Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.29.22

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Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

Good Tuesday morning.

The Associated Industries of Florida’s annual conference continues today with several elected officials on the agenda for Day Two.

Tuesday’s schedule includes a federal update from U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn at 9:15 a.m. and a keynote address from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis at noon. An extensive list of state Senators and Representatives are also expected to deliver remarks.

Sen. Danny Burgess will moderate a segment titled “Finding Outside-the-Box Solutions to Filling the Workforce Gap.” Panelists include Florida state director Ted Hutchinson, The Able Trust CEO Allison Chase, Alliance for Safety & Justice Florida state director Subhash Kateel and Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon.

Sen. Joe Gruters will serve as the moderator for a panel titled “Overcoming Supply Chain Disruptions: What is in store for the Future?” The discussion will include CSX Transportation regional VP of public affairs Craig Camuso, Saltchuk Logistics CEO Rick Murrell, Uber Freight consulting director Roger Sechler and Port Tampa Bay VP of business development Greg Lovelace.

Attendees will also get legislative updates from Reps. Sam Garrison and Dan Daley and hear from new lawmakers including Sen. Alexis Calatayud, Shane Abbott, Vicki Lopez and Katherine Waldron.

AIF’s annual conference is being held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando. Tuesday’s portion begins with an 8 a.m. general session followed by policy breakouts at 2:20 p.m. and a reception to honor Florida legislators at 5:15 p.m. A full agenda is available online.


Holland & Knight celebrated 50 years in Tallahassee on Nov. 16 with an open house reception in its offices on South Calhoun Street.

The event included a fundraiser for Elder Care Services, which is also celebrating 50 years of serving Meals on Wheels in Tallahassee. With nearly 120 guests in attendance, Holland & Knight raised $10,000 for Elder Care Services.

Holland & Knight opened its Tallahassee office in 1972 and it is currently led by executive partner Shannon Hartsfield. The office is home to 15 lawyers and policy advisers who represent companies throughout the United States in all matters involving the Florida government.

Open for business: Holland & Knight celebrates 50 years in Tallahassee.

In addition to providing legislative and executive branch lobbying services, Holland & Knight stands for clients in regulatory matters, including health care regulation, education, insurance, the environment, state and local taxation, public utilities, education, transportation and data privacy.

Holland & Knight also regularly represents clients in state and local government procurement matters, administrative law, commercial litigation, appellate matters and internal investigations.

In 2022, Florida Trend named Holland & Knight one of the Best Companies to Work for in Florida. Additionally, the Tallahassee office received eight first-tier rankings in U.S. News — Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” Guide in 2022.

Holland & Knight is a global law firm with approximately 1,700 lawyers and other professionals in 32 offices worldwide. The firm’s lawyers and advisers provide representation in litigation, corporate and finance, real estate and governmental matters.

Additionally, Holland & Knight’s interdisciplinary practice groups and industry-based teams provide clients with efficient access to attorneys throughout the firm.


The Southern Group is expanding its Tampa Bay team with the addition of former Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.

“Mike Moore made an incredible impact on the people and businesses of Pasco County, putting the region on the map through smart policy and strategic development,” said The Southern Group co-founder and Chair Paul Bradshaw. “I’m confident he’ll bring that same level of passion and expertise to the table for our many varied clients.”

Moore was first elected to the Pasco Commission in 2014 and served as Chair in 2017 and 2020. Throughout his tenure, Moore was instrumental in bringing several high-profile projects to the region. He also oversaw the completion of the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus as well as the recreation center at Wesley Chapel District Park, which includes a 7,000-square-foot playground adapted for children with disabilities.

Congrats to Mike Moore, who is bringing his decade of experience to The Southern Group.

“Mike Moore is a great friend and a tremendous leader in Pasco County who knows better than most how to get things done,” said former Senate President and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Wilton Simpson. “His service on the County Commission did our area proud and I’m confident he’ll be a huge asset to the Southern Group and his clients.”

A veteran of the state policy and appropriations processes as well, Moore has advocated for various transportation projects on behalf of the region and helped modernize Pasco’s tourism bureau to better highlight the county’s activity and sporting resources.

“The Southern Group is super excited to welcome Mike Moore to our Tampa Bay team,” said Tampa Bay managing partner Seth McKeel. “As our impact and reach throughout the region continues to grow, Mike is exactly the type of energetic leader who’ll bring his renowned passion and enthusiasm to delivering impactful results for our clients.”

Before entering elected office, Moore founded a successful health care company which he built into the largest of its kind in the Tampa Bay region. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and lives in Wesley Chapel with his wife and three children.


