Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.28.22

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Here's your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

Good Wednesday morning.

As Hurricane Ian approaches, two state universities have decided to shift their game day plans.

The Gators, fresh off their second L against a conference opponent, decided to postpone their gimme game against Eastern Washington from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. The last time a hurricane messed up the schedule in the Swamp was in 2017 when Hurricane Irma forced UF to nix the Northern Colorado game.

Hurricane Ian throws a wrench in the Gators’ plans. Image via AP.

UCF’s home game against Southern Methodist University is also being postponed from 3:30 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday. The broadcast details are up in the air, but UCF said in a tweet that it will air on a “TBD” ESPN network.

The USF Bulls’ game against the East Carolina Pirates will hang on to the 3:30 p.m. time slot Saturday, but fans will need to head a couple of hundred miles southeast to FAU — the Owls are heading to Denton to play North Texas.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles are sticking to their schedule as of now. FSU is playing at home against Wake Forest at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Those plans are tentative, with FSU actively monitoring the situation.

The only impact on the NFL schedule is the Buccaneers-Chiefs game, which is moving from Tampa to Miami — the Dolphins will be in Cincinnati playing the Bengals on Thursday. The Jaguars are also playing an away game against the Philadelphia Eagles, which will proceed as scheduled.

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If you read one thing — As others evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ian, Al drives for Uber” via Hannah Critchfield of the Tampa Bay Times — As Ian barrels toward Florida, surge rates — which give drivers bonus cash for offering rides during times of high demand — are “way high,” according to Al Moreno. They’ve been that way ever since residents were encouraged to flee. While others evacuate, he stays, ferrying residents to their destinations as the infrastructure of their everyday lives breaks down. There’s a special kind of camaraderie in the air today, as he and passengers swap past hurricane horror stories or tell each other to “stay safe.” As Hurricane Ian projections rolled in throughout the day, Moreno said he had decided to leave after all. He’ll wrap up his drives around 7 p.m. and head to New Port Richey to join his mother.

___

Facebook status of the day:

—”Rut-roh Charlotte County: Jim Cantore checking in” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@PhilipKlotzbach: #Ian‘s central pressure has dropped to 947 mb — the lowest pressure for a September #hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Irma (2017).

@DenisPhillipsWx: Hurricane Warnings have been extended into the Orlando area. This track really is looking like Charley 2.0.

@TropicalTidbits: As bad as #Ian will be for southwestern #Florida, an important trend today is an increasing threat to northeastern Florida. Ian may now emerge over water east of Florida. Its interaction with a northeasterly belt of cool air could cause high winds and coastal flooding Wed-Thurs:

@Debbie_Mayfield: Thank you @GovRonDeSantis for your proactive approach in protecting our citizens and visitors in Florida

@DanPfeiffer: There’s a chance that the takes about how the DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt was a political masterstroke will age as well as the “FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago just handed the White House to (Donald) Trump” takes

@KevinCate: Hurricane Coverage: Ron DeSantis mentioned at least 718 times on TV in the last 24 hours — worth $6.7 million in earned media. $1.2 million of that is in Florida.

@CharlieCrist: Karla (Hernández) and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the people of Cuba and those with family there as Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

@RepValDemings: REMEMBER — if you are not absolutely positive of the depth of water on the road, assume it’s deep enough to stall your car. And remember: even a small amount of running water can knock over a grown man. Be safe.

Tweet, tweet:

@KathrnynVarn: Sitting in a St. Pete hotel lobby waiting on a rental car. The TV is on the DeSantis presser and showed a video of Ian hurling our way, and wow, it is staggering how big this storm is. A man next to me goes from muttering “yeah yeah we’ll get rain” to “shit shit shit shit shit.”

Tweet, tweet:

@PGuzzoTimes: Got a call from someone vacationing in Fort Myers asking how far it is to Tampa because he wants to evacuate to here. Hurricanes are bizarre.

@Katikokal: The six horsemen of an impending hurricane, in order of severity: — Publix begins selling hurricane cakes — Midwestern family starts checking in — Disney closes — Editor asks you to check out plywood supply at Home Depot — Jim Cantore arrives — Waffle House closes

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@StepehnKing: They can knock an asteroid off course, but not Hurricane Ian. Boo.

@Ellen_E_Clarke: My stress level is: Tempted to reply to all the PR emails about Anna Maria Island being the No. 6 hidden gem in the U.S. with HAHAHAHAHAHA F OFF.

@Scott_Maxwell: You gotta love casinos. In light of the approaching monster storm, Hard Rock Tampa announced changes. Not a closure — but reducing “regularly scheduled promotions” in the poker room, so that the high-hand jackpots drop to $150 every 30 minutes “until further notice.”

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

Supervisors of Elections vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 8; 22-23 NHL season begins — 9; WPEC televised debate in Florida Governor’s race — 14; deadline to register for General Election — 16; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 20; NBA season tips off — 20; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 23; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 26; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 27; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 27; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 29; Early voting begins for General Election — 31; 2022 General Election — 41; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 44; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 44; FITCon 2022 begins — 50; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 50; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 54; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 57; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 66; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 66; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 69; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 79; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 95; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 126; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 142; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 160; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 177; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 202; 2023 Session Sine Die — 219; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 219; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 247; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 296; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 401; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 415; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 548; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 667; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 667; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 772; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 950.

— TOP STORIES —

Hurricane Ian forecast to strike Florida as Category 4 storm; Orlando area under hurricane warning” via Richard Tribou, Roger Simmons and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “It’s going to be historic,” said National Weather Service Melbourne meteorologist Kole Fehling.

Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk and Lake counties were all put under hurricane warnings after the 5 p.m. storm update.

What is currently a Category 3 hurricane, its path shifted south of Tampa Bay and was predicted to come ashore south of Venice, according to the 5 p.m. advisory by the NHC, lessening the potential chance of massive storm surges in Tampa Bay but putting Orlando squarely in its path.

Fehling said Central Florida could expect 15 to 20 inches of rainfall, with localized rainfall of up to 24 inches. By comparison, the most rainfall that Orlando has ever experienced over a three-day period was 13.75 inches.

“The normal value for the amount of rainfall over the entire year is about 52 inches,” Fehling said. “So, if we were to see those higher-end totals, we could be experiencing half of our total annual rainfall in a very short period of time.”

He also predicted sustained winds of 55 to 65 mph in the region, with hurricane-force gusts of up to 80 mph.

The strongest winds are expected to arrive Thursday evening, along with the risk of tornadoes in the area as well.

Ian churns its way toward some of Florida’s most populous cities.

—”Track Hurricane Ian’s path” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times

FEMA chief warns Ian could bring 25 inches of rain, lash Florida ‘for a very long time’” via Alex Roarty of the Bradenton Herald — FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Florida residents Tuesday that Hurricane Ian’s expected slow pace of movement will give it more time to wreak havoc across the state, urging people not to become complacent about the danger it poses even if they live in central or southern Florida. “My message to those who may be watching at home: Get ready,” Criswell told reporters, speaking from the White House briefing room. “Don’t underestimate the potential that this storm can bring.” Some parts of the state, she said, could receive as much as 25 inches of rain.

