Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.7.22

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Get ready for an espresso shot of Florida politics and policy.

Good Friday morning.

Space Florida is adding former state Rep. Mike Miller and veteran communications pro Anna Alexopoulos Farrar to its executive team.

Miller, a Republican, served two terms in the state House representing part of Orange County and has worked at Florida Virtual School since leaving office.

As Space Florida’s new vice president of External Affairs and Workforce Integration, Miller will advocate for the mission of Space Florida at the state and federal levels and guide the organization on ways to enhance the talent pipeline by bringing aerospace industry professionals to the state.

Mike Miller and Anna Alexopoulos Farrar are two blockbuster hires for Space Florida.

Meanwhile, the state-backed space industry booster organization said Farrar will serve as vice president of Corporate Communications.

Farrar comes to Space Florida from PureCycle Technologies, a high-tech recycling company where she served as the lead on global communications strategy. She previously helped public affairs firm Converge Public Strategies launch a communications practice and served as Deputy CFO in charge of communications and external affairs under CFO Jimmy Patronis.

Space Florida said Farrar will lead the charge on building a communications practice within Space Florida and focus on amplifying the brand through comprehensive communications strategies.

“We are thrilled to welcome both Mike and Anna to our executive team and know their expertise will add to the unrivaled experience we have at Space Florida. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience and will help us execute our mission, raise awareness of the aerospace culture and ecosystem we’ve built in Florida, and help us deepen our state’s position as the Launch Capital of the World,” Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said.

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GrayRobinson announced that Candace Brascomb is joining its Government Affairs and Lobbying and Litigation Sections as of counsel.

Based in the Orlando office, Brascomb will work on behalf of clients in various areas, including health care, labor and employment, and defamation. She will utilize her background working with state Representatives, Senators and advisers to connect clients with opportunities and advocate for legislation supporting Florida businesses.

The seasoned litigator has more than a decade of experience working in Florida’s government. She previously worked as a prosecutor for the Florida Department of Health, where she managed a team of attorneys working closely with the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Candace Brascomb takes her powerhouse legislative experience to GrayRobinson.

Most recently, she worked as an analyst for the Florida House, advising on judicial legislation and legislative programs.

Brascomb received her law degree from Stetson University. She also earned an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in political science and international affairs from Florida State University.

Her hire comes a day after GrayRobinson announced that Susan Evans and Bentley Nettles would join the firm’s National Alcohol Beverage Practice, working out of GrayRobinson’s D.C. and Key West offices, respectively.

At the state level, GrayRobinson consistently ranks as one of the Top 5 lobbying firms in the state. Led by Dean Cannon, a former House Speaker, the firm represents more than 200 lobbying clients spanning from well-known Fortune 500 companies to small municipal governments.

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A few other thoughts:

🐘 — Two of the U.S. House seats most likely to flip GOP are in Florida: FiveThirtyEight gives Republicans a 7 in 10 shot of flipping the House from a narrow Democratic majority. Two of their best shots are in Florida. FiveThirtyEight gives Republican Anna Paulina Luna a whopping 96 in 100 shot of claiming the open CD 13 over Democrat Eric Lynn, while Republican Cory Mills shot is even stronger — 98 in 100 — over Democrat Karen Green in CD 7. Seats in Tennessee and Arizona are also almost guaranteed for GOP pickups. Read more here.

💀 — Meet the GOP’s new death panel: In 2009, as the debate around former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law was raging, the GOP effectively, if not deceitfully, stirred fear by claiming Obamacare death panels were coming for grandma. Fast forward to 2022 and a similar scare tactic is at play: Super scary IRS agents, which some, like U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, speculating in dystopian fashion that said agents could storm a small business with AK-15s “ready to shoot.” While it might be fantastical, it’s already happening. Look no further than Virginia, where ads just launched warning of the impending IRS storm. Read more here.

😼 — Political bias in the workplace up as Midterms approach: You might want to think twice about that MAGA bumper sticker. Society for Human Resource Management research shows politically biased treatment at work has doubled since before the pandemic, and it’s most affecting conservatives. A poll of more than 1,500 human resource professionals found that just 8% of organizations have communicated guidelines for political discussion in the workplace. More employers, 30%, said they’d hesitate to hire someone with extremely conservative views, versus only 20% who said the same about liberal beliefs. Apparently, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t the only thing partisanship is ruining.

🔥 — Online fundraising is dragging us to Hell: What began as an innovative way to crowdsource political donations from the common man has turned into, in the words of New York Times guest essayist Tim Miller, “a perverse incentive structure” that empowers congressional “shock jocks.” Never mind careful relationship building, he writes, the new online solicitation machine encourages “being jerks on the internet.” And, sigh, it works. Read more here.

➗ — Is Algebra dumbing down our collective brain power? We think of math “as a huge boulder we make everyone pull, without assessing what all this pain achieves,” according to political scientist Andrew Hacker. No one doubts the myriad applications for various types of math, from chemistry to accounting. But is forcing this math on students doing more harm than good? That’s the question Temple Grandin tackles in an Atlantic think piece evaluating how teaching has become more about what we can test and less about what kids need to learn to be productive workers, professionals, makers and innovators. Read more here.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@mmcauliff: hell of an announcement: “I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., do hereby grant a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to (1) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana.”

@maxasteele: more like Dank Brandon

@MitchPerry18: @CharlieCrist all in on @POTUS announcement on pardoning federal cannabis convictions. He calls it “a monumental step forward for our criminal justice system.”

@grace_panetta: the Joint Chiefs of Staff has a whole new meaning now

@JebBush: Ben Sasse is brilliant, a consensus builder and will be a great leader of a great University. Ben and family, welcome to Florida!

@Mdixon55: Florida Senate Democrats helped make Ben Sasse president of the University of Florida, and other weird things you’d never expect to tweet

Tweet, tweet:

@senpizzo: Is this irony, hypocrisy, or both? “Migrants Lead Hurricane Ian Clean-up, Despite (Ron) DeSantis

— DAYS UNTIL —

Deadline to register for General Election — 5; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 11; NBA season tips off — 11; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 14; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 17; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 18; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 18; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 20; Early voting begins for General Election — 22; 2022 General Election — 32; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 35; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 35; FITCon 2022 begins — 41; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 41; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 45; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 48; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 57; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 57; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 60; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 70; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 86; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 117; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 133; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 134; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 151; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 168; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 193; 2023 Session Sine Die — 210; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 210; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 238; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 287; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 392; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 406; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 539; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 658; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 658; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 763; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 941.

