Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.13.23

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Heat up your day with a dose of Sunburn, the premier first read of Florida politics and policy.

Good Thursday morning.

While yet another insurance company is bidding the Sunshine State farewell, Ron DeSantis is urging patience for those homeowners stuck in what he calls a “challenging market.”

“I think what’s going to happen is because we did those reforms, it now is more economical for companies to come in. I think they’re going to wait through this hurricane season and then I think they’re going to be willing to deploy more capital to Florida,” DeSantis said during an appearance on the Howie Carr Show.

“So, knock on wood; we won’t have a big storm this Summer. Then I think you’re going to start to see companies see an advantage.”

On the insurance crisis, Ron DeSantis suggests a ‘wait and see’ approach.

The Governor’s comments came in the wake of Farmers Insurance’s decision to discontinue its policies in the state. In addition to the exit of the well-known national insurer, seven other carriers operating in the state have announced insolvencies in the last year.

DeSantis’ remarks also follow Florida Democrats’ harsh denunciation of his and the Republican Legislature’s attempts to stabilize the state’s floundering insurance market, including a multibillion-dollar reinsurance fund backed by taxpayer money and a sweeping law to tamp down on litigation, which insurers have cited as a primary driver of rising premiums.

House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell, criticizing the legislative attempts, said Republicans are “playing fast and loose with the American dream. They’re playing fast and loose with the people of Florida.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Renner is taking a wait-and-see approach, stressing that the most recent development was a result of Farmers’ financial situation and not the state’s insurance regulatory environment.

“While our reforms will take time to take effect, we put the right systems in place to strengthen our insurance market and provide Floridians with the access to coverage and peace of mind they need for their property,” he said.


Florida Chamber 37th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School — 5; new Steph Curry documentary premieres — 8; Lionel Messi to make his Major League Soccer debut with Inter Miami CF — 8; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 8; DeSantis to speak in Iowa at Rep. Ashley Hinson’s annual BBQ Bash — 23; ‘Billions’ final season premieres — 29; Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 34; Port Orange, Lake Helen, Ponce Inlet to hold elections — 40; The first GOP Presidential Primary debate — 41; ‘Ahsoka’ premieres on Disney+ — 41; The U.S. Open begins — 46; 2023 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 49; Florida House Fall 2023 Interim Committee Meetings begin — 67; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 85; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 102; Britney Spears memoir ‘The Woman in Me’ drops — 103; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 113; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 117; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 120; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 126; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 132; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 139; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 153; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 180; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 188; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 205; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 208; Georgia Democratic Primary — 214; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 225; Michigan Democratic Primary — 231; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 241; 2024 Oscars — 243; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 260; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 295; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 315; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 379; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 379; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 400; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 408; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 526; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 582; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 659; ‘Moana’ premieres — 715; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 890; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,023; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,045; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,258; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,397; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,353; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,716.


Florida CFO blames insurer exit on ‘wokeness.’ Dems point to $3 billion industry ‘handout’” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Florida’s uphill battle with insurance deepened with the exit of another large firm — Farmers Insurance.

The national company’s decision to leave the state immediately triggered a round of political squabbling.

The state’s Chief Financial Officer accused the company of “playing politics” and threatened some sort of unspecified retaliation while Florida Democrats called a news conference to blame Republicans for pushing a “$3 billion handout” to select insurers instead of demanding accountability measures for the industry.

Jimmy Patronis says politics may have played a role in Farmers’ departure from Florida.

Farmers is far from the first insurer to leave the state, but the blowback appeared more political than any other in recent memory — possibly because opponents of presidential hopeful DeSantis (from both the left and right) see it as a point of weakness.

Republicans rushed to blame the insurer’s decision to leave on anything but the state’s turbulent market, despite years of reform efforts that have not yet made much of a difference.

CFO Jimmy Patronis accused the company of leaving Florida because its business was too focused on “sustainable insurance” and aligning investments with its social values, like avoiding investing in polluters or companies that sexually or racially discriminate against employees, a process known as environmental, social and governance investing that has become a recent political target for Republicans.

Democrats, on the other hand, were quick to point the finger directly at the Republican Party, which has been in power for nearly two decades in Florida and shunned most Democrat-suggested policy fixes for the insurance crisis.


Ron DeSantis confronts a Murdoch empire no longer quite so supportive” via Nicholas Nehamas and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — In March, as DeSantis of Florida laid the groundwork for his presidential run, he joined a Fox News host to play a nationally televised game of catch on his hometown baseball field outside Tampa. The questions DeSantis faced were as relaxed as the tosses. At the time, DeSantis was seen by many in the Republican Party as the strongest possible alternative to Donald Trump, who had repeatedly attacked the network and had seen his relationship with its owner, Rupert Murdoch, evaporate. Four months later, with DeSantis’ campaign having failed to immediately catch fire against Trump, Fox News is not taking it quite so easy on DeSantis anymore.

Has Rupert Murdoch soured on DeSantis?

DeSantis on whether Donald Trump should debate: ‘He needs to step up and do it’” via Caroline Vakil of The Hill — DeSantis is putting pressure on former Trump to participate in the first GOP presidential debate next month, saying in an interview Wednesday that “he needs to step up and do it.” … “Nobody is entitled to this nomination. You have got to earn the nomination and doing things like The Family Leader event in Iowa, doing things like these debates — they’re important parts of the process,” DeSantis said on “The Howie Carr Show.” DeSantis is among a number of GOP candidates who will join a forum in Iowa this week hosted by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The Trump campaign cited a scheduling conflict.

DeSantis still doesn’t want to be Trump’s VP” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Those holding out hope for a Trump—DeSantis 2024 presidential ticket should manage their expectations. During an interview on Wisconsin Right Now, the Florida Governor said he wasn’t interested in a subordinate role. “I don’t think so. I don’t think I’m a No. 2 guy. I think I’m a leader, Governor of Florida, I’ve accomplished a lot. I think I could do more staying there than being VP, which doesn’t really have any authority,” DeSantis said. DeSantis previously ruled out the understudy role. Trump, who has called DeSantis “disloyal” for months, likewise shot down the proposition as recently as last month. “I don’t like saying anything is, like, impossible, but it’s pretty unlikely, I would think,” Trump said.

This is unlikely to be the GOP dream ticket.

