Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.5.22

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Wake up right with Sunburn — big scoops and other news about Florida politics.

Good Monday morning.

Spotted at the 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, Brian Ballard and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

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Jonathan Rees, the former Director of State Government Affairs for Anheuser-Busch, is joining the lobbying firm Smith Bryan & Myers.

“Jonathan Rees has established himself as a relentless advocate operating with the highest integrity and we are excited to have him join our team,” said Jeff Hartley, managing partner of Smith Bryan & Myers. “Jonathan’s diverse experience and well-established relationships will bring an additional level of service to our government affairs practice.”

At Anheuser-Busch, Rees developed, managed and executed plans to drive the company’s legislative strategy and commercial agenda, including overseeing a lobby team and budget in excess of $1 million within seven states.

Rees’ efforts secured a multimillion-dollar reduction in the company’s tax liability by decoupling from federal tax law in Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi; reformed Florida’s Beverage Law governing promotional displays and advertising; and helped defeat anti-competitive legislation in states such as Alabama and North Carolina.

Rees is a well-established figure within Florida politics, having also served as the deputy legislative affairs director for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, legislative assistant to former state Representative and Congressman Ross Spano and political affairs coordinator for the Associated Industries of Florida.

“Jonathan Rees brings a wealth of knowledge on policy and government to his new role. He is a trusted resource for me and my colleagues in the Florida Legislature, and we look forward to working with him to advance meaningful policies that support Florida families and strengthen the Sunshine State,” said Sen. Jim Boyd, a Southwest Florida Republican.

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The Association of Early Learning Coalitions has welcomed Molly Grant as its new Executive Director and Jessica Fowler as Deputy Director.

Grant began her career in the state Senate in 2007, specializing in policy development and legislative analysis. She later joined the Division of Early Learning within the Department of Education. After seven years at DOE, Grant transitioned to the AELC where she served as the Deputy Director.

Fowler began her education career at the Division of Early Learning in 2014, coordinating the former early learning advisory council and spearheading special projects across early learning programs. Most recently, she served as the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Education under the leadership of Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Jessica Fowler Molly Grant Erin Smeltzer

“As someone who has worked alongside the Early Learning Coalitions for more than a decade, I know that both Molly and Jessica will be tremendous voices for our youngest learners — and both will play a critical role in educating and inspiring this new class of legislators on the importance of early investment,” said Vance Aloupis, the CEO of the Children’s Movement and a former state Representative.

Additionally, The Children’s Forum announced Erin Smeltzer as its next CEO.

Smeltzer started her career in the early learning field as a preschool teacher and director of an early learning program for almost a decade. In 2014, she transitioned to DOE, where she managed both the School Readiness and VPK Programs. After DOE, Smeltzer became the Executive Director of the AELC, working to streamline best practices across the state and help coalitions support equitable learning experiences for all children. 

“Erin and The Children’s Forum are key partners in helping the Florida Chamber Foundation drive our Florida 2030 Blueprint goals tied to early education that are essential in moving Florida forward and preparing our youngest learners to become part of America’s best workforce in the future.” said Kyle Baltuch, Senior Vice President of Equality of Opportunity at the Florida Chamber Foundation.

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A new report from the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics shows their members provided nearly $204 million in health care services last year.

“I am so proud of our volunteers and medical and professional staff for providing an unprecedented level of care to fellow Floridians in need,” said George Papadimitriou, Board Chair for FAFCC and Executive Director of Community Health Center of West Palm Beach. “Behind every number in this report is a Floridian who needed help and an entire community rallying together to make it happen. It’s incredible.”

The FAFCC report breakdown shows 200,756 patents were served across 506,177 medical visits. The health care was delivered across 65 Florida counties by a team that included 1,184 paid staff and 14,093 volunteers.

Health care visits accounted for $65.6 million in services delivered, followed by prescriptions at $43.7 million, specialty care at $32.7 million, dental services at $25.7 million, imaging at $20.5 million and labs at $15 million.

The figures in the report are based on a flat valuation rate for each visit that corresponds with the reimbursement rate received by the closest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) to that clinic.