— TOP STORY —

Joe Biden pardons thousands for ‘simple possession’ of marijuana” via Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — President Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana, as his administration takes a dramatic step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging practices that disproportionately impact people of color.

He is also calling on Governors to issue similar pardons for those convicted of state marijuana offenses, which reflect the vast majority of marijuana possession cases.

With a stroke of a pen, Joe Biden brings legalization one step, closer to reality.

Biden, in a statement, said the move reflects his position that “no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.”

“There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result,” he said. “My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”

Biden is also directing the secretary of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.

‘This is huge’: Florida Democrats laud Biden’s marijuana moves” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Praise emerged from the leaders of the state’s Democratic Party, including gubernatorial candidate Crist: “Biden’s pardon of federal marijuana convictions is a monumental step forward for our criminal justice system as we work to make our country more just and equitable for all. As Governor, I will push for the full legalization of marijuana and the expungement of all existing charges and sentences for nonviolent offenses.” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried vowed to push for state-level clemency in the interim: “The President is doing the right thing ordering a review of the classification of marijuana, and I am pleased to see that this will be an expedited process.” Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to offer state-level pardons, meanwhile. “I applaud President Biden’s decision to pardon all federal marijuana possession convictions. It’s time for Ron DeSantis to do the same. If he won’t, Charlie Crist will,” Book tweeted.

— AFTERMATH —

FEMA pays out $3.5M in federal flood policy claims from Ian” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Hurricane Ian’s massive storm surge and heavy rains resulted in rampant flooding throughout Florida, especially on its southwest coast, and one week after it hit, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has paid out $3.5 million in flood claims. The payments to residents with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies will grow as more damage from Ian is assessed in the weeks and months ahead. So far, FEMA, which administers the NFIP, has received 25,000 claims.

FEMA starts paying Hurricane Ian flood claims.

Hurricane Ian power outages largely limited to four counties” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Less than 2% of Floridians are still without power nine days after Hurricane Ian made landfall in the state. As of early morning Oct. 6, only four counties still have greater than 5% of customers without electricity. The vast majority of outages remain on grids for the Lee County Electric Cooperative and with Florida Power & Light. FPL says it expects to have all customers powered up within 72 hours, but LCEC says it could still take more than five days to get the power on for all customers. The greatest problems are still in Lee County, where the storm made landfall on Sept. 27. A total of 136,052 customers still do not have service as of 6 a.m. Oct. 6.

First post-Hurricane Ian community medical center opens in Fort Myers” via Florida Politics — The first community medical center to provide emergency and urgent medical support in Florida, post-Hurricane Ian, officially opened in Lee County this week with Director of Florida Division of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie in attendance. The facility, found inside Edison Mall in Ft. Myers, will be staffed 24/7 with medical personnel to treat, stabilize, and transfer patients to assist with overflow from regional hospitals. The site will have 100 beds with the ability to expand to 1,000 beds, as needed. The community medical center is housed within a former Sears location at Edison Mall, spanning 30,000 square feet.

First 12 hours back on Sanibel ‘very successful,’ city manager says” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — A week after Hurricane Ian ravaged their island, Sanibel let residents and business owners back on to see what had happened. The first 12-hour shift went well, said City Manager Dana Souza at the Wednesday evening Facebook Live update. “I don’t know how many people went, but there were no injuries, which means it was very successful, considering the hazards,” Souza said. Immediately after the storm, officials ordered a complete curfew, but after complaints, the city began allowing people to return between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., using private boats and private docks.

Salvation Army regroups in North Port; others step in to provide hot meals” via Earle Kimel and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Salvation Army is regrouping after its service center at 14600 Tamiami Trail, North Port was destroyed by the hurricane. The center in Cape Coral has been destroyed as well. The social services and disaster relief organization has still assembled and deployed multiple teams of disaster workers to aid in the Hurricane Ian relief effort. The Salvation Army has sent nearly 200 trained disaster workers into the affected areas of the Gulf Coast, including 40 mobile feeding vehicles. The relief workers have come primarily from the southeastern U.S., but some have come from as far as Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Relief group based in Venice offers hot meals, hurricane damage repairs and spiritual outreach” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Mike Hibbard was vacationing with family in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, when he got the call to respond to Hurricane Ian as part of Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief. The team, initially about a dozen volunteers, arrived in Venice on Saturday and started its monthlong outreach mission Monday, at First Baptist Church of Venice, 312 W. Miami Ave. Monday night, the volunteer took 200 hot meals to residents of Country Club Estates — a manufactured home community located along the Intracoastal Waterway on the island of Venice.

Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief comes to SW Florida to distribute more hot meals to Ian’s survivors.

Suncoast Credit Union donates $600K to Hurricane Ian relief efforts” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Suncoast Credit Union has announced that it will donate $600,000 to Hurricane Ian relief efforts. The company is donating $500,000 to Volunteer Florida and $100,000 to the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools. “We believe we have a moral obligation to help others when we are able to do so,” said Kevin Johnson, president of CEO of Suncoast Credit Union. “The impact of Hurricane Ian is tragic. Our only goal for these funds is to help those with the greatest of needs in order to rebuild communities impacted by Ian. We believe that by working together, we can all do our part to assist struggling Floridians persevere through these times.”

Education Foundation of Sarasota County establishes Hurricane Ian Disaster Relief Fund” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Education Foundation of Sarasota County has set up a Hurricane Ian Disaster Relief & Recovery Fund to accept monetary donations to support Sarasota County Schools and its 5,000-plus employees. The ferocious hurricane caused widespread damage with areas in South Sarasota County receiving the district’s worst impact. Full assessments of damages to schools are underway, a spokesperson said, and will be ongoing as district officials access campuses and receive updates from teachers and school support staff.

Deltona Strong nonprofit hopes to help residents with immediate needs in Ian’s aftermath” via Katie Kustura of The Daytona News-Journal — As the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its partners work to address 200,000-plus requests from Floridians and others devastated by Ian, a small nonprofit is looking to help residents of Volusia County’s biggest city. Deltona Strong, a grassroots community group, is collecting monetary donations and taking requests for assistance on the organization’s website, Deltonastrong.org. “We’re focused on what we can do for our neighbors here in the city who are maybe needing something immediate,” such as food, clothing and toiletries, Troy Shimkus, the nonprofit’s president, said by phone Wednesday. He said they also hope to provide temporary hotel stays to those whose homes flooded and now reek of raw sewage.

