Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.12.22

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Your day is better when you start it with a first read on what's happening in Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

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Happening tonight:


A couple of other thoughts:

🚌 — The origins of immigrant ‘bus and dumps’: Former President Donald Trump popularized the idea of shipping migrants from red states to “sanctuary cities,” where officials were bullish on not buying into his hard-line immigration policies, but as a New York Times report suggests, the practices’ origin, with echoes of the Reverse Freedom Rides of the early 60s, has a murky origin story. One could look at Mike Huckabee, who three years before Trump floated the plan, touted a similar idea when he was running for President. His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who worked for Trump, suggested the idea to her boss. Still, it was just an idea. The Times piece says Stephen Miller was a fan, too, but it wasn’t his idea. Maybe it was Texas Gov. Greg Abbott? Like they said, it’s murky.

📚 What Democrats are reading: “Tim Ryan’s debate performance shows Democrats how to beat MAGA candidates.” If Dems aren’t reading this, perhaps they should be. The Washington Post column by Jennifer Rubin points to a semi-viral moment during his debate Monday against GOP opponent J.D. Vance in which he took the term “bootlicker” to a whole new level by quoting Trump saying all Vance does “is kiss my ass.” He then pivoted to calling Vance out for the $40 million he received, essentially, from Mitch McConnell, money that could prompt Vance to “do whatever he wants.” There was plenty more. But the bottom line, Rubin notes, is that Ryan had plenty of takedowns without sounding “nasty” and his tone was “more incredulous than angry.

🧐 — Does Real Clear Politics deserve the whole saltshaker? In his “Democracy by the Numbers,” Elliot Morris points to a new graph on the right-leaning polling aggregation site that uses bias estimates to adjust poll averages. The result is a “polling website where Republicans are winning in a landslide. To understand, Morris points to several examples, including Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, which puts Fetterman, the Democrat, at a 3.7-point advantage in a raw polling aggregation. But by subtracting their estimate of bias, which assumes that at this point in past cycles, Democrats overperformed in polls by 5.9 percentage points, an assumption that puts Oz in the lead instead. While it’s fair to make certain adjustments, Morris’ analysis points to some fallacy. Read more here.


Tweet, tweet:

@NoahPransky: Red flag for Democrats: They’re losing the extremism argument. New poll finds American voters just as likely to say Democratic Party is too extreme, as they are the GOP.

@Scott_Maxwell: What he said is one thing. But don’t overlook to whom he said it. The fact that Florida’s Surgeon General is even on Steve Bannon’s show says a lot about where Florida is right now.

@peterelkind: Florida taxpayers paid for much of the gerrymandering work. “ … the key GOP law firm working for (Ron) DeSantis logged dozens of hours on the effort, invoices show. The firm has since billed the state more than $450,000 for its work on redistricting.”

Tweet, tweet:

@DWUhlfelderLaw: I can’t stop watching Rick Scott listening to Herschel brag about a bull who apparently impregnated 3 cows.

@hugolowell: The Guardian: DOJ told SCOTUS that if Trump truly believed the case was about a dispute under the Presidential Records Act, then he should have filed his special master request in Washington, D.C., instead of with a judge he appointed in Florida.

@The_TLH_Magnet: There has been no rain in Tallahassee since September 12, making the last month the driest patch of September-October weather in Tallahassee since official record-keeping began 130 years ago. The old record was set in 2019.

@SenBillNelson: 🎯Bullseye! @NASA’s #DARTMission successfully changed the targeted asteroid’s trajectory — and its orbit by 32 minutes. This watershed moment for planetary defense is thanks to our exceptional team and international partners.

@steveschale: Armageddon was a documentary.

@Leah_Leonardd: In honor of National Coming Out Day, I am coming out as an unapologetic deplorable


‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 6; NBA season tips off — 6; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 9; the Gubernatorial General Election debate — 12; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 12; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 13; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 13; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 15; Early voting begins for General Election — 17; 2022 General Election — 27; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 30; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 30; FITCon 2022 begins — 36; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 36; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 40; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 43; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 52; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 52; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 55; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 65; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 81; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 112; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 128; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 129; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 146; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 163; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 188; 2023 Session Sine Die — 205; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 205; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 233; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 282; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 387; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 534; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 590; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 653; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 653; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 695; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 758; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 856; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 933. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,122.


Gov. Ron DeSantis: Sanibel Causeway reopening for emergency workers; civilian traffic resumes Oct. 24” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The first few trucks carrying supplies and workers traveled over the bridge to Sanibel Island shortly after DeSantis made the announcement Tuesday.

“As you can see you’ve got to go pretty slow because this is a temporary patch,” DeSantis told reporters as the trucks ambled over the bridge.

For civilian vehicles, the bridge won’t be available until Oct. 24, DeSantis said. As of the 2020 Census, Sanibel’s population was 6,382.

Sanibel Causeway reopens, weeks ahead of schedule. Image via FDOT.

But the temporary patches will allow power restoration vehicles, including 200 bucket trucks, 150 pickup trucks and two tractor-trailers to get onto Sanibel to boost efforts to restore power there. As of 6 a.m. Tuesday there were 18,560 homes and businesses in Lee County still without power since Ian swept through the area, most of them on barrier islands like Sanibel.

Airlifts and barges have helped move some equipment onto Sanibel and Pine Island to help power restoration efforts there, but DeSantis said fixing the bridge is key to getting those areas back on the grid.

A temporary fix to the bridge leading to Pine Island was finished last week, and crews from Duke Energy, Florida Power and Light and the Lee County Electrical Cooperation are helping get power back on there. A release from DeSantis’ office said power should be restored to 25% of Pine Island by Thursday and 33% of the island by next week.


Damage from Hurricane Ian at $2.2B in Collier; more than 3,500 buildings face major damage” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Collier County has a long haul getting back on its feet after Hurricane Ian, which caused $2.2 billion in damage to property, according to officials. Meeting for the first time since Ian swept through Southwest Florida on Sept. 28, the Collier County Commission received a detailed report Tuesday about building damage, debris cleanup, power restoration and why the curfew is necessary. Countywide, 33 buildings were destroyed. A combined 3,515 residential and commercial buildings sustained major damage, the report shows. Of the $2.2 billion in damage, which includes the cities of Naples and Marco Island, $1.7 billion was to residential buildings and $492 million was damage to commercial buildings.

Recovery is moving quickly, but there is still a long road ahead.

‘Our bubble has been burst’: Older storm victims face an uncertain future” via Emily Cochrane and Julie Bosman of The New York Times — More than two decades ago, Jane and Del Compton stumbled upon Fort Myers while on vacation in southwest Florida. This was where they would retire; they decided on the spot, in a place where they could grow old in peace and sunshine. But Hurricane Ian ravaged their piece of paradise, soaking the photos from four decades of marriage, destroying their car and leaving them without a place to live. They had no homeowner’s insurance; their policy was canceled in June because of the age of their home, a 1978 model. They will return to their native Louisville, Kentucky, in the coming weeks to stay with their daughter and figure out their next steps.

Hurricane Ian traumatized Floridians. It also erased their nest eggs.” via Zack Colman and Katy O’Donnell of POLITICO — Hurricane Ian displaced thousands of Floridians whose homes are now uninhabitable. The storm took their safety nets with it, too. As Florida tallies the immediate tab from its deadliest hurricane in decades, the destruction it wreaked on homes will erase retirees’ nest eggs and families’ primary way of passing along wealth to new generations. That exposed the dangers of American dependence on housing as most people’s financial backstop and lifeline. “The impacts of Hurricane Ian have stretched far and wide, especially to Southwest Florida seniors who’ve invested most of their livelihoods in properties across my district,” Republican U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, who represents Lee County, said in an emailed statement.

Residents of North Fort Myers apartments forced to sleep outside after Hurricane Ian” via Jon Santucci of the Fort Myers News-Press — It takes Michael O’Hearn a few, uncomfortable minutes to get up from his sleeping bag each morning. He, and a handful of his neighbors, have been sleeping on the concrete porch in front of their apartment building since Hurricane Ian hit. The small North Fort Myers apartments on North Cypress Street were badly damaged by flooding with multiple residents saying they’re afraid of spending much time inside because of black mold. All O’Hearn really has left is a blue carry-on suitcase, a cooler and a handful of other items that were in his attic.

