Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.16.22

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Here's your morning briefing on what you need to know about Florida politics.

Good Friday morning.

Inflation is a major concern for Floridians, and it’s been affecting their summer travel plans. But there’s a silver lining.

A new statewide survey from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) shows that 85% of respondents are concerned or very concerned about the current rate of inflation and that 56% said the higher costs because of inflation have hurt their family budgets.

Of respondents who traveled this summer, 63% said they did so within the state.

Staycation is the word of Summer 2022, which is good for Florida’s economy.

“The results of this survey closely resemble those from our poll in May,” said Monica Escaleras, director of FAU BEPI in the College of Business. “We see that due to inflation, Floridians who traveled for vacation this summer adjusted their plans. The good news is that those who traveled stayed close to home, which certainly helped Florida’s economy.”

Nearly 48% of respondents said they shortened a previously planned trip because of higher costs. About 62% said higher gas prices made them rethink summer vacations.

Less than a quarter of those surveyed said their vacation travel plans were not altered by recent inflation.

While inflation may be altering travel plans, a bummer for those affected, experts suggest those within the hospitality and tourism sector have some long-term hope.

Florida Atlantic University Hospitality and Tourism Management Program Director Peter Ricci said the high rates charged immediately after COVID-19 lockdowns are not sustainable and recommends businesses restore consumer confidence by offering exceptional value over the next year.

“Pricing right to entice travelers with inflation in mind may help your business stand out from the competition,” Ricci said. “While discounting is not the answer to business profitability, value-building, whenever possible, will gain long-term fans for your hotel, restaurant or airline.”

The FAU BEPI poll was conducted among 431 respondents with a margin of error of 4.72 percentage points.


Management consulting firm Indelible is adding to its public affairs leadership team with the hire of Mario Bailey as vice president of Public Affairs.

In his new role, Bailey will lead the firm’s state government affairs and brand management strategy including media and public relations.

Bailey, a ten-year government relations veteran, brings a deep understanding of the governmental relations and legislative processes at the federal, state and local levels for various entities including public school districts, universities and nonprofits.

Before joining Indelible, he served in two senior-level government advisory and consultant roles for Converge Public Strategies and Becker & Poliakoff.

Mario Bailey is making his mark at Indelible.

His career also includes serving as the former Chief of Staff for state Rep. Dwight Bullard and on the campaign for former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia. He currently serves on the executive board of the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC), and previously served as the immediate past chair. He was appointed to the SFRPC board by former Gov. Rick Scott.

“Indelible is not a typical management consulting firm,” Bailey said. “The work we do has a visible and lasting impact on the lives of families across the nation, and I’m honored to lend my time and talents to expand the footprint and shape the brand of such a conscientious company.”

Founded in 2018, Indelible has become an industry leader in providing management consulting services to state and local government agencies as well as businesses that administer public programs and services.


📈 — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio may be the favorite in his re-election battle, but U.S. Rep. Val Demings stands to benefit now that a MAGA-fied candidate has secured the GOP nomination in the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race, likely taking the state out of play this cycle.


@Alex_Roarty: Per pooler @stevennelson10, (Joe) Biden talked about (Ron) DeSantis/(Greg) Abbott transportation of migrants: “Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props. What they’re doing is simply wrong, it’s un-American, it’s reckless …”

Tweet, tweet:

@TheRickWilson: I notice Marco is pretty quiet of DeSantis shipping Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

@BradMossEsq: In sixteen years, I have NEVER had a judge just blithely dismiss classification markings on a government document and say it’s something that is up for debate.

@KirbyWTweets: walking into my local comptroller’s office and yelling all right buddy that’s it, you’re out of comptrol

Tweet, tweet:


Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, a national day off in Britain — 3; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 5; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 16; 22-23 NHL season begins — 21; deadline to register for General Election — 28; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 32; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 34; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 35; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 38; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 39; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 39; Early voting begins for General Election — 43; 2022 General Election — 53; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 56; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 56; FITCon 2022 begins — 62; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 62; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 66; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 66; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 75; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 75; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 81; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 91; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 138; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 154; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 172; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 189; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 214; 2023 Session Sine Die — 231; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 231; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 259; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 308; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 413; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 427; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 560; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 679; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 679; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 784; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 962.


AP poll: Joe Biden approval rises sharply ahead of Midterms” via Josh Boak and Hannah Fingerhut of The Associated Press — Biden’s popularity improved substantially from his lowest point this summer, but concerns about his handling of the economy persist, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Support for Biden recovered from a low of 36% in July to 45%, driven in large part by a rebound in support from Democrats just two months before the November Midterm Elections. During a few bleak summer months when gasoline prices peaked and lawmakers appeared deadlocked, the Democrats faced the possibility of blowout losses against Republicans.

Joe Biden is on the rise.

Their outlook appears better after notching a string of legislative successes that left more Americans ready to judge the Democratic President on his preferred terms: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.”

The President’s approval rating remains underwater, with 53% of U.S. adults disapproving of him, and the economy continues to be a weakness for Biden. Just 38% approve of his economic leadership as the country faces stubbornly high inflation and Republicans try to make household finances the axis of the upcoming vote.

Still, the poll suggests Biden and his fellow Democrats are gaining momentum right as generating voter enthusiasm and turnout takes precedence.


