Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.14.23

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It's not morning without your first look at stories driving today's agenda in Florida politics.

Good Monday morning.

The TECO State & Regional Affairs team is adding three new team members: Andy Taylor will serve as a regional manager for Pasco and East Hillsborough counties; Joel Brown will serve as a regional manager for Tampa/Hillsborough County; and Jane Hennessy will join the Tallahassee office as state coordinator.

Jane Hennessy, Andy Tayor and Joel Brown are the new power hires at TECO.

“TECO works closely with our leaders on the state level and in the communities we serve to ensure we’re meeting the needs of our customers today while implementing our vision for a more sustainable future,” said Stephanie Smith, vice president of State and Regional Affairs for Tampa Electric. “Andy Taylor, Joel Brown and Jane Hennessy bring experience to the team and expand our network of partners and allies to advance our initiatives.”

Taylor joins Tampa Electric from Pasco County Commissioner Seth Weightman’s team, where he served as a legislative aide focusing on policy and communications. Taylor’s career has been dedicated to public service at the local and state levels, working with several elected officials, government agencies and nonprofit entities, most notably former Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham.

Brown comes aboard from Pinellas County Utilities, where he served as the interagency water manager. Over the past decade, he has also served as district assistant to the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Tampa Bay Regional manager, later Capitol Press Secretary to former Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and senior government affairs manager with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Hennessy brings more than 30 years of experience in governmental relations and political affairs. This includes navigating strategies to advance legislation and communicating those results for myriad clients. She also has experience managing all aspects of political action committees administration and comprehensive reporting requirements.


Tampa Bay-based lobbying firm RSA Consulting is enhancing its all-inclusive, client-tailored services with the addition of veteran staffer Gina Sisk and new talent Josiah Johnson.

Sisk joins the team as Director of Internal Relations and Special Projects, and Johnson comes aboard as Government & Community Affairs Coordinator. The new additions will support the firm’s lobbying team to enhance the depth and breadth of its consulting services and maintain a year-round presence in RSA’s Tallahassee office.

Gina Sisk and Josiah Johnson will expand the footprint for RSA Consulting.

Now nine people strong, the firm said the expansion “represents its commitment to making every client feel like they are their only client.”

“As RSA continues to grow its client roster both in the Tampa Bay region and across the state, Gina and Josiah play a critical role in ensuring RSA continues to deliver the high-quality services that are tailored to the needs of each and every client,” said RSA President and CEO Ron Pierce.

Sisk, who will be based in RSA’s Tallahassee office, brings more than 20 years of experience to the firm. Her résumé includes positions at the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Lottery, a statewide association and a Tallahassee-based consulting firm.

Johnson, who joined RSA in September as an intern, recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He worked for former U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s re-election campaign before transitioning into his district office.

“RSA has known Gina for years and her addition to the team has sparked an excellent synergy and we’re excited to see her flourish. Josiah, who started as an intern and swiftly proved himself indispensable, has truly earned his place on our team and he has a bright future ahead of him,” said RSA Vice President and COO Natalie King.


@LarrySabato: Reluctantly, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither #HunterBiden nor #DonaldTrump should be elected President in 2024. Occasionally both sides-ism makes sense.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@ARookerKCCI: As @RonDeSantis tours IA w/@NvrBackDown24 the super PAC confirms over 10,000 Iowans have signed cards committing to caucus for DeSantis. 97-year-old Bob Van Hord, the oldest WW2 veteran in Carroll County, committed to caucus for DeSantis at a campaign stop in Carroll today.

@AaronParseghian: This generation will never understand the simple joy of firing up the desktop computer, opening AIM and then heading to addicting games dot-com


Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 2; Port Orange, Lake Helen, Ponce Inlet to hold elections — 8; The first GOP Presidential Primary debate — 9; ‘Ahsoka’ premieres on Disney+ — 9; ‘Gran Turismo’ premieres — 11; The U.S. Open begins — 14; 2023 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 17; Florida GOP 2023 Statesman’s Dinner — 31; Florida House Fall 2023 Interim Committee Meetings begin — 35; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 53; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 70; Britney Spears memoir ‘The Woman in Me’ drops — 71; Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ released — 74; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 81; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 85; 2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 86; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 88; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 95; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 101; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 107; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 108; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 121; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 148; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In — 148; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 148; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 151; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 154; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 168; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 176; Georgia Democratic Primary — 181; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 193; Michigan Democratic Primary — 199; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 209; 2024 Oscars — 211; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 260; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 269; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 280; the Republican National Convention begins — 336; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 347; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 347; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 338; the Republican National Convention begins — 336; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 376; Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 431; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 434; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 494; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 550; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 627; ‘Moana’ premieres — 684; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 858; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 991; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,013; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,226; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,365; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,321; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,684.


Former Rep. Al Lawson’s Florida congressional seat could come back under new agreement” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — The agreement between the state and groups challenging Florida’s congressional map — which does not end the litigation — narrows the scope of the ongoing lawsuit to focus on ex-Rep. Lawson’s seat.

This means that the plaintiffs suing over the maps will drop legal challenges to other revamped districts, such as those in central Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

There is still a separate lawsuit over Florida’s congressional maps in federal court. “This is a promising step forward for Black voters whose voting power was disgracefully targeted by Gov. DeSantis in his quest for artificial power,” said Olivia Mendoza, director of litigation and policy for the National Redistricting Foundation, in a statement. “Floridians deserve fair maps — and success in this case will deliver a major step in that direction.”

Al Lawson’s congressional seat may be returning to Florida. Image via AP.

Groups, including Black Voters Matter, Equal Ground, Florida Rising, and the League of Women Voters of Florida, sued Florida over the congressional maps in April 2022, the day the Governor signed them into law. The plaintiffs and state were scheduled to go to trial over that map later this month, with proceedings expected to last nearly two weeks. But lawyers for the plaintiffs, along with the DeSantis administration and the GOP-controlled Legislature, came up with an agreement that changed that.

