Good Tuesday morning.
There’s plenty of news on Hurricane Ian below, but for those looking to pass the time while they hunker down, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has released some excellent reading material.
The business is debuting its 2022 General Election Voter Guide, previewing the choices Florida voters face on a packed ballot that includes a U.S. Senate seat, the entire congressional delegation, the Florida Cabinet, state Legislature and three proposed constitutional amendments.
The 43-page guide includes a rundown of who will be facing who in each race alongside a quick breakdown of the partisan lean in the district. Though the Chamber does not offer its endorsement in congressional or judicial races, the guide does indicate who the organization is backing for Governor, Cabinet posts and state legislative seats.
The Chamber’s slate of statewide slate endorsements all went to GOP candidates — Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, CFO Jimmy Patronis, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner. The organization also endorsed a predominantly Republican lineup for state legislative seats, with a handful of notable exceptions, such as Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart for SD 17.
“Through its Florida Chamber Political Institute, the Florida Chamber goes to great lengths interviewing hundreds of candidates each election cycle to ensure Chamber-backed candidates will champion free enterprise, job creation and keep Florida moving in the right direction,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mark Wilson.
The guide includes a full suite of nonpartisan info, too, such as the deadline for new voter registrations, the suggested timeline for mail ballot returns and early voting dates. Contact information for each county Supervisor of Election office is also included within the first few pages.
Here is a link to the guide: flchamber.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Florida-Chamber-Voter-Guide.pdf
Here are some other hurricane and non-hurricane thoughts:
⛈ — It won’t take a Category 5 hurricane to wreak havoc in Tampa Bay — a “big, sloppy Category 1 or 2” will suffice, write Zachary T. Sampson and Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times. A fifth of Pinellas properties and 1 in 9 Tampa properties are at risk of flooding from a Category 1, such as Ian.
🤿 — Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley guest stars on the latest episode of “Deeper Dive with Dara Kam,” where he talks about the impact that the 2020 Presidential Election had on voters’ trust in elections officials and what he and other Supervisors of Elections are doing to “defend democracy.”
⚡️ — You probably won’t need to have the home infrastructure set up the day you drive your new electric car off the lot — a 15-amp duplex will work in a pinch. Still, if you don’t want to wait overnight for a recharge, The Washington Post’s Rachel Kurzius has a rundown of available options.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@JuliePace: An @ news alert for the ages: LAUREL, Maryland (AP) — NASA spacecraft slams into harmless asteroid to see if it’s possible to nudge killer space rocks out of Earth’s way.
—@TooMuchMe: The reality is that the only thing propping up Florida’s ultra-capitalist real estate market is a big government, socialized home insurance program (Citizen’s)
— Cody Weddle (@coweddle) September 26, 2022
—@GregDeeWeather: The 3:45 a.m. Thursday high tide in St. Pete will be the one to watch. It’ll be at 2.7 ft. plus surge from the storm, which should be near its height at that point.
Oct. 26, 1921. pic.twitter.com/3W0mqOnetn
— Ben Montgomery (@gangrey) September 26, 2022
—@HarrisAlexC: Another concern for central Florida when hurricanes threaten is Lake O. Too much water is no good, but the lake is actually lower than usual right now. “Lake Okeechobee is at a good level, such that the Corps has not had to do any water drawdowns ahead of the storm,” SFWMD says.
—@EvanAxelbank: Having a child takes hurricane prep and puts it up to eleven
—@MKramer: A fascinating source of information during pre-hurricane chatter is the Disney World message boards. Someone just asked what to bring for her baby when they’re walking around in the hurricane.
—@AGGancarski: Money never sleeps: Florida Police and Trooper Association is still making fundraising calls during a state of emergency for the entire state. Just got one.
—@RomyEllenbogen: Figuring out which valuables of mine to pack as I evacuate but I’m 25 so it’s just six years’ worth of my diaries and a single necklace
— DAYS UNTIL —
Supervisors of Elections vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 9; 22-23 NHL season begins — 10; WPEC televised debate in Florida Governor’s race — 15; deadline to register for General Election — 17; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 21; NBA season tips off — 21; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 24; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 27; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 28; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 28; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 30; Early voting begins for General Election — 32; 2022 General Election — 42; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 45; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 45; FITCon 2022 begins — 51; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 51; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 55; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 58; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 67; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 67; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 70; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 80; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 96; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 127; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 143; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 161; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 178; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 203; 2023 Session Sine Die — 220; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 220; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 248; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 297; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 402; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 416; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 549; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 668; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 668; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 773; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 951.
— TOP STORIES —
“Hurricane Ian’s uncertain path keeps much of Florida on alert” via Elisabeth Parker, Alexandra Glorioso, and an Frances Robles of the New York Times — Along the Gulf Coast of Florida, whose history is punctuated by the passage and destruction of major hurricanes, millions of residents on Monday were anxiously watching forecasts, stocking up on groceries and preparing as best they could for the expected arrival of Hurricane Ian. The authorities urged residents to begin evacuating some low-lying areas, with a troubling combination of dangerous storm surges, flooding and powerful winds predicted for the coming days. “Safety is paramount,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news briefing, asking Floridians to take the threat seriously. “There is going to be damage.” The National Hurricane Center said early Tuesday that Ian had become a major hurricane — meaning Category 3 or stronger, with winds of at least 111 miles per hour — as it neared Cuba. It was expected to remain so over the next day.
“Ron DeSantis faces the true test of any Florida Governor” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — The hurricane is on track to make landfall in the state just six weeks ahead of the November elections and, depending on how well the Governor responds to the potentially catastrophic storm, DeSantis may emerge more popular or open himself up to criticism.
Though no Governor will frame hurricane responses in political terms, storms shaped the legacies of former Republican Govs. Jeb Bush and Rick Scott, both of whom dealt with multiple major weather events. While no elected official wishes for a major natural disaster, hurricanes offer almost unlimited access to free national media, a huge boost to any Governor’s political fortunes.
“Fail a response: hard to get re-elected, and your agenda stalls,” former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate, who served as Bush’s emergency management director, said in a text message. Do well, though, and it “adds capital to your agenda, and sets you up for higher office.”
