Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.26.22

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

We may not have scored an invitation to the Sunshine Summit, but Florida Politics is the most-read news outlet among state lawmakers for the third year running, according to a new survey of legislative aides.

Conducted by CATECOMM, the 2022 Florida Legislative Aide Survey found that 90% of Florida lawmakers read Florida Politics, Sunburn, or FlaPol texts daily, a 4-point increase over the 2021 survey and more than double what Florida Politics scored in the first Florida Legislative Aide Survey in 2013, when we were SaintPetersBlog.com.

How the sausage is made. Image via Alex Workman.

Florida Politics holds a 22-point lead over local TV news, which placed second. The next most-read news source was POLITICO Florida, which 64% of legislative aides said their bosses read daily, followed by the online editions of local newspapers at 60% and print editions at 50%.

Forty-eight percent of lawmakers regularly viewed local Sunday shows, such as Political Connections and Facing South Florida. Further down the list were 24-hour news networks, led by Fox News at 38%, CNN at 36%, and MSNBC at 28%.

The Legislative Aide Survey also asked what social media platforms lawmakers use — and how they use them.

Twitter topped all other social media platforms in the survey, with 54% of aides saying it was “very important” to lawmakers and 28% saying it was “important.” The remaining 18% said lawmakers are either “neutral” or view the service as “not important.” Facebook ranked No. 2, with 48% saying it was “very important,” followed by Instagram at 18%, YouTube at 10%, and TikTok at 4%.

As far as receiving views from constituents, Facebook is king. Ninety percent said the service was either “very important” or “important” in getting their message out. Twitter scored 78% combined, with no other service crossing the 50% threshold.

According to staffers, three in 10 lawmakers maintain complete control over their social media accounts, with an additional 44% personally getting behind the keyboard or camera “sometimes” and 24% doing so “rarely.” Just 2% of Representatives and Senators never operate their social media accounts.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@POTUS: Leaders like Governor DeSantis, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Rick Scott are all opposed to banning assault weapons. And to me, it’s simple. If you can’t support banning weapons of war on America’s streets, you’re not on the side of police.

Tweet, tweet:

@AnnaLecta: The CEO of a “dark money” group raising millions from secret donors saying “confidentiality is best for democracy” is like a fox saying the henhouse doesn’t need a guard.

@JesseScheckner: If you object to people of color playing traditionally white roles in period dramas like The Great, Bridgerton & Persuasion but have no issue with everyone, from Russians to Romans to the French, speaking English with a British accent, your problem isn’t with historical accuracy.

@bendreyfuss: Life was certainly more fun before search engines because no one knew anything, and everyone decided what was true based on the strength of the personality of the person in the bar speaking to them.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@NotHoodlum: People in the Tallahassee area can now signup for Yoga with Ghislaine Maxwell classes.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 3; MLB trade deadline — 6; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 10; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 14; Early voting begins for Primaries — 18; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 22; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 23; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 26; 2022 Florida Primary — 27; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 34; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 36; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 36; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 38; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 44; 2022 Emmys — 48; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 51; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 72; Deadline to register for General Election — 76; 22-23 NHL season begins — 77; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 92; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 91; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 91; Early voting begins for General Election — 95; 2022 General Election — 105; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 108; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 110; FITCon 2022 begins — 114; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 114; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 118; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 118; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 119; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 127; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 127; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 143; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 206; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 224; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 241; 2023 Session Sine Die — 283; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 283; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 311; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 360; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 465; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 479; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 612; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 731; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 731; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 836; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,011.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis gets more than $3M in taxpayer help for campaign” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — DeSantis led all candidates by pulling in $3.35 million in public matching funds, according to records posted by the state Division of Elections. That’s more public money than he got for his entire 2018 campaign — and more than double the money sent to his two Democratic rivals, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist.

Crist pulled in nearly $965,000 while Fried received slightly more than $634,000 from the state.

Ron DeSantis’ campaign gets a nice bump, courtesy of Florida taxpayers.

Florida’s public matching program has been around for decades and is open to all candidates for Governor and the three elected Cabinet positions. In 2018, nearly $10 million in taxpayer money went to statewide candidates.

Several Florida Republicans in the past, including former Governors Rick Scott and Jeb Bush, refused to accept taxpayer money to help pay for their campaigns, which some have labeled “welfare for politicians.” The GOP-controlled Legislature has tried to scuttle the program repeatedly, but voters in 2010 shot down a proposal to remove it from the state constitution.

— 2022 —

Donald Trump dominates 2024 GOP presidential nomination straw poll at Turning Point USA summit” via Brooke Singman of Fox News — Trump dominated the 2024 GOP presidential nomination straw poll at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, who they would vote for in 2024 if Trump decided to launch another White House run. The straw poll was sponsored by Turning Point Action, the affiliated 501(c)(4) of TPUSA. 78.7% of attendees said they would vote for Trump; 19% said they would vote for DeSantis; 1% said they’d vote for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

A straw poll keeps Donald Trump on top.

DeSantis blasts China for buying up U.S. farmland: ‘It’s a huge problem’” via Ariel Zilber of The New York Post — DeSantis has vowed to crack down on “undue influence from rogue states” like China in response to Chinese businesses reportedly buying up large tracts of farmland. DeSantis was asked about a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, which found that Chinese real estate investors spent $6.1 billion on American real estate over a 12-month period that ended in March — more than any other group of foreigners. “I don’t think they should be able to do it,” DeSantis said.

Kellyanne Conway urges DeSantis to give up on 2024 run” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Conway told the Fox Business Network that the Turning Point USA straw poll, which showed Trump with 78% support against 20% for DeSantis, was indeed a meaningful sign of where party activists are for 2024. “He’s a great Governor; he’s fascinating. He could be a two-term, and he’s got a great sense for the culture warrior part too. Ron DeSantis can be the best two-term Governor in Florida in modern history and run for President before he’s 50.” “The poll is significant for President Trump,” Conway added, “because Gov. DeSantis did speak on Friday night. He was well-received. He’s an unbelievably successful and consequential Governor of Florida. But it’s President Trump who led in the polls.”

Charlie Crist pours another $23K into TV ads — Crist’s gubernatorial campaign is spending an added $23,174 to air his ads in the Tampa market. According to AdImpact, the flight includes 25% of broadcast stations in the market and will cover ads running today through Wednesday. The buy comes a week after the Democratic candidate’s campaign spent $105,163 on a statewide ad campaign. Last week’s buy included $23,634 in the Tampa market. The media buy comes a couple of days after Fried, his chief Primary rival, reserved $624,220 in ad time for a flight beginning Aug. 15.

