you know what, I’m not doing polling.” He made the comments at the Florida American Legion Boys State Program, contending he would not be “one of those politicians that just has their finger in the wind, that’s so worried about kind of this or that.” “Responding to polls is being a follower,” DeSantis said. “It’s not being a leader. Too many politicians get paralyzed by these polls. A leader needs to understand where ‘true north is. You know, have you guys seen ‘Top Gun: Maverick‘? The Navy, like, we always know where true north is, these ships are out there, you’ve got these planes landing on the carrier, the jets.”
“DeSantis campaign warns that donations to ‘Ready for Ron’ PAC don’t benefit Governor’s re-election” via Paul Steinhauser of Fox News — DeSantis’ re-election campaign is warning donors that contributions sent to “Ready for Ron,” a recently formed federal political action committee, “do not benefit Gov. DeSantis or his re-election.” The letter highlighted that the new PAC “is apparently engaging in an aggressive media campaign to promote itself, running political ads, and actively soliciting contributions from supporters of Gov. DeSantis.” But Benjamin Gibson, the DeSantis 2022 re-election campaign legal counsel, argued in the letter that “in reality, the PAC is actively taking financial resources away from Gov. DeSantis and his re-election efforts. While possibly well-intentioned, these types of organizations tend to cannibalize support that would normally be offered to the candidate directly.”
Bankers shell out $425K for Senate ad buy — The American Bankers Association has placed a $425,000 ad buy for Florida’s U.S. Senate race. The flight, purchased through Media Ad Ventures, will pay for broadcast ads running June 21-30 and cable ads running June 21 through July 4. According to AdImpact, the purchase includes $296,000 for broadcast ads split across the Jacksonville, Panama City, and Tallahassee markets. The cable buy includes $129,000 to run ads on ESPN, Fox News, GOLF and the History Channel. This is the American Banker Association’s first media expenditure of the election.
Florida Firefighters line up behind Wilton Simpson — The Florida Professional Firefighters on Tuesday endorsed Senate President Simpson, a Trilby Republican, in the race for Agriculture Commissioner. “On behalf of the more than 26,000 Florida Professional Firefighters and Paramedics, I am proud to announce our membership’s endorsement of Wilton Simpson for Agriculture Commissioner,” FPF President Bernie Bernoska said. “As Senate President, he showed he was willing to step up and deliver needed resources and pay raises for Florida’s state firefighters and we know his leadership will continue when he is elected to lead the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The FPF looks forward to working together for the next four years to support Florida’s highly trained Florida Forest Service Firefighters.”
“Internal poll shows Democrat Eric Lynn with path to victory over Anna Paulina Luna” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Lynn shows a path to victory over Luna. That’s despite a distinct GOP lean to Florida’s 13th Congressional District on a new congressional map. A polling memo from Global Strategy Group indicates the race is wide-open. With no incumbent in the field, all candidates remain unknown to most voters. “With no candidate well known, and one in five voters currently undecided on who to support for Congress, once Eric Lynn can introduce himself and present Anna Paulina Luna’s extremist positions, he’s able to gain a strong lead in this race, reaching 50% of the vote,” the memo asserts. Simply polling Lynn against Luna finds the Republican with a lead, with 45% supporting her and 36% backing the Democrat, but with 20% undecided.
—“Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz endorse Alan Cohn in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
“Allen Ellison shifts from Senate bid to CD 23 campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ellison, a Sebring Democrat, suspended his Senate campaign and will run to succeed Rep. Ted Deutch in Congress. “After one year and six months of campaigning across the State of Florida and building a national grassroots movement to retire Sen. Marco Rubio, I have decided to suspend my bid for the U.S. Senate,” Ellison wrote in a letter to supporters. Ellison, in late 2020 launched his Senate campaign, the first Democrat to do so this campaign cycle. But following Rep. Val Demings’ entry into the race, interest has gravitated around the Orlando Democrat. But Ellison’s time on the trail won’t be for naught. He’s shifted his candidacy to Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.
— MORE 2022 —
—”Shawn Harrison formally withdraws from SD 14 race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
“Sierra Club Florida endorses Lauren Book for Senate” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — After winning the backing of organizations that bolster law enforcement, teachers, women’s issues and LBGTQ rights, Democratic Senate Leader Book Tuesday added another set of advocates to her endorsers: environmental advocates. The Florida chapter of the Sierra Club Tuesday announced Book is the best candidate to represent Broward County’s Senate District 35. “Sen. Book has been an exceptional leader,” said Luigi Guadarrama, political director of Sierra Club Florida. “If Florida wants to stand a chance at resolving the environmental issues in front of us, we need to elect more leaders like her.”
“Ruh-roh: 10 Democratic House members appear to have raised money during Session” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ten incumbent Democrats seeking re-election to the state House violated legislative rules and raised money during Session this election cycle. House rules prohibit members of the Legislature from raising money for their re-election campaigns while the body is in Session. This calendar year, the Legislature convened for its normal 60-day Legislative Session, from Jan. 11 to March 14, and two other Special Sessions, one from April 19 to 23 and another from May 23 to 25. In 2021, the Regular Session ran from March 2 to April 30, and Special Sessions took place from May 17 to 19 and from Nov. 15 to 18.
—“Half dozen GOP lawmakers may also have reported donations during Session” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
Where did I read about this first? — “Allison Tant may run unopposed after challenger’s qualifying paperwork questioned” via Valerie Crowder of WFSU — Tallahassee Democratic state Rep. Tant may run unopposed this year after problems with her Republican challenger’s paperwork arose this week. Small-business owner Ashley Guy qualified to run for office last week, but voter registration records show she hasn’t been a Republican long enough to seek the GOP’s nomination to run for House District 9. Guy is the only other candidate besides Tant who’s qualified to have their name on the ballot in the upcoming elections. Guy has been a member of the Republican Party for about two months, but state law requires candidates to have been registered with a political party for a year before they may qualify to run in that party’s Primary Election.
