Good Monday morning.
This week, we plan to conduct our next-to-last Florida Influencer Poll of 2022.
A new Florida Politics Influencer Poll launches later this morning, asking our exclusive list of influencers to weigh in on several topics. As with any poll, the more, the merrier! So, if you would like to be added to the list — or know someone who would be a good fit — drop us a note this morning, and we will add you (or them) right away. And if you are already on our roster of influencers, thanks again; your participation is always welcome.
FP’s Black Friday sale on advertising for the 2023 Session ends later today.
We are offering sponsorships of our text service at a considerable markdown. Instead of $5K for six months, you can power our scoops and updates for $4K for all of 2023! And we’ll throw in a half-page ad in INFLUENCE Magazine.
Here’s another offer: Session ad packages (ads on the site and in Sunburn) normally $12-$15K are $7.5K through midnight tonight, so if you think you might have an issue that will need visibility, lock in this great price now. Interested? Reply to this email or email [email protected]
First in Sunburn — Tampa Mayor Jane Castor will file for re-election Monday at 10 a.m. at the Supervisor of Elections office located in the Fred B. Karl County Center.
Two candidates are filed so far — Jeff Godsell and Belinda Noah. Both filed to run in September. Only Godsell has raised any money, but just $100 from his own wallet. Both are registered Republicans, according to L2 voter data. Castor is a Democrat, though Tampa’s municipal elections are non-partisan.
Tampa’s Municipal Elections are March 7.
Castor was first elected in 2019, defeating the late philanthropist David Straz in Tampa’s costliest mayoral contest. Straz spent nearly $5 million, most of it his own money, while Castor ran a $1.2 million campaign.
It remains to be seen whether her re-election will come with such a big price tag; if so, it will likely come down to the viability of her opponents and how much money they are able to raise. However, the longtime Tampa political figure, whose partner is Ana Cruz, a top-tier lobbyist and the daughter of former state Sen. Janet Cruz, will still court plenty of financial support in her bid.
Castor’s first term was largely marked by navigating the city through the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the efforts needed to shore up public health and the economy, Castor also implemented an ambitious strategy known as “Transform Tampa’s Tomorrow,” which will upgrade the city’s long-neglected infrastructure, increase access to affordable housing, enhance workforce development, improve government services, and make sustainability and resiliency a central focus in Tampa.
Before being elected Mayor, Castor was a 31-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department, ending in her appointment as Police Chief, a position she earned in 2009 and held until she retired. Castor was the first woman to serve as Tampa’s top cop. During her tenure as Chief, Castor oversaw safety protocols for the 2012 Republican National Convention and a Super Bowl (something she has also managed as Mayor) and led significant reductions in crime rates with what her campaign describes as community-focused policies.
Florida TaxWatch is hosting its 2022 Annual Meeting at The Biltmore in Coral Gables on Thursday.
The meeting begins at 10 a.m. with former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux scheduled to deliver a Competitive Florida Update and Shane Strum of Broward Health and Lawrence Antonucci of Lee Health set to participate in a health care panel.
Several top elected officials are also on the agenda, including Attorney General Ashley Moody as well as segments with Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, House Speaker Paul Renner, Rep. Daniel Perez and former Gov. Jeb Bush.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— Nantucket Current (@ACKCurrent) November 26, 2022
—@ScottWagnerFL: Perhaps the President should listen to @GovRonDeSantis and ease self-imposed oil sanctions on the United States instead?
—@MarioDB: Our community lost a legend yesterday. Felipe Valls was a patriot, an icon, and a true embodiment of the American dream. To know him was to love him. He will be deeply missed, but we will never forget the tremendous legacy he leaves behind.
—@GovGoneWild: Hey, @csime90 just letting you know my phone isn’t working correctly. If you text me over the next 12-24 hours, I may not get it.
—@BudElliott3: SEC wins 2022 Mike Norvell: 2 Jimbo Fisher: 1
What to do with Hurricane Ian debris that has yet to be picked up? Decorate it for Christmas. 📷 Kristen Dillon in Manatee County. 🎄 pic.twitter.com/RL8ZN1yix2
— Paul Dellegatto⚡️FOX (@PaulFox13) November 27, 2022
The JMI Christmas tree is officially complete.
— James Madison Inst. (@JmsMadisonInst) November 25, 2022
It begins pic.twitter.com/NGOnPU8xSW
— David Goodhue (@DavidGoodhue) November 27, 2022
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 2; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 2; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 7; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 8; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 8; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 18; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 36; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 58; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 65; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 81; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 82; city of Tampa Municipal Election early voting begins — 91; Tampa Municipal Election — 99; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 99; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 116; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 136; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 151; 2023 Session Sine Die — 158; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 158; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 186; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 235; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 242; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 340; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 487; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 543; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 606; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 606; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 648; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 711; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 809; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 886. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,075.