Here are other items on my radar:

🗺 — There are now fewer minority districts, despite population growth: Minority representation shrunk in state legislatures following redistricting even though minorities represented nearly all population growth over the last decade and non-Hispanic White Americans actually declined, according to a report from Pluribus’ Reid Wilson. Experts point to at least one possible source: the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down sections of the Voting Rights Act and weakening protections meant to protect minority populations during redistricting processes. Read more here.

😵‍💫 — ‘Gaslighting’ is Merriam-Webster’s 2022 word of the year: Lookups for the word, a behavior defined as psychological manipulation that causes a victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perceptions or memories, increased 1,740% from 2021, and no other word even came close and the word spent every day in the top 50 words looked up on Merriam-Webster’s website. Last year’s word of the year, not too surprisingly, was “vaccine.” Other top words searched this year include: “oligarch,” “omicron,” “codify,” “raid,” “sentient,” and “cancel culture.”


Tweet, tweet:

@NoahOpinion: Russia: Losing a war to a country 1/4 its size Iran: Massive protests China: Increasing protests, sputtering economy U.S.: Record low unemployment, election deniers lost Midterms Europe, Japan, Korea: Economically resilient, politically stable Liberalism on its last legs, huh?

@SenBillCassidy: President (Donald) Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites. These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:


Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 1; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 1; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 6; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 6; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 7; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 17; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 33; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 57; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 64; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 80; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 81; city of Tampa Municipal Election early voting begins — 90; Tampa Municipal Election — 98; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 98; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 115; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 135; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 150; 2023 Session Sine Die — 157; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 157; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 185; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 234; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 241; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 339; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 486; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 542; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 605; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 605; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 647; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 710; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 808; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 885. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,074.


Gearing up for 2024? Ron DeSantis’ PC pulls in $1.8M after 2022 spending deadline” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Only contributions received by campaigns and political committees as of Nov. 3 could be spent on the 2022 election cycle, in which DeSantis defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in a landslide. But the Governor’s political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, still saw plenty of cash flow to its coffers after that point.

More than $1,759,545 in contributions have been reported as received after Nov. 3. That total includes $207,667 received on Election Day, Nov. 8. Observers widely speculate that DeSantis will run for President in 2024.

2024 bound? Despite his landslide win, Ron DeSantis is still collecting donations.

While a Florida political committee can only use its resources to influence state elections, it has become a customary practice for state candidates seeking federal office to turn over resources to super PACs that can then independently support their candidacies for higher office. While Florida candidates and committees can cooperate, federal law prohibits such collaboration between candidates and super PACs.

Nancy Watkins, Treasurer for Friends of Ron DeSantis, said the committee could not use any money received after Nov. 3 to influence the 2022 Election. But unlike candidate campaign accounts, standing political committees can continue accepting donations to support future political endeavors.


—“DeSantis narrowly leads Kamala Harris in hypothetical 2024 matchup” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“Pennsylvania Republicans prefer DeSantis to Donald Trump” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Ron DeSantis feels love from around the country. Image via Fox News.

Happening today — U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle will hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren to overturn his suspension: 9 a.m., United States Courthouse, 111 North Adams St.

Meanwhile …Don’t call Florida a red state yet: Left-leaning groups say their voters stayed home” via Ashley Lopez of WUSF — Florida Republicans won elections up and down the ballot by staggering margins this year. Some political experts say this election could mark the end of Florida’s longtime status as the biggest swing state in the country, but Democrats and third-party groups say they are not convinced Florida is officially a Republican stronghold. They say there’s a more complicated explanation for what happened in Florida during the Midterms. Dwight Bullard, a former state lawmaker and senior political adviser for a social justice advocacy group called Florida Rising, said this year’s election was always going to be a tough one for Democrats.


Tampa woman takes plea deal in DeSantis voter fraud case’” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the 20 people arrested by DeSantis’ new election security force accepted a plea deal on Monday that allows her to avoid any punishment. Tampa resident Romona Oliver pleaded no contest to a felony charge of voting during the 2020 Election while ineligible. In exchange, statewide prosecutors dropped another felony charge of “false swearing” when she registered to vote. Oliver was sentenced to credit for time served; she spent a few hours in the Hillsborough County jail on Aug. 18, the same day that DeSantis held a news conference announcing the first arrests for his new Office of Election Crimes and Security.

She’s staying: DeSantis says Shevaun Harris is back for second term” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis continued his trend of announcing his second term agency heads on social media by informing those in The Process that Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Harris is staying on board. “Shevaun Harris has done an excellent job serving Florida’s families as the Secretary of (DCF),” DeSantis said in a tweet posted Monday. “She has fostered innovation and ensured accountability. I look forward to continuing working with her this upcoming term.” Harris responded by thanking the Governor. “I am honored to continue to serve in your administration,” she said.