Why is Ian’s path to Florida so hard to predict? There’s a reason for the whiplash.” via Chase Karacostas of the Miami Herald — Once upon a time, Hurricane Ian was forecast to go as far west as Biloxi, Mississippi, with impacts reaching the eastern shores of Texas. Now, the storm is on track to hit land somewhere south of the Bradenton area as a Category 4 hurricane sometime Wednesday, bringing with it heavy rain, sustained winds of 140 mph, storm surges and even tornadoes. When exactly will this happen? Unclear. Where exactly? National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Davis said the wind currents controlling it have been relatively hard to parse out, in part due to the sheer size of the storm. Those currents could have just as easily taken the storm farther up the Gulf Coast.

Tampa’s Phoenix simulation anticipated Category 5 hurricane” via Andrew Welsh-Higgins of The Associated Press — In ominous tones, a documentary narrator describes the devastation wrought on the Tampa Bay area by “Phoenix,” a tropical storm that grew into a Category 5 hurricane. More than 160 deaths with 30,000 missing people. As much as $200 billion in building damage. “The devastation to the region is almost unimaginable,” the narrator intones. Phoenix was imaginary, part of a 2009 government preparation exercise for a killer hurricane dubbed Project Phoenix. Though the storm and a 10-minute documentary were fictional, the warnings have taken on special significance this week as the nightmare envisioned by Project Phoenix approaches in the form of the very real Hurricane Ian.

‘The real deal’: Florida’s low-lying Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Ian” via Patricia Mazzei, Charles Ballaro and Elisabeth Parker of The New York Times — As Hurricane Ian winds its way north, the Tampa Bay region and southwest Florida could now face a level of destruction that many who live along the densely populated coast and its white-sand beaches have never experienced. Most everyone, it seemed, had received the message that a storm need not hit a community directly for it to be disastrous. “It will be like blowing up a balloon,” said Craig Fugate, a former Florida chief emergency manager who later ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency, describing how water could swell in Tampa Bay. “Once it starts pushing, it’s going to go up.”

Hurricane Ian on track to strike Sarasota County, with ‘widespread, catastrophic’ flooding” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — With little deviation from its path this afternoon, Hurricane Ian is on track to strike Sarasota County as a major hurricane on Wednesday. The National Hurricane Center predicts a storm surge of 8-12 feet from north Sarasota County down to Bonita Beach in Collier County. Manatee County can expect a storm surge of 4-6 feet. Just as concerning, especially since Ian is expected to slow even further before landfall, is the 12 to 18 inches of rain forecast for the area, with isolated totals up to 24 inches. Both of those mean severe flooding is likely.

—”Scenes from Ian: See photos, video from Key West and Cuba as hurricane enters Gulf” via Justin Mitchell of the Bradenton Herald

Florida officials say ‘time is now’ to evacuate for coastal residents in Ian’s path” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — “I implore, I urge everyone that is in an evacuation zone that has been asked to evacuate the time is now. You must evacuate now,” Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie told reporters at the state Emergency Operations Center. “There will come a point in time where local public safety officials will not be able to respond to your cry for help and you may be left to fend for yourself,” he added. More than 2.5 million Floridians are under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders. The latest forecast has the storm making landfall at the Charlotte-Sarasota County border as a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 120 mph or more, a shift south from projections earlier in the day.

The time to leave is now, officials say. Image via Reuters.

Joe Biden and Ron DeSantis haven’t spoken directly as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida” via Sarah Kolinovsky of ABC News — Ahead of Hurricane Ian’s expected landfall in Florida, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden has yet to speak directly with GOP Gov. DeSantis. “We don’t have any calls to preview or that’s locked into there, at this time,” Jean-Pierre said when asked by ABC Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega. Jean-Pierre insisted that the politically tense relationship between the two men is not at issue. “It’s about the people of Florida. It’s not about public officials, especially in this time,” she said.

Biden calls Tampa Bay Mayors to talk planning” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — As Hurricane Ian bore down on the Tampa Bay region Tuesday, Biden worked the phones. In separate calls, Biden talked with St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard to discuss storm preparations, according to a White House readout of the calls. “President Biden said that he has directed (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Administrator (Deanne) Criswell to ensure that all available federal support is surged to prepare in advance and to respond in the aftermath of the storm,” the readout said.

At potential ground zero in this Florida beach town, they can only hope Ian veers away” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — At what could be ground zero for looming Hurricane Ian, the main avenue was desolate Tuesday afternoon. Some small boutiques had plywood boards over the windows. Only a few shop owners in this small Gulf Coast town were making final preparations in gray, drizzly weather. This community, like so many in Florida, is on a first-name basis with previous storms that either swept over their homes or turned away at the last minute.


— THE RESPONSE —

FEMA positioning supplies, personnel at ‘strategic locations’ ahead of Hurricane Ian” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is pre-positioning supplies and personnel at “strategic locations” across three southeastern states before Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida. On Tuesday morning, as Ian battered the island nation of Cuba with sustained winds of 125 mph, FEMA confirmed some 14,000 emergency response workers are poised to respond to the storm, now a Category 3. That includes 4,000 Florida National Guard members, nearly 3,500 FEMA reservists and more than 7,500 Surge Capacity Force members headed to or already in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Tweet, tweet:

Central Florida utilities say crews and supplies are primed for Hurricane Ian” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Schooled by Charley, Irma and other storms, electric utilities of the Orlando region say they have confidence in their crews, reinforcements and ample restoration hardware for Hurricane Ian’s aftermath. Duke Energy and Orlando Utilities Commission said that despite supply-chain shortages this year they have been able to obtain the hardware needed for restoration, including wooden poles, overhead wire and transformers.

Duke official talks additional workers, storm prep” via Mark Parker of the St. Pete Catalyst — In light of the expected impacts of the Category 3 storm, Duke Energy announced an initial mobilization of nearly 10,000 lineworkers, tree professionals, damage assessment and support personnel. Audrey Stasko, corporate communications director, told the Catalyst that Duke is setting up a staging site at Tropicana Field Tuesday. The workers — coming from several Midwestern territories and as far away as New Jersey and Maine — will also set up operations in the Villages and Polk County. “Some have already arrived, and some will be coming throughout the day,” said Stasko. “And basically, we would place them in areas likely to be affected by the storm, and that allows for the quickest and safest response.”

—”Peoples Gas is prepared for Hurricane Ian” via Florida Politics

Tampa Electric won’t shut off power around downtown Tampa after all” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — On Tuesday, Tampa Electric Co. was considering cutting off electricity in parts of downtown Tampa and beyond, a proactive move intended to help avoid storm damage to their equipment and to restore power faster once Hurricane Ian moved on. But by late afternoon, a company spokesperson said, based on the latest forecast, the threat of storm surge downtown had diminished, and they didn’t plan to interrupt service after all. “The situation is dynamic, and if conditions warrant, we will re-evaluate,” said spokesperson Cherie Jacobs.

