Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.2.22

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Good Friday morning.

The challenge of affordable housing — and the lack of obvious solutions — hung over a number of panel discussions at Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting.

In the wake of a hurricane and in the face of an insurance crisis, one thing most agreed on is that the problem is an urgent one.

Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Miami-Dade Republican, expects multiple issues surrounding the cost of living to loom during a Special Session on insurance and in the coming Regular Session.

Craig Perry and Ana Maria Rodriguez talk about affordable housing on a Florida TaxWatch panel. Image via Florida TaxWatch.

“This Session is not just going to be an insurance crisis and figuring out ways to mitigate the skyrocketing costs and these increases,” she said.

Following Hurricane Ian, Rodriguez expects legislation to cut property taxes for homes destroyed by the storm. Of course, that’s just one small piece of the challenges around the supply of housing for working-class Floridians.

She took part in a panel at the Florida TaxWatch meeting alongside Centerline Capital Partners founder Craig Perry, a developer with projects in Florida and other states. He said the crisis of costs was part of a national supply-and-demand problem.

He pointed to local, state and federal regulations that create problems for builders, from a lack of timeline on zoning applications to land development regulations that, in fact, reduce the practical building level allowed by zoning alone.

But both he and Rodrigues said one of the biggest problems is “NIMBYism,” a widely felt anxiety that affordable housing could reduce the value of homes in the immediate vicinity.

“You’re trying to make things as affordable as possible, but nobody wants it in your backyard — until it’s their own kid,” Perry said.

George LeMieux predicts growth will make Florida an economic powerhouse — and a Republican one” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former U.S. Sen. LeMieux says Florida will grow faster and redder than the rest of the country in short order. Central Florida will be home to 20 million people within two decades. Miami will be a financial capital with its own stock exchange. And Republicans will win elections more consistently. “If we are purple, we are a reddish-purple,” he said. LeMieux presented his assessments at the annual meeting of Florida TaxWatch, held this year in Coral Gables.


Here are other items on my radar:

🗳 — 2023 Tampa City Council races are the next hot ticket in Florida politics: All Tampa City Council districts are up for election this year and of those, five have at least three candidates running so far. This year’s municipal cycle could be an interesting one given several headline-making issues this year. A public records lawsuit. A sexual harassment scandal. A red wave that could challenge convention. Read my exhaustive rundown of what to expect in next year’s City Council contests here.

📚 — Education wars rage loudest in swingy areas: UC Riverside research finds political conflict in education settings is most profound in areas that are politically diverse. Those areas are more likely to drop programs that train teachers to have productive conversations about controversial issues, according to an analysis from Washington Post reporter Laura Heckler. The research stems from a survey of 682 public high school principals, in which more than two-thirds reported parents or other members of their school communities seeking limits on teaching on race or challenging policies related to LGBTQ student rights, access to books, or to social-emotional learning. Read more here.

📉 — Black turnout in Midterms was one of the low points for Democrats: Despite good news — or at least news that felt good — for Democrats this election cycle, from holding the Senate to remaining stubbornly competitive, it’s clear Black turnout is not one of those feel-good stories for the party. In states like Georgia and North Carolina, where authoritative data is already available, Black turnout sank to its lowest point since 2006, according to a New York Times analysis. Other states are showing similar signs so far. Relatively low Black turnout is becoming an unmistakable trend in the post-Obama era, raising important — if yet unanswered — questions about how Democrats can revitalize the enthusiasm of their strongest group of supporters. Read more here.


@AdamKinzinger: The fact that the former President had dinner with a guy that was SO Nazi, that he disavowed knowing him by saying the dinner was supposed to be with a guy who just said Hitler is dope, is definitely something unimaginable on alternate sane Earth.

@Bencjacobs: Kanye West: “The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered anything of value to the world.”

Tweet, tweet:

@janecoaston: There must be an inverse relationship between “people who can win the White House” and “people who believe they can win the White House”

Tweet, tweet:

@alifarhat79: Sam Bankman-Fried: I don’t know where $10 billion went. The Pentagon: We don’t know where $2.2 trillion went. The IRS: You just sent $601.37, don’t forget to report it.

Tweet, tweet:

@kyle_burger: A source confirms that Deion Sanders has visited the USF facilities this week and a major sticking point for him accepting the head coach position is to have a major say in the construction of the new on-campus stadium.


2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 3; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 4; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 4; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 14; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 30; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 54; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 61; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 77; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 78; city of Tampa Municipal Election early voting begins — 87; Tampa Municipal Election — 95; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 95; World Baseball Classic finals begin in Miami — 99; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 112; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 132; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 147; 2023 Session Sine Die — 154; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 154; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 182; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 231; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 238; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 336; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 483; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 539; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 602; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 602; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 644; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 707; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 805; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 882. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,071.


Andrew Warren’s legal challenge to his suspension by Ron DeSantis is now in the judge’s hands” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — The federal trial wrapped up Thursday in suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Warren’s lawsuit against DeSantis, following three days of testimony and arguments in a federal courthouse in Tallahassee.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said he would rule “just as quickly as I can” but needs to absorb the voluminous case record and that might take two weeks.

Hinkle had expedited the proceedings in the interest of resolving Warren’s First Amendment claims as quickly as possible, which could mean Warren would return to his job — or not. Warren, a Democrat, had been elected twice before DeSantis suspended him Aug. 4. The prosecutor argues the Governor ousted him (pending a trial before the Florida Senate) not for his policies but because his politics did not match DeSantis’.

Andrew Warren’s fate is now in a judge’s hands.

Hinkle asked pointed questions of each legal team and cautioned that they shouldn’t try to divine from them what his ruling would be. “I don’t know who’s going to win,” the judge said.

But he said one possible view of the facts is that DeSantis has long promoted “law and order” and disfavored Warren’s “woke” approach; had noted the recall of progressive prosecutors elsewhere in the country; and “would like there not to be that in Florida.”

“And, incidentally, it would be good politics to take one down,” Hinkle noted.