“Net metering bill becomes wedge issue between moderate and far-right Republican” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Solar energy policy is joining two perennial far-right planks — absolutism on abortion and guns — in Republican Drake Wuertz’s Republican Primary campaign against House District 38 incumbent Rep. David Smith. Wuertz is plugging into a relatively new-rising conservative view on Florida solar energy: that it’s a free enterprise being thwarted by big business utilities that muscle the government to help protect their market interests from disruptive technologies. At issue in the HD 38 Republican Primary — and potentially others around Florida in August — is the “yes” vote cast by Smith and many other Republican lawmakers on HB 741. That “net metering” bill would have eliminated consumer energy rebates for home solar energy production.
“Republican Apryl Campbell booted from HD 42 ballot as check comes in short” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — For a brief, shining moment Friday, Campbell got a bit of Tallahassee media attention, having been the last candidate at the desk. She was there to qualify for the HD 42 Republican Primary, hoping for a shot at Rep. Anna Eskamani in the central Orange County district. Campbell’s paperwork got time-stamped at 11:58 and 11:59 a.m., just short of the noon deadline. On closer inspection, Division of Elections clerks saw by Monday that her check appeared to be $81 short of the $1,781.82 fee needed to run for the House. Her handwriting looks like, “One thousand seven hundred (and) 82 cents.” There was no numeric entry of any amount to confirm or refute that written number. The Division of Elections disqualified her from the ballot.
“Former Haines City Mayor fails to qualify for state House race” via Gary White of The Ledger — Friday at noon was the deadline for candidates to submit qualifying material to the state. The Division of Elections posted names of some candidates as “active” on Friday, only to remove them later as it pared the list to confirmed qualifiers. The most dramatic reversal involved Horace West, a former Mayor and City Commissioner in Haines City. West planned to run as a Democrat and would have faced the winner of a Republican Primary between Republican Rep. Josie Tomkow of Polk City and Bill Olson of Davenport. Tomkow now serves in District 39 and is seeking a third term. It appears that West’s candidacy was undone by an error on a check he wrote to cover qualifying fees.
“Is David Rivera making a political comeback? He says yes, but he’s not on the ballot” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Suggesting he could still be on the ballot after filing a last-minute bid for state House last week, former Congressman David Rivera said Tuesday he’s going to wait for a written decision from the state on whether he qualified for the Aug. 23 primary election. ‘I’m going to let the lawyers in Tallahassee handle that,’ Rivera told Radio Mambí’s Ninoska Pérez Castellón on Tuesday afternoon. ‘The state still hasn’t confirmed to me, but the paperwork has been handed over.’
—“Juan Carlos Porras’ HD 119 campaign gets political committee lift in crowded field” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics
— STATEWIDE —
“DeSantis spends millions on legal bills at $725 an hour. And he just lost again” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Last week, the Orlando Sentinel reported that DeSantis has racked up more than $5 million in legal bills, paying lawyers as much as $725 an hour, often to lose cases that everyone knew he was going to lose in the first place. It took the Sentinel weeks to get copies of all the legal bills. Yet before we could even publish that story, a federal judge handed DeSantis another big legal loss, this time telling the Governor he wasn’t allowed to outlaw political donations selectively. DeSantis’ P.R. team likes to claim he’s having all these legal problems because socialist lefties are raising bogus objections. Yet the judge who handed DeSantis his latest loss was appointed to his position by Trump.
Judge to decide whether to block ‘Stop WOKE Act’ — A federal judge will soon decide whether to block a law pushed by DeSantis that limits discussions on race in office and school settings, Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reports. The so-called “Stop WOKE Act” is being challenged by a group of parents and educators whose attorneys argued Tuesday that the law imposes “unconstitutional viewpoint-based restrictions on speech” in violation of the First Amendment. The law bans instruction that makes students or workers feel guilty for historical acts committed by people of the same race, color, sex or national origin. The current proceeding will not decide the fate of the overall law, but only whether it will remain in effect until a trial scheduled for April 2023.
“DeSantis signs bill easing payment plans for court fines” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Floridians and tourists caught speeding or otherwise handed a fine or fee by a county court soon must pay $25 per month as part of any payment plan to satisfy the debt, thanks to legislation signed by DeSantis. Currently, the courts can set a monthly payment plan for those assessed fines or fees of up to 2% of their annual net income, divided by 12. When HB 397, which passed unanimously in each chamber, takes effect July 1, the minimum payment will be $25, if the current formula is less than that. Clerks of the Court can also charge a down payment of $100 or 10% of the amount owed, whichever is less. “Making payment plans affordable is a win-win for all Floridians — and for the clerks who rely on collections of fines and fees for their budgets,” said Sarah Couture, Florida State Director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center.
“Governor signs Apopka liquor license bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A local bill that could help with entertainment development in the downtown Apopka area got DeSantis’ blessing Monday evening. The Governor signed HB 1431, a local bill that came out of the Orange County’s House delegation, led by Reps. Rene Plasencia and Keith Truenow. The bill expands the availability of “quota licenses” for liquor and other alcoholic beverages by restaurants in the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency District. It allows for new liquor licenses to be obtained for restaurants with at least 1,800 square feet of space, seating for at least 80, and which get the most revenue from food or nonalcoholic beverages. According to Apopka Mayor Bryon Nelson, such licenses sell on the market for more than $100,000, making them almost impossible for small businesses to acquire,
“DeSantis signs bill creating referendum in Alachua County for single-member districts” via Alan Festo of The Gainesville Sun — DeSantis on Monday signed a bill that creates a special referendum that could affect the way County Commissioners are elected in Alachua County. HB 1493 will allow voters to decide in November if Commissioners should continue to be elected at-large by all county voters or change to district-level voting, where only voters who reside in a particular district cast ballots for their Commissioner. Alachua County officials have argued that state Rep. Chuck Clemons, who introduced the bill on Jan. 10, is trying to circumvent the county’s charter, which provides for other means for such a referendum: a vote of the county’s Charter Commission, a vote of the County Commission, or a petition drive in which 10% of registered voters approve of the ballot question.
