Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.5.22

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Good Tuesday morning.

Fineout is doing his newsletter. Rosica is doing his. So here we are. It’s an arms race.

Happy 5th: The dawn of a battle royale for Florida news?

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@POTUS: The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country — it’s a time to celebrate the goodness of our nation, the only nation on Earth founded based on an idea: that all people are created equal. Make no mistake; our best days still lie ahead.

@POTUS: My message to the companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump is simple: this is a time of war and global peril. Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now.

Tweet, tweet:

@Permutations: What a strange feeling, to have woken up on July the 4th en route to having so much of our Independence ripped from us. For those fellow travelers feeling a bit empty today, it’s not just you ….

@ChristinaPushaw: Oh, here we go. The City of Orlando apologizes if you were offended by their attack on 4th of July. This is what happens when you elect Democrats, you guys … they do not have the same view of America as we do.

@PamKEithFL: Ya’ll truly don’t understand how annoyed (Ron) DeSantis is by the fact that (Gavin) Newsom is tall.

@MichelleSalzmann: Please keep your dogs and children quiet in the mornings. Some of us have been up all night setting off fireworks. Thank you.

Tweet, tweet:

@MarkKatches: Love the English mob drama Peaky Blinders. But realized around season 3 that I love it even more with the subtitles turned on.

— DAYS UNTIL —

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 3; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 14; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 15; 2022 Sunshine Summit begins — 17; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 24; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 31; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 35; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 43; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 44; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 47; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 57; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 57; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 59; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 65; 2022 Emmys — 69; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 72; 22-23 NHL season begins — 98; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 111; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 112; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 112; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 129; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 131; FITCon 2022 begins — 135; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 135; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 139; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 139; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 140; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 148; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 148; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 164; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 227; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 245; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 262; 2023 Session Sine Die — 304; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 304; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 332; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 500; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 633; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 752.

— TOP STORY —

How a small, conservative Michigan college is helping Ron DeSantis reshape education in Florida” via Ana Ceballos and Sommer Brugal of The Miami Herald — DeSantis was recognized in February as a keynote speaker at the Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar. Introducing the Governor, Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, called DeSantis “one of the most important people living.” Hillsdale College, a politically influential private Christian college in southern Michigan, set out 12 years ago to reshape public education through the growth of charter schools — and, in recent years, it has expanded its reach in Florida’s education system. The Florida Department of Education hired a student and civics specialist from Hillsdale to review Florida’s math textbooks for “prohibited topics.” The college helped the state revise its civics standards and develop a civics training program for teachers. Hillsdale’s approach to teaching history has drawn praise from DeSantis and former Florida Secretary of Education Richard Corcoran, as well as national conservative figures like former President Donald Trump. In a Florida Department of Education statement, a spokesperson said the department “was proud to partner with various organizations” and “Hillsdale College boasts an impressive civics education program and stands as a top-50 liberal arts university.”

Larry Arnn is a big fan (and influencer) of Ron DeSantis. Image via Hillsdale College external affairs.

— 2022 —

Democrats may be playing with fire this Primary season” via David Axelrod of CNN — In 2012, first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill had become an endangered political species, a Democrat in the increasingly Republican state of Missouri. And she knew the odds of winning re-election that year were against her. As McCaskill recalled in detail years later, she took the calculated risk of meddling in the Republican Senate Primary by engaging in a brazen bit of political jujitsu. McCaskill’s campaign unleashed a fusillade of negative ads against the most extreme, right-wing candidate, a state senator named Todd Akin, deliberately attacking him for the very positions and controversial comments they knew from polling would endear him to the Republican base. She soundly trounced him by more than 15 points in the general election. The Akin play may well wind up being remembered as winning politics in a tough year, unless the year proves so tough that the old parlor trick becomes a risky ploy gone terribly wrong.

Gavin Newsom airs anti-GOP ad in Florida. ‘Let’s talk about what’s going on in America’” via David Lightman of the Miami Herald — Newsom, fueling speculation that he’s interested in the White House, unveiled an ad Sunday that will air in Florida, pitting him squarely against Trump and DeSantis. Newsom, expected to win re-election to a second term as Governor in November, urges viewers to “join us in California, where we still believe in freedom.” The ad is scheduled to run Monday. Newsom has been aggressively promoting California’s strong support for abortion rights, gun regulation and environmental protection in recent days, as Supreme Court rulings have weakened laws in all three areas.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Marco Rubio campaign grills Joe Biden, Val Demings over July 4 prices” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — This year’s Fourth of July cookout prices are a bit too much to swallow, according to Rubio’s camp. With the realization that this Independence Day will be the most expensive yet, the re-election team for Florida’s senior Senator is pointing their finger at President Joe Biden and Rubio’s top Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Demings. “Everything about the Fourth of July costs more this year: gas, flights, food, you name it,” said Rubio campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Gregory. “Joe Biden and Val Demings sure know how to leave Floridians with less of their hard-earned money.”