Florida grateful for help after Hurricane Ian, but sent Indiana Guard home” via The Associated Press — After Hurricane Ian struck Florida’s southwest coast, officials in the state realized they had enough National Guard units available and sent the crews that had come from Indiana home. Florida had requested help through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. And the Indiana units were on their way when they were sent home Sept. 30, two days after the storm slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Indiana National Guard was among the units that headed toward Florida “out of an abundance of caution,” William Manley, the deputy communications director for the Florida National Guard said Thursday.

— HURRICANE STORYLINES —

A hot tub on the Sanibel’s The Dunes 18th green? Thanks Ian” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — Sanibel is the home of The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club at The Inns of Sanibel. Mike Dopslaff, a Bonita Springs resident, has served as the PGA head professional there for two years. He and his staff have a lot of work ahead of them. The clubhouse still stands. “To the extent there are walls and a roof still there. We will start tearing out carpet tomorrow,” he said. The list is long and includes everything from replacing a damaged fleet of golf carts to understanding what the long-term impact is from the surge of salt water that covered the greens and Bermuda grass fairways.

Snook Haven flooded, closed by Myakka River” via Morgan Simpson of The Sun — Snook Haven Restaurant is underwater as the Myakka River overflows in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. “It was what I thought it was going to be, which was disappointing,” said Justin Pachota, the president of Venice Pier Group, which has operated Snook Haven since 2013. His wife and some friends went out to the area Tuesday and posted pictures on social media of water around the park. The restaurant is in Sarasota County’s Snook Haven Park and is nestled along the Myakka River. Located at 5000 East Venice Avenue, Snook Haven is known for its old Florida feel.

A piece of old Florida, Snook Haven Restaurant, has been swallowed up by the Myakka River.

Here’s FCC and Port St. Lucie’s plan to collect excess storm debris in wake of Hurricane Ian” via Olivia McKelvey of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Large amounts of debris such as downed tree limbs and loose branches are scattered throughout the city in the wake of Hurricane Ian. And although there’s not so much that the city must use another hauler beyond recently hired trash collector FCC Environmental Services of Florida, the city is asking residents to consider holding off on any unnecessary trimming so FCC can catch up on removing vegetation waste. “If this would have been a significant storm event, the city would have activated its emergency third party debris hauler for emergency collection services,” Michael Lubeck, assistant director of Neighborhood Services, wrote.

A day in the life of a Pine Island volunteer: ‘We just need to get off our butts and help them’” via Lici Beveridge of the Fort Myers News-Press — The sun is barely over the horizon as volunteers began their day. Tyler Wooldridge of Lakeland already has a good idea of who is coming in for the day and how many teams he needs to put together. He checks equipment and supplies that will be needed for the day and begins pulling people together to send to Pine Island, a place hard hit by Hurricane Ian. The island was separated from the mainland by a bridge that was damaged by the storm, isolating residents who opted to ride it out at home.

Why the Florida fantasy withstands reality” via Michael Grunwald of The Atlantic — After Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida’s Gulf Coast, I rode a boat through the canals of Cape Coral, the “Waterfront Wonderland,” America’s fastest-growing city at the time. It was a sunny day with a gentle breeze and just a few puffs of clouds, so as I pointed to the blown-out lanais and piles of storm debris, my guide, a snowbird named Brian Tattersall, kept teasing me for missing the point of a magical afternoon. He said I sounded like his northern friends who always told him he was crazy to live in the Florida hurricane zone. “Come on. Does this feel crazy?” he asked, as we drifted past some palm trees.

— 2022 —

Ian shakes up election preparations, could hurt Florida turnout” via Jeffrey Schweers and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Running an election in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian is going to be a monumental challenge for elections officials in the Florida counties hit hardest by the storm as they face poll worker shortages, damaged polling places and voters who lost their homes. With a month to go, county election supervisors in Southwest Florida and other parts of the state that suffered the most from Ian lost a full week of prep time and are now in the early stages of assessing the damage. “I want to keep it as normal as humanly possible. I think the more you depart, the more it makes problems,” DeSantis said.

The Lincoln Project thrashes Ron DeSantis for lack of Ian prep — Anti-Trumpism group The Lincoln Project released a new ad hammering DeSantis for not focusing on hurricane preparedness in the weeks leading up to Hurricane Ian’s landfall. “Imagine how many lives could have been saved if Ron DeSantis had spent enough time in the weeks before hurricane season preparing Southwest Florida,” the ad narrator states before a long pause showing scenes of the storm’s destruction, “instead of spending time and money trafficking Venezuelan migrants and trolling the news media. Imagine.” The ad is not the first criticism of the Governor’s response to the crisis, with some accusing him of flip-flopping on federal hurricane aid and others echoing the new ad’s message of a lack of preparation.

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

Planned Parenthood targets DeSantis in digital ad The Florida Planned Parenthood PAC has launched a new digital ad in support of Crist’s bid to deny DeSantis a second term. The committee said in a news release that it is backing the ad with a six-figure media buy on platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Google. “Ron DeSantis wants to control your health care decisions. He signed the most extreme abortion ban in Florida’s history into law, forcing pregnancy without exceptions for rape and incest” the ad begins. After contrasting DeSantis with Crist’s strong support for abortion rights, the ad concludes by urging viewers to “Vote Charlie Crist for Governor on Nov. 8 to keep our health care decisions ours.”

To view the ad, please click on the image below:

Assignment editors — With the “Together Florida Tour” in full swing, Crist will join the campaign’s bus for his first public stop as part of continued relief efforts for Floridians across the state affected by Hurricane Ian: 5:45 p.m., St. Petersburg. Location upon RSVP at [email protected].

Silenced Florida voters: Races for Congress, Legislature decided before voting even begins” via John Kennedy of the USA Today Network — Florida — Even before any one of millions of Floridians casts a vote in this fall’s pivotal congressional elections, the outcome is almost a foregone conclusion. In the race to represent Floridians in Congress, only two of 28 contests — at least on paper — appear competitive: District 27 in Miami-Dade County and District 15, in Polk, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. Most of the other districts heavily favor Republicans, with a handful of remaining districts dominated by Democrats. But it’s not just the congressional map that decidedly tilts Republican red.