Now, the trial will no longer include issues such as whether some districts were redrawn to benefit Republicans, a violation of Florida’s anti-gerrymandering standards adopted by voters. Instead, the big remaining legal question in the litigation is whether Florida’s redistricting standards enacted by voters violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause as argued by DeSantis.


Brian Hughes to lead the Donald Trump campaign in Florida” via Jacob Lupfer of Florida Politics — Multiple Republican sources confirmed Hughes as the Trump campaign’s choice to lead its Florida operation. Hughes has also now confirmed to Florida Politics he is joining the Trump campaign. The news comes amid a rash of DeSantis campaign layoffs and personnel shake-ups, including this week’s sidelining of Campaign Manager Generra Peck. Despite DeSantis calling Peck’s effort “the best-run campaign in the history of Florida politics” in his 2022 re-election victory speech, she was demoted to a strategist role and replaced by the Governor’s Chief of Staff, James Uthmeier, who has never worked on a presidential campaign. But Hughes’ hiring may suggest Trump is looking to drive DeSantis from the race long before votes are cast in Florida.

Brian Hughes’ hire to lead Donald Trump’s Florida operation may be a message to Ron DeSantis.

In Iowa, Ron DeSantis plows forward after early missteps and staff problems” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post — The narrative that has enveloped the presidential campaign of DeSantis is now almost uniformly negative: He’s described as a candidate who lacks people skills. His campaign operation has been messy. He’s fallen from the heights at which he began the year. All of that is accurate but doesn’t fully describe the balance sheet of candidate DeSantis. On a weekend when the political world was focused on Iowa, on a day when DeSantis competed for attention with Trump at the Iowa State Fair, there were reminders of why DeSantis, though distinctly trailing, remains Trump’s principal rival for the nomination.

DeSantis takes aim at Trump as 2024 rivals hold competing events at the Iowa State Fair” via Paul Steinhauser of Fox News — Asked by Fox News whether Trump was missing out on an opportunity by not joining Gov. Kim Reynolds at the fair, DeSantis blasted his 2024 rival. “I think Donald Trump’s attacks on Kim Reynolds are totally out of bounds. I couldn’t disagree with it any more. And she’s done nothing but do a great job. She’s never done anything to him.,” he said. DeSantis argued, “That’s just how he operates — to attack one of the best Governors in the country. … I disagree with the attacks against her. He’s way out of bounds, and at the end of the day, I’m glad that Kim Reynolds is at the helm here in the state of Iowa.”

Ron DeSantis clashes at the Iowa State Fair.

Trump swoops into Iowa fair, defying customs and clashing with DeSantis” via Hannah Knowles, Marianne LeVine and Dylan Wells of The Washington Post — Rather than linger all day to court voters, Trump was gone before 2 p.m. The high-drama day at the fair perfectly captured the way that the former President has flouted many traditions of campaigning while still dominating the GOP presidential race, relentlessly commanding attention and also seizing any opportunity to needle his top rival, DeSantis. Trump supporters at the fair, a must-stop event for Republican White House hopefuls, passed out pamphlets bashing DeSantis’ record on agriculture, and a mysterious plane circled over DeSantis’ “fairside chat” with a taunting message echoing criticisms that DeSantis is too stiff: “Be likable Ron!” The Trump campaign paid for the banner.

In Iowa, Trump tells DeSantis that crowd size matters” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Trump went to Iowa just like many other GOP presidential candidates this weekend, and as has been the case for months, DeSantis has been a topic of conversation. “He had a very small crowd. He only had a few people show up. It’s a big difference,” Trump told reporters at the Iowa State Fair, as he offered a comparison of the crowd he drew versus that drawn earlier by the Florida Governor when asked if he had a message for DeSantis. During remarks to the crowd in Steer and Stein, Trump said, “Other candidates had about six people.”

‘There’s something missing’: DeSantis can’t escape Trump’s shadow in Iowa” via Natalie Allison and Adam Wren of POLITICO — In Iowa, where DeSantis is polling somewhat closer to Trump than he is nationally, the Florida Governor is still trailing the former President by more than 20 percentage points. And here at the fair, even Republicans disillusioned with Trump remained skeptical of DeSantis’ prospects in the first-in-the-nation Caucus state. “If I had a bet, I’d bet Trump’s gonna kick his butt,” said Mike Meyer of Independence, Iowa. “Sorry, I don’t like Trump. But I don’t like the other guy,” referring to DeSantis as “dumb as a rock.” But the crowds for DeSantis remain smaller and more subdued than Trump’s. And even at DeSantis’ events, not all in attendance are sure, yet, that he is the candidate to beat Trump.

Trump’s Iowa state fair spectacle clouds DeSantis as Trump is joined by Florida officials” via Thomas Beaumont and Hannah Fingerhut of The Associated Press — Trump on Saturday renewed his reputation for defying norms and creating a mega-celebrity spectacle at the Iowa State Fair. Trump, in fewer than two hours on the steaming fairgrounds in Des Moines, attracted thousands of sweating, chanting supporters to his stops at the Iowa Pork Producers tent, a baby farm animal exhibit, and a popular Grand Concourse pub. DeSantis was on the fairgrounds at the same time. Trump was accompanied by about a dozen Florida U.S. House members, a shot at DeSantis who is making an aggressive pitch to Iowa Republicans.