Assignment editors — Crist, joined by former Attorney General Nominee Sean Shaw, will hold a news conference in Tampa on the looming property insurance crisis, part of his Affordable Florida for All tour, 10:30 a.m. After that, Crist will appear at the Florida General Baptist Convention Congress on Christian Education in Orlando, 11:30 p.m. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected]; livestreaming on Crist’s Facebook page (@CharlieCristFL) and Twitter (@CharlieCrist).

Val Demings boosts Tampa buy, Marco Rubio drops $295K on ads — U.S. Rep. Demings has increased her media buy in the Tampa market. According to AdImpact, Demings’ U.S. Senate campaign put another $81,825 into broadcast TV ads that will run Tuesday through Monday. The buy covers about a quarter of broadcast stations within the media market. Meanwhile, Rubio placed $294,850 in broadcast buys across the state. The total includes $192,435 in the Tampa market, $51,875 in the Jacksonville market, and $50,540 in the West Palm Beach market. His ads will also run today through Monday.

The spending ramps up.

Ballot instruction for Governor confusing some readers; officials say it’s not a problem” via Stephany Matat and Antonio Fins of The Palm Beach Post — State and Palm Beach County elections officials on Monday said they were unaware of complaints about a potentially confusing ballot wording. But this past weekend, voter Sharon Reuben from suburban Boynton Beach opened her mail-in ballot for the Aug. 23 Primary and said she was “confused” by how the Governor’s choice was worded.

Dems fume at Disney’s Hulu for blocking ads on abortion, guns, Jan. 6” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — The Disney-backed streaming service Hulu is refusing to run political ads on central themes of Democratic midterm campaigns, including abortion, guns and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, prompting fury from the party’s candidates and leaders. The streaming service has a policy against running content considered controversial and is not bound by the Communications Act of 1934, which requires broadcast television networks to provide politicians equal access to the airwaves. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Governors Association tried to buy joint ads on abortion and guns with Hulu on July 15, along with identical placements on a Disney-affiliated ABC affiliate in Philadelphia and the company’s cable sports channel ESPN. The Hulu ads never ran, while the others did.

— 2022: CONG —

Lincoln Project uses Matt Gaetz’s abortion comments in new ad — The Lincoln Project will run an ad attacking U.S. Rep. Gaetz over a comment he made during the Turning Point Action Summit that “the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions.” A narrator then asks, Matt, you seem like a guy that enjoys spending time with a woman. So why are you so angry at them? Are you mad because you have to pay for sex? Allegedly.” The ad includes several more jabs at Gaetz, mixed in with footage of the Republican Congressman calling women overweight and suggesting they “mix in a salad.” The ad will begin airing in CD 1 starting today.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Mike Lombardo, Gaetz ante up for CD 1 ads — Republican candidate Mark Lombardo placed a new cable flight in the race for Florida’s 1st Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the flight measures in at $32,857 and directs $30,657 to the Mobile media market and $2,200 to the Panama City media market. The ads will run today through Monday on Fox News. Lombardo is challenging U.S. Rep. Gaetz in the Primary for CD 1, a reliably Republican district covering much of the Florida Panhandle. Gaetz’s campaign also made a new ad buy, putting an additional $46,324 into broadcast ads in the Mobile media market. His ads will also run today through Monday.

Happening today — Rep. Kat Cammack will speak at the America First Policy Institute “American First Agenda Summit,” event starts at 8 a.m., Washington, D.C.

Anna Eskamani backs Maxwell Frost in CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — State Rep. Eskamani is backing fellow progressive Frost in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Eskamani and Frost announced her endorsement as the crowded CD 10 Democratic Primary campaign heads into its final month for the Democratically leaning district. “I’ve known Maxwell for years and am proud to call him a fellow fighter and friend,” Eskamani said in a news release.

Big get: Maxwell Frost wins a thumbs-up from one of Florida’s leading progressive lawmakers.

Tweet, tweet:

Assignment editors — Rep. Michele Rayner, Senate candidate Eunic Ortiz, and other Tampa Bay leaders hold an in-person news conference in St. Petersburg to call for answers from DeSantis on restricting Floridians’ reproductive freedoms. This is the second stop on the Florida Democratic Party’s “DeSantis Owes Us Answers” tour, 11 a.m. Location with RSVP at [email protected].

—“Byron Donalds faces old challengers, newcomer in District 19” via Amy Bennett-Williams of the Naples Daily News

—“For Congressional District 20, keep Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Group seeks to empower newly naturalized U.S. citizens in Florida, nationwide” via Jason Delgado of USA Today Network-Florida — The number of newly naturalized U.S. citizens in Florida has proliferated since 2016 and could represent a significant bloc of voters in the upcoming midterm elections, according to a new report commissioned by a coalition of 60 immigrant and refugee rights organizations. These organizations hope to empower these new Americans politically by persuading them to register to vote and cast ballots this year in Florida and other key swing states. The report’s authors say the number of new U.S. citizens nationwide could top more than 5 million by the midterm elections in November. In Florida, their numbers have swelled to more than 429,000 people, mostly immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean.

— MORE 2022 —

—”Senate race: Incumbent Doug Broxson faces John Mills in his first Senate bid” via Benjamin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal

Janet Cruz surpasses $1M raised for re-election campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Sen. Cruz has surpassed the $1 million fundraising landmark as she runs for re-election in Senate District 14. Cruz, who will face Republican opponent Jay Collins in the General Election, raised funds between her campaign and affiliated political committee, Building the Bay PC. “I’m incredibly proud of our team and our supporters for this very important milestone,” Cruz said in a statement. The announcement comes after a successful June fundraising period for Cruz. Last month, Cruz’s political committee received a $50,000 boost from Sen. Jason Pizzo via his affiliated political committee, New Opportunity Florida.

Janet Cruz makes serious headway in the money race.

Firefighters back Janet Cruz for SD 14Cruz has received an endorsement from the local firefighter union. “We feel you will represent the interests of both the community you serve and our organization as well. Your long history of dedication to public safety and the Tampa Firefighters is commended, and (we) feel like you will do great work when re-elected,” said Andrew Carter, the president of Local 754. Cruz is running for another term in the new Senate District 14. She faces DeSantis-backed Republican Collins in what is expected to be a close matchup in November.