DeSantis positions himself as the next Ronald Reagan” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — During an interview on Wisconsin’s Mark Belling Show, DeSantis suggested his candidacy could be the modern version of the 1980 Election that saw Reagan defeat Democrat Jimmy Carter. “What I would just tell folks out there listening is (Joe) Biden is kind of like Jimmy Carter. When Reagan came on the scene, the country lost confidence in Carter. They were willing to go in a different direction. I think we’re in the same place with Biden,” DeSantis contended. “And I think if we offer a candidate like me who has a record of achievement and a positive vision, I think these voters are going to get behind us in ways that are probably bigger than we’ve seen in the last 20 or 25 years as Republicans.”

Poll: 8% of Americans think LGBTQ+ people would be better off during DeSantis presidency” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Most people don’t have confidence that a DeSantis presidency would benefit LGBTQ+ people, but he still inspires more faith than most other Republican candidates. That’s the finding of a new poll from The Economist and YouGov. In a survey of 1,500 adult citizens conducted between Sunday and Tuesday, just 8% of respondents say lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people would be better off under DeSantis. The poll reveals a gender gap. While 12% of men believe DeSantis would benefit LGBTQ+ people as President, only 4% of women feel the same way. Meanwhile, 40% of respondents believe LGBTQ+ people would be worse off, with 24% saying things would be no different and 28% saying they aren’t sure.

Poll: DeSantis at 16% in St. Louis-area Congressional District in Illinois” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A survey of Illinois’ 12th Congressional District conducted between July 5 and July 8 by Cor Strategies shows Trump with 53% support, well ahead of DeSantis (16%) and former Vice President Mike Pence, who had 8%. The district extends from East St. Louis/Metro East to the Little Egypt and Wabash Valley parts of the state. Much further back in what the poll calls the “challenging” tier is U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina (4%), former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and author Vivek Ramaswamy (each at 2%), and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (1%).

DeSantis is hoping Iowa evangelicals can make his campaign born again” via Sally Goldenberg of POLITICO — As DeSantis loses believers in the Beltway, he finds faith among some Iowa evangelical leaders. The Florida Governor and his super PAC have been feverishly working the religious circuit in the nation’s first caucus state, trying to capitalize on Trump’s unleashing of vitriol against the state’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds. Now DeSantis has his best chance yet to appeal to this influential voting base and try to rewrite his campaign’s narrative amid lagging poll numbers and a barrage of increasingly negative headlines. He will address The Family Leader, an influential Christian organization that draws a large crowd of conservative pastors.

— MORE 2024 —

The anti-Trump presidential candidates clear an important hurdle” via Zach Montellaro and Steven Shepard of POLITICO — The first poll that meets all the criteria for candidates to qualify for the first GOP debate was released earlier this week. And it opened the door for two candidates openly critical of the former President to get onstage come Aug. 23. The survey, from the pollster Morning Consult, satisfied the Republican National Committee’s rules for what counts as a qualifying poll, the RNC confirmed to POLITICO. The poll showed eight candidates hitting another RNC debate criteria: that they garner at least 1% support. Those were Trump (56%), DeSantis (17%), Ramaswamy (8%), Pence (7%), Haley (3%), Scott (3%), Christie (3%), and Hutchinson (1%). The last two are prominent critics of the front-runner.

Anti-Trumpers like Chris Christie have made the cut. Image via AP.

—“The demographic shifts in voting, visualized” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post

Tim Scott raises $6.1 million in Q2 fundraising” via Caroline Vakil of The Hill — Scott’s presidential campaign announced Wednesday that he raised $6.1 million in the second quarter. The campaign noted more than 53,000 unique donors have contributed to his campaign, and he’s received more than 75,000 contributions. Scott’s campaign manager, Jennifer DeCasper, said in a memo that he ended the second quarter with $21 million cash on hand. “As he prepares to take the debate stage, it is clear he not only is the best messenger and most consistent conservative in the race but also has the resources to win,” she wrote. Scott’s fundraising, however, trails behind several top challengers, including Trump and DeSantis.

Top donors, souring on DeSantis, start looking at Tim Scott” via Sally Goldenberg and Natalie Allison and POLITICO — Billionaire businessman Ronald Lauder, the Estée Lauder makeup heir who supported Trump in 2020, recently flew to South Carolina to meet with Scott, the state’s junior Senator and longshot presidential candidate, according to three people aware of the late June meeting. The meeting comes amid widespread angst among wealthy GOP backers about the emerging 2024 field, and DeSantis’ bumpy start in particular. Many high-dollar donors in Trump’s native New York City have tired of the former president and worry about his general election chances.

Trump conjures up a phony dispute with DeSantis over China tariffs” via Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post — Barnstorming the country, the GOP presidential front-runner has been regularly attacking his chief rival for supposedly opposing the tariffs Trump imposed on China during his presidency. In Trump’s telling, DeSantis — whom he often calls “DeSanctimonius” or simply “DeSanctis” — vehemently opposed Trump’s tariffs and the relief for farmers who suffered when China significantly cut its purchases of U.S. agricultural products. As is often the case, Trump’s recounting of past events involves a mix of questionable, exaggerated and made-up elements.

Polls were great in 2022. Can they repeat their success in 2024?” via Andrew Fischer of The New York Times — With a highly successful polling cycle behind them, some pollsters believe a tactic that gained widespread adoption in 2022 may help carry them through the next presidential election. But even the tactic’s adherents say it may not be a panacea, particularly if Trump is once again on the ballot. Pollsters have increasingly been weighting surveys based on whom respondents recall voting for in a previous election, in addition to adjusting for standard demographics such as race and age. By weighting the recalled votes, pollsters can more easily correct partisan imbalances in who responds to polls. Perhaps more important, weighting on recalled vote can specifically increase the influence of Trump supporters, a group that polls struggled to measure accurately in 2016 and 2020.

GOP led in Midterm turnout, a red flag for Democrats in 2024” via Reid J. Epstein and Ruth Igielnik of The New York Times — Though Democrats maintained control of the Senate, all but one of their Governor’s Mansions and only narrowly lost the House, the Pew data shows that a larger percentage of voters who supported Trump in 2020 cast ballots in November than those who backed Biden did. People who had voted in past elections but sat out in 2022 were overwhelmingly Democrats. And for all the Democratic emphasis on finding Republican voters who could be persuaded to buck their party in the Trump era, Pew found that just 6% of voters cast ballots for more than one party over those three elections — and those voters were more likely to be Democrats flipping to Republican candidates than Republicans to Democratic candidates.

DOJ juggles prosecuting Trump with its duty to safeguard the office of the presidency” via Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — In a courthouse in Florida, federal prosecutors are trying to put Trump in jail. But in Washington, D.C., a different wing of the Justice Department is trying to shield him from being forced to testify under oath in a long-running lawsuit. Welcome to the bizarro-world reality facing Attorney General Merrick Garland, the first DOJ leader to balance the prosecution of a former President with the department’s long-standing mission to protect the presidency itself. DOJ has often taken absolutist positions against efforts to sue current and former Presidents for their actions on the job — but never before have they been prosecuting one of those ex-Presidents at the same time.