Drag queen featured in Marco Rubio campaign ad speaks out” via Jo Yurcaba of NBC News — An Arizona drag queen said she has one question for Rubio after he featured her in a campaign ad: “Why are you so obsessed with me and Drag Story Hour?” Lil Miss Hot Mess, a drag performer who lives in Arizona and performs in Los Angeles, said a friend messaged her on Sept. 28 telling her that they saw her in one of Rubio’s campaign ads while watching the Weather Channel in Florida. “The radical left will destroy children if we don’t stop them,” Rubio says in the ad, which is also on Facebook. Lil Miss Hot Mess, who asked to go by her stage name due to safety concerns, said Rubio could instead be addressing the impacts of climate change, gun violence in schools or the economy.

Anna Paulina Luna ad bashes Eric Lynn as ‘career insider’ — A new ad airing in Florida’s 13th Congressional District slams Democratic nominee Lynn as a “career insider” who “supports Biden’s reckless spending that’s causing higher inflation.” The ad, paid for by Republican nominee Luna’s campaign, implores voters not to send him to Washington and pitches Luna as the candidate who will “stop the radical spending.” She says, “I think these spending bills are destructive. If we continue down the path that we’re going, there will be no more middle class, it’s going to completely destroy it.” According to AdImpact, the spot started airing on Oct. 6 in the Pinellas County-based district.

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

Anna Paulina Luna mailer seeks emergency contributions — to her campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Hurricane Ian left Gulf Coast residents asking for water, electricity and places to shower. But at least one congressional candidate is asking for “emergency” campaign donations. A new mailer from Luna, headlined as an “emergency contribution reply,” shows the Pinellas Republican in military fatigues and asks for donations. But it wants checks written to “Anna Paulina Luna for Congress,” not any type of relief organization. It’s been greeted by some as deceptive or, at least, tasteless, when voters in Florida’s 13th Congressional District still reeling from the storm.

87,000 IRS agents are ‘worst thing’ of Biden’s presidency, says Jared Moskowitz, congressional candidate. They’ll ‘be turned on the middle class.’” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Moskowitz, a Democratic candidate for Congress, said the worst thing that’s happened during Biden’s time in office is a new law adding “87,000 more” Internal Revenue Service agents. Moskowitz said the new IRS agents will target the middle class. “Worst thing that he’s done is I don’t think we needed 87,000 more IRS agents, quite frankly. That’s not to go after billionaires, OK. I don’t think that’s going to go after billionaires,” he said.

Candidates for CD 23 offer differing points of emphasis at forum” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — About 136 miles from where Hurricane Ian made landfall, the storm loomed large over a Thursday forum that brought together four candidates vying to represent South Florida in Congress. Democratic nominee Moskowitz, the Republican nominee Joe Budd, and two candidates with no party affiliation, Mark Napier, a military veteran, and Christine Scott, a small businessperson, came before about 80 of the area’s movers and shakers at a Tower Forum breakfast to discuss November’s election. They are competing to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, representing a district that spans Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Poll: Annette Taddeo in ‘statistical tie’ with María Elvira Salazar for CD 27” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — With just over a month remaining before Election Day, Miami Democratic state Sen. Taddeo is in a “statistical tie” with U.S. Rep. Salazar for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, new internal polling figures released Thursday show. Sarasota-based firm SEA Polling & Strategic Design surveyed 400 Miami-Dade County residents Oct. 3-5. Thirty-eight percent of respondents identified as Democratic, while 36% were Republican and 26% had no party affiliation. Pollsters found that Taddeo holds an almost 1-point advantage over Salazar heading into the homestretch of this year’s election, with 47% of those polled saying they prefer her over the incumbent. Meanwhile, 46.3% back Salazar and 6.7% said they are still undecided.

AFP-FL endorses Carolina Amesty for HD 45 — Conservative political committee Americans for Prosperity Action Florida is endorsing Republican Amesty in the race for House District 45. “When elected to the State House, Carolina Amesty will be a champion of policies that empower Florida parents with more education options to better meet the individual learning needs of their children,” said AFP Action-FL senior adviser Skylar Zander. “Amesty will support universal Education Savings Accounts and policies to expand charter schools.” Amesty, a private Christian university executive and businessperson from Windermere, will face Democrat Allie Braswell, a diversity consultant and former U.S. Marine, in the General Election. HD 45 covers southwestern Orange and northwestern Osceola including Walt Disney World.

Tim Bobanic sworn in, starts new era as latest Brevard County Supervisor of Elections” via Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — A changing of the guard took place Monday at the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Office with Bobanic officially assuming the mantle from Lori Scott to oversee the administration of elections on the Space Coast. Bobanic was sworn in at a ceremony at the government center in Viera. Bobanic, a veteran of nearly a decade of elections in Brevard, is now charged with ensuring that state-mandated election procedures are followed, and that the integrity of the process is above reproach.

From statewide to your ZIP code: Fresh data show which party has edge heading into midterms” via Ana Claudia Chacin of the Miami Herald — Heading into the last month of Florida’s midterm election campaign, Republicans are stretching their statewide advantage over Democrats in registered voters and continue to chip away at the partisan gap in Miami-Dade, long a Democratic stronghold. This dashboard of data provides maps that visualize the breakdown statewide; in newly redrawn Florida congressional districts, which could tilt races in favor of Republicans and help the GOP retake control of the U.S. House; and at the county and ZIP code level.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis rejects $175 million in projects in latest brush with state lawmakers” via Lawrence Mower and Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The $2.5 million that a panel of lawmakers granted last month to the West Klosterman Preservation Group was supposed to save the 14 acres of untouched forest in Pinellas County from development. But the grant was killed along with financial pledges for scores of other projects across the state after DeSantis failed to take a necessary step to distribute the money. The awards were part of a provision for “local support grants” tucked into the state budget that the Governor had signed in June.

Ron DeSantis nixes $175M in budget items, the latest scuffle with state lawmakers. Image via AP.