AT&T readies for Hurricane Ian with ‘arsenal’ of equipment, personnel” via Florida Politics — AT&T said it is standing ready with “an arsenal of disaster response equipment and personnel” as Hurricane Ian approaches. The telecommunications company said it is closely monitoring the storm. As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, Ian’s center was over Cuba, 200 miles south of Key West, with sustained winds of 125 mph, making it a Category 3 storm. AT&T said it is prepared to assist impacted communities through its FirstNet service, which includes deployable network assets that help public safety agencies keep their communications online during natural disasters.

Farm Share to begin delivering food, water as soon as Hurricane Ian passes” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The state’s largest independent food bank is monitoring Hurricane Ian’s path and proactively staging trucks full of water, food and disaster relief supplies for immediate deployment. As soon as the storm passes and it is safe to enter affected communities, Farm Share, in conjunction with the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC), local governments, partner agencies and food pantries, will begin delivering and distributing these life-sustaining resources to affected communities.

Farm Share is prepared for post-Ian relief.

The Salvation Army of the Treasure Coast deployed to Gulf Coast” via Gianna Montesano of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Capt. Nathan Jones of The Salvation Army of the Treasure Coast is being deployed to Florida’s west coast for the next 14 days to serve areas affected by Hurricane Ian. Jones, who has been a captain for 13 years and done disaster relief work for 21 years, said he has served on multiple missions throughout his career, most notably hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Michael. The Salvation Army will send numerous volunteers and its mobile canteen kitchen, likely in four rounds of two-week deployments, Jones predicted Tuesday. The first deployment planned to head to Lakeland from Stuart at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, then head to the hardest-hit area on Wednesday, Jones said.

Is the Waffle House open as Hurricane Ian threatens Florida? If not, that could be bad” via Jeff Kleinman of the Miami Herald — You know it’s bad when the Waffle House closes. The 24/7 greasy spoons are known for keeping open no matter what comes their way. Nothing can stop a plate of smothered hash browns, right? But sometimes, the weather is too much to bear. That was the case five years ago in Davie, Florida, when Hurricane Irma blew out a window at the Waffle House near Interstate 595. The restaurant had to close until the place was boarded up and fixed. And in Bradenton in 2017, a Waffle House shuttered before the winds even picked up. Yes, there is a Waffle House index.

— 2022 —

Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida election deadline” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Election Day is still six weeks away, but the downwind effects of Hurricane Ian are already looming over this year’s Midterms. County elections officials are required to send vote-by-mail ballots to voters between 40 days and 33 days before an election. This year, that window falls between this Thursday and the following Thursday and coincides with the estimated landfall of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida late Wednesday. Leon County Supervisor of Elections and Florida Supervisors of Elections President Mark Earley asked if the state had any plans to provide flexibility to counties impacted by Ian.

Hurricane Ian puts pause on Florida Midterm politics and DeSantis, Biden tension” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times and Bianca Padró Ocasio, Alex Roarty, and Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — With six weeks to go until Election Day and mail ballots already on their way to overseas voters, a major hurricane threatening vulnerable regions in the Gulf Coast of Florida has all but halted politics-as-usual in the state. Hurricane Ian’s approach tamed weeks of political tensions between Biden and DeSantis, caused campaigns to pull their commercials and derailed political events, including what would have been the President’s second visit to South Florida since his inauguration. Where acrimony and finger-pointing once existed, the threat posed by Ian ushered in a forced detente.

Midterm animosity is put on hold.

With tens of millions, DeSantis’ campaign is dominating the airwaves in race for Governor” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — With Hurricane Ian bearing down on Florida, political advertising may slow down in the coming days. That would put a pause on what has so far been an overwhelming advantage on TV this month for DeSantis over Charlie Crist in the race for Governor. Between Sept. 5-18, 2022, there were more than 13,000 broadcasts touting DeSantis’ candidacy for re-election, versus just 881 ads with a pro-Crist message. That’s a 15-1 discrepancy. DeSantis’ emergence as a national figure has helped him raise an astonishing $189 million to date.

Florida contracts go to companies that flooded DeSantis campaign fund” via Akela Lacy of The Intercept — Under the leadership of DeSantis, a Missouri-based railroad and transport company that contributed generously in support of his campaign saw an astonishing 280-fold increase in its Florida state government contract awards. A construction aggregates firm that contributed $82,500 was awarded $30 million in new contracts. And a highway and civil site contracting firm that gave $22,500 saw its contracts grow fifteenfold. They are just a few of the companies, mostly small and mid-sized construction firms, which saw a bonanza of lucrative contracts under DeSantis, who has styled himself as a successor to Trump and a foe to corporate America’s household names.

DeSantis: The making and remaking (and remaking) of a MAGA heir” via Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair — DeSantis’s political power flows from the fact that he is equally popular with the donor class and a GOP base that has otherwise shown utmost fealty to Trump. He’s Trump “without the insanity and the tweets at three in the morning,” one top GOP donor told me. So far, the DeSantis-Trump smackdown has been unfolding off camera. But it likely won’t stay that way. DeSantis in private trashes Trump. “He calls him a TV personality and a moron who has no business running for president,” a former DeSantis staffer said. DeSantis tells donors that, if he takes on Trump, he will launch a full-frontal attack on his record and competence. “DeSantis says the only way to beat Trump is to attack him head-on. He says he would turn to Trump during a debate and say, ‘Why didn’t you fire Fauci? You said you would build the wall, but there is no wall. Why is that?’ ”

Polling shows fast shrinking gap between Val Demings and Marco Rubio” via Richard Cowan of Reuters — Democratic U.S. Rep. Demings enters the final weeks of her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rubio in a stronger position than many observers had expected in conservative-leaning Florida. Demings, a former Orlando Police Chief, is the underdog against Rubio, who is seeking his third six-year term in the Senate and ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential nomination. But recent polls show Demings pulling close to Rubio ahead of the Nov. 8 Midterm Election, even as the state’s Republican Governor, DeSantis, maintains a wide lead over Democratic challenger Crist. While DeSantis is expected to easily fend off Crist’s challenge, some political observers have said that Rubio faces a closer race with Demings.

— STATEWIDE —

Hurricane Ian could smash Florida’s fragile property insurance market” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — A massive, deadly hurricane like Ian could topple the state’s already unstable property insurance market, some lawmakers and industry experts said Tuesday, as the storm took aim at Florida. “If insurance companies needed a year without a storm, this would be it,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes, an extremely loud critic of the Legislature’s failure to fix a major problem it’s known about for years. Even before the impending storm, industry analysts were predicting the demise of the state’s insurance industry. If they have to pay out claims that exhaust their existing resources and force them to dip into more costly reinsurance, things could get dicey, he said.

Insurance companies are walking a tightrope; Ian isn’t going to help.

