Takeaways from Tallahassee — Unfettered command

Blue Tally Takeaways (1)
It’s the exact scenario Democrats were hoping to avoid.

Supermajority

It’s now official. Republicans control a supermajority of both the Florida House and Senate for the first time in a decade.

With 28 Senators and 84 House members, Republicans boast unfettered command over the legislative process, spelling a smooth two years for the GOP agenda. Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker-designate Paul Renner will have the privilege of overseeing the supermajorities.

Paul Renner and Kathleen Passidomo will wield power Florida Republicans haven’t commanded in a decade.

It’s the scenario Democrats were hoping to avoid during the campaign. FL Senate Victory, the Senate Democratic caucus’ campaign arm, presented a unified front with its first-ever statewide bus tour on behalf of five key candidates — an ultimately futile effort, as all five candidates lost their races.

On that tour, Sen. Jason Pizzo argued Democrats’ case for preventing a Republican supermajority.

A Republican supermajority would bring “that same kind of flippant attitude that you’ve heard from Republicans in the House and the Senate the past couple years,” Pizzo told reporters, “the ‘because we can’ without justifying, without qualifying any of their culture war arguments that are basically made up, that are unnecessary to the people at home and the kitchen table issues of actually worry about.”

House and Senate rules dictate specifically which actions the chambers can take with the blessing of a supermajority. Each chamber’s 2022-24 rules haven’t yet been finalized, but the 2020-22 rules give a glimpse at some of the majority’s new powers, including some powers that are constitutionally granted.

By a two-thirds vote, either chamber can vote to reconsider a bill passed that day, allowing lawmakers to further amend such a bill. Two-thirds votes are also necessary to pass public records or public meeting exemptions.

Lawmakers may also choose to limit debate on a matter by a supermajority.

Lawmakers can also eliminate the need to “read” a bill on three separate days before passing it, or immediately add a bill to the Special Order Calendar for consideration that day.

With two-thirds’ approval, either chamber can also amend a bill on third reading, just before final passage, or take up a late-filed amendment that could otherwise be blocked.

Lawmakers can also waive their chamber’s rules with a supermajority.

Either house can even punish members for legislative conduct and ethics violations with a two-thirds majority, including expel them. And, of course, each chamber can override a veto from the Governor by two-thirds.

Perhaps the most important rule for the prospective Special Session next month is that a supermajority will allow the chamber to take up legislation outside the originally stated purposes of the Session.

The last time Republicans had at least 80 House members and at least 27 Senators was the 2010-12 term, when they held 81 House seats and 28 Senate seats. However, even when Democrats held enough seats to prevent a supermajority, they haven’t always enforced it.

Notably, during a Special Session last year on vaccine mandates, Democrats could have halted a public records bill that was critical to Republicans’ effort to prevent vaccine orders.

It’s not the only instance in recent years of Democrats allowing Republicans to have their way without flexing their limited procedural powers. With Democrats’ powers now gone, it’s a question of when, not if, Republicans will next take advantage of their new strength.

___

Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

GOP sweeps Florida on Election Night — On a night many predicted would cast a conservative wave across the United States, surging red waters crashed over Florida as the state broke the surf for the rest of the nation, dissipating the wave. Republicans mounted a historic night in Florida, sweeping state offices by the widest margin in 40 years and ushering in a deep roster of conservative lawmakers at all levels of government. Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis won their re-elections for the U.S. Senate and Governor, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis were re-elected and outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson retook Agriculture Commissioner for the GOP. Florida’s delegation to the U.S. House went from 16-11 to 20-8 and Republicans claimed supermajorities in both legislative chambers.

Donald Trump – DeSantis feud enters the open — Following DeSantis’ blowout on Tuesday and the poor performance of former President Trump’s hand-picked candidates across the country, conservative voices are turning away from Trump and toward the Governor as their 2024 pick. This week, Trump removed all ambiguity about his feelings about “Ron DeSanctimonious.” In a searing statement from Trump’s Save America PAC, Trump unleashed on DeSantis as just an “average Republican Governor” propped up by Fox News and related properties. That’s on top of the former President’s Truth Social post questioning the significance of DeSantis’ victory.