“Our free and charitable clinics fill a gap in the healthcare system, making sure that no low or no-income household — our underserved Floridians — go without care,” said Rebecca DeLorenzo, CEO of FAFCC. “And this year, with the help of our funders and partners, we’ve done more than ever — helping to get Floridians back to work and back to normal. I couldn’t be any prouder of our volunteers and staff.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@MichaelMalice: The fact that @elonmusk handed the receipts to @mtaibbi instead of a corporate journalist is a massive change in how news is going to be disseminated in this country, and for the better

@MuellerSheWrote: Am I getting this right? The right wing is mad that they didn’t get to see naked photos of hunter Biden?

@JeremyRedfern: Meeting up with friends “on the condition of testing” is not normal behavior.

@NikkiFried: Education Freedom in Ron DeSantis’s Florida. Freedom to paddle your kids. Yea, this will go well across America!

@MarcACaputo: The smartest and dumbest saying in elections is that it’s all about turnout

Tweet, tweet:

@ByCASimmons: A Big 12 team not named Texas or Oklahoma just made the Playoff without winning its conference The brand is strong

@MDixon55: There is no more than enlightened form of communication than a group of people collectively figuring out the Tv situation at a sports bar right before the early NFL window Magic

— DAYS UNTIL —

Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 1; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 1; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 11; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 27; last day to ride Slash Mountain before remodeling — 48; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 51; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 58; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 74; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 75; city of Tampa Municipal Election early voting begins — 84; Tampa Municipal Election — 92; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 92; World Baseball Classic finals begin in Miami — 96; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 109; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 129; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 144; 2023 Session Sine Die — 151; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 151; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 179; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 228; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 235; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 333; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 480; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 536; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 599; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 599; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 641; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 704; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 802; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 879. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,068.

— TOP STORY —

Innocence sold: Florida’s legal system blurs the line between sex trafficking survivor and criminal, leaving lives ruined” via Spencer Norris and Brittany Wallman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Fort Lauderdale police officer was in 13-year-old Laura’s hospital room questioning her. She was gone for eight days before returning home beaten and wearing somebody else’s clothes. She had a fresh tattoo of a black rose on her neck and her mother told the officer Laura had been raped and sold for sex. But Laura was too terrified to tell the police the same story and she had an active warrant. An investigation found that victims of sex trafficking, like Laura, are frequently retraumatized by a system that investigates, charges and prosecutes them for crimes they are coerced by their traffickers into committing.

— DESANTISY LAND —

Ron DeSantis is building his own media” via Max Tani of Semafor — DeSantis declined the offer to chat with Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar. Instead, he sat down with Will Witt, the 26-year-old founder of the Florida Standard, a conservative website that launched just days earlier. The Governor took the opportunity to complain about the mainstream media and tout his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, under the heading: ‘EXCLUSIVE: Governor Ron DeSantis and Will Witt Interview.’ Over the last year, DeSantis has given just a handful of interviews. Almost all of them have been with Fox News primetime or morning hosts or major conservative podcasters. But he’s also carved out time for the Florida Standard and a similar site called Florida’s Voice, which launched in 2021. The publications offer an unfiltered platform for his message.

Southern Poverty Law Center sues DeSantis over Martha’s Vineyard flights” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — The Southern Poverty Law Center and non-profit immigration rights organizations are suing DeSantis over his controversial transport of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. The lawsuit against DeSantis and the state’s transportation secretary contends that Florida’s program, which led the DeSantis administration to the flying of nearly 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Massachusetts in September, is unconstitutional because the state is “usurping the federal government’s sole role in regulating and enforcing immigration law.”

Taking on the elite becomes go-to brand for DeSantis” via Amie Parnes of The Hill — DeSantis loves to despise “the elite.” In speeches, remarks at news conferences and even in an op-ed he penned in The Wall Street Journal last year, his message has been the same: “Don’t trust the elites.” “We rejected the elites, and we were right,” DeSantis said, referring to how he bucked the system and railed against everyone from public health experts to government officials during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even Republicans acknowledge that DeSantis, who attended Yale University and Harvard Law School and served half a dozen years as a congressman, could be seen as a member of the elite itself. 