— TOP STORY —
“Secrecy, strategy and spin: Inside the Ron DeSantis decision to suspend a prosecutor who promised to protect abortion” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — DeSantis suspended Andrew Warren on Aug. 4. But the seeds were planted at least eight months earlier, in December 2021, during a meeting in the Governor’s office between DeSantis and two top aides: Chief of Staff James Uthmeier and Larry Keefe, whom DeSantis hired in September 2021 as his “public safety czar.”
In the middle of it, DeSantis suddenly asked his aides, unprompted, whether any state attorneys in Florida were “not enforcing the law,” according to an excerpt from a deposition of Keefe.
“At some point in that meeting, the Governor asked me whether any of the state attorneys in Florida were not enforcing the law, and I responded that I did not know but that I would be glad to look into it,” said Keefe, who is probably best known for coordinating the stunt in which DeSantis had nearly 50, mostly Venezuelan migrants rounded up in Texas and flown to Martha’s Vineyard, where they were dropped off without any notice to local officials.
The entire exchange, he added, took less than 30 seconds.
But while the exchange may have been quick and casual, the Governor appears to have been hungry for a fight with a Democratic state attorney somewhere in the state — particularly someone like Warren, an outspoken progressive who had been elected with help from billionaire Democratic donor George Soros and who was gaining a national reputation as a criminal-justice reformer who would not seek to imprison people for low-level, nonviolent offenses or keep them locked up in jail simply because they can’t afford the cash bail.
Sometime after that 30-second exchange with the Governor, Keefe began to reach out to friends in Florida law enforcement to see if anyone had any complaints about their local state attorney, according to Keefe’s deposition.
“Governor won’t have to testify at suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney’s trial” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — DeSantis cannot be compelled to testify in the federal case that suspended Darren is making to be reinstated, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Warren’s case that his August suspension from office is a violation of his First Amendment rights that should be undone starts Tuesday in front of U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. In that effort, his lawyers have sought to compel the Governor to testify. His lawyers, however, filed a 29-page motion to bar the testimony, saying the Governor has already provided sufficient material, “thousands of pages,” about why Warren was suspended.
“DeSantis won over Florida. Now he has the rest of the U.S. to convince” via Mark Niquette and Michael Smith of Bloomberg — DeSantis’s appearance before the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting — less than two weeks after a blowout re-election win as Florida Governor — amplified growing calls among the party faithful for him to seize the reins as party leader from Donald Trump. Polls paint a mixed portrait of DeSantis’ popularity outside of Florida, with most showing him a clear second choice to Trump in hypothetical matchups. People who know DeSantis say he can be brusque, with little patience for the schmoozing that typifies national politics. At events, DeSantis prefers tight scheduling, with little built-in for working the crowd when he’s done.
“Elon Musk says he will support DeSantis if Florida Gov. runs for President” via Kanishka Singh of Reuters — Musk said he would support DeSantis in 2024 if the Florida Governor, who recently coasted to a second term, were to run for President. DeSantis earlier this month defeated Democratic opponent Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points to be re-elected as Florida Governor and cemented himself as the Republican Party’s top rising star. Political pundits have been doling out high marks to DeSantis, who is seen as a potential challenger to Trump in the 2024 field of Republican presidential candidates. Trump announced 10 days ago he was running for election again in 2024.
“Who would The Villages back in a Donald Trump-DeSantis clash?” via Hannah Critchfield of the Tampa Bay Times — With Trump’s campaign announcement and DeSantis emerging as a likely presidential contender in 2024, Republicans in The Villages are staring down what may be a contentious primary, one where they must choose between a former President they vehemently loved and a current Governor who seems ready-made for national office. “Ron has the same policies as Trump,” said Debbie Fleming, a Villages resident in her 50s. “And he’s just such a nice guy.”
“DeSantis foe asks Supreme Court to make sure Governor sticks to the Constitution in his next judicial picks” via Noreen Marcus of FloridaBulldog.org — DeSantis may be obliged to take direction from the Florida Supreme Court before he names judges to new seats on two state appeals courts. Earlier this month, state Sen. Geraldine Thompson and Orlando attorney Whitney Boan asked the high court to prevent the Governor from picking any of seven shortlisted candidates for the new 6th District Court of Appeal in Polk County or the reconfigured 5th District Court in Volusia County. Seven judgeships are available, three on the new 6th District Court and four on the revamped Fifth. One of Thompson’s targets, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Jared E. Smith, wants an appointment to the 6th District. He lost his bid for re-election to the lower court in August, so his timing may be right.