Devastation in Fort Myers Beach is forcing residents to sleep outdoors.

Shrimpers race to get battered fleet back to sea” via The Associated Press — The seafood industry in Southwest Florida is racing against time and the elements to save what’s left of a major shrimping fleet and a lifestyle that was battered by Hurricane Ian. The storm’s ferocious wind and powerful surge hurled a couple of dozen shrimp boats atop wharves and homes along the harbor on Estero Island. Jesse Clapham, who oversees a dozen trawlers for a large seafood company at Fort Myers Beach, is trying to get boats back to sea as quickly as possible before their engines, winches and pulleys seize up from being out of the water. One of two shrimpers that didn’t sink or get tossed onto land went out Sunday, but the victory was small compared with the task ahead.


FEMA OKs more Hurricane Ian assistance for Central Florida counties” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved more federal aid to help the Central Florida counties of Brevard, Orange and Osceola recover from Hurricane Ian. The move allows the counties to receive federal reimbursements for more facets of the recovery. Orange and Osceola counties were already approved for debris removal and emergency measures such as search and rescue efforts and sandbags, known as Categories A and B in FEMA’s emergency management lexicon. Now, they’ll also receive 100% reimbursement from FEMA for Categories C-G, which includes repairs to infrastructure.

FEMA steps up its resource flow in Central Florida.

Ian, and now fiber optic line cuts, stymie Comcast restoration effort in SW Florida” via Phil Fernandez of the Naples Daily News — Hurricane Ian isn’t the only reason Comcast-Xfinity service hasn’t been restored in parts of Southwest Florida. Its lines keep getting cut. Over the weekend in the chaos of the cleanup, eight fiber connections that Comcast had just installed in Cape Coral got inadvertently slashed, said Mindy Kramer, a Comcast vice president. “The fiber cuts to our lines happen when power crews and debris removal trucks damage our fiber lines,” Kramer said Monday. “These crews have heavy equipment, which unfortunately can sometimes end up damaging our lines. We work very closely with the power companies, but these things happen during the restoration process. When we have a fiber cut, it will temporarily interrupt service in whatever area that line feeds.”

‘We get it last.’ Florida Black leaders helping, say Hurricane Ian victims of color not getting an assist” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — Black leaders in Palm Beach County this week are taking relief supplies and aid to Black communities in Fort Myers that were smashed by Hurricane Ian. The assistance and the supplies are necessary, local Black leaders say, because state-led relief efforts so far appear to be focused on wealthier, white communities and not on Black communities that were just as devastated by Ian, which crashed ashore Sept. 28 as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour.

Cape Coral residents line up for emergency permits for Hurricane Ian repairs” via Luis Zambrano of the Fort Myers News-Press — At Cape Coral City Hall, a steady stream of residents came in and out Tuesday, waiting on permits so they can start or continue the recovery process. One woman sat alongside a row of people, waiting to get an inspection so that she could finally have steady power and finally start the arduous process of cleaning her flooded home. Vicki Gillis, a Cape Coral resident for nine years, lives on her own in the southeast part of the city on a street where her neighbor and she are the only ones without power. “I paid the contractor to fix it, and then they will not turn on my electric because they said I need a permit, and I need it inspected,” Gillis said.

Lee County: Most offices and operations will reopen on Wednesday, according to officials” via Samantha Neely of the Fort Myers News-Press — Lee County officials announced Tuesday that most of their offices and operations will reopen for business Wednesday morning, Oct. 12. In their news release, they state although some locations are still unavailable for typical operation due to storm damage or use as a recovery site, most county business offices will be open at their regular locations. The Department of Community Development will continue to operate its permitting office 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the Lee County Administration Building, 2115 Second St., Fort Myers, two blocks from its regular location.

Sarasota Memorial North Port ER set to reopen Wednesday morning; tent facility to close” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sarasota Memorial Hospital will reopen its North Port Emergency Room, located at 2345 Bobcat Village Center Road, at 7 a.m. Wednesday. In a related move, a 60-bed Disaster Medical Team tent hospital located at Tamiami Trail and Sumter Boulevard was scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The 21-bed Emergency Room, along with outpatient radiology, laboratory, and rehab services will be open as usual, Sarasota Memorial Hospital spokesperson Kim Savage said Tuesday. Those services occupy the first floor of the medical campus. The offices of family medicine physicians Dr. Dennis Charette and Dr. Jessica Perez-Cardwell have been temporarily moved to First Physicians Group offices at Jacaranda Boulevard.

Sarasota Memorial North Port ER is back in business.

Fort Myers curfew lifted; boil water order could end soon” via Bill Smith of the Fort Myers News-Press — More small steps toward normalcy have been taken in Fort Myers, where a nighttime curfew has been lifted and city officials are hopeful that a notice to boil water before using can soon be lifted for the city’s water supply. The city curfew was in effect from 9 p.m. until 6 p.m. It was lifted effective at noon Tuesday. Both the curfew and the boil water notice were issued in response to Hurricane Ian’s path of destruction from the Gulf of Mexico through Lee County. “It’s welcome news for businesses that the curfew would be lifted because now they can abide by their normal hours of operation,” said Lee Commissioner Brian Hamman, who also is president of the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.

Ian-caused yard debris still an issue in Nassau Co. neighborhoods” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Unless you have a few goats handy, dealing with yard debris left over from Hurricane Ian can be problematic, especially if the local government isn’t handling the issue. In one Fernandina Beach neighborhood, the problem is serious enough that one of the residents asked the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners for an ordinance to do something about it. “Due to storm Ian, we’ve had a solid layer of storm debris in our streets and in the islands — we have four islands on our street,” Henna Kerins said.


‘Challenging infrastructure’ tests Fort Myers Beach recovery, redevelopment” via Phil Fernandez of the Naples Daily News — As Fort Myers Beach tries to move on from the grisly phase of recovering bodies, owners have now gone about the business of figuring out what they can salvage, if anything, from their homes. “We’re getting through it,” Mayor Ray Murphy said. “It goes one step at a time, one after another.” And in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s brutal blast, it’s coming together through residents who are cooperative and employees from the many layers of government. “Federal, state, local, county — there’s a lot getting done. Progress is being made,” Murphy said. “Day at a time. (It) is step by step. It’s a real process.”

Infrastructure is the major hurdle in Fort Myers Beach’s recovery. Image via AP.

Babcock Ranch: Solar-powered “hurricane-proof” town takes direct hit from Hurricane Ian, never loses electricity” via CBS News — Babcock Ranch was designed to accommodate Florida’s climate and ecosystems with Indigenous plants and natural waterways for drainage; it was built 25 to 30 feet above sea level to help mitigate flooding from storm surges. There are sustainable water and sewage systems; all electric and phone lines are buried. “We are the first solar-powered town in America,” developer Syd Kitson said. “We have a solar field that’s 150 megawatts.”

Overwhelmed yet resilient local growers trudge forward post-Ian as harvest season begins” via Samantha Gholar of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sylvia Colbert watched and waited for the banana and 50-foot bamboo trees on her property to snap beneath the pounding rains and roaring winds of Hurricane Ian. Colbert’s food forest — a lush, 2.5-acre property that houses her 50 fruit trees, dozens of native support plants, grasses and herbs — had just produced its first harvest of Caribbean ginger that will be used as an ingredient in her handmade vegan shampoo. Now more than a week has passed since Hurricane Ian, and Colbert can only clean up the damage to her farm and wait — again — to see what plants still survive amid the debris across her DeSoto Acres property.

Furniture store gives away everything after Hurricane Ian flooded showroom” via Robyn Murrell of the Bradenton Herald — Local Florida furniture store owners have donated several truckloads of furniture and 100 mattresses to residents devastated by Hurricane Ian in Port Charlotte after their showroom flooded. Stephany Richmond and her son, Morgan Richmond own six furniture warehouse retail locations in West Florida, including Bradenton and Ellenton. Rather than throw away the lightly damaged furniture, Morgan and sales and delivery employees from their other retail locations quickly worked to remove the items from the store, salvaging them and allowing them to dry and be donated.

Are our beaches open? Some are, for some people; but most of the coast is closed to the public” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — Been waiting to take that canoe trip to the northern reaches of Estero Bay, or a stroll along one of Southwest Florida’s beaches? Many beach public accesses, parks and recreation facilities in Lee and Collier counties are closed. All Lee County public parks, and many state and federal facilities are closed as well after devastating Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28. Some parks in Collier are open, but others stay closed as repairs and cleanup works continue. Bonita Beach is open to Bonita Beach residents, and Fort Myers Beach is open to people who live there, too. All Lee County boat ramps are closed as well.