In Andrew Warren suspension trial, DeSantis officials answer: What does ‘woke’ mean?” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — What does “woke” mean? During the three-day trial this week challenging DeSantis’ suspension of Warren, attorneys for Warren were able to put that question to aides for DeSantis, who called Florida the place where “woke goes to die” in his victory speech after being reelected last month. Jean-Jacques Cabou, Warren’s attorney, noted DeSantis referred to Warren in his announcement of the suspension as a “woke ideologue” who “masqueraded” as a prosecutor. Then he asked some DeSantis officials what “woke” meant to them. Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ Communications Director said “woke” was a “slang term for activism … progressive activism” and a general belief in systemic injustices in the country.

State prepares for more protests in 2023 session” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Suppose I came to your home or office and loudly demanded that you hear what I want to say about some important topic. If you didn’t run me off immediately, you’d probably tell me to calm down and be brief. If I persisted in an angry, emotional harangue, you’d probably call the cops. And you’d be right. That’s essentially how the Department of Management Services is trying to handle demonstrations at the Florida Capitol. The courtyard between old and new Capitols, the first-floor lobby around the Great Seal, and the fourth-floor rotunda between the House and Senate chambers have had countless public demonstrations for nearly a half-century.


— STATEWIDE —

Key Florida lawmaker says DeSantis won’t back down on Disney. But signs point to truce” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The sponsor of the bill to repeal Walt Disney World’s special taxing district denied reports that legislators are planning to “reverse course” and suggested that while a compromise is possible, it could still dramatically dismember the special privileges the company has held for 55 years. “We’ve been thinking about bills on this since we passed it,’’ said Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored the House measure last year to repeal Disney’s special taxing authority after Disney publicly asked for the repeal of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Nikki Fried lambasts DeSantis over canceled Clemency Board meeting, potential marijuana pardons” via Caden DeLisa of The Capitolist — Fried wrote a letter to DeSantis in disapproval of his cancelation of the state Clemency Board meeting that was set to take place this month. Fried, a medical marijuana advocate and former lobbyist who campaigned on legalizing the recreational use of the drug, sought to utilize the meeting as a way of introducing pardons for those convicted of simple marijuana possession to the Board’s agenda. Fried’s call to action follows the announcement made by Biden that his administration is taking action by pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession of marijuana at the federal level. Following Biden’s announcement, he urged Governors to take similar action at the state level.

Paul Renner assembles Majority Office team, names committee leadership” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — In less than two weeks on the job, House Speaker Renner continues to build out his leadership depth chart. The Palm Coast Republican on Friday announced committee and additional Republican leadership for the coming year. The list includes several first-time Chairs at the subcommittee level. It also includes new faces at the core of Majority leadership. Rep. Michael Grant was already set to return as Majority Leader, but Reps. John Snyder and Adam Botana join the Majority Office. Snyder will be Deputy Majority Leader and Botana will be Chief Floor Whip.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Biden shakes up the primary calendar and insulates himself from challengers” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post — Biden had made it abundantly clear that he intends to run for reelection in 2024. Any doubt about that was removed when he surprised members of the Democratic National Committee with a proposal that dramatically reshapes the early primary season calendar and bends it in his favor. Absent a declaration of candidacy, it was the latest signal of a politically engaged President. The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee had been deliberating for many months about a new order for the early states, one that already was destined to eliminate Iowa from the list of early contests, but committee members were reluctant to move ahead without input from the leader of the party.

How Twitter suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story” via Freddy Gray of Spectator World — For weeks now, Twitter’s new chief Elon Musk has been promising to reveal what really happened behind the scenes at the social media platform in the run-up to the 2020 Presidential Election. Well, yesterday, Musk did, through the journalist Matt Taibbi. It’s a big story, one that free speech supporters everywhere should take seriously. What happened at Twitter in 2020 shows how easily concern about “safety” can, under political pressure, morph into corruption and censorship. Taibbi, apparently directed by Musk, has released a long Twitter “thread” citing company emails that show how the website colluded to suppress the Biden story.