Medical boards cancel Tallahassee workshop on gender-affirming care due to Hurricane Ian” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — With Hurricane Ian bearing down on the state. Florida’s two medical boards are canceling a Sept. 30 workshop on gender-affirming care that was slated to be held in Tallahassee. Members of the Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine were scheduled to meet for four hours on Friday to discuss developing state-specific standards of care for gender-affirming health care. Joint committee members were scheduled to take two hours of public testimony and hear from “subject experts” for two hours. The 1,000-plus page “public book” released in advance of the meeting, though, did not identify the names of the “subject experts” who were scheduled to make presentations.

Medicaid providers ask Circuit Court to protect them from $15 minimum wage-related lawsuits” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Three Florida health care organizations and a Largo-based provider sued the state on Tuesday, arguing that state legislators illegally opened them up to class-action lawsuits if they fail to pay employees at least $15 an hour as required in the new state budget. The lawsuit, filed in circuit court in Leon County, asks a judge to issue a temporary injunction and block the enforcement provision from taking effect. The main argument is that the Republican-controlled Legislature “logrolled” substantive issues in the annual budget, which is supposed to be limited to just budgetary matters.

FWC delays terrapin breeding rule, budget request passage amid Ian” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has canceled meetings set for this week, delaying decisions about setting the 2023-24 budget and a presentation on terrapin breeding that had sparked a mixed public reception. Before Hurricane Ian started barreling toward Florida, officials were expected to recommend against reopening diamondback terrapins to captive breeding in the state. The species is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and potential breeders and experts outside the industry are split on whether commercializing turtles would help or harm the species.

— D.C. MATTERS —

For Biden, Florida becomes the elephant in the campaign room” via Mike Memoli of NBC News — Eyeing the track of Hurricane Ian, the White House for the second time in three months had to postpone a presidential trip to Florida. A lot has changed since Biden’s first. In July 2021, the President flew to Surfside to visit with families and first responders dealing with an apartment building collapse there. He sat side-by-side with DeSantis, and the two praised one another for their quick response to the unfolding tragedy. Until now, rather than DeSantis or Sen. Rubio, who is also up for re-election, Biden’s main political foil of late was actually Sen. Rick Scott, who’s not even on the ballot.

Florida is Joe Biden’s 800-pound gorilla.

Biden is hoping small changes go a long way on immigration” via Michael D. Shear and Miriam Jordan of The New York Times — Even before the political spectacle of DeSantis flying migrants to a tiny resort island in Massachusetts, Biden’s top border officials decided there had to be a better asylum system in America. Because of new global migration patterns, people are heading toward the southern border of the United States, many fleeing instability, persecution, war, famine and economic distress. The numbers are overwhelming; for the first time, the number of arrests of undocumented immigrants along the southwestern border exceeded 2 million in one year.

Spending bill survives Senate test, staving off government shutdown threat” via Emily Cochrane of The New York Times — The Senate voted overwhelmingly to move forward with a temporary spending package needed to keep the federal government running past Friday, drawing closer to averting a shutdown after Democrats dropped an energy proposal that had drawn bipartisan opposition. Sen. Chuck Schumer had tucked the energy measure into the must-pass bill to fulfill a promise Democratic leaders made privately to Sen. Joe Manchin III in exchange for Manchin’s vote last month for the party’s major climate, tax and health care law.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Jan. 6 panel delays hearing as Hurricane Ian aims at Florida” via Farnoush Amiri and Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol announced it had postponed a hearing scheduled for Wednesday as a hurricane hurtled toward the Florida coast. The committee had planned to hold what was likely to be its final investigative hearing Wednesday afternoon, but members decided at the last minute to delay it as it became clear that Hurricane Ian was churning on a collision course toward Florida, where it was expected to strengthen into a catastrophic Category 4 storm. “We’re praying for the safety of all those in the storm’s path,” committee chair Bennie Thompson and vice chair Liz Cheney said.

Hurricane Ian throws off the Jan. 6 committee schedules.

Newest addition to Donald Trump’s legal team sidelined in Mar-a-Lago search case” via Kaitlan Collins of CNN — The newest addition to Trump’s legal team, Chris Kise, has been sidelined from the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation less than a month after he was brought on to represent Trump in the matter. Kise is expected to remain on Trump’s legal team but is not leading the work related to the federal government’s investigation into how Trump handled 11,000 documents seized from his Florida home in August following a lengthy effort by the government to retrieve them. The reason for the shift in Kise’s role remains unclear and he may instead focus his efforts on the other investigations Trump is facing, which range from his business practices to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

‘I hope you suffer’: Ex-D.C. officer confronts Jan. 6 attacker in court” via Rachel Weiner of The Washington Post — A member of the mob that launched a series of violent attacks on police, including D.C. officer Michael Fanone, in a tunnel under the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, apologized Tuesday as a judge sentenced him to seven years and two months in prison. Kyle Young is the first rioter to be sentenced for the group attack on Fanone, who was dragged into the mob, beaten and electrocuted until he suffered a heart attack and lost consciousness. “You were a one-man wrecking ball that day,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson said. “You were the violence.”

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami sending ‘strike force’ to Tampa to help with Hurricane Ian, braces for flooding at home” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — South Florida will likely be safe from the brunt of Hurricane Ian, but that doesn’t mean emergency personnel from the area will be taking it easy when the storm makes landfall on the state’s west coast later this week. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced at a Tuesday news conference the city is sending an 80-person “strike force” to Tampa. Suarez said Miami personnel have been in contact with Tampa Mayor Castor’s office and state entities to align emergency preparation and response efforts. City staff are also monitoring “15 to 20 trouble areas” in Miami that could flood as Ian nears.

As west coast braces for Hurricane Ian, South Florida already feels storm’s impact” via Bill Kearney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As the west coast of Florida braces for massive and potentially deadly impacts from Hurricane Ian, due to make landfall Wednesday evening, South Florida is already feeling the impacts of heavy rains, strong wind gusts and flooding. The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for Palm Beach County as Hurricane Ian progresses into the Gulf of Mexico and began its turn eastward toward Florida. They expect tropical storm conditions over Palm Beach County by Wednesday morning. The track of the storm has gradually shifted east, adding the risk of greater wind and rain to the area.

Despite the lack of a direct hit, South Florida braces for Ian’s wrath.

Outside Ian’s cone, a wave of closures hits South Florida services” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Hurricane Ian means no school on Wednesday and Thursday for 612,000 public school students in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Palm Beach County schools, meanwhile, announced plans to shut down operations on Wednesday for some 193,000 students as well. The city of Aventura announced the city’s charter schools will be closed, following Miami-Dade County schools’ lead. Although the tri-county area likely will not take a direct hit from the Category 3 storm, many governmental entities will be pausing nonessential services. Miami-Dade County announced the closure of libraries, parks and courts.

South Florida school districts announce closures as Hurricane Ian approaches” via Sommer Brugal and Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County and Broward County public schools will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday because of Hurricane Ian, superintendents said Tuesday. In the Florida Keys, which has been battered by Ian’s winds and storm surge, Monroe County public schools were closed Tuesday and will be closed Wednesday. A decision about whether schools will be closed Thursday would likely be made Wednesday, a county spokesperson said. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Miami-Dade and Broward school districts had not decided whether schools would be open on Friday. School officials in both districts said Tuesday the districts will likely decide Thursday.