Election qualifying error leads to CD 9 Republican Primary war of words” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidate Scotty Moore may be back on the ballot in Florida’s 9th Congressional District after being disqualified for turning in the wrong candidate oath form. But his Primary Election opponent Jose Castillo is calling on Moore to own his mistake and drop out, rather than “blaming others,” he said in a six-minute campaign video. Moore shot back, accusing Castillo of “swamp” politics, trying to disenfranchise voters and trying to avoid facing him in the Republican Primary. In CD 9, which covers Osceola County and southern Orange County, there are two other Republicans on the ballot: Adianis Morales and Sergio Ortiz. They’re all vying for a shot at three-term incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Kissimmee.

This Boca Raton man is technically too young to serve in Congress; he’s running anyway” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Serial entrepreneur Michaelangelo Hamilton hopes to beat all odds and make history this November by first securing the Democratic nomination and then winning the race for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. But there’s one problem: Hamilton will be just 23 in January. That’s two years too young. Members of the U.S. House must be at least 25 to serve. When asked why he was running, he also had a good answer: William Charles Cole Claiborne of Tennessee, who won a U.S. House seat in 1797 when he was elected to complete Andrew Jackson’s term in the 5th Congress. He was 22 at the time, not old enough to serve. The House seated him anyway. It did so again two years later when he won re-election at 24.

— MORE 2022 —

Poll: Shane Abbott leads by double digits in HD 5” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A new poll of the race for House District 5 shows Shane Abbott leading the field by more than 10 points. According to St. Pete Polls, the DeFuniak Springs Republican is pulling 26% support in the three-way race, while fellow Republicans Clint Pate and Vance Coley polling at 15% and 6%, respectively. The poll also showed more than half of voters living within the district have not yet decided who they will vote for, leaving the door cracked for Pate or Coley to catch up to Abbott in the coming weeks. Though all three candidates are Republicans, all voters who live in the Northwest Florida district will be able to cast a ballot in the Aug. 23 Primary Election because no Democrats, third-party or no-party candidates qualified for the race.

Shane Abbott takes a solid lead.

Mark Caruso drops from HD 38, eyes Winter Springs mayoral run” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Caruso, a former police officer, security guard, prison guard, and whistleblower, said he believes he has a better chance at the local level to impact the quality-of-life issues he set out as his platform, such as clean water, crime, and government transparency. He also was facing a challenging Democratic Primary Election in August with several other candidates, and from there, should he have won the Primary, a likely challenging General Election against incumbent Republican Rep. David Smith.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis promises more ‘pro-life protections.’ What will he do next on abortion?” via Zac Anderson and Jason Delgado of USA Today Network — DeSantis rose to prominence without talking much about abortion, but his views now are of intense interest and consequence in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court abolishing federal protections for the procedure, paving the way for more state-level restrictions. Florida is the largest Republican-led state where abortion is still available for the vast majority of those seeking it, making it a major target for anti-abortion activists going forward. With 75,000 abortions performed in Florida in 2020, how DeSantis handles the issue could impact tens of thousands of women in Florida and his own political future.

What is Ron DeSantis’ next move on abortion? Image via AP.

For women seeking an abortion, the rules are muddy — and may be for a while” via Ana Claudia Chacin of the Miami Herald — Florida’s fight over abortion restrictions may be just getting started. For the moment, the only sure thing appears to be uncertainty, with the final date in the arc of a pregnancy for getting an abortion toggling back and forth like a light switch. At this time, the law in effect at Florida’s 57 (as of December 2021) licensed abortion clinics is no abortions beyond 15 weeks because Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper’s injunction blocking the law has yet to be signed. However, it will likely be signed on Tuesday or Wednesday after the holiday weekend, said Katie Blankenship, deputy legal director with the Florida ACLU. That should return the standard to 24 weeks.

Her son would have been born with half a heart. Now, a Florida abortion might not be legal” via Anuraag Bukkuri and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — Danielle and Jason Tallafuss ended their first pregnancy in July 2020, not because they didn’t want a child or because her pregnancy was unplanned. Rather, doctors had discovered a heart defect in the fetus during an ultrasound performed nearly 21 weeks into the pregnancy, a condition that often ends in death within the first two weeks of a newborn’s life. The Tallafusses had three options. Danielle could carry the child to term and deliver the baby, a son, and then either allow him to die naturally or begin a series of complex surgeries that typically require a heart transplant. Or they could choose to terminate the pregnancy, though only two clinics in Florida were willing to perform an abortion at that stage, and both were about a three-hour drive away in Palm Beach County.