Each storm brings its own set of policy and political challenges, and Hurricane Ian is no different. Set aside the immediate life-or-death challenges of responding to a storm, one of the biggest issues DeSantis faces is how the storm will affect Florida’s already faltering property insurance market. Many have long feared that a large hurricane could force some of Florida’s smaller domestic carriers to go belly up, further damaging the state’s already rickety marketplace and leaving policyholders hanging.
DeSantis is also setting aside his overtly pugilistic politics as Ian bears down. He praised the Joe Biden administration after the President on Saturday declared a state of emergency for Florida, which allows FEMA to begin coordinating efforts ahead of the arrival of the storm. It was a rare compliment from a Governor who has used Biden as a political heel on a range of partisan issues as he prepares for what could be a 2024 run for the White House.
“They stand by ready to help, so we appreciate that quick action,” DeSantis said.
—”Joe Henderson: Hurricane Ian’s approach exposes Florida’s insurance crisis” via Florida Politics
“Vulnerable Tampa Bay braces for storm not seen in a century” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — It’s been more than a century since a major storm like Hurricane Ian has struck the Tampa Bay area, which blossomed from a few hundred thousand people in 1921 to more than 3 million today.
Many of these people live in low-lying neighborhoods that are highly susceptible to storm surges and flooding they have rarely before experienced, which some experts say could be worsened by the effects of climate change.
The problem confronting the region is that storms approaching from the south, as Hurricane Ian is on track to do, bulldoze huge volumes of water up into shallow Tampa Bay and are likely to inundate homes and businesses. The adjacent Gulf of Mexico is also shallow.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting storm surges in Tampa Bay and surrounding waters of between 5 and 10 feet above normal tide conditions and rainfall of between 10 and 15 inches because of Hurricane Ian.
“That’s a lot of rain. That’s not going to drain out quickly,” said Cathie Perkins, emergency management director in Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg and Clearwater are located. “This is no joke. This is a life-threatening storm surge.”
Officials in the area began issuing evacuation orders Monday for a wide swath of Tampa, with the St. Petersburg area soon to follow. The evacuations could affect 300,000 people or more in Hillsborough County alone.
“DeSantis lifts some tolls, including Alligator Alley, as Hurricane Ian approaches” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — DeSantis on Monday said he suspended tolls for Tampa Bay and warned Floridians to prepare for major storm surge and flooding as Hurricane Ian churns toward the Gulf of Mexico. Ian could become a Category 4 storm as it enters the Gulf, and even eastern parts of Florida should brace for impacts, he said. “This is a really, really big hurricane at this point,” he said. “The storm surge is likely to be significant given how big the storm is.” DeSantis encouraged Floridians to “remain calm” and not “panic buy” gasoline and other supplies. “There’s no need to panic buy,” DeSantis said. “If you don’t normally drink a lot of water, you may not need to go out and buy 20 gallons of water right now.
“Attorney General Moody urges Floridians to evacuate if asked, consider lives of first responders” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — Moody recommended that Floridians follow all precautionary orders from Florida officials about Hurricane Ian to save lives, even if that includes evacuating. “Folks have been advised, encouraged, pleaded with to evacuate and they chose not to … Law enforcement had to put their lives on the line to go into very dangerous situations to save them … Please consider the lives of your fellow community members, ” Moody said at a presser with DeSantis. Moody also highlighted that unreasonable and illegal price gouging could become an issue as Hurricane Ian moves toward and over Florida.
State sends resources, personnel to Tampa ahead of storm — DeSantis said the state will medical personnel, generators and water pumps to the Tampa Bay area ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall. As reported by Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida, the Division of Emergency Management has already deployed about 300 health care workers to special needs shelters in the region. The state has also sent 300 ambulances and hundreds of mobile generators and pumps to lessen the effects of power outages and flooding. “At that point, I think we’re going to have a pretty good sense of what’s going on, but this has really developed into a really big storm,” DeSantis said. “Just the impacts are going to be far and wide.”
“FPL prepares 13K-person workforce to respond to Hurricane Ian” via Florida Politics — Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is mobilizing a 13,000-member strong workforce to respond to the impact of Hurricane Ian in the days ahead. With the storm expected to impact Florida’s west coast at or near Category 3 strength, Ian will likely cause significant damage and could affect the power supply to millions of Floridians. “As this storm approaches Florida, we know our customers are counting on us and we are determined to meet this challenge,” said Eric Silagy, chair and CEO of FPL.
“As Ian targets Tampa Bay, hospitals, nursing homes evacuate patients” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Hannah Critchfield — Several Tampa Bay area hospitals were evacuated while others across the region on Monday canceled noncritical surgeries and appointments ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Ian. Nursing homes were also preparing, with those at highest risk of storm surge evacuating residents. A fleet of five helicopters flew multiple trips ferrying about 40 patients from HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital on Monday afternoon, including people on stretchers. The hospital on S Pasadena Avenue close to intracoastal waters near St. Pete Beach is within Pinellas County’s mandatory evacuation zone. It was last evacuated during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
“AARP survey: Fewer residents aged 45+ have emergency plans, more want to shelter in place” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Noting a recent survey that gauged storm readiness of older Floridians, AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson is urging people to update their plans as Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida. A recently released survey of residents aged 45 and up shows 67% reported having an updated emergency preparedness plan for 2022, down from 75% of respondents who reported having plans in 2019. Commissioned over the summer, the AARP Vital Voice Survey also shows 61% of the 2022 survey respondents said they will shelter in place, compared to 55% of survey respondents in 2019. The increase in respondents wanting to shelter in place could be attributable to COVID-19.
“Feeding Florida prepared for immediate storm response to Hurricane Ian” via Florida Politics — The Feeding Florida network of food banks is prepared to provide statewide relief to Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, the group announced Monday. Feeding Florida partners with the Department of Emergency Management to create a mass feeding team through 12 member food banks that are prepared to quickly mobilize in affected communities. “We believe our response and recovery efforts are critical to helping impacted Floridians during times of need, including disasters,” said Feeding Florida Executive Director Robin Safley.