He added that the Governor’s Office conducted a “one-sided inquiry” into Warren, speaking “only to those who might be likely to support that side of the issue,” and then “bingo,” the abortion joint statement emerged.


DeSantis sticks to ‘ignoring Donald Trump’ as former President starts 2024 campaign” via Tom LoBianco of Yahoo News — Not long after capturing the 2024 spotlight, DeSantis pleaded with his supporters to “chill out.” DeSantis has been basking in support from key players in the Republican nomination battle following his nearly 20-point victory over Charlie Crist. The election tipped off a cascade of big-name defections from Trump, from the New York Post calling DeSantis “DeFUTURE” to, most recently, GOP supporter and Twitter CEO Elon Musk dumping Trump for DeSantis. And a raft of polling has come out showing DeSantis eating away at Trump’s support in critical early-voting states like Iowa and even beating Trump in hypothetical matchups if the primaries were held today.

The new move is ‘cold shoulder.’

Republicans still like Trump, but they want to nominate DeSantis in 2024” via David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner — The poll was in the field nationwide last week to gauge post-election sentiment. Its results have an important message for Trump: A lot of Republicans are done with this relationship and ready to move on. First, there’s the question about a head-to-head Republican primary. Among registered voters who identify as Republican, DeSantis beats Trump in such a contest 60% to 40%. Among independent registered voters, DeSantis leads 65% to 35%. Another important result: Among all registered voters, DeSantis would start out tied with Joe Biden at 42%. Trump, on the other hand, trails the hugely unpopular incumbent by double digits, 44% to 34%.

DeSantis edges Joe Biden in 2024 Georgia hypothetical” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Peach State voters prefer DeSantis to Biden, according to a fresh Emerson College poll of very likely Georgia voters. DeSantis held a 4-point advantage over Biden, 47% to 43%. In edging out Biden, DeSantis is doing what former Trump couldn’t in the same poll. Biden actually has an edge over Trump at 43% to 42%. Independent voters are a key reason for the performance difference. Biden holds a 6-point lead over Trump, with 20% of independents wanting another option. But DeSantis leads Biden by 3 points, and just 8% of independent voters want someone else.

‘They brought this on themselves’: DeSantis responds to Disney CEO on ‘Parental Rights’ bill” via Andrea Chu of WTSP — DeSantis hinted that Florida’s feud with Disney over the “Parental Rights in Education Act,” dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics,” is far from over. DeSantis appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” this week where he addressed a number of issues, including recently reinstated Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments on the saga. The law bars educators from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade. School districts may opt to ban those topics beyond third grade if leaders deem them not to be age or developmentally appropriate.


DeSantis awards $22.7 million for clean water initiatives in south Florida” via Josh Miller of The Florida Standard — DeSantis awarded $22.7 million to fund water quality projects in South Florida, including $14.5 million for Miami-Dade County. “Biscayne Bay is an important resource for the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Key Biscayne. “It’s the largest estuary in our state and the largest passenger port in the world.” “We’ve seen over the years that it has a lot of unique challenges, and there have been a lot of efforts to recognize this and to ameliorate this,” DeSantis said. “In 2021, I signed House Bill 1177, which established the Biscayne Bay Commission to bring federal, state, and regional partners together to focus on the health of Biscayne Bay.”

Ron DeSantis makes a big investment in clean water infrastructure.

Ashley Moody promises fiscal efficiency, efforts to predict organized crime activity” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Moody reacted with glee when Florida TaxWatch gave her office its State Agency of the Year award. “I’m telling you; I’ve not been so proud since I was 17 years old Strawberry Festival Queen,” the Plant City native said. The Republican official said eliminating waste and improving government efficiency is one of her favorite elements of public service, even if it isn’t the most high-profile work in the state’s top legal office. Some more prominent achievements have included being the first state to reach a resolution in legal action against manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies after suing entities for their role in worsening the opioid crisis.

Boat rentals in jeopardy” via Axios — Three words in the new Boating Safety Act, passed last Legislative Session to keep people safer in Florida waters, might doom boat and Jet Ski rental companies across the state after it goes into effect Jan. 1. Florida liveries are for the first time required to carry insurance on both the livery “and the renter” in case of injury or loss. Insurance companies have balked at the change. All agree those words will cripple the industry unless insurers come around or unless the Legislature fixes the law in the next session. Some insurers estimate that compliance would raise rates from around $1,500 per boat annually to more than $8,000 per boat.

The Midterms have busted the myth of conservative ‘minority rule’” via Jason Willick of The Washington Post — The 2022 Midterms dealt a political blow to Republicans who claimed the previous election was rigged. But they also struck a blow against a subtler self-serving theory undermining faith in democracy from the left, that the electoral system itself suffers from a crisis-level “structural” bias against Democrats. It’s hard to overstate the influence this idea has exerted on intellectuals over the past decade. But the 2022 Midterm results expose the growing gap between progressive theory and political reality. Start with the results in the House of Representatives, where there’s no evidence of an entrenched GOP majority.

Florida divests $2B from BlackRock as movement against woke investing matures” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Florida Treasury is divesting an initial $2 billion from BlackRock, the archetype of “woke” investing, as the state steps up its fight against stakeholder capitalism. The Treasury pulled $1.4 billion in long-term securities from BlackRock and removed the investment management company as the overseer of $600 million in short-term overnight investments. By the beginning of 2023, the Republican official expects the Treasury to fully separate itself and the state’s Treasury Investment Pool from BlackRock. After the investment giant received criticisms for its resources in fossil fuels, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink in 2020 announced plans to move toward environmentally sustainable investments.

Florida pulls out of ‘woke’ BlackRock.

Florida’s November consumer sentiment defies national figures, rises despite inflation” via Perry Leibovitz of UF News — Consumer sentiment among Floridians increased in November to 64.7, up 1.8 points from a revised figure of 62.9 in October. However, national sentiment decreased by over three points. All five components that make up the index increased. Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions improved in November. Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 1.9 points from 51.9 to 53.8. Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item like an appliance increased by 3.7 points from 50.1 to 53.8, the greatest increase of any reading this month.