— STATEWIDE —
“State looks to limit protests at Capitol with rules to protect children from ‘harmful materials’” via James Call of The Florida Times-Union — Florida officials may get new tools to silence dissent and prevent demonstrations at the State Capitol under new freedom of speech rules proposed by the Department of Management Services, the agency that serves as the state’s property manager. DMS wants to empower law enforcement to remove individuals they think may prove disruptive from traditional public forum arenas, such as the fourth-floor rotunda separating the Florida House and Senate chambers, and the Capitol Courtyard. The Florida ACLU warns, as currently written, the proposed rules are a how-to guide to chill political speech.
“Manny Diaz, Jr. leading state Education Department for another term” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Five months after he was first named the state’s Education Commissioner, Diaz has been tapped to stay on another term, DeSantis announced Wednesday. Diaz has been an influential voice on state education policy since he was first elected to the House in 2012 and then moved to the Senate in 2018. The Miami area resident took a pass on re-election to the Senate and joined the DeSantis administration as Education Commissioner in June. Wednesday, the Governor tweeted a montage of some key moments since Diaz assumed the leading role at the state’s Education Department.
“Dates set for December Special Session on property insurance, Hurricane Ian property tax relief” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — After being formally sworn in Tuesday, legislative leaders announced their first substantive Session will come Dec. 12-16. The formal call of the Special Session laying out what issues will be discussed and addressed hasn’t been issued, but DeSantis said he wants to provide property tax cuts to victims of Hurricane Ian and pass legislation to bolster the beleaguered property insurance industry. Memos from newly established leaders House Speaker Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo to their members confirmed those dates for the Special Session and said the formal proclamation of the Session will come after Thanksgiving weekend.
“House Speaker cracks down on ESG, tells credit rating agencies to ‘drop the politics’” via Lydia Nusbaum of Florida’s Voice — House Speaker Paul Renner sent a letter to Florida’s three credit rating agencies demanding they “drop the politics” and return to an “objective” financial criteria to measure the states credit rating. Renner wants lawmakers to crack down on the ESG criteria. ESG is the Environmental, Social, and Governance goals that decide investment based on political factors such as renewable energy and social justice initiatives. “In practice, ESG demands that companies adopt radical environmental and diversity goals and uses a scoring system to reward or punish companies based on their compliance,” Renner said.
“Lauren Book begins term leading outnumbered Democrats” via Ryan Dailey of WLRN — Badly outnumbered Democrats in the Florida Senate put a focus Monday on gun-related issues as Senate Minority Leader Book was formally designated to continue heading the caucus going into the 2023 Legislative Session. Book became Leader in 2021 after Senate Democrats cast a vote of no confidence on then-Minority Leader Gary Farmer. But Book will go into the 2023 Session with only 12 Democrats in the 40-member Senate and Republicans holding what’s known as a “supermajority” that is important procedurally. Republicans gained four Senate seats in this year’s elections.
“Innocence sold: Florida’s foster system provides dangerous sex traffickers with easy access to vulnerable children” via Brittany Wallman, Spencer Norris and David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — When Florida’s child welfare system takes in a girl, the odds she will be trafficked for sex increase. Florida exploited a loophole so it could keep sending vulnerable girls to group homes. Teen girls at those homes have been preyed on by traffickers who sometimes “shark” the block, waiting for a girl to walk to the corner store. Young people with a history of commercial sexual exploitation run away from group homes at an alarming rate, and those runaways are even more susceptible to sex trafficking. Yet, once they’re gone, no one tries very hard to find them, and nothing in Florida law requires them to. It’s a dangerous mix: Foster care girls and trafficking victims share many of the same vulnerabilities — a history of abuse or exploitation, instability at home, insufficient parenting and emotional fragility.
“‘It’s open season’: Florida guards were filmed beating pinned inmate. None will face trial” via Camellia Burris of the Miami Herald — When a cluster of Florida prison guards took turns beating a prisoner at Lake Correctional Institution near Orlando, it was not unprecedented. Prisoners say beatings by Florida prison staff are common, though usually, they occur in secret, outside the range of cameras. What was unusual about this beating was that it was captured on video, not through surveillance cameras, but on a smuggled-in cellphone operated by an inmate, who provided narration. It was then posted on YouTube. Four staffers lost their jobs. The Lake County State Attorney’s Office recently decided on the legal consequences for the men discharged for allegedly taking part in the caught-on-video beatdown and then lying about it: nothing.