“Tampa Bay-area smart pond preparing for Hurricane Ian” via Florida Politics — The National Stormwater Trust is preparing to convert its Tampa Bay-area Smart Pond from water quality to flood protection status to increase stormwater storage capability for Hurricane Ian. Converting to flood protection status will allow the Smart Pond to better protect Tampa Bay and area homes and businesses from stormwater brought by the storm. “Our Smart Pond technology is monitoring weather forecasts and predicting stormwater volume that will be needed to help prevent runoff from entering Tampa Bay and homes and businesses near the Bay,” said Jeff Littlejohn, National Stormwater Trust co-founder.
Uber offers free rides to Tampa Bay-area storm shelters — Uber is offering Southwest Florida residents free round-trip rides to and from state-approved evacuation shelters. Rides may be up to $30 each way and must be made to approved shelters located in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee or Pasco counties. Riders may take advantage of the program by using the promotional code “IANRELIEF” in the “Wallet” section of the app, which is accessed through the “Account” menu at the bottom right of the screen. A list of state-approved shelters in the area is available through the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
— DESANTISY LAND —
“The megastate GOP rivalry between Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis” via Michael C. Bender and J. David Goodman of The New York Times — DeSantis wanted to irritate wealthy, liberal elites when he flew migrants to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas, delivering them a slice of the humanitarian crisis simmering along the nation’s southern border. But DeSantis’s stunt also annoyed an entirely different group — fellow Republicans in Austin, including allies and aides of Gov. Abbott. Publicly, Abbott has not criticized DeSantis’s migrant flights from his state. But privately, the Florida Governor’s gambit stung Abbott’s team. No one in the Texas Governor’s office was given a heads-up that Mr. DeSantis planned to round up migrants in San Antonio.
“DeSantis privately elevates election deniers while publicly staying mum on 2020” via Steve Contorno of CNN — Two months before he was DeSantis’ pick to oversee Florida voting, Cord Byrd was a featured speaker at a seminar for people who falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen and wanted training to stop it from happening again. Leading the Orlando summit was Cleta Mitchell, a conservative lawyer deeply involved in Donald Trump’s failed plot to overturn the 2020 election. Mitchell introduced Byrd as someone committed to “election integrity” — a phrase that has become a dog whistle for stoking myths about voting vulnerabilities. Mitchell described Byrd as a trusted sounding board for new election policies and an active participant in weekly calls.
“How Democrats gave DeSantis a pass” via Molly Ball of TIME — It’s a befuddling situation in what used to be America’s paradigmatic swing state: rather than mount a massive effort to take out or at least bruise DeSantis, Democrats are effectively allowing the Republican they fear most to coast to re-election. Charlie Crist, 66, is a party-switching, baggage-laden retread more disliked by Floridians than DeSantis. He was forced out of his congressional seat by DeSantis-engineered redistricting and wound up with the nomination after other potential candidates passed on the race, intimidated by DeSantis’ war chest and iron grip on the state’s political landscape. Polls show him lagging by an average of 6 points, according to FiveThirtyEight. And while national Democrats privately lament the situation, they have no plans to invest heavily.
“DeSantis campaign and PAC get over $115,000 from men with alleged mafia ties” via Keya Vakil of Floricua — In the 1980s and 1990s, the FBI alleged that John Rosatti and John Staluppi were members of the Colombo crime family, one of the five Italian American mafia families in New York City. Now, they are both exorbitantly wealthy businessmen and are using some of their money to fund DeSantis’ re-election campaign. The two men and their businesses have donated more than $115,000 to DeSantis’ campaign and the Friends of Ron DeSantis political action committee (PAC). Rosatti, who now lives in Florida, has personally donated $25,100 to DeSantis’ PAC and another $400 to DeSantis’ campaign since June 2021. He has also donated $25,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.
“Charlie Crist rips DeSantis insurance failures as Ian surges toward Florida” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Crist is again attacking DeSantis on insurance market failures. “Ron DeSantis is the worst property insurance Governor in Florida history, period,” Crist contended Monday. “Gov. DeSantis let these insurance companies double Floridians’ rates and they’re still going belly up when homeowners need them most. You pay and pay and pay, and the insurance company isn’t there for you in the end anyway.” The latest Crist blast comes as FedNat is set to become the sixth Florida company to leave customers in the lurch, due to unresolved solvency issues. Florida’s Department of Financial Services filed a petition to put the company into receivership.
“Crist suspends some Florida political ads as Hurricane Ian nears” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — With Hurricane Ian threatening major damage to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Crist is suspending his political ads in the Tampa, Fort Myers, Orlando and Jacksonville media markets, his campaign announced Monday afternoon. Still, Crist’s campaign spokesperson Samantha Ramirez said Crist’s ads will continue running in the Miami and West Palm Beach areas. It’s an example of how Florida politics are expected to temporarily freeze during the potential natural disaster, as the state turns all its attention to weathering what is forecast to be a major storm.
— 2022 —
“Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022” via Steven Shephard — Pollsters know they have a problem. But they aren’t sure they’ve fixed it in time for the November election. Since Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory, pre-election polls have consistently understated support for Republican candidates, compared to the votes ultimately cast. It’s not that pollsters haven’t tried to fix the issues that plagued them in recent elections. Some pollsters are hoping that since Trump isn’t running in the Midterms, the problems of underestimating Republicans’ vote share will disappear with him.
Florida Democratic Party 3PAC spends another $70K on Governor, legislative ads — The Florida Democratic Party has expanded its statewide broadcast buy supporting Crist’s gubernatorial campaign. According to AdImpact, the $69,654 addition will air ads in the Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach markets. It began Sept. 20 and continues through Wednesday. The ad buy was made through a 3PAC that is also supporting Democratic Reps. Carlos Smith and Anna Eskamani. Overall, FDP spent $317,839 on the flight.
Annette Taddeo adds $107K to broadcast buy — Democratic state Sen. Taddeo has spent another $106,974 on broadcast ads for her congressional campaign. According to AdImpact, the funds will expand the campaign’s current media buy which covers the Miami media market and runs through Oct. 3. The overall spend is now $317,839. Taddeo is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which is considered competitive but still leans Republican following redistricting.