Hurricane Nicole slams Central Florida — Florida’s emergency leaders have revisited recovery plans twice in less than 50 days. Weeks after Hurricane Ian ravaged Southwest Florida, Hurricane Nicole swept over portions of Central Florida. Wind, rain and outages are among the destruction leaders are now addressing, particularly on the Space Coast. This is Director Kevin Guthrie’s second storm since taking the helm of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. Guthrie said he is applying the lessons learned from Category 4 Ian to Nicole. He hopes to conclude state operations by Monday. “You will see a very quick response,” Guthrie said. “I have an internal clock, if you will, of what I want to see our response look like. I want us out there completely searched, stabilized and secured within 72 hours.” At least five people have died in Florida because of Nicole, according to reports.

DeSantis transitions to second term – Two of DeSantis’ former Chiefs of Staff — Adrian Lukis and Shane Strum — and Miami lawyer Scott Wagner will help the Governor pick the members of his administration for his second term. “During my second term in office, we will remain focused on continuing to lead on the priorities that matter to Floridians like keeping our schools open and free from indoctrination, protecting and preserving our world-class environment, and maintaining a booming economy,” DeSantis said. The Governor also announced an application portal for “qualified” jobseekers looking to work in his administration.

Ben Sasse wins final vote for UF President — In a different vote this week than the ones counted on Election Night, Nebraska U.S. Sen. Sasse passed his final hurdle to becoming the next President of the University of Florida. The State University System Board of Governors approved the Republican by a voice vote, setting him up to succeed President Kent Fuchs in February. The controversial pick has drawn protest from students and faculty, including for his opposition to gay marriage. The BOG had nothing but praise for Sasse, with members saying the Senator had won over skeptics.

See you later

After losing his race Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson isn’t saying goodbye. He’s saying “see you later.”

In a letter to supporters, the Democratic Congressman said things are looking up despite his loss to Republican U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn by nearly 20 percentage points in the 2nd Congressional District.

Al Lawson says there were bring parts of the campaign despite his loss. Image via Facebook.

“With all the talk of democracy at stake, I still remain optimistic about the future of our country,” Lawson said. “The United States is a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. During this campaign, I traveled throughout this district, and I met people of all political stripes. And while we may not have always agreed politically, I consistently found that we shared the same love of country. The American people are fundamentally good, and this campaign has only strengthened my faith in our nation.”

Both Congressmen have represented different parts of North Florida since 2016. When redistricting drew them into the same district, the pair squared off in one of only two incumbent-on-incumbent races across the nation this General Election.

Noting that Americans come together after the ballots are counted, Lawson said he called Dunn to pledge his support to his success on behalf of the people of North Florida.

“Our campaign comes to an end, but our work is just beginning. We must keep advancing the issues and values that we hold dear and that make this nation great,” Lawson said. “This is not goodbye, but rather see you later. Let’s keep moving America forward.”

Florida is for vets

Florida claims to be the most veteran friendly state in the nation.

With 1.5 million veterans and a spate of state agencies and state- created partners providing resources and opportunities for former military personnel, the claims may be true.

The Governor’s Office issued a press release announcing the state agencies that interact with veterans as well as the veteran-friendly policies.

This Veterans Day, Ron DeSantis and state agencies are touting the strength of Florida’s support for former service members.

The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) is the premier point of entry for veterans. It operates a ‎‎network of nine veterans’ homes and provides statewide outreach to connect ‎‎veterans ‎‎with their earned services, benefits and support.

Veterans Florida is a state created non-profit that operates the Florida’s Veterans Employment and Training Services Program and also promotes the state’s veteran-friendly image. To that end, Veterans Florida recently partnered with Enterprise Florida to launch eVeterans Florida to host a National Veterans Small Business Week webinar.

The Department of Education administers the Military Veterans Certification Pathway, a unique opportunity for Florida’s talented veterans to obtain a 5-year temporary teaching certificate prior to earning their bachelor’s degree.