At tribal summit, Biden pledges federal commitment to Indian Country” via Ariana Figueroa of Florida Phoenix — Biden said this week that he is poised to designate Avi Kwa Ame, a sacred site for Native American tribes in southern Nevada, as a national monument that would ensure the preservation of ancestral lands for those 12 tribes. “I’m committed to protecting this sacred place that is central to the creation story of some many tribes,” Biden said during the second White House Tribal Nations Summit. It was not an official designation, which tribal leaders pointed out, the Nevada Current reported. The announcement took place Wednesday at the U.S. Department of Interior, where the president also announced economic, climate, and land management actions the administration is taking to foster a strong federal relationship with Indian Country.

Vern Buchanan in hunt for coveted committee chairmanship in the U.S. House” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — U.S. Rep. Buchanan is in the running — and may be front-runner — for one of the most powerful posts in the U.S. House, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. It has jurisdiction over areas including taxation, debt, and revenues for Social Security and Medicare. If he wins, it would end a drought for Florida. With the second largest Republican delegation in the House, Florida hasn’t had a House committee Chair since Rep. Jeff Miller on the Veterans Affairs Committee in 2017, and “deserves a seat at the table,” said Buchanan adviser Max Goodman.

Supreme Court weighs ‘most important case’ on democracy” via Mark Sherman of The Associated Press — The Supreme Court is about to confront a new elections case, a Republican-led challenge asking the justices for a novel ruling that could significantly increase the power of state lawmakers over elections for Congress and the Presidency. The court is set to hear arguments in a case where Republican efforts to draw congressional districts heavily in their favor were blocked by a Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court. The question for the justices is whether the U.S. Constitution’s provision giving state legislatures the power to make the rules about the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections cuts state courts out of the process.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

White House rebukes Donald Trump’s suggestion to suspend Constitution over 2020 election” via Karoun Demirjian and Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post — The White House issued a stern rebuke after Trump suggested suspending the Constitution in his ongoing crusade to discredit the results of the 2020 election. “Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said. “You cannot only love America when you win,” he added. Trump suggested that the country abandon one of its founding documents. “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump wrote.

Florida federal Judge Aileen Cannon ‘slammed’ by appeals court in Trump case” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — Three months ago, U.S. District Judge Cannon made the controversial call to appoint an independent expert to examine documents seized by FBI agents from Trump’s Palm Beach residence. She did so despite expressing initial doubts in her own ruling about intervening in the politically charged case. In a scathing ruling issued Thursday night, a federal appellate court in Atlanta found she should have heeded her first legal concerns. A three-judge panel, all Republican appointees like Cannon, reversed her decision to name a “special master” because she had no authority to do so and effectively killed the case as legal experts consider a potential appeal unlikely to succeed.

Some Trump Jewish allies at breaking point after Kanye West, Nick Fuentes meeting” via Aaron Zitner of The Wall Street Journal — Dov Hikind, a prominent Jewish leader in Brooklyn, endorsed Trump for President in 2020. After Trump’s recent dinner with two prominent promoters of antisemitic rhetoric, Hikind said he won’t support Trump again. “It is over, it is finished,” Hikind said. Republicans have tried for decades to boost their generally tepid support among the nation’s Jewish voters. Trump has both damaged his nascent 2024 presidential campaign and hampered his party’s outreach.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Agents in drug war must walk a ‘fine line.’ In Florida, more than a few have crossed it” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — Ever since the United States declared a war on drugs during the Richard Nixon presidency, the federal agency charged with leading the battle, the Drug Enforcement Administration, has been dogged by scandals, more than a few of them with Florida connections. For agents on the front lines, the temptation to cash in on all the dirty money is almost an occupational hazard. Jose Ismael Irizarry, a former star in the agency’s Miami office, began a 12-year prison sentence in January after pleading guilty to various charges involving a long-running scheme to siphon more than $9 million from undercover drug-trafficking investigations into bank accounts controlled by him and his co-conspirators.

DeSantis appoints two judges to fill Palm Beach County, 15th Judicial Circuit vacancies” via Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis has appointed two new judges in Palm Beach County, his office announced Friday. Judge John Parnofiello was appointed to the 15th Judicial Circuit, filling a vacancy created by the elevation of Justice Renatha Francis from the circuit court to the Florida Supreme Court. Chief Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Stephanie Tew was appointed as a Palm Beach County court judge, filling the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Melanie Surber to circuit court judge.