Eunic Ortiz pauses fundraising until storm passes — Democratic state Senate candidate Ortiz announced that her campaign will halt fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts and instead focus on helping local residents impacted by the hurricane. Her campaign has also launched a digital ad program, posted a hurricane resource pointing to resources and storm updates, and will also begin making wellness check-ins with seniors in the St. Petersburg area. “Hurricane Ian is expected to directly impact Tampa Bay and more specifically Pinellas County, and it is our responsibility to be good neighbors and ensure the safety of our community, particularly for the most vulnerable among us,” Oritz said. “ … After landfall, this team is prepared to roll up our sleeves for a grassroots recovery operation.”
“Republicans boost Rick Roth’s campaign for House District 94 with $49K” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Roth is not yet waging much of a campaign, but Republicans are pouring money into holding onto House District 94. The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee gave Roth’s campaign an eye-popping $49,000 in the last reporting period, plus $5,750 in research support. That donation is more than 12 times the total amount that Democrat Terence Davis has on hand to spend for his campaign to represent the district that includes Pahokee, Royal Palm Beach and Belle Glade. Republicans are keen to maintain their foothold here after redistricting shifted the district into a true tossup.
— STATEWIDE —
PSC scrubs meetings ahead of Hurricane Ian — The Florida Public Service Commission has canceled its meetings for the rest of the week in anticipation of Hurricane Ian’s landfall in the Sunshine State. The affected meetings include a rule development workshop on Sept. 27, a virtual customer meeting for Hidden Cove and CHC VII Utilities on Sept. 28 and a virtual customer meeting for Anglers Cove West and SV Utilities on Sept. 29. PSC said rescheduled dates have not yet been determined, but more information will be posted on its website in the coming days.
“Stormwater hides many dangers: Safety tips for you and your children” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — The skies clear, the rain stops, and kids rush outdoors: wading, splashing, rooster-tailing their bikes through the watery post-hurricane landscape. But odds are that water is contaminated with feces, especially in neighborhoods with older infrastructure or septic tanks. Some 30% of Florida residents use septic or on-site sewage treatment systems, according to the University of Florida. Even in areas where raw sewage doesn’t bubble from manhole covers after big storms, as it does near Fort Myers’ Edgewood Avenue, standing water, especially if it washes over areas with flooded or failing septic fields or livestock, can be dangerously polluted.
“Book bans: List of books challenged in schools tracked by Florida Freedom to Read Project” via Nikki Ross of the Fort Myers News-Press — The Florida Freedom to Read project has identified 581 books that have been challenged in Florida’s school districts. Of those challenges, the project identified 215 books that were returned to shelves in at least one district where the challenge occurred, 114 had labels put on the challenged books, 69 of them were restricted to certain age groups or students, and 65 were banned or removed entirely from libraries. Of the challenges, 19 were led by parents, 313 were led by conservative groups and 303 were led by school leadership.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Donald Trump installed a historic number of judges. Joe Biden is outpacing him so far.” via Sahil Kapur of NBC News — Biden has won Senate confirmation for more than 80 of his nominees to be federal judges, a breakneck speed that outpaces Trump at this juncture of his presidency. The Democratic-led Senate confirmed four new circuit court judges in the last two weeks, most recently U.S. District Judge Florence Pan to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, by a 52-42 vote, bringing Biden’s total to 83. By contrast, Trump had installed 69 judges at this point in his tenure. Still, Biden is playing catch-up after Trump and Mitch McConnell hit the gas in the second half of Trump’s term and brought his total to 231 judges.
“Biden’s student loan cancellation plan to cost $400B, Congressional Budget Office estimates” via Rebecca Shabad and Julie Tsirkin of NBC News — Biden’s plan to forgive $10,000 in federal student debt for most borrowers will cost the government about $400 billion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in an estimate released Monday. The CBO’s evaluation of the administration’s policy said the price tag is “a result of the action canceling up to $10,000 of debt issued on or before June 30, 2022.” The President’s plan covers borrowers with income below specified limits and an added $10,000 forgiven for those who also received at least one Pell Grant, CBO Director Phillip Swagel said.
“Biden to propose airlines disclose extra fees up front” via Ian Duncan of The Washington Post — Biden is expected to announce a new proposal Monday that would require airlines and ticket sales websites to disclose additional fees up front, aiming to add a dose of transparency to the process of booking travel. The disclosures would cover any fees for passengers to sit with their children, to change or cancel a flight, and to bring checked or carry-on bags. The fees would be required to be displayed the first time a ticket price is shown.
“Biden hosts World Series champs Atlanta Braves at White House” via Greg Bluestein of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Biden hosted the Atlanta Braves at the White House on Monday to celebrate the team’s 2021 World Series victory. The President welcomed the Major League Baseball team to the East Room this afternoon, ahead of the Braves opening a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. against the Washington Nationals. “It’ll be a great experience. We’re world champions, and we get to go to the White House,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said last week when news of the planned visit was announced. “That’s kind of something special to get to tour and experience that. I think it’ll be something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
“Grover Norquist endorses Vern Buchanan’s tax plan” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — One of the nation’s most prominent fiscal conservatives is offering his imprimatur to a tax bill filed by U.S. Rep. Buchanan. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, is applauding the Longboat Key Republican’s bill to make tax cuts passed under Trump permanent. “This bill makes it clear that protecting the pro-growth tax cuts passed in 2017 remains a top priority for Republicans when they take back Congress,” Norquist said. The bill would take provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that are set to expire in 2025 and permanently codify them in federal law.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“How a QAnon splinter group became a feature of Trump rallies” via Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post — The FBI has warned that extremist movements such as QAnon, which loosely revolves around the baseless belief that the world is secretly run by Satan-worshipping child sex traffickers, is likely to motivate some people to criminal and violent acts. The ideology has already been implicated in multiple crimes, including several people arrested in the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and a recent murder in Michigan. But the Negative48 group rejects such characterizations.