Florida HIV cases increasing — and many people don’t know they have it” via Cindy Krischer Goodman and Caroline Catherman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — While many parts of the country have HIV under control, Florida leads the nation in new infections. Nearly 5,000 people a year in Florida are diagnosed with HIV, a number that hasn’t budged much in the last 10 years despite the nation overall experiencing an 8% decline. In total, about 120,000 people in Florida live with HIV and as many as 17,700 more are undiagnosed and likely spreading the virus to others without it. As the world recognizes its progress on World AIDS day, Dec. 1, Florida is stuck in the past.

Increased venomous reptile penalties among FWC legislative proposals” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — In one more step to getting unwanted reptiles out of Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for state legislation that would increase the penalty for illegally dealing in venomous reptiles to a Level 4 felony violation. “Additionally, staff requests an authorization for the Executive Director to consult with the Chair and the Commission Budget Liaison to make any adjustments that may be necessary as we continue to move through the 2023 Legislative Session,” FWC Acting Legislative Affairs Director Jess Melkun said.

FWC Commissioners don’t budge on breeding ban for diamondback terrapins” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — It’s been 16 years since Florida allowed captive breeding of diamondback terrapins, and despite intense lobbying by people involved in the reptile industry, that door still is shut. “Overseas market demand for turtles is high, and illegal turtle trafficking of native species is a major concern in Florida and among other states,” according to a memo from Melissa Tucker, Director of Habitat and Species Conservation for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and FWC Law Enforcement Col. Roger Young to Commissioners.

100-mile rule left intact in latest gopher tortoise regulation revisions” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Changes are not coming presently as it pertains to the 100-mile relocation rule for gopher tortoises. The rule wasn’t addressed in revisions to the state’s ever-evolving gopher tortoise regulations because of a combination of conflicting opinions and a lack of data. “There are a number of reasons this 100-mile restriction, or 100-mile rule as you might hear it referred to, were put into the guidelines,” said Jennifer Goff, the deputy director for Habitat and Species Conservation at the FWC.

Lobbying Compensation: The Mayernick Group reports $755K in Q3 earnings” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Adams Street stalwarts at The Mayernick Group have reported earning around $755,000 for their advocacy efforts at the Capitol during the third quarter of 2022. The firm represented super-clients HCA Healthcare and U.S. Sugar Corporation, as well as The Home Depot, Citrus Health Network, and Alkermes Inc. for a combined $100,000, along with 91 other clients in Florida’s statehouse and regulatory agencies. The group’s ledger of clients contains a murderers’ row of big-time players in Florida’s legislative ecosystem including the Florida Medical Association, Florida Power & Light, Anheuser-Busch, and telecoms giant AT&T.

Lobbying compensation: The Fiorentino Group earns at least $695K in Q3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Fiorentino Group earned an estimated $695,000 in lobbying revenue last quarter, according to recently filed compensation reports. As usual, the influential firm’s clients included some of the heaviest hitters in Northeast Florida like Flagler Health+, the firm’s top-paying client at $70,000 for executive and legislative lobbying services, as well as major interests around the state like AT&T, Florida Power & Light and CSX Transportation.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Slater Bayliss, Christopher Chaney, Steve Schale, Stephen Shiver, Sarah Suskey, Jeffrey Woodburn, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Lee County Board of County Commissioners

Dean Cannon, Kirk Pepper, GrayRobinson: Alliance for Automotive Innovation

Sara Clements, McGuireWoods Consulting: NWEA

Nicole Kelly, Seth McKeel, Sydney Ridley, David Shepp, Sheela VanHoose, The Southern Group: Florida SouthWestern State College Foundation, The Mahaffey Apartment Company

Ethan Perry: Florida Association of Realtors


Supreme Court to decide case over Biden student debt program” via Michael Macagnone of Roll Call — The Supreme Court will decide a legal challenge to the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program, which effectively leaves the effort blocked nationwide for at least another two months. The Biden administration had requested an immediate reversal of a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which paused the program while six Republican-led states challenge it in court. The justices declined that request in a brief order Thursday and instead agreed to set the case for oral argument in February on the issues in the case. The case arrived at the Supreme Court through an emergency application that defended the power of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to set up the program.

Immigration advocates, lawmakers ask Biden to extend and renew Haiti TPS designation” via Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — Immigration advocates and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Haiti. The re-designation and an extension would open immigration protection to tens of thousands of Haitians who arrived in the United States after July 29, 2021, when the last TPS designation was given following the assassination of the country’s President, Jovenel Moïse, two weeks earlier. It would also extend to those not covered by recent litigation over a Trump-era decision to terminate the program for Haiti and five other countries.

Advocates plead for Joe Biden to re-up TPS for Haitians.

Biden state dinner serves up lobster à la controversy” via Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News — The lobster featured on the menu of Thursday’s state dinner comes with caviar, squash ravioli and a heaping side of controversy. Maine officials would typically be thrilled to have their state’s most famous export featured at such a high-profile White House event. Instead, they’re turning red and boiling with anger at what they feel is a shellfish decision by the White House to serve lobster while pushing federal regulations that they say could kill the industry. The lobster industry is feeling the pinch as concerns about lobstering’s impact on the endangered right whale, whose population is estimated to be below 370, have prompted new federal regulation and calls for boycotts.

Senate votes 80-15 to pass measure blocking nationwide railroad strike” via Katy Stech Ferek of The Wall Street Journal — Senate lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to prevent a nationwide strike by railroad workers after rejecting a proposal to give them expanded paid sick leave. In an 80-15 vote, with one voting present, lawmakers agreed to force unions to adopt an earlier labor agreement, exceeding the 60-vote threshold for the measure to pass. The move is expected to end the long-running labor dispute between Union Pacific Corp., CSX Corp. and other freight railroads and more than 115,000 workers. The measure now goes to the White House. Biden has said he is prepared to sign any resolution passed by Congress that prevents such a strike. Under the Railway Labor Act, Congress can make both sides accept an agreement to prevent harm to the U.S. economy.