Democratic women resort to personal attacks during Florida Senate campaign” Ian Margol of WPLG —The heated race for Florida Senate District 35 is getting nasty. Two Democratic women who agree on most issues are resorting to personal attacks as they both campaign for votes in Broward County. State Sen. Lauren Book, the minority leader, and former Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief have both released ads assassinating each other’s character. In the latest attack ad, Sharief shows an old video of Book’s 2009 appearance on the show Platinum Wedding alleging her celebration cost more than $1 million. The ad also accuses Book and her husband of paying themselves about $350,000 from their nonprofit. … Meanwhile, Book released an ad accusing Sharief of defrauding Medicaid twice. Nearly 10 years ago, the state found her home healthcare company did overbill Medicaid by hundreds of thousands of dollars two times. She ended up settling and paying nearly $700,000.

Brian Clowdus starts to spend in HD 6 GOP Primary, but Griff Griffitts spends bigger” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — After spending less than $200 in June on his Republican Primary race for the House District 6 seat, Clowdus spent more than $11,000 in the first two weeks of July, a newly released campaign finance report from the Division of Elections shows. Clowdus, who owns an entertainment production company, spent most of that sum, about $10,500, on direct mail pieces. But his opponent, Bay County Commissioner Griffitts, spent more than $124,000, with more than $101,000 going toward campaign media ads. As of July 15, Griffitts had nearly $112,000 cash on hand, dwarfing the $22,800 in Clowdus’ campaign coffers.

Berny Jacques makes recommendations for judicial appointments. Do political donations sway his choice?Jacques will serve on the Judicial Nominating Commission in Pinellas County through 2024. But in the meantime, is he using the position to raise money for his state House run? A review of contributions shows many individuals who gave to the Seminole Republican’s campaign in House District 59 were later recommended for spots on the bench. In one case, they contributed within hours of the donor being recommended for a circuit court judgeship. Jacques denies any relationship between campaign contributions and Commission attention. “That has no bearing on the decision,” Jacques said. The decision is made collectively by a number of Commissioners, and a donation to a campaign would never influence my decision.”

Opposition to Orange County’s transportation tax brings back ‘Ax the Tax’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Ax the Tax is back. Those words might rankle the ranks preparing to promote Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings’ November ballot proposal for a penny increase in the sales tax for transit and transportation improvements. Now, as Demings simultaneously prepares both his own re-election campaign and a major campaign for his transportation tax proposal, allied opposition is emerging through his mayoral opponents, notably Chris Messina, and through a loosely affiliated grassroots group that has reincorporated Ax the Tax.

In Miami-Dade District 12 race, Doral Mayor faces self-funded bid by ousted Commissioner” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The race to succeed Miami-Dade Commission Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz pits one of the longest serving Mayors in the county against an ousted former City Commissioner who has spent nearly $900,000 of her own money pursuing a political comeback. Sophia Lacayo lost her Sweetwater Commission seat in 2020 after pleading guilty to perjury over a room she claimed she had rented to meet the city’s residency requirements for holding office. Now she’s self-funding a race for the District 12 seat vacated by the term-limited Diaz, spending more than $875,000 in personal funds or money from companies she owns. That represents about 95% of the $907,000 raised by her campaign.

Penny Taylor faces 4 challengers for District 4 seat on Collier County Commission” via Rachel Heimann Mercader and Melanie Peña of the Naples Daily News — Four candidates are vying to unseat two-term incumbent Collier Commissioner Taylor in District 4. The district encompasses the area west of Interstate 75 from Pine Ridge Road to south of the city of Naples. Taylor, who is a Republican, is running against three Republican challengers in the Aug. 23 Primary, but the Primary will be closed to only Republican registered voters after Bill Oppenheimer qualified as a write-in candidate for the Nov. 8 General Election. Oppenheimer has spent no money on his campaign nor has he received any donations.

Penny Taylor faces a crowded field in her bid for re-election.

Three Martin County School Board seats open; District 1 candidate automatically reelected” via Thomas Weber of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Parental rights, academics and safety are top issues in this year’s nonpartisan races for the School Board’s three open seats, one of which is sought by a local Moms for Liberty co-chair. Seats for Districts 3 and 4 are contested, but District 1 incumbent and School Board Chair Christia Li Roberts was elected automatically reelected when no other candidate qualified. District 3 incumbent Victoria Defenthaler is not seeking re-election to a second term. Two political newcomers, Elizabeth Bernstein and Jennifer Russell, are seeking that District 3 seat.

Pensacola City Council District 2 race is a contest between neighbors” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Four neighbors from The Reserve subdivision are all seeking to become the next Pensacola City Council representative for District 2. The District 2 seat is open this year as Councilwoman Sherri Myers is term-limited and running for mayor. In separate interviews with the News Journal, all four candidates — Charles Bare, Brian Hoffman, Char Powell, and Brian Wyer — told the News Journal they were proud that their neighbors are engaged and care about the city of Pensacola.

— STATEWIDE —

Gov. DeSantis’ Office rejects Fox Biz anchor’s ‘moronacy’ attack” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — An example of critical coverage appeared on the Fox Business Network when anchor Dagen McDowell offered a blistering critique of $450 checks sent to Florida families via the Hope Florida initiative, calling it “pandering” and “moronacy.” McDowell, the fill-in host for “Mornings with Maria,” said DeSantis “is sending stimulus checks to lower-income Floridians, which again is a level of moronacy that you see out of Gavin Newsom.” Deputy Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said McDowell “is wrong about Florida’s foster care family aid.” Griffin tweeted, “1) the payments were specifically for foster care families, 2) the $$ was repurposed federal dollars that would have to be utilized or lost to (Joe) Biden (wasted), 3) states don’t cause inflation — the fed printing $$ did.”\

Ron DeSantis bristles at the comparison to Gavin Newsom.

Former Chief Justice, state Rep. blast system that teed up Renatha Francis for Florida Supreme Court” via Noreen Marcus of FloridaBulldog.org — A former Florida Supreme Court Chief justice and a state legislator are calling for an end to governors dictating who joins the state’s highest court based on politics instead of excellence. Retired Justice Harry Lee Anstead’s July 17 opinion piece in the Tallahassee Democrat targets the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), which, in theory at least, screens Supreme Court applicants and sends the governor a short list for a final cut. With six names in hand, DeSantis is about to replace retiring Justice Alan Lawson. His expected choice is Palm Beach Circuit Judge Renatha Francis, who would be the court’s first Jamaican American justice.