Hurricane Ian evacuees from Florida’s west coast are booking hotels in Palm Beach County” via Alexandra Clough of the Palm Beach Post — Hurricane Ian prompted a surge in hotel bookings throughout Palm Beach County as residents of the state’s west coast sought to flee the oncoming storm. “We are booked up,” said Chris Steele, general manager of the 150-room Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach Downtown Hotel. Demand for hotel rooms was especially fevered after Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie on Tuesday urged people to drive east to South Florida for shelter. “Many people in the Southwest Florida area, your best bet is going to evacuate across the state,” Guthrie said. “Just go straight across the state to Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach.”

These Palm Beach County colleges and universities closing as Hurricane Ian approaches” via Giuseppe Sabella of the Palm Beach Post — As Florida braces for Hurricane Ian to strike its west coast and deliver heavy wind and rain throughout the state, at least six colleges and universities in Palm Beach County announced closures as of Tuesday afternoon. Florida Atlantic University announced that all its campuses would suspend classes and other operations Wednesday. Students living on campus in Boca Raton and Jupiter are “currently permitted to stay on campus,” the university said in its 3 p.m. update, noting that resident dining halls would remain open. “Residents are asked to bring their bicycles into their residences and those with vehicles are encouraged to fill up their gas tanks in case they have to leave campus,” the FAU website states.

Treasure Coast closings announced ahead of Hurricane Ian” via Colleen Wixon of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Closings have been announced throughout the Treasure Coast in advance of Hurricane Ian’s impact on the area. The Treasure Coast can expect heavy rain, likely up to 6 inches in some areas, wind gusts forecast to be up to 60 mph, and possible flooding. Indian River County landfill and all customer convenience centers close Wednesday and will remain closed until further notice. Indian River Shores town offices, including the postal center, will close beginning Tuesday and remain closed until it is determined to be safe to return. St. Lucie Tax Collector offices are closed Wednesday and Thursday. Offices are expected to reopen at 8 a.m. on Friday and will remain open until 6 p.m.

—”When will South Florida, Keys see the worst of Ian and when will bad weather clear out?” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald

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Stoneman Douglas gunman was not as incapacitated as defense portrayed, prosecution says in rebuttal” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The gunman who shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 wasn’t nearly as mentally incapacitated as defense witnesses portrayed him, prosecutors said Tuesday. Assistant State Attorneys Mike Satz, Jeff Marcus and Carolyn McCann are preparing to introduce testimony in the words of the defendant himself, which included detailed descriptions of the time he spent before, during and after the mass shooting. It includes an unproven assertion that two victims were conscious and alert in their final moments as they waited for Nikolas Cruz to reach them and open fire.

Nikolas Cruz wasn’t as incapacitated as the defense would have you believe, prosecutors say.

His sister died in the Parkland massacre. He wants the gunman to live.” via Danielle Paquette of The Washington Post — Robert Schentrup dreaded this trial. He dreaded the graphic rehashing of his sister’s murder. He dreaded the state campaign for her killer to face the death penalty, a sentence that, after years of therapy and reading and reflection, the 23-year-old could not support. He dreaded the arguments it would spark with his parents. The shooter who killed his sister Carmen and 16 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day in 2018 had pleaded guilty, and no one disputed that guilt. Why relive the horrors of the Parkland massacre, Robert thought, when Cruz could spend the rest of his life in prison?

Broward schools investigate board members’ relationship with a vendor” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The state has ordered Broward schools to investigate an allegation that some School Board members and administrators may have improper ties to a former employee who now works for a major vendor. The complaint has prompted the school district to hire an outside audit firm, and according to multiple sources, search the cellphones and emails of board members and administrators. The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General received an anonymous complaint on June 13 related to Jillian Haring, a senior adviser for the Boston-based Public Consulting Group, or PCG. The company has received at least $25 million in district contracts in recent years.

Cops: Hialeah man posed as underage girl, extorted people over explicit photos, videos” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Hialeah police say high-school student Bryan Perez in May pretended to be an underage girl online, convinced a 20-year-old man to send a picture of his penis and then meet up at a park to have sex. But Perez wasn’t planning to turn in the man to cops. Instead, investigators say, Perez called the man a “pedophile” and demanded money to keep quiet. His demand, Perez later told cops: just $20. When the man later texted him and accused him of extortion, Perez replied: “Who r u going to call? The cops? Don’t you think that’s a bad idea? Because what you did illegal too. Don’t you think?” according to a police report.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

—“Osceola County asks residents to ‘shelter in place’ Wednesday and Thursday” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel

‘The stakes are high’: Hillsborough Co. officials expand mandatory evacuation order” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County officials have expanded its mandatory evacuation order to Zone B in preparation for Hurricane Ian. Zone B extends into areas of South Tampa, Westchase, and Town ’n’ Country, and the new order will affect about 90,000 additional residents, Hillsborough County administrator Bonnie Wise said at a news conference Tuesday. The order will take effect at noon on Tuesday. The county issued a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A, which wraps around the coast of the bay, on Monday. Zone A also includes all mobile or manufactured homes and those in low-lying areas. All residents in Zone A must be evacuated by 9 p.m., Wise said.

Hillsborough County expands its evacuation orders.

—”An additional 90,000 Hillsborough residents ordered to evacuate as hurricane looms” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal

St. Pete officials emphasize Hurricane Ian’s uncertainty, warn of storm surges and damaging tornadoes” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — St. Petersburg officials continued to warn residents to prepare and evacuate Tuesday afternoon as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida. While forecasters have shifted the hurricane’s central path slightly south of Tampa Bay, St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch made clear the storm’s direction could change at any time to a more direct hit. As of Tuesday afternoon, the area stretching from Longboat Key to Bonita Beach is expected to get the worst of the storm surge. “While we are hopeful that the current southward trend will lessen our impact, it is still a huge storm that will still bring damaging weather to our city,” Welch said.

Pasco County urging residents to heed evacuation as Ian’s expected path shifts” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Pasco County officials urged residents on Tuesday to heed evacuation orders and recommendations with Hurricane Ian’s path still uncertain. While the latest forecasts showed the storm’s likely path inching southward, the actual landfall of Ian is still unknown and coastal Pasco is still at risk for storm surge, high winds and flooding, said Pasco County Administrator Mike Carballa. He said he was concerned that some people are being complacent. “Take this storm seriously,” he said. “I tell you; it can happen here.”

Tampa International Airport to suspend operations due to Hurricane Ian” via Florida Politics — Tampa International Airport is suspending all operations beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday as the region prepares for impacts from Hurricane Ian. The closure will allow airport personnel to prepare the facility, including by securing jet bridges, ground equipment and aircraft. The airport, including the main terminal, airsides, and parking garages will be closed to all visitors at that time. The airport will assess damage after the storm as soon as it’s safe to do so and will closely coordinate reopening with area partners, with an eye on roadway safety, facility readiness and staffing.