At the Iowa State Fair, DeSantis can’t seem to catch a break” via Nicholas Nehamas of The New York Times — Drawing scorn from the left has always been part of the Florida Governor’s brand. And DeSantis’ appearances on Saturday with two of Iowa’s top Republicans — in addition to the interview with Reynolds, the Governor and his family rode the Ferris wheel with Sen. Joni Ernst — reflected the attention his campaign is showering on Iowa. But Trump, who also visited the fair on Saturday, proved impossible to escape, although the paths of the two candidates never directly intersected. DeSantis was trailed for much of the day by Trump supporters with placards trumpeting Trump as a “back-to-back Iowa champ” in 2016 and 2020. Trump of course did not win the 2016 Iowa caucuses, placing second to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He never conceded defeat.

—“Iowa supporter wonders why DeSantis isn’t more like Ric Flair” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Trump supporters and DeSantis super PAC officials spar at a Des Moines dive” via Adam Wren and Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — At nearly every one of his stops on Saturday, DeSantis found himself fiercely bracketed by Trump supporters, who seemed eager to not just disrupt the Florida Governor but to get a rise out of his team. Sitting down for a fair-side chat with Iowa Gov. Reynolds, DeSantis was drowned out by bells and whistles. As he flipped pork burgers at the pork tent, a flock of Trump supporters chanted “We love Trump” in his direction. Outside the pork tent, things were even dicier. One Trump supporter could be heard trying to convince a man in a DeSantis shirt that DeSantis hadn’t done enough as Florida Governor to prevent pedophilia and child trafficking. The DeSantis supporter was unmoved.

DeSantis is resetting his campaign again. Some Republicans worry his message is getting in the way” via Steve Peoples, Thomas Beaumont and Michelle L. Price of The Associated Press — DeSantis largely dismissed his own decision to replace his campaign leadership team as he returned to Iowa amid a weekslong reset. The Republican presidential hopeful also made no mention of the two rounds of campaign layoffs he made recently in response to unexpected fundraising troubles. Instead, DeSantis leaned into his central message, a self-described “war on woke,” and flashed a big smile as he courted an audience of roughly 200 cheering Republicans gathered at a family restaurant for the first of four scheduled stops on his latest bus tour through the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Is DeSantis stepping on his own toes?

DeSantis beefs up ground game in Iowa” via Natalie Allison and Sally Goldenberg of POLITICO — DeSantis is nearly a third of the way through his tour of each county in Iowa — but now with a Chair backing his campaign in every part of the state. Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting the Florida Governor’s presidential bid, has established 120 county-level Chairs across the state, with at least one in each of the 99 counties, the organization confirmed. The county-level recruitment is the latest sign of the DeSantis team’s aggressive networking in the first-in-the-nation Caucus state. But it’s Iowa where DeSantis is scrambling to close the gap between himself and Trump. The former President has an overwhelming lead in Republican Primary polls nationally, though a slightly narrower advantage in Iowa.

—”Poll: Ron DeSantis has 13% support in South Carolina GOP Primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

DeSantis wants to win over parents — but he’s focusing on the wrong issues” via Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux of FiveThirtyEight — At the core of DeSantis’ argument is the idea that parents’ ability to decide what’s best for their own children is being stripped away by the government — whether it’s via a mask mandate or classroom instruction that doesn’t match their values. The problem for DeSantis is that the other issues he’s focusing on are less of a pressing concern, even for Republicans. In its 2022 poll, Pew found that majorities of Republican parents (53% of dads and 62% of moms) are extremely or very satisfied with the overall quality of education their child is receiving at school. And when asked about whether the teachers and administrators at their child’s school share their own values, Republican and Democratic parents are virtually indistinguishable: A slim majority of all parent groups say those values are at least somewhat similar to their own.

— MORE 2024 —

Why Gavin Newsom and DeSantis are both itching to debate each other” via ­Edward-Isaac Dovere and Steve Contorno of CNN — President Joe Biden’s aides and Sean Hannity agree on this: They both would like to see Newsom debate DeSantis. DeSantis has gone from starting out as a worrisome contrast for some Biden aides to a monthlong campaign reboot, with his own advisers fretting they may not be able to turn his political fortunes around and looking for high-profile opportunities for him to stand out. And if the debate does happen, all Newsom sees is upside. Best case: He embarrasses DeSantis, adding to the doubts over whether his presidential campaign can survive. Worst case: He is the one who gets embarrassed, and DeSantis gets his moment — but against someone who isn’t running for President and can absorb blows that otherwise might have landed on Biden.

The DeSantis/Gavin Newsom debate is a win-win for Joe Biden.

Chris Christie claims Ron DeSantis ‘sounds like a really angry guy’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Is Florida’s Governor nice enough? One 2024 Republican opponent thinks DeSantis always sounds “pissed” about something. During an interview that aired Friday on WMUR’s “Conversation with the Candidate,” Christie depicted DeSantis as consumed by anger and unable to heal the divide nationally as a result. “He sounds like a really angry guy. He’s squinting his eyes all the time and pissed about something, you know, so I’m skeptical, right? I’m skeptical that somebody who’s that angry cares about healing the divide or has the ability to do it,” Christie said. The attack on DeSantis is the latest sign that Christie sees DeSantis as an easy target.

Vivek Ramaswamy pushes to win over Trump supporters” via The Associated Press — Ramaswamy was more than 40 minutes into a town hall in rural Iowa when a woman in the crowd posed a pointed question. Or perhaps it was a suggestion. “I know you want to be President,” she said. “But would you consider being Donald Trump’s Vice President?” The query drew light laughter from attendees and a lengthy response from Ramaswamy. (The short answer: No.) He says his strategy heading into the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is “speak the truth,” pointing to a banner emblazoned with the word “TRUTH” that serves as his backdrop and has become a campaign theme. The word — in all capital letters and a font and that resembles Trump campaign signage — is emblazoned on placards, T-shirts and stickers.

Vivek Ramaswamy works hard to reach out to Donald Trump supporters.