“300 Florida National Guard members activated to state prisons” via Kylie McGivern of WFTS — State lawmakers have called it a “Band-Aid,” a patch over a scarred prison system on the brink of collapse. Now, it’s a plan in motion, with 300 members of the National Guard activated to provide relief at critically understaffed Florida prisons. “To me, it’s spit and chewing gum, trying to keep the Department of Corrections from basically imploding,” said (former) Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes. “Most people don’t understand how desperate the situation is inside the Florida prison system.”
“DMS chief of staff resigns, sets up law firm” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida Department of Management Services Chief of Staff Sean Gellis resigned his position effective Friday, with plans to start his own law firm based in Tallahassee. Gellis served in the role for 14 months, moving from the general counsel position at the Department of Transportation in September 2021, after working there for one year. He previously served at DMS as interim general counsel and chief operating officer, where he oversaw the transition of the agency’s data center operations to the Norwest Regional Data Center. Before that, he worked as Assistant Attorney General in the Attorney General’s Fort Lauderdale office, and as an assistant general counsel for the Department of Corrections.
New lobbying registrations:
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Steve Crisafulli, Crisafulli Consulting: Istation
Nick Iarossi, Jared Rosenstein, Capital City Consulting: Miami-Dade County
Fred Karlinsky, Christian Brito, Greenberg Traurig: Bankers Insurance Company, Bankers Specialty Insurance Company
Bryanne Rizzo: Florida Blue, Guidewell Mutual Holding Company
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Democrats battle over 2024 nomination calendar as Joe Biden weighs options” via Michael Scherer and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — New Hampshire’s Republican Governor considers Nevada’s bid to become the first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary state a joke. Nevada’s top Democratic operative is warning against a big state like Michigan jumping to the front of the line. And South Carolina kingmaker James E. Clyburn has signaled support for replacing Iowa. But with just days left before Democrats gather on Dec. 1 to decide their presidential nominating order, it remains unclear just how the calendar will sort out. The most important voice in Democratic politics, that of Biden, has yet to weigh in, and many members of the national party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee responsible for deciding the outcome continue to await word from the White House.
“Gavin Newsom told the White House he won’t challenge Biden” via Jonathan Martin of POLITICO — Newsom has won three elections in five years in America’s largest state, is apoplectic about his party’s messaging defects and follows DeSantis and the right-wing media ecosystem with a zeal that would put some opposition researchers to shame. But Newsom wants the word to go forth: He’s not going to challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024. “I’ve told everyone in the White House, from the Chief of Staff to the First Lady,” he recounted to me as we sat on the top floor of California’s now-ceremonial Governor’s Mansion on Election Night.
“Emboldened Biden, Dems push ban on so-called assault weapons” via Colleen Long, Mary Clare Jalonick and Lindsay Whitehurst of The Associated Press — When Biden speaks about the “scourge” of gun violence, his go-to answer is to zero in on so-called assault weapons. America has heard it hundreds of times, including this week after shootings in Colorado and Virginia: The President wants to sign into law a ban on high-powered guns that have the capacity to kill many people very quickly. “The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick,” Biden said on Thanksgiving Day. “I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.”
“U.S. eases oil sanctions on Venezuela as talks resume between Nicolás Maduro, opposition” via Michael Wilner and Antonio María Delgado of the Miami Herald — The Biden administration eased oil sanctions on Venezuela Saturday after the government of Maduro resumed long-stalled talks with the country’s democratic opposition. Hours after the two sides met in Mexico, the Treasury Department said it would grant Chevron a six-month license to resume oil production in Venezuela. The license could be amended at any time by the U.S. government, a White House official said, and profits from new production will go toward paying off the debt the Caracas socialist regime owes Chevron, not to Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA. The Venezuelan government currently owes Chevron around $4.2 billion derived from its interests in three different joint ventures held in partnership with PDVSA, industry sources said.
“With a stymied GOP, brace yourself for endless, angry congressional investigations” via Paul Waldman of the Miami Herald — Because Democrats control the Senate and the White House, Republicans can’t pass legislation. But there is one thing they can do: mount investigations. Loud, angry, endless investigations, filled with shocking accusations and desk-pounding outrage. And they are ready. Every soon-to-be committee chair will get in on the action. Here’s what’s in the hopper: The border. Expect hearings that solicit lurid testimony about crimes committed by immigrants, but not much actual policy discussion. They are planning to investigate the IRS, perhaps hoping to repeat their previous success in using misleading hearings to justify gutting the IRS budget.