In Florida, DeSantis’s plans for colleges rattle some academics” via Susan Svrluga and Lori Rozsa of The Washington Post —In his efforts to remake higher education in Florida, DeSantis has signed laws that alter the tenure system, remove universities from commonly accepted accreditation practices and mandate annual “viewpoint diversity surveys” from students and faculty. The Governor has also cleared legislation dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act,” which regulates what schools, including universities, can teach about race and identity. As DeSantis tries to restrict the independence of academic institutions, academics in Florida and beyond have become increasingly alarmed. The recently activated “Stop WOKE Act” already faces a legal challenge in a lawsuit that argues the act violates constitutional rights and would have a dangerous chilling effect on academic freedom. The state has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

As ‘don’t say gay’ law takes effect, confusion reigns over classroom rules” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s new “parental rights in education” law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, kicked in Friday. The law bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in primary grades or in a manner deemed “age-inappropriate.” While Republican state leaders dismiss claims that the rule targets gay or transgender individuals, many are still concerned about the potential impact the measure could have, intended or unintended. Last week, school staff expressed their worries in an Orange County Public Schools workshop on the new law. They feared that they could no longer display photos of same-sex spouses in their classrooms, wear rainbow-colored lanyards and keep books in their classroom libraries that mentioned sexuality or gender identity. And while some of their worries were unwarranted, district staff said that family photos were fine in classrooms, and the school district did note some school changes were recommended based on the new law. For example, in K-3 classrooms, teachers likely should remove any “safe space” stickers to denote a welcoming place for LGBTQ people. Books in K-3 classrooms, the district’s statement said, should “be reviewed for the prohibited content of sexual orientation or gender identity.” K-3 teachers were also cautioned not to wear clothing that may elicit discussions.

Florida May revenue lands $742M above estimates” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida continued to soar over revenue estimates in May, pulling in $741.8 million more than state economists expected. In total, the state received $4.27 billion in May, which reflects economic activity in April. That’s well above the $3.5 billion estimate, and for the fourth straight month, revenues have come in at least $475 million over the estimate. Florida has collected 98.3% of the entire fiscal year estimate, with June still to count. The significant overages are due to Florida’s swift economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of inflation, which have resulted in skyrocketing prices on many consumer goods, pushing up sales tax collections. For now, Floridians and tourists are spending freely in the Sunshine State.

State awards seven-year, $140M Medicaid IT contract” via Christine Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida is going with Automated Health Systems (AHS) to handle a multiyear, $140 million IT contract involving the state’s massive Medicaid program. The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) initially awarded the contract to AHS earlier this month. The company’s competitors had until June 27 to submit a written notice to the agency if they wanted to challenge the decision. With no formal challenge filed by the deadline, the website shows the bid is closed. Although the underlying contract is for a seven-year stint, the contract could be for up to 10 years. The $140 million ITN was one of three the state has advertised as it moves ahead with remodeling the Florida Medicaid Management Information System, known as FMMIS, from a singular system into a modular one instead. The new system is called Florida Health Care Connections, or FX.

Joe Gruters begins symbolic cleanup of cigarette butts off beaches” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sen. Joe Gruters celebrated the enactment of the new law at a cleanup for Lido Beach, removing some extra-large butts off the beach. Under a new law championed by Gruters, who has been working to pass it over the past four years, local governments can now outlaw smoking in public parks and beaches. DeSantis signed the measure into law earlier this week. Florida Atlantic University professor Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman, who posts a ranking of beaches based on sand quality that drives tourism nationwide, said the legislation should prove beneficial to Florida. Gruters also hopes it will help keep beaches clean — the Ocean Conservancy has consistently found during beach cleanups that discarded cigarettes remain the most littered item. The group praised the new law. “We only want the right butts on the beach,” Gruters said. “No more cigarette butts.”

Stephen Leatherman, Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, J.P. Brooker and Joe Gruters tout the new law banning butts on the beach. Image via Ocean Conservancy

Springs protection rule is overdue and underwhelming, critics say” via Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Legislators left no doubt how they felt when they passed one of the first bills in the 2016 session. Florida was failing to take care of its most treasured springs. One part of the sweeping new law ordered the Department of Environmental Protection to create rules to stop local governments and big businesses from pumping too much freshwater out of the Floridan Aquifer, depriving 30 “Outstanding Florida Springs” of their lifeblood. “Action is urgently needed,” the bill said. Six years later, the state has taken little action on that point.