The Department of Children and Families has partnered with FDVA and First Lady Casey DeSantis on the Continue the Mission initiative, which recruits veterans and military spouses to be child protective investigators, mentors, and case managers. Since the launch of this program in June 2022 more than 450 individuals have applied.

And the Department of Health (DOH) expedites the licensing process for honorably discharged veterans and their spouses and waives most licensing fees. DOH also helps issue temporary licensure for spouses of active duty service members so long as they are licensed health care professionals in other states and in good standing.

The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) administers the Recovery Housing Program for veterans. The grant program provides assistance with relocation payments, rental assistance, new construction, acquisition, and/or rehabilitation of housing facilities.

RHP is funded completely with federal dollars that are disbursed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Florida received $1.7 million in RHP funding. DeSantis announced in the news release he disbursed $1.5 million in RHP awards.

“Florida’s veterans have made countless sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and in return we are working hard to ensure they have the resources and support they need to be successful and take care of their families. My administration will continue to invest in our veterans in the same way that they made sacrifices to invest in the freedom of our nation.”

Meanwhile the DEO is hosting the Florida Veterans Workforce Summit Tuesday through Friday to provide statewide training to help local workforce development board staff to support veterans, service members, and eligible spouses as they find and begin meaningful careers.

Protecting the military

It is Military Appreciation Month, and Attorney General Ashley Moody wants military members and their families to be aware of the services her office offers to protect them.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the Floridians out there supporting their beloved soldiers,” Moody said in a prepared release. “While the honor rightly belongs to those who serve, families sacrifice too — sleepless nights, lonely holidays and the worry that comes with loving someone who steps up to protect our country. To all of you, I say thank you.”

“I also want to let you know my office has several resources for military members and their families,” she continued.

Ashley Moody’s office also has resources for military members and their families. Image via AP.

The Military and Veterans Assistance Program in the Attorney General’s Office helps protect military members, veterans and their families from scams and helps to inform military members about what measures can be taken to guard against schemes.

Moody’s office also created and released the “Scams at a Glance: Protect Our Patriots” brochure to alert service members and their families about common and emerging military-related scams.

Moody is asking those who are aware of scams targeting military members or veterans to electronically report the information to her office or to call 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226).

Instagram of the Week

What’s the damage?

DEO opened the Business Damage Assessment Survey Thursday after Hurricane Nicole made landfall in Florida.

The survey allows the state to gauge the impact of the storm on businesses and expedite recovery efforts to identify the businesses hit the hardest. Because DeSantis’ state of emergency covers the entire state, all affected businesses are encouraged to complete the survey.

Dane Eagle wants a better sense of how to help Floridians recover from Nicole. Image via Colin Hackley.

“Governor DeSantis has shown time and time again what prompt, effective disaster response looks like, and DEO is committed to quickly standing up resources to assist,” DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said. “The Business Damage Assessment Survey assists DEO and its federal, state, and local partners in understanding physical and economic impacts to inform decision making. I encourage businesses impacted by Hurricane Nicole to complete the survey at www.FloridaDisaster.biz.”

Results from the Business Damage Assessment Survey will be shared with various federal, state, and local agencies to implement appropriate relief.

Businesses can complete the survey online by selecting “Hurricane Nicole” from the dropdown menu. They can also seek additional help by calling the department at 850-815-4925 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or emailing them at [email protected].

License fast track

As part of Military Family Appreciation Month, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is highlighting recent law changes that expedite the licensing application process for military families.

This year, the Legislature passed a law giving priority application processing to military spouses and creating a seven-day turnaround standard. Since the law took effect in July, 34 spouses of active duty military members have benefited from the expedited process.

Melanie Griffin is keeping licenses moving at DBPR thanks to a new law. Image via Shumaker/Gittings Photography.

“Knowing many professions thrive on the reputation of an established business, networking and/or referrals, military spouses are at a disadvantage each time they move and have to rebuild their business and clientele in a new location,” DBPR Secretary Melanie Griffin said.