—LOCAL: S. FL—
“Ian likely won’t head to South Florida but could make an impact. Here’s how — and why” via Grethel Aguila and Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Good news for South Floridians: Hurricane Ian is not forecast to travel directly over the region. However, there’s also troublesome developments: the system may still make its presence known. Ian is forecast to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico as it zips up the west coast, with a potential landfall in the big bend area later this week. Floridians across the state may notice the storm’s powerful force, and it won’t only be because people are taking bottled waters off the shelves expeditiously and standing in long lines at Publix.
—”Hurricane Ian is coming when king tides will be in Florida. What to know about high tides” via Grethel Aguila of the Miami Herald
“Hurricane Ian could dump up to 7 inches of rain in some parts of Palm Beach County” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — Stinging rain bands that turn day to dusk are expected to reach Palm Beach County early Tuesday as a deepening Hurricane Ian threatens drowning storm surge for Florida’s porous west coast and flooding showers for its eastern edge. The dangerous hurricane, which triggered evacuation orders for multiple Gulf Coast counties Monday, is expected to reach major Category 4 hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico, before abruptly downshifting to a Category 2 ahead of a possible Thursday landfall. As of 5 p.m. Monday, Ian was 155 miles southeast of western Cuba with 100-mph winds and moving north-northwest at 13 mph. Its forecast cone shifted slightly east, triggering a tropical storm watch for Jupiter Inlet north into southern Georgia.
“Flying from MIA or FLL airports this week? What to know about traveling in Hurricane Ian” via Anna Jean Kaiser of the Miami Herald — With predictions for the path of Hurricane Ian shifting westward, South Florida airports appear to be spared of mass flight cancellations. But travelers at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport should remain vigilant this week — even if the airports won’t shut down entirely, they will feel a ripple effect of cancellations and delays of flights from places that are harder hit by Hurricane Ian. “South Florida is outside of the cone, so as far as we’re concerned, we don’t expect this to turn into a wholesale cancellation of flights,” said Greg Chin, the communications director at MIA.
“Key West streets quiet in anticipation of Ian” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Duval Street in Key West, ordinarily brimming with tourists and bar hoppers on any given night, was quiet Monday as Hurricane Ian slowly made its way toward the Florida Keys. Only a few groups of visitors walked up and down the famous street. Most businesses were closed — some in the process of boarding up. … On the Overseas Highway heading down to Key West, there seemed to be as many cars parked on the elevated approaches to the bridges that connect the 120 miles of road as there were driving. Locals park their cars there in anticipation of hurricanes to save them from the corrosive saltwater surge the storms often bring.
“FPL says Hurricane Ian may cause ‘widespread outages’ even outside of cone” via Hannah Morse of the Palm Beach Post — Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric utility, is expecting Hurricane Ian to impact the power grid in much of its service footprint in Florida. While the storm’s impact will be more harshly felt on the Gulf Coast, the sheer size of the storm in addition to its feeder bands could affect access to electricity in South Florida and most of FPL’s 5.6 million customers, even those outside the cone of uncertainty, for several days as the storm moves slowly. “We’re actively preparing for widespread outages throughout most of our service area,” said FPL spokesperson Christopher McGrath. “We’re urging customers that they’re taking the time now to finalize their preparations.”
“Zoo Miami is closing for Hurricane Ian. Here’s what will happen to the animals” via Madeleine Marr of the Miami Herald — Employees will be getting the zoo ready for the storm, according to an Instagram post. “Though Miami is presently not within the cone of concern with regard to the hurricane itself, significant wind and rain are possible from outer bands that could result in damage and interruption in services,” says the South Miami attraction. “Therefore, zoo staff will spend Tuesday storing any objects that may become airborne or vulnerable in strong winds as well as ensuring that all equipment (vehicles, generators, maintenance tools, etc.) are fueled and tested.” As for the critters, they’ll be secured in their evening holding areas early on Tuesday, along with food and fresh water.
“Nine months after Miami’s police union prez was suspended, city still won’t say why” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — More than nine months after the president of Miami’s powerful police union was suspended, the city still hasn’t explained why he was sent home. In the past few weeks, the city technically lifted the suspension of Fraternal Order of Police President Tommy Reyes by placing the sergeant on administrative leave with pay. The only difference is, he no longer needs to check in if he leaves home during work hours. He still can’t wear the uniform, work a beat, or do off-duty work. The leave hasn’t affected Reyes all that much. The city’s first openly gay union leader can continue with his union duties. And as president, Reyes hasn’t had a police beat in almost five years.
“Medley’s Mayor isn’t on the ballot, but election still a battle between him and rivals” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — Medley Mayor Roberto Martell isn’t on the ballot in the town’s Nov. 8 election, but the race for two Town Council seats is still a referendum on the town’s top administrator and his political clout. The election pits two incumbents who frequently oppose Martell — Edgar Ayala and his daughter Lizelh Ayala — against three first-time candidates who would potentially fortify Martell’s already-strong political position: Ariel Carballo, Yenny Lorenzo and Stephanie Otero. “The key for the Mayor in this election is to at least see if he can get one of the Council members [named] Ayala out of the council,” Edgar Ayala, a decade-long rival of Martell on the council, told the Miami Herald.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
Buddy Dyer warns Orlando to brace for storm” via Ryan Gillespie and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando Mayor Dyer said city residents should prepare like the city will be directly hit by a Category 1 storm, much like residents experienced in 2004 when Hurricane Charley roared across Florida and into Orlando. Orlando is within the cone of uncertainty for Hurricane Ian, meaning a similar course could happen. Most forecasts show Hurricane Ian making landfall north of Clearwater as a Category 2 storm. “They should be assuming that we’re going to take a hit from a Category 1 hurricane directly like Charley and be prepared the same way — if they were — for Charley,” Dyer said. “This is really the height of hurricane season so get prepared for this one and you’ll be prepared for the rest of the season.”
“Hurricane Ian could bring more than a summer month’s worth of rain to Orlando area” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Hurricane Ian may drop as much rain on Central Florida as during a typical summer month, the National Hurricane Center is warning. But the center also hedged its prediction: local downpours may be greater than expected. Anticipating a deluge, the City of Orlando said Monday it would drain as much as a foot of water from lakes Ivanhoe, Concord, Adair, Lurna, Greenwood, Davis, Spring, Cherokee, Rabama, Eola and Lancaster.