Another Trump legacy: Governor troll wars” via Lisa Kashinsky and Shia Kapos of POLITICO — Massachusetts’ first openly lesbian Governor had a message she wanted to send to red-state executives attacking LGBTQ rights. So, she took out billboards along highways in Florida and Texas to deliver it. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, another Democrat, have pilloried DeSantis over his attempts to change school curricula surrounding race and Black history. DeSantis, in turn, has bashed Newsom’s liberal policies for “destroying” California while urging Republicans there to open their checkbooks for his presidential campaign. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem responded to California’s abortion billboards in her state by telling Newsom to clean up the “feces” on his streets.

Potential primary pitfall looms as Democrats scramble for a candidate against Rick Scott in Florida” via Holly Otterbein and Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Senate Democrats know who they want to run. But the message hasn’t gotten through to Florida Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials are trying to convince former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell to jump into a race against Scott, multiple Democrats familiar with the discussions but who weren’t authorized to speak openly, said. Scott is a multimillionaire who can pour huge sums of his own money into the contest and has won three statewide races in Florida by razor-thin margins.


Demetries Grimes drops out of HD 35 race, endorses Erika Booth” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Combat veteran Grimes is dropping out of a highly watched House race in Central Florida. As Grimes departs the race to focus on other work, he’s endorsing Osceola School Board member Booth, a previous opponent in the House District 35 Republican Primary. “While it’s difficult to leave the race, I am convinced that, at this moment, my efforts and experience can be best applied in these other crucial areas,” he said. “I deeply appreciate the outpouring of support I have received throughout my campaign and hope you will join me in these new endeavors.” Grimes said after a discussion with his family, he plans to focus on advocacy and personal projects instead of campaigning.

Demetries Grimes drops out and endorses a rival.

Greg Folley crosses $450K in fundraising for HD 81 campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Marco Island Republican Folley has raised over $450,000 for an open House race. That includes more than $366,000 in his official campaign account and another $92,000 in the political committee, Friends of Greg Folley. Most of the money rolled in during Folley’s first month as a candidate, including a $300,000 loan to his campaign. But he has continued to cash a considerable number of checks. The Marco Island City Council member raised $13,450 in his campaign account in June. The political committee raised a similar $13,500. Folley is running to succeed state Rep. Bob Rommel, a Naples Republican who faces term limits. The only other candidate in the race, Republican Gladyvette Benarroch, has raised about $64,200.

Daniella Levine Cava adds $285K to re-election bid as GOP challenger makes grassroots gains” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade Mayor Levine Cava amassed more than $285,000 in June to defend her job as the county’s chief executive against two challengers. One is a fellow Democrat who hasn’t added anything to his coffers since filing to run in March. The other, a Republican influencer with ties to political operative and Trump ally Roger Stone, collected more than 3,400 grassroots donations last month. As of June 30, Levine Cava had more than $2 million in reserves between her campaign account and political committee, Our Democracy. Coming in at a distant second place in fundraising last month with a $30,000 haul was Alex Otaola, a Cuba-born YouTuber and conservative political activist who hosts the popular web show “Hola Ota-Ota!”

Willis Howard adds $11K to campaign for Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Political consultant Howard added $11,500 more in June toward his bid to become Miami-Dade County’s first voter-chosen Supervisor of Elections since the 1950s. Most of it came from his own bank account. That sum, plus another $6,000 he’s poured into his campaign account since April, makes him the current financial front-runner in what is now a three-way race. He’s reported no spending so far. Howard, who owns and operates the consulting firm Urban Initiatives, gave himself $10,000 last month. He’ll face at least one Democratic Primary opponent: elections lawyer and former state Rep. Juan-Carlos “J.C.” Planas, who filed for the contest last week. Also running is GOP candidate Ruth Swanson, a 2020 election denier who last year mounted an unsuccessful Primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez.

Alexcia Cox raises $52K in first two weeks running for Palm Beach County State Attorney” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Democratic prosecutor Cox collected more than $52,000 in her first two weeks running for Palm Beach County State Attorney. An overwhelming share of her gains came through personal checks of mostly three-figure sums. Cox, who currently serves as Deputy Chief Assistant to Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg, announced her candidacy on June 15, two days after Aronberg confirmed he would not seek a fourth term. Between then and June 30, more than 140 people gave to her campaign. “I’m incredibly grateful for the early support my campaign has received,” Cox said in a statement. “I’m focused on building a bipartisan, countywide coalition that shares my commitment (to) keeping Palm Beach County safe, seeking justice, and strengthening our partnerships with law enforcement and community partners.”

Photo courtesy of Alexcia Cox campaign
Alexcia Cox is starting to gain traction in her bid to become the next State Attorney in Palm Beach County. Photo courtesy of Alexcia Cox campaign.


DeSantis urges ‘sustainable peace’ in Ukraine, thinks U.S. should focus on Taiwan” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — As war rages in Ukraine, DeSantis is calling for a “sustainable peace.” The presidential candidate told the Wisconsin Right Now website that it was time to use American “leverage” to end the country’s continued attempts to defend territorial integrity as Russia’s invasion continues well into its second year. “I think what we need to do is use our leverage to bring this to a sustainable peace. Because what we’re doing now is we’re depleting our reserves of weapons that’s going to make it more difficult for us to respond to events in Asia,” DeSantis said. The Governor then said the weapons were better off in a country not currently being invaded.

DeSantis says the U.S. should be emphasizing Taiwan’s independence.

DeSantis opposes supplying Ukraine with cluster bombs” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis continues to oppose U.S. involvement in Ukraine, with his latest position being against the Biden administration supplying cluster bombs to the country, a move he says could escalate the conflict. “I think it probably runs a risk of escalation,” DeSantis said. “Basically, what I said from the beginning is no weapons that could lead to attacks inside Russia or escalating the conflict. We cannot become involved in this directly,” DeSantis said, warning that could further “diminish our own stockpiles and prevent us from being able to respond to exigencies around the world.” DeSantis has largely opposed American involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war, though Wednesday was the first time he discussed cluster bombs.

