Good Tuesday morning.
Capital City Consulting has added Kaley Flynn, a former policy chief for Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Office of Policy and Budget, to the firm’s deep bench of expert consultants.
“Kaley brings the firm a deep knowledge of the Governor’s office, the state budget and policy expertise dealing with pressing issues regarding foreign affairs and national security,” said Capital City Consulting co-founder Nick Iarossi.
“The political landscape in Florida is evolving quickly, and we must offer our clients individuals with the skills to help them navigate the challenging landscape. Kaley is an exceptional addition to the firm’s bench of expert consultants.”
Before joining Capital City Consulting, Flynn spent 13 years in state government, gaining experience in the Attorney General’s office, as a committee staffer in the Florida House and then as an appropriations staff member before most recently serving in the Governor’s Office.
“For over four years, Kaley has been an integral part of our team in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget,” said Chris Spencer, Director of the Office of Policy and Budget under DeSantis. “In our office, she has helped advance Gov. DeSantis’ legislative and policy agenda to ensure Florida remains a bastion of liberty. I am confident she will continue to excel in the private sector, promoting the growth of the ‘Free State of Florida.’”
Government affairs expert Nick Lowe is joining the global bipartisan public strategy firm Mercury as senior vice president of the Florida office.
Lowe brings over a decade of experience in government relations, political fundraising and consulting, as well as a deep commitment to public safety and service. He will join Mercury Florida’s growing government affairs team, as they expand their offerings to include a focus on public safety, hospitality and tourism policy and business development.
“We are thrilled to welcome Nick to the Mercury family and expand our government affairs services to include public safety and tourism policy thanks to Nick’s expertise,” said Mercury Partner Ashley Walker. “Nick’s passion for service, expert ability to build strong partnerships across industries, and background as an effective advocate for meaningful issues will prove to be key assets to our clients.”
Previously, Lowe served as the Director of Industry, Corporate, Membership and Sponsor Relations for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, where he managed political fundraising, membership budget and retention and sponsorship. Before that, he also worked as a government affairs consultant where he successfully secured millions of dollars in funding and passed lifesaving legislation on behalf of clients such as WeatherSTEM and Pyramid, Inc.
“I am proud to join the team at Mercury and work alongside the talented minds at the firm,” said Lowe. “I look forward to bringing my experience and relationships to problem-solve, find new opportunities, and ultimately deliver wins for our clients.”
Here are a few other items on my radar:
👵 — Mighty grandmas: “My body, my choice” isn’t a sentiment for just women of childbearing age; older women are there, too. And they vote. A must-read analysis from New York Times’ Chief Political Analyst Nate Cohn looks at the power of older women, and the effect their statistically longer-than-men life expectancy has on voting trends. He also looks at trends among the shrinking demographic of moderate Republicans and the follies of national polling. Read more here.
💀 — Congressional deaths of consequence: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein was the first Senator to die in office since John McCain in 2018, but despite the five-year gap in senatorial losses, such deaths have actually been fairly regular since 1789, according to a historical analysis by The New York Times. It’s an interesting read highlighting who died, under what circumstances and with what consequences, including shifts in political power. Read more here.
🎧 — Film Florida Podcast is back: Film Florida is launching its sixth season of its podcast highlighting the people and stories that make up the multibillion-dollar film industry in Florida. Episodes are available on Apple, Spotify, Podbean, Pandora, the iHeartRadio app, Amazon, Google, YouTube and the Film Florida website. The first episode of the new season will feature Trilith Studios President and CEO Frank Patterson. Read more here.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@LophanzaB: I’m honored to accept Gov. @GavinNewsom‘s nomination to be U.S. Senator for a state I have made my home and honored by his trust in me to serve the people of California and this great nation.
—@JimmyPatronis: An IRS contractor stole (Donald) Trump’s tax returns and leaked them. Inexcusable. Why weren’t there better controls in place? If they can do this to a President, they can do it to us all. Instead of spending billions on the IRS, we need to investigate why they’re targeting conservatives.
—@CoryMillsFL: Many media outlets and some Americans are calling what they are seeing right now in Congress “chaos.” Reality, is that why it appears as chaotic, is because we’ve become accustomed to the swampy nature of D.C. and the status quo of fiscal irresponsibility. What is actually occurring is that many in Congress are trying to change the broken institution back to how it was intended to work, FOR THE PEOPLE!