“New law directs DEP to set up PFAS cleanup rules, as feds issue advisory” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Florida is beginning to tackle the cleanup of a family of once-everyday chemical substances about which federal regulators sounded the alarm last week. DeSantis on Monday signed legislation (HB 1475) that asks the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to immediately begin to adopt statewide rules to clean up perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The compounds with a mouthful of a name, commonly shortened to PFAS, were once used in firefighting foams to nonstick frying pans. Now, environmental and health studies say they’re far more dangerous than thought as recently as 2016.
“New law puts Florida insurance regulators in charge of pharmacy benefit managers” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that don’t register with the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) could get hit with a $10,000 fine under a new law that takes effect July 1. Signed by DeSantis Monday, HB 357 passed the Legislature unanimously and was sponsored by Rep. Jackie Toledo. PBMs are responsible for managing the pharmacy benefits of about 270 million Americans. Toledo’s bill builds off the Florida Pharmacy Act, initially passed in 2014 and amended by lawmakers in 2018. The 2014 law established the rights that pharmacists are entitled to while being audited, including having at least seven days advance notice before any initial on-site audit can be conducted. The Florida Board of Pharmacy conducted enforcement.
“‘Waiting for so long’: COVID-19 vaccines reach youngest Floridians” via Ian Hodgson and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Eighteen months after the first vaccines were rolled out, shots are finally going into the arms of the nation’s youngest children, an important milestone for parents who have waited months to protect their children from a virus that continues to evolve and spread. Young children were vaccinated across the country on Tuesday, including in Florida, the only state that did not preorder doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children as young as 6 months. In the past, the state preordered doses for all other age groups. Florida’s surgeon general does not recommend the vaccine for healthy children, which state officials cited as their rationale for not preordering. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that kids get vaccinated.
“Lack of support for COVID-19 vaccines may hit disadvantaged kids hardest” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Very young children have begun getting COVID-19 vaccines nationwide, but Florida parents will wait a bit longer than everyone else, and they shouldn’t expect to find the shots at local health departments or state-run clinics, either. Unlike past vaccine rollouts, the state relies entirely on private companies to vaccinate its youngest children, DeSantis reiterated in a Monday news conference. The vaccines will be administered for free regardless of insurance status or immigration status, according to the CDC’s website, but some worry barriers still exist, particularly for disadvantaged children.
Exclusive — “Ex-DOH employee says she was fired for complaining about Orange County’s Raul Pino” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A former Department of Health (DOH) employee is suing after she says she lost her job in 2020 when she complained about her boss discriminating against her. Nasseam James accused Pino, then the state’s chief health officer in Orange County, of discriminating against her because she is a Black woman, James said in the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court. James is suing for back pay, compensatory damages, attorney fees and other damages. James was the deputy director for Orange County, working for DOH, the agency she is now suing, since 2012. James accused Pino of making “a number of microaggressions, slights, and disparate treatment against (her) because of her race and sex, and (James) also became concerned about how other Black and female employees were being treated.”
What Jeff Brandes is reading — “4th Florida property insurance company has gone bankrupt” via Tarik Minor of News4Jax — Nearly 80,000 Florida homeowners will have to find new insurance, after Southern Fidelity declared bankruptcy. The Tallahassee-based company is the fourth insurer to declare insolvency since February. Southern Fidelity’s bankruptcy filing is concerning because, according to insurance agents, a large portion of those dropped customers will likely have to reinsure their homes using Citizens Property Insurance, the state-owned property insurance company. Insurance agents say Citizens has ballooned as a private company, and just one hurricane could detrimentally affect homeowners across the state. Southern Fidelity’s shutdown comes less than a month after state lawmakers held a Special Session to stabilize what’s been described as an industry in crisis.
Happening today — Applications for candidates seeking two seats on the Florida Public Service Commission must be sent to the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council by 5 p.m.
“New omicron variants more dominant, ICU patients increase” via Devoun Cetoute of Miami Herald — In the past seven days, the state has added 10,789 cases and 49 deaths per day, on average. Over the past three weeks, on average, 33 more cases were logged each day in Florida, showing an increase in trends. As of Tuesday, June 21, more than 14,507,397 people are fully vaccinated in Florida. The state has logged at least 6,383,059 cases and 75,297 deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020. The number of cases is likely an undercount due to positive results from at-home COVID-19 testing. The state also only tracks resident cases and deaths, excluding nonresidents.
“Florida concerned about Petro’s election in Colombia. It’s ‘disastrous,’ says DeSantis” via Antonio Maria Delgado of the Miami Herald — Leaders from both political parties expressed concern Monday over the results of the Colombian presidential election. A former member of the M-19 guerrilla group, Gustavo Petro won the race on Sunday by a small margin to become the first leftist President in the country’s history. His election heralds a new era of changes for a country traditionally ruled by conservatives and moderates. “The results of that election have been very, very troubling for people who believe in freedom in the Western Hemisphere; to elect a former narco-terrorist and a Marxist to lead Colombia is gonna be disastrous,” DeSantis said.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Joe Biden hopes to make decision on gas tax holiday this week” via Mariana Alfaro of The Washington Post — Biden told reporters that he hopes to decide on a potential gas tax holiday “by the end of the week.” “Yes, I’m considering it,” Biden said. If he orders a holiday on the federal gasoline tax, it could save consumers up to 18.4 cents per gallon at the pump. Prices have inched above $5 per gallon across the country. “I hope to have a decision based on the data,” Biden said. He stopped to talk to reporters as he and his family strolled down the beach near his Delaware vacation home. Under a gas tax holiday, all taxes on the price of gas would be temporarily removed, offering buyers some relief.