“Expediting the application process is one step in helping these individuals get to work as quickly as possible. Governor DeSantis’ leadership, and the actions of the Florida Legislature, in improving support and resources for military families is a strong reminder that Florida values, welcomes, and celebrates the men and women who serve our country.”

The program applies to licenses in more than 20 professions within DBPR’s Division of Professions, Division of Real Estate and Division of Certified Public Accounting. Real estate brokers and sales agents, cosmetology specialists and veterinarians are the professions made up of the most military spouses.

Rep 100 keeps it 100

Now-former Rep. Joe Geller sent a final dispatch to his constituents in District 100 with a message of thanks.

Geller, a Democrat from Aventura who on Tuesday completed his fourth term in the Florida House, began his week reflecting on history, the present and the future. On Sunday, he attended his final public event in his official capacity, the commemoration of Kristallnacht at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. Following the evening, he relayed a message to the community in a “bittersweet moment.”

Danielle Levine-Cava and Joe Geller make a final appearance together. Image via Joe Geller.

Geller joined Miami-Dade County Mayor Danielle Levine-Cava to commemorate the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which took place in Nazi Germany in 1938. Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, was considered a prelude to the Holocaust.

“In these dangerous times, with rising voices of extremism all around us, speaking out against hate is more important than it has ever been,” Geller said. “I have tried to use my voice to counter these alarming trends.”

The letter, sent on Monday, noted the following day was Election Day.

“Many have fought and died to protect our right to vote,” Geller said. “Today, when that right is also under assault, from suppression and denialism, it is more important than ever to exercise your right to vote.”

The letter also came ahead of Veterans Day, Friday, and he used the opportunity to thank those who fought or died to protect freedom.

“We honor your service. Thank you for keeping us free,” he said.

Finally, he recognized the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

“Serving as your voice in Tallahassee these past eight years has been the honor of my life,” Geller said. “I thank each of you for allowing me to serve you.”

He wrote that he has tried to loudly and consistently stand up for his constituents without demonizing those with whom he disagreed.

“In these perilous times, we need honor and civility, along with passion and thoughtfulness, to be sure that this great experiment we call democracy survives,” Geller said.

Deputies helping Sheriffs

While the tropical cyclone that had most everyone’s attention this week was Hurricane Nicole, the Florida Deputy Sheriff’s Association (FDSA) isn’t forgetting Hurricane Ian.

FDSA on Monday distributed $350,000 to 192 employees of nine Sheriff’s Offices impacted by Hurricane Ian. Although the Category 4 storm made landfall more than a month ago, FDSA is still pitching in to lend a hand to their brethren with the help of the Governor’s Office, the Hurricane Relief Fund and the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA).

These law enforcers have each other’s backs. Image via FDSA.

“Our goal was to quickly deliver Hurricane Ian relief funds to employees of Sheriffs’ Offices hit the hardest so they could start the recovery process,” said FDSA President Rick Staly, who is the Flagler County Sheriff. “Sheriffs’ Office employees were dedicated to their communities and worked for days without a break serving their community and couldn’t make repairs to their own home. Many have been displaced and we hope this helps them recover. I also want to thank Governor and First Lady DeSantis as without their support today, this would not have been possible.”

Staly was joined by FSA President and Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno and Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummel for the announcement. The FDSA Board of Directors and FDSA Executive Director Keith Dean also appeared at the presentation at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office headquarters.

“Before, during, and especially after Hurricane Ian, Florida sheriffs’ offices’ personnel from across the state have been on the ground doing all they can to protect and to serve their communities. We now know that many are doing so despite their own homes being lost,” Nienhuis said.

“Thanks to Governor DeSantis and First Lady DeSantis, along with the FSA and FDSA partners and members, we are able to help bridge a financial gap and provide some mental relief as our heroes are actively helping pick up the pieces of the lives of others while they try to temporarily set aside the devastation they and their families face personally.”

Wise counsel

AARP Florida is adding grassroots expert Roger Harris to its advocacy team.

Harris, a native Floridian has more than 20 years of experience in issue advocacy, civic engagement and in political campaigns. In addition to his work in the nation’s capital, he has volunteered as a fellow for GAIN Power helping with the Representative Careers Talent Initiative, which encourages progressive movement employers to hire more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) while promoting more diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Roger Harris is lending his expertise to AARP.