DeSantis upbeat about gas prices despite OPEC woes, Biden’s Venezuela pivot” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis has nothing but good things to say about gas prices in Florida, noting they are among the cheapest in the United States. The state is enjoying a one-month gas tax holiday, saving drivers 25.3 cents a gallon. During a news conference in Nokomis, the Governor noted that those were the lowest prices in recent history. “I actually saw it at $2.99,” DeSantis said as the crowd whooped. “I have not seen it under three dollars in a long time. Certainly, I don’t think, since Jan. 20 a year and a half ago.” DeSantis had no other criticisms for Biden’s approach to oil policy Thursday, even as he expressed concern about the decision of the OPEC+ cartel to cut production by 2 million barrels a day.

State attorney punts alleged voter fraud cases to DeSantis’ new election police” via Javon L. Harris of the Gainesville Sun — State investigators will now decide whether to charge nine people who are convicted sex offenders and were determined by the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections to have voted illegally in the 2020 General Election. Brian Kramer, state attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, said the Florida Department of State and statewide prosecutor Nick Cox have asked that he withhold a decision on whether to prosecute nine cases that were forwarded to him by the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office in July.

Medical boards delay rule-making for gender-affirming care after public meeting cancellation” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida’s medical boards have agreed to delay discussions on developing state-specific guidelines for the provision of gender-affirming care to transgender people who suffer from gender dysphoria. Members of the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine Joint Rules/Legislative Committee agreed on Thursday to delay the discussions after a Sept. 30 public meeting in Tallahassee was canceled following Hurricane Ian. The boards won’t develop rule language without the benefit of a public hearing and are trying to reschedule the four-hour public meeting for the end of October or early November.

Senator calls for new Special Session on insurance following Hurricane Ian” via Louis Bolden of Click Orlando — A state Senator is calling for another special Legislative Session to deal with Florida’s property insurance problem. Florida’s insurance market was already in crisis before Hurricane Ian and now the state faces billions of dollars in damage. Six insurance companies have left the state this year alone and more than two dozen others are being watched because of insolvency concerns. Sen. Jeff Brandes says the Governor and the Legislature must act quickly.

Ben Sasse named sole finalist to become UF’s new president” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Sasse, a Republican U.S. Senator representing Nebraska, is set to become a Florida man, the sole recommended candidate to become the president of the University of Florida, university officials announced Thursday. After considering 700 candidates, Sasse was the presidential search committee’s sole announced candidate for the job to succeed Kent Fuchs, who has led the state’s flagship university since 2015. Legislation passed last Session puts candidates for the top jobs at the state’s universities and colleges under wraps until the presidential search committee is ready to announce the finalists.

— D.C. MATTERS —

VP was in car accident; Secret Service first called it ‘mechanical failure’” via Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post — A motorcade taking Vice President Kamala Harris to work was in a one-car accident on a closed roadway in D.C. on Monday morning, an incident that concerned both the Secret Service director and the Vice President and revived worries about the agency’s history of concealing its mistakes. The Secret Service agent driving Harris in an SUV struck the curb of a downtown tunnel hard enough that the vehicle’s tire needed to be replaced, bringing the motorcade to a standstill near Foggy Bottom at about 10:20 a.m., said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal discussions.

To watch a video of the incident, please click on the image below:

Federal agents see chargeable tax, gun-purchase case against Hunter Biden” via Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein of The Washington Post — Federal agents investigating Biden’s son Hunter Biden have gathered what they believe is sufficient evidence to charge him with tax crimes and a false statement related to a gun purchase, according to people familiar with the case. The next step is for the U.S. Attorney in Delaware, a Donald Trump administration holdover, to decide on whether to file such charges, these people said. The investigation into Hunter Biden began in 2018 and became a central focus for Trump during his unsuccessful 2020 re-election effort. Initially, the investigation centered around Hunter Biden’s finances related to overseas business ties and consulting work.

Rick Scott says Florida needs more money for Ian relief, after voting against plan to keep FEMA, government going” via John Kennedy of the USA Today Network-Florida — Scott was among 25 Senators — all Republicans — who voted against a stopgap spending plan last week to keep the federal government going past a midnight Sept. 30 funding deadline. That measure included $18.8 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, central to responding to Hurricane Ian. But the continuing resolution, which avoided a government shutdown, cleared the Democratic-led House and Senate and was signed by Biden. While Rubio didn’t vote on the bill, Scott was joined in opposition by all 16 Florida U.S. House Republicans. After touring Southwest Florida, Scott said Wednesday that the U.S. Senate may have to reconvene to approve an aid package specifically targeted for Florida and communities devastated by Hurricane Ian.

Members irate as some military tenants rights ignored” via John M. Donnelly of Roll Call — Lawmakers are incensed about a new Pentagon report’s finding that more than one-third of private landlords on U.S. military bases are not guaranteeing tenants’ rights that are enshrined in law. The Pentagon inspector general, in a report made public this week, found that five of the 14 housing contractors — which collectively own and operate more than 10,000 homes for service members and their families — have not fully implemented a “tenant bill of rights” set forth in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Each of the five contractors has failed to implement one or more of the following three tenant rights: making available past maintenance records for properties; setting up dispute resolution processes and allowing tenants to put rent payments in escrow until disputes are settled.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Justice Dept. is said to have told Donald Trump lawyers it believes he has more documents” via Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner of The New York Times — A top Justice Department official told Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks that the department believes he has not returned all the documents he took when he left the White House, according to two people briefed on the matter. The outreach from the official, Jay Bratt, who leads the department’s counterintelligence operations, is the most concrete indication yet that investigators remain skeptical that Trump has been fully cooperative in their efforts to recover documents the former President was supposed to have turned over to the National Archives at the end of his term. It is not clear what steps the Justice Department might take to retrieve any material it thinks Trump still holds.

DOJ believes there are even more classified documents still at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is hesitant to keeping campaigning for Herschel Walker in case the scandals around him get worse, report says” via Tom Porter of Business Insider — Citing a source close to Trump, CNN said the former President’s team is nervous that more damaging revelations could follow about Walker’s personal life. It could mean Trump decides not to make a potential appearance in Georgia to campaign for Walker, even though he has already endorsed him. According to the report, Trump will likely wait until the Oct. 14 debate between Walker and his Democratic rival, incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, before deciding on returning to the state. Georgia is seen as a crucial battleground in the upcoming Midterm Elections, where the Republican Party is looking to overturn the Democrats’ thin majority and win back control of the chamber.