“Biden visits clinic, celebrates COVID-19 shots for kids under 5” via Zeke Miller and Josh Boak of The Associated Press — Biden visited a vaccination clinic Tuesday to celebrate that virtually all Americans can now get a COVID-19 shot Tuesday after the authorization of vaccines for kids under 5 over the weekend. Biden visited a vaccination clinic in Washington, where some of the first shots were given to young children in the last major age group ineligible for vaccines, hailing it as an important pandemic milestone that will support the country’s recovery. While anyone aged six months and up is now eligible for vaccines, the administration is cautioning that it expects the pace of shots for the youngest kids to be slower than older ones, as parents are more likely to rely on their children’s pediatricians to administer them. “The United States is now the first country in the world to offer safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months old,” Biden said at the White House.
“Biden criticizes politicians ‘who make it more difficult for parents’ amid dust up with Florida over childhood vaccines” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO —President Biden on Tuesday took a thinly-veiled jab at Gov. DeSantis over Florida’s response to Covid-19 childhood vaccinations, saying that elected officials shouldn’t make it harder for parents to vaccinate their children. Biden did not mention Florida or DeSantis by name during brief remarks on vaccinating young kids. But they follow a fight between the White House and the DeSantis administration over Florida’s move not to pre-order Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5 years old prior to the federal government authorizing use in children.
“Citing a disastrous pandemic response, an expert panel calls for an overhaul of the U.S. public health system.” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times — A bipartisan panel of health experts calls for an overhaul of the American public health system that would greatly expand the role of the federal government, giving Washington the authority to set minimum health standards and coordinate a patchwork of nearly 3,000 state, local and tribal agencies. The recommendations flow from what the panel, the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System, described as the inadequacies and inequities of the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1 million Americans. The panel said it also wanted to address the failures of the nation’s public health agencies to protect Americans from other health risks, including drug overdoses, diabetes and maternal mortality.
“High court rules religious schools can get tuition aid” via The Associated Press — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that religious schools can’t be excluded from a Maine program that offers tuition aid for private education, a decision that could ease religious organizations’ access to taxpayer money. The most immediate effect of the court’s 6-3 decision beyond Maine will be next door in Vermont, which has a similar program. But the outcome could also fuel a renewed push for school choice programs in some of the 18 states that have so far not directed taxpayer money to private, religious education. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a conservative majority that the program violates the Constitution’s protections for religious freedoms.
“Gun deal in Senate moves closer to reality after key snags resolved” via Mike DeBonis and Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post — A tentative deal in the Senate that would toughen federal gun laws and provide billions of dollars in new money to prevent future mass shootings moved closer to reality Tuesday after negotiators settled key disagreements that had delayed the drafting of a bill, putting it on a glide path to be passed into law by the end of the month. The breakthrough came more than a week after 20 Senators, 10 from each party, signed on to a framework agreement that coupled modest new gun restrictions with some $15 billion in new federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades.
“Rick Scott legislation would revamp SNAP benefits” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — SNAP benefits would return to their pre-pandemic levels if a new bill from the wealthiest individual in the U.S. Senate becomes law. However, the sponsor, Sen. Scott, insists the revamp is not really a cut and, in the end, a net positive for the recipients. Scott promoted his Let’s Get to Work Act. This would, a representative for his office stresses, “revert the program to the pre-pandemic standard.” The Senator, his office contends, does not see the bill’s net effect as a reduction of benefits because active job seekers would remain eligible.
This is patently false and some of the worst @Fla_Pol clickbait I’ve ever seen.
— McKinley Lewis (@McKinleyPLewis) June 21, 2022
“Trump is not as popular with Black and Hispanic Americans as he thinks” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — “They actually said I’m the most popular person — or political person I guess, I don’t know — person or political person with the Hispanics,” Trump told the cheering group, “and I’m doing damn well with the Black community!” What’s predictable about this pairing of Trump and mic is that this is not true. Both Biden and Kamala Harris were viewed more favorably overall. Trump had higher overall “strongly favorable” marks thanks to Republican enthusiasm, which probably powered his strongly favorable percentage with Hispanics. But his total favorability lagged. Among Black Americans, incidentally, it lagged Mike Pence, too.
— JAN. 6 —
“The defense of democracy depends on the power of honorable individuals” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — It was the personal stories that were the most moving part of Tuesday’s hearing hosted by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. Fulton County, Georgia., election worker Shaye Moss explaining how she and her mother had become afraid to use their real names or to engage with other people after being falsely accused of election fraud. Arizona House Speaker Bowers describing how protests at his home had unsettled his daughter in the months before she died. Moss and Bowers testified before the House committee partly as a condemnation of Trump’s efforts. But they were also there, the committee made clear, to demonstrate that the collective action of honorable Americans at the state and local level is the only backstop we have against a collapse into authoritarianism.
“1/6 panel: Local ‘heroes’ rebuffed Trump, then faced threats” via Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri of The Associated Press — The House 1/6 committee heard chilling, tearful testimony Tuesday that Trump’s relentless pressure to overturn the 2020 Presidential Election provoked widespread threats to the “backbone of our democracy” — election workers and local officials who fended off the defeated President’s demands despite personal risks. The panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol focused on Trump’s efforts to undo Biden’s victory in a most local way — by leaning on officials in crucial battleground states to reject ballots outright or to submit alternative electors for the final tally in Congress. The pressure, described as potentially illegal, was fueled by the President’s false claims of voter fraud.
“Election workers describe ‘hateful’ threats after Trump’s false claims” via Amy Gardner of The Washington Post — Moss’ life forever changed on Dec. 10, 2020, when Rudy Giuliani, then Trump’s top campaign lawyer, publicly claimed that she and her mother had rigged the outcome in Georgia. Moss’ supervisor suggested that day that she check her social media accounts to see if she had received any threats. She was stunned by what she saw when she pulled up her Facebook Messenger account. That was only the beginning. Moss eventually stopped going to the grocery store, where she feared acquaintances might say her name and call attention from believers of Trump’s voter-fraud claims. Election deniers showed up at her grandmother’s home and tried to push their way in to search for evidence of fraud. Both she and her mother, Ruby Freeman, were forced into hiding.