CFTC Chair urges strengthening conflict-of-interest part of Senate crypto bill” via Caitlin Reilly of Roll Call — Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam urged Senators to strengthen conflict-of-interest and financial disclosure provisions for cryptocurrency entities in a key piece of legislation considering the collapse of the FTX exchange. The circumstances around the FTX implosion merit a closer look at a bill introduced by Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow and co-sponsored by ranking member John Boozman, Behnam said at a committee hearing Thursday. He added that Congress would have to balance getting legislation right and moving quickly to prevent future harm. “It’s important that we tighten the conflicts of interest provisions because of the egregious nature of what we learned with FTX,” Behnam said. “Disclosures to customers about financial resources also will be an important issue to address.”

‘The more you submit, the more we get paid’: How fintech fueled COVID-19 aid fraud” via Tony Romm of The Washington Post — Speeding through applications, Blueacorn employees and contractors allegedly began to overlook possible signs of fraud, according to interviews and communications later amassed by investigators on Capitol Hill. The company weighed whether to prioritize “monster loans that will get everyone paid,” as the firm’s co-founder once said. And investigators found that Blueacorn collected about $1 billion in processing fees — while its operators may have secured fraudulent loans of their own. The allegations against Blueacorn and several other firms are laid out in a sprawling, roughly 120-page report released Thursday by the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, a congressional watchdog tasked to oversee roughly $5 trillion in federal pandemic aid.

Fed’s Jerome Powell cites top barrier to taming inflation — workers’ wages” via Victoria Guida of POLITICO — Federal Reserve Chair Powell said the biggest remaining barrier to taming inflation is the shortage of workers, which is giving Americans greater clout to seek higher pay. Powell also again signaled that the Fed would begin raising interest rates in smaller increments but underscored that significantly higher borrowing costs still lie ahead. The Fed chief said rising costs for services, from health care to haircuts, might be “the most important category for understanding the future evolution” of prices, and that wages are the largest cost within that category.

Jerome Powell says worker wages are a sticking point for inflation. Image via AP.

U.S. Sugar finalizes $315M purchase of Imperial Sugar Co. as feds look to block sale” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — U.S. Sugar has filed court documents showing the company has completed a $315 million purchase of Imperial Sugar Co. But the federal government is still attempting to block the sale. On Sept. 23, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected an effort by DOJ to place an injunction on the deal going forward. As DOJ moved forward with an appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Sugar has now submitted a filing saying the sale has been finalized. U.S. Sugar plans to use an Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, to help refine more sugar cane. The company is slated to upgrade equipment at that facility going forward.

Stephanie Murphy leaves Congress as bipartisan dealmaker. Could 2024 Senate race beckon?” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Murphy took the political world by surprise six years ago. The looming question is, could she do that again two years from now? The outgoing Democratic member of Congress from Winter Park has been mentioned as a potential opponent against Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott in 2024. But she’s not yet ready to reveal any future plans. “I’m running through the tape in this job,” Murphy said of her final month in the U.S. House. “And then I’ll figure out what comes next.” Aubrey Jewett, a professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida, called Murphy “a successful, moderate Democrat in a time when Congress was becoming increasingly polarized.”


Federal appeals court halts special review of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago” via Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — A federal appeals court Thursday ended an independent review of documents seized from Trump’s Florida estate, removing a hurdle the Justice Department said had delayed its criminal investigation into the retention of top-secret government information. The decision by the three-judge panel represents a significant win for federal prosecutors, clearing the way for them to use as part of their investigation the entire tranche of documents seized during an Aug. 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. It also amounts to a sharp repudiation of arguments by Trump’s lawyers, who for months had said that the former President was entitled to have a so-called “special master” conduct a neutral review of the thousands of documents taken from the property.

Verdict in Trump Organization trial could come down to 3 little words” via Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum of The New York Times — Despite all the talk of fancy apartments, free Mercedes-Benzes and cash flowing at Christmastime, the criminal tax fraud trial of Trump’s family business could come down to three mundane words: “in behalf of.” The company stands accused of doling out those off-the-books perks to several executives, who failed to pay taxes on them. The scheme’s architect — the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg — pleaded guilty and testified at trial. The company, however, is not automatically guilty of his crimes. Under New York law, prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office must prove that Weisselberg committed his many felonies “in behalf of” the Trump Organization, a clunky phrase that the judge overseeing the case has, in something of an understatement, called “a confusing area of the law.”

Donald Trump’s fate could rest on a simple, three-word phrase.

A right-wing Zionist digests Trump’s antisemite dinner party” via Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker — Three weeks ago, the Zionist Organization of America gave what it called its highest honor to Trump. According to Morton Klein, who runs the Z.O.A., the award commemorated Trump as the “best friend Israel ever had in the White House.” Last week, at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had dinner with Ye and the White supremacist Nick Fuentes, setting off the biggest firestorm over Trump’s bigotry since his response to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (which Fuentes attended). After Trump’s dinner with Fuentes, Klein told the Times, “I have become very frightened for my people.” He added, “Donald Trump is not an antisemite. He loves Israel. He loves Jews. But he mainstreams; he legitimizes Jew-hatred and Jew-haters. And this scares me.”

House Democrats set to discuss how to handle Trump’s tax returns” via Devan Cole of CNN — The Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee will meet Thursday to discuss how to handle six years of Trump’s federal tax returns, one day after the panel received access to the records following a protracted legal fight. The Committee is planning to be briefed by House General Counsel Doug Letter on the legal ramifications of the section of the tax law that Chair Richard Neal used to request the tax returns, according to a Neal aide. Though Democrats will strategize over how to manage the documents at Thursday’s meeting, they are not expected to review the tax returns at that time, and the documents are not expected to be immediately released to the public.