Powerbrokers: How FPL secretly took over a Florida news site and used it to bash critics” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — When Florida Power & Light faced a spate of bad publicity and political blowback, a small but ambitious news website called The Capitolist sprang to the public utility’s defense. Taking aim at foes of FPL’s proposed rate hikes and controversial attempts to buy Jacksonville’s public utility, The Capitolist savaged the critics, impugning their motives and suggesting they were part of “dark money” schemes. “Documents suggest Florida’s largest companies are secretly sabotaging efforts to protect power lines from hurricane damage,” declared the headline of one such article from 2019.

Insurers to get ratings downgrade reprieve — for now” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — More than a dozen Florida property insurance companies won’t receive an official downgrade from Demotech, an Ohio-based ratings agency, at least not yet. The new ratings were to take effect Tuesday, but on Monday Demotech President Joseph Petrelli wrote a letter to Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier saying he notified the companies in imminent danger of a downgrade that it wouldn’t be happening immediately. “Due to various circumstances, Demotech will not take any rating action including affirmation, downgrade, or withdrawal until further notice,” Petrelli states in his letter. Downgraded ratings, however, could still be on the table, and there isn’t a timeframe for them to happen.

Army Corps to release LOSOM update as stakeholder concerns remain” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release a new update this week on the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), as some stakeholders are still pressing for changes to the document that will govern Lake O releases for the next several years. The new operating manual will dictate where Lake O’s water resources head and when, leading to predictable battles over the manual’s language. Lawmakers and community stakeholders have voiced their concerns as the LOSOM language has continued to take shape. With a new update expected Friday, some are still concerned about the Corps’ direction, though that updated language could very well address some of those concerns.

Gas price average could fall below $4 this week, AAA says” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — The cost of a tank of gas keeps falling with the average price for a gallon of fuel in Florida dropping another 17 cents since last week. The statewide drop is the largest since prices returned from their historic high of $4.89 a gallon six weeks ago. The state average on Sunday was $4.10 per gallon, although prices in Central Florida have dipped below $4 at several stations. That’s $0.79 down since mid-June, which translates to about $15 less for an average 15-gallon tank of gas.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Joe Biden poised for big wins in Congress” via Yawsmeen Abutaleb and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — The first major prescription drug legislation in nearly 20 years. More than $50 billion to subsidize computer chip manufacturing and research. A bill that would enshrine protections for same-sex marriage. After a turbulent stretch in which much of Biden’s legislative agenda seemed to be foundering, the president and his party may be on the cusp of significant wins in Congress that the White House hopes will provide at least a modest political boost. Most politically resonant is a bill to let Medicare negotiate drug prices, a hugely popular idea that Democrats have been pursuing for more than 20 years. Democrats hope these measures earn a bigger political payoff than, say, Biden’s infrastructure law, which seemed to make little impression on voters.

Joe Biden could get some much-needed wins Image via AP.

Biden rule would strengthen health protections for gay and transgender people” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times — The Biden administration said Monday that it intends to enshrine anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people in the Affordable Care Act — a proposal that would officially reverse a policy adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services under Trump. The Trump rule, finalized in 2020, erased Obama-era protections for transgender patients. Last year, the Biden administration took a preliminary step toward restoring them, by announcing that HHS would draft a rule prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by hospitals and other health care providers that receive federal funding. That proposed rule was released Monday and is far more expansive than the Obama-era policy.

Challenges to gun laws take off, after high court ruling” via Jacob Gershman of The Wall Street Journal — The Supreme Court’s ruling in June striking down New York’s system for issuing concealed-weapons permits has already touched off a new wave of legal challenges against a range of firearms restrictions. The 6-3 decision rejected a legal test that many lower courts have used to uphold various bans on semi-automatic weapons and limits on who can own them. Justices instructed courts to use a different standard that has effectively called into question a swath of prior rulings on gun regulations. The implications could take years to sort out. But sensing that ground has shifted in their favor, gun-rights advocates have sprung into action. In recent days, they have drafted new challenges to previously upheld gun laws and have refashioned their arguments in cases still pending.

Senate bill to boost chip production, advanced technology set to move ahead” via John D. McKinnon of The Wall Street Journal — After weeks of uncertainty, the Senate is set to vote this week to advance a far-reaching $280 billion package of subsidies and research funding to shore up U.S. competitiveness in advanced technology. The bill had all but collapsed earlier this month amid partisan bickering, then came together in a matter of days. It had been expected to move ahead in the Senate in a procedural vote Monday, setting up a final vote in that chamber later in the week. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delayed the vote until Tuesday, citing East Coast storms that disrupted Senators’ travel plans. He said he hoped to finish work on the bill soon.

House Democrats add child nutrition to legislative menu” via Ellyn Ferguson of Roll Call — The House Education and Labor Committee is making a late-session push to renew child nutrition programs and incorporate changes made to cope with the pandemic, but disagreements could slow the reauthorization of a nutrition law that expired in 2015. Appropriators continue to provide mandatory and discretionary funding since the expiration of the previous authorization, enacted in 2010. The committee has scheduled a markup for Wednesday at which Democrats and Republicans are expected to air differences about how large a role the federal government should play in setting policies and operating the national school lunch and breakfast program; the Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, supplemental nutrition program; and other child nutrition programs.

“Trump returns to D.C. this week. These former advisers are plotting the comeback.” via Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — At the beginning of 2020, a small group of Trump’s top advisers huddled at the White House to craft a second-term policy agenda for the next administration. Brooke Rollins, the domestic policy adviser, Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, and Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, initially teamed up, sometimes working from whiteboards in the West Wing. They were joined at times by Ivanka Trump, Conway and Russ Vought, Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director, along with various policy aides.

Donald Trump is ready for a triumphant return to D.C. Image via AP.

Trump tests waning appeal in Washington visit shadowed by Jan. 6” via Josh Wingrove and Mario Parker of Bloomberg — Trump is coming back to Washington as Republican rivals maneuver for a possible Primary challenge and lawmakers probe his culpability for the Jan. 6 insurrection. The former President will deliver a keynote speech Tuesday at the America First Agenda Summit, a conservative conference. His remarks come on the heels of a House committee hearing that portrayed him standing by indifferently, even vindictively, for hours as a mob of his supporters battled police and chased lawmakers through the halls of the Capitol.