Most recently, he served the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as its Southern Region Political Coordinator. Now, he’ll serve as AARP Florida’s Advocacy Manager for the Jacksonville and Orlando areas.

“After unveiling new leadership for the AARP Florida advocacy team earlier this year, we are continuing to add new talent,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said in a statement.

“Floridians 50-plus are facing some of the most critical challenges in life, including affording retirement, finding quality care, access to affordable housing, caregiving and much more,” he continued. “Fiercely defending the 50-plus and empowering them to choose how they live as they age is paramount, and I’m confident that Roger’s vast experience in community advocacy work will be essential to this effort.”

Roger earned his bachelor’s in political science from Florida A&M University and his master’s in social justice and community organizing from Prescott College.

New leadership

Florida Power & Light CEO Eric Silagy has been named chair of the Florida Council of 100 and former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux has been named the Council’s vice chair.

Founded in 1961, the nonpartisan Florida Council of 100 has provided the business perspective on policy matters to Florida’s elected leaders and government officials. The aim of the Council, which represents more than 140 businesses that employ more than 1.3 million people, is to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of all Floridians through the relentless pursuit of better, business-driven public policy.

Eric Silagy and George LeMieux are stepping up within the Council of 100.

Silagy and LeMieux, who is also chairman of the board at the Gunster law firm, will serve for two years.

“People and businesses are flocking to the state of Florida because Governor Ron DeSantis and our other state leaders have been intensely focused on creating a pro-business climate backed by a talented workforce, as well as protecting our communities and natural resources,” Silagy, said in a prepared release.

“The growth Florida is experiencing is exciting and presents many opportunities for Floridians, but it also comes with challenges that will require leadership and innovative public policy solutions. I look forward to working with the members of the Council of 100 and our state’s leaders to keep Florida the top destination to visit, build a business and raise a family.”

Kitson & Partners CEO Syd Kitson, the council’s immediate past chair, called Silagy “a capable executive that is prepared to work with Florida’s leaders on important policy issues that will write the next great chapter of Florida’s success story.”

Recycling week

Next week is Florida Recycles Week.

To that end, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation (FRPF) are coordinating free educational events to encourage all Floridians to recycle. The week-long event culminates Friday at the Capitol with the announcement of the Recycling Awards.

Floridians should consider recycling every day, but especially next week.

Here are the rest of the week’s events:

Monday: Celebrate Recycling — A webinar sponsored by Waste Management and featuring DEP Deputy Secretary John Truitt. The webinar also has presentations by Brent Bell, vice president of recycling at Waste Management and Elizabeth DeWitt, president and CEO of the Florida Beverage Association.

Tuesday: America Recycles Day — Highlands Elementary School in Lake Worth, receives the Green Apple Award for its commitment to create a healthier environment for students, employees and communities at 8:30 a.m. FRPF provides an educational program on what and how to recycle properly. This event is sponsored by Coca-Cola Beverages Florida and will be held at 500 Highland Avenue, Lake Worth.

Wednesday: “Recycling on the Go”Join Keep Brevard Beautiful, Florida Ports Council and Port Canaveral at Jetty Park for a beach cleanup and educational sessions. This event, sponsored by Niagara Bottling and Wawa, will be held at 9035 Campground Circle, Cape Canaveral, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Thursday: “Food Waste Prevention Day” — Get helpful tips by following @flrecycling on twitter and @FLRecyclingFoundation on Facebook.

Stop bugging out

Inzecto has joined forces with the UF/IFAS Extension offices, Florida Master Gardner Volunteer programs, mosquito control districts and county parks and recreation centers to distribute 100,000 mosquito traps in Orange, Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties, which have been buzzing with mosquitoes post-Ian.

Developed in a UF lab, Inzecto Mosquito Traps don’t need electricity to work. They only need to be filled with water and placed in the shade. The traps were co-created by a trio of UF faculty — Phil Koehler and Roberto Pereira, who are professors in the the Department of Entomology & Nematology, and Chris Batich, a professor in the Department of Material Science & Engineering.