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Democrats: Republican policies haven’t abated Florida’s insurance ‘crisis’” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried blamed Republicans for Farmers Insurance’s decision to discontinue its policies in the state, saying leaders focused their efforts on limiting lawsuits against insurance companies instead of making the changes necessary to stabilize a market that one former Insurance Commissioner described as a “crisis.” Republicans have contended a slew of recent changes should stabilize the market at some point, but Democrats said there’s no evidence it’s working so far. Some of Florida’s top Democrats also criticized DeSantis for vetoing budget projects they said would have helped mitigate risk in hopes of reducing future insured losses. Democrats also chastised Chief Financial Officer Patronis for remarks he made to Farmers Insurance on social media.

Nikki Fried blasts Republicans for their part in the ongoing insurance crisis in Florida.

12 Republican AGs back Florida in court challenge to Chinese land ownership law” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO — Twelve Republican state attorneys general are asking a federal court to side with Florida in a legal challenge to a new state law barring land ownership by some Chinese people. And in a related development, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer on Wednesday said his Chinese immigrant clients and a real estate firm that caters to Chinese people already are facing illegal discrimination under the new law. Florida is heading into a hearing July 18 on the ACLU’s request to block the new law sought earlier this year by DeSantis. The DOJ in late June told U.S. District Judge Allen C. Winsor that the Florida law is discriminatory and therefore violates the U.S. Constitution and federal Fair Housing Act, though the DOJ has not formally intervened in the case.

Florida hospitals comply with new immigration law with advocates ‘on alert’” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — In a patchwork of ways, medical officials across Florida have started complying with the state’s new immigration law which requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to ask admitted patients their citizenship status. The law leaves room for discretion for health care administrators and allows hospitals to determine how much detail to include after “What is your citizenship status?” Florida hospitals are offering either an actual citizenship question form, electronic or paper, or asking patients verbally during the intake process, said Justin Senior, CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. GOP lawmakers and supporters of the law say taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for undocumented people’s medical care. Critics, meanwhile, say the question will cause “undue harm and fear” for migrants seeking care.

University of Florida report shows Florida lagging behind the nation in affordable housing recovery” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Nationally, rent growth is on the decline and the market is beginning to favor tenants. But that trend may be off in Florida, according to research from the University of Florida. With continuing population growth, Florida is an extreme version of what is happening in several strong rental markets in the country, said Anne Ray, manager of the Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse at UF’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies. “A slight cool-down would stop things from getting worse for renters looking for an affordable unit in Florida, but it can’t make up for double-digit percentage rent increases that already took place the last couple of years,” Ray said. UF data, collected between 2012 and 2021, showed large increases in both rent and in the number of households paying more than they could afford, Ray said.

Florida recreational marijuana by the numbers: Economists see green in possible amendment” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Economists are adding up the additional sales tax revenue the state will reap and how much it will spend to collect that money if voters were to approve a constitutional amendment legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. If legal today marijuana sales would generate between $195.6 and $431.3 million annually in local and state sales tax revenue, according to preliminary figures compiled by the Florida Financial Impact Estimating Conference. While heavily dependent on how the Legislature would decide to tax marijuana products and accessories, the FIEC expects once fully operational a legal marijuana retail market would quickly produce hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the state.

Ray Treadwell departs Governor’s Office to join Lawson Huck Gonzalez” via Jim Rosica of City & State Florida — Treadwell, who’s been the chief deputy general counsel to DeSantis, has joined the law firm of Lawson Huck Gonzalez, the firm told City & State on Wednesday. He’ll be in the Tallahassee office. Treadwell was one of the longest-serving insiders of the administration, starting during the Governor’s 2019 transition. He’s a 2011 Yale Law School graduate; his now-former boss attended Yale University as an undergraduate. “Ray certainly has the exceptional skill, breadth of experience, professionalism, and integrity to provide our clients with the highest level of service and wise counsel,” said Alan Lawson, the firm’s founding partner and a former justice of the Florida Supreme Court.

Congratulations to Ray Treadwell for his move to the private sector.


Joe Biden, G7 leaders announce major security pledge to Ukraine” via Toluse Olorunnipa, Emily Rauhala, Meryl Kornfield and Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post — Biden and other world leaders announced a major security program to boost Ukraine’s defenses over the long-term, capping a NATO summit in which Ukraine was not invited to join the alliance but came away with a promise of years’ worth of additional military and humanitarian funding. White House officials described the pact as a highlight of the gathering in Lithuania, saying it highlighted a unified determination by the allies to protect Ukraine from another invasion like the one mounted by Russia last year. The goal is “to make it clear that our support will last long into the future,” Biden said, flanked by counterparts including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

G7 leaders announce a Joint Declaration of Support to Ukraine, as the NATO summit is held in Vilnius, Lithuania. Image via Reuters.

Biden vows U.S. and allies ‘will not waver’ in defense of Ukraine” via Katherine Doyle of NBC News — Biden promised Ukraine that its Western partners would not back away from its defense in a speech Wednesday after two days of high-stakes meetings with leaders at a NATO summit. Biden said that “the defense of freedom is not the work of a day or a year. It’s the calling of our lifetime — of all time.” … “We are steeled for the struggle ahead,” he added. Of Ukraine’s partners, he said, “Our unity will not falter, I promise you.” The event here proved a test of Biden’s promise upon taking office to repair America’s international relationships, which include NATO, the 31-country mutual defense pact forged in the aftermath of World War II. Top of the agenda was Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has raged on NATO’s doorstep for close to 18 months.

Inflation at 3% flags end of emergency, turning point for Fed” via Reade Pickert and Augusta Saraiva of Bloomberg — The U.S. inflation rate slid to a more than two-year low, a major step toward ending the cost-of-living emergency — and possibly the Federal Reserve’s historic monetary tightening, too. At 3% last month, consumer-price inflation is now just one-third of the level it reached a year ago. And the details for June were also better than expected, with key measures of underlying inflation coming in below forecasts. That’s after a period of two years or so when the great inflation debate hogged the headlines and loomed large in everything from U.S. presidential politics to barroom conversations. None of this means it’s game over in the fight against price pressures — especially for the Fed, which is widely reckoned to be locked-in to another interest-rate increase later this month.

The cost-of-living emergency may be coming to an end. Image via AP.

Inflation eases but Fed can’t conquer housing prices” via Katy O’Donnell and Sam Sutton of POLITICO — The government reported Wednesday that overall inflation rose 3% on an annual basis in June — the lowest level since March 2021. But the cost of shelter soared by 7.8% in a reflection of post-pandemic rent spikes, part of a trend that has defied the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes over the past year. So even as the Biden administration cheers signs that price rises across the economy have started to cool, homeownership remains out of reach for many first-time buyers, who are already facing a severe lack of supply. Housing-driven inflation may also be a key reason Biden’s approval numbers on the economy have been so low, even though the job market has shown remarkable resilience and fears of an imminent recession have subsided.