Six months into her ’24 race, Nikki Haley faces familiar challenge: Moving the needle” via Caitlin Byrd and Alexander Thompson of The Post and Courier — It’s been a busy six months for Republican Haley. She launched her 2024 presidential campaign, turned a sexist attack into a beer koozie, suggested that Biden will die in office if he’s re-elected, and invited Disney World to relocate to South Carolina. And, to her credit, she’s hit the campaign trail harder than anyone else, hosting 36 events in Iowa and 45 in New Hampshire since her campaign launch in mid-February. Nationally, her polling average has barely budged, going from 3.8% support when she kicked off her candidacy to 3.4% today. Haley brushes off the numbers, saying that the race will start to shift after Labor Day and that this moment is an all-too-familiar refrain in her own political story.

The strongest part of Trump’s Jan. 6 indictment has its own weaknesses” via Jason Willick of The Washington Post — Trump “had a right,” the latest indictment of him says, in what might be its most quoted line, “to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won.” Yet the bulk of the indictment is devoted to recounting instances where Trump did just that. It summarizes at length his false tweets, his false retweets, and his false statements to supporters, advisers, state politicians and his own vice president. The indictment shows that after losing the 2020 Election, Trump launched a malicious campaign of political lies. Trump’s many lies, the indictment says, were “integral to his criminal plans” to overturn the 2020 Election.


New quarterly fundraising report requirements kick in for Florida candidates” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida’s long-standing requirement for state and local candidates to file monthly fundraising reports is no more. The new schedule is quarterly, the same as for federal candidates. June was the last month for which monthly reports had to be filed under the old rule. The new reporting dates for state, county and municipal candidates are the 10th days of January, April, July and October. If the day falls on a weekend, the deadline is the next regular business day. The change is due to a sweeping voting reform package (SB 7050) Republicans pushed through the Legislature last Session.

There may be a full slate for this Hillsborough Commission race” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Another Republican, engineer Rico Smith of North Hyde Park, has filed in what’s expected to be a hotly contested race for the only countywide Hillsborough County Commission seat on the ballot in 2024. Smith joins fellow Republican Jim Davison and Democrat Mark Nash in the race, and Democratic former Commissioner Mariella Smith has said she intends to run. Another Democrat, former state Rep. Sean Shaw, has told local political insiders he was seriously considering it, but couldn’t be reached last week for comment. Term-limited Democrat Pat Kemp currently holds the District 6 seat.

Rico Smith is the latest entry in the race for Hillsborough County Commission. Image via Embarc Collective.


Florida hands out last of Hurricane Ian relief fund backed by Casey DeSantis” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — The last of the $63 million raised through First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hurricane Ian relief effort has now been allocated, about 10 months after the storm cut a destructive path through Florida, state officials said Friday. Nearly $7 million in grants were awarded Friday to repair Lee County’s waterfront, fix public boat ramps and aid in other long-term recovery efforts, according to a news release from Ron DeSantis’ office. The latest awards came about a week after the Orlando Sentinel reported that about $7 million in relief funds remained to be spent as the anniversary of the storm approached. The latest awards include $2.3 million to 17 long-term recovery groups in counties hit hardest by Hurricane Ian.

DeSantis appoints anti-LGBTQ lawyer to appeals bench” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis has named an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ equality to the appeals bench of Central and Southwest Florida. DeSantis appointed Apopka lawyer Roger Gannam to serve as a judge on the 6th District Court of Appeal, which hears cases from Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Polk, Orange and Osceola counties. For the better part of a decade, Gannam has made headlines for his legal battles against LGBTQ rights for the Liberty Counsel, an evangelical organization the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an extremist hate group.

DeSantis elevates Roger Gannam to the 6th District Court of Appeals. Image via the Florida Bar.

Classrooms have become political battlegrounds in Florida. Will it intensify this year?” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — As they prepare to start a new school year over the next week or two, many Miami-Dade and Broward public schoolteachers, students and parents are anxious over returning to a classroom, the place where some of the most controversial laws signed by DeSantis will play out. Laws or new rules by the Florida Department of Education dictate what can be taught about race, gender identity and sexual orientation, empower parents to challenge school library books and prohibit teachers from asking students about their preferred pronouns. DeSantis and his supporters, including conservative groups like Moms for Liberty and County Citizens Defending Freedom, say they’re giving parents who align with their views more of a voice in their child’s education.

The man behind Florida’s new Black history standards” via Lori Rozsa of The Washington Post — Florida teachers returning to the classroom this week face what many say are confusing new directives from state education officials over the instruction students should receive in certain classes. Among the most contentious: standards championed by DeSantis for teaching Black history, which must include discussion of how slavery could have provided beneficial skills to the enslaved and how mob violence against Black people included “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.” At a virtual training seminar by the Florida Department of Education, a session for teachers sponsored by the agency’s African American Task Force, none of the group’s long-standing members spoke. All have objected to the changes and say they were never consulted. One resigned in protest, calling himself “disgusted” with the new curriculum.

‘Teach the unvarnished truth:’ Geraldine Thompson, Maxwell Frost condemn Florida’s Black history standards” via Christopher Cann of the Orlando Sentinel — Several of Central Florida’s Black leaders and descendants of victims of the Ocoee and Rosewood massacres on Saturday denounced the state’s controversial African American history standards. State Sen. Thompson hosted the “Speak Out Town Hall,” which featured U.S. Rep. Frost. The event, held in the gymnasium of the James R. Smith Center in Orlando, drew well over 100 people. Among the speakers were representatives of families victimized in the 1920 Ocoee Massacre and the 1923 Rosewood Massacre. Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump was slated to attend but tested positive for COVID-19, Thompson said.