Four counties are taking advantage of this product. Image via UF News.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Deployed Warfighter Protection Program provided the initial research and development funding for the traps because the Pentagon wanted mosquito traps that would be easy for American troops to use overseas.

The Inzecto Mosquito Trap is red and black, the colors female mosquitoes prefer. The females enter the trap to lay their eggs and 100% of the mosquito larvae are killed by the micro-dose coating of insecticides embedded into the plastic. Each mosquito trap covers 1,500 square feet.

Teach the kids well

Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education has received a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s for a five-year project titled PRAISE, an acronym for Preparing for Readiness and Academic Improvement for pre-School English Learners.

FAU is conducting the project in collaboration with the Osceola County School District. The goal is to engage approximately 192 educators from 24 elementary schools with Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (VPK) programs.

PRAISE will help young students develop English and literacy skills. Image via FAU News.

PRAISE offers a yearlong professional development curriculum that includes a four-day summer institute for preschool educators and leaders and, during the academic year, a monthly school readiness professional learning community. FAU estimates the program will impact 1,223 preschool students, about 60% of whom are expected to receive English language learning services when they enter kindergarten.

“We are extremely proud and excited to receive this important U.S. Department of Education grant in collaboration with our partners at the School District of Osceola County,” said Stephen Silverman, dean of FAU’s College of Education. “PRAISE opens a new area of educational leadership for English as a second language and voluntary pre-kindergarten that could serve as an exemplar for Florida and the nation.”

Florida has the third-highest population of English language learners’ in schools nationwide, according to the Florida Department of Education.

Vache de mer

Florida State University took manatee conservation international, winning a silver medal in a biology competition in the City of Love.

Undergraduate researchers from the school traveled to Paris recently to compete in the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Giant Jamboree at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles.

Students are searching for new ways to save manatees, and they’re sharing them across the world. Image via AP.

The jamboree offers a chance for groups from around the world, mostly at the collegiate level, to showcase projects that ethically use synthetic biology to solve real-world problems. FSU’s 12-member team focused on the increasing manatee dieoff.

“Being at the jamboree felt like I was witnessing the birth of a revolutionary new industry,” said Gabriel Bonassi, who led the student team. “The iGEM competition is much more than bringing home medals. The purpose of the competition is to change the way we think about solving problems with synthetic biology and then take that thought process further to whatever professional endeavors ensue post-competition.”

The iGEM team aimed to create a biosynthetic replacement for cercosporin, a safer but expensive alternative to algaecides used to combat algal blooms in Florida’s waterways. Killing algae would prevent blooms from covering the water’s surface and killing seagrass, manatees’ main food source.

The students tried cloning the essential genes for cercosporin production into baker’s yeast. However, they were unable to fully develop the necessary DNA molecule.

“The judges recognized the hard work and lessons learned,” said Cesar A. Rodriguez, a co-principal investigator of this year’s iGEM team, and entrepreneur in residence in FSU’s College of Medicine.

The medal marks the third silver medal for FSU in the competition in a streak spanning as many years. Before the streak, FSU’s program earned gold in 2019 for a project to combat citrus greening.

The giving tree

Tallahassee is offering to help eligible homeowners plant up to two free trees in their yards as a way to increase the city’s urban forest canopy through its Adopt A Tree program.

Adopt A Tree, which plants around 300 trees each year, helps ensure the health of Tallahassee’s tree canopy.

Qualified homeowners can request up to two trees be planted in their front yards. Homeowners must agree to keep each tree watered for one year.

The Nuttall oak is one of three trees residents can pick request from the city. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Tree planting begins mid-January. Trees are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Homeowners will have three trees to choose from this year: the Nuttall oak, the pond cypress and the flatwoods plum.

The Nuttall oak is a fast growing oak that can reach 80 feet when mature and is known for leaves that in the fall change from yellow to orange to red.