One year in: Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation hails progress in corridor” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A year after Florida passed legislation to help fill in a statewide wildlife corridor, the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation is hailing key land preservation purchases that highlight early progress. The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act (SB 976) created incentives to stitch together conservation of wildlife habitats in the 18 million acres identified as a Florida wildlife corridor, including 10 million acres already under conservation protection. The bill was carried by Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur of Sanford and Republican Rep. Keith Truenow of Tavares. In the first year, 14 land parcels have been newly conserved through the Florida Forever program, including several that have been critical: the Red Hills Conservation Area on Lake Miccosukee, the Corrigan Ranch in Indian River County, the Wakulla Springs Protection Zone near the Apalachicola National Forest, and the Coastal Headwaters Longleaf project, in Santa Rosa County. The law has resulted in the protection of at least 36,445 acres of land with an investment of $32 million in public funds so far.

FPL’s extreme winter plan would create ‘unnecessary’ costs to consumers, critics say” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — The state’s largest electricity producer is getting pushback from consumer advocates over a plan to charge customers extra money on each bill to weatherize its power production network against a severe winter freeze. Florida Power & Light’s plan to brace its facilities for extreme winter weather doesn’t factor in the actual probability that such a storm would occur and instead result in an overbuilt grid and higher costs for customers, the Office of Public Counsel and environmental advocates have warned. FPL, motivated by the deadly Texas winter storm in 2021 to review its own preparedness, gauged its risk using data from Florida freezes in 1989 and 2010.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Biden pitches Democrats on Biden for President in 2024” via Mike Memoli, Carol E. Lee, Peter Nicholas and Peter Alexander of NBC News — At fundraisers and recent events, Biden has been selling Democrats on a 2024 re-election bid, arguing he’s the only one who can beat Trump. It’s a strange proposal for the moment — Biden is the country’s oldest sitting President, with a weakened political standing. His party is grappling with questions about whether he will, or even should, run for another term, especially with the prospect of a rematch against Trump. Biden plans to use the November midterms as a test run for 2024. Then, following a discussion with his family, Biden may move quickly to formalize his 2024 intentions.

Is Biden a man out of time?” via Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic — The White House’s response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade has exposed tension between Biden’s compromising nature and the polarization of the two major political Parties. Frustrated Democrats have complained that Biden and other administration officials failed to reflect abortion-rights supporters’ urgency and anguish after the ruling. Although Biden quickly denounced the decision, he has avoided any broader condemnation of the Court’s legitimacy. Most notably, Biden initially refused to endorse rolling back the Senate filibuster to pass legislation that would codify abortion rights — before shifting gears to endorse a change to the Senate’s filibuster rule to create a carve-out not only for abortion but potentially also for all privacy-related rights that the Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court might threaten. He toughened his language against the Supreme Court at that same news conference.

Joe Biden makes the case for re-election.

Biden opens door to more offshore drilling, despite earlier climate vow” via Dino Grandoni, Tyler Pager and Maxine Joselow of The Washington Post — The Biden administration has opened the door to more offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters over the next five years. The new proposed program for offshore drilling would ban exploration off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, but leave the possibility for new drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska. The plan may move the country further from its environmental pledge to fight climate change by reducing fossil fuels. The news also comes just a day after suffering a significant climate setback at the Supreme Court. Biden’s climate agenda now hinges on whether Democrats can pass a reconciliation package in the Senate that includes robust environmental policies.

This was the term the Supreme Court decided to ignore the speed bumps” via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post — As the Court’s conservative majority has been bolstered in recent years, even last term, when a sixth conservative justice joined the ranks, the court has at times opted to hold back, substituting doctrinal baby steps for dramatic change. No longer. Even had the court not voted to eliminate constitutional protection for abortion rights, this would have been an immensely consequential term. It dismantled the remaining bricks in the wall of separation between church and state, requiring rather than merely allowing states that subsidize private education to fund explicitly religious instruction.

Justice Department braces for summer of violent crime” via Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — If Washington is focused on the criminal investigation into the efforts to keep Trump in office after his 2020 election loss, the department’s top leaders are equally concerned with the stubborn, post-pandemic rise in violent crime, and a growing sense that lawlessness is overtaking daily life in many big cities. Republicans have highlighted the issue, along with inflation, before the 2022 midterm elections, but Democrats, like Mayor Eric Adams of New York, are also embracing a law-and-order approach as their constituents demand action. The onset of warm weather typically signals an onslaught of violence in many parts of the country.


— JAN. 6 —

New insights into Donald Trump’s state of mind on Jan. 6 chip away at doubts” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — He was not speaking metaphorically. It was not an offhand comment. President Trump had every intention of joining a mob of supporters he knew to be armed and dangerous as it marched to the Capitol. And there had even been talk of marching into the House chamber himself to disrupt Congress from ratifying his election defeat. For a year and a half, Trump has been shielded by obfuscations and mischaracterizations, benefiting from uncertainty about what he was thinking on Jan. 6, 2021. More than perhaps any insider account that has emerged, the recollections of the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, demolished the fiction of a President who had nothing to do with what happened. When added together, the various disclosures have produced the clearest picture yet of an unprecedented attempt to subvert the traditional American democratic process.