Consultant to DeSantis & Co. gets friendly rulings in his tough child custody case from a judge DeSantis appointed” via Noreen Marcus of Florida Bulldog — David Custin, a political consultant and lobbyist whose Republican-heavy client list includes DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, is racking up sympathetic rulings in his child custody case from a judge DeSantis appointed. Custin and his ex-wife Nanea Marcial have been fighting over custody of their two teenage sons for three years. Marcial, who works in New Hampshire now, says the boys go back and forth and stay with relatives in Key West; Custin says she’s illegally keeping them away from him. On Friday, the DeSantis appointee overseeing this brawl, Palm Beach Circuit Judge Darren Shull, signed a second order directing Florida sheriffs to pick up the boys and deliver them to Custin’s home in Kendall.

Advertisement— STATEWIDE —

Florida’s suspended affordable housing director struggled with debts” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Eight years before DeSantis chose him to be Florida’s affordable housing director, overseeing billions of state and federal dollars, Mike DiNapoli’s finances and career appeared to be in shambles. After decades of working in wealth management in New York City, he lost his job with the financial services firm UBS, where a customer, who said DiNapoli was her brother, accused him of stealing her money and forging her name on a check. Creditors were garnishing DiNapoli’s bank accounts. His nearly 10-acre equestrian estate in Ocala was in foreclosure and his homeowner’s association was pursuing him for past dues. In 2017, he filed for bankruptcy.

Mike DiNapoli’s finances and career appear to be in a shambles.

Unpaid taxes. False claims. What’s next for Florida lawmaker?” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Did you read the Sentinel’s exposé on first-term State Rep. Carolina Amesty? I haven’t cringed that much since I watched a compilation video of skateboarding wipeouts. Every new paragraph induced another wince. Reporters Annie Martin and Leslie Postal provided detailed reports about tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes on a home and business, bogus claims about the nonprofit university Amesty’s family runs and records that raised all kinds of questions. One unpaid tax bill totaled $19,000 on a shuttered restaurant she owned. (Amesty paid those taxes after the reporters inquired about them.) Another is for $18,000 in taxes on a house Amesty lived in.

How Florida’s Surterra is preparing for the possibility of recreational marijuana” via Shauna Muckle of the Tampa Bay Times — Cannabis players are optimistic that a Trulieve-backed ballot petition to get recreational adult use of marijuana on the ballot in 2024 will clear the state Supreme Court’s review process, and gain the 60% of voter approval needed to amend the state constitution. Surterra has witnessed plenty of controversy in recent years. Former Parallel CEO Beau Wrigley, who pumped $65 million into the company in 2018, stepped down in 2021 after a major acquisition deal fell through. Lawsuits have followed that allege the company concealed massive debts.


Greg Steube wants Biden impeached, says he supported Hunter Biden’s sex, drug habits” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Steube says it’s time for Congress to impeach Biden. The Sarasota Republican filed articles of impeachment alleging the Democratic President supported son Hunter Biden’s drug use, hiring of prostitutes and selling influence overseas. “It’s long past time to impeach Joe Biden,” Steube said. “He has undermined the integrity of his office, brought disrepute on the presidency, betrayed his trust as President, and acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice at the expense of America’s citizens.” Steube pointed at discovery and accusations leveled in the House Oversight Committee. Committee Chair James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, made public bank records that showed the Biden family has made $20 million from foreign nationals.

Greg Stube files articles of impeachment of Joe Biden.

U.S. sunscreen is stuck in the ’90s. Is this a job for Congress?” via Sandra E. Garcia of Yahoo — After months of prompting, I have finally managed to help my husband form a daily sunscreen habit. Whenever I see traces of paper-white cream in his dark beard, I think, ‘We’re halfway there.’ Hoping to avoid the white cast, heaviness and greasiness common in many sunscreen products available in U.S. drugstores, some Americans, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have taken matters into their own hands, opting for sunscreens manufactured abroad. The last time the FDA approved new active ingredients for use in sunscreens was more than two decades ago, and at times it can feel as if the rest of the world has surpassed the United States in the development of new sunscreen formulations and protocols.

U.S. Court of Appeals denies Florida’s motion to modify wine shipment injunction” via Caden DeLisa of The Capitolist — Florida’s bid to modify a long-standing injunction regarding wine shipments has hit a roadblock this week as the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled against the state’s motion. The legal dispute arose when a coalition of consumers and a winery located outside the state contested specific clauses within Florida’s beverage laws. These clauses were accused of unconstitutionally discriminating against out-of-state wineries by prohibiting direct retail shipments from wineries to consumers. The plaintiffs contended that the regulations unfairly favored in-state wineries and were therefore unconstitutional. The central point of contention revolved around whether the scope of the injunction should extend to include all alcohol vendors and producers or remain limited to wineries.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Florida’s African American history standards blasted at South Florida town hall” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Hundreds arrived at a historic Black church looking for answers about Florida’s controversial African American history standards and left ready to fight against what they see as increasing racism in the state. The one person they hoped to get answers from at Thursday night education town hall, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, declined to appear after initially agreeing to attend. So those attending spent much of the evening discussing how to fight against the DeSantis movement and the growing conservative activism marked by groups like Moms for Liberty, who have fought to get books removed from classrooms. “This is a tremendously important moment,” Miami-Dade School Board member Steve Gallon told the crowd at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens.

A town hall on African American studies attracted hundreds — with one notable absence.

State considers combining court circuits: What would that mean for South Florida?” via Rafael Olmeda of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A statewide Committee is looking at redrawing the boundaries of the state’s 20 circuit court districts. Florida’s 67 counties are covered by 20 judicial circuits, some covering five, six or up to seven counties. South Florida is unique in that each of its four counties are covered by one district, the 11th in Miami-Dade, the 15th in Palm Beach, the 16th in Monroe, and the 17th in Broward. Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, is the only other county with its own judicial circuit. All other circuits cover at least two counties, and the Third Circuit in North Florida covers seven. “We haven’t really looked at the circuit structure in the state since the late 1960s,” said Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter.