A Broward man pleaded guilty to his role in Jan. 6 riots. He may face decades in prison” via Grethel Aguila of the Miami Herald — A Broward County man pleaded guilty Thursday to assaulting a police officer with a weapon during the Jan. 6 riots. Mason Joel Courson can face up to 20 years in federal prison at his March 31, 2023, sentencing. Courson and more than 2,000 others stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the Electoral College’s vote count and overturn the election. The attack was brought on by false claims that the 2020 Election was rigged against Trump. On Jan. 6, 2021, at around 4:20 p.m., Courson was in a mob of hundreds of rioters who confronted officers in the tunnel areas leading into the Capitol from the Lower West Terrace.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Should the fired Broward schools chief be allowed to stay? It’s again up for discussion” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The fate of the fired Broward Schools chief again is coming up for discussion, but this time, the majority of decision-makers wouldn’t be School Board members appointed by DeSantis. The School Board is set to discuss at its Dec. 13 meeting whether to keep Broward Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright. Cartwright was terminated Nov. 14, just as a Republican-majority School Board was leaving their positions and capping several months of drama over key school decisions. If the new School Board were to allow the Superintendent to stay permanently, they “are not listening to the feelings in the community,” said Daniel Foganholi, one of the five DeSantis appointees who supported firing Cartwright last month.

Will Vickie Cartwright get a reprieve?

Trial of suspended Miami-Dade Commissioner set for April, lawyers vow to reject deals” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — A judge Thursday set an April trial for suspended Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez as his lawyers press for a quick court date that could help put the veteran politician back in office. Defense lawyers asked for no delays in setting a trial date, attorneys on both sides said, at the brief hearing before Circuit Judge Lody Jean, as the Martinez camp described a defendant eager to get before a jury. “Commissioner Martinez is not guilty. He pleaded not guilty,” Martinez’s lawyer Benedict Kuehne said after the hearing. “He intends to hear a jury say those words: ‘not guilty.’”

Minecraft debuts in a Palm Beach County school, teaches students how to solve real-world problems” via Giuseppe Sabella of the Palm Beach Post — Minecraft, one of the bestselling video games of all time, has encouraged players to explore and flex their creativity for more than a decade. Now, the game is taking on a new life at Lake Worth Middle School. “I’m all about engagement and motivation, and students love gaming, so we decided to put them together,” said April Leach, the school’s media specialist. Minecraft players are usually focused on surviving a vast world made up of pixilated blocks. Those blocks — made from stone, dirt, iron and other resources — can be torn down and used to build new landscapes, structures or tools.

‘More work to do.’ Consultant report highlights lingering problems with Broward County’s 911 call centers” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Coming on the heels of a state oversight panel’s demand that Broward County turn over the operation of its troubled 911 call centers to the Sheriff’s Office, a report the county authorized early this year may provide a blueprint to fix the system that has left residents in danger of not getting the crisis help they need. The 130-page draft report by Fitch & Associates outlines many of the same issues that have plagued the understaffed emergency centers for most of the past year and makes recommendations on areas that should be addressed promptly in the dysfunctional system that is managed by the county but staffed and operated by the Sheriff’s Office.

Post-Midterm leadership change coming to Palm Beach County Democratic Party” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After Democrats suffered major Midterm Election defeats in Palm Beach County and statewide, the local Democratic Party is getting new leadership for the two years leading to the 2024 Presidential Election. Terrie Rizzo, Chair of the county Democratic Party since 2012, won’t seek another term. Rizzo announced her decision in an email to Democratic committee members late Wednesday night. On Thursday, party Vice Chair Mindy Koch announced via a video that she was running to succeed Rizzo. “We need to effect change in order to win back the county. I think we need to engage everybody of every age,” Koch said in an interview.

Gambling regulators postpone Magic City Casino buyout, want documents released” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Florida regulators Thursday indefinitely postponed the transfer of the gambling permit from Magic City Casino in Miami to an Alabama-based Native American tribe, putting a hold on the multimillion-dollar deal until more details are disclosed to the public. Miami’s Havenick family and its West Flagler Associates company has entered into an asset purchase agreement with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, operating as Wind Creek Miami, LLC, but it needs permission from the Florida Gaming Control Commission to transfer the gambling license, which allows it to operate slot machines, blackjack and other casino games in Miami.

The Magic City buyout is not quite a done deal.

Innovative infrastructure: ‘Green’ solution to Lake Park’s street flooding to rise in a town park” via Lianna Norman of the Palm Beach Post — The town of Lake Park is introducing an innovative, environmentally conscious solution for managing stormwater flooding. The town updated its stormwater master plan last February. The plan involves placing a biodetention facility in Bert Bostrom Park. Biodetention facilities are essentially fabricated wetlands, grounded with vegetation, which are built to mimic natural wetlands by collecting and cleaning stormwater runoff. The addition of this green infrastructure at Bert Bostrom will relieve the effects of flooding in the park, along Seventh Street at the southern end of town, while preserving and adding to its existing green space. “We’re taking an environmental approach because we’ve had issues in the town where there was flooding,” Lake Park Town Commissioner Roger Michaud said.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Joel Greenberg sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking, other crimes” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Greenberg — who as Seminole County’s tax collector trafficked a teenager, stalked a political rival, stole identities and spent taxpayer funds on paid sex and cryptocurrency, among other misdeeds — was sentenced to 11 years in prison Thursday morning, bringing to a close one of the most stunning cases of political corruption in state history. Greenberg was elected to public office just over six years ago at the age of 31 and became a rising star in GOP politics, even as he faced one controversy after another. But his abuse of taxpayer funds drew the attention of federal investigators, prompting his downfall. U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell handed down Greenberg’s sentence.

A judge throws the book at Joel Greenberg.

Trespasser shot dead after stabbing Daytona Beach officer in the face” via Patricio G. Balona of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A police officer was stabbed in the face by a trespasser at a gas station Thursday morning, prompting him to fatally shoot the man, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said. The incident occurred at a Sunoco gas station at 2501 W. International Speedway Blvd. around 9:15 a.m., the Chief said. The officer, a veteran of the Daytona Beach Police Department, is expected to recover from his injury, but the trespasser died of his gunshot wounds, Young said. The officer was transported to Halifax Health Medical Center to be treated for his injuries. Paramedics transporting the wounded suspect to the hospital said he was shot twice under the armpit, authorities said.