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

Inflation woes may not move legislative leaders to hike low jobless benefits” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — DeSantis and Republican lawmakers on the campaign trail repeatedly pointed to sky-high inflation as a scourge pinching Floridians’ pocketbooks, arguing it’s spurred mainly by indulgent spending by Joe Biden and fellow Democrats in Congress. Since 1999, when the Legislature raised it from $250 per week to $275, so many other states, including Republican-controlled states, have increased their benefits that Florida is the second-stingiest state in the U.S. Only Mississippi is lower, at $235 per week. Florida also has the lowest maximum weeks of benefits available, at 12 weeks.

Nikki Fried calls on DeSantis to reclassify 911 operators, Agriculture officers as first responders” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — Fried asked DeSantis to reclassify Florida’s 911 dispatchers, Department of Agriculture law enforcement officers, and Florida Forestry personnel as first responders, following Hurricane Ian. Fried’s letter said the three groups of state personnel had responded to and/or been impacted by Hurricane Ian’s damage and that, unlike other law enforcement officers, those state employees had not received storm relief checks.

Lobbying compensation: Greenberg Traurig nears $1.8M in Q3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The team at Greenberg Traurig represented more than 120 clients and earned an estimated $1.79 million in the third quarter. They submitted a legislative compensation report that was topped by five clients that paid $45,000 apiece: Baptist Health South Florida, Centauri Specialty Insurance, the Florida Association of Court Clerks & Comptrollers, Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Risk Management Solutions.


Federal aid for Hurricane Ian nears $3B as FEMA extends application deadline” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida has received nearly $3 billion in federal grants, disaster loans and flood insurance payments to help cover Hurricane Ian recovery costs, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which announced an extension to its deadline for aid applications. As of Monday, FEMA said it has provided $769 million to households and $358 million to the state to cover emergency response expenditures.

Supreme Court to hear arguments over Joe Biden immigration priorities” via Suzanne Monyak of Roll Call — Justices will consider litigation brought by Texas and Louisiana to stop implementation of a Department of Homeland Security memo from last year that instructs immigration agents to prioritize the arrests of immigrants who threaten national security or public safety, as well as migrants who recently crossed the border. An eventual Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the immigration guidance could limit the government’s ability to set enforcement priorities. Legal experts also say that how the justices rule on the more procedural issues in the case — whether states even have the right to file legal challenges over these kinds of immigration issues, or whether U.S. District Court judges may strike down such policies — could carry sweeping implications for how immigration rules may be contested in court.

SCOTUS is poised to rule on Joe Biden’s immigration policies.

Congress returns to tackle government funding, same-sex marriage, railroad strife” via Katy Stech Ferek of The Wall Street Journal — Lawmakers return to work this week with a to-do list that includes passing a critical government-funding bill, solidifying access to same-sex marriage and setting priorities for the U.S. military before the start of the new Congress next year. Other issues emphasized by Democrats, including passing a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons, are a long shot given their narrow majority in the Senate. Most legislation requires 60 votes to advance in the Senate. In addition, Congress faces a Dec. 16 deadline to pass legislation that would continue funding the federal government; failure to do so could result in a partial shutdown. Lawmakers must decide whether to approve a short-term bill or reach a deal on more-detailed legislation that would fund the government for the full fiscal year.

Justice Department prosecutors swamped with data as cases leave long digital trails” via James Fanelli and Corinne Ramey of The Wall Street Journal — Federal prosecutors are swamped by data, as the way people communicate and engage in behavior scrutinized by investigators often leaves long and complicated digital trails that can outpace the Justice Department’s technology. In the investigation into the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that left dozens dead at a country music festival, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it recovered one petabyte of data. (For comparison, the Library of Congress says it manages 21 petabytes of digital content.) In the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, Attorney General Merrick Garland said prosecutors had issued more than 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, examined more than 20,000 hours of video footage, and searched through 15 terabytes of data.

Charges from domestic incident dropped against former Charlie Crist Campaign Manager Austin Durrer” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The charges against former Crist Campaign Manager Durrer were dismissed last week in Dorchester County, Maryland Circuit Court, records show. Durrer exited the Crist campaign in October, just one day after being arrested because of a domestic dispute. Both he and his significant other, Jackie Whisman, were charged with second-degree assault in Cambridge, Maryland. The charges against Durrer have now been dismissed, a court document indicates with a disposition of Judgment of Acquittal. In a statement to Florida Politics, Durrer said through his attorney, Jesse Hicks, that both sets of charges were dismissed.