Tweet, tweet:

Orlando International Airport to close Wednesday morning” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Orlando International Airport will cease flights starting Wednesday morning as Hurricane Ian heads toward Florida. “The Orlando International Airport is prepared for the arrival and impact of Hurricane Ian,” reads a statement from the airport. “After conferring with the National Weather Service, airlines and federal partners it has been decided that commercial operations at Orlando International Airport will cease at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, 09/28/22. Airport officials promised to accommodate travelers whose flights were disrupted by the airport’s closure.

—”Sarasota Bradenton International Airport set to close in advance of Hurricane Ian” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal

Howard Frankland Bridge, an $865 million construction project, prepares for Hurricane Ian” via Olivia George of the Tampa Bay Times — Just last week, hundreds of workers were toiling like beavers making a dam, drilling and pounding to the steady thrum of nearby traffic on the $865 million project to build a new span for the Howard Frankland bridge. But with Hurricane Ian promising to thwack Florida’s west coast in the coming days, it appears that construction has stopped and the heavy cranes and building materials have been moved away from the bridge as one of the Florida Department of Transportation’s biggest projects in a generation is on pause.

Publix announces store closures across Tampa Bay in advance of storm” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The possible reach of Hurricane Ian became a little more real Tuesday morning as Publix announced modified hours for 282 stores. It’s affecting stores along Florida’s Gulf Coast as far south as Key West and as far north as Minneola in Lake County. Key West’s Publix plans to shut its doors at 4 p.m. today and reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday. But others, such as the Dolphin Village Shopping Center in St. Petersburg, have announced shutdowns at 3 p.m. today. The store plans to reopen at 7 a.m. Friday. The supermarket behemoth listed the stores’ status on its website.

—”When will your Publix close before Ian? When will it reopen? What about Walmart, Target?” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald

USF moves football game to FAU stadium ahead of Hurricane Ian” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The University of South Florida will face East Carolina University in Boca Raton Saturday, a move in anticipation of Hurricane Ian. The football game was originally set to be played in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, but officials have opted to relocate to Florida’s East Coast as Hurricane Ian threatens Florida’s west coast. The game will now be played at Florida Atlantic University at 2:30 p.m. “With Hurricane Ian building into a powerful and potentially very impactful storm on the Bay area, the people and resources in our community, we felt it was in everyone’s best interest to move our game out of the Tampa Bay area,” USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said in a statement.

Bay Pines VA closes additional facilities ahead of Hurricane Ian” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is closing its St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Bradenton VA Clinics, starting at 2 p.m. on Tuesday and lasting through Friday due to the hurricane. The Sebring VA Clinic will also be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. The VA is also extending the closures of facilities such as the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, which will be closed Monday through Friday, including its Emergency Department. The North Pinellas VA Clinic will also be closed through Friday. The Lee County Healthcare Center, and the Naples and Port Charlotte VA Clinics will be closed through Thursday. The VA announced that the scope of these closures may change as more information comes on the impact of the storm.

—”Lakeland Regional Health canceling elective procedures during Hurricane Ian” via Nathaniel Rodriguez of WFLA

Citrus County opens shelters, orders coastal evacuation ahead of Hurricane Ian” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County is calling for a mandatory evacuation of coastal communities in anticipation of Hurricane Ian’s arrival sometime Wednesday. Shelters opened at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The evacuation order is for all areas west of U.S. 19, including Chassahowitzka, Crystal River, Homosassa and Ozello, and some areas east of U.S. 19. All other areas are in a voluntary evacuation, especially for people living in mobile homes, RVs and manufactured homes.

Disney, Universal close for Hurricane Ian; Rosen Hotels host evacuees” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando will close Wednesday and Thursday as Hurricane Ian approaches Orlando, the theme parks said Tuesday afternoon. Universal announced its closure around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, with Disney following just before 4 p.m. The major theme parks trailed SeaWorld and Legoland, which had already declared they were shutting down on Wednesday and Thursday. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the closest theme park to the hurricane’s projected landfall, closed early Tuesday, extending its previously announced two-day shutdown.

Filming shut down in Tampa Bay as Hurricane Ian nears Florida” via David Robb of Deadline — Filming in Tampa Bay has shut down as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida’s Gulf Coast. “All permitted production is shut down now,” Tampa Bay Film Commissioner Tyler Martinolich told Deadline. “We have several feature films in various stages of production, as well as a bunch of commercials, that are affected by the storm,” he said. “We suspended all film permits as of Saturday the 24th, and we will continue to have those suspended through Friday the 30th, at which point we will reassess as far as damage and local resources and the aftermath of the storm.” Netflix’s Pain Hustlers, starring Emily Blunt and Chris Evans, is one of the films shut down there.

Do Tampa residents need re-entry tags to get home after Hurricane Ian?” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — Mayor Castor and other emergency management and law enforcement officials held a morning news conference on Hurricane Ian’s path and how it could impact Tampa. The Mayor and Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Barbara Tripp said they were ready to protect the property of residents. Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor said police would not stop residents from returning when the storm was over. “In order for residents to get back into their neighborhoods and communities post-evacuation, we are asking that they have their hurricane hang tag available,” O’Connor said.

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Orange County Board to discuss a ‘Tenant Bill of Rights’” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County could soon become the fifth local government in Florida to adopt a “Tenant Bill of Rights,” the latest effort by the County Commission to help beleaguered renters as housing costs continue to rise and evictions surge throughout Central Florida. The Board, which voted 4-3 last month to put a rent-cap ordinance on the Nov. 8 ballot, is set Tuesday to hear a staff presentation on creating rules that add tenant protections and define duties of a taxpayer-funded Office of Tenant Services to assist renters. County staff sought input from Florida Rising, a tenant advocacy group, and the Florida Apartment Association, a landlord group whose members own 80% of the residential rental units in Orange County.

Manager who stole nearly $13M from USF is sentenced to 10 years in prison” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Ralph Puglisi, the former accounting manager who embezzled nearly $13 million from the University of South Florida, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday. Puglisi, 60, pleaded guilty last year to using company credit cards for more than $12.8 million in charges, a large portion of which went to adult websites as well as travel, home improvements, real estate, wedding costs and other expenses. While an initial report stated that he was expected to face 6.5 to 8 years in prison, a memo filed by his attorney last week in a Tampa federal court pushed for a shorter sentence, stating that Puglisi had a history of mental and physical illnesses that impacted his decision-making.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Lee County officials lay out plans as Hurricane Ian shifts toward Southwest Florida” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The latest storm path forecasts for Hurricane Ian bring harsh news for Southwest Florida. There is now an expectation of 8 to 12 feet of storm surge in Fort Myers. “The county is currently under hurricane warning and flood watch,” said Arlene Hunter, City Manager of Bonita Springs. “Please continue to monitor the Lee County Emergency Operations website.” That prompted Lee County to announce the opening of more shelters and expand an evacuation order to Zone B and open additional shelters.