Hialeah Mayor acknowledges city’s 911 falls short in national standards calls response” via Verónica Egui Brito of the Miami Herald — The City of Hialeah’s 911 Communications Department has been in the spotlight since March, when one of its employees made a plea for help to increase the staff that responds to emergency calls. When el Nuevo Herald reported that the city’s 911 system failed to answer 4,716 emergency calls as of May 31, Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo Jr. denied the existence of a crisis. Now, though, the Mayor is acknowledging that the emergency unit has deficiencies in its response capacity, answering 83% of the calls within 10 seconds. The Mayor compared his city’s emergency unit to that of Miami-Dade County, which, with a population 10 times larger, has a call response rate of 83.63%, according to data he showed to the media.

Longtime Boca volunteer inducted into Florida Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame” via Melina I. De Rose of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Former Miami Dolphin Zach Thomas wasn’t the only South Florida resident to hear his name called this month for induction into a Hall of Fame. Bob Rollins, a longtime volunteer with both the Florida Youth Soccer Association and the Soccer Association of Boca Raton, was the 29th inductee into the FYSA Hall of Fame during the 2023 Annual General Meeting and Vendor Showcase on Aug. 4-6 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker who lives in Hillsboro Beach, was inducted into the National Football League in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 5. And Rollins followed suit that afternoon as he was recognized for his nearly four decades in the sport of soccer. He has held every position locally, ranging from coach to board member.

Heat advisory extended — again — for South Florida. When will the sizzling temps let up?” via Howard Cohen and Omar Rodríguez Ortiz of the Miami Herald — The roasting, toasting that South Florida has been feeling all Summer has continued with yet another heat advisory extension. A heat advisory, issued daily since Aug. 6, will continue through Monday evening for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It now includes mainland Monroe, too. Heat index values, or how the temperature feels, will reach 105-110 degrees between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. Overnight temperatures from Sunday to Monday will remain in the upper 70s to low 80s with feels-like temperatures remaining in the 90s which will provide little relief from the heat, the weather agency says.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

New State Attorney Andrew Bain lays out 100-day plan pledges to review dropped cases” via Christie Zizo of The Associated Press — Bain, the new Orange-Osceola state attorney appointed by DeSantis in the wake of Monique Worrell’s suspension, met with the area’s three major law enforcement leaders Thursday as he worked to establish his administration of the 9th Judicial Circuit. Bain met with Orange County Sheriff John Mina, Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith and Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez, according to a post on Orlando Police Department’s Facebook page. “As chief of police, my focus has been on reducing violent crime in our community. I look forward to working closely with State Attorney Andrew Bain to make sure together we are keeping violent felons off our streets,” Smith said.

Andrew Bain meets with local sheriffs to help set up his administration. Image via Facebook.

After DeSantis suspends Monique Worrell, new leadership fires staffer on maternity leave” via Christopher Cann of the Orlando Sentinel — A day after DeSantis’ suspension of Worrell, an executive staff member at the State Attorney’s Office who was on maternity leave was notified of her termination when investigators with the office accompanied by law enforcement made an unexpected visit to her home. Keisha Mulfort, the former chief of staff for the State Attorney’s Office and Worrell, went on leave on May 30, the day her daughter was born. She has spent time in the hospital due to birth-related complications, she told the Sentinel. Her leave is pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law providing certain workers job-protected leave when taking time off for medical reasons including pregnancy or birth.

Orlando preps $9 million fund to subsidize affordable housing units” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — For years, Orlando officials have been squirreling away general fund money into an account that one day could be used to subsidize affordable housing construction. Now, with an account totaling $9 million, they’re just about ready to spend it. The City Council next week is due to vote on an ordinance that would create a trust fund, which is a legal maneuver to allow the money to be lent to developers. That’s needed because the Florida Constitution bans local governments from lending general fund dollars to outside groups, but they’re allowed to create housing trust funds. Central Florida, of the nation’s toughest affordable housing markets, has a steep need for units for households below the median income.

Students return to Central Florida schools amid record heat wave” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida students headed back to class this week as temperatures climbed into the upper 90s, shattering decades-old records and prompting concerns about children spending too much time outside. Local districts say they’re exercising caution as students return to recess, athletics and other outdoor activities, as the National Weather Service issued heat advisories during much of the day Thursday, including in the midafternoon, when school dismissals and sports are in full swing. In Orange County, school board policies do not require activities to move inside if temperatures exceed any specific level, but a memo issued Thursday from district leaders urged schools to be “proactive with weather safety and heat illness prevention strategies when students are outside.”

Minion Land at Universal Orlando is here! From banana popcorn to blasting villains, see what’s in store” via Jen Juneau of People — Banana isn’t just a fruit at Minion Land — it’s a way of life. The new collaboration between Universal Creative and Illumination is officially open at Universal Orlando Resort, just in time for the end-of-Summer theme-park crowds to take in everything the Despicable Me universe has to offer in food, shopping and entertainment. Featuring tasty fare themed after characters from the hit animated franchise, whose five films have grossed over $4.4 billion, the area also boasts multiple shopping opportunities as well as a brand-new, interactive attraction called Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast, which takes guests through multiple levels of destruction and changes with each experience.


Forced to fire undocumented workers, owner of landmark Florida restaurant seeks change” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Richard Gonzmart, the fourth-generation owner of the iconic Columbia Restaurant chain based in Tampa, says it’s time for politicians to start listening on immigration. When federal immigration authorities arrived at his Sand Key restaurant in Clearwater to find outdated and noncompliant work documents for 19 of his employees, he was forced to fire them all — including seven people who had worked with his family for decades. “With 2,000 employees, it becomes very difficult to monitor it,’’ Gonzmart said. It’s a scenario that’s playing out across Florida with restaurants, construction companies and farms searching for workers as the political rhetoric over immigration is clanging up against a tight labor market and expanding population.

Richard Gonzmart says Florida needs a better immigration policy. Image via Facebook.