“‘What the f-ck is this?’: Team Trump blindsided by Jan. 6 committee getting doc footage” via Nikki McCann Ramirez & Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone — The Jan. 6 committee has subpoenaed documentary filmmaker Alex Holder regarding footage and interviews Holder and his team shot while following Trump and his inner circle throughout the 2020 presidential campaign. Holder’s company, AJH Films, confirmed he has been subpoenaed, will sit for an interview with the panel on Thursday, and has “fully complied with all of the committee’s requests.” The development blindsided Trump’s team. In some of the highest ranks of the Trump-world diaspora, including among several who testified before the Jan. 6 committee, news of the documentarian cooperating with the congressional panel came as a bizarre surprise.
“Donald Trump attorney links Florida to efforts to use alternate electors to undermine Joe Biden victory” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix — Amid the partisan turbulence of the 2020 presidential campaign, attorney John Eastman and other strategists for then-President Trump were making plans to help Trump remain in office in case he did not actually win, according to evidence being gathered in Congress. On Tuesday, Florida burst into that picture with Eastman saying in a video that Florida played a role. “You (the video’s audience) could also do what the Florida Legislature was prepared to do, which is to adopt a slate of electors yourselves,” Eastman said in the video, played Tuesday during the fourth public hearing of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the nation’s Capitol.
“Ivanka Trump expressed a different view on the election to a filmmaker” via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Ivanka Trump, the elder daughter of former President Donald Trump, told a documentary film crew in the middle of December 2020 that her father should “continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted” because people were questioning “the sanctity of our elections.” The video, which was played for The New York Times by someone with access to it, was part of a trove that the filmmaker Alex Holder turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. He recorded several hours of interviews with Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, some of Mr. Trump’s adult children and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Holder is expected to be interviewed by the committee on Thursday.
“Speaker at meeting of Ginni Thomas group called Biden’s win illegitimate long after Jan. 6, video shows” via Emma Brown, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rosalind S. Helderman of The Washington Post — Two months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to help Trump stay in office, Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, attended a gathering of right-wing activists where a speaker declared to roaring applause that Trump was still the “legitimate President,” a video recording of the event shows. “There is a robbery that is going on in this country right now,” pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant told the crowd. The event on March 6, 2021, was a meeting of Frontliners for Liberty. The group vaulted from obscurity to national attention last week with the disclosure that Thomas had invited pro-Trump lawyer Eastman to speak to its members in December 2020.
“Wisconsin’s Sen. Ron Johnson under heat for fake elector revelation” via Scott Bauer of The Associated Press — An aide for U.S. Sen. Johnson told Pence’s staff that Johnson wanted to hand-deliver to Pence fake elector votes from his state and neighboring Michigan, text messages revealed at Tuesday’s meeting of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection showed. Johnson representative Alexa Henning downplayed the texts after they were publicly revealed for the first time during the committee’s hearing in Washington but did not deny that Johnson had wanted to hand-deliver the slate of fake electors to Pence. “The Senator had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office,” Henning tweeted.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Gregory Tony could lose his police certification after Florida panel says there’s probable cause” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward’s Sheriff could lose his police certification, officials said Tuesday. A panel, part of the state Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, conducted a Probable Cause Determination hearing on Tuesday for 80 cases, including that of Sheriff Tony. “The three-member Commission panel determined there is probable cause for continuing,” said Dana Kelly, representative for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The Commission is part of the FDLE. That means the full committee will review Tony’s case as early as August to decide if he loses his law enforcement certification. If he loses his certification, he loses the ability to function as a law enforcement officer in Florida.
“‘A crisis we need to address’: Palm Beach County puts $200 million affordable housing bond on ballot” via Mike Diamond of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Commissioners Tuesday voted 4-2 to ask voters in November to approve a $200 million bond issue to address the county’s housing affordability crisis. At the same time, a proposed $100 million water bond issue was voted down 6-0. Commissioners McKinlay and Maria Marino voted against the housing bond issue. County Mayor Weinroth and Commissioners Dave Kerner, Weiss and Mack Bernard supported it. “This is a crisis we need to address,” said Bernard of the lack of affordable housing in Palm Beach County. “Our county workers, police officers, firefighters and teachers cannot afford to live here.”
“Qualifying period ends: Three Palm Beach County Commission races all contested” via Mike Diamond of the Palm Beach Post — All three Palm Beach County Commission seats will be contested in the Nov. 8 General Election, and one — District 6 — will feature four candidates looking to replace incumbent Melissa McKinlay, who is term-limited and cannot run again. Friday at noon was the deadline for state and local candidates to submit paperwork and pay fees to appear on the 2022 ballot. The Primaries are Aug. 23. Two incumbents, Gregg Weiss and Robert Weinroth, are seeking re-election in Districts 2 and 4, respectively. In District 6, four candidates are looking to replace the incumbent.
“Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor addresses security concerns and new appointment voting program” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Ahead of voters hitting the polls in August, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link met with Commissioners on Tuesday, attempting to assuage the public of any potential ballot-counting concerns and reiterating they have “safe and secure elections.” Link, appointed by DeSantis in 2019 and won re-election in 2020, is preparing for her second major test as the county’s top elections official after overseeing the presidential race in 2020. “We have a very high caliber of elections professionals in our office, and they’re very dedicated to having safe and secure elections,” Link said.
“West Palm Beach requiring 60-day notice before landlords can raise rents by 5% or more” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — West Palm Beach is joining the list of cities trying to offer some protection to renters dealing with South Florida’s blistering housing market. Landlords in the city will now be required to give tenants 60 days’ notice if they plan to raise the rent by 5% or more. Renters would also get 60 days of notice before being forced into a month-to-month residential tenancy. Tenants who aren’t afforded such notice will be able to use that fact in any legal proceeding against the landlord. The City Commission approved the new requirement on Monday evening as West Palm Beach joins Lake Worth Beach, Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County, which have approved similar rules.