—@RepCarlos: Time and time again, @SpeakerMcCarthy has delivered results for the American people. He’s committed to reducing spending & countering (Joe) Biden’s reckless agenda for America. With divided government and a tight majority, I’ve been proud to stand with Speaker Kevin McCarthy
—@StockMKTNewz: The Chiefs-Jets game last night on NBC $CMCSA averaged 27 million viewers making it the most-watched Sunday show since Super Bowl LVII on FOX in February Viewership among females was up across all age groups adding more than 2 million female viewers
— Paul Dellegatto⚡️FOX (@PaulFox13) October 2, 2023
— DAYS UNTIL —
Loki Season Two premieres — 3; Republican Party of Sarasota County honors First Lady Casey DeSantis with the 2023 Stateswoman of the Year Award — 16; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 17; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 20; Britney Spears memoir ‘The Woman in Me’ drops — 21; NBA 2023-24 season tipoff — 21; Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ released — 24; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 34; ‘The Marvels′ premieres — 36; 2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 37; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 45; ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ premieres — 50; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 51; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 57; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 59; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 71; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 80; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 98; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 98; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 98; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 103; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 104; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 123; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 126; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 144; Michigan Democratic Primary — 147; Georgia Democratic Primary — 161; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 153; Super Tuesday — 154; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 159; 2024 Oscars — 160; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 165; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 211; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 220; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 230; Republican National Convention begins — 284; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 288; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 297; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 297; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 327; Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 371; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 384; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 444; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 500; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 579; ‘Moana’ premieres — 636; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 810; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 941; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 963; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,176; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,315; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,271; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,634.
— TOP STORIES —
“Matt Gaetz files motion to oust Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker” via Marianna Sotomayor and Mariana Alfaro of The Washington Post — Gaetz and a handful of hard-right Republicans have repeatedly threatened to go after McCarthy’s Speakership if he relied on Democratic votes to pass any spending legislation, which happened Saturday after McCarthy could not get a majority of Republicans to support various proposals to fund the government with only GOP votes. Using a motion to vacate, a single person can force the House to consider removing the Speaker. McCarthy agreed to lower the threshold for bringing the motion to win over enough support to become Speaker in January.
“It is going to be difficult for my Republican friends to keep calling President Biden feeble while he continues to take Speaker McCarthy’s lunch money,” Gaetz said. “Members of the Republican Party might vote differently on a motion to vacate if they heard what the speaker had to share with us about his secret side deal with Joe Biden on Ukraine. I’ll be listening. Stay tuned.”
But it’s not clear Gaetz has 218 votes needed to remove McCarthy without himself relying on Democratic votes. If successful, the motion would not remove McCarthy from the House but from his leadership position alone.
The pursuit to depose McCarthy as Speaker has alarmed many House Republicans, possibly setting up an internal civil war between staunch allies of McCarthy and those who have pressured him repeatedly with a variety of, at times unrealistic, demands. The effort also likely would force McCarthy and his allies to strategize with Democrats, further irritating the hard right because the minority party would play a determinative role in whether McCarthy could hold on to his leadership seat.
— THE TRAIL —
“Internal Iowa poll says Ron DeSantis won second GOP debate” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The survey of 400 Hawkeye State Republicans from the Citizen Awareness Project, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on Sept. 28-29, shows that “Iowa caucusgoers, especially those who watched, say Ron DeSantis won this week’s GOP debate.” While 25% say the Governor won, that number jumps to 40% when only people who actually watched the debate are compelled to respond. That 40% nearly doubles Nikki Haley’s 21% and is more than double the 15% who believe Vivek Ramaswamy won. DeSantis is viewed as the “strongest on border security” and “best able to defeat Donald Trump” by more than 40% of likely caucusgoers. The memo also postulates that DeSantis was +12 in image improvement, as compared to Ramaswamy, Mike Pence and the absent Trump.
—“DeSantis internal poll shows him in third place in New Hampshire” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“DeSantis again rules out running as Donald Trump’s VP” via Shauneen Miranda of Axios — “No, I’m running for President,” DeSantis said on FOX News Channels’ “Sunday Morning Futures” with host Maria Bartiromo. “We need somebody that can serve two terms. We need somebody that can win states like Georgia and Arizona, which President Trump cannot do or did not do even though candidates like McCain and [Mitt] Romney had no problem winning those states,” DeSantis said. In March, DeSantis laughed off a question about being Trump’s VP pick. Again, in July, the GOP Governor said he would not be interested in such a role.
“DeSantis plans presidential campaign stop in Tampa Thursday” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis has traveled coast to coast in pursuit of the nomination, and now he’s bringing the campaign back to his home state. On Thursday afternoon, DeSantis will hold an event in Tampa that is slated to start at 2 p.m. Further details are forthcoming. It’s worth noting that unlike many of his events, such as the Never Back Down campaign swing to South Carolina this Wednesday, the campaign will be officially hosting, not the political committee. DeSantis is backed by the vast majority of the Florida Legislature. But at least up until this point, those endorsements haven’t moved the polls in his direction.
“DeSantis vows to deport every migrant let in under Joe Biden: ‘First priority’” via Diana Glebova of the New York Post — The Republican contender, 45, told reporters following a campaign event in Long Beach, California, Friday that such a mass removal would be his “first priority” as chief executive. “Everyone that has come illegally under Biden. We got to go — they’re sending back,” DeSantis said. “That’s going to be the first priority. That’s probably 6 or 7 million people right there. It’s going to require a lot of effort. It’s going to require us to lean in.” A DeSantis campaign official said that the prospective 47th President would achieve the ambitious promise by boosting the ranks of both Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as laid out in a section of his campaign website titled “Stop the Invasion.”
“DeSantis can’t stop meeting people who’ve been mugged” via Peter Wade of Rolling Stone — While bashing democratic governance, DeSantis claimed at Wednesday’s debate that he and his wife had met “three people who had been mugged on the street” in southern California. By Sunday — just four days later — that number has doubled. “My wife and I ran into six or seven people that had been mugged in the last year in southern California,” DeSantis said. If only his poll numbers could grow at this same rate, DeSantis might stand a chance at defeating Trump.
“House Democrat leaves leadership position after teasing run against Biden” via Anjali Huynh of The New York Times — Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota said Sunday that he would step down from his Democratic leadership position in the House as he flirts with a challenge to Biden. Phillips, who served as Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, has for months called for other Democrats to run against Biden in the Primary, citing his age Biden is 80 as a hindrance. “My convictions relative to the 2024 presidential race are incongruent with the majority of my caucus, and I felt it appropriate to step aside from elected leadership to avoid unnecessary distractions during a critical time for our country,” he said.
“Three in 10 Republicans don’t think the Biden impeachment probe will be fair” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — It’s probably not a surprise that half of Americans have no confidence in the House’s ability to conduct a fair investigation into Biden. That’s according to new polling conducted by Monmouth University, polling that was in the field before the first hearing took place. What’s fascinating about the results of the poll is that even Republicans seem skeptical that the House will be fair in its probe. As many Republicans told Monmouth that they had “a lot of confidence” in the House to conduct the investigation (29%) as said they had “no confidence” at all. Among independents, a plurality indicated that they had no confidence in a fair probe.
“Trump takes his campaign to court in preview of upcoming criminal trials” via Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump did not speak in a Manhattan courtroom Monday, but he waged combat against prosecutors and a judge outside the courtroom, potentially previewing how he will handle a series of trials while seeking the presidency in 2024. He denounced the proceedings in all-caps screeds on social media. He stepped outside the courtroom to serve reporters a rage-fueled diatribe against the presiding judge and his clerk. The court placed no limits on what he could say. And he portrayed the civil trial as of a piece with the 91 criminal charges in four separate cases, as if they were all part of a sweeping, concerted scheme to blunt his campaign to retake the White House — a political persecution that he predicted would surely backfire.
— DESANTISY LAND —
“Disney, DeSantis legal fights ratchet up as company demands documents from Governor” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — DeSantis asked that the company’s First Amendment lawsuit against him be tossed from federal court, and Disney demanded emails, texts and other communications from the Governor’s office in a separate state court lawsuit originally brought by DeSantis appointees of Walt Disney World’s governing district. The legal filings marked an escalation in the battle between the entertainment giant and DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
“Gainesville residents file lawsuit against DeSantis for GRU Authority appointments” via Andrew Caplan of The Gainesville Sun — A lawsuit has been filed in Leon County challenging DeSantis’ appointment of three non-Gainesville residents to a newly established Board that will oversee all aspects of the city’s municipal utility. The 65-page lawsuit calls on DeSantis to rescind the appointments and questions whether the state legally noticed openings before sifting through applications. Last week, DeSantis appointed Alachua County residents James Coats IV, Robert Karow and Christopher “Eric” Lawson, all registered Republicans, to the first-ever Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority. It was the first time in the state’s history that the Governor was allowed to appoint people to oversee a municipal utility.
“DeSantis vows to lower gas prices, but opposes offshore oil drilling in Florida” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis is promising to return America to the days of $2-a-gallon gasoline if he becomes President by unleashing domestic energy production, even though he’s opposed offshore drilling and fracking in his own state. DeSantis signed an executive order opposing offshore oil drilling and fracking just two days into his first term as Governor. The order instructed the Department of Environmental Protection to “oppose all offshore oil and gas activities off every coast in Florida and hydraulic fracturing in Florida.” DeSantis styled himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt” conservationist when he first ran for Governor in 2018. His 12-point environmental plan included banning fracking, a controversial process that involves injecting water, sand and chemicals at ultra-high pressure to extract oil and gas trapped in rocks.
“Gas prices fall fast despite expensive oil” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Oil prices continue to rise, yet gas prices in Florida saw a marked dip in the past week, dropping 10 cents through last week. Over the last two weeks, Florida gas prices declined 20 cents per gallon to $3.49 Sunday. That’s the lowest daily average since late July. “Gas prices are moving lower, even as the price of oil remains nearly 2023 highs,” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said. Gas remains priciest in the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton area, where motorists are paying an average of $3.70 per gallon. The cheapest gas can be found in Pensacola ($3.33).
— D. C. MATTERS —
“Democrats weigh whether to rescue McCarthy from GOP ouster bid” via Carl Hulse and Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — The hard-right threat to oust McCarthy from his post has presented House Democrats with a tricky question: Should they help rescue the California Republican who has worked against their agenda and recently opened an impeachment inquiry against President Biden? McCarthy’s slender majority and the size of the band of right-wing rebels working to depose him meant that he had little chance of surviving a vote to keep his job — which requires a majority — without at least some support from Democrats. But it is nearly unheard-of for members of the minority to vote for the opposing party’s candidate for Speaker. Top party officials suggest that, given McCarthy’s multiple partisan transgressions, they would be exceedingly unlikely to do so now without a clear-cut commitment from him to engage Democrats more in governing.
—”What to watch in Gaetz vs. McCarthy Speaker fight” via John T. Bennett of Roll Call
“Marjorie Taylor Greene warns expelling Gaetz ‘will not be tolerated’ by GOP voters” via Lauren Sforza of The Hill — U.S. Rep. Greene warned that a move to expel Gaetz from the House “will not be tolerated” by GOP voters. “And a Republican-led effort to expel Matt Gaetz absolutely will not be tolerated by Republicans across the country. I can guarantee you that. Remember when 11 R’s voted against me and 10 R’s voted to impeach Pres. Trump? Both the [motion to vacate] and expulsion plans are wrong,” Greene wrote in a lengthy thread on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Greene said that while she agrees with Gaetz that “things must change,” she opposes a motion to vacate, saying that it would give “the upper hand to the Democrats.”
“Neal Dunn cites Idalia recovery in decision to vote for stopgap government funding” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The ink was barely dry on the 45-day agreement to keep the government open when Dunn issued a release explaining that the measure’s disaster funding won his vote. “While a continuing resolution was not the solution I hoped for, it does include disaster funding that’s critical for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District,” Dunn said. Dunn’s district covers those areas hardest hit by Hurricane Idalia, including Taylor County, where it came ashore.
— STATEWIDE —
“Agriculture losses from Idalia could exceed $447M” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Officials are anticipating a serious agriculture setback in areas affected by Hurricane Idalia. Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson released preliminary estimates that in total could spell more than $447 million in losses for Florida producers. That’s across all sectors, including crops, infrastructure, fruits, tree nuts, greenhouses, animals, vegetables and forestry. All the data comes with an asterisk, however, as it’s only been weeks since the cyclone made landfall and it takes time for a complete picture of the damage to reveal itself.
“Wilton Simpson asks Legislature for $2M for Florida timber” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Citing Hurricane Idalia, a statewide-elected official is asking the Legislature for $2 million for reforestation efforts in the Big Bend. Simpson unveiled the seven-figure special budget request. It comes a week after he released preliminary estimates tallying the damage wrought by Idalia, a cyclone that made landfall as a Category 3 storm in the Big Bend region in late August. Those estimates figure the timber industry suffered a $64 million setback in the roughly 300,000 acres affected by Idalia. That’s about 14% of the total estimated damage ($447 million) across all agriculture sectors.
“Florida law allowing death penalty for child rapists takes effect” via Michael Costeines of Florida’s Voice — A law passed during the 2023 Florida Legislative Session went into effect Sunday making it possible for child rapists to receive the death penalty. Signed by DeSantis on May 1, HB 1297 allows individuals 18 years of age or older who commit sexual battery on victims 12 years of age or under to receive capital punishment. “If you commit a crime that is really, really heinous, you should have the ultimate punishment,” DeSantis said previously. Carried by Sen. Jonathan Martin and Rep. Jessica Baker Capital Sexual Batter was passed in the Florida Senate 34-5 and the Florida House 95-14.
“Fabián Basabe proposes 12-week abortion ban ‘compromise’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Basabe thinks Florida’s current ban on abortion after 15 weeks and a since-passed ban after six weeks of pregnancy are wrong. He believes 12 weeks is the right limit, and he’s filed legislation to make that “compromise” law. Basabe says the measure (HB 93) will “rectify the limitations imposed by DeSantis’ previous policies.” In addition to doubling the time frame by which women can terminate pregnancies under the state’s so-called “Heartbeat Protection Act,” the measure prohibits physicians from performing abortion by telehealth by way of medication or medicine.
“Carolina Amesty wants drunk drivers who kill parents to pay child support” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Drunk drivers who cause the death of a parent could soon be on the hook for financially supporting their child. Rep. Amesty, a Windermere Republican, filed legislation (HB 79) to enact a Florida version of “Bentley’s Law.” The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)-backed bill is modeled after legislation first passed in Missouri and championed by bereaved grandmother Cecilia Williams. “I’m honored to file this important legislation in the Florida House,” Amesty said. “Those careless enough to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated can change the life of a dependent child forever, and the punishment for that is to ensure the financial well-being of that child until the age of 18.
“‘I would still do it’: Super Bowl streaker says new Florida law won’t work” via Fresh Take Florida — Starting this week, Florida has a new law stiffening penalties for attention-grabbers who sprint across sports fields, often in various stages of undress. One well-known streaker says it just won’t work. “I think that’s like a scare tactic,” said Instagram model and influencer Kelly Kay, who jumped from the stands to run across the Hard Rock Stadium field in Miami Gardens during the Super Bowl in 2020. “To tell people, ‘Not only are you going to get in trouble for this and go to jail, they’ll get a charge, we’re going to take your money,’” Kay of Knoxville, Tennessee, said. “But if it was me and that law was in effect when I ran on the field, I would still do it because of the long-term effect.”
Happening today — The Holmes County legislative delegation meets ahead of the 2024 Session: 10 a.m. Central time, Holmes County Commission Board room, 107 East Virginia Ave., Bonifay. The Washington County legislative delegation meets: 11:30 a.m. Central time, Washington County Commission Board room, 1331 South Blvd., Chipley. The Jackson County legislative delegation meets: 2 p.m. Central time, Chipola Cultural Center, 3056 College St., Marianna. The Calhoun County legislative delegation meets: 4:30 p.m. Central time, Calhoun County UF/IFAS Extension Building, 20816 Central Ave. East, Blountstown.
Happening today — Rep. Spencer Roach will speak at a meeting of the Lee County Republican Patriots: 6 p.m., Duffy’s Banquet Room, 627 Cape Coral Parkway West, Cape Coral.
Happening today — Sen. Lori Berman and Rep. Kelly Skidmore will hold a town hall meeting: 6:30 p.m., Hagen Ranch Road Library, 14350 Hagen Ranch Rd, Delray Beach.
“Flags across U.S. and Florida at half-staff in honor of Sen. Dianne Feinstein” via Cheryl McCloud via USA Today Network-Florida — While several states from Virginia to California have issued their own proclamations about flying the flag at half-staff, nothing has been posted so far on Florida’s flag memorandum website. Feinstein, a trailblazer for women in politics in California and Washington who spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Senate, died Sept. 28 at the age of 90. She was the longest-serving female Senator in U.S. history. The U.S. flag should be flown at half-staff at the White House and at all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all federal naval vessels.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Black golf course owner and brother of 2 LiveCrew rapper plots run for Florida Senate” via Marc Caputo of The Messenger — Stanley Campbell’s bio is diverse in every way. And now he’s making plans to add a new title: U.S. Senator. The Florida businessman is in talks with top Democrats to challenge former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell for the party’s nomination in the race to unseat Sen. Rick Scott. Last week, he and his allies formed a Senate Committee and a Friends of Stanley Campbell political committee with the Federal Elections Commission. “Mr. Campbell’s personal story alone makes him one of the most compelling, formidable potential U.S. Senate candidates in the country,” said Kevin Cate, a top Florida Democratic strategist. “If he’s able to complement that with good fundraising and organizing, all of the sudden Democrats might actually have a chance to take down Rick Scott.”
“Homestead Primary pits Mayor against Vice Mayor as 4 battle for a City Council seat” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Homestead voters will decide Tuesday whether to keep Mayor Steven Losner for four more years or replace him with Vice Mayor Julio Guzman. There’s a third candidate for Mayor, Sonia Castro Natal, but her late entry to the race, meager fundraising and nonexistent campaign footprint have drawn accusations she is a “ghost candidate” meant to spoil Guzman’s chances. Four candidates are also vying to replace City Council member Patricia Fairclough-Staggers in Seat 6, which represents the Oasis neighborhood on the city’s east end. They include internist-turned-entrepreneur Clemente Canabal, University of Miami talent acquisition specialist Carlos Galvan, nonprofit learning and development manager Toshiba Mitchell and Brandy Ramirez, Chair of the Homestead 50 Community Development District. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes in each race will compete in a runoff for the Nov. 7 General Election.
“Vince Nowicki picks up beach support in bid for Pinellas County Commission” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Local leaders from a variety of Pinellas beach towns are backing Nowicki for Pinellas County Commission, his campaign announced. Nowicki, a Republican, is running for the District 3 seat currently held by Democrat Charlie Justice. Nowicki’s latest endorsers include Redington Beach Mayor David Will, Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis, Madeira Beach Mayor Jim Rostek, Treasure Island Commissioner John Doctor, Gulfport City Council members Christine Brown and Ian O’Hara, Redington Beach Commissioner Rich Cariello and former Madeira Beach Mayor John Hendricks. Businessman Deveron Gibbons, a Board member at St. Petersburg College and Florida A&M University, is also endorsing Nowicki.
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“Watch out, New York. Miami makes debut as a major finance hub in key ranking” via Vinod Sreeharsha of the Miami Herald — Miami’s pandemic-driven rise as a major tech and finance hub just got another boost after the Magic City made its debut in a key ranking of the world’s top financial centers. Miami came in at No. 24 worldwide and No. 7 nationally in the 34th edition of the Global Financial Centres Index. The index, compiled every March and September by London-based think tank Z/Yen and the China Development Institute, is followed by policymakers and key investors. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava celebrated the ranking on Twitter. “Miami-Dade makes a historic debut at #24 on the Global Financial (Centers) Index.”
“Recording captured private conversation in between Fort Lauderdale meetings. Did it violate people’s privacy?” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — They don’t remember what they were talking about. But they do remember being surprised to see a recording device about the size of a TV remote still playing after the Fort Lauderdale Commission meeting had ended. They thought their conversation was off-limits. Private, for their ears only. So, Brian Donaldson, Bill Brown and Jacquelyn Scott — three residents who were in the middle of a private chat when they noticed the recording device — complained to the City Manager, who in turn alerted the Police Chief. The Chief tracked down the owner of the recording device, a videographer who had been hired by local lawyer Barbra Stern.
“Broward will host Cricket World Cup games next year. ‘That is so huge for us.’” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — They built it, and then the opportunity came. About 16 years after Broward opened its cricket stadium, the county will serve as one of three U.S. sites for the Cricket World Cup in 2024. Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium will play host to the international sporting event, officially known as ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. The tournament, one of the world’s most-viewed sporting events, will be played in June. It’ll be the first time the Cricket World Cup will be played anywhere in the U.S. “That is so huge for us in Broward County,” said Broward Mayor Lamar Fisher. Cricket, a bat-and-ball game, has long been common overseas and among Caribbean Americans.