‘This fight is not over’: What to know about Biden’s new plan to forgive student debt” via Annie Nova of CNBC — Biden doesn’t want the Supreme Court to get the final word on student loan forgiveness. “This fight is not over,” the President said in a statement shortly after the justices struck down his historic relief plan on June 30. The White House says that the Education Department will now try to use the Higher Education Act to deliver on student loan forgiveness. That legislation was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and allows the secretary of Education some authority to waive or release borrowers’ education debt. Ever since Biden pitched student loan relief while running for President, academics and proponents of student loan forgiveness, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have called on the President to use the Higher Education Act as his legal justification.

‘Insane,’ ‘ludicrous,’ ‘absurd’: FBI’s Christopher Wray shows teeth to GOP critics” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — In the House Judiciary Committee hearing, FBI Director Wray told a Republican Congresswoman of GOP allegations against him: “The idea that I’m biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me, given my own personal background.” The exchanges highlighted the paradox of Wray’s suddenly becoming Public Enemy No. 1 to congressional Republicans, as they press conspiratorial and highly speculative allegations about the purported weaponization of federal law enforcement. And while the Trump-nominated FBI director was characteristically even-tempered in his testimony, there were times in which his exasperation at his predicament came to the surface — and in which he showed his critics some teeth.

Agriculture Dept. to invest $300 million to measure greenhouse emissions” via Linda Qiu of The New York Times — The Agriculture Department said it would establish a monitoring and data collection network to measure greenhouse gas emissions and determine how much carbon can be captured using certain farming practices. The network, using $300 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, will help quantify the outcomes of so-called climate-smart or regenerative agricultural practices, a cornerstone of the department’s approach to addressing a warming planet. The research and data that is collected will also be crucial to measuring progress on Biden’s goal of halving greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade. The Inflation Reduction Act provided some $20 billion to shore up existing agricultural conservation programs that encouraged practices like sowing cover crops and not tilling the land.

Cut off from DACA, new generation faces uncertain futures” via Suzanne Monyak of Roll Call — While court challenges and congressional inaction have made uncertain the fate of so-called Dreamers who have been covered under DACA, there’s a new generation of immigrants who have come of age in the U.S. and face a future without legal immigration status, and few options to live and work legally. According to a recent report by immigrant advocacy group, the majority of the nation’s approximately 120,0000 undocumented high school graduates this year are not eligible for DACA because of the cutoff date. Now the judge is considering a newer version of the program the Biden administration issued after putting it through the full administrative process. He is widely expected to rule against the latest version again but keep the policy in place while appeals continue.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Francis Suarez is on unpaid leave from outside job at Quinn Emanuel law firm” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — Miami Mayor Suarez’s net worth skyrocketed as he racked up side jobs throughout his time in office, including at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, an international litigation firm that hired the Mayor as an attorney in 2021 as it sought to establish itself in Miami. Now, Suarez is on unpaid leave, effective July 1. The move comes as Suarez recently announced a bid for the Republican nomination for President. “Quinn Emanuel and Francis agreed that he should focus on his presidential campaign. His unpaid leave was motivated by no other consideration,” the representative said. Among Quinn Emanual’s most prominent clients is Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who recently donated $1 million to a political committee supporting Suarez.

Francis Suarez has taken leave of his side gig. Image via AP.

No-swim advisory in effect after millions of gallons of sewage spilled into Intracoastal off Boynton” via Abigail Hasebroock of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — An estimated 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Intracoastal Waterway due to a broken pipe last week and a no-swim advisory still remains in effect off Boynton Beach. The spill from the broken 20-inch sanitary pipe began July 3 in the Intracoastal near East Ocean Avenue in Boynton Beach. It was fixed July 6. “As of the report sent to Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Monday, July 10, 5 million gallons have been estimated to spill into the waterway,” Chelsea Sanabia, a Boynton Beach spokesperson, said in an email. “The city has not seen a spill of this extent.”

14 months to pick a new trash hauler? This time Indian River County wants to get it right” via Janet Begley of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The county will take up to 14 months to choose what company picks up its trash, recycling and yard waste when its contract with Waste Management ends in September 2025. It will be a difficult road, County Commissioner Susan Adams said, but hopefully, the effort will pay off at the other end. “It’s going to be a tough process this year,” Adams told her fellow Commissioners. “I’m not excited about going through this again. I think we should prepare ourselves for some difficult conversations. No matter what we do, we’re not going to make everybody happy. But I’m glad we are getting started early.”

City protects part of prehistoric Brickell site, sets up potential showdown with developer” via Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — A Miami city board unanimously approved temporary protection for a portion of a newly uncovered prehistoric settlement in the Brickell neighborhood, laying the groundwork for what could be a future tussle between a prominent developer and preservationists over construction on the site. By a 6-0 vote, the city historic preservation board approved preliminary designation as a protected archaeological site for 444 Brickell Ave., one piece of a larger property on the Miami River slated for redevelopment by the Related Group. Archaeologists excavating a portion of the Related property for the past two years have unearthed an unexpectedly rich trove of artifacts, plant and animal materials and traces of indigenous structures dating back thousands of years.

Got a smart way to recycle seaweed? Miami-Dade wants to bankroll innovative ideas” via Ashley Miznazi of the Miami Herald — Those brown globs of rotten-egg-smelling sargassum may be taking a fortunate hiatus from sliming South Florida beaches but the seaweed will be back — if not this Summer, then the one after and so on. Next time, Miami-Dade wants to turn all that excess seaweed into an entrepreneurial windfall. How? Well, that’s still an unanswered and potentially valuable question. Can we eat it? Feed it to critters? Burn it for energy? Use it in beauty products? The county, with backing from donors, is dangling big checks to companies that can bring the best ideas for how to put the abundant resource to use.

A fight over a pet shelter gets ugly. Lawsuit claims slander by Miami-Dade Director” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The rift between the Director of Miami-Dade County’s pet shelter and a top benefactor has gone to court, with allegations of slander and claims of a whisper campaign to muffle criticism of the county agency. Yolanda Berkowitz, a founder of the Friends of Miami Animals Foundation, is a well-known foe of Bronwyn Stanford, the county’s Animal Services Director, whose tenure Berkowitz called “catastrophic” in an email to Levine Cava last year. Now Berkowitz is suing Stanford in Miami-Dade Circuit Court and alleging she told shelter staff explosive lies about Berkowitz’s past. Among the alleged lies: Stanford told a shelter employee “Berkowitz had been a stripper,” and told another Animal Services employee that “Berkowitz was an escort.”