“Woke Pentagon would lose chief diversity officer under bill from Marco Rubio, other GOP Senators” via Peter Kasperowicz of Fox News — The Department of Defense’s chief diversity officer would get the boot under new legislation from Sen. Rubio, and nine other Republican senators. The Restoring Military Focus Act would get rid of the chief diversity officer and any senior advisers for diversity, equity and inclusion, a move these senators say is needed to make sure the department stays focused on warfighting instead of “woke diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.” “Our military should be focused on protecting our national security, not on promoting woke nonsense,” Rubio said this week. “The current direction we are heading in is dangerous. If we don’t reverse course, we risk jeopardizing our military strength, national interests and security.”
“Congressman-elect Maxwell Frost knows tough road lies ahead in GOP-led House” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Incoming U.S. Rep. Frost has suddenly become one of the most prominent members of his generation. But like many other 25-year-olds, he’s still looking for a place to crash. “I’m just kind of couch-surfing a bit with friends,” Frost said of his time in Washington, D.C. “Then hopefully in February or March I’ll be getting a place to live after I get some actual paychecks.” Frost made national headlines following his Democratic Primary win in August as the overwhelming favorite to become the first member of Gen Z in Congress. Frost’s last few weeks have been a whirlwind of orientation meetings, news media interviews and encounters with some of the biggest names in politics.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“‘F—ing nightmare’: Trump team does damage control after he dines with Ye and White supremacist Nick Fuentes” via Marc Caputo of NBC News — Trump distanced himself Friday from a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and Fuentes, claiming he didn’t know the identity of the far-right activist who was unexpectedly brought along with the rapper. “This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about,” Trump said Friday in a statement on his Truth Social platform.
“Republicans shrug off Trump ’24 bid: ‘The excitement’s just not there’” via David Siders of POLITICO — Trump’s lackluster campaign announcement was one thing. His real problem is fast becoming the collective shrug Republicans have given him in the week-plus since. Far from freezing out potential competitors, Trump’s announcement was followed by a raft of potential 2024 contenders appearing at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas over the weekend, where at least one Republican who had previously said she would defer to Trump if he ran, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, now said she is considering running in a “serious way.”
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“DeSantis names lawyer as replacement for Joe Martinez on Miami-Dade County Commission” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Roberto Gonzalez, a lawyer and former Republican candidate for the Florida House, was named a Miami-Dade County Commissioner on Wednesday by DeSantis, two months after the Governor suspended Martinez from the District 11 seat over the Commissioner’s felony arrest. DeSantis appointed Gonzalez to Martinez’s seat, a post representing more than 200,000 people in western Miami-Dade. The appointment can last for the length of Martinez’s suspension, which the Florida Senate can end with a vote to restore him to the District 11 seat or remove him permanently. The seat is next up for election in 2024. DeSantis suspended Martinez on Sept. 20.
“DeSantis donor appointed to Miami-Dade School Board calls for ban on ‘sexuality’ in classrooms” via SOMMER BRUGAL of the Miami Herald — At around 8 p.m. Monday, DeSantis appointed Daniel Espino to the Board. The lawyer and chair of the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce donated to DeSantis and two political action committees this year: $250 to DeSantis’ re-election campaign, $500 to the Next Generation Leaders PAC, an active PAC whose chair is Christi Fraga, whom Espino replaced on the board after she resigned Monday due to running in the Dec. 13 mayoral runoff election in Doral. He also gave another $500 to the Protecting Freedom of Speech PAC, listed as closed and whose Chair is Lauren Pardo, who works for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Following his swearing-in, Espino told reporters that certain topics or conversations surrounding sexuality should be left out of the classroom.
“Miami Beach Inspector General targeted by two Commissioners who don’t like independent watchdog’s oversight” via Francisco Alvarado of Florida Bulldog — David Richardson and Ricky Arriola are sponsoring legislation that would take away Miami Beach Inspector General Joseph Centorino’s ability to conduct internal audits of city departments, vendors and contracts. And because Centorino stood up to their power grab, Richardson and Arriola unsuccessfully attempted to have Miami Beach’s first inspector general fired at the City Commission’s Nov. 16 meeting. “I consider this to be an outrageous attempt to undermine the independence of the Office of Inspector General as provided in the Miami Beach charter,” Centorino told the City Commission. “And to retaliate against the inspector general’s office for simply doing its job.”
“Babies rescued from a migrant boat in trouble in rough seas off the Florida Keys” via David Goodhue, Jacqueline Charles and Syra Ortiz-Blanes of the Miami Herald — More than a dozen Haitians, desperate to reach U.S. soil, jumped into the water off the Florida Keys on Monday under the night sky after their dilapidated wooden sailboat grounded on a popular sandbar in Islamorada. The fleeing migrants set off a chaotic scramble by law enforcement officials. At around 7 p.m., officers had rescued one man as he clung to the Whale Harbor Channel Bridge for support, with water rushing through the channel underneath the span. Soon, another six men were plucked from the sea.