Fulton County prosecutor investigating Trump aims for indictments as soon as December” via Sara Murray and Jason Morris of CNN — Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said that her investigation into attempts to subvert the 2020 election will go quiet beginning later this week to avoid any appearance of influencing the upcoming election. But while her investigation will not make any overt moves in the next few weeks, her team is gearing up for a flurry of activity after Election Day. The Georgia probe has steadily expanded. It now covers presentations on unfounded election fraud claims to state lawmakers, the fake elector scheme, efforts by unauthorized individuals to access voting machines in one Georgia county and a campaign of threats and harassment against lower-level election workers.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami-Dade Commission clears $762K for unnamed company setting up shop in county” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade Commissioners on Thursday approved $762,500 in tax incentives for an unnamed company to develop two warehousing and distribution centers in the county and create 90 jobs paying more than $64,000 a year. The County Commission OK’d a pair of resolutions by Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Keon Hardemon authorizing the incentives without discussion. The funds will come from the Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund (TJIF), which rewards businesses that either expand or move their operations to Miami-Dade while creating 10 or more “above-average paying jobs” and making a capital investment of at least $3 million.

Testimony ends in Stoneman Douglas mass shooting trial. Closings scheduled for Tuesday” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Testimony in the Parkland mass shooting trial ended Thursday, and the judge presiding over the case told jurors to get ready for closing arguments on Tuesday. Confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz is facing the death penalty for each of 17 counts of murder. He pleaded guilty to the killings nearly a year ago, willing to accept a life sentence without putting Broward County through the spectacle of a trial when his guilt was never really in doubt. But prosecutors have insisted from the beginning that a jury will decide the defendant’s fate. A unanimous vote is needed for a death sentence. A dissenting juror would have to vote no 17 times.

The sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz is coming to a close.

Doctor who reaped $127 million off sober-home drug tests pleads guilty to health care fraud” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — A Delray Beach doctor who pocketed more than $127 million by forcing people struggling with addiction to undergo bogus tests pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Dr. Michael Ligotti faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence for taking advantage of scores of vulnerable patients and billing their insurance companies for tests medical experts said were clearly unnecessary. Those who spent years trying to get authorities to act against the 48-year-old owner of Whole Health Medical Center said they were heartened that Ligotti had finally been held accountable.

Hollywood happy ending? Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Flavin halt divorce proceedings” via Julius Whigham II of the Palm Beach Post — Stallone and Flavin have halted their divorce proceedings and decided to reconcile, Palm Beach County court records show. An order for abatement was filed in the Palm Beach County Circuit Court on Sept. 23, a little more than a month after Flavin initiated divorce proceedings. At that time, she called the couple’s 25-year marriage “irretrievably broken.” “The Parties agree that it is in the best interests of each of them individually, and more importantly collectively as a family, to resolve all issues attendant to the dissolution of their marriage in a dignified, amicable, and private manner out-of-court,” the court filing said.

First annual A21 Walk For Freedom set for Fort Lauderdale to raise awareness, fight human trafficking” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For many, the phrase “human trafficking” conjures images of armed men forcing blindfolded captives across national borders toward any number of unseemly fates. While accurate in some cases, that scenario represents just one aspect of a massive, global epidemic about which far too little is broadly known. Broward County Assistant State Attorney Sheena Kelly hopes to change that, at least in South Florida. On Saturday, Oct. 15, Kelly is hosting the inaugural A21 Walk For Freedom: Fort Lauderdale to raise awareness and funding to combat human trafficking. The walk is one of the hundreds taking place that same day across the globe as part of the A21 Campaign, a global nonprofit working to fight sexual exploitation, forced slave and bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, and other forms of trafficking.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Orange tourist tax receipts show record-setting 2021-22, reserves rebuilding” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County hotel-tax collections produced another record-breaking month in August, the seventh in a row, pushing the fiscal year’s total over $300 million for the first time ever, Comptroller Phil Diamond announced Thursday in a news release. The 2021-22 accounting period that began Oct. 1, 2021, soared to $311.9 million through Aug. 31, shattering the earlier high of $284 million raised by the room tax over 12 months in fiscal year 2018-19. August figures were fueled by steady room demand and an average daily room rate of $125.60, Diamond said. In 2019, the tax pulled in $19.75 million in August, the previous high total for the month.

Police officer fired for his political social media posts sues Kissimmee” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Like many in these political times, Andrew Johnson turned to social media to share his thoughts on everything from the COVID-19 virus origins, affirmative action and memes that mocked the Black Lives Matter movement and supported Trump. Johnson was a police officer in Kissimmee. Those social media posts, Johnson said, cost him his job. Now, Johnson is suing the city of Kissimmee in U.S. District Court. His lawsuit claims Johnson was discriminated against for being a White man and for his political views. His posts, he argued, were protected by free speech. Since his firing, Johnson’s lawsuit said, “he has been unable to find employment within law enforcement and faces a severe hardship in resuming his career.” The city of Kissimmee declined to comment.

After ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ a weakened Disney hopes to limit the damage” via Gene Maddaus of Variety — On May 5, two Florida state officials traveled to Orlando to meet with the leadership of Disney’s self-governing district. Two weeks earlier, DeSantis had abolished the district in retaliation for Disney’s opposition to a law that restricts classroom instruction on LGBTQ identity, known to critics as “Don’t Say Gay.” The two officials, one of them the chief deputy counsel in DeSantis’ office, went to figure out what the state was getting into. The leaders of the Reedy Creek Improvement District showed them a PowerPoint detailing their responsibilities for a 54-megawatt power plant, 65 miles of canals, various roads and pedestrian bridges, and a fire department that handles 35,000 calls a year, largely for heat-related illness, at the Disney theme parks.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ dealt Disney a major blow. Image via AP.

SpaceX aims for Space Coast’s 3rd launch in 3 days today” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — SpaceX is aiming to send up another Falcon 9 rocket this evening that will give the Space Coast three launches in three days. Tuesday saw an Atlas V lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station while Wednesday saw the noon liftoff of the Crew-5 mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center sending four passengers to the International Space Station. SpaceX also stuck up another batch of Starlink satellites in a Wednesday evening launch from California, so for Elon Musk, the planned liftoff during a 67-minute window that opens at 7:07 p.m. of a Falcon 9 from Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 will make it three launches from three launch pads within 32 hours.