Happening today — The Florida Commission on the Status of Women is hosting an event focused on voting issues, featuring Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link and Broward County Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott, 11:30 a.m., Manatee Lagoon, 6000 North Flagler Dr., West Palm Beach.
“Boynton synagogue fights Florida’s abortion limits in religious freedom suit” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — In what some claim is a groundbreaking lawsuit and others dismiss as frivolous, a Boca Raton rabbi and lawyer has gone to court to argue that Florida’s 15-week restriction on abortions is an unconstitutional assault on the Jewish faith. In the lawsuit filed this month to block the state law from taking effect on July 1, Barry Silver claims the restriction violates the Jewish faith’s basic tenets and ignores the beliefs of progressive Christians, members of other religious groups, and even atheists. “Chutzpah,” Silver said of efforts of what he called fundamentalist Christians to dictate when women can or can’t have abortions.
“Fights are on for Broward County Commission including football star’s mom, veteran politicians and a Boca resident” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The candidates are lined up to fill four open seats on the Broward County Commission, and the top issue in the race so far is the region’s affordable housing crisis. As rents skyrocket and home prices rise out of the reach of many potential buyers, multiple candidates competing for November’s race say it’s one of the most pressing issues for residents. The candidates for the four seats include both political newcomers and familiar faces, the mom of a former National Football League player and one contender who doesn’t live in his district — yet.
“‘This is how you guys get killed out here,’ cop tells Black driver questioning traffic stop” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — A veteran Miami-Dade police officer is being investigated after video surfaced of him telling a Black man who questioned why he’d been pulled over, “this is how you guys get killed out here, man.” The man, identified by WTVJ-NBC 6 as Gerardson Nicolas, seems taken aback, then says to the officer, “Say that again. Say what you just said,” before the video, which is less than a minute long, ends. Nicolas was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt last week. The motorcycle cop, who has not been named, was taken off his beat and assigned desk duty until an investigation by internal affairs is complete.
“Scientist turned bumbling Miami spy for Russia gets four years in cloak-and-dagger caper” via Jay Weaver and Daniela Castro of the Miami Herald — A Mexican scientist turned bungling Russian spy was sentenced Tuesday in a Miami-Dade federal courtroom to four years and one day for acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Hector Cabrera Fuentes, 37, who pleaded guilty to the charge in February, has already served more than two years. Cabrera was arrested on Feb. 16, 2020, by FBI agents at Miami International Airport as he was preparing to return to Mexico. Two days earlier, he and his Mexican wife were spotted conducting clumsy cloak-and-dagger surveillance on an FBI informant in the Miami area. Neither the target of the surveillance nor the home’s location has been identified.
“College student starts cigar brand to honor grandparents who died in Surfside collapse” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Nick Fusco was 16 years old when he got his first cigar — a gift from his grandfather, plucked out of a special tobacco drawer in his grandparents’ Surfside condominium. Fusco, now 23, says that started a tradition of smoking cigars with his grandfather while sharing stories, drinking Cuban coffee, or eating meals together. Their time together was cut short on June 24 when his grandparents — Gonzalo and Maria Torre, 81 and 76 years old respectively — died in their home, among the 98 people killed when the Champlain Towers South collapsed. Fusco launched a new cigar brand this month, El Mago Cigars, that he hopes will share the tradition and honor his grandparents’ immigrant story.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Finalists for Orange Superintendent say they’ll help all students learn” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The two finalists to be the next superintendent for Orange County Public Schools sat for public interviews with the Orange County School Board on Tuesday, both emphasizing their commitment to helping students achieve academically. “We have to make sure that when we see a child walk through the door, we are not a barrier to that child’s success,” said Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for the Palm Beach County School District. “We have to be the advocate for children, all children.” Maria Vazquez, OCPS’ deputy superintendent, said she believed in “the power public education has to change lives” and in “equity and access for all children.” She added, “I am not afraid to tackle the issues that affect our most vulnerable students.”
“2 Orange County deputies disciplined after Bob Saget death investigation” via The Associated Press — The Orange County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday that two deputies were each suspended for 81 hours without pay for leaking news about actor and comedian Saget’s death before his family was alerted. “This case highlights how important it is to allow detectives in death investigations the time to ensure next of kin notifications are made before that information is disseminated to the public,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said. One of the deputies told his brother about Saget’s death shortly after responding to the scene, and then the brother posted the information on social media, according to an investigation report. The other deputy, who was off-duty and not involved in the death investigation, told his neighbor about Saget’s passing, officials said.
“Brevard Public Schools’ budget rosier next year; salaries remain a challenge” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — Brevard Public Schools presented an unusually hopeful picture of its budget for the coming school year. Since the pandemic began in 2020, district officials described significant budget challenges because of falling enrollment and increased financial obligations. Cynthia Lesinski, BPS chief financial officer, said at the Brevard School Board’s first budget workshop that the district appears to be in a better financial state next year. The district’s bottom line will still face challenges because of increased health care and retirement costs, inflation and supply line distributions, as well as ongoing issues with enrollment levels that aren’t growing. Above all, the district has significant pressure from teachers and other staff to dole out recurring raises, said Lesinski.
“Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes claimed improper homestead exemption” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa City Council member Gudes said he has lived in his childhood home in East Tampa for more than four years, but until last month, he enjoyed an improper tax break for another residence he owns in North Tampa. Gudes requested that the homestead exemption on the North Tampa home on May 18 be removed and has paid $13,222.42 to the Hillsborough County Appraiser’s Office, said Marilyn Martinez, director of administrative services for the office. The payment is for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 tax years and includes penalties and interest.