Did sharks leave SW Florida waters as they did during Hurricane Charley?” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — Florida is known for its phenomenal wildlife, for the birds and beasts that comb our swamps and roam our beautiful shores. Sometimes the beauty gets disrupted like it did last month when Hurricane Ian plowed into Southwest Florida as a near-Category 5 storm. This region has arguably the most vast array of wildlife, ranging from the endangered Florida panther to the invasive Burmese python. But now the tree canapes and plants (the name Florida is based on the word flora) are all brown and twisted, torn and ripped. So, what exactly happened to all the beautiful and bountiful animals? Some animals, such as sharks, may have left the area altogether before Ian made landfall.

— 2022 —

Is Ron DeSantis as strong a potential candidate as he seems?” via Blake Hounshell of The New York Times — Scott Walker’s rise and fall nevertheless offers a cautionary tale for DeSantis, the current favorite to be the GOP nominee in 2024. On paper, DeSantis has a lot going for him. He has amassed a campaign hoard worthy of Smaug. … he projects the sort of strength that plays well in Republican politics. In polls, DeSantis consistently rates as the second choice of Republican voters, behind Trump but well ahead of any putative rivals. Like Walker, though, DeSantis risks peaking too early. In interviews, Republican strategists and donors said that DeSantis looked to be in a strong position for 2024. His home in Florida gives him access to a deep-pocketed donor community that Walker lacked, several noted.

Is Ron DeSantis as solid a candidate as some people think?

Charlie Crist tries to focus Governor’s race on abortion rights” via John Kennedy of the USA Today Network — Florida — With the Florida Governor’s race largely sidetracked by Hurricane Ian and its aftermath, Democrat Crist is trying to repivot the focus of voters toward abortion rights, which he says are threatened by DeSantis. On Tuesday, the last day for Floridians to register to vote before the Nov. 8 election, Crist organized a wide-ranging “choice day of action,” with events in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.

Crist ad slams DeSantis on abortion rightsCrist’s latest campaign ad features a nurse criticizing DeSantis for supporting new restrictions on abortion rights. “Medical decisions are supposed to be between me and my patients, but Ron DeSantis made it his decision, outlawing abortion even in cases of rape or incest,” RN Tina Schmidt says in the ad. “Charlie Crist believes women should decide, not government, and that’s all I need to know.” According to AdImpact, the 15-second commercial started airing Monday on broadcast networks. The ad is one of several produced by the Crist campaign targeting DeSantis’ anti-abortion views ahead of an election where abortion rights are expected to be a primary motivator for many voters.

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

Val Demings touts law enforcement background in new ad Demings’ campaign for U.S. Senate is airing a new ad highlighting the Democratic Congresswoman’s previous career in law enforcement. “I learned as a police officer, you stand up for what’s right, no matter what. That’s how you put the bad guys away and keep Florida safe,” Demings says before pushing back against Republican accusations that she supports anti-law enforcement policy. “In Congress, I did the same. I stood up to those in my party who wanted to defund the police. I was one of a few Democrats who voted to make sure violent criminals go to jail and stay there.” She concludes, “ … the Senate could use a cop on the beat who only works for Florida.”

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

How a law-and-order Democrat could disrupt Marco Rubio’s glide to re-election” via Lizette Alvarez of The Washington Post

Did Rubio refuse to debate Demings to attend a three-day South Beach fundraiser?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — At one point, the first Senate debate between Rubio and Demings was supposed to happen Oct. 11. Less than a month before a nationally watched Senate contest that could determine control of Congress’ upper chamber, the plan had been to bring the candidates together on stage for a televised debate. While Demings announced on Sept. 14 that she had accepted an invitation to the debate, Rubio, the Republican incumbent, never did. Meanwhile, a political invite from a Super PAC he founded advertised he would attend a three-day fundraiser at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach.

Lincoln Project slams Marco Rubio” via POLITICO — The Lincoln Project is out with a new digital ad that rips Rubio over his defense of Trump while at the same time maintaining that he backs law enforcement. “Marco Rubio wants you to think crime is a top issue in this election. So why does he spend so much time defending Donald Trump who is at the center of 19 pending criminal and civil cases from tax fraud to stealing classified document to trying to violently overthrow an election. Rubio backs Trump, not law and order.” The ad then praises Rubio’s challenger, Demings.

Why Florida Democrats keep losing. The story in one race.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — You’d be hard-pressed to pick just one reason Democrats keep losing elections in Florida. The state is getting redder. Republicans have more money and are generally better at running campaigns and ensuring their members cast ballots. Democrats, meanwhile, struggle with things like, well, basic competence. But if you wanted to encapsulate just how hellbent Florida Democrats seem to be on losing, look at this year’s battle for Agriculture Commissioner. The race is a mess for a bunch of reasons, including the fact that many Democrats don’t even like their nominee and expect her to lose quite badly.

Rebecca Jones urges CD 1 residents to ‘have a voting plan’Jones, the Democrat challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in CD 1, has released a new ad urging district residents to start finalizing their Election Day plans. “Now, more than ever, it’s important that we register to vote that we check our voter registration and make sure that we have a voting plan, whether you vote by mail, vote early, or vote on Election Day,” she says, before making a bipartisan appeal. “It’s important that you use your vote because that is your voice in this democracy. We want to hear from you. This isn’t about party; this is about country. So please make sure that you go and vote.” CD 1 is a safe Republican district and is expected to re-elect Gaetz in November.

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

Maxwell Frost, Calvin Wimbish to debate Thursday in Orlando congressional race” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando congressional candidates Frost and Wimbish will face off in a televised debate Thursday night. Co-hosted by the Orlando Sentinel and Spectrum News 13, the event will be shown live from 7 to 7:30 p.m. on Spectrum News 13 and livestreamed on Moderators for the event will be News 13 anchor Ybeth Bruzual and Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell. Democrat Frost, 25, a gun reform activist, gained national attention after his victory in a crowded Democratic Primary field as potentially the first Gen Z Congressman. Republican Wimbish, 72, is a retired Army Green Beret and calls himself a “fierce America First conservative.”

Vern Buchanan posts record fundraising while cruising toward re-election” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Buchanan raised another $754,000 for his re-election campaign in the third quarter. That means the Longboat Republican has tallied $4.5 million in donations despite the fact he doesn’t face nationally backed opposition for 2022. Democratic opponent Jan Schneider hasn’t released third quarter numbers to date, but as of June had raised just under $12,000, with a pot of over $41,000 in cash-on-hand primarily made up of money from prior campaigns. With a month left before the Nov. 8 General Election, most do not expect the contest for Florida’s 16th Congressional District to be competitive.

Former Tallahassee Mayor blasts Corey Simon as an ‘election-denier’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Former Tallahassee Mayor Dorothy “Dot” Inman-Johnson is criticizing Simon for refusing to say Joe Biden was legitimately elected. Simon’s statement instead that the “election is done” came during a debate last week between Simon and Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley. As Ausley, perhaps the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the Florida Senate, hopes to defend her seat, her campaign published Inman-Johnson’s response to Simon’s remarks. “Last week, Corey Simon refused to say that Joe Biden is the duly elected President, unacceptably denying the results of our free and fair election,” Inman-Johnson said in a statement.

Former Tallahassee City Manager endorses Ausley in new radio ad” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — In her second new radio ad in as many days, Ausley is unveiling a new endorsement, this one from former Tallahassee City Manager Anita Favors. Favors retired as City Manager in November 2015. During most of her tenure, Ausley was serving as a Democratic Representative for Tallahassee. In the 30-second ad, which comes with four weeks remaining until her Election Day against Republican candidate Corey Simon in Senate District 3, Favors says, “We know Loranne Ausley.” “Loranne Ausley got pay raises for our state workers and our teachers. Loranne fought tirelessly against efforts to ban abortion and teaching Black history in Florida schools. Loranne brought over $1 billion to our district for infrastructure improvements and other programs,” Favors says.