Rest in power — “Felipe Valls Sr., founder of landmark Versailles Cuban restaurant in Miami, dies at 89” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Where is the first place you take your Iowa cousin when they come to visit Miami — OK, maybe after South Beach? Versailles Cuban Cuisine on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, naturally. There would be no Versailles Cuban restaurant without its founder Valls Sr. He was the man with the vision that led to a culinary and social and cultural landmark in the Miami neighborhood that became known around the world. Valls Sr., who lived in Coral Gables, died Saturday in Miami at 89 of natural causes, his family said.
“NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. taken off plane in Miami” via The Associated Press — NFL free agent Beckham was removed by police from an aircraft before takeoff at Miami International Airport after officials said he failed to respond to requests to buckle his seat belt and appeared to be unconscious, police and airline officials said Sunday. “Fearing that Mr. Beckham was seriously ill, and that his condition would worsen through the expected five-hour flight, (aircraft crew members) called for police and fire rescue,” Miami Dade police officer Luis Sierra said in a statement following the 9:30 a.m. Sunday incident. “As they tried to wake (Beckham) to fasten his seat belt, he appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness,” the statement said.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“Judge to decide on Martin County face-biter insanity plea” via The Associated Press — A former college student who randomly killed a Florida couple in their garage six years ago and then chewed on one victim’s face finally goes on trial Monday, with a judge deciding whether he goes to prison for life or to a mental hospital. Austin Harrouff has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of first-degree murder and other charges for his August 2016 slayings of John Stevens, a 59-year-old landscaper, and his 53-year-old wife, Michelle Mishcon Stevens, who had retired after working in finance. The former Florida State University student has waived a jury trial, meaning Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer will decide whether Harrouff was insane when he killed the couple, and seriously injured the neighbor who came to their aid.
— LOCAL: TB —
“Pinellas judges uphold Tarpon Springs’ approval of Anclote River apartments” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — A three-judge panel has upheld the city’s 2021 approval of an apartment complex on the Anclote River, legally affirming a project that is being scrutinized by City Commissioners elected after the project got the green light. The Concerned Citizens of Tarpon Springs nonprofit sued the city and developer Morgan Group last year, alleging the application did not comply with the city’s comprehensive plan. The Pinellas County Circuit Court appellate panel ruled that the city correctly applied the law in granting approvals for the project and “unquestionably afforded members of the public due process” while hearing comments from 60 residents in multiple meetings.
“Tampa Bay street races often are posted online for attention. A new law makes it evidence.” via Matt Cohen of the Tampa Bay Times — Sen. Jason Pizzo said he remembers the look on the faces of the transportation committee members when he showed them a gruesome video of a decapitated woman’s head lying on the sidewalk. The video posted to Instagram showed dead bodies, including the headless woman, lying on the ground in Miami Gardens after a “street takeover,” blocking and occupying intersections or parking lots to perform doughnuts and other car tricks which had gone wrong. “The video resembles the chaos more likely found after a bombing in a war zone,” Pizzo, a Democrat representing parts of Miami-Dade County, said.
“Glazers ready to listen to offers for potential sale of Manchester United” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Glazer family is open to selling its stake in the world-famous Manchester United football club. “We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future,” the family said in a written statement. “Throughout this process, we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders and various stakeholders.” The six Glazer siblings own shares representing 97% of the voting power at the English football club. Joel Glazer claims the most voting power at almost 18%.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Sarasota County School Board to vote on terminating superintendent Brennan Asplen” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Immediately after the reconstituted Sarasota County School Board began its first meeting, with two new members having been sworn in Tuesday afternoon, Vice Chair Karen Rose moved to schedule a special meeting next week to consider firing the superintendent. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m., according to district officials. The session appears to have only one agenda item: whether to fire Superintendent Asplen. The motion to schedule the meeting passed 4-1, with only Tom Edwards in dissent.
“Ian was one of the most lethal hurricanes in decades. Many of the deaths were preventable.” via Jon Schuppe, Elizabeth Chuck, Melissa Chan, Lewis Kamb and Nigel Chiwaya of NBC News — Hurricane Ian killed at least 148 people in Florida, most of them in coastal communities where the danger of storm surge is well documented but not widely understood. Ian was one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the U.S. in the past 20 years. Much of the catastrophic toll was foreseeable and preventable. The late September storm exposed shortcomings in how local governments communicate the risk posed by hurricanes, decide when to order evacuations, and identify and help the most vulnerable residents.