___

Ian’s Impact: Raw sewage spewed from manhole covers on Brevard’s south beaches” via Jim Waymer of Florida Today — An unfortunate but prevalent side effect of Hurricane Ian in Brevard County has been huge amounts of sewage leaks throughout the Space Coast just before, during and after Ian, including — according to the latest county report — 357,300 gallons of waste that flowed up from manhole covers in the south beaches area last week. The latest county report on the south beaches’ spill is that the raw sewage that spewed into the streets there was more than the initially reported 318,300 gallons of raw wastewater. “It is assumed that stormwater was impacted as the flooding and released wastewater receded,” said the report Wednesday to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Almost 250 baby sea turtles find refuge at Brevard Zoo after Hurricane Ian pushes them ashore” via Finch Walker of Florida Today — Almost 250 baby sea turtles have found temporary shelter at the Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center after Hurricane Ian swept many back to shore on their way out to sea and some had their nest dug up by predators. “We’re up to our eyeballs in little baby turtles,” said Jess Patterson, coordinator at the healing center in Viera. The first group of turtles — a mix of loggerheads and green turtles that were on their way out to the sargassum seaweed patches that float miles offshore in island-like masses — were the first to come to the zoo. About 150 were brought in by the Sea Turtle Preservation Society on Sept. 29.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Sarasota County Schools will open Monday, some delayed another week amid Hurricane Ian” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Most Sarasota County schools will open to students again Monday. Following Hurricane Ian, every Sarasota County school sustained some level of damage, district officials said. As repair efforts were underway, the district announced it was “aiming for” Monday, Oct. 10 as the reopening date for most schools with some in south county following a week later. As of Thursday, that date is solid, said district spokesperson Craig Maniglia. School damage countywide included power outages, downed power lines, flooding, cellular and cable outages, water and plumbing issues and structural damage, district officials said.

Collier County schools welcome back students, talk resiliency after Hurricane Ian” via Ashley White of Naples Daily News — Shadowlawn Elementary School’s drop-off line was buzzing Thursday morning. Students and staff returned to campus after more than a week of being out because of Hurricane Ian. As cars pulled up, principal Amber Eliason and other staff opened doors, welcoming students back, greeting them with “I’m so happy to see you.” The neighborhood around Shadowlawn was hit hard by a quick rise in storm surge with some homes seeing four to five feet of water. Eliason suspects anywhere from a third to half the school’s students were impacted. “You’re standing in a neighborhood here where it was a lot of tragedy, many sad events,” said Collier County Public Schools Superintendent Kamela Patton.

Collier County goes back to class.

‘Starving us out’: Residents, safety concerns clash as crews try to clear Fort Myers Beach” via Mariah Timms of the Fort Myers News-Press — Urban rescue teams have completed two of three needed searches for survivors and victims of Hurricane Ian on Fort Myers Beach, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. But while residents are grateful for the rescue operations, some say the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is restricting supplies, forcing them to leave homes they fear will be demolished or looted in their absence. Marceno denies this, but rumors and fear have run rampant. Residents both on and off the island on Thursday said they struggled to understand why they were faced with a difficult choice: stay inside without new resources or leave behind everything not taken by the storm.

Health officials warn against swimming at local beaches, in pools after Hurricane Ian” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — The Department of Health in Lee County Thursday issued an advisory warning the public against swimming at local beaches or in swimming pools because of an elevated risk of waterborne illnesses. “Residents are urged to avoid contact with floodwaters which come from an overflow of any waterbody from rivers, lakes, or oceans,” DOH said in an email. “Floodwater may contain fecal matter from sewage systems and septic tanks, in addition to agricultural and industrial waste.” In the wake of the deadly Hurricane Ian, septic tanks leaked, swimming pools filled with brackish water, and various community sewage treatment facilities were offline.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

‘A very vulnerable position:’ Saved weather bulletins show drama of 1964’s Hurricane Dora” via Matt Soergel of the Florida Times-Union — At noon on Sept. 8, 1964, the worried forecasters at Jacksonville’s national weather bureau put out this bulletin: “The Jacksonville area is in a very vulnerable position … Persons in low-lying beaches or other areas which may be swept by high tides or storm waves should evacuate to high ground before dark. Don’t run the risk of being marooned …” A little more than an hour later they warned Northeast Florida and the world: “The projected path of Hurricane Dora is no comfort to the residents of the Jacksonville Beaches …” Later bulletins proved that to be true.

Santa Rosa trash wars: Waste Pro requests fine, jail time for Adams Sanitation execs” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Waste Pro has filed an emergency motion aimed to levy fines at Adams Sanitation and potentially jail one of its executives. Last month, Santa Rosa County granted Adams a permit to supply waste collection services in southern Santa Rosa County. However, because Waste Pro already had an exclusive contract with the county, a Santa Rosa County judge granted a temporary injunction Monday putting Adams’ permit on hold while she reviews the situation. After Adams began offering a free trash removal service Wednesday, Waste Pro filed a motion seeking to ensure that Adams complies with the injunction order.

Living shoreline in Navy Point appears to be crumbling. Should county repair or remove it?” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — A new environmental assessment of Escambia County’s Navy Point Living Shoreline Project is raising questions about the effectiveness of the project, which appears to be crumbling into Bayou Grande and scattering oyster shells along the second-largest county-owned beach. Deputy County Administrator and Natural Resources Director Chips Kirschenfeld told the News Journal on Wednesday that his department is looking to hire a consultant who will conduct town hall meetings and provide three alternatives to improve the current conditions at Navy Point.

Navy Point’s living shoreline may be in trouble. Image via Pensacola News-Journal.

People killed in Gadsden ‘mass fentanyl poisoning’ had cocaine in their systems, records say” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The six people who died of an overdose during Fourth of July weekend in Gadsden County, in what officials labeled a “mass fentanyl poisoning event,” all had cocaine in their systems, records say. The District 2 Medical Examiner’s Office records show “cocaine abuse” or “cocaine toxicity” as contributing causes of death for each person in addition to fentanyl toxicity. The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office initially reported there were 19 overdoses during the Fourth of July weekend, six confirmed fentanyl-related deaths and three unconfirmed deaths. The three unconfirmed deaths were ruled unrelated to fentanyl by the medical examiner.

— TOP OPINION —

The story of a park, a hurricane, and Jacksonville’s uncertain future” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — On Sept. 17, a Saturday, volunteers cleaned up Charles Reese Memorial Park on Ken Knight Drive — a neglected, flood-prone neighborhood along the Ribault River on Jacksonville’s Northside, named after a legendary Black broadcaster. The effort was part of “International Coastal Cleanup Day,” an event the city promoted to encourage residents to pick up trash in public spaces along local waterways across Jacksonville.