Prosecutors drop battery charge against Indialantic Mayor in leaf-rake incident” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — Indialantic Mayor Dave Berkman has been cleared of battery against a political opponent during a post-Hurricane Ian cleanup event in the beachside town. The State Attorney’s Office dropped the battery charge, which stemmed from a Sept. 30 incident between Berkman and then-Indialantic Town Council candidate Mel Chang at Orlando Park. Berkman, who is Jewish, has criticized Chang in recent years for making antisemitic remarks in emails to Indialantic leaders and on social media. Republican Party of Florida Chair Joe Gruters and Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican, also criticized Chang’s remarks during the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Hawaiian Tropic founder’s party mansion on the beach hits market for nearly $6M” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — The beachfront home of Ron Rice, creator of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion whose life mirrored the beach party image of his brand, has been put up for sale for $100 shy of $6 million. Built in 1987, the 12,414-square-foot mansion is a monument to Rice’s globe-spanning tropical tastes. The North Carolina native and former chemistry teacher who founded his company in his garage in 1969 filled his home with art from around the world as well as professional memorabilia from his career. Rice died in May at age 81. “His company was his life,” said Linda Kramer, an assistant to Rice since 1980. “You can’t separate one from the other.”


Tampa police chief pulls out badge, asks deputy to ‘let us go’ during traffic stop” via Amy Gehrt of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor identified herself as chief, pulled out her badge and asked a Pinellas sheriff’s deputy to “just let us go” after she and her husband were pulled over in a golf cart last month, a video shared by the Tampa Police Department on Thursday showed. In the video, which was recorded by the deputy’s body camera during the Nov. 12 traffic stop, the deputy immediately lets them go as they exchange handshakes and pleasantries. She then hands over what appears to be her business card, telling the deputy, “You ever need anything, call me.” O’Connor’s husband, Keith, was not cited for not having a tag on the golf cart while he was driving on a public road in Oldsmar.

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

Antonio Brown faces arrest warrant for domestic incident” via The Associated Press — Former NFL wide receiver Brown is wanted on a battery charge stemming from a domestic incident, Tampa police said Thursday. Investigators said Brown and a woman were involved in a verbal altercation Monday afternoon at a home in Tampa. Brown threw a shoe at the woman, tried to evict her from the home and locked her out, the report said. There is a court-issued warrant for Brown’s arrest. On Thursday afternoon, WFTS reported that police were outside Brown’s house for an hour trying to get him to come out. Tampa police said late Thursday that Brown was not in custody.

Thousands of Florida’s ‘nuisance alligators’ are killed each year. Is it necessary?” via Matt Cohen of the Tampa Bay Times — The 6-foot alligator in a northern Hillsborough County backyard pond hadn’t bothered anyone. It wasn’t injured. But it was killed. Phil Walters, a nuisance alligator trapper contracted with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, had been called after a mother whose child had been playing close to the pond in their backyard and reported the alligator was “lurking.” A crowd of about 30 gathered when Walters tried to trap the alligator, he said. Some asked why he was there, saying that the alligator had been living in the pond for some time and had never been an issue.


Michael Flynn pushes far-right takeover of Sarasota Republican Party” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — In a burst of activity over the weekend, Flynn released a letter that declared “our party is at risk because … we’ve allowed the establishment to rule the roost” and shared a video on social media attacking a fellow Republican. Both the letter and the video were aimed at keeping the GOP Vice Chair in Sarasota County, where Flynn lives, from ascending to the Chair position, a low-profile tussle to lead a county party that’s emblematic of the broader struggle nationally within the GOP, one that shows no signs of letting up even as it proves politically problematic for Republicans.

Michael Flynn is spearheading Sarasota’s shift to the far-right. Image via PBS.

High risk of red tide irritation in Sarasota, data shows. Here’s latest for Bradenton” via Ryan Ballogg of the Bradenton Herald — Weather and health officials continue to warn about the hazards of the red tide as the harmful algae bloom worsened along the Southwest Florida coast this week, particularly in Sarasota County waters. The state’s latest samples show the algae is also still present in waters off Anna Maria Island and coastal Manatee County, though levels are lower than Sarasota. Fish kills and respiratory irritation were reported this week in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a Wednesday red tide update. The algae species that causes red tide, Karenia brevis, produces brevetoxins, a group of neurotoxins that kill fish and other marine life and can make humans sick.

Southwest Florida will get hit with RSV: Virus season is ‘unprecedented and unpredictable’” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Southwest Florida can expect a spike in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among children after the holidays which experts say will be part of an overall nasty winter of viruses hitting all ages. Flu has arrived earlier than usual is one sign of things to come, plus doctors’ offices and emergency rooms are seeing children much sicker from the common cold, according to Dr. Pia Myers, director of the pediatrics emergency department at NCH North Naples Hospital in Collier County. In many cases the children need to be hospitalized and may require oxygen support because of their respiratory distress, she said.

Ian damages PGD passenger count” via Elaine Allen-Emrich of the Port Charlotte Sun — The number of Allegiant Airline passengers at the Punta Gorda Airport was down from September and October of last year. The culprit is Hurricane Ian. After the hurricane forced a weeklong closure at the airport, the number of passengers was 64,668 in September compared to 73,000 in 2021. According to the Charlotte County Airport Authority passenger statistics report, there were 99,092 in October compared to 129,644 in October 2021. Before the storm, the airline reported 123,937 passengers in August, which was up from 98,296 in August 2021. The report also shows that in August 2019 there were 98,000 passengers traveling and in September 2019 there were 57,100.

SNAP food benefits now available to Bradenton area residents affected by Hurricane Ian” via Robyn Murrell of the Bradenton Herald — The Manatee County government will host an in-person interview site for people who were impacted by Hurricane Ian and need food assistance. The location is at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto, and it will be open from Friday, Dec. 2, until Sunday, December 4. The site’s hours will be from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Individuals and families affected by Hurricane Ian can get monetary food assistance through Florida’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). The D-SNAP program is only available to people who do not currently get regular SNAP benefits.