“Ian tore up their farm, she broke her wrist after storm, yet Bokeelia couple perseveres gratefully” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — After decades of work, Donna and Gary Schneider were living their dream: coaxing delicious, beautiful exotica from their Bokeelia farm in the middle of Florida’s last agricultural island, the largest in Florida. Until Hurricane Ian. Its winds tore through Pine Island Tropicals, the Schneiders’ 11 lush acres, lauded by Martha Stewart herself. It splintered and uprooted plants, blew apart buildings and destroyed their irrigation system. Some places on the property remain impassable. “Over there was a total jungle of heliconias and gingers,” Gary said. “But we can’t even get back there yet.”
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“Confederate banner stokes controversy ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars game” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — For the second time in 2022, a football game in Jacksonville was used as a platform for an offensive message. Ahead of the Jaguars’ Sunday afternoon tilt against the Baltimore Ravens, a plane funded by the Save Southern Heritage group flew a banner above TIAA Bank Field calling for the restoration of confederate statues in Jacksonville. “Put monuments back,” read the image recorded by Bonnie Upright Sunday. Mayor Lenny Curry was quick to respond, noting that he wants the monuments gone.
“Nassau County settles wrongful termination suit involving former County Attorney, public records” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Another chapter involving former Nassau County Attorney Michael Mullin is closed, as the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners approved a settlement with former county employee Justin Stankiewicz for $226,000 to close out a wrongful termination suit. Stankiewicz sued the county in June 2019. In his complaint, he said after Rayonier filed a public records suit against the county in their own long-running saga, Stankiewicz and Mullin addressed the fact Stankiewicz had relevant records in his possession. “Mullin directed Plaintiff to delete his text messages,” according to the complaint. “Mullin informed Plaintiff that Mullin already deleted his text messages. Plaintiff refused to delete the text messages and informed Mullin that this was a violation of Chapter 119, Florida Statutes.
“At age 28, new Destin Mayor Bobby Wagner ready to reinvigorate the community” via Tina Harbuck of The Destin Log — He may be young, but with youth comes energy. And Destin’s new 28-year-old Mayor Wagner says he is ready to put his energy into reinvigorating the community. Wagner, Destin’s youngest Mayor, beat out fellow Council member Rodney Braden for the office. Wagner centered his campaign around the words, “revive, reclaim and sustain.” “I picked those three words because they resonated with me. But after going out and door knocking on hundreds of people and having conversations at their front doors and over the phone, I think they really showed me what those words meant,” Wagner said.
— TOP OPINION —
“How Independents dampened the red wave” via William Galson of The Wall Street Journal — The 2022 midterms strongly suggest that for the foreseeable future, Democrats will have to build Electoral College majorities without Florida, Ohio or Texas. There are also signs that Democrats must raise their game to retain the supermajorities of Hispanic, African American, and Asian voters on which they have relied to counterbalance the Republicans’ large edge among white voters without college degrees.
There are warning signs as well for Republicans, who underperformed stunningly. Mainstream conservatives did well, but most of the swing-state senatorial and gubernatorial candidates backed by Trump went down. The voters who made the difference regarded these candidates’ positions on key issues as extreme and were more concerned about addressing current problems than about relitigating the 2020 Presidential Election.
The results of this year’s election challenged several long-held assumptions. Midterms are said to be referendums on the incumbent President. But 2022 turned out to be not one referendum but three — on Biden, Trump, and the Supreme Court. While all three lost, public disapproval of Trump Republicans and of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, muted the effects of public discontent with Biden’s performance on inflation, crime and immigration.
This year, independents broke ranks to oppose Trump-backed Republicans, while nearly all Republican identifiers backed them. Nationwide, the preferences of independents go a long way toward explaining Republicans’ mediocre performance in 2022.
The results of the 2022 Midterm Election offer a lesson for both political parties: Despite the intensifying partisan polarization of the past two decades, swing voters still exist, and they pay attention to parties’ selection of candidates and issues.
— OPINIONS —
“DeSantis would pave the way for a post-Trump GOP return to normal” via Jim Geraghty of The Washington Post — If DeSantis runs for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, as many expect, after his staggering re-election victory, plenty of Americans across the partisan divide would have good reason to root for him to win the nomination. That might sound counterintuitive to Democrats who have been fed for the past couple of years on tales of DeSantis’s perfidy, but the fact remains: Given the bizarre state of American politics during the Trump era, DeSantis would represent a return to normality. DeSantis would be a Republican nominee without Trump’s worst and most destructive impulses and habits.