By any measure, the cleanup at Charles Reese was a success. The volunteers collected enough trash to fill more than a dozen blue bags, which they piled together on a small boat ramp next to a fishing pier the city added to the park in 2018.

And there the trash sat beneath the Florida sun. One day. Two days. Five days. Eight days.

By Sept. 27, a Tuesday, as Hurricane Ian was bearing down on Florida and forecasters warned that Jacksonville could see more than a foot of rainfall, all eyes turned toward the city’s notorious flooding hotspots like Ken Knight Drive, which were seeing virtually no organized assistance efforts even though the storm had pushed the Ribault River into homes.

The unflattering appraisal of the city’s efforts to help places like Ken Knight Drive animated a brief spate of investment in the area, including $800,000 to upgrade Charles Reese Park.

By the time Ian was menacing Florida late last month, reporters were heading back out to Ken Knight Drive to check in on preparations. What they found was sad but unsurprising: Some homes there remained damaged from Irma, some of the promised financial assistance took years to materialize, and once again, volunteers, were the ones leading the efforts to sandbag homes and ensure everyone had a safe place to stay.

— OPINIONS —

Tallahassee and D.C.: Get real on property insurance” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Insured damage estimates for Ian are at $30 billion and rising. Damage claims from flooding and storm surges will go through the federal flood insurance program. Everything else — and that should be considerable — will go through that overstressed state system. For perspective, Hurricane Michael in October 2018 caused nearly $8 billion in insured losses. Michael was smaller and struck the less-populated Panhandle. The big news may well be if the insurance market doesn’t collapse. We said it five months ago when the Legislature called a Special Session on property insurance, and we’ll say it again: Tallahassee must junk its conventional thinking on insurance. The market is changing. Florida must, too.

Biden goes to pot” via David A. Graham of The Atlantic — Biden is an unlikely stoner hero. Biden has remained cautious, and during the 2020 Democratic primary was the only candidate not to favor rescheduling cannabis. But the pro-pot portion of the populace is large enough that opinion now seems unlikely to turn. This makes today’s announcement an example of leading from behind. Biden hasn’t always been in this position. In 2012, as Vice President, he unexpectedly announced during an interview that he supported same-sex marriage. Biden’s experience on marijuana has been the opposite. Rather than leading the public, he is being nudged to accept the will of the vast majority of Americans. Whether or not encouraging Americans to spark one sparks a Democratic vote in November, approval for his announcement is likely to be, well, high.

Crime is surging (in Fox News coverage)” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — In 2018 and 2019, Fox News mentioned crime about as often in its broadcasts as its primary competitors, but that was nothing compared to the surge of mentions in 2021 and 2022, after Biden was inaugurated. The best available data, though, suggest violent crime isn’t up significantly since last year. In some places, in some categories, yes. But people also tend to overestimate both their own vulnerability to crime and the national level of crime. Most Americans think there is a “crime crisis.” But what, exactly, are legislators supposed to say about it in the absence of any understanding of what that “crisis” actually looks like? How do you counter an endless loop of criminal activity shown on television without knowing whether those crimes are anything more than sensationalism? You don’t.

Ben Sasse a much better fit at University of Florida than in the U.S. Senate” via Philip Klein of National Review — Several years ago, I wrote a column puzzling over why Sasse wanted to be in the Senate in the first place. Undeniably intelligent and thoughtful, Sasse spent much of his time as a lawmaker writing books, complaining about the vapidity of Washington, D.C., and mocking the uselessness of the Senate. So, the fact that he is ready to jump at the opportunity to run one of the largest universities in the country is no surprise. Should the University of Florida gig come through, I eagerly await the type of changes Sasse could bring. Higher education is desperately in need of reforming, and there is a big opportunity for somebody to find innovative ways to make college degrees more practical and to encourage a thriving intellectual environment that exposes students to a diversity of viewpoints and allows speech to thrive.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— WEEKEND TV —

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: A Hurricane Ian special edition with Capitol reporter Forrest Saunders and reporter Michael Paluska.

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

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: This week’s In Focus will discuss Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the efforts to reduce the number of domestic violence incidents and protect the most vulnerable members of the community. Joining Walker are Rep. Kamia Brown and Mindy Murphy, president/CEO of The Spring of Tampa Bay.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: The latest on efforts to get supplies to southwest Florida due to Hurricane Ian; an interview with congressional candidate Luna; and a look at the exclusive Spectrum News/Siena College poll results.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A look at the exclusive Spectrum News/Siena College poll results from this week, and how these numbers could shape the campaigns leading up to Election Day.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon, pollster Steve Vancore and Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers, Jacksonville City Council member LeAnna Cumber and Jake Gordon, CEO of Downtown Vision, Inc.

— ALOE —

Winter Park’s Hagles are headed back to space, this time inviting kids to watch” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — One taste of space was not enough for Winter Park couple Sharon and Marc Hagle, so they are headed back on a future launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. This time, though, they’re handing out tickets to come to see the spectacle. “It’s a great opportunity to have a second chance, a second peek at space,” Sharon Hagel said. But, she added, she is just as enthusiastic to work with the local nonprofit she founded in 2015 — SpaceKids Global — to arrange for eight children to come out to “watch the launch up close and personal.” The Hagles and guests will stay at the 155-acre site in Airstream trailers for what she likened to a space-age ranch.

The psychological impact of consuming true crime” via Amelia Tant of WIRED — Research has shown that consumption of crime news can lead to outsize fears of becoming a victim, and for those who are survivors of violence, the glut of content can be a lot to take. When Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story premiered a couple of weeks ago, it quickly became one of Netflix’s most popular series ever. Dawn Cecil, a criminology professor at the University of South Florida and author of Fear, Justice & Modern True Crime, says that many who engage with true crime forums have “good intentions,” she warns that true crime forums can become echo chambers that feed fear or buttress preexisting beliefs. Consuming true crime, as she details in her book, can also skew people’s perceptions of crime and reinforce stereotypes.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Mark Logan, Randy Osborne, our friend, the man with perfect diction Jon Peck of Sachs Media Group, Tom Philpot, and our former colleague, Jim Rosica.

___

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
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