Janet Cruz nears $1.8M in total fundraising” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Sen. Cruz is nearing $1.8 million in total fundraising as she runs for re-election in Senate District 14. “I’m humbled by the outpouring of support for our race,” Cruz said in a statement. “Running a campaign is never easy, but knowing I have the confidence of my neighbors and community motivates me to do the work.” The Tampa Democrat started September with $640,309 in available spending money between her campaign account and affiliated political committee, Building The Bay PC. Her opponent, Jay Collins, began the month with $358,959 between his two fundraising sources, including his affiliated political committee, Quiet Professionals FL.

Incumbent David Silvers faces 22-year-old political newcomer for reconfigured seat” via Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post — Before he ran for state office for the first time, Silvers was told he would be continually frustrated serving in Tallahassee as a Democrat. Silvers didn’t see much evidence until recently. “My first four years in the Legislature, it didn’t seem like that,” said Silvers, first elected to the House in 2016. “The last two have been so partisan.” Despite that, Silvers is vying to return for a fourth consecutive term, this time as a representative for the re-configured District 89, which includes parts of West Palm Beach, Lake Worth Beach, Greenacres, Cloud Lake, Glen Ridge, Lake Clarke Shores and Palm Springs. Silvers, 43, will face Daniel Zapata, the 22-year-old Republican candidate and a political newcomer.

Miami voters must decide on future of prime riverfront land downtown. Here’s the plan” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — The James L. Knight Center complex and Hyatt Regency downtown could be transformed into a large complex of skyscrapers that would add to Miami’s skyline and create a new riverfront promenade, if voters approve the private redevelopment of public riverfront land. Developers hope to secure a 99-year extension on an existing lease of city-owned land for the large redevelopment, called Miami Riverbridge, which would come with a $25 million contribution to the city for affordable housing. Voters in the city of Miami would have to approve the broad terms of the deal on Nov. 8. Under the city charter, voter approval is needed for a long-term lease of public land on waterfront property, and any changes to existing leases also need voters to sign off.

A career politician and a nurse compete in November Hialeah Council seat 4 election” via Veronica Egui Brito of the Miami Herald — The election to decide who will occupy seat 4 on the Hialeah City Council is revealing divisions between those who support traditional politics and voters who want new blood. On Nov. 8, the city’s voters must choose who will finish the term left vacant by ex-Council member Oscar De La Rosa when he resigned to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after his stepfather, Esteban Bovo Jr., won the mayoral election in 2021. The contest pits incumbent Vivian Casáls-Muñoz, a veteran politician with more than 13 years of experience, against Angelica Pacheco, a nurse who lost a runoff election last year for City Council. Both candidates are affiliated with the Republican Party.

Deltona City Commission District 5 seat decided after candidate drops out of race” via Katie Kustura of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Stephen Colwell is the next District 5 representative on the Deltona City Commission. Colwell’s opponent, Donald Freeman, withdrew from the race Monday afternoon. Freeman, who couldn’t immediately be reached by phone Tuesday, did not cite a reason for withdrawing from the race in the letter submitted to the City Clerk. Reached Tuesday by phone, Colwell, 59, said he’s feeling good about his future service as Commissioner. “I was looking forward to the fight though,” Colwell said. Colwell owns S.R.C. Installations, a flooring installation company. He said he’s worked in the construction industry for nearly four decades and has lived in the West Volusia area since 1991.

Ad asks Orange County voters to ‘take action,’ vote yes on transportation tax — A new ad says “transportation in Orange County is at a crossroads,” citing an influx of new residents in the region and news reports on I-4’s ranking as one of the most dangerous highways in the interstate system. An ad narrator then says a sales tax referendum on the November ballot “takes action” to address transportation issues. “A yes vote will immediately fix the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and drivers,” one narrator says. Another adds, “A yes vote will reduce traffic congestion and protect our quality of life.” If passed, the referendum would increase the Orange County sales tax by one cent starting Jan. 1, 2023. It is estimated to collect nearly $600 million a year to address transportation issues.

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

Pollsters have messed up the past two election cycles — can we trust them this year?” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — The dissatisfaction about public political polling in Florida reached its apotheosis on Election Night in 2020, when Trump defeated Biden by 3.3 points. That was even though at least five major pollsters had predicted in their last surveys before the election that Biden would win Florida by at least four points. That prompted Justin Sayfie to announce that he would no longer publish any stories reporting poll results on his site. “I think that they’re too unreliable,” Sayfie said. “I think that pollsters are having a harder time than ever figuring out who’s going to actually show up and vote.”


How DeSantis blew up Black-held congressional districts and may have broken Florida law” via Joshua Kaplan of ProPublica — DeSantis’ office publicly stressed partisan considerations played no role and partisan operatives were not involved in the new map. A ProPublica examination of how that map was drawn — and who helped decide its new boundaries — reveals a much different origin story. The new details show the Governor’s Office appears to have misled the public and the Legislature and may also have violated Florida law. DeSantis aides worked behind the scenes with an attorney who serves as the national GOP’s top redistricting lawyer and other consultants tied to the national party apparatus.

Joseph Ladapo reignites feud with Joe Biden administration over COVID-19 vaccinations” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Surgeon General Ladapo, who has been vocal since his hiring about his skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines, has reignited a lingering feud with the Biden administration. Ladapo is recommending that men between the ages of 18 and 39 years old not get vaccinated against COVID-19 alleging an “abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death among men in this age group.” The analysis drawn up by the state linked data from MERLIN, FLSHOTS, and death records. It showed an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination. Ladapo’s decision to publicize the state’s analysis late Friday sparked a furor online. Federal authorities have also weighed in with HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Sarah Lovenheim calling Ladapo’s recommendation misguided.

Experts slam Florida Surgeon General’s warning on coronavirus vaccines” via Dan Diamond of The Washington Post — The guidance from the Florida Health Department came in a terse release at 6:12 on Friday evening, ahead of a three-day weekend: Ladapo, the state’s top health official, warned young adult men to stop taking coronavirus vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, citing an “abnormally high risk” of heart-related deaths. But Ladapo’s recommendation was swiftly condemned by medical and public health leaders, who said the Florida Surgeon General’s announcement was politics masquerading as science and could lead Americans to forgo lifesaving interventions.

Joseph Ladapo gets slammed for his alternate take on COVID-19 vaccines.

Happening today — U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle will hear arguments for a preliminary injunction on a state rule that prevents Medicaid from paying for treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy gender dysmorphia, 9:30 a.m., U.S. Courthouse, 111 North Adams St., Tallahassee.

Inside the right-wing press factory that pumped Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill” via Claire Goforth of the Daily Dot — On the last Monday in March, a story assignment popped into the inboxes of a large, yet highly select set of conservative media: DeSantis signing the Parental Rights in Education Act, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Emails obtained by the Daily Dot reveal the DeSantis administration’s talking points on the bill, a blend of fact and fiction sent to a slew of reporters, producers, editors, and far-right influencers, who in turn covered it in lockstep with the Governor’s views. The Daily Dot received these records from a request for emails and correspondence from or by DeSantis, his press office, and then-Press Secretary Christina Pushaw that mentioned Libs of TikTok or its account holder Chaya Raichik.

State reminds providers that Medicaid covers donated breast milk for premature babies” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — State officials are reminding health care providers that Florida’s Medicaid program will pick up the costs of human donor milk for some of the state’s sickest hospitalized infants. Medicaid officials on Monday sent out a bulletin informing providers that the benefit is available to infants who are medically or physically unable to receive maternal breast milk or able to breastfeed. It’s also available to those infants whose mother is medically or physically unable to lactate. The benefit was made available after the Legislature this spring passed SB 1770.

High-interest lenders targeting low-income borrowers want Florida lawmakers to let them double their interest rates” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Florida law generally prohibits anyone from charging more than 18% interest on a loan. But there are several carveouts to this limit, including one for companies that make consumer loans of $25,000 or less — the kind of loans peddled primarily to borrowers with poor credit histories. Under that carveout for consumer finance loans, a lender can charge 30% interest on the first $3,000 of a loan; 24% interest on any amount between $3,000 and $4,000; and 18% on any remaining amount up to $25,000. The companies behind the Florida Financial Services Association want the Legislature to rewrite that law to let them charge 36% interest — on the entire amount of the loan. That’s an awful idea, said Alice Vickers, a longtime advocate for low- and middle-income Floridians and the former director of the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection.