Creative Loafing Tampa sold to Texas media company” via Christina Georgacopoulos of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Creating Loafing Tampa’s ownership is changing hands once again. Chava Communications is purchasing the alternative media publication from Cleveland-based Euclid Media Group, which acquired CLT in 2018. Chava said readers, advertisers and partners can expect a seamless transition of ownership, with no disruption to regular publication schedules, according to a statement. The San Antonio, Texas-based media and marketing company did not disclose the terms of the transaction. The Orlando Weekly, San Antonio Current, Cleveland Scene and Local Culture were also purchased in the deal.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Reports of a bright ‘fireball’ streaking across the Gulf Coast likely to be space debris” via Brandon Girod of the Pensacola News Journal — Americans are looking up to the skies now more than ever after a July 26 U.S. Congressional Subcommittee held a hearing where three former military officers testified about UFOs, which the government now refers to as UAPs − unidentified aerial phenomena. While the hearing ultimately uncovered no evidence supporting the idea that extraterrestrial UAPs have visited Earth, sky gazers across the Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast caught a glimpse of a bright, colorful “fireball” that shot across the sky early Friday morning. The American Meteor Society, a nonprofit scientific group that collects data and reports on meteors and related phenomena, received approximately 54 reports regarding the incident.

Okaloosa County opens survey for public input on improving workforce housing” via Collin Bestor of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Okaloosa County is seeking your help. In March, the County Commission began using a consulting group, TPMA, to develop an attainable workforce housing strategy. As part of that process, the county has opened an online survey to better understand public opinion on issues such as housing affordability, needs and types of development. In a strategic plan laid out by Board Chair Trey Goodwin in March, he cited the following reasons for why the cost of housing has risen “significantly.”

Trey Goodwin asks for public feedback on affordable housing.

Elimination of Gainesville bus routes causes concern for those who use them most” via Lillian Lawson of the Gainesville Sun — In July, members of the Gainesville City Commission voted to eliminate five routes as part of an updated Regional Transit System Fall schedule due to a driver shortage and low ridership numbers. Nearly 3 million people traveled on RTS during the 2022-23 fiscal year. About 386,000 travel along UF campus routes. One of those riders is Adam Wojtulewski, who uses Route 40 more frequently after being hit by a car while riding his bike during his first year. Though he wasn’t seriously injured, he frets traveling safely along Gainesville’s busiest intersections. Traffic safety is a major issue for pedestrians who travel along some of the most dangerous roads in Gainesville. Wojtulewski said he understands it more than most after his biking accident.

‘Significant delays’ expected for Duval bus riders on first day of school” via Jason Mealey of News4Jax — Duval County Schools sent a message to parents Sunday warning of ‘significant delays’ on many of its bus routes on the first day of school Monday. The school system said the local effect of a national bus driver worsened last week when drivers who were expected to return for the upcoming school year chose not to. Duval Schools said the contractor it uses is 130 drivers short out of 800 positions. Duval Schools wanted parents to know, if possible, to make alternative plans for their students to get to school on time and not depend on their bus stop schedule. The district asked parents who must rely on the bus to ensure their children are supervised while at the bus stop since many routes will experience lengthy delays.


U.S. House panel in South Florida hears complaints about Hurricane Ian recovery problems” via Florida Phoenix — Chauncey Goss grew up on Sanibel Island and still lived there last Sept. 28, when Hurricane Ian showed up. Then came another ordeal, he said: navigating the federal disaster relief bureaucracy. The family applied for shelter in a motel and were directed to Alabama and then Brooksville, hours away from Southwest Florida. They were approved for a travel trailer to live in on their property in early December but were still waiting in late March for it to arrive. “I don’t want to sound ungrateful at all, because I’m not,” Goss testified. Still: “The senior leadership at (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and (the Small Business Administration), they need to be doing more than just putting boots on the ground here,” Goss said.

Chauncey Goss says survivors of Hurricane Ian must have more than boots on the ground.

COVID-19’s comeback in SWFL: How bad is it?” via Liz Freeman of Naples Daily News — The COVID-19 comeback this Summer in Southwest Florida has been mild with some people thinking their symptoms are allergies. What’s not entirely clear is if a new strain of the virus, EG.5.1. nicknamed Eris, is to blame. The more populous Lee County is seeing more cases compared to Collier County but that’s consistently been the trend since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020. Lee saw 610 new cases for the week ending Aug. 3, a 61% increase from 379 cases the week ending July 20, according to the state Department of Health. The data is reported every two weeks.

Slow down! New speed limits announced around some Naples schools during drop-off, ” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Naples Daily News — New rules take effect on specific city roads as students return to school in Naples. The city announced that starting Thursday, what used to be a 20-mph speed limit when lights flash, will now be reduced to 15 mph depending on the street’s posted speed limit. City officials said the Florida Department of Transportation has implemented new guidelines, emphasizing the safety of students and pedestrians. In areas where posted speeds are 35 mph or higher, a reduced school zone speed limit of 20 mph is now in effect. For areas with posted speeds below 35 mph, the new speed limit within school zones is 15 mph.

Pythons become an obsession: A night out with the hunters who caught that record-breaking 19-foot snake” via Bill Kearney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — I pull up at dusk to a half-dozen kids loitering at a remote, darkened gas station. These kids aren’t looking for trouble, though. They’re looking for pythons. Specifically, I’m here to meet record-holders Jake Waleri and Steve Gauta, two college-aged cousins who gained fame last month when Waleri yanked a 19-foot Burmese python from the swamp — the longest ever captured in Florida. We all hop into the back of two pickup trucks and head out on the dark roads that cut through Big Cypress Preserve, 30 miles east of Naples. Last year, almost 1,000 hunters entered the Python Challenge, snagging a total of 231 snakes. This year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which runs the contest, says there’s close to 1,000 hunters.