What was going through Donald Trump’s mind? Who knows? Image via AP.

Trump eyes early 2024 announcement as Jan. 6 scrutiny intensifies” via Michael C. Bender, Reid J. Epstein and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Republicans are bracing for Trump to announce an early bid for the White House. That’s amid damaging revelations emerging from investigations into his involvement in Jan. 6 and attempts to sway the election. While the former President would be welcomed by many, the party may be divided on if Trump is the best option to win back the White House. Even though Trump would enter the race as a clear front-runner, he may be in for a tense run against the rising favorite of Republicans, Gov. DeSantis.

American Judas” via Matt Labash of Slack Tide — If Mark Meadows were a color, he’d be beige. Blessed with the pleasantly dishonest face of a swampland timeshare hustler, the former Congressman, who once described himself as a “fat nerd” as a kid, rarely says anything funny or compelling, unlike his Lord & Savior Donald H. Christ. Yet he forever manages to be controversial without actually being interesting, the sinisterness equivalent of a white noise machine. “He would lie to people’s faces,” one White House official said. Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, pushed out by Meadows, called him “one of the worst people ever to enter the Trump White House.”

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez received $20,000 Heat tickets as gift from this entrepreneur” via Joey Flechas of The Miami Herald — Suarez received two tickets valued at $20,000 to a Heat game in March from Key Biscayne business owner Sean Wolfington, according to recently released financial disclosure documents. An inquiry arose in March about how Suarez scored an expensive courtside seat during the Miami Heat’s playoff run this year. The tickets were filed under a gift disclosure form by Suarez this week. And Suarez has since appeared courtside, seen cheering at a Miami Heat playoff game in May alongside Wolfington. It is not publicly known how the Mayor got the ticket to that game; if the ticket was a gift, the Mayor must disclose it at the end of September. Wolfington is a tech entrepreneur, film producer, and executive for the online auto buying platform CarSaver, affiliated with Walmart.

Francis Suarez snagged some great swag. Where’d it come from?

Parkland jurors must manage trial stress on their own” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — The jurors chosen this past week to decide whether Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz is executed will visit a bloodstained crime scene, view graphic photos and videos, and listen to intense emotional testimony. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will order jurors not to talk to anyone about what they have seen, heard or thought. Not their spouse. Not their best friend. Not their clergy or therapist. Not even each other until deliberations begin. The order is not unusual; it is issued at all trials to ensure outsiders don’t influence jurors’ opinions. Once the trial ends, the 12 jurors and 10 alternates can unload to others, but they won’t receive any assistance from the judicial system. As is the case in most of the United States, neither Florida nor Broward County courts provide juries with post-trial counseling.

Grand jury casts monstrous shadow over Broward politics” via Steve Bousquet of Sun-Sentinel — Donna Korn is running for re-election to the Broward County School Board at a time when an explosive grand jury report on school safety and possible fiscal wrongdoing may soon be public. The report is expected to reveal names of current or former board members who acted in the wrong, possibly Korn herself. The release of the report looms as four school board seats are up for election in the 2022 midterms. Voters will also be asked to extend and raise a small property tax for higher teacher salaries and better school security and mental health. Gov. DeSantis convened the grand jury after taking office in 2019, less than a year after the Parkland shooting. The scope of the grand jury included areas of possible “fraud and deceit,” and it finished its work in April 2021. Now, weeks before Broward voters begin casting ballots, the report remains confidential because it’s under legal challenge by eight people mentioned in it. Why could that be? A court filing cites a passage in the report recommending DeSantis “remove or suspend” certain Broward School Board members, giving him the power to reshape the board in the state’s most Democratic county.

Hank Goldberg, legendary South Florida radio host and ESPN analyst, dies at 82” via Francisco Rosa and Keven Lerner of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Goldberg passed away Monday in his Las Vegas home. He died on his birthday at the age of 82 after a long battle with kidney disease. A staple of the sports talk industry in Miami, Goldberg began work in the 1970s as the color analyst for the Miami Dolphins from 1978-1992. He spent that time covering the franchise’s golden era under legendary coach Don Shula, with whom he formed a close relationship. Goldberg, who got his start ghost-writing Jimmy The Greek’s syndicated gambling column, broke Shula’s retirement story after the 1995 season. Goldberg — whose nickname was the “Hammer” — was part of the Dolphins radio team during the franchise’s Perfect Season in 1972. He became best-known for hosting his radio talk show on WQAM from 1993-2009.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