“Central Florida schools shut down because of Ian” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orange, Lake and Osceola County school districts will close campuses this week because of Hurricane Ian, officials announced Monday. Orange County Public Schools will close campuses Wednesday and Thursday. The Lake school district will be canceled Wednesday through Friday, and the Osceola County school district will be closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Seminole County school district expected to make an announcement later Monday evening.
“Seminole to order emergency evacuation of residents in flood-prone areas” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County officials announced plans to open eight emergency shelters at public schools across the county as Hurricane Ian approaches the Florida Peninsula. After opening the sites on Wednesday, county emergency officials will then call for an evacuation of certain residents. “The evacuation will be for those in low-lying areas… flood-prone areas and individuals in manufactured and mobile homes — those are our most vulnerable individuals — as well as our special needs clients,” said Alan Harris, Seminole’s director of the county’s office of emergency management.
“Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri warns residents to ‘go’” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Pinellas County officials are urging coastal residents to evacuate inland as the threat of a major storm surge approaches with Hurricane Ian. Officials have not yet issued mandatory evacuations to allow residents some flexibility before shutting down. But Gualtieri made clear that the hold on mandatory evacuations does not mean residents should stall. “We’re trying to give people flexibility, but nobody should think that because we’re trying to be as pragmatic about this as possible and allow people that fluidity to get back and forth, that in any way, shape or form anything we’re saying now means wait. It doesn’t. It means go,” Gualtieri said.
“‘This is not a drill’: Hillsborough Co. officials expect to evacuate 300K individuals for Hurricane Ian” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County officials are preparing to evacuate 300,000 individuals ahead of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to grow into a Category 4 hurricane before landfall. The county is issuing a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A, which wraps around the coast of the bay, and a voluntary evacuation for Zone B, Hillsborough County administrator Bonnie Wise announced at a news conference Monday. Evacuation zones can be found here. “We did not make this decision easily. But this storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can to protect our residents,” Wise said.
—”Here are the flights at TPA that have been canceled so far” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal
“Port Tampa Bay, SeaPort Manatee shut down operations in advance of storm” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Port Tampa Bay and SeaPort Manatee have closed their waterways to incoming freight traffic in preparation for Hurricane Ian. The U.S. Coast Guard placed both ports under condition “Yankee,” indicating the possibility of winds approaching 34-47 knots entering the Bay within 24 hours. Port Tampa Bay, which specializes in bulk cargo and serves as a key economic driver, is securing its waterfront facilities and dock areas to remove debris and hazardous materials.
“Hurricane Ian unlikely to impact Tampa Bay gas prices, AAA says” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Gas prices in Tampa Bay are unlikely to be affected before or after Hurricane Ian strikes the state, AAA said. The group said that gas prices around Florida are likely to hold steady or even continue falling as the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico. “There’s actually downward pressure on pump prices, despite the forecast that a hurricane would approach Florida this week,” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said in a statement. “Since Ian is not projected to impact the refineries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, it’s unlikely that the storm itself or the resulting demand would cause pump prices to spike.”
“USF cancels classes Monday-Thursday ahead of Tropical Storm Ian” via Florida Politics — The University of South Florida has canceled classes Monday through Thursday ahead of Tropical Storm Ian, which is expected to begin affecting the Tampa Bay area as soon as Tuesday. The school made the decision to cancel classes to allow students to take necessary precautions or make plans ahead of the storm’s arrival. Staff will continue to work Monday. All USF campuses will close Tuesday. Residence halls and residential dining facilities, as of 9 a.m. Monday, remain open.
“Tampa hurricane in 1921: Did you know?” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — It might be hard to believe, but the last time the Tampa area took a direct hit from a hurricane was in 1921. No doubt the forecast is causing high levels of stress for people who live in the Tampa region and the businesses that operate there. Hurricanes didn’t start being named until 1953. But the hurricane is also known as the “Tarpon Springs Hurricane.” The 1921 Tampa hurricane was the first major hurricane to hit the area since a hurricane in 1848.
—“Polk Public Schools closing at least Tuesday and Wednesday as shelters are activated” via Paul Nutcher of The Lakeland Ledger
“Ian shoppers in Orlando stock up on water, pasta and rent tools” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — As Hurricane Ian approached Florida on Monday, customers cleared out shelves of water bottles at a Publix and Walmart in Casselberry. At the Casselberry Publix, shelves that normally have toilet paper also were nearly barren. Shoppers at the Costco store in Altamonte Springs could be seen loading up on bottles of water from what was said to be the last pallet available at the time. In Orlando’s Baldwin Park neighborhood around lunchtime, the Publix parking lot was abnormally full for a Monday, with cars hunting for the occasional open spot. Publix is working with its warehouses to ensure its stores have water, batteries and other hurricane supplies, the company’s website said. Another bellwether of hurricane preparedness, most Florida gas stations still had plenty of fuel to sell on Monday.
“Citrus County braces for potential ‘catastrophic’ flooding from Hurricane Ian” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County prepared for the early fall arrival of Hurricane Ian in the hopes its predictions exceed the real thing. Flooding from tidal storm surges plus heavy rainfall could be worse than any in recent memory, surpassing even the March 1993 “no-name” storm and Hurricane Hermine in 2016. Ira is expected to arrive near Citrus sometime Wednesday. “This one has the potential for being catastrophic,” Crystal River City Manager Ken Frink said. “It will be a significant flood event.”
“Pasco County declares state of emergency and orders evacuations” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Pasco County Commissioners approved a state of emergency Monday afternoon and announced that evacuations in zones A, B and C, which includes everyone west of U.S. 19 and some neighborhoods to the east, should begin Tuesday morning when shelters open. Andrew Fossa, Pasco’s director of emergency management, called Hurricane Ian “unprecedented” and warned that Pasco faces potentially “significant devastation and damage.” Storm surge without a high tide could reach 14 feet. Because the storm is expected to slow once it reaches the Tampa Bay area, it will also hold the surge in place longer and also dump significant rain.