Miami-Dade to re-sign three lobbying firms for state, federal transportation advocacy” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade will soon decide whether to continue paying for the services of three lobbying firms that for years have advocated for the county’s transportation interests in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. On Thursday, the county’s transportation planning board will weigh amendments to its contracts with Ronald L. Book Inc., Becker & Poliakoff P.A. and Alcade & Fay Ltd. Inc. Alcade & Fay lobby for the county at the federal level, while the two other firms do so before state officials. All three amendments would extend the county’s contracts with the firms for another year with two one-year options to renew.

Not so fast: Miami-Dade resident challenges development boundary expansion into protected land” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — On Thursday, Miami-Dade resident Nita Lewis filed a petition requesting a hearing before an administrative judge over the legality of the “South Dade Logistics & Technology District,” an industrial project set to rise across 379 acres of farmland. Lewis, an assistant professor, contends in her petition that the project threatens the county water supply, requires taxpayer support for the development, and conflicts with Everglades restoration plans.

With Respect for Marriage Act about to become law, same-sex South Florida couples relieved but not sanguine” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Respect for Marriage Act, which is on the verge of becoming federal law, is alleviating some of the concern same-sex couples have felt in recent months. But, legal experts and LGBTQ advocates warn, it’s not a panacea and it isn’t time to pop the champagne corks. “I’m sort of divided. There’s certainly a part of me that sees this as a win,” said Todd Delmay, whose marriage to husband, Jeff, was one of the first two same-sex marriages legally performed in Florida. “I do see this as a positive step. I don’t think we should celebrate too much.”

— LOCAL: TB —

Tampa police Chief Mary O’Connor placed on leave amid investigation into traffic stop” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Friday placed police Chief O’Connor on administrative leave as the city investigates a traffic stop involving O’Connor last month. Body camera video released Thursday shows O’Connor identifying herself to a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy as Tampa’s chief, pulling out her badge and asking the deputy to “just let us go” after she and her husband were pulled over in a golf cart in Oldsmar on Nov. 12. A statement from Castor said Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw is serving as acting Chief.

— “Tampa’s police chief claims to live in the city — and also 40 minutes away” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times 

Space Force launches new regional headquarters in Tampa” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — America’s newest military branch is broadening its footprint in the Sunshine State. On Friday, Space Force opened its second regional headquarters in Tampa under U.S. Central Command. The broadened operations at MacDill Air Force Base “will play a significant role in supporting CENTCOM’s growing need for space-based capabilities such as satellite navigation, communications and missile warnings,” a Wednesday press note from the command said. Twenty-eight service members will staff the new and permanent base. Col. Christopher Putnam will lead operations.

Tampa General Hospital receives grant for military doctors to treat trauma patients” via Jordan Kirkland of The Capitolist — Tampa General Hospital announced it is launching a Military Civilian Partnership for the Trauma Readiness Grant, also known as the Mission Zero program, to fill a critical need for people suffering from serious injuries. Awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the $80,000 federal grant will be used to fund military doctors to provide trauma care at the academic medical center. “This is a win for everyone, especially the patient,” said Dr. Geoffrey Douglas, assistant professor in the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Boots on the Sand: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent and more play all-star Ian fundraiser” via Charles Runnells and Jonah Hinebaugh of the Fort Myers News-Press — They came to rock Hertz Arena. And also raise money for Hurricane Ian relief. Southern-rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd headlined Thursday’s Boots on the Sand concert at the packed Estero venue. The lineup also featured hard-rocker Ted Nugent, comedian Jim Breuer and country singers Ira Dean, Tracy Lawrence and Brian Kelley. Breuer announced they had raised more than $1.5 million for Hurricane Ian relief.