“Appellate court shouldn’t block Stop-W. O.K.E. ruling” via The Palm Beach Post — A federal judge shouldn’t be the only way to check a state government that has gone from one-party to one-man rule. But that’s becoming the role of U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who recently blocked a key part of DeSantis’ “Stop W.O.K.E. Act.” Walker imposed a temporary injunction against the law that in effect bars college and university professors from offering serious instruction on race, racism, gender and other topics in their classrooms. The judge found the state law unconstitutional, vague and “positively dystopian.” DeSantis is expected to appeal the ruling to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“DeSantis’ ‘dystopian’ idea of free speech” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — The hypocrisy of Florida’s freedom Governor was on display again after a federal judge halted enforcement of a state gag order at Florida’s colleges and universities. Chief Judge Walker of the Northern District in Tallahassee called Florida’s new Stop WOKE Act, which restricts speech on college campuses in the name of promoting it, “positively dystopian.” The ruling was an unbridled rebuke to Florida’s increasingly authoritarian strain and a warning to everyone who cares about democracy.
“Floridians care about rising rents; why don’t elected officials care as much?” via David Maldonado of the Orlando Sentinel — The election is over, but the need for Floridians to have access to safe and affordable housing remains. It doesn’t matter what the corporate landlord lobby says. It doesn’t matter what the wealthy real estate lobby says. And it doesn’t matter what corporate-funded political leaders say. Everyone deserves to be housed. This is why the Orange County Commissioners’ decision to appeal to the Florida State Supreme Court the ruling on rent stabilization is so important. Rent stabilization won on the ballot with over 226,008 votes, with 58.83% of voters agreeing that the rent in Orange County is too high.
What Mike Griffin is reading — “After this thriller, will someone please save ‘War on I-4′ rivalry?’” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — Do you see what it took for UCF to beat 1-win USF on Saturday night? It took two miraculous catches — one by Javon Baker for 41 yards to set up the winning score and another amazing one-handed, falling-backward grab by tight end Alec Holler for the game-winning, season-saving touchdown with 20 seconds left. But, sadly, unless something is done about it, the “War of I-4″ rivalry is now “War That Is No More.” This was the last game between these two teams for the foreseeable future. For the UCF Knights, it ended historically and euphorically on a surreal Saturday night with a sixth straight victory over the Bulls, but one that didn’t come nearly as easy as it should have been.
“Why Florida State fans storming the field was warranted after win over Florida” via Carter Karels of the Tallahassee Democrat — Fans storming the field after Florida State squeaked out a victory over Florida might have seemed like an absurd reaction. After winning each of their last four games by at least 25 points, the Seminoles were 10-point betting favorites. The struggling Gators are rebuilding under their first-year coach, Billy Napier, and limped into the game after losing at Vanderbilt for the first time since 1988. But more context is needed to understand the response from that sellout crowd of 79,560 at Doak Campbell Stadium. Their inspiration clearly came from more than just No. 16 FSU defeating Florida in a 45-38 shootout Friday.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— HOLIDAYS —
“Holiday season sparks Orlando retail memories” via Joy Wallace Dickinson of Florida Flashback — In the 1950s and ‘60s, many Central Floridians did their holiday shopping at the kind of department stores that had revolutionized Americans’ retail experience a century earlier. In 1957, both the Dickson & Ives and Ivey’s stores at Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard reported record business. My fondness for the city’s biggest holiday bauble is linked to memories of the stores that originally supported it and to the downtown community that existed in the 1950s and early ‘60s. In Ivey’s, a patient salesperson taught me to knit on Saturday mornings on one of its upper floors after I spent my allowance on the latest Nancy Drew mystery on the first floor.
“Sober or bright? Europe faces holidays during energy crunch” via Colleen Barry of The Associated Press — Early season merrymakers sipping mulled wine and shopping for holiday decorations packed the Verona Christmas market for its inaugural weekend. But beyond the wooden market stalls, the Italian city still has not decked out its granite-clad pedestrian streets with twinkling holiday lights as officials debate how bright to make the season during an energy crisis. In cities across Europe, officials are wrestling with a choice as energy prices have gone up because of Russia’s war in Ukraine: Dim Christmas lighting to send a message of energy conservation and solidarity with citizens squeezed by higher utility bills and inflation while protecting public coffers.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday from the holiday weekend to my dear friend Mac Stipanovich, as well as Adam Basford, Jennifer Krell Davis, journalist Dan Ducassi, former Rep. Jason Fischer, ace lobbyist Jeff Johnston, Dan Gelber, Adam Hasner, top scribe John Kennedy, Beth Boyd Nunnally, our friend Ben Pollara, former Rep. Charlie Van Zant, and Mark Zubaly. Celebrating today are Rebecca De La Rosa and Joel Searby.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.