City of Orlando apologizes after mentioning ‘division’ in 4th of July celebration announcement” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — The City of Orlando issued an apology Saturday after receiving complaints about a news release announcing an Independence Day celebration at Lake Eola that alluded to a tense political climate in the U.S. “A lot of people probably don’t want to celebrate our nation right now, and we can’t blame them,” the unsigned release said. “When there is so much division, hate and unrest, why on earth would you want to have a party celebrating any of it?” The release, posted online Friday, continued by inviting people to Lake Eola Park on Monday for food trucks and fireworks show. “In that moment, something takes over and we all become united in an inexplicable bond,” it read. “Yes, America is in strife right now, but you know what … we already bought the fireworks.”

WTF?!?! — “Flamethrower used to torch Pan-African flag flying on pole in St. Pete” via The Associated Press — A person using a flamethrower set fire Saturday to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of the Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist group based in St. Petersburg. Security video released by the group shows the driver of a white Honda sedan pulling up outside the group’s headquarters, removing a flamethrower from the trunk and shooting a tower of fire at the flag flying about 30 feet above the ground. The group says the man stopped when a worker inside the building yelled at him. The video shows him putting the flamethrower back in the trunk and then driving away. A photo supplied by the group shows the flag with a large hole. St. Petersburg police said they are investigating the fire and are working to identify a suspect.

A flamethrower? Really? Image via WFLA.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

‘Freedom is knowing your children will be safe’: Ukrainian expatriates talk U.S., homeland” via Harriet Howard Heithaus of the Naples Daily News — They never were fully free, say Volodymyr and Zinoviya Slyzh, even when Ukraine created its own declaration of independence from the former Soviet Union in August 1991. “As long as you can’t celebrate your own culture, speak your own language, express your own opinions, make your own choices, you’re not free,” Zinoviya said, speaking through the translation of her daughter, Nataliya Stasiw. Russian settlement within Ukraine was a post-World War II priority. By the time Ukraine staggered out of the dying Soviet Union in 1991, its leadership was largely Russian. “All the books were in Russian. So, when they wanted to teach in Ukrainian, they had to translate all the literature themselves.”

— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —

JAXPORT’s power play over JEA power lines sinks” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Port Authority had a humbling week, officially ending its campaign to force JEA customers to finance a $42 million project raising high-voltage transmission lines that span the St. Johns River. Instead, the port has committed to finding the money necessary to finance the risky project. The JEA points to the project as a way to accommodate mega-ships that may one day use the shipping channel. Monroe writes that this compromise should have been the starting point, rather than the end, of the discussion about the transmission lines.

JAXPORT is having a tough week. Image via Jacksonville Port Authority.

‘List was crazy’: Water district nearly sells part of Paynes Prairie, other sensitive conservation land” via John Henderson of The Gainesville Sun — The St. Johns River Water Management District has backed off a plan to sell thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive property throughout the state as surplus property, including 157 acres in Paynes Prairie considered critical for groundwater recharge. On June 14, the St. Johns Water Management District had the proposed sale on its consent agenda, normally voted on without discussion or debate. But it was pulled before discussion after Chris Farrell, the Northeast Florida Policy Associate for the Florida Audubon Society, pointed out that the 18,000 acres the district had identified to sell as surplus included environmentally sensitive property. That would include the Prairie Creek Conservation Area south of Newnans Lake and Newnans Lake Conservation Area north of the lake.

Another questionable hire: UF med school hires child-abuse expert with controversial record” via Scott Maxwell of The Orlando Sentinel — The University of Florida has hired controversial Dr. Barbara Knox to work under its medical school and child-abuse program. But this new hire has sparked concern, having left her last two jobs in clouds of controversy. She has been accused of numerous wrongful child-abuse allegations, bullying and misdiagnoses. The Wisconsin Innocence Project has also sounded alarms, saying Knox “fled to Alaska” after leaving “a legacy of flawed shaken baby diagnoses in Wisconsin.” The University of Wisconsin cited unprofessional workplace behavior, including retaliation, as reasoning for suspension. She left her position that same year and went to the Providence Alaska Medical Center, where she became the subject of reports about staff concern, a “mass exodus,” and questionable diagnoses. The new professor works at UF’s College of Medicine in Jacksonville, where she’s making $280,000. She’s also a member of the Child Protection Team for northeast Florida, meaning she could again be involved in making abuse determinations. UF declined to answer if it knew about Knox’s controversial record before hiring her.