Collier school board member gets national attention, campaign for his removal started” via Nikki Ross of the Naples Daily News — A Collier County School Board member’s comments about bringing corporal punishment to the district and rolling back LGBTQ student rights are beginning to garner national attention. Laura Loray, a psychiatric nurse practitioner in New Jersey, posted a video to her TikTok page ThatPsychNP, which has more than 293,900 followers and is used as a platform to call out individuals she believes are harming children. In the video, she calls attention to the comments made by Jerry Rutherford and asks her followers to take part in a “call to action” to have Rutherford removed from the board.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Private meetings were critical in producing Jacksonville’s gerrymandered council map” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Ahead of a court-ordered effort last month to create a new City Council map, Jacksonville council members shared their policy priorities and preferences with the city’s planning chief in one-on-one meetings rather than in the public meetings where those decisions were supposed to be debated, an examination of hundreds of pages of court filings and meeting transcripts shows. Those closed-door conversations were a key factor that guided a city expert who was hired to draw the new maps. That silence created huge gaps in the public record that made it difficult for voters to understand the process that led to the city’s new council map.

Can we please stand together?’ Sheriff denounces death of boy coming home from practice” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — A 13-year-old boy being gunned down on his way home from football practice brought Jacksonville’s new sheriff out calling for an end to the merciless violence as the city unofficially eclipsed 150 homicides so far this year. At the same time in 2021, there were 123 homicides. The boy also became the 11th homicide victim 17 or younger, while there were eight all of last year. The teen died in a barrage of gunfire that also wounded an 11-year-old boy as well as a 20-year-old man who was driving them and two other youths home from the Legends Center and Gymnasium on Soutel Drive.

— TOP OPINION —

Florida is no longer a swing state. That’s good news for U.S. foreign policy” via Max Boot of The Washington Post — The Democrats’ Midterm wipeout in Florida, not a single Democrat will hold statewide office next year in what was once a swing state, is bad news for the party but good news for the future of U.S. foreign policy. Biden, with no hope of winning the state in 2024, is now free to pursue more pragmatic policies towards Cuba and Venezuela, rather than catering to politically potent constituencies of conservative Cuban Americans and Venezuelan Americans in South Florida, as administrations of both parties have been doing for decades.

— OPINIONS —

Biden is right to be cautiously optimistic about the economy” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — Biden still faces the threat of a recession. He has no assurance Republicans will refrain from forcing the U.S. Treasury to default on the debt sometime in the next two years. For now, however, he can take comfort in a recent batch of good economic news. Most important was the dog that didn’t bark. Or more precisely, the railroad strike that won’t happen. In a painful but responsible separation from organized labor, the White House ushered a bipartisan deal through Congress to impose the final labor agreement between railroad companies and unions, thereby heading off a crippling work stoppage this month.

Before he takes on ‘woke capitalism,’ DeSantis should read his Karl Marx” via Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times — With their new majority, House Republicans are planning to take on “woke capitalism.” “Republicans and their longtime corporate allies are going through a messy breakup as companies’ equality and climate goals run headlong into a GOP movement exploiting social and cultural issues to fire up conservatives,” Bloomberg reports. “Most directly in the G.O.P. cross hairs is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is under pressure from the likely House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to replace its leadership after the nation’s biggest business lobby backed some Democratic candidates.”

Florida voters ate up his war on ‘woke.’ DeSantis 2.0 will unleash even more” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Republicans running Florida’s state government devoted much of their political capital over the past year to targeting drag queen shows and complaining that too many young people are coming out of the closet. They have rallied parents against classroom topics that, by most accounts, public school schools aren’t teaching, like “gender ideology” and “critical race theory,” a complex academic theory that has morphed into anything that makes white people feel blamed for racism. Voters saw the racial and homophobic attacks and essentially said, “We want more.” They gave Republicans a supermajority in the Legislature and a landslide reelection to DeSantis.

Joel Greenberg also accused me of crimes and sleaze. Now he’s going to prison.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Months before he was arrested, when Greenberg started talking about mounting a campaign for Congress in March of 2020, I wrote a column saying that idea seemed absurd. My contention: Even if GOP power brokers had no problem with Greenberg’s money-wasting tendencies, I was confident voters would object. Well, that column sent Greenberg into an apocalyptic frenzy. He lashed out on Twitter with all sorts of wild and bogus accusations, including that I was a “piece of s—” drunk driver who cheated on my wife. Greenberg and some of his buddies had actually done this before.