Manatee County evacuating thousands ahead of Hurricane Ian” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said the county is evacuating tens of thousands of residents from the barrier islands. Mandatory evacuations are required for residents in zones A and B. Residents living in evacuation level C are encouraged to find shelter further inland. Authorities will be shutting off the water and sewage lift stations to the barrier islands at sunset on Tuesday to save infrastructure from the “hurricane’s wrath.” More than 229,000 sandbags have been distributed to date at sites over the county, and supplies have been exhausted. They are out of bags.

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Mayor bristles at appointment of former opponent to Venice environmental advisory board” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Bob Daniels, a former member of the Venice City Council who in 2019 ran an unsuccessful campaign for Mayor, will return to public service as a member of the city’s Environmental Advisory Board. The council approved his application on a 5-1 vote Tuesday, over the objection of Mayor Ron Feinsod, who pulled the matter off the consent agenda. “Every one of his large campaign signs was on a construction site,” said Feinsod, who argued that placement was a representation that Daniels was far from pro-environment and that he referred to Daniels as “Bulldozer Bob.”

—LOCAL: N. FL —

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry declares state of emergency, announces closings” via Hanna Holthaus of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Mayor Curry declared a state of emergency effective at noon Wednesday and activated the city’s Emergency Operations Center in preparation for Hurricane Ian. Government offices will close when the declaration goes into effect, and the city will open the Legends Center at 5 p.m. that evening as an emergency shelter. More will open if needed, Curry said at a news conference. Curry said to prepare as if the storm were a hybrid of Hurricane Irma and be ready for potential flooding, especially in the following communities: downtown Jacksonville, the beaches, San Marco, Riverside, South Hampton, Pirate’s Cove, Ortega, Venetia and the area around the stadium.

Lenny Curry gets proactive about Hurricane Ian.

Curry advises Duval Zone A to prepare for possible evacuations” via Hanna Holthaus and Clayton Freeman of The Florida Times-Union — Curry advised residents in Duval County’s Zone A on Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the possibility of evacuations Wednesday in advance of Hurricane Ian. In a Twitter post, Curry said, “As Hurricane #Ian moves closer to the @CityofJax, we are watching closely to determine if evacuations in Zone A is the safest option for citizens. We will make this decision early Wednesday morning, but if you live in Zone A please be prepared for this possible scenario.”

Nassau County sees Hurricane Ian coming, declares state of emergency” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Getting ahead of Tuesday’s tropical storm and storm surge warnings, the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency regarding Hurricane Ian, freeing up the county’s funds and personnel. “Obviously at the (county emergency operations center), we have been very busy,” Nassau County Emergency Management Director Tim Cooper said. “We’ve been prepping for this, really, for months and months, more steadily in the last week, of course, we’ve been watching this since the time it was Tropical Depression 9. The only thing that is certain about the forecast right now is the uncertainty, as we all know.

St. Johns County orders evacuations for coastal areas starting 6 a.m. Wednesday” via First Coast News — St. Johns County Emergency management officials have announced an evacuation for coastal areas of St. Johns County. This includes Zone A, Zone B and Zone F South of County Road 214 starting at 6 a.m. tomorrow. These zones include the entire city of St. Augustine and Anastasia Island. This includes people who live in boats, RVS and mobile homes. Officials say once you leave the barrier islands, the roads may close, and it may become difficult to come back. If you are able to leave today, officials encourage you to leave today.

Duval County Public Schools cancels classes; Clay, St. Johns announce closures ahead of Hurricane Ian” via Hanna Holthaus of The Florida Times-Union

‘It’s all track-dependent’: Tallahassee could still see strong winds, rain bands from Ian” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — As Hurricane Ian’s forecast track continued to shift to the south and east, its chances of bringing widespread damage to Tallahassee dimmed, though not entirely. Kristian Oliver, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Tallahassee could see sustained winds between 30 and 40 mph with higher gusts and 3 to 4 inches of rain from Ian, with impacts arriving as early as late Wednesday and lasting into Friday. However, those wind speeds and rainfall totals might not materialize. “The storm has tracked a little bit more to the south and east and kind of nudged in that direction over the last 12 to 24 hours,” Oliver said. “That might shift our values down a little bit. It’s all track-dependent at this point.”

Leon County Schools to remain open Wednesday” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Schools will remain open Wednesday as Hurricane Ian continues its path toward the west coast of Central and South Florida. The school district stated on Twitter that shelters will not be opening on campuses Wednesday, which allows school to remain open. On Monday, LCS Superintendent Rocky Hanna said seven of the district’s schools were ready to serve as shelters for evacuees if needed. The district will continue to update the community on Wednesday, the tweet states. Florida High will also remain open on Wednesday. FAMU DRS, however, will be closed Wednesday through Friday.

How is Skanska preparing for Hurricane Ian after Hurricane Sally debacle?” via Benjamin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal — With Hurricane Ian bearing down on the Gulf Coast, Skanska representatives told the News Journal they are taking every precaution they can ahead of the storm. Skanska’s failure to secure barges led to the partial destruction of the Pensacola Bay Bridge during Hurricane Sally in 2020, leading to a nine-month closure of the bridge and numerous lawsuits from area governments, business owners and residents who suffered financial losses during the bridge outage. “As the Gulf Coast prepares for the approaching storm, we are closely monitoring Hurricane Ian’s projected path,” said Maritza Ferreira, Skanska’s communications director for the southeast region. “Skanska is implementing its storm preparations and is currently in the process of securing barges and cranes and mobilizing equipment into safe harbor.”

Skanska is working to avoid the Hurricane Sally mess. Image via the Pensacola News Journal.

—“Okaloosa County keeps eye on Hurricane Ian: Bridge tolls suspended, high surf expected” via Devon Ravine of Northwest Florida Daily News

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Gadsden County Commissioner appointed by DeSantis resigns after KKK costume photo emerges” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gadsden County religious leaders are demanding a local commissioner and DeSantis “come forward” to address allegations that the commissioner resigned last Friday after a photo surfaced purportedly showing him wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood at what could have been a Halloween party years earlier. Jeffery Moore, a Havana resident and former Department of Revenue employee, was appointed by DeSantis in late July and abruptly resigned from the post in Florida’s only predominantly Black county after the photo began circulating in the local community.

This too?Red flag warning issued for potential wildfires in Escambia, Santa Rosa counties” via Benjamin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal — The National Weather Service in Mobile issued a red flag warning Tuesday afternoon recommending against outdoor fires in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Approaching weather changes that combine low humidity levels and strong winds could lead to out-of-control fires in the area, according to the warning. It has been more than two weeks since most of the three-county area has seen rainfall and wildfire danger is on the rise, according to the Florida Forest Service. Add to that a forecast calling for increased winds and low humidity for the next three days and firefighters are bracing for the possibility of significant fire activity. The red flag warning is issued until 7 p.m. Wednesday.

— TOP OPINION —

DeSantis is making an asylum crisis of his own” via Dara Lind of The New York Times — DeSantis’ stunt wasn’t meant as a policy critique. If it had been, he would have had to acknowledge that — by the logic he and other immigration hawks have been using for years — he was encouraging future migration by (falsely) promising jobs and government benefits to migrants.