— TOP OPINION —

America is sliding into the long pandemic defeat” via Ed Yong of The Atlantic — Across the country, almost all government efforts to curtail the coronavirus have ended. Now, the White House and the CDC have started to frame COVID-19 as a problem for individuals to act upon. That can be hard, however, when case data is underestimated with many testing sites closed. Many policymakers have moved on, but COVID-19 is far from resolved and the virus is still mutating. Infections still matter, and are affecting all of American society, including the vaxxed. What the U.S. needs is a sustainable infrastructure that can keep more people from getting COVID-19, regardless of their social circumstances.

There are 11 types of Donald Trump enablers. Which one are you?” via Tim Miller for POLITICO Magazine — When I dug deeper, I found real choices made by individuals who all fell back on a few phyla of rationalization that reveal why they did what they did. They fit into different categories, some of which reflect universal, human failings replicated across industries and societies and ideologies. Others are unique to the creatures of Washington or the contaminated right-wing political ecosystem that sustained the Mango Monstrosity. They all turned out to be much more powerful than I had anticipated. I divide them into these buckets: Messiahs and junior messiahs; demonizers; LOL nothing matters Republicans; tribalist trolls; strivers; little mixes; Peter Principle disprovers; nerd revengers; inert team players; compartmentalizers and cartel cashers.

— OPINIONS —

This 1972 speech is more relevant than ever this Fourth of July” via The Washington Post editorial board — “Come home, America.” That was the theme of the campaign launched 50 Julys ago by a Senator from South Dakota named George McGovern as he accepted the Democratic nomination for President. “It is time to live more with faith and less with fear, with an abiding confidence that can sweep away the strongest barriers between us and teach us that we are truly brothers and sisters.” The idea of “Come home, America” should have some resonance on this summer day of both celebration and anxiety, because an awful lot of Americans seem to have fallen under the spell of very un-American thinking in recent years. They have instead become infatuated with foreign leaders of the “strongman” kind.

America is in denial” via Mitt Romney for The Atlantic — The left thinks the right is at fault for ignoring climate change and the attacks on our political system. The right thinks the left is the problem for ignoring illegal immigration and the national debt. But wishful thinking happens across the political spectrum. More and more, we are a nation in denial. Bolstering our natural inclination toward wishful thinking are the carefully constructed, prejudice-confirming arguments from the usual gang of sophists, grifters, and truth-deniers. Watching angry commentators on cable news, I’m reminded of H.L. Mencken’s observation: “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong.” When entire countries fail to confront serious challenges, it doesn’t end well.

Prosecuting Trump could do more harm than good” via Andrew C. McCarthy of The Washington Post — Could prosecuting Trump polarize the country even more? Set a dangerous precedent? McCarthy worries about the implications of having the current administration go after its predecessor and chief political opponent. But the recent testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson has led McCarthy to at least consider if prosecution is warranted. No one is above the law, even the President; but we also do not prosecute every provable crime. The Justice Department should have a higher standard for prosecuting political cases, staying its hand unless there is an offense that is both serious and easy for the public to grasp. That is especially so when the department ultimately answers to the President is investigating a top political rival.

Why on earth Is Nancy Pelosi supporting the Trumpists?” via David Brooks of The New York Times — Democrats have spent tens of millions to bash moderate Republicans in races across the county, with the reasoning that far-right, Trumpist candidates will be easier to defeat. For example, Democrats have spent at least $30 million in Illinois to attack a Trumpist’s moderate gubernatorial opponent. But, as Brooks writes, not only is this spending sleazy, it could backfire: The far-right candidates whom Democrats are supporting could easily wind up winning. Keep in mind, 83% of Americans believe the economy is poor or not so good right now, and the same percentage are dissatisfied with the county’s current state. The Democrats, who seem to have forgotten about 2016, need to keep in mind the country’s current climate as the midterms approach.

Veto pen is a club in DeSantis’ hands” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — A cynic might suspect that, sometimes, DeSantis has his ever-subservient Republican allies in the Florida Legislature send him bills they know he’ll veto, just to look good in this re-election year. Through his four legislative sessions, DeSantis has clearly shown who’s boss. A lot of what he’s wrought with the House and Senate, like new voting rules, education edicts and realignment of Florida’s congressional districts, DeSantis has publicly championed. He jets around the state for signing ceremonies amid admiring groups of voters and dutifully smiling legislative leaders. The word “veto” comes from a Latin word meaning “I forbid,” and this Governor has used his pen as imperiously as any Roman emperor.

The court’s EPA ruling was about something much bigger than one agency” via Hugh Hewitt of The Washington Post — The formal adoption of the “major questions doctrine” by a solid six-justice majority in West Virginia v. EPA on June 30 was covered by the media as primarily, if not exclusively, a blow to the EPA’s proposed regulations to combat global climate change. Administrative agencies established by the Congress have been put on notice by the Supreme Court not to take action on controversies or issues, no matter how pressing those issues are believed to be, unless first given direction by Congress on the “major questions” the agency would like to answer in whole or part by regulation.