The pond cypress is virtually maintenance-free, requiring no pruning, and is pest and disease-resistant. This fast-growing canopy tree can reach between 45 to 60 feet at maturity.

The flatwoods plum tree is limited in supply so homeowners can only order one. The native tree has white blooms that attract a variety of pollinators, especially bees, and provides fall fruits for birds and other wildlife. It grows between 12 and 20 feet in height.

Boots on the Sand

Boots on the Sand has a growing lineup of artists bound for Estero next month.

Gavin DeGraw, RaeLynn and John Rich are the latest musicians set to perform at the Hurricane Ian benefit concert on Dec. 1. Already headlining the concert is Lynyrd Skynyrd, with Ira Dean, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, Tracy Lawrence and Ted Nugent also on the roster.

Artists Gavin DeGraw, RaeLynn and John Rich join the country- and Southern rock-heavy set.

Boots on the Sand Inc. is dedicated to the recovery of Southwest Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Proceeds from the concert will be directed to the Florida Disaster Fund through Volunteer Florida and the Collier Community Foundation, Collaboratory and the Charlotte Community Foundation.

Live Nation and Dean will produce the event played at the Hertz Arena. Big-time comedian Jim Breuer, a former Goat Boy from New York and now a resident of Naples, will emcee.

Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Johnny Van Zant said guitarist Rickey Medlocke and their tour manager both live in Fort Myers.

“You know we are a Florida band and true Floridians,” Van Zant said. “We have grown up with Hurricanes being a part of our lives. Hurricane Ian did major damage and people lost loved ones and everything they had.

“We couldn’t sit by and not try to help people in a time of need,” he continued. “Hopefully, we can raise a bunch of money for the victims of the storm, get some musician friends to come down and join us, and bring some smiles to the faces of those people that have lost so much.”

Campaign Directions

Mother Nature — Down arrow — She keeps popping them out.

Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — All the reasons.

Ron DeSantis, Part 2 — Up arrow — If Republicans take Congress, Kevin McCarthy owes him one … well, four.

Polls — Down arrow — They were off 7 points, but to be fair, would anyone have believed DeSantis +19 two weeks ago?

James Uthmeier — Up arrow — He’s the most powerful Chief of Staff in a generation. Full stop.

Cord Byrd — Up arrow — He could’ve clocked out at 8:30 p.m.

Ashley Moody — Up arrow — DeSantis and Rubio won big, but she won bigger.

Florida Democrats — Down arrow — We’d call them the Washington Generals, but they only lose by about 11 points on average.

Manny Diaz — Down arrow — Losing in Miami is a family tradition.

Nikki Fried ­— Down arrow — The courts handed her one final loss on her way out the door.

Evan Power — Up arrow — The Leon GOP Chair and RPOF Chair of Chairs is going for the big chair.

Kathleen Passidomo — Up arrow — She could let one Senator go and still have the supermajority.

Paul Renner — Up arrow — The House GOP has 84 mouths to feed. There are worse problems to have.

Corey Simon — Up arrow — Tallahassee’s first Black Republican Senator since Reconstruction. And he’ll probably hold the seat for a decade.

Lauren Book — Down arrow — We’d call Senate Dems the Washington Generals, too, but it takes 15 bodies to fill a b-ball roster.

Shevrin Jones — Up arrow — He’s probably the most important Democratic lawmaker, for whatever that’s worth.

Carlos G. Smith — Down arrow — What. A. Throw.

Bob Rommel — Up arrow — Anchors up! Bayfront Bistro is open for business.

Shane Strum — Up arrow — He’s back!

Andrew Makintosh — Up arrow — Kathy Mears is a tough act to follow. But if anyone can do it, it’s him.

FSU — Up arrow — Bahl is a baller hire.

Ben Sasse — Up arrow — UF pays a lot better than the U.S. Senate.

John Dailey — Up arrow — Four more years.

Staff Reports


One comment

  • Charlie Crist

    November 12, 2022 at 6:44 am

    One party, empty suit rule. There is no government in Florida besides police. Billionares are moving in and people will be eating their babies and living 20 to a house in a decade. I tried to help.

Comments are closed.


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