Turning point for Merrick Garland as Justice Department grapples with Trump inquiries” via Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — Attorney General Garland, a stoic former federal judge intent on restoring rule-of-law order at the Justice Department, gradually came to accept that he would need to appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump if the former President ran for the White House again. But that did not mean he liked doing it. Garland made it clear from the start that he was not inclined to tap outsiders to run investigations and indicated that the department was perfectly capable of functioning as an impartial arbiter in the two criminal inquiries involving Trump, according to several people familiar with the situation. But the appointment of a special counsel, Jack Smith, on Nov. 18, signaled a significant, if subtle, shift in that approach.

Merrick Garland reaches a turning point in the Donald Trump investigations.

Kellyanne Conway meets with Jan. 6 panel” via Rebecca Beitsch of The Hill — Former Trump White House counselor Conway met Monday with investigators from the House Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Conway was seen entering the O’Neill House Office Building, where the panel conducts its depositions and interviews. Conway was not publicly subpoenaed by the Committee and, according to NBC News, told reporters that “I’m here voluntarily” when leaving the room during a break. She was not in the Trump administration on Jan. 6, but, according to reporting from The Washington Post, Conway called an aide to the former President and urged him to call off his supporters who were storming the Capitol and noted that she had received a call from the Washington, D.C., Mayor’s office seeking help in securing assistance from the National Guard.

Trump brags that he ‘openly and transparently’ took government documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago” via Sonam Sheth of Business Insider — Trump boasted on Monday about how he “openly and transparently” moved government records from the White House to Mar-a-Lago upon leaving office. “When will you invade the other Presidents’ homes in search of documents, which are voluminous, which they took with them, but not nearly so openly and transparently as I did?” Trump wrote on his social media website, Truth Social. It’s one of several criminal probes Trump is facing, and the DOJ and Attorney General Garland are under tremendous public pressure to remain independent as they investigate everything from Trump’s retention of official records to his involvement in the deadly Capitol riot. That pressure ratcheted up a notch when Trump announced earlier this month that he was mounting a 2024 presidential run.

GOP lawmakers mostly decline to condemn Trump over White supremacist meeting” via Olivia Olander and Nancy Yu of POLITICO — A flurry of top Republicans on Monday took a familiar approach to Trump’s dinner with White nationalist and antisemite Nick Fuentes — condemning the former President’s actions, but not the man himself. Trump’s one-time No. 2 was a notable exception. “President Trump was wrong to give a White nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table,” Mike Pence told NewsNation. “And I think he should apologize for it.” Sen. Marco Rubio said he hopes to see the former President condemn Fuentes, “because I know [Trump’s] not an antisemite. I can tell you for a fact that Trump is not, but [Fuentes is] evil … just a nasty disgusting person. He’s an ass clown, and he’s trying to legitimize himself by being around a former, maybe future, President.”

— LOCAL: S. FL —

In Miami’s public housing, hundreds of units lack air conditioning. That’s changing” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Julio Banegas, 86, spent the Miami Summer relying on the breeze to stay cool in a second-floor apartment because his landlord, the federal government, rented the unit without air conditioning. “It got tremendously hot,” Banegas said in Spanish on Monday. “I used lots of fans.” More than 1,000 apartments and houses lack air conditioning in Miami-Dade County’s public-housing system, the legacy of a federal policy that doesn’t require cooling systems even in the Sun Belt. In recent weeks, Miami-Dade’s government began spending $2.3 million to install air conditioners in about 1,700 federal public housing units that are managed by the county.

Port St. Lucie City Manager Russ Blackburn to retire in February, ending 47-year career” via Olivia McKelvey of Treasure Coast Newspapers — After six years on the job here — and a 47-year government career — City Manager Blackburn is to retire Feb. 17, he said Monday. The City Council is expected to discuss Blackburn’s departure, and how to fill the job, on Jan. 9. “Serving as your City Manager has been extremely gratifying. The time has come to allow someone else to take point,” Blackburn said in a news release. One of the Council’s considerations will be whether to conduct a nationwide search for its next City Manager or to promote from within. “That’s up to the Council,” Blackburn said. “I feel very fortunate that I have two assistant managers and two deputy managers that the Council can at least look into.”

After nearly a half-century, Russ Blackburn is calling it quits.

Judge rules Austin Harrouff not guilty by reason of insanity in murder of Tequesta couple” via Melissa E. Holsman of Treasure Coast Newspapers — A judge Monday ruled that accused killer Harrouff is not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2016 murders of a Tequesta couple at their home on Southeast Kokomo Lane in southern Martin County. Harrouff, 25, fatally stabbed John Stevens III, 59, and Michelle Mishcon, 53, in a vicious and random attack that included injuring their neighbor Jeffrey Fisher, who tried to help the couple. The Florida State University student, then 19, was found biting and chewing on Stevens’ face in the man’s driveway, and detectives recovered what appeared to be flesh from Harrouff’s teeth. Deputies reported Harrouff was walking to his father’s home in the neighborhood when he targeted Stevens III and Mishcon.