“Voters to decide on Brevard Public Schools property tax increase on November ballot” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — Brevard County voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to increase school property taxes, primarily to pay for a boost in salaries to Brevard Public Schools staff. A measure on the November ballot would require additional taxes of $1 per $1,000 of taxable value of Brevard properties. That would be $153.10 more per year for the median Brevard single-family home, which has a taxable value of $153,100. The current school property tax rate is $5.495 per $1,000, and it would increase to $6.495 per $1,000 under this proposal. District leaders and School Board members say the increase in the tax rate could be the district’s best option to raise pay for veteran teachers and other employees.
“Palm Bay City Council approves $5M for affordable housing programs” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — The Palm Bay City Council has approved $5 million for a range of programs to address homelessness and affordable housing in their city. Funding will come from a portion of the $18 million that Palm Bay was allocated from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The City Council in May earmarked $5 million from the ARPA money for addressing homelessness, affordable housing and public services associated with such efforts. During a special council meeting on Thursday, council members awarded the money to six organizations from among 14 applicants. Grants were awarded to: Catholic Charities of Central Florida ($368,560); Community of Hope ($1,231,320); Habitat for Humanity of Brevard County ($961,120); Helps Community Initiatives ($15,000); I Am Ministries/”The Source” ($1,299,000); and Volunteers of America of Florida ($975,000).
“Central Florida theme parks continue normal operations, Busch Gardens closing” via the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida’s theme parks are operating normally early this week as they watch for further forecasts on the projected hurricane. Spokespeople for Universal, SeaWorld and Legoland said the theme parks are monitoring the storm’s path and are prioritizing employee and guest safety in their operational decisions. Representatives for Walt Disney World did not immediately respond to questions Monday. A park reservation calendar showed spots at all four theme parks were available Tuesday through Saturday for both annual passholders and ticketed guests.
“Wengay Newton appointed to Florida Ethics Commission. Will it impact Jack Latvala’s case?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It’s out with one Democrat on the Florida Ethics Commission and in with another. Tony Carvajal, who served on the Commission for most of the last four years, is being replaced by Newton, a former lawmaker. Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls named Newton, a fellow Pinellas County politician, to the post. But the timing of the swap immediately prompted speculation about how the board makeup could impact a pending matter involving former Sen. Latvala. Carvajal, for his part, said he doesn’t see anything suspicious about the appointment.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Sarasota, Charlotte counties issue evacuation orders” via Bob Mudge of the Port Charlotte Sun — With Hurricane Ian staying on track to bring heavy wind and rain to, if not strike, the Sarasota County/Charlotte County area, local governments increased preparations Monday. Sarasota County officials announced at a news conference Monday afternoon that all the county’s evacuation centers would open at noon Tuesday for people in Evacuation Zone A and those who live in mobile homes or RVs or on boats, regardless of the zone they’re in.
—“Hurricane shelters in Lee County: Location, addresses for all 19” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press
—“Hurricane shelters in Collier County: Where you can go in case of emergency” via Mark H. Bickel of the Naples Daily News
“Businesses preparing ahead of Hurricane Ian” via Morgan Simpson of the Port Charlotte Sun — Area businesses are preparing for Hurricane Ian in any way they can. For some area restaurant groups, they are closing and starting storm preparations. For PGT Innovations, its preparations include more than securing buildings. “PGT Innovations has already begun preparations to provide disaster relief aid in the form of generators, tarps, water, and other necessities to areas in the community impacted by the storm,” President/CEO Jeff Jackson said in a statement.
“Fleeing Southwest Florida to avoid Hurricane Ian” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — Richard Cromer recalls waking his friend, Ernest Griffis, one morning last year to say he had some bad news. “He said, ‘What do you mean, bad news?’” Cromer said. “I said, “We’re floating.’” The pair, who are homeless, had spent the night on an air mattress beside the bank of a river when the approach of Hurricane Elsa spawned flooding that lifted the mattress off the ground and sent the men drifting. Cromer and Griffis drove from Fort Myers to Lakeland on Sunday to escape the approach of Hurricane Ian. They said they had received permission from Talbot House employees to park in the private lot because of the emergency conditions.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“‘We need to prepare’ for Ian’s high winds and heavy rain in Jacksonville, weather service says” via Don Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — As Hurricane Ian slowly moves toward Florida’s west coast en route to potential landfall near Tampa and a potential track through Northeast Florida, what can the Jacksonville area expect as far as wind, rain and handling its effects? The National Hurricane Center said Ian, upgraded Monday morning to a Category 1 storm, is southeast of Cuba’s western tip with sustained 75 mph winds. Potential storm tracks show the eye drifting inland, then west of Jacksonville, or drifting a little more across Northeast Florida, National Weather Service meteorologist Angie Enyedi said.
“Ahead of Ian, JAXPORT works with Puerto Rico’s ongoing Hurricane Fiona recovery” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — If not paying attention to the latest gathering of the JAXPORT Board of Directors, one might have no idea a hurricane is working its way north and experts expect it to bring a not-insignificant amount of wind and rain to Northeast Florida. JAXPORT’s thoughts were less on Hurricane Ian, spinning away in the Caribbean Sea, and more on the effects wrought by Hurricane Fiona on Puerto Rico. Jacksonville is the top mainland port for trade with Puerto Rico, dealing with nearly 90% of all sea trade between it and the mainland United States. “First and foremost, our hearts and prayers are in Puerto Rico as they continue their relief effort,” JAXPORT CEO Eric Green said at this week’s meeting of the Port’s Board.
“JEA to suspend disconnections, eyeing Ian’s approach” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — JEA, which serves Jacksonville and some surrounding areas, announced Monday that utility disconnections would be paused effective Tuesday. It is unclear at this point how long the pause will last. “As part of normal storm preparation, starting Tuesday JEA will temporarily suspend customer disconnections for non-payment as we mobilize to support our community,” JEA announced. Disconnections resumed last week after a six-week grace period in which customers in arrears were encouraged to work out terms of payment with the utility during that reprieve. The pause in disconnections comes as the utility readies itself for the storm. JEA’s Emergency Operations Center will assume partial activation status.