— JAN. 6 —

Sharp contrasts with other Jan. 6 inquiries increase pressure on Merrick Garland” via Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times — The contrast between the public urgency and aggressiveness of the investigations being carried out by the Georgia prosecutors and the congressional committee on the one hand and the quiet, and apparently plodding and methodical approach being taken by the Justice Department on the other is so striking that it has become an issue for Attorney General Garland — and is only growing more pronounced by the week. Exactly what is going on inside the Justice Department remains largely obscured, beyond what it prioritized in the months after the attack. But through subpoenas and search warrants, the department has made clear that it is pursuing at least two related lines of inquiry that could lead to Trump.

The heat is on Merrick Garland.

Trump didn’t want to call for Jan. 6 rioters’ prosecution, new video shows” via Amy B. Wang of The Washington Post — According to video testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump’s aides were pushing him to record another speech to quell talk of his impeachment or removal from office. In one part of the video, Jan. 6 committee investigators showed Ivanka Trump a draft document titled “Remarks on National Healing.” On the document were handwritten edits that Ivanka Trump identified as her father’s. He had apparently deleted any mention of the Justice Department prosecuting the rioters. Crossed out from the prepared remarks were these lines: “I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We must send a clear message — not with mercy but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm.”

Even on Jan. 7, Trump declined to say the rioters didn’t represent him” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — In the immediate aftermath of the attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, there seemed to be broad consensus on at least one point: The supporters of Trump who had actually committed the acts of violence deserved criticism and punishment under the law. Discussions about Trump’s culpability and how to ensure an orderly transition of power was the focus on Jan. 7 in part because, beyond one particularly shoddy assertion, there was little interest in defending the rioters or downplaying their involvement. We get a hint that this was not necessarily a universal sentiment. It includes an image of a draft of the speech that Trump recorded on that day.

Former top Mike Pence aide testifies to grand jury in Jan. 6 investigation” via Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Marc Short, who was chief of staff to Vice President Pence, testified last week to a federal grand jury in Washington investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the highest-ranking official of the Trump administration so far known to have cooperated with the Justice Department’s widening inquiry into the events leading up to the assault. Short, who was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors, spent two to three hours in front of the grand jury on Friday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Jan. 6 committee could ‘contemplate a subpoena’ for Ginni Thomas” via Amy B Wang of The Washington Post — The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection could subpoena Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, over her attempts to press the Trump White House to try to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election, Rep. Liz Cheney said Sunday. Cheney, the vice chair of the select committee, said the bipartisan panel is engaged with Ginni Thomas’s counsel. Officials have also spoken to other figures who were similarly urging those close to Trump to pursue efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, she said.

Ginni Thomas could see the business end of a subpoena.

Kat Cammack, Donalds deride Jan. 6 hearings — without watching any of it” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — Cammack, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said she has not watched any of the hearings. This is a total sham,” she told anchors of the Newsmax program “John Bachman Now.” “We know that this is not a committee that is based in fact or truth.” Donalds, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in a tweet late Thursday called the investigation a “clown show.” Donalds, too, did not remark on the testimony, largely from fellow Republicans then close to Trump. “This is a Soviet-style clown show intended to distract the American people from their failed agenda and attempt to hurt the popularity of former President Trump. It’s NOT working,” Donalds posted on Twitter.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Jurors get first glimpse at AR-15-style rifle used to kill 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas” via Scott Travis and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Jurors got their first look Monday at the semi-automatic rifle that was used to kill 17 people and injure 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Prosecutor Mike Satz asked Sgt. Gloria Crespo of the Broward Sheriff’s Office to identify the Smith & Wesson rifle, which she had collected at the scene after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting, along with five magazines and a vest. The evidence was shown on the first day of the second week of the sentencing trial where a jury will decide if Florida will execute confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz.

The murder weapon. Image via AP.

Anybody can get monkeypox. Here’s how to get tested, treated and vaccinated in South Florida” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Anyone can get monkeypox, and the WHO now calls the rapid spread of the virus a global health emergency. In South Florida, the state’s epicenter, interest is high in containing new cases, even as the numbers climb almost daily. All it takes to get monkeypox is for someone with a blister to make skin-to-skin contact such as a prolonged hug or sexual encounter. The virus can also be transmitted from shared bedding or clothing that previously touched someone’s infectious rash or body fluids. Most cases so far are men who have had sex with other men, mostly because the initial cases began in that social community.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says Democrats can’t get climate change bills passed” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Suarez said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday that Democrats need to take a bipartisan approach if they hope to pass climate change legislation. Following a segment about a nationwide heatwave, host Margaret Brennan asked the Republican Mayor if he felt the GOP is taking climate change seriously. The 44-year-old attorney blamed Democrats for being unable to pass federal legislation and build consensus across the aisle. “Well, what we’re seeing at the national level is the only action that is occurring is the action that is taken on a bipartisan basis,” said Suarez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Democrats, unfortunately, have failed to be able to pass bills to address climate at any sort of scale.”

Miami-Dade Mayor picks new fire chief in latest shake-up of public safety leaders” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County has a new fire chief after the latest shuffle of public safety leadership under Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who shifted the current chief to a new position within the department and promoted his deputy to the top spot. Raied “Ray” Jadallah, deputy chief, takes over the 2,800-person department on Monday, Aug. 1, replacing Alan Cominsky, who will assume the newly created role of chief fire marshal within Fire Rescue.

Assignment editors — Miami Beach native and national disability advocate Sabrina Cohen will file paperwork for Miami Beach City Commission, 10 a.m., Miami Beach City Hall Clerk’s Office, 1st Floor.

Broward Sheriff’s detention deputy found guilty of battery after beating inmate with flashlight” via Chris Perkins and Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A veteran Broward Sheriff’s Office detention deputy was found guilty of battery after he hit an inmate’s fingers and hands with his flashlight over 40 times, Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor announced Friday. After a three-day trial and a two-hour deliberation, a jury found detention deputy Delroy Rose, 57, guilty of misdemeanor battery Thursday. The jury found that on Oct. 29, 2020, Rose, a 20-year veteran, repeatedly hit the inmate with his flashlight after the inmate threw a paper cup out of his cell while Rose and another staff member distributed medications in the North Broward Bureau male infirmary unit, a medical unit.

—”Who’s fueling the money race for Broward School Board? The top takeaways for the election” via Shira Moolten and Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Personnel note: Jessica Clasby named Palm Beach County Director for Florida Sugar Cane League — The League has promoted Clasby to serve as the organization’s Palm Beach County Director. Clasby moves up after joining the League in 2018 as a senior director of public relations. She earned a bachelor’s in organizational management and a master’s in leadership, both from Palm Beach Atlantic University. “Since coming to the Florida Sugar Cane League, Jessica has demonstrated a tremendous passion for local farming and an excitement for educating members of the public about sugarcane and vegetable farming in South Florida, and for this reason, she is a natural fit to lead our community outreach team,” said Ryan Weston, chief executive officer of the Florida Sugar Cane League.

Congrats to Jessica Clasby, newly named Palm Beach County Director for the Florida Sugar Cane League.

Why does Palm Beach County always have the highest gas prices?” via Susan Salisbury of The Palm Beach Post — No matter whether gas prices in Florida rise or fall, Palm Beach County almost always has the highest prices in the state. Why is that? Experts at AAA Auto Club South and Gas Buddy say there are many reasons for the dubious distinction. “The biggest difference-maker in Palm Beach County prices is based on the cost of living and operating a business. If it costs more to keep the lights on, then you are likely to find higher costs for consumers as well,” Tampa-based AAA representative Mark Jenkins said.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

The Florida Department of Health in Brevard issues monkeypox advisory” via Amira Sweilem of Florida Today — Though monkeypox has not yet arrived on the Space Coast, cases continue to multiply across Florida and the nation, prompting the Florida Department of Health to issue an advisory about the virus on July 25. The advisory comes after the World Health Organization declared the current monkeypox outbreak a global emergency two days earlier. Thus far there have been 273 cases across 16 counties in Florida, according to FDOH data. FDOH advised that if someone is infected with monkeypox, health care providers should immediately contact them. The DOH plans on informing and distributing preventative HIV medication known as post-exposure prophylaxis, to individuals who may have met someone who has monkeypox.

Monkeypox is making an appearance all over South Florida. Image via AP.

Will rent control calm Orange County’s housing crisis? Commissioners to debate Tuesday” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — With a ballot-addition deadline looming in August, Orange County Commissioners are expected Tuesday to again wrestle with a proposed rent-stabilization ordinance, which has key, unanswered questions. It’s unclear, for instance, how many of the estimated 230,000 apartment homes in Orange County could be rent-controlled. Voters need to approve the referendum on Nov. 8 to create the ordinance pushed by Commissioner Emily Bonilla to cap rent increases for a year. Also up for debate is whether the measure could survive a court challenge as state law discourages government price controls.

Rent stabilization is critical to help homeless problem” via Emily Bonilla of the Orlando Sentinel — Nearly 10 years ago, the former Orange County Mayor and County Commission undermined the will of the voters and prevented Earned Sick Time from being on the ballot. This was the first time in Orange County history that a citizen-led initiative, signed by over 50,000 county residents, was able to be placed on a ballot. What should have been celebrated as a historic moment of civic engagement for our community instead became a nationally recognized scandal and a glaring example of corporations calling the shots for their profit.

Orange schools ask voters to renew $20 a month tax for arts, sports” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County voters will be asked next month if they want to extend a special property tax that for 12 years has helped pay for teachers’ salaries and for arts, sports and extracurricular activities for students. The Orange County School Board hopes they renew the tax for another four years during the Aug. 23 election. If they do, school leaders expect the tax will raise about $818 million through the 2026-27 school year. The money will again be put toward paying teachers and preserving programs, officials said. Without it, the district’s 2023 budget would need to be cut by about $177 million. “It’s so important,” said School Board member Melissa Byrd.

Hospital care at home? Orlando Health asks state for the OK” via Christne Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Four hospitals in the Orlando Health System are asking state regulators to approve their plans to provide hospital-level health care in their patients’ homes. Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital, Arnold Palmer Medical Center, and Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center sent “variances” to the state last week, requesting the state authorize acute care at home programs. Immediate attempts to contact Orlando Health System for a comment Monday were unsuccessful. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville received approval from the state in December 2020, the first in the state.

Family alleging racist encounter at SeaWorld-owned Sesame Place hires Ben Crump” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — A Black family who alleges their young children faced racial discrimination from a costumed performer at Sesame Place Philadelphia earlier this month has retained civil rights attorney Crump, who is calling on its parent company, Orlando-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, to make amends. Records show the family has not yet filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld. In a news conference Saturday, Crump said he and attorney B’Ivory LaMarr have been in touch with SeaWorld’s executives and lawyers. After the girls’ mother and aunt uploaded a video of the incident to Instagram on July 16, other people posted videos involving the same character, known as Rosita, appearing to brush off Black children’s requests for hugs and high-fives along a parade route.

Cocoa may follow county in records request rule changes that could penalize requestors” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — Newly proposed changes to how Cocoa handles public records requests could see the city follow the county government’s lead by imposing new rules on how requests are invoiced and fulfilled. One of the biggest changes comes to those who may need to make multiple records requests within a 30-day period. Typically, a records request that takes less than 15 minutes to fulfill by city staff would be free under the old rules. But the new rule change gives staff more leeway in determining if multiple requests that may be related to each might all count as one together if those requests are made within a 30-day period. They would allow the city to charge for time spent over 15 minutes.

Linda Chaney delivers $1.5M to Parc Center for Disabilities” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Chaney hand-delivered a $1.5 million check to Parc Center for Disabilities, a nonprofit in St. Petersburg that provides resources and programming to children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The funding comes from an appropriation by the state of Florida that aims to improve inclusivity in the workforce and remove barriers to opportunities. The organization plans to use the funding to cover expenses related to Parc’s Adult Community Life Skills Inclusion Center for Employment Training, according to the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce. That includes funding a necessary renovation to the outdated facility, built in 1970, that houses these programs and services.

Linda Chaney gets to hand out the big check.

Huge Pasco County industrial employment hub gets nod from planning board” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — A massive job-generating development that will remake the area around the Interstate 75 and State Road 52 interchange has gotten a nod of approval from the Pasco County Planning Commission. The plan by Dallas-based developer PTC Boyette LLC brought protests from three generations of a family who established their homestead in the area decades ago. The County Commission will consider the rezoning in the weeks ahead but already gave a hefty vote of support when it approved a $55.8 million incentive package in June. The majority of the incentive package would come to the developer as property tax rebates as PTC Boyette builds the roads and other infrastructure for the project.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

Monkeypox appears in Sarasota County” via Bob Mudge of the Venice Gondolier — Sarasota County has its first confirmed case of monkeypox, which was just declared a global health emergency by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO. The Florida Department of Health-Sarasota is monitoring the presence of the disease locally, as is Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which has had a few suspected cases but no confirmed ones, according to representative Kim Savage. “Most patients do not have to be hospitalized and can safely recover at home,” she said. “With monkeypox on the rise around the state, we’re stepping up our education, preparedness and response plans.”