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Joel Greenberg, Chris Dorworth may be called to testify in federal trial” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Disgraced Seminole County Tax Collector Greenberg will likely be called to testify this month — along with former state lawmaker and lobbyist Dorworth and a former County Commissioner — in the trial of Michael Shirley, a once Republican campaign consultant. Shirley, who worked for Greenberg, is charged with paying bribes and accepting kickbacks of hundreds of thousands of dollars for favorable treatment from the Tax Collector’s Office. His trial is scheduled to start with jury selection on July 24 in the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Orlando. Greenberg is currently serving an 11-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to several federal crimes.

Joel Greenburg has another court date. Image via AP.

$860M heading to Orange County law enforcement, emergency services” via Sabrina Maggiore of WFTV — More money for law enforcement, fire and emergency services is headed to Central Florida as Orange County takes a hard look at what the area needs now to keep people safe. The budget shows that the county wants to send a message that safety is key. In the first Orange County budget workshop, the focus was on the first responders and public service members who protect the community. In total, $860 million is being proposed for Orange County’s public safety departments. That’s about a $100 million increase from last year’s budget. Aside from new positions to support operations, Orange County Fire Rescue’s $300 million budget includes expanding its Marine Rescue program, going from 11 stations with boats to 20.

Merritt Island incorporation debate restarts as some consider possibility of new government” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — Merritt Island could once again face a decision: Incorporate and become one of the county’s largest cities or maintain its status as one of Brevard County’s most populous unincorporated communities. While proponents are intrigued by the chance to have more localized home rule over Merritt Island, others are opposed to creating a new taxing authority that, they fear, could be less efficient than the county for the nearly 45,000 people currently living on the barrier island. If incorporated, Merritt Island would become Brevard County’s fourth largest city just behind Titusville, making it more populous than nearby neighbors like Rockledge, Cocoa and Cocoa Beach.

Brevard School Board considers bringing back media assistant roles at elementary schools” via Finch Walker of Florida Today — After three years of working on their own, some Brevard Public Schools media specialists may be getting assistants again. The School Board held a discussion with media specialists from around the district to talk about the possibility of bringing back the assistant position, specifically in elementary schools, which was eliminated in 2020. Vice Board Chair Megan Wright said listening to the media specialists was heartbreaking. “When I hear you guys talk, it breaks my heart,” she said. “To think, ‘Oh, now there’s all these books, and there’s so much magic around (the students). And they can’t touch any of them because you’re busy with all the other kids and the things that are calling your attention right at the moment.’”


Hillsborough budget plan tops $9 billion” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Commissioners will consider a $9.12 billion budget for the coming fiscal year, a more than $626 million jump in spending that includes relatively few new bells and whistles. Inflation, increased spending requests from constitutional officers and outside agencies plus salary and benefit adjustments for employees contributed to the 7.4% increase in the budget recommended by County Administrator Bonnie Wise. The proposed budget includes status quo tax rates for property owners who still will see increases in their tax bills on Nov. 1 because of rising property assessments. Hillsborough Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez reported on July 1 that the tax rolls increased an estimated 11.7%, the second consecutive year of a double-digit percentage increase. The increase last year was 15.3%.

Sticky inflation in Tampa Bay remains highest in the nation” via Christina Georgacopoulos of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The consumer price index in the Tampa Bay region remains the highest of any U.S. metro area, and far above the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released on Tuesday. The region’s consumer price index rose 7.3% year-over-year, versus 3% nationally, the BLS data shows. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area ranked second behind Tampa Bay with a 6.9% year-over-year increase, followed by the San Diego-Carlsbad, California region with 5.2%. Energy costs are mainly the cause for sticky inflation in the Tampa Bay metro, rising 3.1% from March to May of this year. Nevertheless, local inflation has steadily fallen over the last year since its peak at 11.3% in May 2022, BLS data shows.

Tampa remains a hot spot for inflation. Image via AP.

Hillsborough Commission moves to abandon MacDill ferry service plan” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County Commission is moving to sink a proposed ferry service between the southern portion of the county and MacDill Air Force Base. On Wednesday, a Commission majority agreed to consider terminating its contract with HMS Ferries and South Swell Development on Aug. 2. “When the 1% sales tax was voted down (in November 2022) by the taxpayers, this project went down with it,” said Commissioner Gwen Myers. “The county doesn’t have the funding. … Where are we going to get the funding from? The county doesn’t have it.” Her comments came after Commissioner Josh Wostal made a motion to kill the contract after he said he was not satisfied with the answers to questions surrounding the future finances of the project. The projected costs to buy boats and build public terminals for the proposed commuter ferry service between South Hillsborough and MacDill Air Force Base have jumped 45% to more than $76 million over the past two years.

Cybersecurity incident’ at ZooTampa affects some employees, vendors” via Rebekah Nelson of ABC Action News — ZooTampa was forced to contact federal law enforcement after a cybersecurity incident that impacted its “network environment.” In a statement released Wednesday, ZooTampa said the staff was able to mitigate the situation and called upon third-party forensic specialists to both secure the network environment and open an investigation. The zoo said that they have notified all employees and vendors whose information may have been impacted, as well as offered them identity protection services for free. They added that they do not store personal or financial information regarding visitors or members.

Two more top staff leave Tampa’s transportation team” via Olivia George of the Tampa Bay Times — Two more senior staff members have resigned from City of Tampa’s mobility department, records show. The department, in charge of the future of city streets, has been praised by Mayor Jane Castor as a core component of her vision to unlock more of downtown for reinvestment but has witnessed high-profile exits and allegations of a hostile workplace in recent weeks. Brandie Miklus resigned from her “dream job” as Tampa’s infrastructure and mobility program coordinator last week, she told the Tampa Bay Times. Miklus, who joined the city in November 2020, said it had been “an honor” to serve as the department’s primary communications staffer. Her last day was Tuesday, she said. Chief Production Engineer Lara Bouck is also resigning, according to records reviewed by The Times. Her last day is Aug. 1. She did not respond to a request for comment by phone early Wednesday afternoon.

St. Pete becomes a mecca for marine science” via Mark Parker of the St. Pete Catalyst — Dozens of local government, academic and scientific leaders gathered along Bayboro Harbor Wednesday morning to celebrate the intersection of research, inclusivity and economic impact. Over 100 attendees at the Maritime and Defense Technology Hub heard how a state-of-the-art research vessel would further cement the city’s place as a global destination for marine science. The renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute donated the Western Flyer to the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and the University of South Florida in November 2022. In addition to unveiling the $11.7 million, 117-foot Western Flyer, USF’s leadership announced a new program to increase the “ocean STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) workforce. Superlatives dominated the day.