“Okaloosa County keeps eye on Hurricane Ian: Bridge tolls suspended, high surf expected” via Devon Ravine of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Officials in Okaloosa County were keeping a close eye on Hurricane Ian, which was a Category 1 hurricane on Monday afternoon with winds of 80 to 85 miles per hour and moving northwest at 13 miles per hour. The storm was near the mouth of Cuba, with a predicted trajectory that includes part of the Panhandle and much of the state’s west coast. Okaloosa County Public Safety Director Patrick Maddox said the swell sent north from Hurricane Ian will result in elevated surf heights of 6 to 9 feet Wednesday morning, creating dangerous rip current conditions that may persist through the rest of the week.
“Fair opening delayed until Wednesday, as threat of Hurricane Ian evaluated” via the Northwest Florida Daily News — The potential threat of Hurricane Ian has delayed the opening of the Northwest Florida Fair until Wednesday. Fair Director Brian Sparling said on Monday that Arnold Amusements, which provides midway rides and food booths, had postponed setting up at the fair while they evaluated the approaching storm. He said he expects them to set up Monday and get the mandatory state inspection in time to open at 5 p.m. Wednesday. New hours for the fair, as of Monday morning, are 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the fair is $5 for adults and children aged 10 or older. Younger children get in free. Armbands to ride the Arnold Amusements midway are $25 Tuesday through Thursday and $30 Friday and Saturday.
“Jacksonville agrees to stop requiring sex offenders to post ‘no candy’ signs at Halloween” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — The city agreed to stop enforcing the law in response to a federal lawsuit it faced challenging the law’s constitutionality. The lawsuit cited a recent decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said a Georgia county had violated the U.S. Constitution when it placed signs in the yards of registered sex offenders that said, “No trick-or-treat at this address!!” Ahead of a Thursday hearing requesting U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan strike down the ordinance, a lawyer for the city said it would voluntarily agree to stop enforcing the law while the case was pending. Corrigan declined a request to strike down another part of the ordinance that bans “any display … if such display is primarily targeted to entice, attract, or lure a child.”
“‘I put my heart and soul into this job.’ Kim Barton responds to criticism of office” via Andrew Kaplan of The Gainesville Sun — Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Barton knows offices like hers are under more scrutiny than ever before. With a heavy-handed Governor not afraid to suspend or pluck any elected official from their seat, especially a Democrat, and with some Republicans alleging stolen elections and widespread voter fraud, she understands the importance of accuracy and eliminating any appearance of bias and playing party politics. The past two years haven’t been easy, though. Since the untimely death of Chief Deputy of Supervisor of Elections William Boyette — Barton’s right-hand man and one many praised for his expertise, attention to detail, and knowledge in the field — the office has faced its fair share of hurdles.
— TOP OPINION —
“Tampa Bay, for the love of … please get ready for Hurricane Ian” via Stephanie Hays of the Tampa Bay Times — We’ve been lucky in Tampa Bay so many times. It’s incredible how lucky we’ve been, and thinking about it gives me hives. We haven’t had a direct hit in more than 100 years, a factoid we chew on every time tropical weather sniffs around our coast. Until this storm is on land, we won’t know the full picture. Even if it doesn’t hit us directly, we will likely experience wind effects, storm surge and flooding.
Listen to the authorities, even if you hate authorities. Questioning authority can be a fun, punk rock endeavor for another time! These professionals devote their lives to determining risk and ensuring our safety so we can peacefully overeat our hurricane snacks. If someone official is on the television box telling you to evacuate, it’s time to go. It’s beyond time.
Same message goes to would-be heroes. Stubbornly staying in your house instead of going to a shelter does not make you brave. Think about the rescue workers who will have to retrieve your rear end because you wanted to have margaritas in the pool for web content. Have margaritas inside! Think of how much more time there will be for margaritas if you are alive and well.
One of these times, we won’t be so lucky. It could be this time.
— OPINIONS —
“As Ian approaches, make a plan to stay safe” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Florida’s luck has seemingly run out. Barring a meteorological miracle, we have a day, maybe two, before a major storm slams into a stretch of our Gulf Coast and tears a path across the state. Figure out where you will go if the order is given to evacuate, particularly if you live in a low-lying area or in a mobile home. DeSantis has already declared some parts of the state a disaster zone, and shelters should start to open in the next 24 hours. If you have special needs or a pet, make sure you know where the nearest shelter is that will meet your needs and realize that those shelters tend to fill up quickly.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“NASA plays it safe, will roll Artemis I back from launchpad” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — With the threat of Hurricane Ian, NASA isn’t going to risk its $4.1 billion rocket to the moon so the space agency decided to roll it back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, forgoing a chance to launch Artemis I next week. “Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” reads a post on NASA’s website Monday.
“State sports teams watching Hurricane Ian closely” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Normally, college football teams spend the week studying videos of their upcoming opponent, but players and coaches might spend more time now with the Weather Channel. For now, scheduled games on Saturday for Florida State, Florida, UCF, USF and Florida A&M have not been postponed, although officials at those schools are watching developments. Undefeated Florida State has a huge ACC home game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Wake Forest. As of now, the Seminoles plan to play. It’s the same story at the University of Florida, where the Gators have a home game at noon Saturday against Eastern Washington. UCF’s game in Orlando against SMU is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday but traveling the day before the game could be an issue for the visitors because the storm could still affect Florida by then.
“How Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights turned The Weeknd’s ‘after hours’ album into a “surreal” haunted house” via Abbey White of The Hollywood Reporter — Inside “The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare” house at Halloween Horror Nights in Los Angeles is one of the “most outrageous” scenes the Universal Studios Hollywood event has done. That’s according to John Murdy, creative director for HHN in Hollywood, who teamed with Abel Tesfaye (known professionally as The Weeknd) to create a real-life nightmare based on the singer’s 2020 album for the 2022 event.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated happy birthday wishes to Darren Richards of Tucker/Hall. Celebrating today are U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Sen. Joe Gruters’ better half, Sydney as well as Geoff Burgan and Monica Russo.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson