Good Wednesday morning.
For the superstitious, the number 13 is unlucky … and when followed by a percentage mark, it’s not great for political campaigns either, as Ron DeSantis may be realizing.
This represents a low point for DeSantis’ support and is among the most significant leads for Trump since tracking began in December 2022.
Momentum seems to be with a candidate in the mid-single digits among the 3,404 Republicans polled between Sept. 15 and 17.
“Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is backed by 6% of the GOP’s expected electorate, outpacing former Vice President Mike Pence for the fourth-place spot behind entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who’s backed by 10% of the party’s Primary voters,” the polling memo asserts.
Turning to second-choice candidates, DeSantis is still the plurality draw for Trumpers.
“DeSantis is the second choice of 33% of potential GOP Primary voters who back Trump, while 38% of the Florida Governor’s supporters view Trump as their top backup option. Ramaswamy is the second choice of 24% of Trump supporters and 15% of DeSantis backers. 16% of Trump’s supporters, who represent about 10% of all potential GOP Primary voters, say they do not know where their loyalties would fall if Trump weren’t in the race.”
This poll accords with the Race to the White House national average, which shows Trump ahead of DeSantis 56% to 13%. DeSantis is on track for 94 delegates if the race stays crowded, and 212 if the field narrows after Nevada votes.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Simply Healthcare has teamed up with Bring Hope Now to expand Hope Squad youth suicide prevention education, training and peer-to-peer intervention programs in Northwest Florida schools. Recently, Simply presented an award totaling $115,000 to amplify Hope Squad resources in schools across Bay, Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties.
Based on the premise that it’s more probable youth will talk to their peers when they are struggling, the Hope Squad Prevention Program trains students to recognize suicide warning signs and respectfully report concerns to prevent a devastating outcome.
“Championing the mental and physical health of Florida’s youth is of utmost importance to us here at Simply,” said Cristy Castaneda, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach at Simply Healthcare Plans. “Hope Squad is instrumental in reducing the stigma around suicide and equipping students in Florida schools to take actionable steps to prevent suicide among their peers.”
“Hope Squad is currently in 60 Northwest Florida schools and our partnership with Simply Healthcare will expand the program into an additional 15 schools and supply 25 schools with Hope Squad library resources, providing guidance and support for thousands of Florida’s youth grappling with mental health challenges,” said Peggy Brockman, executive director of Bring Hope Now and a “master trainer” for the Hope Squad. “Many thanks to Simply for their commitment to youth suicide awareness and prevention. Together, we can save lives.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@ScottWongDC: Asked @ByronDonalds what he thinks of @Mdixon55 report that @mattgaetz is “100 percent in” for FL gov “OK,” he replied. Will Donalds run too? asks @lindsaywise “Probably,” Donalds says nonchalantly
—@CathyCAntunes: @JoeGruters owned @ChrisMZiegler in the @FLGOP battle over the loyalty oath. Who is the real Chair of the FL GOP? If this past weekend is any indication, it’s Gruters.
—@Seat3TLH: Just walked into Commission Offices and Mayor (John) Dailey is in Commissioner (Curtis) Richardson’s office discussing an upcoming Blueprint item. “Bugra is under an NDA with OEV. His documents were marked confidential. Someone messed up.”
—@SuarezMiami: “You have to put your integrity aside in the city of Miami,” @ArtAcevedo said while testifying during @JoeCarolloNow trial. While I was on the CIP, I had to fend off eccentric cops and lax Commissioners who believe corruption is a myth. @CityofMiami is not an easy place to work
—@SirBrayden: Pull the ol’ Disney trick and tell your teacher “I’m developing exciting plans to hypothetically finish the assignment over the next 10 years”
—@TamaraLush: You know, maybe the “gonorrhea alert” billboard on a major highway in Pinellas County isn’t putting our best foot forward for visitors. Just a thought
— DAYS UNTIL —
ESPN+ and Disney+ present ‘Toy Story’ based telecast of game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons — 11; Loki Season Two premieres — 16; Republican Party of Sarasota County honors First Lady Casey DeSantis with the 2023 Stateswoman of the Year Award — 29; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 33; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 33; Britney Spears memoir ‘The Woman in Me’ drops — 34; NBA 2023-24 season tipoff — 34; Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ released — 37; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 43; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 47; 2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 50; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 51; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 58; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 64; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 70; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 72; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 84; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 93; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 111; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 111; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 111; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 116; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 117; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 136; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 139; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 157; Michigan Democratic Primary — 160; Georgia Democratic Primary — 174; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 166; Super Tuesday — 167; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 172; 2024 Oscars — 172; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 223; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 233; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 243; Republican National Convention begins — 297; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 301; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 310; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 310; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 340; Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 394; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 397; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 457; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 513; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 592; ‘Moana’ premieres — 649; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 823; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 954; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 976; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,189; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,328; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,284; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,647.
— TOP STORY —
“New Rays stadium price tag: How much taxpayers are contributing” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — After years of waiting and debating, a plan for a new stadium is finally here. The St. Petersburg City Council and Pinellas County Commission still must approve the terms of the deal, a process that officials said will take until early next year.
Should the deal go through, it would mark the largest development project in Pinellas County history, County Commission Chair Janet Long said. Brandi Gabbard, the City Council Chair, called it “the largest redevelopment our city will ever see.”
The plan calls for about $600 million in public city and county money for the new ballpark, split evenly, while the Rays will cover the remaining $700 million in expected stadium costs. The city will pay as much as another $130 million for public infrastructure in the development around the stadium.
That money will not come from property taxes, though, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch promised during the news conference. Nor will it require new or increased taxes. The city will fund its portion, he said, through “bonding of a number of revenue streams.”
The county, meanwhile, will pay for the stadium with tourist bed tax dollars — a tax charged to people who stay in hotel rooms or short-term rentals — as has been planned all along, Long said.
For now, at least, there are no questions about the feasibility of such an allocation. As the county’s Tourism Board heard last week, after a recent analysis, the county expects to be able to pay for the renourishment of Pinellas’ eroded beaches without sacrificing funding for a ballpark or other tourist-tax projects.
“Urgency grows for Ron DeSantis in Iowa as Donald Trump looks to finish him off” via Nicholas Nehamas of The New York Times — For DeSantis, who is trailing Trump in Iowa by double digits, the state has become a must-win. Trump, who has campaigned sparingly here, appears to know it. The Trump campaign recently announced that he would visit Iowa five times in the next six weeks, including stops on Wednesday, in a clear attempt to scupper DeSantis’ bid for the presidency with a resounding victory in the Jan. 15 caucuses, the first votes of the race for the nomination. Trump’s enduring popularity with the Republican base is only one of DeSantis’ major hurdles in Iowa.
“The ultimate sign of DeSantis’ irrelevance: Trumpworld is moving on” via Jake Lahut of The Daily Beast — Two months ago, one of the leaders of the pro-Ron DeSantis PAC Never Back Down assessed what a really troubling scenario would look like for the candidate who was hyped as the GOP’s savior. “What would concern me,” Chris Jankowski, the PAC’s CEO, said in July, “is if I woke up one day and Trump and his team were not attacking Never Back Down and Ron DeSantis.” “That would be concerning,” Jankowski continued. “Other than that, we’ve got them right where we want them.” In just those two short months, that doomsday scenario is coming increasingly closer to reality for DeSantis.
“DeSantis says he can cut gas prices in half as President” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis says he has a plan to cut gas prices by half their current amount after the first year of his presidency. “We want to give people relief at the pump. Gas is almost $4 a gallon nationally. In 2025 we’re shooting for $2 a gallon, and that means you’ve got to let people do their jobs,” DeSantis said. DeSantis, who is going to outline his energy policy proposals during a speech Wednesday in Midland, Texas, says his plan would “embrace the resources that we have both in terms of hydrocarbons but also in terms of having an auto industry that makes sense.”
“Former DeSantis megadonor says he’s not ready to contribute to any 2024 presidential candidates” via Virginia Chamlee of People — Another prominent donor for DeSantis is taking a step back from contributing to DeSantis’ campaign, saying he’s “still on the sidelines as to who to support in this election cycle.” CNBC reports that billionaire Ken Griffin gave more than $100 million to state and federal candidates during the 2022 Midterms. In 2021, he gave $5 million to a political action committee backing DeSantis’ gubernatorial re-election bid. But Griffin isn’t excited by DeSantis’ presidential campaign, nor is he excited by any other Republican candidates facing off against Trump next year.
“DeSantis addresses question about Ken Griffin defection” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Asked about a former key supporter, Griffin, sitting on the sidelines of the Republican race for President, DeSantis reduced Griffin’s position to an objection to the state’s continuing conflict with The Walt Disney Co. “I think there was a report that said he didn’t like that we had stood up against Disney,” DeSantis said. The Governor called them “the granddaddy of them all when it comes to Florida politics.” “I’m happy to stand in the way of that and push back if we can’t get the education right,” he said.
—”The latest updates on the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary” via FiveThirtyEight
—”‘New kid on the block’ Ron DeSantis doesn’t worry about Iowa poll struggles” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
—“DeSantis drops to 5% support; 3rd place in New York” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“DeSantis takes a swing at Kevin McCarthy in hopes of hurting Trump” via Kimberly Leonard of POLITICO — DeSantis is gunning for McCarthy, attacking the embattled GOP leader from the right and aligning himself with insurgent conservatives in Congress who are threatening a government shutdown. What started as a private strategy session last week between DeSantis and House hard-liners has now erupted into a frontal attack on McCarthy. On Monday, DeSantis ridiculed McCarthy’s record on government spending and accused him of being complicit in running up a massive federal debt balance. On Tuesday, his campaign sent out an email admonishing McCarthy all over again while urging House Republicans to buck the Speaker in the current government funding negotiations.
“‘I’ve kept every one of my promises’: DeSantis claps back at McCarthy” via Kelly Garrity of POLITICO — DeSantis slammed McCarthy Monday after the California Republican dissed DeSantis over the weekend, saying the Florida Governor is “not at the same level” as his current rival Trump. “Kevin McCarthy says I’m a little different from Donald Trump. I agree,” DeSantis said in a post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. “In Florida, we run budget surpluses. We’ve paid down our debt. I’ve kept every one of my promises. Meanwhile, McCarthy and Trump worked together to add $7 trillion — more debt than our country racked up in its first 200 years — to the debt in just four years,” DeSantis wrote.
“Pro-DeSantis super PAC slams Trump over abortion criticism” via Filip Timotija of The Hill — Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting DeSantis’ presidential bid, aired a new ad Tuesday slamming Trump over his remarks about abortion. The ad, titled “Trump’s Betrayal of the Pro-Life Movement,” touts Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ six-week abortion ban bill and goes after Trump, who slammed DeSantis. The ad says that Trump “isn’t standing with them” and showcases his answer from the NBC interview: “I mean ‘DeSanctus’ was willing to sign a five-week and six-week ban,” Trump said.
To watch the ad, please click on the image below:
“DeSantis warns pro-lifers that Trump will ‘sell you out’ on abortion” via Valerie Richardson of The Washington Times — DeSantis warned pro-lifers that Trump will “sell you out” after Trump called for a compromise on abortion and lambasted the Sunshine State’s heartbeat law as a “terrible mistake.” “If he’s going into this saying, he’s going to make the Democrats happy with respect to the right to life, I think all pro-lifers should know that he’s preparing to sell you out,” DeSantis said. Trump has been hailed on the right as the most pro-life President in modern U.S. history, which is why abortion foes were taken aback by his recent comments on elective pregnancy termination. Trump said Sunday he wanted to “come up with a number that’s going to make people happy,” referring to gestational limits on elective abortion, but that the heartbeat law signed by DeSantis was a “terrible mistake.”
“DeSantis thinks pot is a menace to society. His biggest backer is working to legalize it.” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — DeSantis recently called recreational pot a “real problem,” lamented marijuana’s “stench” and grimly warned that “drugs are killing this country.” There’s just one hitch: The person effectively running DeSantis’ presidential campaign is orchestrating a pro-pot push in Florida. Axiom Strategies and Vanguard Field Strategies, firms helmed by prominent Republican strategist Jeff Roe, have been paid nearly $29 million by an organization pushing a 2024 ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana. But as Axiom and Vanguard try to circumvent DeSantis’ opposition to weed in Florida, they’re also trying to get him elected President — in part on an anti-weed platform.
— MORE 2024 —
“Joe Biden’s age is an asset in new Lincoln Project ad” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Some of Biden’s re-election supporters are attempting to flip the script on a common critique of the commander in chief. The latest ad from the pro-Biden Lincoln Project embraces the President’s lifelong and lengthy political career, amplifying the potential strengths of an otherwise perceived weakness in Biden: his age. The ad opens with the following voice-over: “Decades of leadership, a lifetime of experience and rock-solid determination to rebuild America.” Similar rhetoric returns toward the end of the ad: “Joe Biden’s years have taught him leadership, wisdom, toughness, how to ignore the noise and focus on the people.” Biden, 80, is the oldest sitting President ever.
To watch the ad, please click on the image below:
“Nikki Haley wants to make the presidential race about Kamala Harris” via Maeve Reston and Marisa Iati of The Washington Post — While delivering her constant refrain that a vote for Biden is a vote for Harris, Haley has called the Vice President incompetent and a failure and said she is not up for the job. She has told voters that the thought of a President Harris “should send a chill up every American spine.” And during the Vice President’s recent trip overseas, Haley recast the frame of the election to omit Biden altogether. “This is really me running against Kamala Harris,” Haley said on Fox News.
“John F. Kennedy grandson on video criticizing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: ‘I’m glad I did it’” via Lauren Irwin of The Hill — The grandson of John F. Kennedy stood by his comments criticizing his older cousin Kennedy Jr.’s 2024 presidential bid and backing Biden for re-election. “I’m very glad I did it,” Jack Schlossberg, the son of Caroline Kennedy, Biden’s ambassador to Australia, said. “I stand by what I said in my video. Schlossberg called RFK Jr.’s candidacy “an embarrassment” in a video released in July endorsing Biden’s re-election bid. Kennedy, an environmental activist, has raised eyebrows before his campaign and during it for backing various conspiracy theories, particularly related to vaccines.
“John Fetterman mocks DeSantis after clothing insult” via Thomas Kika of Newsweek — Sen. Fetterman hit back with a mocking jab after DeSantis took issue with his casual dress sense. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this week instructed the Sergeant-at-Arms to no longer enforce the chamber’s dress code. The code has, over the decades, been an unwritten rule in the Senate, with members typically wearing suits and general formal wear, kept in effect by the Sergeant-at-Arms. The new change will only apply to Senators, not their staff. “Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer said.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump’s ‘liberal Jews’ comment is denounced” via Tal Axelrod of ABC News — Trump’s message about Jewish people came on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. It’s not immediately clear what caused him to post what he did — but the denunciations were swift. The American Jewish Committee wrote on X in response that it was “deeply offensive and divisive. As we approach one year until the next election, we urge political candidates from the top to the bottom of the ballot to avoid incendiary rhetoric.” “Next time you attack American Jews, think twice before about doing it on one of our holiest days. Your antisemitism is loud & clear,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler added on the platform, formerly known as Twitter.
“Trump hits new poll highs with Black, Hispanic voters. What to make of it?” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Either Trump’s standing in early 2024 polls is inflated, or we are headed for a sizable realignment in how non-White voters cast their ballots. Multiple polls in recent weeks have shown Trump performing historically well among Black and Hispanic voters in head-to-head matchups with Biden, helping put him neck-and-neck with Biden in a way he rarely was during their 2020 matchup. Across five high-quality polls that have broken out non-White voters in the past month, Trump is averaging 20 percent of Black voters and 42 percent of Hispanic voters.
“Trump to woo striking union members in Detroit, skipping second GOP debate” via Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Trump is planning to travel to Detroit on the day of the next Republican Primary debate, injecting himself into the labor dispute between striking autoworkers and the nation’s leading auto manufacturers. The trip, which will include a prime-time speech before current and former union members, is the second consecutive Primary debate that Trump is skipping to instead hold his own counterprogramming.
“Trump takes credit for ending Roe after calling Florida abortion law ‘terrible thing’” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — Trump sought to clarify his position on abortion after facing backlash from some conservatives for calling Florida’s ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy a “terrible thing.” “I was able to do something that nobody thought was possible, end Roe v. Wade,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “For 52 years, people talked, spent vast amounts of money, but couldn’t get the job done. I got the job done! Thanks to the three great Supreme Court Justices I appointed, this issue has been returned to the States, where all Legal Scholars, on both sides, felt it should be.”
“Florida jury pool could give Trump an advantage in classified documents case” via Eric Tucker and Adriana Gomez Licon of The Associated Press — The classified documents indictment of Trump would seem, on paper at least, to be the most straightforward of the four criminal cases the former President is facing. Reams of classified files were stashed in Trump’s office and storage room, and he boastfully showed off to guests one such document he acknowledged was “secret,” federal prosecutors have alleged. His own lawyer is quoted in the indictment as saying Trump encouraged him to mislead investigators who demanded the documents back, and prosecutors have since secured the cooperation of a Mar-a-Lago staffer who says the ex-President asked about deleting surveillance footage at the Palm Beach property.
“Trump is said to have told aide not to acknowledge she knew of documents” via Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer of The New York Times — A former assistant to Trump has informed investigators that Trump told her to say she did not know anything about the boxes containing classified documents that he had stashed at his private club in Florida after leaving the White House. The assistant, Molly Michael, who worked for Trump in the area outside the Oval Office and then in his post-presidential office, told the investigators about Trump’s comments when she was interviewed as part of the inquiry into his handling of sensitive government documents. “You don’t know anything about the boxes,” Trump told Michael when he learned that federal officials wanted to talk to her in the case.
“Both politically and legally, Trump’s classified docs defense weakens” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Here we have Michael reportedly offering up notecards with secrets on one side and notes from Trump on the other. After the FBI search in August, she was cleaning up her office and found the cards under an organizer. She turned them over to the bureau, meaning that this example of Trump’s indifference to classified material could be presented as evidence in a public trial. What isn’t publicly known is whether those notes from Trump were written before or after he left office. It would make sense that they predate his departure from Washington, that he had briefing cards on his desk and jotted notes for Michael in the moment. If, however, the notes were written after he left office, the situation changes substantially.
“Judge allows lawyers to interview grand jurors who indicted Trump, 18 others” via Bill Rankin of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Lawyers defending two defendants in the Fulton County election interference case can interview the grand jurors who handed up the 41-count indictment, a judge ruled Tuesday. In a seven-page order, Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said the interviews must be voluntary and stay within the bounds of Georgia law so grand jurors do not disclose their deliberations. McAfee also said he will decide which questions are to be asked and will oversee the interviews if any of the grand jurors agree to be questioned. McAfee issued his order in response to requests from lawyers for Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, two attorneys who are charged with Trump and 16 others. Powell and Chesebro both filed speedy trial demands and are scheduled to stand trial on Oct. 23.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Registering voters in Florida has become more difficult and much more expensive” via Cecile M. Scoon and Debbie Chandler for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — People and organizations across the country and of all political persuasions work to extend the fundamental right to vote to all lawful citizens. Many of these organizations are making special plans to push for potential voters to get registered on National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 19. In a 2022 ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that Florida officials have spent the last 20 years intentionally making registering voters and voting more difficult by creating a variety of prohibitions erroneously. Since Walker’s order, the Florida Legislature has “gifted” Floridians with yet another nearly 100-page law with a slew of even more prohibitions, increased criminal penalties and fines related to voting.
“First-time candidate challenges Daryl Campbell’s re-election to central Broward House seat” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A first-time candidate with a fledgling nonprofit is giving a fellow Democrat, Rep. Campbell, a Primary battle in a central, inland Broward County House district. In 2021, Joshauwa Brown started Step Up! Inc., a nonprofit that aims to “empower underprivileged individuals in the community to overcome hardships through human services and advocacy.” It’s focused on housing and education. House District 99, one of the bluest in the state, is an inland district that covers Lazy Lake and parts of Oakland Park, Plantation, unincorporated Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors. The area needs more attention regarding state funding for improvement, and Brown believes he has the experience to do it.
“After lost gun incident, Bill Roedy demands Mike Grieco drop out of Miami Beach Mayor’s race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami Beach mayoral candidate Roedy says his opponent, former Rep. Grieco, displayed a “glaring lack of judgment” last month when he lost a loaded handgun at a Miami Beach park. He’s demanding Grieco drop out of the race immediately. “You can’t claim to protect the public if you can’t protect your own loaded gun,” Roedy, an Army veteran, said. “The first thing you’re taught in the Army is never leave a gun out of your sight. It has to be with you at all times. And he did that at one of the most heavily trafficked public parks in Miami Beach. It’s irresponsible, careless behavior, and I believe it has endangered public safety and disqualified him as a candidate.”
“Eileen Higgins nabs endorsement from pro-LGBTQ SAVE Action PAC” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Higgins’ re-election bid now has the backing of the electoral arm of SAVE, a locally based nonprofit dedicated to advocating for LGBTQ protections and equality. SAVE Action PAC announced its support of Higgins, the most senior of seven Democrats now serving on the County Commission. She is seeking a second and final four-year term. Orlando Gonzales, Executive Director of SAVE, said, “Eileen Higgins has been unwavering in her defense of our community at this important juncture.”
“Tal Siddique challenges Manatee County Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge for District 3 seat” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Siddique filed to run against Manatee County Chair Van Ostenbridge for the District 3 seat during the 2024 Primary Election. Van Ostenbrige became a political lightning rod during his first term as a Manatee County Commissioner and was quickly named Chair after just one year in office. He has drawn significant financial support, smashing a county government election fundraising record in June after just a month on the campaign trail. A Republican, Siddique has worked in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Air Force and has built and scaled IT consulting businesses worldwide. He is also a youth mentor and grassroots community activist.
— DESANTISY LAND —
“DeSantis announces implementation of Florida’s Prescription Drug Reform Act” via WEAR — DeSantis and members of the Florida Cabinet approved rules Tuesday to implement several provisions of the Prescription Drug Reform Act (SB 1550). The rules increase accountability among pharmaceutical middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). As signed by the Governor earlier this year, SB 1550 institutes the most comprehensive reforms to Florida’s prescription drug market in state history.
“DeSantis increases paid maternity leave up to nine weeks for state workers” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis increased paid maternity and family leave for state employees Monday during a meeting of the Governor and state Cabinet. DeSantis, a father of three and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said he understands how instrumental bonding in the first weeks of life is for new parents and their children. “When I became Governor, I made it a priority to champion policies that support families and empower parents,” said DeSantis about the additional leave time.
“Florida ethics cases sit on DeSantis’ desk as he vows to ‘break the swamp’” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — As DeSantis vows to clean up Washington if elected President, dozens of ethics orders seeking to punish the misdeeds of Florida politicians have been languishing on his desk in Tallahassee. The Republican Governor hasn’t signed an ethics order since Jan. 28, 2021, according to his official website. Until he takes action, politicians and public employees won’t have to fork over thousands of dollars in fines, even if they settled their ethics cases and admitted wrongdoing. The list of ethics charges includes a former Orange County Commissioner who failed to disclose she had a financial interest in a vote.
“R House reaches settlement with the state to end drag show complaint” via Ana Ceballos and Alyssa Johnson of the Miami Herald — A Miami restaurant has settled a legal dispute over a drag queen show with the state of Florida, ending a yearlong case that became tinged with partisan politics as DeSantis accused the venue of trying to sexualize children. The owners of the restaurant, R House, agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to end the dispute. The owners said the payment of the fine “did not result from the finding of any violation of any administrative or criminal laws. “We are very happy that the settlement contains no admission or finding of guilt for R House,” the restaurant’s owners said. “Furthermore, we are also pleased to confirm that the State’s extensive undercover investigation of R House found no unlawful sexually explicit content at R House shows.”
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will host an IRS Accountability Roundtable joined by local elected officials, business partners, and interested stakeholders to discuss how the IRS will use tens of billions of new taxpayer dollars to “target Florida businesses”: 2 p.m. Eastern time, Okeechobee Steakhouse, 2854 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach.
“Florida introduces child labor bill that removes restrictions on how long some minors can work” via Brandon Girod of the Pensacola News Journal — House Republican Rep. Linda Chaney filed a new proposal targeting Florida child labor laws that would eliminate restrictions on the number of hours 16- and 17-year-olds could work and revise the age certain employment restrictions apply. While the bill, titled HB 49, primarily targets employment restrictions around minors between 16 and 17 years old, it also replaces the word “shall” with “may” in many provisions revolving around when minors 15 years old and younger can work, which could create a legal gray area surrounding the law’s interpretation.
“Floridians who were previously undocumented as children fear lawsuit challenging protections” via Syra Ortiz Blanes of the Miami Herald — When Priscila Sánchez was a young student in Florida’s public school system, she excelled academically, fearing that if she didn’t her teachers might call her parents in — and the authorities would find out her family was undocumented. “I never wanted my parents to come in and be called for something that I did wrong. So, my thought process was, I have to be really good and not cause any problems,” Sánchez said. Sánchez, 31, came to Palm Beach from Mexico two decades ago with her family. She said the first time she understood what being undocumented meant was when she couldn’t afford to go to college.
“Florida looks to increase number of wetland mitigation banks, credits available to developers” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Mitigation credits for wetlands, while still controversial among conservationists, remain a high-demand service in Florida. Meanwhile, the state only has so much space in existing banks. Water quality officials told Florida lawmakers they intend to open another 30 sites on top of the 131 mitigation banks already in operation in Florida. Mitigation banks today cover almost 227,500 acres of land around the state. “The bankers are out there hustling,” said Christine Wentzel, a regulatory manager for the St. Johns River Water Management District.
“Legislature v. Executive? Lawmakers ask FDOT Oversight Board whether it actually does anything” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Florida House members seemed perplexed when they realized that an Oversight Board is practically powerless to monitor the state’s massive transportation agency. On Tuesday, lawmakers posed tough existential questions to Florida Transportation Commission (FTC) Executive Director Ralph Yoder, who appeared before the House Transportation and Modals Committee to deliver what on paper looked like an uncontroversial update. But the meeting featured members from both parties turning critical of the FTC and FDOT, both under DeSantis‘ control, a day after Daniel Perez described the Legislature as the “first branch” during a ceremony that DeSantis skipped altogether.
“Prisons use artificial intelligence to surveil calls” via Justin Garcia of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida is now using artificial intelligence to monitor and transcribe the phone conversations of the state’s 80,000-plus inmates. The Florida Department of Corrections paid $2.5 million to California-based Leo Technologies to begin using its surveillance program called Verus beginning in August. The program scans incoming and outgoing calls, including to inmates’ friends and family, and does automatic searches for keywords selected by prison officials and the technology company’s employees. The contract allows prisons to record and scan up to 50 million minutes of conversations. The only calls that the company says are excluded from monitoring are communications with lawyers, doctors and spiritual advisers. The company said the technology will help officials get notifications “in near real-time about past or potential criminal events.”
Happening Thursday — AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins will host “Conversations with Congress: A Bipartisan Discussion About the Future of Social Security” joined by Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Democratic Rep. John Larson of Connecticut: 8 a.m., aarp.org/SocialSecurityFuture and livestreamed on Facebook AARP Advocates Facebook event. Following the event, volunteers from around the state will be available to speak to the media about the Bipartisan Social Security Congressional Discussion beginning at noon Eastern; Zoom link here, meeting ID: 912 1423 9534; passcode: 588453.
“Space Florida Board authorizes $350k contract for new CEO” via Caden DeLisa of The Capitolist — The Space Florida Board of Directors unanimously approved a $350,000 contract for its incoming CEO and President Robert Long, a retired U.S. Space Force Colonel. Long’s contract, a $25,000 increase over outgoing CEO Frank DiBello’s salary, takes effect on October 2. Board members indicated during the meeting that the incoming CEO was prepared to sign the agreement this afternoon. “As we start this new era in Space Florida history, I’m really excited to work closely with Colonel Long as we aim to further promote growth within the aerospace industry,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who serves as Space Florida Chair. “And we have a lot of exciting work to accomplish. And I’m certain that the Board and ready to support our new CEO, and our state Florida team as we prepare for the future.”
— D. C. MATTERS —
“Rule vote for stopgap scrapped as GOP leaders weigh more cuts” via David Lerman and Aidan Quigley of Roll Call — House Republicans are considering making deeper spending cuts in their proposed stopgap funding bill to win support from conservative detractors whose votes are critical to the measure’s passage. The House had been scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on a rule to take up the bill, but GOP leaders postponed that vote after members acknowledged they wouldn’t have enough support to get the continuing resolution on the floor in its current form. Talks could now pivot to hard-line conservatives’ demand to pare back discretionary spending in the CR to the fiscal 2022 annualized rate of $1.47 trillion or about $119 billion below the $1.59 trillion rate in the current stopgap legislation.
“Biden to create new office of gun violence prevention” via Tyler Pager and John Woodrow Cox of The Washington Post — Biden on Friday will announce the creation of a new office for gun violence prevention, an escalation of the administration’s efforts to tackle the issue amid stalled progress in Congress. Greg Jackson, a gun violence survivor who is the executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, the senior director for federal government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, are expected to have key roles in the office, the people said. The new office will report through Stefanie Feldman, the White House staff secretary and a longtime Biden policy aide who has worked on the firearms issue for years, the people said. Feldman previously worked on the Domestic Policy Council and still oversees the gun policy portfolio at the White House.
“Debate over state and federal regulation of prescribed burns pits Biden against fellow Democrats” via Patrick Gleason of Forbes — The prohibition or minimization of regulated burns in agriculture demanded by some green groups and progressive politicians has led to the accumulation of woody biomass in forests and the spread of flammable grass, increasing the potential fuel available for wildfire. Some now point to the tamping down of prescribed burns as a factor that contributed to the devastating wildfires that destroyed parts of Maui in August, resulting in the deaths of at least 97 people. In 2017, the Hawaii Supreme Court interpreted a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing a “clean and healthful environment” as justification for upholding the denial of a permit for prescribed burns.
“Justice Department probe scrutinizes Elon Musk perks at Tesla going back years” via Rebecca Elliott, Emily Glazer and Kirsten Grind of The Wall Street Journal — Federal prosecutors are scrutinizing personal benefits Tesla may have provided Musk since 2017 longer than previously known as part of a criminal investigation examining issues including a proposed house for the chief executive. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York also has sought information about transactions between Tesla and other entities connected to the billionaire, people familiar with the investigation said. Prosecutors have referenced the involvement of a grand jury. The new information indicates that federal prosecutors have a broader interest in the actions of Musk and Tesla than was previously known and that they are pursuing potential criminal charges.
“Billions to connect everyone to high-speed internet could still fall short” via Madeleine Ngo of The New York Times — Along the southeastern edge of Oklahoma, where expansive cattle ranches and empty storefronts dot the landscape, the lack of high-speed internet service has become a daily frustration for residents. Wanda Finley, a fourth grade teacher in Sawyer, Oklahoma, said the satellite service at her home was often too slow to use, and it sometimes went out for days. She cannot schedule medical appointments, request prescription refills or pay her bills online until she gets to work. Nearly every weekend, she drives about 40 minutes to school to prepare her weekly lesson plan because it can take minutes for a single webpage to load at home. “I’m hoping it will change,” Finley said, sitting in her home on a recent afternoon.
“‘Overblown clickbait’: Matt Gaetz slams report he’ll run for Governor” via April Rubin of Axios — Gaetz slammed a new report that he plans to run for Governor, saying he’s focused on backing Trump’s 2024 campaign. A Trump loyalist and conservative firebrand in the U.S. House, Gaetz making a gubernatorial run would set him up to try potentially succeeding DeSantis, his ex-ally running for President against Trump.
“Lawmakers give new Senate dress code a dressing down” via Annie Karni of The New York Times — Sen. J.D. Vance spoke about a different gripe altogether: the relaxing of the Senate dress code, which he said would demean America’s governmental institutions. “My grandfather, who I never saw wear a suit, who didn’t own a suit as far as I know, would have never shown up to work in the United States Senate without dressing properly,” said Vance, who grew up in poverty in Appalachia and today purchases his bespoke suits from an Italian tailor in Cincinnati. The recent decision by Schumer to relax the Senate’s informal dress code and allow members to enter the chamber in casual attire, or even gym clothes, has set off waves of consternation and cries of dismay in the stuffy upper chamber. Many Senators, mostly Republicans, have publicly expressed concerns along the same lines as Vance’s.
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“Development, population growth tax Fort Pierce police; what’s being done to address it?” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Population growth and development within the city limits — particularly in the Okeechobee and Jenkins roads areas — are straining the police department with increasing calls for service. But the Fort Pierce Police Department is taking steps to address it, including hiring officers and working to improve call response times. “It’s starting to take a toll on the officers because of the volume of calls that they are taking over the course of a week,” Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney said in a presentation to the City Commission this Summer. Police reported 86,855 calls for service last year. Four years ago, in 2018, they answered 71,112 calls for service, records show.
“Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Patrick Lynn is retiring” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Lynn will be retiring as Fort Lauderdale’s top cop on Dec. 15, city officials confirmed. Lynn was hired in March 2022, just 19 days after the firing of former Chief Larry Scirotto. He also filled in as Interim Chief for the department while Fort Lauderdale searched for a new Chief in 2021. Lynn, who took over as Chief on April 4, 2022, brought 35 years of law enforcement experience to the job. He began his law enforcement career as a patrol officer with Pembroke Pines in 1982 and rose through the ranks before retiring as deputy chief in 2007. He then moved on to the Davie Police Department, where he served as Chief from 2007 to 2017.
“‘They’re testing our law’: South Florida to prosecute new spate of antisemitic attacks as felonies” via Shira Moolten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Wellington residents woke up one morning earlier this month to find over 100 antisemitic flyers littering their lawns, an occurrence that became so common across South Florida last year, it was almost routine. The antisemitic incidents, which appeared to taper off over the past few months, are popping up again — but this time, if the perpetrators are caught, they will be treated as felons for acts like littering, trespassing and displaying images on buildings under a new Florida law designed specifically to thwart them. “It appeared as if these acts were over,” Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said at a news conference at the State Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach, asking the public for help.
“With half of Miami’s elected officials under investigation, the city’s history is repeating” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — When two state law enforcement agents walked into Miami City Hall last week to arrest a City Commissioner, their arrival was a very public reminder that the Magic City is once again awash in corruption allegations. Now-suspended Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla is facing criminal charges that he sold his vote for $245,000 in campaign cash. At the same time, the FBI is separately investigating whether Mayor Francis Suarez worked behind the scenes to help a developer who was quietly paying him $10,000 a month. And local prosecutors have an open case prompted by accusations that several of the city’s politicians — in particular, Commissioner and former Mayor Carollo — held improper influence over the police force.
“Protecting the coast: PCB lifeguards rescue 220, assist 2,300 so far this year” via Nathan Cobb of the Panama City News-Herald — With the Gulf of Mexico the driving force behind local tourism, Daryl Paul says he believes lifeguards play a vital role in the Beach’s success. As beach safety director for Panama City Beach Fire Rescue, Paul said his lifeguards so far this year have rescued about 220 beachgoers from drowning. They also have made about 2,300 public assists, where they enter the water to prevent a rescue, as well as more than 970,000 public contacts, where they talk to beachgoers about how to stay safe at the beach. PCB’s lifeguard season runs from the beginning of April until the end of September. During that time, guards are stationed throughout the day in towers on each side of Russell-Fields Pier. They also patrol other areas of the city’s coast on ATVs and Jet Skis.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“Law firm puts Daytona Beach on top of ‘most dangerous’ Florida cities list” via Brenno Carillo of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — No matter where you live, you have a general idea of where both the high- and low-crime areas are located — which cities are the safest and which are among the “most dangerous.” But if you are a Volusia County resident who also calls Daytona Beach home, has it ever crossed your mind that you were living in the “most dangerous city” in Florida? At least that’s the conclusion of a study conducted by personal injury lawyers at The Schiller and Kessler Group, a law firm with offices statewide. The firm used data from the FBI between 2015 and 2019 “to determine which of Florida’s 65 most populous cities are statistically the most dangerous to live in.”
“Monique Worrell reinstatement lawsuit backed by 5 former Florida Supreme Court justices” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — Five former Florida Supreme Court justices joined a legal brief filed Monday supporting Worrell’s lawsuit to get her job back as Orange-Osceola state attorney. The five former justices, Harry Lee Anstead, Rosemary Barkett, Barbara Pariente, James E.C. Perry and Peggy Quince were among 121 current and former prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and law enforcement leaders from around the country to back Worrell in her case before the Florida Supreme Court. They characterized DeSantis’ suspension order, which accused Worrell of not aggressively prosecuting certain crimes, as “at best, policy disagreements as vague claims of incompetence and neglect of duty.”
“Brevard wants Cocoa Beach, Indialantic, Melbourne Beach to pay more of cost of lifeguards” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Brevard County Commissioners want three municipalities to chip in for 50% of the cost of lifeguards stationed at their beaches, in locations where there are adjacent city-maintained parks. The County Commission unanimously approved this plan, proposed by Commissioner John Tobia, which would be effective with the 2024-25 budget year that begins Oct. 1, 2024. Under the plan, Cocoa Beach, Indialantic and Melbourne Beach would pay a total of just over $1 million for their share of lifeguard costs ― nearly seven times what they currently pay. Affected sites would be Cocoa Beach Pier, Coconuts/Minutemen Causeway, Shepard Park and Tulip Avenue in Cocoa Beach; the Boardwalk in Indialantic; and Ocean Avenue in Melbourne Beach.
“DeLand police captain fired for allegedly making sexist, homophobic comments” via Patricio G. Balona of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A DeLand Police Department captain who has been under investigation since February for allegedly making racist, sexist, and homophobic comments has been fired. “After a thorough internal affairs investigation, the City Manager and Police Chief have determined that Captain Francisco Williams’ employment can no longer continue with the city. Williams was terminated effective Tuesday,” department representative Vicki Karr said in a statement. There were 15 allegations made against the captain, according to the Internal Affairs report, resulting in 20 violations. Of those, 11 were sustained. On one occasion, the investigation shows that Williams made derogatory remarks in the presence of Police Chief Jason Umberger.
“Disney plans to spend $60B on theme park division over 10 years” via Dewayne Bevil and Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — The Walt Disney Co. revealed plans to invest $60 billion in capital expenditures for its Parks, Experiences and Products division over the next 10 years. That amount would be double what it has spent in the past decade on that part of its business. Potential growth at Walt Disney World could get entangled with the entertainment company’s high-stakes political and legal battle with Gov. DeSantis and his hand-picked Tourism Oversight Board. “Orlando business interests should be concerned Disney might not carry through with that proposed investment in light of legislation and lawsuits involving the state and Disney World,” said Richard Foglesong, a Rollins College professor who wrote “Married to the Mouse,” a book about Disney World’s origins.
— LOCAL: TB —
“Check out renderings of the Rays’ new stadium in St. Petersburg” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — We’re several years away from a proper first look at the Tampa Bay Rays’ proposed $1.3 billion replacement for Tropicana Field, announced Tuesday in a news conference with St. Petersburg and Pinellas County leaders. But in new renderings and images from the team’s original response to the city’s request for proposals for the 86-acre Tropicana Field site, we can get a sense of how the Rays and co-developers Hines see things. The new stadium would go in the current Trop parking lot. Developers would erect a parking garage in order to give fans coming to games over the next three seasons a way to get to the stadium. Once complete, the development will have 14,000 parking spaces.
“Here’s what else is in the $6.5 billion Tropicana Field redevelopment” via Jay Cridlin and Rebecca Liebson of the Tampa Bay Times — For baseball fans in Tampa Bay and beyond, the big news Tuesday was the Rays reaching a deal with the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to build a new $1.3 billion stadium on the site of Tropicana Field, with the team paying more than half. But the stadium is only part of the entire 86-acre, $6.5 billion redevelopment of the Gas Plant District. Over 20 years, the team and its development partner, global real estate investment firm Hines, aim to build out a mixed-use district that will surpass major regional developments like Water Street Tampa and Midtown Tampa in both acreage and cost.
“Group calls for more housing initiatives amid news of Rays deal with City of St. Petersburg” via Jada Williams of ABC Action News — After much anticipation about the future of the Tampa Bay Rays future home, the wait is over. “Major league baseball is here to stay, right here,” said Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg. “Well, technically, in the parking lot, just beyond the scoreboard and Booker Creek.” Fanfare and celebration filled Tropicana Field Tuesday at word of the news. However, not far away at City Hall, a different emotion coursed through Faith in Florida and concerned citizens.
“What if the Trop site is actually a boon instead of a bust for Rays?” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times — The idea of having 86 acres in the middle of a city that can be completely re-imagined into a village of homes, corporate offices and entertainment options, with a new stadium as the centerpiece, could turn a woebegone site into Tampa Bay’s newest destination spot. The Rays are turning to the example of The Battery, which opened in Atlanta in 2017 and was conceived as an entirely new community built around a ballpark. The Battery sits on a tract of land that is about 30% smaller than the Trop site, but includes corporate offices for Comcast, Papa John’s and other businesses, as well a hotel, condos, restaurants, bars and retail.
—”Tampa City Council meets to set budget” via Fox Tampa Bay
“Tampa’s biggest events could get budget cuts as the city tries to save on costs” via Aaron Mesmer of Fox Tampa Bay — Cuts to some of Tampa’s biggest events could be on the table, as City Council members try to finalize the city budget during a public meeting Tuesday. Tampa’s Boom by the Bay July 4 celebration and St. Patrick’s Day River O’Green Festival are two large events for which Council members specifically said they wanted to look at potential cost-savings. According to the Mayor’s office, Boom by the Bay costs the city about $60,000, while the River O’Green Festival costs about $20,000.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“Jacksonville City Council nixes option for food, beverage tax in fight against homelessness” via Hanna Holthaus of The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union — The possibility of a specialized tax brought a usual mix of groups to City Hall Monday: restaurateurs, homelessness resource organizations, domestic violence advocates and neighborhood association leaders. A City Council Committee was set to vote on giving Jacksonville the possibility of a 1% food and beverage tax to build a homelessness trust fund, following Miami-Dade County’s model, but one of the bill’s sponsors ultimately withdrew the option after it became clear it would not pass in a Committee vote. The full Council will vote on the withdrawal on Sept. 26. If passed in Tallahassee next year, the legislation would have returned to Duval County for City Council members to debate.
“New 65-lot residential subdivision for Beulah area approved by Escambia County” via Edward Bunch III of the Pensacola News Journal — A new 65-lot residential subdivision may be coming to Beulah soon. An application for the project was approved by Escambia County’s Development Review Committee on Sept. 12. A timeline for the development’s groundbreaking and completion is not yet available. The Seminole Bend project will construct about 65 new residential lots across more than 36 acres of land. The type of homes that will be constructed on the lots could not be confirmed at the time of writing, but the setup of the site plans filed with Escambia County’s Development Review Board suggests that townhomes might be built in Seminole Bend.
“Santa Rosa revised its development codes. What’s changing about clear cutting — and what’s not” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — The Santa Rosa County Land Development Code contains a whole set of guidelines governing the protection of trees and a fairly extensive list of trees that are considered protected by county ordinance. So how is it that in seemingly every county location at which developers are at work, there never seems to be a tree in sight? Clear-cutting is the term local conservationists use for the phenomenon, and they have long cried out for County Commissioners to put a halt to the practice. Clear-cutting, and ways to regulate the practice, were debated at some length Monday as the County Commission discussed some of the more controversial issues it was facing in debating final approval of revisions to its Land Development Code.
“Gainesville receives federal grant to revitalize East University Avenue neighborhood” via Nora O’Neill of The Gainesville Sun — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given Gainesville $500,000 as part of a neighborhood initiative program to transform east Gainesville, the city announced at a news conference Friday. The HUD Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant is meant to revitalize public housing and encourage community development, said Pamela Davis, the CEO of Gainesville Housing Authority. “I’m just so thankful,” Mayor Harvey Ward said. “This city is blessed with lots of great opportunities for collaboration and a lot of tremendous folks who are able to take advantage of the opportunities that come down to us from the federal government, from the state government, and to make the most of our community together. Today is a great example of one of those opportunities.”
“Dan Markel case: New judge assigned a month before start of Charlie Adelson murder trial” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — With roughly a month to go until jury selection, a new judge has been assigned to preside over the murder trial of Adelson, the accused ringleader in the plot to kill Florida State law professor Markel. On Friday, Chief Judge Frank Allman of the 2nd Judicial Circuit assigned the high-profile case to Leon Circuit Judge Stephen Everett, who replaces Leon Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler. The one-page order, entered in chambers, did not offer any explanation. “From what I understand, it’s because Judge Wheeler is no longer assigned to criminal court,” said Elizabeth Garber, trial court administrator for the 2nd Circuit. “He’s assigned to Family Court.”
“First Tee — Tallahassee chosen as LPGA-USGA Girls Golf site” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The LPGA has selected Tallahassee as a site for U.S. Girls Golf, an organization that provides opportunities for girls ages 6 to 17 at all skill levels to play golf, build friendships and experience competition in a supportive environment. “We are thrilled to be able to introduce girls in our community to the game of golf,” said Tracy Marple, the site director for LPGA Girls Golf and First Tee-Tallahassee. “We are on a mission to change the face of the game by inspiring girls to pick up a club, enjoy the outdoors, make new friends, while building perseverance and confidence.” First Tee-Tallahassee is adding Amelia Mauer to its team to serve as program coordinator for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf. She previously worked at First Tee-Sarasota/Manatee.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Sarasota School Board approves $1.5B budget as new school construction continues” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Sarasota County School Board adopted a $1.5 billion budget at a special meeting Monday, concluding the district’s yearly budget process. The Board voted 4-1 to approve the budget final and tax rate, with only Chair Bridget Ziegler in dissent. With the $1.5 billion budget, the Board also approved a slight decrease in the local property tax rate, to about $618 per $100,000 in taxable value, to hire additional staff and provide benefits, according to material on the Board agenda. While the property tax rate decreased, property values continued to rise steeply in Sarasota County, which accounts for much of the increased revenue in the district’s budget.
“Study shows more Sarasota-Manatee retirees are struggling economically” via Saundra Amrhein of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — For older residents in Sarasota feeling a dramatic drop in their quality of life, experts have a message: You are not alone. In the five-county region of Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, a recent study shows that people over the age of 65 make up the fastest-growing age group of residents living on the economic edge. Those findings stem from the latest ALICE Report, released earlier this year by United Way Suncoast and its research partner United for ALICE — which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. As analysts continued to comb through the data, one development stood out: seniors are increasingly in trouble.
“HCA Florida Blake Hospital names new CEO” via Devonta Davis of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — HCA Florida Blake Hospital in Bradenton has its next CEO, according to HCA Healthcare West Florida Division President Jyric Sims. Steve Young will take the reins as the hospital’s latest leader, bringing nearly 15 years of health care experience to the team. Young previously served as CEO of HCA Florida Englewood Hospital since September 2020, overseeing a $10 million renovation of the emergency department, more than doubling the number of patient care bays and adding endoscopy/bronchoscopy suites.
— TOP OPINION —
“Maybe Gaetz is right” via Michelle Cottle of The New York Times — Miffed at the Speaker’s handling of the spending fight, the right’s hard-liners have been threatening to oust him, shut down the government, or both. His attempt to placate them by announcing an impeachment investigation into Biden went over poorly, prompting multiple Freedom Caucusers to scold him for trying to buy them off.
Gaetz, the Florida Congressman and frontman for the rebels who temporarily blocked McCarthy’s Speakership in January, dismissed the move as a disingenuous “baby step,” accused him of being “out of compliance” with his commitments to hard-liners and threatened to force daily votes to vacate the Chair — that is, depose him. All of which apparently sent McCarthy into a profanity-laced tirade at a closed-door conference meeting that, according to multiple attendees, boiled down to (and here I’ve tidied it up to be family friendly): If you want to file a motion to vacate, file the flipping motion!
Here’s the thing. Gaetz & Company have a point: McCarthy is out of compliance with several of his promises — or at least several they claim he made. (That’s the problem with secret backroom deals.) So, if the rabble-rousers want to be taken seriously going forward, they need to stop all the chest-thumping. It’s time to step up and file the flipping motion.
The extremists are easy to denounce, but they are not to blame for the chaos consuming the House. It is McCarthy who led them to believe he would champion their policies and priorities. And it is McCarthy who elevated their influence in the conference, empowering them to wreak even greater havoc.
Of course, they are going to make more and more outrageous demands. That’s what they do.
— OPINIONS —
“Neo-Nazis surge in Florida. Don’t you dare act surprised” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida has been full of Nazi news lately. Neo-Nazi groups have staged demonstrations near Disney and in Altamonte Springs. They’ve blanketed neighborhoods with flyers, urging others to “protect the purity of the white Aryan woman.” One neo-Nazi was arrested for criminal mischief Sunday. Another was arrested a few days earlier. A man used a rifle with a swastika on it to slaughter three people in Jacksonville. Besides, neo-Nazi groups don’t just preach hate against Judaism. This may make you mad. Or sad. It should. But don’t you dare act surprised. Because this is an ugly, natural extension of the divisive culture wars that have been celebrated in Florida in recent years. You can’t demonize gay people and Black people and then go: Gee, I wonder why some folks are also demonizing Jewish people?
“Risking lives in Florida for political ambition” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Lives are necessarily sacrificed in the national defense, but no imaginable justification exists to risk lives for political ambition, like DeSantis in his floundering quest for the presidency. It’s all about getting to the right of Trump on a subject that appeals to the know-nothing wing of their party. DeSantis and his quack Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo descended into the depths of irresponsibility when they called on Floridians under 65 to refuse the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The toll would be much higher, but for the vaccines that were developed in record time by the scientists DeSantis scorns and were distributed swiftly by Trump who’s DeSantis’ major obstacle to the Republican presidential nomination.
“‘Expelliarmus!’ Move to ban Harry Potter from Florida school sign of DeSantis’ overreach” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — In case you missed it, Florida’s book-banning efforts have resulted in a complaint to remove a Harry Potter novel from a Jupiter elementary school. A parent has lodged an informal complaint aimed at denying other parents’ children access to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the school library at Jerry Thomas Elementary School. Hip, hip, hurrah! Or as they’d say in Harry Potter lingo: “Expelliarmus!” I don’t know about you but I’m smelling the freedom here. There’s nothing more Florida these days than validating DeSantis’ woke-a-dope campaign initiatives. And in this case, that means demanding that other people’s children be kept from reading a book that offends you in any number of ways.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Publix rolls out limited edition subs for football season” via Maggie Duffy of the Tampa Bay Times — Publix worked with corporate chefs to create some Pub Subs themed for NFL teams, representing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins. Obviously, we care about the Bucs sub the most, featuring chicken tenders with bacon and cheese, topped with “spicy gold sauce” — probably like a mustard barbecue sauce and definitely a pirate reference. The Jaguars’ sub is inspired by barbecue — chicken tenders are topped with coleslaw and barbecue mayo. With chicken and waffles in mind, on the Falcons sub tenders get sweet maple seasoning, bacon and peach preserves — because Atlanta — then dressed in sriracha mayonnaise. The Dolphins get a Cuban with ham, pulled pork and Swiss.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today is Rep. Jason Shoaf, former Reps. James Grant and Frank White, Chloe Barr of Allison Aubuchon Communications, Kevin Derby, Ken Detzner, our former colleague Drew Dixon, Jeff Sadosky, and the Governors Club GM Barry Shields.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.