Biden to ‘re-evaluate’ relationship with Saudi Arabia after oil production cut” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — Biden is re-evaluating the relationship with Saudi Arabia after it teamed up with Russia to cut oil production in a move that bolstered Vladimir Putin’s government and could raise American gasoline prices just before Midterm Elections, a White House official said on Tuesday. John Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council at the White House, signaled openness to retaliatory measures proposed by Democratic congressional leaders outraged by the oil production cut announced last week by the international cartel known as OPEC Plus. Among other things, leading Democrats have proposed curbing American security cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including arms sales, and stripping OPEC members of their legal immunity so they can be sued for violations of American antitrust laws.

Oil production cuts force Joe Biden to re-evaluate the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Treasury Department probing DeSantis’ migrant flights” via Gary Fineout and Lisa Kashinsky of POLITICO — The Treasury Department is examining whether the Republican Governor improperly used money connected to COVID-19 aid to facilitate the flights. The agency’s inspector general’s office confirmed to several members of Massachusetts’s Democratic congressional delegation that it planned “to get this work underway as soon as possible” to probe Florida’s spending as part of ongoing audits into how states have used the billions in sent to them as part of the American Rescue Plan, according to a letter provided by Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey’s office.

Lobbyists pony up in race for Ways and Means GOP leader” via Kate Ackley and Ryan Kelly of Roll Call — The three Republicans vying for their party’s top spot on the House Ways and Means panel in the next Congress have raised nearly $4.1 million combined this cycle from K Street lobbyists and their companies’ affiliated PACs, a CQ Roll Call analysis found. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, who is seeking his ninth term and is currently the second-ranking Republican on the panel, raised the most of the three contenders from the K Street sector with nearly $2.1 million donated during the 2021-2022 election cycle, according to lobbying contribution reports filed with Congress covering donations through June 30. He’s followed by Missouri U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, with $1 million from registered federal lobbyists and affiliated PACs. In third is Nebraska U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, who collected almost $1 million.

Oil dispute compels Kathy Castor to support removing U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia and UAE” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Tampa Democratic U.S. Rep. Castor says she supports a bill to pull all U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in retaliation for the decision announced last week by the OPEC + consortium to sharply cut oil production, which is predicted to increase gas prices in the U.S. “We’re moving to clean energy in this country,” said Castor, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “We’ve got to support the countries in the world that believe in democracy and human rights, and Saudi Arabia is not it.”

Labor Department proposes changes to independent contractor rules” via Gabriel T. Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — The Labor Department released a rule proposal Tuesday that would change how labor laws define independent contractors. The new rule, if approved, would rely on a “multifactor economic reality test” to determine whether a worker is truly in business by themselves and controls aspects of their employment like whether they perform managerial duties, how they are supervised and whether they are able to set prices. The new rule would replace a Trump-era rule that made it more difficult for a gig worker, such as an Uber or DoorDash driver, to be counted as an employee under federal law. The Biden administration changes would make it easier for those workers to be covered by federal minimum-wage and overtime laws.

Feds decline giving gopher tortoises endangered species protection” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is dashing hopes for the gopher tortoise to land on the federal endangered species list, declaring that the species, driven from its prime habitat by ceaseless development, is actually in better shape than the tortoises’ advocates claim. “Efforts to improve conditions for the gopher tortoise have been effective, and it is important that scientists, experts and wildlife professionals continue to strategically use our best resources to help recover the gopher tortoise where it’s most vulnerable,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, USFWS Southeastern Regional Director, in a written statement.


Donald Trump pushes for Russia-Ukraine talks, complicating GOP politics” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — The former President’s public push for some kind of truce cuts against the public views of many Republicans, who have backed support for Ukraine in the war, and reflects some of the schisms within the party between Trump and his staunchest defenders and other prominent conservatives. But while the Biden administration has been adamant that it will not push for negotiations that Ukraine does not support, Trump has been vocal that the two sides should broker a cease-fire, even suggesting at one point that he could be involved in the talks. Those comments came days after Trump claimed during a speech in Miami that his relationship with Putin would have prevented the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Donald Trump meddles in foreign affairs, causing headaches for the GOP.

DOJ urges Supreme Court to deny Trump appeal on classified docs” via Axios — The Justice Department said Trump’s appeal for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the ongoing Mar-a-Lago probe should be denied. Trump’s legal team previously asked in a filing to the Supreme Court for the special master to be allowed to review the near 100 documents marked as classified that were found at Mar-a-Lago. Justice Clarence Thomas, who is assigned to oversee emergency requests in the 11th Circuit, had requested the DOJ respond to Trump’s petition Oct. 11.

The origins of the GOP tactic of sending migrants to blue states” via Maggie Haberman and Michael C. Bender of The New York Times — In 2018, Trump was pushing aides on an idea he wanted to carry out on the border — transporting undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities. The idea had simmered for months, culminating in a call Trump placed to Kirstjen Nielsen, his Homeland Security Secretary. Trump, Nielsen’s former Chief of Staff Miles Taylor recalled, wanted to round up migrants in Republican-controlled states and “bus and dump” them in major cities. He wanted to bus migrants who had been deemed to be “murderers, rapists and criminals” to places where officials had declined to help carry out the administration’s rigorous deportation policies. The idea never advanced in the Trump administration, in part because of legal concerns. But four years later, three Republican Governors have brought it to visceral life.

How Trump’s legal expenses consumed GOP donor money” via Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump’s political operation has spent more money since he left office on lawyers representing the former President and a pair of nonprofits staffed by former Cabinet members than it has on Republican congressional campaigns. The group has contributed about $8.4 million so far directly to Republican campaigns and committees, while devoting $7 million to Trump’s lawyers and another $2 million to the nonprofits, which employ former members of his administration. Legal fees are expected to climb, Trump advisers say, as he employs a growing retinue of lawyers to fend off federal, state and county-level investigations.

She went out on a limb for Trump. Now she’s under Justice Dept. scrutiny.” via Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times — Evan Corcoran met Christina Bobb at Trump’s residence and private club in Florida and asked her to sign a statement for the department that the Trump legal team had conducted a “diligent search” of Mar-a-Lago and found only a few files that had not been returned to the government. Bobb, who relentlessly promoted falsehoods about the 2020 election as an on-air host for the far-right One America News Network, eventually signed her name. But she insisted on adding a written caveat before giving it to a senior Justice Department official on June 3: “The above statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.” Her sworn statement, hedged or not, was shown to be flatly false after the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Kevin Marino Cabrera dominates post-Primary fundraising for Miami-Dade Commission with $528K haul” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Cabrera raised nearly $528,000 over a 37-day period following the Aug. 23 Primary Election, when he clinched the top slot among four candidates vying for the District 6 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission. That’s more than five times what his runoff opponent, Coral Gables Commissioner Jorge Fors, raised in the same time span. Cabrera also spent about $431,375, more than six times what Fors paid out. As of Nov. 1, Cabrera had $278,000 remaining between his campaign account and political committee, Dade First PC.

Kevin Marino Cabrera dominates the money race.

‘Hate is not a mental disorder.’ Prosecution closing arguments meant to remind jury of calculated stalking by Parkland shooter” via Rafael Olmeda and Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — What he did was cold. Calculated. Purposeful. Even the defense agreed. “It was a systematic massacre,” prosecutor Mike Satz said Tuesday, delivering his closing arguments in the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooter Nikolas Cruz. With every word, the veteran prosecutor reminded jurors not only of the horror inflicted on the Parkland high school campus on Feb. 14, 2018, but also of the immense amount of planning, premeditation and determination that it took to make it happen. The level of detail is needed, legally, for prosecutors to convince jurors that Cruz deserves the death penalty. Jurors must be unanimous in their recommendation of death. Otherwise, the defendant will be condemned to life in prison.

False reports: South Florida high schools locked down after ‘swatting’ shooter calls as Parkland trial closing arguments begin” via Shira Moolten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Multiple high schools went into lockdown in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties Tuesday morning as police responded to calls of active shooters at the same time as the closing arguments for the trial of the confessed Parkland school shooter got underway. Police have determined the calls to be false alarms but have not said whether there might be any connection between the calls and the trial. All high schools in Broward County were put under “secure” status out of an abundance of caution, according to the school district; parents were alerted about noon that the secure status was lifted after the calls were determined to be false.

Daniella Levine Cava vowed to fix county jails. Court monitor sees ‘failure to competently act’” via Douglas Hanks and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Jail reform has been a top priority for Miami-Dade Mayor Levine Cava since taking office two years ago, but the county’s Corrections Department still suffers from poor management and a shoddy safety record after 11 inmate deaths this year, according to a federal monitor. In an Aug. 12 report, the head of a monitoring group enforcing a 2013 federal improvement plan for the jail system said she was encouraged by the Mayor’s statements but discouraged by continued management failures in the jails. “The ongoing harm to inmates is due to the County’s failure to competently act, after all these years,” wrote Susan McCampbell, the monitor in the Department of Justice’s civil-rights case against Miami-Dade over its Corrections Department.

‘This will be a bumpy ride’: Will health coverage for Palm Beach County employees be available by Jan. 1?” via Mike Diamond of the Palm Beach Post — Despite concerns that some county employees could be left without coverage, County Commissioners called on staff to finalize a five-year contract with its new health care insurer, United Healthcare. County staff had wanted Cigna, the current provider, to be given a one-year extension and the contract with United Healthcare to begin Jan. 1, 2024. The issue, staff said, was timing. They raised concerns that there may not be enough time between now and Jan. 1 for United Healthcare to take over from Cigna. The Commission, nonetheless, voted 6-1 to deny the staff request after receiving pledges from United Health Care Vice President Laurie Mandell that her firm would “devote all of the necessary resources” to ensure that a smooth transition occurs.

Political friction erupts as Esteban Bovo’s first budget as Mayor of Hialeah is approved” via Veronica Egui Brito of the Miami Herald — The Hialeah City Council approved Mayor Bovo’s $388 million spending plan in 2023 for the city on Oct. 5, but not without some dissent, as Council members debated whether to lower taxes or address the rising price of water, sewer and waste hauling rates. To justify the new budget, Bovo’s first since voters elected him last November to run the city, the Mayor explained that “in recent years we have artificially balanced the budget, we have literally stolen from one department to another, to create a budget. We have consistently had a deficit in recent years. … It would be irresponsible to propose any other thing than this budget.”

Property tax rate unchanged in Lake Worth Beach, but revenues will jump nearly $2M” via Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post — General fund spending in Lake Worth Beach will increase nearly 8.5% in the next fiscal year under the city’s operating budget of $184.1 million that was approved Sept. 22. The 2023 budget — about 8% higher than in 2022 when it was $170 million — is divided into governmental funds and enterprise funds. Governmental funds, which include the general fund, total $71.1 million of the operating budget. The enterprise funds make up $113 million with the biggest share ($70 million) going to the city’s electric utility. The city projects a 12% increase in the tax levy.

Multifamily projects put on pause after Stuart City Commission approves review of codes” via Lina Ruiz of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The City Commission Monday unanimously paused new applications for multifamily projects while it reviews certain development codes. The process, known as a “zoning in progress,” will focus specifically on multifamily projects with a higher density that requires approval by the Commission. A development code that allows projects of up to 30 units per acre to be reviewed and could be changed as a result. Also to be reviewed is another code allowing units in the Urban District, smaller than 900 square feet, to be counted as a half unit, and those smaller than 1,100 square feet to be counted as three-quarters of a unit.

After a botched search for facilities chief, School Board members raise leadership concerns” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Schools will start over to find a leader for its troubled school construction program after board members described a search as an embarrassing failure. Two School Board members even hinted that they may even want to go further and act against Superintendent Vickie Cartwright for failing to correct issues that they say have lingered for years. School Board members were originally expected to discuss Cartwright’s evaluation Tuesday, but it was postponed to a later date. Board members rated her effective, but the evaluations were completed before a series of recent controversies angered Board members, especially some appointees of DeSantis who now comprise the majority.

‘A quiet giant,’ former Florida Rep. Murray Dubbin, a Miami Beach city attorney, dies at 93” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Dubbin was described as a “mensch in capital letters” by a friend and fellow founder from the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. The Yiddish mensch, familiar from much usage in American English, is “a person of integrity and honor.” Author Marcia Zerivitz’s description sounds about right when discussing Dubbin, who died under hospice care at his North Miami home at age 93 on Oct. 5, according to his son Sam Dubbin. Murray Dubbin was born to a pioneering Miami Jewish family in Miami on Aug. 1, 1929. He was a member of the Legislature for 12 years between 1963 and 1974, where, among other achievements, he was Chair of the Constitutional Revision Committee that created the 1968 Florida Constitution.

Farewell to a true South Florida mensch.

Keys beaches went ‘completely underwater’ from Hurricane Ian. Which ones are open?” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — The Florida Keys was spared much of the damage that Hurricane Ian inflicted on Fort Myers and other areas of the state’s Gulf Coast, but the powerful storm brought significant surge to the island chain, forcing well-known beaches to close. Most have reopened after repairs. Located in Key West, Monroe County’s Clarence H. Higgs Memorial Beach was “completely underwater” during Ian, according to the parks department. The county says that most of the 16.5-acre beach, fronting the Atlantic Ocean, is expected to reopen on Tuesday, with some areas remaining closed for continued repairs. Key West’s other frequently visited beaches, including Smathers Beach on South Roosevelt Boulevard and Southernmost Beach at the south end of Duval Street, are open.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Former Joel Greenberg associate gets prison time in bribery scheme” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Joe Ellicott — a former close friend of disgraced Seminole County Tax Collector Greenberg and a sports radio talk show host known for his on-air bravado — was sentenced 15 months in federal prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to paying thousands of dollars on behalf of a company to the former public official as part of a bribery scheme. In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell said Ellicott’s actions were part of a larger corruption scheme that harmed people’s trust in government. “Mr. Ellicott was a part, albeit a small part, of a serious offense that went on for a considerable amount of time,” the judge said. “It really harmed every citizen of Seminole County and beyond.”

Pasco judge disqualifies DeSantis-backed school board candidate, lawyers say” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — A Pasco County judge threw a wrench into the county’s remaining School Board race, declaring the well-funded candidate endorsed by DeSantis did not qualify for the ballot. State law requires school board candidates to reside in the district they are seeking to represent by the end of the qualifying period, which was noon on June 17. Circuit Judge Susan Barthle found Alvaro “Al” Hernandez, a Humana executive backed by much of the county Republican establishment, did not meet that mandate, according to lawyers who attended a hearing in her courtroom.

A judge finds Al Hernandez not up to snuff.

Judge denies Seminole GOP Chair’s request for new trial” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County judge has denied a request for a new trial from Seminole GOP Chair Ben Paris, who was convicted in September on a misdemeanor charge that he caused his cousin’s name to be falsely listed on independent state Senate candidate Jestine Iannotti’s campaign contribution records in 2020. Paris’ attorney, Matthews Bark, wrote in a motion last month that the court erred in allowing certain parts of the state’s closing arguments and witness testimony, as well as instructing the jury on a matter of the law. The result, Bark wrote, was that his client had not received a fair and impartial trial. But Judge Wayne Culver denied the request during a hearing Monday.

Lakewood Ranch mail carrier, boyfriend accused of using USPS to traffic cocaine from Puerto Rico” via Jessica De Leon of the Bradenton Herald — A Lakewood Ranch mail carrier and her boyfriend have been indicted on federal drug charges that allege they conspired to distribute cocaine sent from Puerto Rico through the mail. Last week, a federal grand jury in Tampa handed up an indicted charging Bradenton residents Nathasha Prieto, 33, and Angel Hernandez Coss, 37, with conspiring to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. If convicted, Prieto and Hernandez Coss will each face a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in federal prison.

Months before Orlando chiropractor’s arrest, another client reported abuse, report says” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Months before an Orlando chiropractor was arrested last week on charges of inappropriately touching a patient, another client had already reported a similar accusation to police in June, according to an arrest affidavit. In a June 23 interview, a woman told an Orlando Police Department detective that 62-year-old Agostinho Rodrigues had inappropriately touched her breasts and genitals during an April 24 massage at The Healthy Human on Virginia Drive, the affidavit said. The probe into the April 24 incident stopped, though, because the victim was “mentally distraught due to the incident and was unable to proceed with the investigation,” said Detective Kelly Jockin in the affidavit.