If I get canceled, let them eat me alive” via Agnes Callard for The New York Times — What should my friends do if I am being canceled? A decade ago, when I was a nonpublic philosopher writing only for a small group of academics, it would never have occurred to me to ask myself this question. But things have changed. These days, anyone with a public-facing persona must contemplate the prospect of having her reputation savagely destroyed. A few years ago, I wrote an essay that, in passing, questioned faculty solidarity with unionizing graduate students. I had not realized how sensitive that topic was, and I was inundated with angry and hateful messages and a few threats online. My most vivid memory from that period is how good it felt when people defended me on Twitter. My plan, if I am being canceled, is not to fight it. My brief tangle with the mob taught me that it is not when I am most embattled that I see most clearly.

Let’s commit to a plastic-free July” via Thais Lopez Vogel of VoLo Foundation — July is devoted to reducing plastic waste, especially single-use items. It’s important to not just recycle plastics, but to reduce our use in general. To put it in perspective, only about 5% of the 46 million metric tons of plastic waste produced in the U.S. each year is recycled; between 4 and 12 million of these metric tons of plastic enter the ocean, where it hurts wildlife and can release greenhouse gases. So, while recycling is still better than sending single-use items straight to a landfill, we need to reduce our plastic footprint overall. That includes straws, plastic bags, eating utensils, stirrers, beverage bottles and takeout containers. Carry reusable substitutes, instead.

— ALOE —

U.S. men’s soccer qualifies for Paris 2024 Olympics” via The Athletic — The United States men secured a berth for soccer at the Paris 2024 Olympics on Friday with the U-20 men’s national team’s win over Honduras in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship semifinals. The Americans put up a decisive 3-0 win at the Estadio Morazán. The Olympic appearance will be the first for the American men since Beijing 2008 after missing out on qualification for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Games. Men’s Olympic soccer teams are restricted to only featuring players under 23 years old, with three exceptions. Men’s soccer becomes the first U.S. team to qualify for the Paris Olympics in any sport.

Disney theme parks suspended park-hopping in the pandemic. It could come back soon” via Veronika Bondarenko of The Miami Herald — Spanning over 43 square miles, visiting Disney World’s four parks takes time and money. That’s why the entertainment giant used to offer a system for “park-hopping,” which allowed visitors to stop by several parks in one day for the price of one ticket. But Disney suspended its park-hopping programs when it reopened after a three-month pandemic closure. However, you may be able to park again soon. In June 2021, Disney brought back a limited park-hopping program that allowed guests to enter a second park after 2 p.m. Now, insiders say, Disney may be considering expanding the Park Pass system to allow park-hopping that is not set around specific times but does require reservations.

Park-hopping is back? Soon. Image via Magic Ally Main Street.

Disney Cruise Line embraces new headliners for Disney Wish’s best features” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — This is not your grandparents’ cruise ship. Disney Cruise Line has cast off much of the approach that went into its first four ships for a new theme that really targets the super fan for its new ship Disney Wish. Super fans of what? In a word: everything. Now juggling the entertainment juggernauts that are Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and its bread-and-butter Disney Princesses and Mickey Mouse, the new 144,000-gross-ton vessel, the largest ever for the fleet, has mixed things up to let each of those brands own their own corners of the ship.

Disney says goodbye Splash Mountain — hello ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Disney’s Splash Mountain is set to be re-themed as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The newly renovated waterlog ride is set to open in late 2024 at both Disneyland and Disney World. Disney is shutting down the Magic Kingdom ride with controversial ties and reopening it under a new theme featuring Disney’s first African American princess from the film “The Princess and the Frog.” Disney announced the ride’s new title and confirmed the 2024 opening date Friday during ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans, the same city where “The Princess and the Frog” takes place. Disney has not said when fans can ride the original Splash Mountain for the last time.

New ‘Godzilla-Kong’ movie set for 2024, ‘Dune 2’ pushed to Thanksgiving 2023” via Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter — In a relatively minor shift, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two is being pushed back less than a month from Oct. 20, 2023, to Nov. 17, 2023. That means the sequel will have the advantage of playing over the Thanksgiving holiday. And Adam Wingard’s next installment in the Godzilla-Kong franchise will hit theaters March 15, 2024. Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong, released in March 2021, earned $468.2 million globally. It was a strong showing for a title released amid the pandemic and which hit HBO Max day and date as part of Warners’ plan to send all of its 2021 titles to theaters and streaming simultaneously.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Rep. Michelle Salzman, Randy Hanna, Dean and Chief Executive Officer of Florida State University Panama City campus, James Kotas, and Van Poole.

___

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.



#FlaPol

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