Lawyers said West Bradenton residents might lose homes to road expansion. What happened?” via Ryan Callihan of the Bradenton Herald — Several 59th Street West residents demanded answers after receiving letters suggesting Manatee County government will buy their homes to make room for the expansion of the roadway. In recent months, dozens of homeowners have received confusing correspondence from eminent domain lawyers offering their services. The letters used preliminary design drawings to claim certain properties could fall victim to the planned four-laning of 59th Street West. During Tuesday’s public meeting, Commissioners suggested the letters were part of an attempt to sway residents into hiring lawyers to represent them in future legal battles.

Venice to create code of conduct for events after complaints about Pride Festival” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — In response to complaints about the Nov. 12 Venice Pride Festival held in Centennial Park, the city of Venice will install a code of conduct section as part of its special event permit process to clearly outline the host’s responsibilities and ramifications for violations. Videos circulated on social media — notably of individuals attempting to pole dance on a lamp post and a ring toss game involving sex toys — stirred national attention that prompted Jack Brill, acting Chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, to write to the city calling for Council members investigate the event and place a hold on future permits. City Manager Ed Lavallee briefed members of the Venice City Council Tuesday on the permitting changes.

Venice lays down rules for its Pride Fest.

Buyer beware: Scammers falsely listing Florida real estate without owners’ permission” via Kate Cimini of the Fort Myers News-Press — Catherine Greenleaf opened an email from her real estate company with links to new listings, like she did every morning. But when the property sale search results loaded, the first listing on the page was her own property. Greenleaf was the victim of what is known as a land scam, which real estate and law enforcement experts say is becoming very common in hot real estate markets like Southwest Florida. Many of these land scammers are being traced back to Nigeria, Russia, or Eastern European countries, and data shows popular targets are often the elderly.

Laws prohibiting smoking and permitting alcohol sales at Venice beaches pass first reading” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Smoking will be prohibited at city beaches and alcohol sales allowed permanently by vendors under ordinances approved this week by the Venice City Council. The Council also approved an agreement preserving public access to the beach on the west end of Alhambra Road. The smoking ordinance — which applies to city beaches and parks — was crafted by staff, following a legislative referral made by the board on Sept. 13. It would follow the protections from secondhand smoke as outlined in the Florida Clean Air Act that went into effect July 1. Just as with the Florida Clean Air Act, the ban carves out an exemption for unfiltered cigars.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Paul Renner to headline Lindsey Brock fundraiser on Dec. 7” via Florida Politics — Brock is holding a fundraiser for his campaign next week, with several elected officials slated to attend. Brock’s event will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Morton’s Steakhouse in Jacksonville. The flier lists 16 names on the host committee, including Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook, City Councilmembers Michael Corrigan and Nick Howland as well as state Rep. Wyman Duggan and his new newly elected colleague, Rep. Jessica Baker. However, the top billing on the invitation goes to Renner. Brock entered the race to succeed term-limited Republican Al Ferraro in District 2 last year.

Federal prosecutors say neither race nor Trump were factors in Andrew Gillum case” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Federal prosecutors denied targeting Gillum because of his race and pooh-poohed another assertion by his defense lawyers that Trump was a factor in his public corruption case. The government last week responded to a series of motions filed by Gillum’s defense alleging racial bias in the FBI’s undercover investigation into the former Tallahassee Mayor and his subsequent prosecution. The defense motions were filed on Nov. 8, underscoring the four-year anniversary of Gillum’s defeat in his bid for Governor. Among other things, Gillum’s lawyers suggested that the FBI probe, which became highly publicized with damaging document drops late in the campaign, contributed to his loss to DeSantis.

Commissioner James Calkins passed over for Santa Rosa Board Chair” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — Santa Rosa County Commissioner Calkins had every right to presume he would be called upon by his fellow board members to serve as Chair through 2023. After all, he had spent 2022 in the position of Vice Chair, and it had become a time-honored tradition for the Board each year to move the Vice Chair into the Chair’s spot. “It’s not necessarily a step-by-step process, but that’s the way it has traditionally worked,” said former County Commissioner Bob Cole. That didn’t happen for Calkins though. Commissioner Sam Parker sidestepped the status quo at a Nov. 22 swearing-in ceremony by nominating Colton Wright for the Chair’s job, and Wright assumed the Chair without objection. As gracious as Calkins seemed in accepting Colton’s nomination, Cole said, “him not being elected Chairman is kind of a slap in the face.”

James Calkins gets passed over.

—“Prosecutor provides new details on origin, timeline of JEA investigation in court filing” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times Union

Bay County schools and union agree to raise starting salary, give 5% raise to teachers” via Nathan Cobb of the Panama City News Herald — For Alexis Underwood, Chair of the bargaining team for the Association of Bay County Educators, it’s important to fairly pay teachers because they help shape future leaders. In a meeting last week between members of Bay District Schools and the bargaining team, which is registered with Florida as a negotiator for public schoolteachers, officials made an agreement to raise the minimum starting annual salary for local teachers from $46,615 to $47,544. They also agreed to give all other teachers an average raise of about 5%. “It’s a tremendous relief,” Underwood said. “The quality of Bay County’s future will depend on the quality of education Bay County’s children receive.”

—“21-year-old arrested in connection with FAMU mass shooting” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat

Judge permits UF backup quarterback to post bail after child pornography arrest” via Fresh Take Florida — Wearing jail clothing for inmates on suicide watch, the Florida Gators backup quarterback made his first court appearance in court Thursday. A judge allowed him freed on an $80,000 bond in a case involving five felony counts of possessing and distributing child pornography online. New details emerged Thursday about the criminal case against Jalen James Kitna. It originated with a tip to police in June, months before the football season even started, about an internet account police said they traced to Kitna and had shared two images of what police said depicted underage, pubescent girls in sexual positions.

‘Supreme optimism’: FSU President Richard McCullough delivers second State of the University address” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — On a wet and gloomy Wednesday afternoon, Florida State University’s 16th President McCullough delivered his second State of the University address to the Faculty Senate with high spirits as he reflected on FSU’s achievements and his goals moving forward. The speech was followed by a standing ovation. Investing in the university’s faculty and staff, expanding its research portfolio, and improving fundraising efforts were among his top goals aside from the overarching mission of cracking into the top 15 public universities in the nation.