Workshop focuses on phosphate mining, wildlife” via Daniel Sutphin of The Arcadian — Wildlife preservation is the focus for an upcoming workshop regarding Mosaic and the potential of phosphate mining in DeSoto County. The workshop begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Turner Agri Civic Center, 2250 N.E. Roan Street, Arcadia. Mosaic owns around 23,000 acres of farmland in DeSoto County. The company wants 14,000 of those acres rezoned to allow mining. The workshops are part of a 2019 dispute settlement between the county and Mosaic, after County Commissioners denied the rezoning in 2018. They are set to continue through 2023.

From imagination to reality: 3D camp shows the way; ‘It’s a good skill’” via Steve Reilly of the Englewood Sun — More than a dozen Englewood young people were willing to give up a week of summer fun in the sun to test their skills at 3D printing. “It’s a good skill,” said 12-year-old Hugh Potter, one of several students attending Don Musilli’s weeklong 3D printing summer camps, learning how to take a design on a computer and transform it into reality. “You can make and sell things people use every day,” Hugh said. Eden Martin del Campo, 11, said 3D printing allows her and others to build what she imagines. In a moment of absolute honesty about his attendance at the 3D printing camp, 10-year-old Brooks Bailey said, “My parents told me to come,” but he added how he enjoyed “making things.”

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

Ghislaine Maxwell sent to ‘low security’ Tallahassee prison for role in Epstein sex-trafficking ring” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The disgraced British socialite Maxwell has been transferred to a low-security federal prison in Tallahassee, where she will serve a 20-year sentence for her role as an accomplice with Jeffrey Epstein in a decade-spanning sex-trafficking ring. In December, Maxwell, 60, was convicted of luring and grooming teenage girls to be sexually abused and exploited by Epstein — the wealthy financier who killed himself while in custody and awaiting trial in 2019. Maxwell will be eligible for release in July 2037, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Welcome to Tallahassee, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Family, friends launch ‘people’s investigation’ to defend Terrell Bradley following arrest” via Katie Delk of The Gainesville Sun — Friends and family of Bradley say they plan to take matters into their own hands due to a lack of action from the Gainesville Police Department. Bradley, 30, lost an eye and broke two fingers earlier this month after he ran from the police and was attacked by a K-9. Police found a stolen gun in his car while he hid in the bushes for nearly an hour until the dog found him and sent him to the hospital. Since that fateful evening, police have been more reactive than forthcoming, activists say. Only when Bradley’s supporters have taken action has GPD addressed the incident publicly via press release. Family members say it isn’t good enough.

Children’s Services Council in Leon County holds steady on tax rate, adds new member” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Children’s Services Council of Leon County Board recommended keeping the millage rate the same at 0.375%. A rise in property values in Leon County, however, makes this recommendation a tax increase under state law. “The additional revenue is coming from mostly new houses built in Leon County and resales,” said Paul Mitchell, a member of the council. The county’s property values have increased about 9.5%, according to the Leon County Property Appraiser. Next year, even though the millage rate stays the same, the council will generate $650,290 more in funds. Last summer, Leon County residents paid a property tax of $37.50 per $100,000 in taxable property value, which generated a little over $7 million for the organization’s work.

New district morgue planned for Santa Rosa could change counties over cost-sharing dispute” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — After concerns recently arose regarding the location of the future District 1 Medical Examiner’s Office, Santa Rosa County commissioners have remained steadfast in their support of building the new facility in Santa Rosa. A specific site within the county is yet to be chosen. “The discussion’s always been Santa Rosa County. There’s a little bit of pushback right now from Escambia County,” said Commission Chair Bob Cole. The Medical Examiner’s Office serves Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties and currently is located in Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. Officials wanted a facility larger than the current 4,000-square-foot space with a more central location among the four counties.

School district wrongfully overbilling, redacting information on Camp Crystal, experts say” via Andrew Caplan of The Gainesville Sun — Legal experts say the Alachua County school district is running afoul of Florida’s public record law by overbilling, redacting too much and shielding names in documents requested by The Gainesville Sun. In response to a request made by the newspaper in May regarding concerns at Camp Crystal, the district argues that first names and nicknames mentioned in texts, emails and applications are exempt from public disclosure because that person may have ties to law enforcement or a child in an after-school/summer recreational program. Though the district acknowledged it doesn’t actually know whether all those people are exempt, they redacted names anyway out of precaution, including names of school principals and job candidates.

First female Blue Angel jet pilot is more than a celebration. It’s history long overdue.” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — An incoming Blue Angels pilot broke a barrier last week that wasn’t just the speed of sound. U.S. Navy Lt. Amanda Lee was named the first-ever female F-18 fighter pilot to become a Blue Angels team member Monday. Whether a “glass ceiling” that resulted in the Blues going decades without a woman in the cockpit of an F-18 was real or perceived, Lee’s appointment to the Blues has shattered it. “Yeah,” said retired U.S. Navy Capt. Lee Hansen. “It’s a big deal.”

Broken glass ceiling: Navy Lt. Amanda Lee is the first woman to join the famed Blue Angels as a pilot. Image via U.S. Navy.

— TOP OPINION —

I used to be optimistic about America’s future. Not anymore.” via Max Boot of The Washington Post — Near the end of last week’s Jan. 6 House committee hearing, former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, a perpetually cheerful former Marine, said the attack on the Capitol “emboldened our enemies by helping give them ammunition to feed a narrative that our system of government doesn’t work, that the United States is in decline. China, the (Vladimir) Putin regime in Russia, Tehran, they’re fond of pushing those kinds of narratives — and by the way, they’re wrong.”

But are they wrong?

They certainly have been to date; the United States has been defying predictions of doom for more than two centuries. But, as the ads for mutual funds say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. We need to take seriously the possibility that the United States could become a failed democracy, if only to avert that dire fate.

There’s a good reason that 85% of respondents in a recent survey said the country is headed in the wrong direction.

As political scientist Brian Klaas just wrote in The Atlantic, given that the GOP has become “authoritarian to its core,” there are two main ways to save America: Either reform the Republican Party or ensure that it never wields power again. But a MAGA-fied GOP is likely to gain control of at least one chamber of Congress in the fall and could win complete power in 2024.