The 2023 Python Challenge nets a huge 19-footer. Image via WFLA.

Southwest Florida Intl. Airport ranked best in North America by wait times” via Rachel Murphy of WINK News — Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) was ranked No. 1 by passengers as the best airport in North America based on wait times. Casago conducted a study based on reviews left by airport passengers online. Each review was rated between one and five stars. RSW was the highest among the four airports ranked best in queuing. It had 66.67% of four to five-star reviews, followed by Portland International Airport at 61.29%.


DeSantis’ Florida shows the disaster of more competent Trumpism” via Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post — The Trump policy agenda — but with less drama and more competent execution.

That’s the platform most GOP presidential hopefuls are presenting to Primary voters. The idea seems to be that by toning down Trump’s more vaudevillian, law-skirting qualities, candidates can lure away the traditional conservatives who think of themselves as prioritizing pro-life values, adherence to the Constitution, limited government, fiscal restraint and religious freedom.

Unfortunately, no shift in style can obscure the fact that a truly Trumpian agenda serves none of these lofty principles. It subordinates them to one single goal: Owning the libs and other disfavored groups. And we’re already seeing proof of concept. DeSantis has lately been implementing such an agenda in his state — with an efficiency that shows how much more Trumpism undercuts conservative values when it doesn’t have incompetence to hold it back.

Take DeSantis’ draconian new anti-immigrant law, which took effect last month. It was supposed to demonstrate how a more disciplined government executive could deliver on Trump’s unfinished economic and cultural agenda. But evidence available so far suggests it’s undermining values that conservatives say they care about.

A legal hotline operated by the Florida Immigrant Coalition has been inundated with calls from people asking for advice on whether they should still seek care, says Renata Bozzetto, the coalition’s deputy director. She added that, in at least one recent case, a medical provider had canceled two appointments because of confusion over whether the law still allows undocumented patients to receive treatment at all.

“The chilling effect is absolutely the main issue,” she said. “It speaks to how the state shouldn’t be trying to do law for something that is supposed to be managed by the federal government. A lot of the confusion, it’s because the state policy is incoherent with federal policy.”


The lost boys of the American Right” via David French of The New York Times — What is going on? Why are parts of the right — especially the young right — so infested with outright racists and bigots? To understand the cultural dynamic, I want to introduce you to an obscure online concept, no enemies to the right. A tiny fringe adopts this mindset as a conscious ethos, but for a much larger group, it is simply their cultural reality. In their minds, the left is so evil — and represents such an existential threat — that any accommodation of it (or any criticism of the right) undermines the forces of light in their great battle against the forces of darkness. Attack the left in the most searing terms, and you’ll enjoy the thunderous applause of your peers.

Free Ron DeSantis” via Kimberly Strassel of The Wall Street Journal — Where’s DeSantis today? Smothered under a pile of polling data, focus groups and chattering advisers, which have spoiled his prior winning recipe. The problem isn’t the campaign’s tactics or its spending or where it is deploying resources. The problem is the Governor’s adoption of Trump-style grievance politics, which has him chasing a slice of GOP Primary voters that won’t have him anyway. For this, he’s ceding the rest of the electorate. It’s not too late, even after the resets. DeSantis has a perfect opportunity for a reversal at the Aug. 23 GOP debate — the first time that millions of Americans will truly focus on the candidates. Let the guy who shows up be the Florida Governor of old. Free Ron DeSantis.

In Florida, back to school is Shakespearean. Part comedy, part tragedy.” via Mark Woods of The Florida Times-Union — It’s back to school and I do not envy teachers, superintendents, principals, librarians, counselors, parents, students or pretty much anyone else trying to navigate the murky, punitive waters of public education in modern-day Florida. Hillsborough County officials said they would be teaching only parts of Shakespeare’s works, not the entire plays. One reason: to spend more time preparing for a new set of state exams. Another: fear of violating the Parental Rights in Education Act, the one dubbed “don’t say gay” by critics. Florida insists it doesn’t have a problem with teaching Shakespeare, although I’m guessing teachers still might want to avoid getting too far into how all the female roles were played by young men, leading some to describe them as Elizabethan drag queens.



— ALOE —

Thanks to Disney magic, Halloween now starts 11 weeks early” via Jacob Passy of The Wall Street Journal — Summer vacation is still in full swing across much of the country. That hasn’t stopped Walt Disney World from rolling out the jack-o’-lanterns on Main Street, U.S.A. The resort is hustling Summer off the stage and kicking off its Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party seasonal event on Friday. Yes, images of scarecrows and tawny foliage are elbowing into prime beach season. It is the earliest that the Halloween event at the Magic Kingdom, first held in 1995, has started. Disney is firing the first, extremely early shot in this year’s theme-park Halloween arms race. Some events, like Disney’s, are more family oriented. Others at Six Flags and Universal Studios lean into the horror, with actors in gory makeup trolling the grounds.

Halloween comes really early to WDW. Image via

Magical Dining sets new Michelin-selected tables this year” via Amy Drew Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel — When Bacán garnered a Michelin nod in Orlando’s inaugural selection last year, just five months after opening at the Lake Nona Wave Hotel, executive chef Guillaume Robin and his team were wide-eyed with surprise. While area locals were keen on the property’s restaurants, they began seeing more visitors trekking from the theme parks area. Locals, too, from neighborhoods including Windermere and Winter Park, staycation upticks where visitors would come to sample Bacán’s fare and stay the night. From Aug. 18 through Oct. 1, Bacán and 131 other metro-area eateries are offering three-course, prix fixe menus that allow guests to sample their fare, often at a deep discount. But only a handful are Michelin-selected.


Happy birthday to Rep. Shane Abbott, John Konkus, Wilton Simpson, Jr., and Meredith Stanfield. Belated best wishes to INFLUENCE 100’er Erika Donalds.


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.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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