Charlie Crist calls Ron DeSantis unqualified for Governor after flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Crist called a news conference one day after reporters confirmed that Florida flew immigrants who crossed the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard, a symbol of Democratic elites. DeSantis first voiced his intent to send immigrants who crossed the border illegally to Martha’s Vineyard and Delaware, the home state of Biden, in late 2021. Speaking to reporters, Crist called the act “disgusting and vile” and a political move to rile up his base in preparation for a presidential bid. “When you are this inhumane in how you treat human beings, you’re not qualified to be Governor of anything,” Crist said Thursday. “This is somebody that’s really not in control of his faculties,” he continued.

Charlie Crist slams Ron DeSantis for going too far by shipping out immigrants.

Crist to file Sunshine Law request on DeSantis immigration ‘stunt’ — Crist is sending a Sunshine Law request demanding the DeSantis administration answer for its most recent political “stunt” — sending 50 Venezuelan and Colombian migrants to Texas with “false promises of jobs,” and instead flying them to Martha’s Vinyard. Crist called it a “heartless ploy that is costing Florida taxpayers $12 million.” The request, following the Public Records Act, Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes, requests “all emails, texts, and other forms of internal communication within the Governor’s office related to the relocation program.”

Assignment editors — Crist will take part in the following events: 9:45 a.m., “Taking it to (Ashely) Moody and DeSantis” news conference, Tallahassee; 10:45 a.m., veterans’ roundtable, Tallahassee. Location upon RSVP at [email protected].

DeSantis defends sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Critics blast ‘inhumane’ stunt” via Ana Ceballos and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — The day after Florida took credit for sending two planeloads of undocumented immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, DeSantis suggested the flights were to “protect” the state while the backlash swelled, with critics decrying the flights as an inhumane political stunt. The political furor mounted as human-rights advocates rushed to the popular Massachusetts island vacation spot to help the mostly Venezuelan migrants who, for now, were housed in a church. “It is unconscionable to treat human beings — especially members of such a vulnerable population — like pawns to make a political point,” said a statement by the Boston-based group Lawyers for Civil Rights.

DeSantis compared to Fidel Castro over migrant flights — The Florida Democratic Party highlighted an Actualidad Radio host’s reaction to DeSantis flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, comparing it to when Castro forcibly relocated people from the Escambray to Pinar del Río in the early 1960s. “In these images, you see people that have been thrown, with nothing but some small bags. My God, this is truly painful to watch. Holding small bags with what little they have, thrown there, and they just arrived. This is happening right now. Truly, this is criminal,” reads a translation of Rodríguez Tejera’s comments. FDP Chair Manny Diaz commented, “There is nothing that DeSantis won’t do, and nobody that he won’t hurt, in order to score political points.”

Nikki Fried calls for federal probe of DeSantis ‘morally reprehensible’ migrant relocation plan” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Fried says DeSantis has “fallen to a new low” for trying to “score political points” by flying undocumented migrants out of Florida, and she’s asking U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the matter. “Gov. DeSantis has fallen to a new low, using families and children to gain political attention for his own ambitions. However, you may feel about our immigration situation, transporting 50 migrants across the country to a small town without notice shows a complete disregard for human life, and very well may be illegal,” she said in a statement.

The political calculations behind DeSantis’ migrant flights north” via Blake Hounshell of The New York Times —The airlift, a spokesperson for DeSantis said, “was part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.” She added: “States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies.” Of course, there is no such “open border.” Many of these migrants are utilizing U.S. asylum laws for a court hearing to determine whether they qualify to stay in the United States, just as thousands did during the Donald Trump administration and the Barack Obama administration before that. And in most cases, they were apprehended by federal law enforcement agents or turned themselves in, enabling DeSantis to bundle them onto planes in the first place.

— 2022 —

Happening Saturday:

Dana Trabulsy dominating money race in HD 84 re-election bid” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Trabulsy is getting significant support from the state Republican Party as she makes her first re-election bid in a district that went for Trump by less than 2 percentage points. But it looks like her Democratic rival in the race to represent House District 84, retired Memorial Health executive Forest Blanton, has not begun to raise much money. For the period from Aug. 1 to Sept. 9, Trabulsy raised $40,750, compared to the $1,379 Blanton raised between Aug. 6 to Aug. 26. His report covering the period from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9, due Friday, has not yet been submitted.

‘Ghost’ candidate claim in Osceola Commission race sparks lawsuit, investigation” via Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — A lawsuit has been filed by Osceola County District 4 Commission candidate Jackie Espinosa, who claims one of the candidates in the three-way Primary was paid to run in a scheme to steal Hispanic votes, allowing the incumbent to retain her seat. Espinosa’s suit, filed in circuit court last week, seeks to have the election invalidated, forcing a new election. Named as defendants are members of the Osceola County Canvassing Board, District 4 seat-holder Cheryl Greib and candidate Carlos Irizarry Sr., a former Kissimmee City Commissioner.

Jackie Espinosa says her race was haunted by a ‘ghost’ candidate.

The man behind Florida’s most widely used campaign finance software is a pro-Confederacy White supremacist” via Claire Goforth of the Daily Dot — The Daily Dot recently discovered that one of the companies the state authorizes to provide campaigns and political action committees (PACs) with campaign finance software is owned by an open and avowed White supremacist who still praises the Confederacy. Stephen Clay McGehee owns Adjutant Workshop, one of eight companies the Division of Elections approves to provide this service. A simple web search for his name brings up websites where he says there is “very clear evidence that efforts to destroy our people and our culture are consistently traced back to Jews, and that Blacks have built an entire business model of playing the victim with our people as the villain.”