Longtime Tampa business law firm merging with statewide firm Gunster” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — A longtime Tampa business and tax law firm is merging with one of the state’s biggest law firms. Barnett, Kirkwood, Koche, Long & Foster is being absorbed by West Palm Beach firm Gunster, which now has more than 250 attorneys in 12 offices around the state. That includes Barnett’s Bayshore Boulevard office as well as its own office in downtown Tampa. The deal more than doubles Gunster’s Tampa presence. Before the merger, Gunster had 43 employees in Tampa, including 29 attorneys. Post-merger, the company will have 90 employees here, including 51 attorneys.

A legacy Tampa law firm goes under the Gunster umbrella.

What John Lux is reading — “Woody Harrelson, Laura Linney movie about Clearwater is filming in South Carolina” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Linney and Harrelson are filming a movie in Clearwater. Well, in a replica of Clearwater. The fictional plot occurs in Clearwater and might include the true story of Terri Schiavo, the St. Petersburg resident whose irreversible persistent vegetative state sparked a nationally followed legal battle between her husband and parents over whether her feeding tube should be removed. But the movie, titled “Suncoast,” is using Hollywood magic to re-create Clearwater in Charleston, South Carolina. The movie is there for the state’s production incentive, St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Commissioner Tony Armer said. Florida does not have such a program.

Small city, big drama: City Manager’s withdrawn resignation highlights tumult in Fort Meade” via Gary White of The Ledger — Polk County’s oldest city can give the appearance of a slumbering elder. On a recent afternoon, a day after Hurricane Ian chugged through to the east, Fort Meade’s two-block downtown was largely deserted. A man pedaled his bike at a relaxed pace past a Little Free Library and a wall mural of the city’s founders, heading east on Broadway Street. Behind its placid surface, though, Fort Meade has been beset by turmoil in recent months. City Manager Jan Bagnall submitted his resignation in August but then withdrew it before actually leaving. A City Commissioner, defending the actions of the city’s leaders, used a vulgar term to describe Fort Meade’s condition before the current regime took office.

Development, housing among topics discussed at Flagler candidate forum” via Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Development was just one of the issues discussed during a candidate forum last week for seats on the Flagler County Commission, Palm Coast City Council and the Flagler County School District. Hosted by the Flagler Tiger Bay Club, a nonpartisan group, the forum was moderated by Jim Manfre, a former Flagler County Sheriff. Early voting runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 5, and Election Day is Nov. 8. Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly attended the forum, which took place Thursday at the Palm Coast Community Center. Staly, who attended as an audience member, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Volusia elementary school tests for high lead levels in water; extent of exposure unclear” via Danielle Johnson of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Volusia County Schools will undergo an emergency project at Sugar Mill Elementary in Port Orange after high lead levels were recently found in the school’s water. The highest sample of lead was more than twice the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for taking action, but it is unclear the extent to which students and faculty may have been exposed. The notice of the high levels appeared before the school board on Sept. 27 as a request to approve emergency funding for $350,000 to replace or reline the pipes. The board unanimously approved the item on its consent agenda without discussion.

Bradenton’s Bishop Museum wins $700K grant. It’s good news for Florida manatees” via Ryan Ballogg of the Bradenton Herald — The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton has secured an added $718,700 in state funding to increase its manatee-saving power, the museum announced Monday. The grant is the second one the museum has received from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this year. Combined with a $547,000 grant announced in July, that’s more than $1 million infused into the museum’s plan to expand its manatee rehabilitation programs. At its downtown Bradenton museum, The Bishop provides secondary rehabilitation services for manatees initially treated elsewhere. “This second-stage facility offers manatees the opportunity to gain exposure to natural foods and feeding strategies while gaining weight for their return to the wild,” the museum’s website explains.


Appeals court rules against North Port in case to contract the city limits” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Second District Court Appeals ruled against the city of North Port in its effort to quash a Circuit Court ruling directing the City Commission to revisit its April 2021 decision against a citizen effort to contract the city limits. In what was essentially a two-page ruling issued Oct. 7, Appeals Court Judge Nelly N. Khouzam said that the court’s power was limited to reviewing whether 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Hunter W. Carroll followed due process in his Nov. 12, 2022 ruling that ordered the North Port City Commission to reconsider its decision against a petition from the West Villagers for Responsible Government seeking to remove land west of the Myakka River from the city.

Police clear school after responding to active shooter report at Riverview High” via Stefania Lugli and Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — On the second day back from a two-week hurricane hiatus, Riverview High School saw a storm of armed SWAT teams rush into classrooms Tuesday. Sarasota Police, Sheriff’s deputies, and school resource officers cleared the classrooms one by one, with video capturing a SWAT officer stepping over students as they crouched in the dark. The threat turned out to be part of a nationwide trend of active shooter hoax calls. Lisa Gallagher was near the school when she received a news alert of Riverview’s lockdown. She said her knee-jerk reaction was to panic and run to campus. “I’m on my way. I love you so much,” Gallagher texted her sophomore daughter.

An active shooter alert clears Riverside High.

Fundraiser for CreArte Latino Cultural Center celebrates food and culture of Latin America” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The CreArte Latino Cultural Center will present “A Taste of Latin America,” a fundraising event that celebrates the food and culture of Latin America, on Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at CreArte Latino, 8251 15th St. E., in Sarasota. The evening, which includes a dance performance by local artists, is sponsored by the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Mi Lic Hispano Abogados de Accidentes, and an anonymous donor. To purchase tickets ($100), visit “CreArte’s mission is to be a channel for cultural exchange between Latinx/Hispanics and the community at large through the arts, education, and service,” said Carol Hartz, CreArte’s executive director.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Matter of safety or invasion of privacy? How new policy on cameras plays out in Leon County Schools” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Schools attorney Will Spillias said he received calls at the beginning of the school year from principals concerning the district’s recording policies. Students were coming to class with recording devices in their backpacks, said Spillias at the lectern to the Leon County School Board. “Their parents (were) saying ‘Hey, you can record,’ and I don’t know if they threw out the parents’ rights or the student rights’, whatever, but my advice to them was no,” Spillias said. There was no policy at the time, but a new rule that would not allow students to record audio or visuals in class was one of several new policies brought forth by the Superintendent at Monday’s agenda meeting.

Not quite the school picture day people expect.

—“West Nile virus case reported in Santa Rosa. What to know and how to protect yourself” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal

Deaf Jacksonville couple can finally get married after clerk of courts denial and lawsuit” via Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times-Union — A deaf Jacksonville couple who filed a lawsuit a week ago about the Duval County Clerk of Courts Office refusing to process their marriage license until they provided a sign language interpreter now has the paperwork they need to get married. That means Friday wedding bells for Joel Alfaro and Yusela Machado Silvente after a year of battling the clerk’s office. Receiving the marriage license just days shy of the 10th anniversary of when they first met, their attorney John Phillips tweeted late Monday that “It’s officially official.”

—“Tallahassee family highlights Palestinian heritage while competing on Family Feud” via Kyla A Sanford of the Tallahassee Democrat

‘Oh, this is a big one’: 101-pound wahoo breaks 12-year-old record at Destin Fishing Rodeo” via Tina Harbuck of The Destin Log — Little did they know when they took a lunch break from grouper fishing to troll that they would hook up with a Destin Fishing Rodeo record-breaking fish. Derrick Dover, who was fishing with his brother, Andrew, and his dad, Tony, on the Muscle Memories, hauled in a whopper of a wahoo Oct. 7 — 101 pounds — to break a 12-year-old rodeo record. The rodeo record was a 98.2-pounder caught by Omar Breiz of Mary Esther in 2010 aboard the Don’t Hate with Capt. Scott Whitehurst.


Republicans and bias in Midterm polls.” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — Republicans always believe the polls are slanted against them. That belief has sometimes caused them to misread big political races. But there have also been some egregious examples of polling bias, or at least polling mistakes, in the years since Trump entered national politics. In 2016, the Trump vs. Hillary Clinton race, the polls showed Clinton winning in three states critical to Trump’s victory — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The midterm elections are one month away, and polls are everywhere. The question is: Do the polls have the same old problems? We don’t know. But there are reasons to suspect problems persist. If it turns out the mistakes are happening again, the election results could be quite different from what pundits are counting on today.