“Pinellas tourism panel recommends more money for beach renourishment” via Chris Kuo of the Tampa Bay Times — In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council recommended increasing the percentage of tourist tax dollars that go to beach renourishment. The proposal comes as the county and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers face an impasse over the Sand Key Shore Protection project, stalling plans to shore up a 9-mile stretch of sand from Clearwater to North Redington Beach. Council members voted to increase the portion of the county’s bed tax dedicated to beach renourishment by a quarter of a penny for each dollar taxed — from 0.5 pennies to 0.75 pennies. According to Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, a Council member, the move could generate up to $4 million for renourishment projects.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Carol Whitmore in hot water after sign scuttle in Manatee County Commission contest” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Holmes Beach Police wrote up a report on Manatee County Commissioner Whitmore after she pulled opponent James Bearden’s signs. That’s according to a front-page report in The Anna Maria Islander. The newspaper reports Whitmore, on June 11, showed up at the police station with three signs she pulled from properties, including three promoting Bearden, a Republican opponent. Some came from private property, and another had been posted on city land. That’s just the most recent friction in what is fast becoming a top-tier political fight in Manatee County. Bearden last week qualified to challenge Whitmore in a Primary for her at-large seat on the Manatee County Commission.
—“DeSantis endorses Bridget Ziegler, Tim Enos in Sarasota school races” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
“Arts in Collier, Lee fully funded in latest state budget” via Harriet Howard Heithaus of the Naples Daily News — Cue the music. Some 28 Lee and Collier arts groups are doing a victory dance after learning the state has fully funded their programming, project, and facility requests for the fiscal year 2022-23. And give that music an entire string section. Both Artis—Naples, home of the Naples Philharmonic, and the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra in Fort Myers received their complete grant requests, $150,000 and $145,788, respectively. Up there with them: Gulf Coast Symphony, the Lee County community orchestra, which is getting $150,000. “Can we get a choir of angels to sing?” asked Hyla Crane, executive director of the Marco Island Center for the Arts.
“Ringling College sued on fraud, negligence allegations” via the Venice Gondolier — Ringling College is facing a lawsuit from eight graduates of the Sarasota-based facility. Massey Law Group, out of St. Petersburg, is representing eight alumni alleging “multiple causes of action including constructive fraud, negligent supervision and retention, breach of implied contract, and breach of fiduciary duty,” according to a news release. The plaintiffs include Nicholas Berger, Dylan Bonner, Caitlin Henning, Bryan Paul Patterson, Megan Rose Ruiz, Lauren Wilson, Lyra Wilson and Roxee Zinsser. The suit was pressed through the 12th Judicial Circuit Court out of Sarasota.
“Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann dies at 80” via ABC 7 — Mann died Tuesday morning, according to Lee County Communications Director Betsy Clayton. He was 80. Lee Commissioners are expected to meet at 9:30 a.m. following the announcement. Mann served on the Commission for at least 14 years, where he worked as chair of the Lee County Commission, the Lee County Port Authority and Tourist Development Council. Services for Mann are expected to begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 2, at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers and will be open to the public.
“Charlotte County family wants $40M for marina” via Steve Reilly of the Englewood Sun — Charlotte County Commissioners pondered Tuesday what the county would do if the Dixon family decided to sell their marina just off the Boca Grande Causeway in Placida. Besides being a launching point for recreational boaters headed to the Gulf of Mexico, Gasparilla Sound and Boca Grande Pass, it’s the landing base for barge service to bridgeless Little Gasparilla Island. County officials may have to think fast. Marian Dixon said Tuesday afternoon she is selling the property for an asking price of $40 million. One prospective buyer is interested, she said. Earlier Tuesday, Commission Chair Bill Truex and Commissioner Joseph Tiseo said during a county workshop they had heard rumors the Dixons intended to sell.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“COVID-19 positivity rate in Leon County jumps to 20%, eclipsing statewide percentage” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — COVID-19 cases in Leon County have well surpassed 1,000 per week, while hospitalizations remain comparably steady. Between June 10-16, there were 1,880 new infections in Leon County, and the positivity rate was 20%, surpassing the statewide positivity rate of 17%. Two weeks earlier, DOH reported 911 new infections and a 16.5% positivity rate in the capital county. Since March 2020, Leon County has recorded a cumulative total of 90,697 cases.
“Leon County jobs: A by-the-numbers look at the workforce landscape” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — As of April, the average hourly wage for the Tallahassee Metropolitan Statistical Area was $27.77, up from the $24.80 hourly wage average in April 2021, according to state reports. The problem, in many cases, is matching skilled job seekers with available employment vacancies. Trades, such as heating and air conditioning mechanics and installers, remain in high demand, but employers are having trouble filling positions. Economic development officials also point to ongoing employment challenges in Tallahassee’s health care sector, creating hundreds of job listings for nurses, doctors and other medical positions. Another workforce hurdle is Leon County’s shrinking labor force. Pre-pandemic, the local landscape mirrors the national shrinkage, the lowest in U.S. history. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, made the issue worse.
Happening today — The Florida State University Board of Trustees meets, 12:30 p.m., Florida State University, Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center, 555 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee. Livestream here.
“Local voters need not worry about impacts of new voting laws” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Despite all of the attention given to changes made to election laws during Florida’s 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, those casting ballots this year in Okaloosa and Walton counties won’t likely be overwhelmed by what they find at their designated polling places. “For us, the changes have been somewhat minor,” said Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux. “Most of it was stuff we had already been doing or codifying things we were doing previously.” Changes to voting procedures in Walton County amount to “a few little things,” said Supervisor of Elections Bobby Beasley. “Most of it’s stuff the public wouldn’t even notice,” he said.
“Post-pandemic Pensacola Beach is a bustling, budget-friendly vacation destination” via Brittany Misencik of the Pensacola News Journal — Visit Pensacola’s quarterly snapshot from January to March 2022 shows a 20% increase in visitors in comparison to 2021. The traffic seems to be heavily regional, as 18% of Pensacola’s visitors were coming from another part of Florida, followed by Alabama at 11%, then Texas at 6%. However, as excited tourists prepare for their annual beach vacation, some families’ budget concerns have also risen with each round of rising gas prices. Rick Harper, director of the UWF Office of economic development and engagement, doesn’t expect the increase to be enough to cancel plans to Pensacola altogether, mainly because it’s primarily a drivable vacation destination. Escambia County Commissioner Robert Bender was also optimistic that travel to Pensacola would continue despite the increasing fuel cost.