Tropical Storm Fiona moving toward Caribbean. Slow strengthening possible over next few days” via Cheryl McCloud of The Palm Beach Post — Tropical Storm Fiona is moving toward the Caribbean, and the storm is expected to continue strengthening. Current projections from the National Hurricane Center call for Fiona’s maximum sustained winds to reach 70 mph in five days. Dry air and wind shear in its path, along with passage over land, could cause the storm to lose intensity. The National Weather Service in Miami said Fiona is not considered a threat to South Florida “at this time.” Depending on the tropical system’s track and should any of the tropical moisture from the rainstorm survive the strong winds of the Caribbean, there could be another round of tropical downpours in parts of Florida next week.

DeSantis puts $20M to train truckers and set up apprenticeship programs for trade jobs” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida will spend more than $20 million to set up apprenticeship programs for trade jobs such as industrial technicians and heavy equipment drivers, as well as educating and training truckers, DeSantis revealed Thursday. The grant funds will give $12 million to apprenticeship programs and $8.2 million to five state colleges to expand existing trucking education and training programs. “If you look at the economy, there’s a lot of demand for traditional skilled trades and other things that require different types of training than maybe what you would get at the university,” DeSantis said at an event in Niceville. “Not everybody is going to be coding or involved in tech or some of this other stuff.”

Ron DeSantis leans into apprenticeship and trade school education.

Education Department requests $23.9B for 2023-24 budget — The Florida Board of Education is requesting $23.9 billion in funding for the next fiscal year, Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reports. The request represents an $880 million increase over the current year’s budget, with the new funding going toward things such as school safety and teacher recruitment. The recruitment funding would give $4,000 bonuses to 2,000 military veterans and first responders and $1,000 awards for about 1,000 teachers in “critical” shortage areas. “I feel very strongly that there are some really very, very good recommendations in this legislative budget request that continue to move the conversation and focus on school safety forward,” K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva said during a Board of Education conference call.

AMBest report shows Florida insurers far out of line on reinsurance dependency” via William Rabb of Insurance Journal — Florida property carriers are extremely reliant on the reinsurance market, making them vulnerable to coming price hikes, and AM Best report says. Despite that, AM Best is willing to consider rating more Florida insurers as the state grapples with how to manage the fallout left after Demotech announced potential downgrades of more than a dozen companies. AM Best managing director Jeff Mango cast doubt on Florida lawmakers’ reported plans to create a state-run rating firm. “You ultimately have to look at the default rates among rated insurers per rating level and the performance across different rating agencies. If Florida insurance companies’ default rates remain high, will a state rating agency do any better than rating firms do now?” Mango asked. “I would challenge that idea.”

Medicaid $15 minimum wage takes effect Oct. 1, but providers say they won’t have the money” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Home- and community-based providers responsible for assisting the poor and elderly enrolled in Florida’s Medicaid managed long-term care programs are worried about meeting a new $15-per-hour minimum wage requirement for direct care workers that takes effect Oct. 1. Lawmakers earmarked an additional $135.9 million for Medicaid managed care long-term care plans to cover the increased salary costs. The home- and community-based providers that contract with the managed care plans say the money won’t flow from the health plans to them quickly enough for them to cover the increased salary costs.

What’s next for Florida’s GOP majority during 2023 Session?” via Forrest Saunders of WPTV — Speculation has grown that Republicans will attempt to further restrict abortion access in the coming year. During a 15-minute interview, GOP Rep. Daniel Perez kept the door open for such an effort. “We have to make sure that every single unborn child has the ability to live the life that you and I are living,” Perez said. “While we’re in election season, we haven’t had the opportunity to begin to file a bill. So, there hasn’t been any bill that has been, you know, shown to us or given to us by the Governor’s Office, as of yet — at least not for me personally. But I’m sure shortly after the election in November, that’ll be one of the hotter topics.”


White House announces ‘tentative’ deal to avert rail strike” via Lauren Kaori Gurley and Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — With less than 24 hours to avoid a potential shutdown, Biden said that negotiators had clinched a “tentative” deal to keep freight trains running and prevent a major disruption to the nation’s supply chains. The agreement provides workers with the ability to take days off for sick leave and medical emergencies — the unions’ central demand in negotiations — although it granted them only one day of paid sick leave, according to two people briefed on the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it had not yet been publicly announced. The agreement, which must still be ratified by the unions, represents a major breakthrough for the White House after it launched an all-out effort to prevent a shutdown.

Amtrak to restore all canceled train routes following tentative labor agreement” via Omar Rodríguez Ortiz of the Miami Herald — Amtrak is working to restore all canceled train routes Thursday after freight rail companies and labor unions reached a tentative agreement to avoid a strike. The company said in a brief statement that it is reaching out to affected customers to accommodate them on the first available departures.

Amtrak gets back on track after a rail strike is averted.

Janet Yellen defends IRS cash infusion, plugs customer service plans” via Laura Weiss of Roll Call — The IRS will use part of its new $80 billion influx of cash to fully staff in-person help centers, increase phone and online services, and assemble a team of experts to guide the agency’s customer service efforts, Treasury Secretary Yellen said. Speaking at the IRS’ New Carrollton facility in Lanham, Maryland, Yellen emphasized that Democrats’ budget infusion for the tax-collecting agency will allow it to modernize, moving away from aging computer systems, over-reliance on paper filings and traditional mail, and other outdated practices. Democrats’ climate, tax and health care law containing nearly $80 billion for the IRS “provides the funding to transform the IRS into a 21st-century agency,” Yellen said. “While all the improvements won’t be done overnight, taxpayers can expect to feel real differences during the next filing season.”