Citrus County Tourism Director’s job at risk over Cincinnati Zoo manatee project” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County’s Tourism Director faces dismissal after approving an advertising contract even though the County Commission voted against it. County Administrator Steve Howard placed John Pricher on administrative leave after Pricher refused to resign. Howard is recommending Pricher be fired. A July 17 administrative hearing will decide his fate. Pricher is accused of approving a $50,000 contract with Madden Media for a manatee education program at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. The County Commission in March voted to not move forward with the contract. Pricher, however, had apparently already started to put the program’s pieces together after January, when the Tourist Development Council gave its OK. The TDC is an advisory board to the County Commission and has no authority on its own to spend money.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

First Donna Deegan budget likely to include nearly $430M in capital spending” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Jacksonville Mayor Deegan is set to roll out her first budget Monday, and a draft version of the capital improvement plan shows nearly $430 million in spending next fiscal year. This continues strong CIP spending from the Lenny Curry era, in which the last two CIPs approached $500 million each. While this isn’t the final plan, this is the latest version from the Mayor’s Office. Roads and infrastructure will be a big part of the spending plan. Meanwhile, $500,000 for confederate monument removal, which the Curry administration put in its final budget, is still waiting to be spent and rolls over to this CIP, albeit with no new money.

Donna Deegan’s first budget is coming soon.

Scott Collins selected as top choice to replace Randy Jorgenson as Milton City Manager” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — Unless something goes sideways in negotiations, Collins, who worked most recently as the city manager of Fairview, Tennessee, will be the next city manager of the city of Milton. The Milton City Council voted unanimously, eagerly even, to enter contract negotiations with Collins to take over the job Sept. 5 when current City Manager Jorgenson steps into retirement. Collins had appeared on every Council member’s shortlist July 3 when city leaders whittled a list of eight finalists to just one, and he further impressed the board at the City Council meeting when he appeared in person to weather five minutes of questioning from each of the Council members.

Panama City considers public-private partnership to rebuild, manage St. Andrews Marina” via Nathan Cobb of the Panama City News Herald — Local officials are exploring new ways to restore the St. Andrews Marina. Panama City Commissioners on Tuesday voted to begin discussions with St. Andrews Marina Partners for a public-private partnership to rebuild and manage the marina. They also voted to open a solicitation window for other interested companies to submit proposals for consideration. The ruling was sparked by an unsolicited proposal received by the city from St. Andrews Marina Partners. The group expressed that it was interested in a partnership to help move along the redevelopment of the marina, which was heavily damaged by Category 5 Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

County Commission OKs first EMS tax hike in 20 years, higher fire service fees” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Commissioners unanimously approved a 50% increase in the rate, which will go from 50 cents to 75 cents for every $1,000 of property value. Commissioners also signed off on increases in fire services fees, which are going up in the city, too, to cover rising Tallahassee Fire Department costs. Commissioner Bill Proctor, who praised EMS as an “award-winning” service, noted that the property tax hasn’t gone up since the county took over ambulance services from Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare in late 2003. “We have to remember that this was a service that was abandoned by TMH,” Proctor said. “This was an orphan left on our doorstep, and we picked it up and carried it consistently. And we’ve not whined — we ain’t been no crybabies. We have shouldered the responsibility.”

Construction starts on old Landing site, Riverfront Plaza park after month delay” via Hanna Holthaus of The Florida Times-Union — Construction began on the long-awaited Riverfront Plaza Park at the former Jacksonville Landing site — and will take over a year to complete. The city finished the demolition of the riverfront mall in 2020. The Downtown Investment Authority, along with local advocacy groups, then planned and took bids for the design of a new park to be the centerpiece of an expanded river walk. Originally slated for June, construction was delayed to accommodate crowds using the open space to view July 4 fireworks. Work will start toward the Hogan and Waters Streets intersection, where the playground and cafe will be, Lori Boyer, CEO of the DIA, said. The closed-off portion of the roads will become part of the park itself.

UF student sentenced to probation after participation in U.S. Capitol riot” via Nora O’Neill of The Gainesville Sun — A University of Florida student has been sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to charges relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. Gabriel Chase, 22, pled guilty on Nov. 10 to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. He is a history major enrolled at UF for the upcoming fall semester. Chase reportedly went into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office, helped barricade doors against police officers and destroyed media equipment. He was inside the Capitol for 30 minutes. Chase was affiliated with White supremacist Nicholas Fuentes’ far-right extremist movement dubbed “America First.” His sentence and probation mandate a three-day prison sentence and a $500 payment to the Architect of the Capitol.


Collier Commissioner Chris Hall revives controversial ‘Bill of Rights sanctuary’ declaration” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Commissioner Hall has revived a controversial proposal to establish Collier County as a “Bill of Rights sanctuary.” A similar effort failed by a vote of 3-2 in 2021. At the time, Hall wasn’t on the County Commission. He took office in December. While his ordinance didn’t appear on the agenda Tuesday, word had already spread — and a handful of residents showed up at the meeting to oppose it. They spoke during public comments. The ordinance had already been advertised for the board’s next meeting, but some Commissioners didn’t know about it, until public speakers lined up against it.

To the dismay of many, Chris Hall revives his ‘Bill of Rights sanctuary’ in Collier. Image via

Lee County students struggling in high school now have alternative option to graduate” via Nikki Ross of the Fort Myers News-Press — Girlfriends Roberta Hernandez, 18, and Talisha Perez, 19, met while working at Subway after dropping out of high school in Bonita Springs. Now, together and thanks to an ad on TikTok, they’ve enrolled in Acceleration Academies of Lee County to earn their high school diplomas. “It’s just been nothing but work (since dropping out) and nothing I enjoy,” Perez said. “That’s not enough for me. You can’t get anywhere without a high school diploma.” Acceleration Academies is a national, private, accredited organization that helps students who have not been successful in traditional school settings get their high school diploma.

Keys to success: Naples’ Historic Palm Cottage restores piano after Ian damage” via Shelby Coleman of the Naples Daily News — A vintage piano that was a centerpiece of the Historic Palm Cottage in Naples has been restored after being damaged during Hurricane Ian. The Naples Historical Society says their motto is, “Preserve, rehabilitate, restore, reconstruct.” These words certainly applied when the Society was forced to revamp a prized Mason & Hamlin Upright Model E piano (circa 1940) located in Palm Cottage. “The piano is a great example of an artifact in the house (Palm Cottage) that not only has provenance to the last owners but also (ties to) two major weather events that have struck Naples,” says John Telischak, the Education Manager at the Naples Historical Society, in reference to Hurricanes Donna and Ian.