We seem to be sleepwalking to disaster.

— OPINIONS —

Florida started penalizing bureaucratic delay. Housing permits spiked.” via Hayden Dublois of The Washington Post — Rising interest rates aren’t the only thing holding back homebuyers. So is a nationwide shortage of actual homes. America needs more than 5 million new houses to meet demand. With sales of existing homes slowing, the need for more new houses is only growing. Florida, my home state, might have found part of the solution: Reform the permitting process so that building houses is easier. Last year, DeSantis signed a bill that fundamentally changes the state’s permitting process for home building. It requires local jurisdictions to post online not only their permitting processes but also the status of permit applications. Transparency takes a good amount of mystery out of what can be an inscrutable branch of bureaucracy.

Why won’t DeSantis condemn neo-Nazi demonstration outside GOP event in Tampa?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Neo-Nazi demonstrators in Florida climbed out from under their rock again on Saturday, this time outside a major Republican conference, Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit, held in Tampa. They put their hate-filled ideology on full and repugnant display, waving flags with swastikas and White-supremacist SS bolts, and hoisting placards with anti-Semitic slurs. And somewhere in the mix of demonstrators, a “DeSantis Country” flag was unfurled.

Trump’s Tampa visit proves he won’t go away quietly” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Trump spoke at a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa a week or so before the 2016 Presidential Election. As I drove past the jammed parking lot that night, I was struck by how many people attended. The moment was a revelation that something seismic was afoot and an “uh oh” for me. It was the first time I believed Trump actually could win. It scared me then and still does. I had the same reaction to the ex-President’s appearance at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit over the weekend. This greeting didn’t come from disgruntled seniors who caravanned from the Villages to pay homage. Those roaring their approval for Trump represent the coveted 18-to-30-something demographic both major political parties crave. And this crowd, at least, loved Trump. They connect with him.

An ‘inspiration,’ my foot! They remained Trumpers almost to the very end” via Matt Bai of the Miami Herald — I don’t want to be uncharitable toward the witnesses who have come before the nation to testify about the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Many have shown genuine courage and patriotism. I think of Cassidy Hutchinson, an idealistic 26-year-old aide who found herself caught between her conscience and the men who were supposed to be her mentors. It took strong character for Hutchinson to tell her story while the superiors she trusted dodged subpoenas. But I felt far less moved Thursday night as I watched former White House aides Sarah Matthews and Matthew Pottinger take their turns as John Dean wannabes. I don’t share Rep. Liz Cheney’s view that Matthews and Pottinger should be long remembered for their “bravery and honor.”

The impending miseducation of Florida’s schoolchildren” via Diane Roberts of Florida Phoenix — DeSantis wants the young ’uns educated with no unfair criticism of the Greatest Country that Ever Was. To that end, he’s bringing in a curriculum from Hillsdale College, a righteous institution where they love the Lord, the flag, and capitalism, not necessarily in that order. Teachers are the problem. As Hillsdale President Dr. Larry Arnn says, they’re “trained in the dumbest part of the dumbest colleges in the country.” For all you God-fearing, teacher-hamstringing, decent opposite-gender parents out there, here’s the kind of patriotic curriculum DeSantis and Hillsdale will soon be bringing to a homeroom near you.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Discovery’s ‘Shark Week’ hopes to enchant and thrill viewers” via Mark Kennedy of The Associated Press — If you think you’re safe avoiding sharks by simply staying out of the water, think again. A few species of epaulette sharks have evolved to move their pectoral fins in the front and pelvic fins in the back to plod along outside the water at low tide. Just to be perfectly clear: That’s on land. Relax, none are going to chase you home. They’re just wriggling. “They’re not sprinting. There are no ankle-biters coming to get anybody. It’s just this fascinating behavior taking place,” says wildlife conservationist and biologist Forrest Galante.

Time to hit the water: Shark Week 2022 is here! Image via AP.

Paul Sorvino, actor in ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘That Championship Season,’ dies at 83” via Mike Barnes of The Hollywood Reporter — Sorvino, the burly character actor who made a career out of playing forceful types, most notably the coldhearted mobster Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, has died. He was 83. Sorvino, the father of Oscar-winning actor Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), died Monday of natural causes, his wife, Dee Dee, announced. Wrote Mira on Twitter: “My heart is rent asunder — a life of love and joy and wisdom with him is over. He was the most wonderful father. I love him so much. I’m sending you love in the stars, Dad, as you ascend.” Publicist Roger Neal said he died at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ trailer nabs 172 million views in 24 hours, one of Marvel’s biggest” via Zack Sharf and J. Kim Murphy of Variety — The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” teaser trailer nabbed 172 million views in its first 24 hours, becoming one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s top trailer debuts for a superhero movie, a source close to Marvel confirmed the viewership number to Variety. The teaser also set social media ablaze, with topics relating to “Black Panther” garnering over 893,000 mentions. Chadwick Boseman, Namor, Shuri, T’Challa, Ryan Coogler and Angela Bassett all became national trending topics after the teaser’s debut, and the hashtag #WakandaForever held the No. 1 trending spot for over five consecutive hours. The teaser marked the first unveiling of the “Black Panther” sequel, which marks the next feature film entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:

UF basketball to play Thanksgiving Day in opener Phil Knight Legacy tournament” via the Ocala Star Banner — Florida men’s basketball will face Xavier on Thanksgiving Day in the opening round of the Phil Knight Legacy event in Portland, Oregon. The 5:30 p.m. game on Nov. 24 will air on ESPN2 from Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Florida makes its first holiday tournament appearance under head coach Todd Golden, while Sean Miller takes over at Xavier for a second stint as the team’s head coach. The Gators and Musketeers notably met in the 2019 Charleston Classic championship game, a 70-65 Gators victory. The teams most recently squared off in this past season’s National Invitation Tournament second round, a Musketeers win in Cincinnati with both teams being coached by interim head coaches. Florida is 2-3 all-time vs. Xavier and 1-1 in neutral-site games.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, state Rep. Richard Stark, Carol Bowen of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Andrew Gillum, Pete Murray, and Jason Steele.

___

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.


One comment

  • Tom

    July 26, 2022 at 8:10 am

    Peter, another day no state unemployment report from FP?

    2.8% jobs report for Florida in June. How can that be ignored?

    Americas Gov, Rising tide for all Floridians, not tacos perJoe and Jill.

    Biden’s recession will devastate America and Dems will pay political costs.

Comments are closed.


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