The inevitable indictment of Trump” via Franklin Foer of The Atlantic — Merrick Garland, by disposition, is repelled by drama, and doesn’t believe the department should be subjected to unnecessary stress tests. An indictment would inevitably be used to justify a cycle of reprisals, and risks turning the Justice Department into an instrument of never-ending political warfare. If the Justice Department is intent on proving that nobody is above the law, it could impose the same constraints on Trump that it would on any criminal defendant accused of serious crimes, including limiting his travel. Such a restriction would deprive Trump of one of his most important political advantages: his ability to whip up his followers at far-flung rallies. United States v. Donald Trump would be about more than punishing crimes.

It’s just murder living in a red state” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — If it’s the fall of a year ending in an even number, you can be pretty sure Republicans will try to scare you with paranoia about crime, specifically, violent crime committed by dark-skinned people. Right on schedule comes Sen. Tommy Tuberville, declaring at a Trump rally in Nevada over the weekend that Democrats want reparations for descendants of enslaved people “because they think the people who do the crime are owed that.” To this false epiphany, he added an epithet: “Bulls—!” Those who are truly worried about violent crime should consider decamping to blue America. Living in a Republican state is much more likely to get you killed.

What the approaching GOP majority can deliver in Congress” via Hugh Hewitt of The Washington Post — Republicans, it is clear, now believe they are heading for a big win in November, one that will return the GOP to control of both chambers of Congress, check Biden’s enormous ambitions and install needed oversight over the sprawling federal administrative state. First, stop the spending madness and fund the military. Kevin McCarthy has also promised to set up a long overdue “Select Committee on China,” which could become permanent. Could comprehensive immigration reform be coupled with the completion of the border wall? Perhaps.

Sasse’s troubling selection as UF president is about cronyism, politics” via Irfan Kovankaya for the Orlando Sentinel — It’s alarming that as UF enrollment criteria grows, our leadership criteria shrinks, and accepts bigotry as experience. Sasse’s nomination is unusual considering every UF president since the 1990s had prior experience at a large research institution. Kent Fuchs was the provost at Cornell University. Bernie Machen served as president of the University of Utah and provost at the University of Michigan. Charles E. Young was the chancellor of UCLA for 25 years. Sasse simply does not compare to his predecessors. UF combines a prestigious diploma with a more affordable price tag. That means upward mobility without a huge saddle of debt — a recipe for attracting bright students across socioeconomic backgrounds. We earned our spot here. I cannot say the same for Sasse.

Francis Suarez: Slash the Florida sales tax” via Florida Politics — I believe that now is the time to slash the Florida sales tax so Florida’s families can recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ian and weather the growing scourge of national inflation. Moreover, the next Florida sales tax cut must be clear, broad, and permanent: no more tax holidays, no more carveouts, no more gimmicks. It must be real, substantive, and it must offset the growing cost of recovery along with the surging cost of living, from food staples to rent and beyond. An across-the-board reduction now would help working Floridians and those on fixed incomes, especially those devastated by the current hurricane season while restraining government expenditure in the long run.

Brickell floods, even without a hurricane. Miami solutions can’t come quick enough” via the Miami Herald editorial board — It doesn’t take a catastrophic storm to create terrible floods in Brickell. In June, yet another Brickell-area flooding video went viral when an after-midnight torrential rain turned streets into rivers. There are plans to fix the issues. The city installed pumps to help remove excess water that inundates that area and other spots known to flood. There are also broader plans in the works. Miami’s stormwater master plan calls for spending about $3.8 billion over the next four decades to improve the city’s drainage, part of its fight against climate change and sea-level rise. These fixes and others, which still won’t fix everything, are wildly expensive, utterly necessary — and can’t happen soon enough. Seas are rising; this is only going to get worse.

Censorship is a consumer harm” via Machael Faulkender and Stephen Miran for The Wall Street Journal — The litmus test for government antitrust actions has traditionally been the consumer-welfare standard developed by Robert Bork: If consolidated market power doesn’t lead to higher prices, consumers haven’t been harmed, and there’s no justification for government to act. By this view, Big Tech is off the hook. This view is too narrow. For one thing, digital networks with monopoly power can charge higher prices for advertisements, ultimately passed on to consumers. Tech firms further abuse market power by censoring content, thereby reducing the quality of the product. To claim people aren’t made worse off by constrained opportunities is to embrace paternalistic assumptions antithetical to both American freedom and economic modeling, which takes consumer preferences as given rather than as prescribed by a social planner.

Teenagers are telling us that something is wrong with America” via Jamieson Webster for The New York Times — Yes, the pandemic exacerbated a groundless feeling, but the way adolescents investigate their world for its failings means they touch an open wound in this country: What happens when we realize the escalator — so crucial to the American dream — didn’t go anywhere? Article after article shows us that America’s teenagers aren’t doing well, without putting their finger on what is wrong beyond issues of individual “mental illness” and the usual bugbears trotted out. But what are the teenagers telling us is wrong? We seem to have forgotten that adolescents are lightning rods for the zeitgeist. They live at the fault lines of a culture, exposing our weak spots, showing the available array of solutions and insolubilities. They are holding up a mirror for us to see ourselves more clearly.


— ALOE —

Mayor helps mom and 3 kids escape before train hits vehicle” via The Associated Press — Eddie Daniels, the Mayor of Vienna, Georgia, was on his way to work Saturday morning when he saw the SUV in a dangerous position. “I couldn’t let those babies sit there and get slaughtered by a train,” Daniels told WALB-TV. He helped the mom out first, then saw three children in the back seat — a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. He said he got the two younger children out and was helping the 6-year-old when the train hit the vehicle. Daniels said he remembers being caught between the train and the SUV but still managed to get the last child out. The smashed vehicle landed a few feet from where it was hit. “I’m out here just doing God’s work. That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Daniels said.

Branding 101 from 007 — and ‘Dr. No’” via Ben Schott of Bloomberg — “Dr. No,” is a simple movie shot on a poverty-stricken budget, starring a relative unknown, based on the sixth book in a series and released 60 years ago this week to a mixed critical response — not least from Ian Fleming. Yet for all these inauspicious omens, “Dr. No” inaugurated one of the most valuable and venerable franchises in cinema. “Dr. No” also created one of capitalism’s most successful and sophisticated brand collaboration ecosystems. The commercial appeal of a handsome, debonair, alpha-male spy requires no explanation, but the “Bond Collaborative Universe” also empowers a remarkable network effect, where midmarket brands like Heineken, Dell and Moscot bask in the reflected glory not just of 007, but of luxury marques like Bollinger, Omega and Leica.

‘Dr. No’ set the template for a multibillion-dollar franchise.

Disney World ups the price of Genie+ skip-the-line service” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — The company has changed its ride reservation service, Genie+, to a variable pricing system, resort spokesman Eric Scott said Tuesday. Previously, Genie+ was priced at a flat $15 per person, per day and allowed guests to book one ride reservation at a time from dozens of attractions and experiences. As of Tuesday, Genie+’s price now varies by date and demand, much like Disney’s admission price and other theme parks’ paid line-skip services, such as Universal’s Express Pass. Pricing will be higher during holidays and peak periods, Scott said. For example, Genie+ pricing ranges from $15 to $22 a day through October but could change beyond that.

Idina Menzel doc headed to Disney+” via Mia Galuppo of The Hollywood Reporter — Menzel, who lent her voice to one of Disney’s most beloved princesses of the past decade with Frozen‘s Elsa, is getting the bio-doc treatment via Disney Branded Television and Disney+. Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage? is a feature documentary that will focus on the life and career of the Tony winner and culminate in her headlining a concert at Madison Square Garden in her hometown of New York City after a nationwide tour. Which Way to the Stage? will premiere on the streaming service on Dec. 9.

Busch Gardens swings for new ride in Spring 2023” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will introduce a large swinging ride called Serengeti Flyer in spring 2023, the theme park announced Tuesday morning. The new attraction will feature side-by-side arms holding 20 passengers each on their ends. Those arms will swing out to a maximum height of 135 feet above the ground and will hit speeds of up to 68 mph, Busch Gardens says. There will be multiple negative-G experiences as the ride rises above the park’s Serengeti Plain. “Serengeti Flyer’s thrilling ride experience is bound to provide riders with a pulse-pounding encounter that can only be found at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay,” said Neal Thurman, park president.


Happy birthday to our dear friend, Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Lauren Book, as well as Sen. Shevrin Jones, former Rep. Jimmie Smith, Allyce Heflin, and Jimmy Midyette.


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

Peter Schorsch

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


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

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

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