Amid accusations of overcharging and abuse of power, Miami lives up to its reputation” via the Miami Herald editorial board — One of the great dangers of government is that it’s got an unending source of cash. Need extra dollars to balance the budget? Hike, or create, new fees. But the city of Miami is being forced to reckon with some of its past financial practices, as the people footing the bill push back with a string of lawsuits. Some are accusing City Hall of, essentially, fee gouging. Meanwhile, other plaintiffs are going after an individual city commissioner for allegedly using city resources for personal vendettas. These allegations are still going through the courts. If they are proven right, no one who’s been following Miami politics will be surprised.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Jill Biden’s twinkling state-dinner dress revived a first lady tradition” via Ashley Fetters Maloy of The Washington Post — It’s just a fact: When the French are coming over for dinner, you should probably step up the glamour. In choosing to wear a custom Oscar de la Renta for Thursday’s state dinner, the first lady not only took some rewarding risks, but also conveyed a commitment to well-loved customs and conventions. The American brand’s namesake has been called the unofficial First Designer of the United States for how many first ladies have worn his work. Jacqueline Kennedy, first, in the 1960s; Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush followed in her footsteps. Like Michelle Obama, Melania Trump wore de la Renta only sparingly.

New class, new ship Norwegian Prima brings new-look NCL to Port Canaveral” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Since ships are often referred to with feminine pronouns, it’s fitting Norwegian Cruise Line gave its newest vessel in its newest class the feminine version of the Italian name for “first.” The Norwegian Prima is the first of what has been known for years as the Leonardo class of ships, six vessels planned to debut in the next six years that all look to redefine what NCL offers to its customers. “We set out to create something that didn’t look like every other cruise ship out there,” said NCL President and CEO Harry Sommer, saying the goal was to create almost a “boutique-hotel feel” with “lots of smaller, more intimate space, lots of beautiful design.”

— HOLIDAYS —

Does Christmas commerce start too soon? Americans say yes” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Long before families gathered for turkey feasts and even before trick-or-treaters stormed neighborhoods in search of sweet treats and elaborately carved pumpkins, stores were already lining their shelves to resemble Santa’s North Pole winter wonderland. In some stores, T.J. Maxx comes immediately to mind, Thanksgiving decor and accessories were already being shuffled from their prime real estate to back aisle clearance racks before the turkey was even thawed. Christmas commerce seems to launch earlier and earlier with each passing year, and for some of us, still happily sipping our pumpkin-spiced lattes, it just seems a bit much … not to mention an ultimate snub to the tastes, smells and feel of fall.

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.” Owner Brian Jones placed a “For Sale” sign in front of the home. Jones a former Navy intelligence specialist, has lived in Jacksonville since 2013. He bought the house on eBay for $150,000 in 2004.

At this home in St. Petersburg, Christmas is a welcome challenge” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times — When Cathy and Jim Martin lived in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast, their 100-year-old home was renowned for its beautiful holiday decorations. With its numerous fireplaces and mantels, “the house just absorbed Christmas,” she says. “This was more of a challenge.” Garlands of gold leaves frame the front door as art glass ornaments sparkle on a lighted 8-foot tree. In one corner of the living room stands another tree hung with stuffed felt figures made by Cathy’s mother, a fiber artist, and grandmothers. On the kitchen counter sits a jar of candy canes, a plastic Santa from her childhood, and a miniature tree from the ‘40s with its original bubble lights.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to two of our local friends, Beth Herendeen and Rachel Jennings. Also celebrating today is Carlecia Collins of GrayRobinson.

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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 FloridaPolitics.com, 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.


One comment

  • Larry Gillis, Libertarian

    December 5, 2022 at 9:30 am

    Florida’s DMS (Department of Management Services) is now in the public-comment period for proposed regulations on protests at the State capitol building. As described in this morning’s (Fort Myers) News-Press, they are wildly overreaching. Curiously, they dwell on the possibility of public pornography while groups of elementary-school children might be visiting the capitol.

    Anyway, maybe Florida Politics could focus on this ongoing issue. In the meantime, public comments can be directed to “[email protected]”.

    Thanks.

    Larry Gillis, Libertarian (Cape Coral)

Comments are closed.


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