“UNF digs deeper on Jacksonville’s Big Talbot Island to reveal possible centerpiece of Mocama village” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — Pirate gold was not the bounty unearthed by University of North Florida archaeology students Victoria Hayes and Kaia Lacey, but a curved piece of glazed pottery that offers more important clues to a Native American village dating back four centuries among these trees. The piece of majolica pottery, one side glazed blue and white, is Spanish and not Native American. Its discovery at an archaeological dig on Big Talbot Island means it may have been given or traded to a member of the Mocama tribe who flourished in this area from the 1400s to early 1600s. Even more important, it was unearthed in what appears to be a 50- to 60-foot-diameter community council house in what is believed to be the Mocama village of Sarabay.
— TOP OPINION —
“Memo to Republicans: It’s time to dump The Donald and run with The Ronald” via Piers Morgan for the New York Post — At the risk of further incurring his wrath, if anyone is drawing flies right now, it’s Trump.
The once-omnipotent GOP beast bestriding the American political world like a paw-crunching King Kong is now seeing his stranglehold over the party ebb away faster than the infamous gorilla. And the foe is proving to be the deadly weapon, in the form of DeSantis, a U.S. Navy war hero who advised SEAL Team commanders in Iraq, and who still serves with the U.S. Navy Reserve.
If you were scripting a perfect Republican presidential candidate, the list of preferred requirements would read something like DeSantis’ resume. And that’s before we get to his highly successful tenure as Governor of Florida, where, whatever you think of him, DeSantis has indisputably proven himself to be a bold, fearless, combative and determined leader, earning him high approval ratings and the kind of national media attention that potential Presidents get.
For if there’s one thing Trump can’t stomach more than people who don’t buy into his “rigged election” bulls–t, it’s people who might threaten his chances of returning to the White House in 2024.
And DeSantis, 43, is that person.
— OPINIONS —
“Those ignoring the Jan. 6 revelations are guaranteeing more violence” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House Jan. 6 committee, recently made public a letter mailed to his home threatening to kill him, his wife and his 5-month-old child. “There’s violence in the future, I’m going to tell you,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And until we get a grip on telling people the truth, we can’t expect any differently.” The ongoing threat of violence was at the core of Tuesday’s hearing of the select committee, which explored the campaign by Trump and his lawyers to pressure state legislators and election officials to overturn the election results and the harassment, intimidation and threats they set off.
“Agriculture needs to be a priority” via Gene Adams of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In a recent editorial, “When the system works, the Everglades and the people win” on June 9, the Captains for Clean Water organization claimed that DeSantis recent veto of SB 2508 was the “will of the people” to prioritize tourism and environmental interests over agriculture. But their call to action that received so much “support” was a campaign of misinformation. For Floridians, tourism, environment and agriculture are deeply entwined and are dependent on one another. Florida’s agriculture industry plays an important role in protecting and restoring the environment while producing the food Florida families — and tourists — need to survive.
“South Florida has been without a U.S. Attorney for too long. Appoint Markenzy Lapointe” via Frederica Wilson in the Miami Herald — The Southern District of Florida has been called “one of the most dynamic federal prosecutor’s offices in the nation.” We don’t have to look too far into the past to see the broad consequences of the office’s decisions for our country. It has been at the center of some of the most highly contested and influential cases in history, including Bush v. Gore, the fight for Elián González and the prosecution of Manuel Noriega. There is no doubt that the influence of the U.S. Attorney in South Florida is set to shape critical judicial precedent in one of the most diverse regions in the nation.
“Far-right is wrong to criticize high-profile veterans” via Michael Szalma for the Orlando Sentinel — Every Fourth of July, I feel anticipation. Patriotic décor, hamburgers and family. And one more thing: angst. After 20 years of Army service, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t like fireworks. Indeed, one of the bases on which I served in Afghanistan, Forward Operating Base Shank, was nicknamed “Rocket City” for its daily rocket attacks. So, every Fourth of July and New Year’s, I have a bittersweet taste as my fellow countrymen try to simulate some of the sights and sounds of war in the name of fun and patriotism. Until this year. Now, I would gladly accept the worst startle response and flashback induced by fireworks than what I am seeing in America. Fourth of July and New Year’s are two days out of the year. American democracy is supposed to be forever.
— ALOE —
“AAA predicts busy — but pricey — July 4 travel period” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — It will likely be the most expensive July Fourth holiday on record to fill up at the pump, but that won’t stop people from heading out on road trips. The pandemic travel rebound isn’t slowing down as AAA predicts about 2.6 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more during the long July 4 weekend, making it the second busiest Independence Day since 2000, the agency said Tuesday. The biggest surprise, AAA said, is most people will travel by car. An estimated 2.3 million Florida residents are going on road trips for the holiday, the most on record, dating back to 2001. On Monday, the state’s average gas prices hit about $4.81 per gallon, a significant jump from past July 4 holidays, like last year, when prices averaged $3.01, or when they sat at $2.68 in 2019.
“‘Trot in there, baby’: An interview with Jeff Culhane, the new Voice of the Seminoles” via Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat — Culhane hasn’t yet had the chance to meet the legendary broadcaster he’ll be succeeding as the radio voice of the Florida State Seminoles. Florida State named Culhane as its new voice for Seminole athletics. But even though he hasn’t shaken hands with Gene Deckerhoff, one interaction between them from an appearance Deckerhoff did on Culhane’s radio show many years ago has remained etched in his memory. “Gene came on my radio show when I was at Nebraska over a decade ago, and we had a preseason top-25 segment. Gene told me about he and Bobby Bowden and their friendship, spending time together in the summer, having a couple cool drinks on the water, having a shrimp boil,” Culhane told the Democrat.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
We owe Rep. Linda Chaney belated happy birthday wishes. Celebrating today are Justice Charles Canady, Speaker-to-be Danny Perez, Drew Weatherford, and Amy Young.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.
Last updated on June 22, 2022