Feds in Florida and two other states to lead crackdown on COVID-19 relief fraud” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — After losing billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds due to phony claims, the U.S. government has started deploying investigative teams in South Florida, California and Maryland to zero in on criminal organizations that are suspected of stealing from public programs offering small business loans and unemployment insurance. The federal strike-force teams were picked in these states because they boast the resources to help combat the escalating problem across the country, federal authorities said in an announcement Wednesday. “In some ways, this is a novel approach dictated by the type of fraud we’re dealing with,” Kevin Chambers, the Justice Department’s associate deputy attorney general, said.

Sending migrants out of state, GOP Governors stoke political fight” via Will Sennott, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Eileen Sullivan, Michael D. Shear and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — The decisions by Abbott of Texas to send two busloads of people to Harris’ residence, and DeSantis to send two planeloads to the moneyed Massachusetts retreat were their most conspicuous attempts yet to provoke outrage over record arrivals at the border, with scores of migrants inserted into the political fight. The two Governors do not appear to have coordinated their transport. Biden promised to turn back his predecessor’s border policies, calling them inhumane and ineffective. But court challenges, internal disagreements inside the White House and large numbers of migrants have made that difficult. The Biden administration viewed the tactic as a political stunt by Republicans determined to harness anti-immigrant sentiment ahead of the congressional midterm elections.

2 busloads of migrants dropped off near VP Kamala Harris’ residence” via The Associated Press — Two buses of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border were dropped off near Vice President Harris’ home in residential Washington on Thursday morning in the bitter political battle over the Biden administration’s immigration policies. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been busing migrants out of Texas to cities with Democratic mayors as part of a political strategy this year because he claims there are too many arrivals over the border to his state. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also has adopted this policy, and DeSantis also got in on the act recently. It was first dreamed up by Trump.

Kamala Harris gets some unexpected visitors.

In latest IRS bash, Rick Scott claims new agents will ‘harass our families’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “They have 87,000 more IRS agents, so they’re just going to go out to go and harass all of our families,” Scott complained. “This is wrong.” Scott made the comments at the National Conservatism Convention, in a friendly interview with the right-of-center One America News Network. Scott’s assertion agents would harass the families of Scott and others went unchallenged in his interview. “We aren’t talking about joining your local police force, or even the U.S. military — this is the federal agency charged with collecting taxes. The IRS is making it very clear that you not only need to be ready to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors, and friends, you need to be ready and, to use the IRS’s words, willing, to kill them,” Scott alleged.

Top GOP Senate candidates gather for series of fundraisers” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — More than a half-dozen Republican Senate candidates are set to embark on a multi-stop fundraising swing through Florida, as they confront a massive cash disadvantage heading into the final stretch of the Midterm Elections. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and its chair, Florida Sen. Scott, are set to host three events, which will be attended by eight Senate candidates. The fundraisers — which are to take place in Naples, Palm Beach and Miami — are expected to raise $3.5 million total, with $2 million going to the committee and $1.5 million spread out among the candidates.

—“With control on the line, these 10 Senators are most vulnerable” via Kate Ackley, Stephanie Akin and Mary Ellen McIntire of Roll Call


Donald Trump says he ‘can’t imagine’ being indicted, argues it wouldn’t deter running again” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — Trump on Thursday said he “can’t imagine being indicted” over his handling of classified documents or a scheme to put forward alternate electors after the 2020 election, but that if he were, it would not deter him from a possible White House run in 2024. “I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it,” Trump added. “And as you know, if a thing like that happened, I would have no prohibition against running. You know that.” Trump in the interview claimed he had no involvement in a plot to put forward alternate electors in Georgia that would have tipped the state for him despite Biden winning by thousands of votes, though he insisted the concept was “very common.”

An indictment won’t stop Donald Trump from running again.

New York Attorney General may sue Trump after rejecting settlement offer” via Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum of The New York Times — The New York Attorney General’s office has rebuffed an offer from Trump’s lawyers to settle a contentious civil investigation into the former President and his family real estate business, setting the stage for a lawsuit that would accuse Trump of fraud. The Attorney General, Letitia James, is also considering suing at least one of Trump’s adult children, the people said.

Trump’s Save America paid $3 million to cover top lawyer’s legal work” via Betsy Woodruff Swan of POLITICO — Trump’s outside spending arm has paid $3 million to cover attorney Chris Kise’s legal work representing the former President. The $3 million paid by Save America PAC is a significant sum and comes as Trump faces a number of federal and state probes that will require substantial legal help. It may not cover all the work Kise will do for Trump. Kise is representing the former President on both the Justice Department’s probe of the Jan. 6 attack and on the investigation of the sensitive documents Trump brought with him to Mar-a-Lago after his presidency ended.


What Miami Venezuelans think of migrants taken to Martha’s Vineyard: ‘This is a new low’” via Grethel Aguila of the Miami Herald — When Maria Corina Vegas took the stand in Downtown Doral Park, she moved her hands up and down the Venezuelan flag in front of her. “Where would this city be if not for the blood, sweat and tears of the Venezuelan immigrants?” she said. Miami-based immigration activists gathered at the park Thursday to denounce DeSantis’ administration. “The governor likes to pander to communities like mine, traumatized by political persecution and violence,” she said. “This is a new low, even for this governor.” The economy needs immigrants now more than ever, Vegas said. Key sectors of Florida’s economy, like agriculture and hospitality, are in dire need of workers.