Alarmingly high water temperatures capture attention of FGCU’s expert researchers” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — When it comes to the temperature in Southwest Florida, it feels as if there is a near-record or record just about every day now. And the extreme heat isn’t limited to the air. The water is also hot. This condition is referred to as a “marine heat wave.” Water temperatures are a driving factor in the abnormally high land temperatures, including heat indexes well over 100 degrees, which has caused a regular run of heat advisories for Southwest Florida this Summer. “Exceptionally high sea surface temperatures are contributing, especially around Southwest Florida and the Keys where SST (Sea Surface Temperatures) are about 95-97 F,” said Dr. Emily Powell, assistant state climatologist at the Florida Climate Center in Tallahassee.


The puny power of ‘woke capitalism’” via Lydia Polgreen of The New York Times — I have watched ferocious campaigns building against companies that take even the most milquetoast stands on social and cultural issues, especially those involving gender and sexuality.

“Woke capital” is already a major theme of the Republican presidential race. The threat is apparently so great that DeSantis invoked Winston Churchill’s famous Dunkirk speech, substituting “woke” for the Axis powers as enemy No. 1.

This hyping of the power of socially conscious capitalism is understandable given how aggressively the notion has been sold to companies and consumers.

Color me skeptical. Consumers make choices for many reasons: price, convenience and marketing. Maybe politics.

I have bad news for combatants on both sides of this war. For those on the left who take comfort in seeing big companies take bold stands on issues they care about, I’m here to tell you that those companies care much more about their bottom line than your beloved issue.

And those on the right who feel that the wind is at their back with successful boycotts of “woke” brands are likely to be disappointed for similar reasons. Even this year’s big success — a boycott of Bud Light after it worked with a transgender influencer as part of a broader social media campaign that apparently caused the stock of the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch to drop — was a Pyrrhic victory: It is all but impossible to find beer companies that don’t participate in celebrating Pride, thereby doing exactly what the right accuses them of — pushing a liberal agenda antithetical to conservative mores.

These fights disguise a bigger truth: Corporations, far from dictating cultural mores from some capitalist Mount Olympus, reflect and co-opt the social trends around them.


Florida’s insurance nightmare grows. Will the Sunshine State be only for the rich?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — In recent years, 13 companies have become insolvent in the state. Many others, like Farmers, have simply stopped writing policies in Florida. All of it helps drive up premiums and worsens the housing affordability crisis in the state. Florida may soon be just for the rich. Floridians are suffering under the highest property insurance premiums in the nation. Laws have been passed to crack down on lawsuits and other measures that leaders blame for the escalating crisis. DeSantis thinks he’ll ride culture-war issues to the White House, putting his personal gain over our pain. Meantime, the long-term viability of living in Florida, unless you’re wealthy, continues to dwindle. That’s an actual problem, not something concocted for political purposes.

At private school, my family’s income sets me apart more than ethnicity” via Nataly Delcid of The Washington Post — Racial diversity does not necessarily mean economic diversity. As a nation, we put too much emphasis on the appearance of diversity. But diversity is more than a picture of a multiracial friend group studying together on an academic quad. It’s about that friend group exchanging ideas to create a future in which the next generation develops a more nuanced way of looking at the world. If you admit an entire body of students from diverse races and ethnicities but with the same kind of upbringing, you’ll still end up producing a lot of people who think the same way. It is shallow for institutions to group students by racial and ethnic identities because there is an inherent assumption that people from the same group come from the same walk of life. In reality, students from the same economic and educational background can have far more in common than students who click the same box on a college application.


— ALOE —

Emmy snubs and surprises: ‘Jury Duty’ in, ‘Yellowstone’ still out” via Mike Hale of The New York Times — With minor exceptions, the major categories were filled in the expected ways when the 2023 Primetime Emmys nominations were announced. Some surprises cropped up, where the members of the Television Academy apparently started checking off every name they saw from favored shows like “Ted Lasso” and “The White Lotus.” Snub: Taylor Sheridan. He may be the most successful maker of television currently working, but Sheridan gets no respect at the Emmys. Surprise: ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi.’ it was a mild shock to see a second Disney+ “Star Wars” show (along with “Andor”) breakthrough in the limited-series category. Ewan McGregor, who reprised his Obi-Wan role from the prequel films, apparently draws a lot of goodwill. Surprise: ‘Jury Duty’ Freevee’s mashup of sitcom and reality mind game drew a lot of attention, but that wasn’t expected to translate into nominations for comedy series, writing and supporting actor (James Marsden, playing himself). Snubs: Harrison Ford, Steve Martin, Fiona Shaw, Imelda Staunton.

The 2023 Emmy nominations are in; some expected, some surprises, and a few snubs. Image via HBO.

FTC appeals Microsoft-Activision Blizzard antitrust court loss” via Winston Cho of The Hollywood Reporter — The Federal Trade Commission has appealed a federal judge’s ruling turning down the agency’s bid to delay Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard, according to a court document filed on Wednesday. A temporary restraining order, which was granted before a weeklong mini-trial to decide whether the FTC should be granted a preliminary injunction, was issued in June to keep Microsoft from closing the transaction. It’s set to expire on Friday at midnight U.S. West Coast time unless the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals grants an emergency stay.

Jacksonville man claims $1 million scratch-off prize same day he gets an eviction notice” via the USA Today Network — The Lottery made the announcement Tuesday that 60-year-old Gregory D. Sigmon chose to receive his winnings as a one-time, lump-sum payment of $820,000. His actual claim date according to the Lottery website was Feb. 14 on Valentine’s Day to allow for the state law’s 90-day grace period to release winners’ names. Sigmon’s new good fortune came at a welcomed time as Feb. 14 was the same day an eviction notice was posted on his rented mobile home, according to Duval County court records. Sigmon bought the $50 scratch-off ticket from All Stop Food Mart at 9134 Galveston Ave. in Jacksonville, according to the Lottery.


Celebrating today are Sylvester Lukis of Ballard Partners, Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco, Sean Pittman‘s better half, Audra, and Ambassador Kirk Wagar.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, 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.


  • Aileen

    July 13, 2023 at 9:09 am

    Hope is not a strategy so “knock on wood” Florida does not get another big storm this summer does not seem to be the best strategy to address our home insurance challenges. Is this the best our elected representatives can do?

  • M. Mouse

    July 13, 2023 at 11:06 am

    “So, knock on wood; we won’t have a big storm this Summer.”
    Well, that’s easy for him to do, just reach up and apply knuckles to head.

Comments are closed.


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.

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