He’ll be sold as a paragon of reason. Don’t buy it.” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — Musk’s statement that he would support a DeSantis candidacy for the presidency in 2024 obviously disses one Trump, though it should come as no surprise: Magnates like Musk typically cling to the moment’s shiniest toys, and DeSantis, fresh off his re-election, is a curiously gleaming action figure.

But how Musk framed his attraction to the Florida Governor was revealing — and troubling. He expressed a desire for a candidate who’s “sensible and centrist,” implying that DeSantis is both.

In what universe? He’s “sensible and centrist” only by the warped yardsticks of Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kari Lake and the like. But those yardsticks will be used frequently as various Republicans join the 2024 fray. And therein lies the real danger.

Trump’s challengers will be defined in relation to him, casting them in a deceptively flattering light. They’ll be deemed steady because he’s not, on the ball because he’s out to lunch, enlightened because they don’t sup with Holocaust deniers. They’ll be realists to his fantasist, institutionalists to his nihilist, preservationists to his arsonist.

None of those descriptions will be true. Some will be persuasive, nonetheless.

That dynamic is already doing wonders for DeSantis as he flies high over a very low bar. “Look!” say Republicans eager to take back the White House. “It’s Superman!” Hardly. But his promoters are hoping that the shadow of Trump produces such an optical illusion.


Quit underestimating President Biden” via Newt Gingrich of Gingrich 360 — Conservatives’ hostility to the Biden administration on our terms tends to blind us to just how effective Biden has been on his terms. He has only built upon and fortified the left-wing Big Government Socialist woke culture system. We dislike Biden so much, we pettily focus on his speaking difficulties, sometimes strange behavior, clear lapses of memory, and other personal flaws. Our aversion to him and his policies makes us underestimate him and the Democrats. But remember: Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan both preferred to be underestimated. Both wanted people to think of them as pleasant — but not dangerous. They found being underestimated was a major asset. While people laughed at them, they were busy achieving their goals and getting their programs implemented. Biden has achieved something similar.

Elon Musk’s Twitter changes may irritate some, but here’s why it’s the most American thing going” via Nicole Russell of the Miami Herald — Granted, only a small percentage of Americans have an active Twitter account, but the way Musk is spearheading the company that he now owns is an incredible thing to watch and it could be a good example to the rest of us. Free speech is imperative to the American way, even when applied to speech with which you don’t agree. Why not let everyone tweet and let people decide if they want to agree or disagree, follow advice or not? I’m sure Musk will do some dumb things with Twitter; he’s an imperfect human being. But his attitude is unique, his goal is noble and refreshing, and his disrupter spirit is reminiscent of those British dissidents we now call some of our favorite Americans.


— ALOE —

‘Indiana Jones 5’ gets first trailer, new title” via Aaron Couch and James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter — Indiana Jones is back, with the fifth installment releasing a trailer and a new title: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The film, directed by James Mangold, stars Harrison Ford, back as the adventurer for his final installment, alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge. “We have a really human story to tell, as well as a movie that will kick your ass,” said Ford.

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


Fort Myers Beach Christmas tree returns, stands tall over destruction of Times Square” via Charles Runnells of the Fort Myers News-Press — It started with one fiery-red poinsettia plant. Then three more. Then dozens. Now Fort Myers Beach’s beloved, poinsettia-filled Christmas tree is standing tall again over the island’s devastated Times Square. It’s a symbol of strength and perseverance after Hurricane Ian wrecked much of the island on Sept. 28, reducing many of its homes and businesses to rubble. “I think more than anything, it’s an inspiration,” says Fort Myers resident Cammie Lynch. “The tradition is gonna go on, no matter what.” It began the weekend after Thanksgiving when someone put a single poinsettia plant on the concrete circle in Times Square where the long-running tradition usually stands.

A 1.8 mile drive-thru Christmas light show has opened at Florida Horse Park” via WCJB — 2 organizations in North Central Florida have partnered to bring a 1.8-mile-long Christmas light display to their community. Guests can enjoy the days leading up to Christmas by cruising through the Ocala Christmas Light Spectacular at Florida Horse Park. The drive-through is organized by St. Johns Lutheran Church and The School of Ocala. Guests can enjoy the display along with the opportunity to take pictures with Santa, visit food trucks, train rides for kids, games, activities, and ice skating.

The holidays have landed at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala.

Paul Davis named grand marshal of Plant City Christmas parade” via Michelle Caceres of the Plant City Observer — When Plant City Strawberry Festival President Davis learned that he had been selected as the grand marshal of this year’s Christmas Parade, being held Friday, Dec. 2, during a phone call with Sharon Moody, he felt surprised that his name made the list of possible honorees. “It was humbling because I know there are a lot of deserving people out there,” he said. While that may be, parade committee members each selected a candidate from among a few names and unanimously selected Davis as its grand marshal. “Some years we have to have to vote twice if there’s a tie, but Paul was selected with the first vote,” said Marsha Passmore, one of the Parade’s organizers.

Don’t shoot your eye out! ‘A Christmas Story’ home is on the market by Jacksonville owner” via Anne Hammock of the Florida Times-Union — Movie and TV buffs may have noticed a fun real estate trend this fall: Several iconic homes featured in fan-favorite films and shows are turning up for sale. Most beloved of all is undoubtedly the home at 3159 11th St. in Cleveland. It’s the place where young Ralphie Parker dreamed of his ultimate Christmas gift in “A Christmas Story” — the “official Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” The house officially went on the market Nov. 14. An NBC News affiliate in Cleveland broke the story as owner Brian Jones placed a “For Sale” sign in front of the home. Jones has lived in Jacksonville since 2013. He bought the house on eBay for $150,000 in 2004.


Celebrating today are Sen. Debbie Mayfield, former Rep. Larry Crow, Sarah Criser Elwell, and Joey Redner.


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

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