A ‘one of a kind’ leader has died. Florida Keys Mayor Emeritus Sylvia Murphy was 86” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Murphy knew the Keys. She began her career in Florida Keys government in the fire department as an emergency medical technician. She also worked at a local high school and for the health department. She then turned her focus to politics, serving as a Monroe County Commissioner and as Mayor. She retired in 2020 after 14 years on the dais. Murphy died Saturday of undisclosed causes. She was 86. “Sylvia’s years of service to this county and her intimate knowledge of it were invaluable. She’s one of a kind, and she’s going to be missed, there’s no question about that,” said Commissioner David Rice, who represents the Marathon area in the Middle Keys.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Disney hiring freeze will stay in place, CEO Bob Iger tells employees” via Alex Sherman of CNBC — Iger said Monday during his first town hall since returning to the company that he won’t remove its hiring freeze as he reassesses its cost structure. Iger kicked off the town hall by quoting a song from the musical “Hamilton” that says “There is no more status quo. But the sun comes up and the world still spins.” In a memo earlier this month, Bob Chapek had announced plans for a hiring freeze, layoffs and cost cuts. Disney shares have fallen nearly 38% this year.

Disney’s theme parks are sore spot for investors, too” via Robbie Whelan of The Wall Street Journal — Chapek took heat over losses at The Walt Disney Co.’s decrease; red down-pointing triangle streaming business. But cracks were also showing at Disney’s crown jewel theme-parks division when Chapek lost his job as chief executive last week. Investors were spooked by shrinking margins at the parks division amid a softening economy, raising concerns about how long the parks can continue to produce the profits needed to help subsidize losses in streaming, now more than $8 billion since Disney’s flagship Disney+ service launched in late 2019.

Volusia School Board elects new Chair and Vice Chair, swears in new members” via Danielle Johnson of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Jamie Haynes has been elected as the new Chair of the Volusia County School Board, coming off her recent re-election to the District 1 seat, which represents DeLand, Pierson, Orange City, DeBary and a portion of Lake Helen. Haynes was first elected to the Board in 2018 and recently defeated challenger Al Bouie to keep the seat. She previously served as a teacher and administrator with the district for more than three decades. Haynes will replace Ruben Colón, who nominated her as Chair during an organizational meeting Monday morning. She previously served as the board’s Vice Chair and will serve as the Chair for one year.

Jamie Haynes takes charge of the Volusia County School Board.

Anti-abortion posts on Facebook cost a pastor his hospital chaplain job. Now he’s suing Orlando Health.” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — An ex-Orlando Health chaplain says he was fired from his job after he posted his anti-abortion opinions on his personal social media account. Rev. Jay McCaig had been the chapel at St. Cloud Hospital from 2011 until 2021 when he claimed he was wrongfully terminated for his personal views, according to his new federal lawsuit against Orlando Health. McCaig is seeking back pay, front pay, attorney fees and other damages for an unspecified amount.

Apparent migrant vessel named ‘The Miracle’ in Spanish lands at Juan Ponce de León Landing” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — Over Thanksgiving weekend, another apparent migrant vessel washed ashore at Juan Ponce de León Landing carrying scant clues of her former occupants: a black Puma knit cap, a wet sneaker, two soaked shirts. Painted in black mirror-image lettering on its starboard hull: “El Milagro” — or “the miracle” in Spanish. El Milagro marks at least the third unoccupied possible migrant boat to land along Space Coast beaches in recent weeks. U.S. Coast Guard officials have reported marked increases in the numbers of Cuban and Haitian migrants interdicted in waters near Florida. Juan Ponce de León Landing is a county beach park one-half mile south of the Publix-anchored Driftwood Plaza on State Road A1A.

Former Florida deputy sheriff sentenced for lying to FBI, DOJ says” via Garfield Hylton of the Orlando Sentinel — A former Florida deputy was sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for lying to the FBI. On Nov. 22, a judge handed down the sentence to Scott P. Haines, 50, of Milton, after his earlier guilty plea on the charge of making materially false statements to the FBI during an investigation that accused Haines of exploiting an elderly victim, the Department of Justice reported. Haines was previously a deputy with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. During his plea in federal court, he admitted to a “personal involvement” with the elderly woman in Santa Rosa County, the DOJ stated. He managed her property and finances and took rental payments on the woman’s behalf.


Tampa Mayor Jane Castor makes it official, filing for re-election” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Castor, a Democrat, told the Tampa Bay Times in January that she planned to run for a second term. The former police chief, who will turn 63 in December, has not yet drawn a well-known opponent. Republican political consultant Anthony Pedicini, who worked for the Castor campaign in 2019, isn’t on the team this time around. He said it’s no surprise that the Mayor made it official Monday. Pedicini pointed to state and national politics as possible warning signs for the Mayor. “I think you have to ask how DeSantis’ better performance in the city coupled with Biden’s low favorability ratings and the economy beginning to contract will affect her run,” Pedicini texted Monday. “Big question is, will anyone step up for a challenge?”

Jane Castor makes it official; she is seeking a second term.

Tampa Bay is bonkers over pickleball (move aside, tennis)” via Charlie Frago and Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Tensions between tennis players and pickleballers have sprouted up as municipal and county tennis courts have been adapted for pickleball. In Hillsborough County, more than 200 people recently signed a petition to prevent more courts in the Northlakes tennis courts in Lake Magdalene from being converted to pickleball. Hillsborough County this Summer allocated $3 million of federal stimulus funding for 36 new outdoor pickleball courts at six county parks. In Tampa, Castor’s administration announced a major expansion of pickleball courts. In 2020, there were just 9 courts at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. The city has added 14 more at Rowlett Park, Foster Playground and Skyview Playground. By the end of 2023, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will add 26 more pickleball courts spread across the city

Tampa woman takes plea deal in DeSantis voter fraud case” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the 20 people arrested by DeSantis’ new election security force accepted a plea deal on Monday that allows her to avoid any punishment. Tampa resident Romona Oliver, 56, pleaded no contest to a felony charge of voting during the 2020 Election while ineligible. Oliver was sentenced to credit for time served; she spent a few hours in the Hillsborough County jail on Aug. 18, the same day that DeSantis held a news conference announcing the first arrests for his new Office of Election Crimes and Security. Oliver did not receive probation, was not assigned to community service and did not have to pay the typically mandatory court fees such as the cost of prosecution or the cost of the investigation, said her Tampa attorney, Mark Rankin.


Biden extends Hurricane Ian reimbursement period to Dec. 7” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Biden extended the period for full federal reimbursements on many Hurricane Ian recovery expenses. The move comes as federal officials report nearly $3 billion in federal grants, loans and flood insurance payments have been issued in Florida in relation to the storm. An order from Biden issued Monday amends a federal disaster declaration first issued immediately after Hurricane Ian. The latest move lifts the reimbursement rate to 100% federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures and it extends the period when costs are covered to Dec. 7.

Sarasota School Board meeting about Superintendent to be held Tuesday” via the Venice Gondolier — The Sarasota County School Board special meeting to discuss the contract of Superintendent Brennan Asplen will be held Tuesday. During the first session with two new School Board members on Nov. 22, Vice Chair Karen Rose made a motion to set up a special meeting to discuss the termination of Asplen’s contract. The Board originally set the meeting for Dec. 2, but then it was moved up to Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. To hold the special meeting, Board members voted 4-1, with School Board Member Tom Edwards voting “no.” The School Board hired Asplen in August 2020.

The Sarasota School Board has one agenda item: Firing Brennan Asplen.

Mom alleges her son was targeted by racial slurs, retaliation at Sarasota Military Academy” via Samantha Gholar of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The mother of a Black 10th grader at Sarasota Military Academy has lodged complaints that her son has been bullied verbally and in emails by the use of a racial slur by an older student and says the school has not sufficiently addressed the issue. The student-athlete, along with his mother, Nurisha Harvey, provided the school with documented accounts and claims of racial slurs toward the 10th grader and a fellow teammate on the school’s golf team. During a golf practice at the Meadows Country Club in late August, Harvey’s son said a senior teammate used a racial epithet on the course directed at him.

Charlotte County deputy’s memorial service set for Wednesday” via the Port Charlotte Sun — A public memorial service for Charlotte County Deputy Christopher Taylor will be held on Wednesday in Babcock Ranch. Taylor, 23, was struck by a car while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 75 in Punta Gorda around 8:45 p.m. Nov. 22. His memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Babcock Ranch Field House, 43281 Cypress Parkway in Babcock Ranch. Following the memorial service, a motorcade will travel north on I-75 exiting onto Highway 17 and then traveling down Piper Road. The community can line the streets of Piper Road to view the procession as it makes its way to the final resting place, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office stated.

New apartments may finally be built on old Palmetto fertilizer factory site. Here’s how” via Ryan Callihan of the Bradenton Herald — A breakthrough in soil remediation technology could turn the home of an abandoned fertilizer facility into Palmetto’s newest apartment community. A developer is working with Palmetto’s Community Redevelopment Agency to restore the eight-acre property, which the city described as a “hazardous eyesore” in a recent news release. Past efforts to repurpose the property have stalled, but city officials are hopeful that this attempt will bring long-awaited revitalization. For almost 100 years, the property on the 900 block of 11th Avenue West served as the base of operations for the Heartland Fertilizer Company, which provided local farmers with much-needed resources before plant operations stopped and the building was demolished in September 2021.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

‘No place for hate,’ Lenny Curry tweets after Confederate flag flies over TIAA Bank Field” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Mayor Curry tweeted “there is no place for hate of any kind in our city” and restated his support for removing Confederate monuments after a group opposing their removal flew a Confederate flag over an NFL crowd TIAA Bank Field Sunday. A plane carried the flag and a banner reading “Put Monuments Back” past the stadium shortly before the start of the Jaguars’ winning game against the Baltimore Ravens. A pro-monument group called Save Southern Heritage — Florida said it arranged for the flight to denounce the removal of Confederate tributes in both cities. “This is a Thanksgiving gift to the people of these cities who are suffering under these cancel culture tyrants,” a group spokesperson said.

A protest banner at the Jaguars game rubs Lenny Curry the wrong way.

Edward Waters University shuts down faculty union, claiming religious exemption” via Andrew Pantazi of the Tributary — Felicia Wider-Lewis was grading the final assignments for her Spring classes at Edward Waters University when her phone started buzzing. She needed to read the latest email from the college’s administration, her fellow professors told her. Over the last 15 years as a professor at the school, she had tried to improve herself. She’d earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida to improve her teaching credentials. She was elected president of the Faculty Senate and chosen as the faculty union’s chief negotiator. She had received grants to support her work as a mathematics professor. But then in May, the school made a sudden announcement: effective immediately, the college administration would no longer recognize its faculty union.

Tallahassee police searching for suspect who fired into crowd on FAMU campus; 1 dead, 4 hurt” via Christopher Cann and Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — A lone shooter opened fire on a group of young people playing basketball Sunday afternoon at Florida A&M University, leaving one man dead, four others injured and police scrambling to find a suspect. The incident marked a grim end to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend — and Tallahassee’s second mass shooting in less than a month. It happened around 4:30 p.m. outside the Hansel Tookes Student Recreation Center, according to the Tallahassee Police Department. “A suspect walked toward the outdoor basketball courts and began shooting into a crowd,” TPD said in a Monday news release. “When the shooting occurred, there were more than a dozen people at the basketball courts both playing and watching the games.”

Parade with purpose: Pensacola Martin Luther King Jr. Parade returning after 2 year pause” via Kamal Morgan of the Pensacola News Journal — After a two-year hiatus, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade will be returning to Pensacola in January. The event will be a time to celebrate MLK’s life and legacy, as well as a time to reflect on what each of us can do to continue his mission. “It’s not just about celebrating Dr. King’s birthday and his life’s work on the one day, but let’s adopt some of the principles that he talked about,” said Cheryl Mulrain, an executive board member with the MLK Commemorative Celebration Commission of Pensacola Inc. and dignitary coordinator of the MLK Day Parade.


The booster isn’t perfect, but still can help against COVID-19” via The Washington Post editorial board — The core issue is that the new bivalent boosters from Pfizer and Moderna are aimed at both the original pandemic virus and the omicron variant, BA.5, which was prevalent for much of this year.

When the bivalent shot was formulated during the Summer, BA.5 was raging, and the Food and Drug Administration urged the manufacturers to proceed based on extrapolations from limited human clinical trials. But now BA.5 is receding, giving way to a mix of new subvariants, including a few, such as BQ.1 and its offspring, that are evolutionary descendants of BA.5.

As of Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that BA.5 accounts for 24% of the cases in the United States, while BQ.1 is 25.5% and BQ.1.1 is 24.2%, trends that are likely to continue in the weeks ahead.

Even though the vaccine match to the variants is not ideal, the bivalent boosters might provide protection against hospitalization and death, and thus are especially important for the most vulnerable, including the elderly and immunocompromised.

One explanation for these positive indications is that the new variants are evolutionary offshoots of BA.5; thus, the vaccines are still partially effective. At the same time, the new crop is gaining ground in large part because these variants are better at evading the body’s immune system.

Much still needs to be done to build better vaccines that protect longer and against more variants, including those that might emerge in the future. But it is worth grabbing the booster that exists today, the jab being a small price for any measure that can help keep COVID-19 at bay.


Armchair lawyers proven wrong again — DeSantis does not have to resign to run for POTUS” via Lilian Rodríguez-Baz for Florida Politics — Ever since DeSantis cruised to re-election, the prospect of a DeSantis Presidential candidacy has been exciting many conservatives. But it is also beginning to grate on those who aren’t quite yet “Ready for Ron.” Lately, the DeSantis detractors have been busy promoting one wildly inaccurate claim, namely that he cannot run for President in 2024 unless he hands in his resignation as Florida Governor. This idea is as misleading as it is dangerous, and if left unchecked, it could cost Republicans the next election.

Reform needed to make property insurance market healthy” via Ronald R. Assise in the Fort Myers News-Press — Home insurance is not a warranty policy. It is intended to make you whole again after you experience sudden and/or accidental damage to your home. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous contractors are promising “free” roofs to Florida homeowners for “damage” that is simply wear and tear. Not to be outdone, there are some trial attorneys who file lawsuits for this “damage.” Individually, each of these actions are egregious. Together, they’ve created a toxic environment that has driven Florida’s property insurance market to the brink of collapse and caused rates to skyrocket. Sounds bleak, but because this is a man-made crisis, it can be fixed. We need legislative reform that will end this cottage industry.

New-look Broward School Board heads in right direction” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The political realignment of the Broward County School Board quickly became clear. Meeting for the first time after three new members were sworn in Tuesday, the Board chose Lori Alhadeff as Chair. She got six votes. Torey Alston, who had been Chair, got two. Unlike all his colleagues, Alston got on the Board through an appointment from DeSantis. The only other vote for Alston as Chair came, as expected, from Brenda Fam, a newcomer whose campaign stuck closely to the parental rights theme that DeSantis has embraced. The realignment was apparent again. With Alston and Fam dissenting, the Board voted to rescind the outgoing DeSantis Board’s decision to steer $10 million to charter schools.


— ALOE —

‘It’s a staple of the culture.’ Meet Souseman, king of Black Miami’s signature stew” via C. Isaiah Smalls II of the Miami Herald — “No way they’re coming here,” Souseman Larry, born Larry Reaves, says under his breath. The Souseman was midway through telling his life story before spying a couple out of the corner of his eye. Fresh from California, the couple beelines right to his stoop, which serves as the de facto order counter, and asks for chicken souse, pork souse, and a spaghetti dinner. “We got to check it out,” Dustin said of the decision to come by Souseman’s home. He and his partner, Emily, were visiting from San Francisco and had seen Souseman’s story on Netflix’s “Street Food: USA.” Such has been Souseman’s life since the episode’s release in August.

After Netflix made him a star, Souseman Larry has become a must-visit in Miami. Image via Miami Herald.

Delayed arrival of cruise ship at Port Canaveral causes passenger parking challenges” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — A one-day delay of the Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas’ return to Port Canaveral created a logistical challenge at the port on Monday that caused traffic congestion. The Wonder of the Seas — the world’s largest cruise ship — was returning from St. Kitts to Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 1 when the captain was forced to turn the ship around and divert to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to get care for a passenger suffering a medical emergency, the cruise industry website Cruise Hive reported. The Wonder of the Seas was scheduled to arrive at Port Canaveral on Sunday but got there early Monday morning instead.


Jill Biden unveils ‘We the People’ 2022 White House Holiday theme” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — First Lady Biden is unveiling her 2022 White House Holiday theme, entitled “We the People,” which includes a holiday message of unity and hope. This year’s massive display will include 77 Christmas trees, a massive gingerbread White House, nearly 84,000 holiday lights and 25 classic wreaths, all assembled over the course of one week by more than 150 volunteers from across the country. The East Wing will be sub-themed with honor and remembrance, including bells in the East Entrance symbolizing the unifying and healing power of music by welcoming guests with melodies and songs. The White House expects some 50,000 visitors this season.

The White House unveils The People’s Christmas.

Holidays arrive in Polk: 10 Christmas parades to kick off the season” via Sara-Megan Walsh of The Ledger — Polk County residents can celebrate the start of the holiday season with these 10 Christmas parades across Polk County. The first parade of the season starts in Lakeland with Santa Claus scheduled to make an appearance. Lakeland’s 41st annual Christmas parade themed “Christmas past, present and future” will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, signaled by fireworks over Lake Mirror. The parade starts at the RP Funding Center, 701 W. Lime. St., making its way east along Lemon Street, north on Tennessee Avenue, east on Main Street, north on Kentucky Avenue running alongside Munn Park; it then heads east on Cedar St. to go around Lake Mirror, then south on Lake Avenue and west on Orange Street.


Celebrating today is South Florida Democratic political consultant Freddy Balsera.


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.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

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