But even trollish stunts have consequences for policy debates. The broader the attacks by the Republican Governors, the narrower the space of alternative policies they could support. By refusing to articulate what America ought to be doing on the U.S.-Mexico border, DeSantis is painting himself and his party into a corner — where the only acceptable position will be rejecting the principle of asylum entirely.

Asylum has become a policy problem for both parties. The Biden administration is attempting to address complaints — like those Republicans have made in the past — that the system takes too long to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate asylum-seekers. Republicans, meanwhile, are gleefully erasing any distinction between the two.

What’s at stake, though no one is willing to articulate it, is the idea of asylum itself: Does America still embrace its obligation under international law to provide sanctuary to at least some unauthorized immigrants? The answer is no longer obvious. By continuing to insist that the status quo is “open borders,” Greg Abbott and DeSantis are sending the message that the asylum law the United States has had for 42 years is intolerable — without openly calling for its repeal.

— OPINIONS —

Florida, the most dangerous state” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Florida’s siren call has duped us all for generations, each new arrival more arrogant than the last. Always, we convince ourselves our own fates will be different. We’ve built denser and higher, clogged nature’s shut-off valves, spoiled its soil, dug deeper into its waterways. Florida’s peak hurricane season coincides with the time of year our natural tides are their most extreme, a cruel joke that turns space and time against us — it’s not just a hurricane’s path that matters but also its time of arrival. What exactly does our flood insurance cover? Insurance. Heh. It turns out governing involves a lot more than performing, but Florida elected a performer in chief. Having fun? Florida is beset by enemies around and within. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Central Florida, Ian is coming. We’ll get through this” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The next 48-72 hours will be scary. Ian is a big storm, and a mean one. As we write this, it’s still unpredictable but we know Florida will take a hit. There is almost no chance of a last-minute reprieve, and as of Tuesday afternoon, most models predict a path that plows into the Gulf Coast between Tampa and Naples and then tracks northeast, with the dreaded “dirty side” lashing much of Central Florida with vicious winds and heavy rain. The areas of most intense wreckage will come from high winds that topple trees and rip off roofs. But as the storm passes, flooding will surge and there could be downed power lines that are still live.

Hurricane Ian’s approaching, and all we have now is each other” via Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The political sign in your front yard cannot save you now. Hurricane Ian is approaching, and it doesn’t give a damn about which party you are affiliated with, how you feel about vaccinations, or if you think the 2020 Presidential election was rigged or not. It has one objective, and that is to obliterate homes, shoot telephone poles into boats and send lawn furniture to Arcadia while laughing at the notion of political partisanship. That guy you no longer talk to because he voted for Trump? He may have a chain saw that can cut down the tree on top of your garage. The neighbor you hate because he went Biden? He may have a charged cellphone so you can call your family in Ohio just to tell them you are alive.

Tampa Bay, for the love of … please get ready for Hurricane Ian” via Stephanie Hayes 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.

DeSantis’s vile stunt outdoes Greg Abbott in trolling cruelty” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — It’s all so terribly unfair. Abbott has bused more than 10,000 migrants to Democratic strongholds. Yet suddenly, DeSantis has upstaged him with a single incident. Abbott’s allies and advisers are “stung” and “annoyed” by DeSantis’s stunt. Abbott’s office didn’t get a heads-up that DeSantis chartered planes to pick up migrants in San Antonio. Why this stunt catapulted DeSantis ahead in the right-wing trolling sweepstakes sheds light on the ugly incentives pulling on GOP politicians with higher ambitions these days.

It was all a hoax” via Paula Aceves of New York Magazine — Why I left is no big secret. No one’s making any money in Venezuela. On Sept. 8, a lady named Perla appeared. She said she could take 50 people to sanctuary states. Perla came back with two vans. Everything was done behind the McDonald’s. Everyone was kind to us because it was all a hoax. When we landed in Martha’s Vineyard, there was a black van waiting for us. The van took us to a house and the driver said, “There’s a doorbell. Ring it. They are waiting for you there.” The lady asked, “Who are you?” and we told her, “The gentleman brought us. He said to ring the doorbell.” But when we turned around, the black van was gone.

Polls are useful. They just can’t predict elections in swing states.” via Perry Bacon Jr. of The Washington Post — Polls now suggest Democrats have a good chance of keeping control of the U.S. Senate and a smaller-but-real chance in the House, after it seemed for much of Biden’s tenure that the party was destined to have a bad midterm cycle. But polls also wrongly suggested Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election, Biden would carry some swing states by substantial margins and Democrats would win a 52- or 53-seat Senate majority in 2020.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Stranded Shrimp as Jax declares state of emergency for Hurricane Ian” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — For most baseball teams, at the end of the year, you’re just playing out the final games and preparing for the offseason. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, mathematically eliminated from the AAA Playoffs during their last homestand, are closing their season away with three games this week at the Norfolk Tides. As the Shrimp players and staff watch from Virginia, Hurricane Ian has Northeast Florida in its sights following what’s expected to be a devastating strike on Southwest Florida.

How does beer become water? Tampa brewery switches what’s in the can for Hurricane Ian” via Jeff Kleinman of the Bradenton Herald — One Tampa Bay brewery has halted canning its beer and started canning water to give to people who need it before and after Hurricane Ian. King State and The Brutalist are closing Wednesday and Thursday because of the storm. That means five King State beers in line to be canned this week will be delayed. But the brewery company, which runs the two locations, is continuing to can. Instead of beer, the business will be canning a ton of water and providing it free to those in need. They’re giving it out at King State in Tampa at The Brutalist in St. Petersburg. The limit is two cases per person.

King State pivots to canning water for Hurricane Ian.

Ride out Hurricane Ian with a $100 bloody mary — The Ben, a luxury boutique hotel in West Palm Beach, is launching the $100 “Benjamin” bloody mary ahead of the storm. The drink is garnished with over-the-top bites ranging from king crab and oysters to Italian-style sushi rolls and lamb chops. Executive Chef Marc Rosen crafted the cocktail to bring people together to socialize and tell stories, in the spirit of The Ben’s muse, Byrd Spillman Dewey, who lived in one of West Palm Beach’s original estates in 1892. As a bestselling author, grand storyteller and host, she named her estate Ben Trovato, derived from “Se non è vero, è ben trovato,” an Italian phrase which, loosely translated, means “Even if it isn’t true, it’s a good story.”

Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine for ‘Deadpool 3’” via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — Jackman is coming out of retirement as Wolverine. The actor will return to his signature X-Men role in the upcoming Deadpool 3, star Ryan Reynolds announced Tuesday on Twitter. Reynolds also announced that the film will open on Sept. 6, 2024. Jackman first played Wolverine in 2000s X-Men, the film that turned him into a global star. After 17 years and nine films (counting several cameos), Jackman officially retired from the role to much fanfare with 2017’s Logan, in which the adamantium clawed mutant was killed off.

To watch the announcement, please click on the image below:

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Helen Aguirre Ferré, former DeSantis Communications Director and now Republican Party of Florida Executive Director, and Tampa-based consultant Beth Leytham.

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Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.



#FlaPol

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, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




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