Milestone for Miami: First Haitian American nominee for U.S. attorney named by Biden” via Jay Weaver and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Miami attorney Markenzy Lapointe, a former U.S. Marine and federal prosecutor who was raised in Haiti and Liberty City, was nominated by Biden to become the next U.S. Attorney in South Florida. If confirmed by the Senate, Lapointe would become the first Black lawyer to serve in the most powerful federal law enforcement position in South Florida. Lapointe has long been considered the front-runner for the position because of his broad legal background and American Dream immigrant backstory, a combination that aligns with Biden’s 2020 campaign pledge to appoint more people of color and women to federal leadership and judicial posts.

Markenzy Lapointe could make history as the first Haitian American U.S. Attorney for South Florida.

Broward Sheriff’s deputy charged with DUI and reckless driving after rear-ending car while speeding” via Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward Sheriff’s deputy has been arrested months after he allegedly was driving under the influence, speeding over 30 mph above the speed limit seconds before crashing his unmarked unit into another car. Deputy Carlos Aurelio Hernandez was arrested on charges stemming from the early-morning crash on May 15, the Sheriff’s Office announced. He faces half a dozen charges, including DUI with serious bodily injury to another, two counts of DUI with damage to property or person, reckless driving causing serious bodily injury, and two counts of reckless driving causing damage to person or property.

State board member: Broward superintendent should be removed over grand jury and masks” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A State Board of Education leader suggested Broward Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright should be removed from her job, both for issues outlined in a grand jury report and her prior defense of mask mandates. The comments from Tom Grady, chair of the state board, came during a conference call after K-12 Education Chancellor Jacob Oliva gave an update on the Aug. 19 release of the grand jury report.

Efforts to douse big vegetative debris fire underway; ‘appreciable change’ within six days” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Millions of gallons of water have been delivered to help flood a massive vegetative debris fire that’s burned for weeks and created smoke detectable for miles, St. Lucie County Fire District Chief Nate Spera said. The water is delivered via a long ditch or aqueduct to the fire in the area of Glades Cut Off and Range Line roads and comes from a 36-inch pipe at a rate of 4,000 gallons per minute, according to Sarah Prohaska, communications director for the City of Port St. Lucie. “As of 8:15 this morning (Thursday), about 3.1 million gallons have been delivered to the site.”

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Judge rules Orange County rent control ordinance can stay on the ballot” via Steven Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County voters will get to decide on a rent-cap ordinance that may be illegal, a judge has ruled. “The elected representatives of the citizens of Orange County, Florida have determined that it is in the best interest of those citizens to place a matter before them that is, in this Court’s opinion, contrary to established law.” “The Court should not substitute its judgment of public interest for the people’s elected representatives,” Circuit Judge Jeff Ashton wrote in a 10-page order. The Florida Apartment Association, which claims its members own 80% of rental housing in Orange County, and the Florida Realtors had sued last month seeking an injunction against a rent stabilization ordinance that would impose a one-year cap on rent increases.

Orange County voters will get their say about rent control.

Brevard County increasing pay for some firefighters because of state mandate” via Ralph Chapoco and Dave Berman of Florida Today — Some 187 Brevard County Fire Rescue employees will soon be receiving raises to comply with new state guidelines that their pay level be at least $15 an hour. The requirement is based on legislation approved by the Legislature and signed into law by DeSantis, establishing that $15 minimum pay for providers of Medicaid services like BCFR. That potentially adds another $1.3 million in associated expenses to the county budget, some of which can be offset by additional funding from the state to comply with the mandate. That additional funding, regardless of the amount, will leave the county on the hook for at least a portion of the increased cost.

West Melbourne names eight finalists to replace retired police chief Richard Wiley” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — One of eight finalists entered contract negotiations to potentially become West Melbourne’s next police chief. That finalist remains unidentified. West Melbourne City Manager Tim Rhodes has chosen his preferred candidate and contract negotiations are underway. Wednesday, he declined to divulge the person’s identity until after an employment offer is accepted. The West Melbourne City Council is expected to vote on Rhode’s selection on Oct. 4. Four out of five council members must concur to hire the new police chief, per the newly amended city charter. All told, a field of 58 people applied to replace retired West Melbourne police chief Richard Wiley.

Tiger Bay to explore Tampa and its beloved Cuban sandwich” via Florida Politics — What’s the deal with the Cuban sandwich, and why is it such a big deal in Tampa? Find out at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club meeting Friday. Authors Andy Huse, Bárbara Cruz and Jeff Houck will share points from their book, “The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers,” exploring the evolution of Tampa’s signature sandwich. Was the Cuban sandwich really invented in Tampa? Is it even a Cuban sandwich if it’s not hot and pressed? Is Miami the real home of the Cuban sandwich? And how did a simple mix of savory ingredients become known as a Cuban sandwich? The trio of authors relied on historical documents from Cuba to Tampa and beyond to establish their surprising findings.


Lee Co. GOP demands Special Session to bar FBI and IRS, brands WHO as terrorists” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Lee County Republicans officially branded international health and economic groups as terrorists and demanded Florida restrict the IRS and FBI. At a special meeting of the Lee County Republican Executive Committee (REC), members passed a series of resolutions related to hot-button issues. That included unanimous passage of a resolution that criticized Dominion and ES&S voting machines and called for Florida to only allow paper ballots. Supporters of Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen have leveled accusations about the security and accuracy of Dominion voting machines, and activists in multiple states have sought to nix any technology from the company.

Lee Schools superintendent sends messages to parents after second weapon found on campus” via Nikki Ross of the Fort Myers News-Press — After at least two incidents of weapons found on campuses and a school shooting threat, Lee County School District Superintendent Christopher Bernier reached out to parents via voicemail and email Wednesday evening. In his messages, Bernier asked parents for their help by sitting down and speaking with their children about appropriate behavior both online and in school. He also asked parents to make sure their students know the consequences of their behaviors and their responsibility to keep learning environments safe.

Christopher Bernier tries to calm nervous parents after another weapon was found on campus.

A Proud Boy and Michael Flynn Were Elected to a Republican Executive Committee in Florida” via Tess Owen of Vice — Much like termites nesting in the walls of a house, members of the Proud Boys and other right-wing extremists are quietly building inroads into local GOP politics in Florida. The latest example of this trend comes out of Sarasota County, where Proud Boy James Hoel and conspiracy theorist Michael Flynn recently landed seats on the Republican executive committee. Retired general Flynn and Hoel were elected by voice vote at an event last week. Hoel’s election to the Sarasota County Republican Executive Committee shows that their connection to Jan. 6 has not impeded Proud Boys’ ability to operate openly in South Florida and gain a foothold in local politics.

Andrew Sheets files motion to request judge’s recusal in probation case” via Frank DiFiore of the Port Charlotte Sun — Sheets has accused the judge in his probation case of unfair treatment. Sheets and his attorney Kevin Shirley filed a motion on Sept. 14 to disqualify Judge Peter Bell from his case. “He is absolutely biased,” Sheets said. Sheets was convicted by a jury in June on charges of breaching the peace and disrupting an educational institution. Bell withheld adjudication in the case, on the condition that Sheets complete 12 months of probation and 100 hours of community service. He was also forbidden from contacting Sallie Jones Elementary School, as well as possessing firearms while on probation.

Avelo Airlines announces new nonstop flight from Fort Myers to Lexington, Kentucky” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — Avelo Airlines pushed its stake further into the ground in Fort Myers Thursday with the announcement of a new destination out of Southwest Florida International Airport. Avelo added Lexington, Kentucky to the mix and will now serve six destinations nonstop from RSW. Avelo is the only airline offering Fort Myers nonstop access into the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Beginning in November, Avelo will base one 189-seat Boeing Next-Generation (NG) 737-800 jetliner at RSW. Avelo’s current systemwide fleet consists of 11 airplanes.

Couple ordered to remove Halloween display or face fines” via Nancy Semon of the Port Charlotte Sun — A couple on Montrose Avenue was ordered to remove part of their elaborate Halloween display or potentially face fines. John and Keri Walsh have been putting up their display for the past four years in Port Charlotte, but this year was different. “Twelve days ago, they put a notice on my door,” said John Walsh, referring to Charlotte County’s code enforcement department. “Two days ago, I received a certified letter,” he said.

Port Charlotte is definitely not in the holiday spirit. Image via Port Charlotte Sun.

Restoration underway at Warm Mineral Springs to assist manatees” via the North Port Sun — The habitat restoration planned for Warm Mineral Springs is underway downstream, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission noted Thursday. It is being conducted to improve manatee habitat, FWC officials stated in a news release. “Improving manatee habitat is critical now more than ever as manatees along the Atlantic coast are experiencing an Unusual Mortality Event,” stated Maria Merrill in a news release. Merrill is with FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Management.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

With Joel Rudman as incoming state representative, where does that leave Navarre incorporation?” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Having won the Republican Primary in August for House District 3, Rudman, a Navarre resident, is expected to take over from current Rep. Jayer Williamson in November. Williamson had said any incorporation efforts need to reach 60% voter approval in a local non-binding referendum for him to bring the incorporation bill forward in the Legislature. Rudman told the News Journal that he did not have a hard number in mind that would trigger him to bring an incorporation bill before the Legislature. But he did say a referendum would need to have wide-ranging support. “I trust the people of Navarre. They can determine for themselves what’s in their best interest, and so we will abide by their wishes,” Rudman said.

As Joel Rudman heads to Tallahassee, Navarre incorporation is up in the air. Image via Facebook.

A federal judge will hear Jacksonville’s racial gerrymandering case Friday” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — Civil rights groups and Jacksonville’s city attorneys will battle in federal court Friday in a hearing that could decide whether the city’s council districts are tossed or kept before the coming 2023 elections. Ten voters and four civil-rights organizations filed suit against the city in May, arguing the Jacksonville City Council packed Black voters into four council districts and two School Board districts, which suppresses Black voting power in the city. While that lawsuit works its way to a trial late next year, plaintiffs also asked the court to intervene in the meantime to block the city from holding any elections under the maps.

Board of Governors questions FAMU President Larry Robinson’s leadership following athletics issues” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — For the second time in as many weeks, Florida A&M University President Robinson found his leadership acumen challenged following the FAMU football team’s complaints about their needs as student-athletes being neglected. This time, it was the Board of Governors raising concerns and holding Robinson’s bosses — the board of trustees — accountable to make sure the president corrects the issues. “What I really see to be very blunt is a failure in leadership, because these aren’t new issues in some cases,” Vice Chair Eric Silagy told Robinson during an Audit and Compliance Committee meeting Tuesday at the University of West Florida. “I’m glad that you have a plan of action, but I am skeptical that this is something that is going to be addressed in short order.”

Jacksonville considers increase for organization that has had ties to two Council members” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The city of Jacksonville is poised to boost its financial support to $150,000 for the Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council, an organization that strives to stop veteran suicides and has had ties over the years with City Council members Nick Howland and Rory Diamond. Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council is not a nonprofit entity as defined by the IRS. Instead, it was formed through an agreement among Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, and Baker county governments in 2019. But while Fire Watch Council is a governmental entity authorized by state law, it has a contract with a separate nonprofit organization called The Fire Watch Project Inc. In that contract, Fire Watch Council will pay the nonprofit $175,200 to provide program and administrative services.

Changing industries, Ford Motor Co. vet to become CEO of Jacksonville rail giant CSX Corp.” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — A veteran Ford Motor Co. executive will become the next CEO of Jacksonville-based railroad giant CSX Corp., replacing retiring executive James Foote late this month, the company said Thursday. Joseph R. Hinrichs will start his tenure on Sept. 26, two years after he abruptly resigned as president of Ford’s automotive division following nearly 20 years at the company. “Leadership is all about service. We are ready to serve!” Hinrichs wrote when he announced his new position on LinkedIn. “I can’t wait to get out in the field and see our rail operations and great people!”

Fort Walton Beach adds ‘teeth’ to panhandling, parks ordinances. This is what has changed.” via Sierra Rains of Northwest Florida Daily News — A few changes are coming to city parks and major intersections where residents have raised concerns about quality-of-life and safety issues, some dealing with panhandling. Following a second and final reading at its Sept. 13 meeting, the Fort Walton Beach City Council unanimously approved several amendments to Chapters 7, 9 and 11 of the City’s Code of Ordinances. Minor changes have been made in the past, but it’s been about 20 years since any major updates have been introduced. Of the most notable changes is a provision dealing with items such as clothing and trash bags left behind in parks — something Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Peters has said is an almost daily problem.

Fort Walton Beach takes a harder line on panhandlers.

Former GPD officer’s lawsuit against department resurfaces following Terrell Bradley arrest” via Javon L. Harris of The Gainesville Sun — A case filed last year is resurfacing where a former police officer is accusing the Gainesville Police Department of racial discrimination and slurs following the apprehension of Bradley. The cases have raised questions over unfair policing policies and whether the department has an embedded pattern of racism. Edward Ratliff, who served as a GPD officer for 13 years, claims in his December 2021 lawsuit that GPD fostered a hostile work environment while he served as the department’s only Black K-9 officer. “The City, acting under the color of law, deprived Ratliff of his rights guaranteed by federal statues, specifically his right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race and color,” the civil complaint reads.

St. Augustine Lighthouse announces new leadership” via Florida Politics — The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum announced a new leadership change Thursday. The organization named Casey Van Rysdam interim executive director, replacing Kathy Fleming, who is retiring from the organization after a 28-year career with the Museum. “We extend our gratitude to Kathy for her many years of leadership, particularly when the Lighthouse expanded and her work to ensure our Museum, while in its infancy, lived up to its mission statement,” Museum board of trustees Chair Doris Wiles said in a statement. “We certainly appreciate Kathy’s passion for our local gem and wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors.” The Museum will immediately begin a national search for a permanent executive director.


Why I’m fighting Gov. DeSantis in court to get back my job as Hillsborough state attorney” via Andrew Warren for the Tampa Bay Times — I was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020 because the people of Hillsborough County share my vision for criminal justice, trust my judgment and have seen our success. Hillsborough’s crime rate is the lowest in the Tampa Bay region. I swore to uphold the Constitution, and that’s exactly what I have done. DeSantis has not cited a single specific example of me violating that oath. He can’t point to any because they don’t exist.

The encouragement I’ve received over the past six weeks has been gratifying. Hundreds have reached out to offer support. They come from across the political spectrum. Some tell me they did not vote for me but recognize this suspension is wrong. Many apologize and say they can’t say anything publicly because they fear angering the Governor. I understand.

If DeSantis can arbitrarily suspend an elected official without one shred of evidence they have done anything wrong, how far will he go to punish anyone else who disagrees with him? This abuse of power should shock every business owner, teacher, doctor, public servant — and every voter.

The Governor has argued to the court that he can suspend me because I’m his employee. However, both the Governor and the state attorney are independently elected offices enshrined in the Florida Constitution. As state attorney, I do not work for the Governor. I work for the people of Hillsborough County. I am accountable to them and under no legal obligation to follow the Governor’s views about criminal justice.


What did these kids do to deserve this?” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — These are little kids. Just kids. We don’t know much about them. But we do know this. They’re just kids, and they deserve to be kids, not props or pawns in some ridiculous political grandstanding about immigration. The kids came off two chartered planes that, with the blessing and encouragement of DeSantis — himself a father of three young children — dropped them in Martha’s Vineyard in an apparent attempt to own the libs. But it’s in the Bible itself (Mark 9:37) that Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” So, who was really doing what Jesus would do here?

Is Biden working on the railroad unions?” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — Biden touts himself as a dear friend of labor unions, and he and Democrats in Congress have authorized trillions of dollars in new spending and wage mandates on private business to prove it. But we’re about to find out how much sway Biden really has with Big Labor as the White House attempts to head off a destructive national strike by railway workers. A strike that shuts down the country’s 7,000 long-distance trains would do enormous economic damage. The Association of American Railroads pegs the cost at $2 billion a day in an economy with a GDP of about $63 billion a day. You’d think some $5 trillion in new spending by this Congress, much of which will fatten union bottom lines, would be enough to buy some labor peace.

Britain 3, America 0” via Gail Collins of The New York Times — Perhaps you didn’t notice, but back in November, Harris made history by becoming the first woman to hold presidential power. OK, it was only for an hour and a half. But still. But really, people. This should at least be a reminder of how far we haven’t come. Our country is 246 years old, and that translates into something like 2,160,000 hours. One and a half of which have been under a woman’s direction. It’s a little embarrassing when we hear the news from London that Liz Truss just became the new prime minister. She’s the third woman chosen to run the government in Britain.

Florida, home of many a Proud Boy, a hotbed for White supremacy. The rest of us can’t stand silent” via the Miami Herald editorial board — White supremacists and extremists don’t always wear white robes and burn crosses. They don’t necessarily meet in dingy headquarters away from civilized society. They are marching on Capitol Hill. They are flying Nazi flags over interstate overpasses in Florida. They’ve distributed antisemitic flyers in Miami Beach, home to a large Jewish population. They have demonstrated outside Disney World, a lightning rod for cultural wars after the company opposed a state parental rights law critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”

Pandemic learning loss is a national crisis” via Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg — Just in time for the start of the new school year, America’s public-education system has received a damning report card. The latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveal historically large drops in math and reading scores for U.S. public-school students. A closer look at the data reveals even greater reasons for alarm. Although White students performed five points worse in math than in 2020, scores fell by eight points among Latinos and by 13 for Black students. Blame for these dismal results lies mostly with poorly designed and implemented remote instruction programs that stretched on far too long — and long after vaccines became available — largely because leaders of public-school teacher’s unions wrongly insisted that requiring teachers to return to work endangered their safety.

Attacking Demotech doesn’t help insurance crisis” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who’s also on the ballot, quickly called Demotech a “rogue agency.” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, who reports to Patronis, chimed in by calling Demotech “monopolistic.” Last Friday, the dispute went one big step further. A legislative committee allocated $1.5 million “to explore alternative methods and develop options for admitted property insurance companies to acquire a financial rating satisfactory to federal mortgage standards.” Translation: Florida wants to find — or create — a competitor to Demotech that will rate companies more favorably and not pose political problems. We have seen this movie before. Florida’s insurance crisis could get even worse with a heaping helping of political ideology and expediency. Fix the problem, not the message.



ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Janae Thomas with Ullman Bursa Law and USF political science professor Dr. Susan MacManus.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion of the Wildlife Corridor in Florida and what the potential impacts could be on preserving green space and agricultural farmlands from urban sprawl and development. Joining Walker are U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor; Dr. Jennifer Jones, associate professor of Environmental Studies/director of the Center for Environment and Society, Florida Gulf Coast University; and Gene Lollis, founding member/manager, Buck Island Ranch, Lake Placid.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: An interview with Secretary of State Cord Byrd on 2022 Primary and General Elections.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A discussion with Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles on the August Primary and November General Elections, and what his office is doing on the restoration of felon voting rights.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and Sean Pittman, Dana Dudley and Antonio Jefferson.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: JAX Chamber CEO and mayoral candidate Daniel Davis, St. Johns County Commissioner Christian Whitehurst and Tanaine Jenkins, CEO of Everything I Am.

— ALOE —

Disney pushes ‘Haunted Mansion’ to Summer 2023, removes ‘Star Wars’ movie ‘Rogue Squadron’ from calendar” via Aaron Pouch and Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter — “The Haunted Mansion” is on the move, with Disney pushing the ride-inspired film to Aug. 11, 2023. It previously was dated March 10 of that year. Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto and Tiffany Haddish star in the film, from director Justin Simien, who showed off a first look at D23 on Sept. 9, that tells the story of a mother and son who encounter a mansion that is more than it seems. Disney has also set dates for a number of tentpoles it teased at D23. Pixar’s alien-themed “Elio” arrives March 1, 2024; Disney’s “Snow White” hits March 22, 2024; Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” will open June 14, 2024; and “Mufasa: The Lion King” arrives July 5, 2024.

‘Haunted Mansion’ won’t scare up the box office until 2023. Image via Disney.

Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame announces 4 inductees for class of 2022” via Andrew Olson of Saturday Down South — The Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame is recognizing four greats from the two schools ahead of this year’s meeting in Jacksonville. On Thursday, it was announced that two players from each school will be inducted into the game’s Hall of Fame. Champ Bailey and John Little from Georgia will be joined by Trey Burton and Andre “Bubba” Caldwell from Florida to make up the class of 2022. Bailey played defensive back at Georgia from 1996-98; Little was also a defensive back. He was UGA’s starting rover from 1984-86; Burton played multiple positions in his Florida career (2010-13), and Caldwell was a wide receiver for the Gators from 2003-07.


Celebrating today are U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, congressional candidate Alan Cohn, WFTV’s Chris Heath, Ghada Skaff Lieser, Wayne Mineo, former Rep. David Rivera, Paul Seago, and Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.


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, 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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