“20,000 affordable housing units by 2032? Palm Beach County plans to decide” via Abigial Hasebroock of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Amid surges of luxury living in Palm Beach County, efforts to balance out the housing field also continue to pop up. The Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County’s “Housing for All” initiative, which will be discussed at Tuesday’s Commission meeting, would aim to create 20,000 units of workforce and affordable housing by 2023 with various sources of funding and collaborations, including the county’s $200 million bond. “The central recommendation of this Housing Plan is for our County to take control of its destiny through a $200 million local bond issue to develop, renovate, and preserve workforce and affordable housing in the County and its municipalities,” the Housing Leadership Council wrote in its plan.
Mike Grieco’s mayoral campaign is debuting a new TV ad this week focusing on his personal side.
“You know me as Mike, the Commissioner who opened his City Hall door to always be transparent, the state Representative who fought for our local control and our rights,” Grieco says to start the ad.
“But for me, ‘dad’ is what makes me most proud. As a father of a teenage son who attends Beach High, I believe every child deserves a bright and safe future. As your next Mayor, we will take on traffic with a Chief Traffic Officer and bring new programming, like the Air and Sea Show to Miami Beach. I’m Mike Grieco and my promise to you is simple: We will get things done for our residents.”
Grieco is competing against three other candidates to be the city’s next Mayor.
“Being a public servant means being deeply connected to the community, and my commitment to Miami Beach goes beyond politics,” Grieco said in a statement accompanying the ad. “Raising my own family in Miami Beach, my mission is to ensure that every family has the opportunity to live in a safe, free, and prosperous community.”
The election will take place next month on Nov. 7.
“Over the past decade, I have served the people of Miami-Dade as an Assistant State Attorney and Representative in the Florida Legislature,” Grieco added. “As Mayor, my promise is simple: we will get things done for our residents and solve pressing issues like public safety, traffic congestion, flooding, and overdevelopment.”
To view the ad, please click on the image below:
“South Florida farmers attend prayer gathering to bless new harvest season” via Florida Politics — The harvest season has begun, and amid some recent challenges, farmers are asking for help from the heavens this season. Glades Lives Matter, an advocacy group defending the interests of Glades communities, joined with area ministers for an event dubbed the Pre-Harvest Prayer Gathering. Statewide, the agriculture industry has been heavily impacted by storms in recent years. In the Glades specifically, ministers are asking for support from the community to help ensure local farmers have a successful harvest season. “Glades’ farmers feed America and are a vital part of our local communities, and we as a community should pray for their safety and a bountiful harvest,” said pastor Albert Polk of South Bay’s Miracle by Faith Revival Center.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“Florida audit report blasts Winter Springs for wastewater management, other issues” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — A preliminary report of a state audit of Winter Springs says that the city continues to incur fines for its wastewater treatment systems, does not always respond promptly to public records requests, and more than a dozen top-level staff — including two City Managers, two Police Chiefs and three finance directors — have resigned since 2019, with one referring to the city’s “hostile nature.” Mayor Kevin McCann said the audit’s preliminary report and its recommendations showed that the city can improve. But he noted that it showed no allegations of serious wrongdoing. “There is nothing criminal in this,” he said. “This is one of the mildest audits that the state has done.”
“Florida Poly to break ground on $15 million engineering building” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Florida Polytechnic University will add a two-story building to its Lakeland campus next year. The university said Monday that it will break ground on the $15 million, 40,000-square-foot Gary C. Wendt Engineering Building in Spring 2024. It will be home to research and development labs, staff and faculty offices, collaboration spaces and a conference room. “We’re experiencing great campus growth due to our rising reputation as a premier STEM university, and the coming construction of this engineering building is a reflection of that success,” Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent said. “The new Gary C. Wendt Engineering Building will play a pivotal role in fulfilling our academic mission, as we educate the top engineers Florida needs to keep growing industry throughout the state.”
“Woman sues Disney World, claims severe ‘wedgie’ injury on Typhoon Lagoon slide” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A woman has sued Disney, claiming that a trip down a waterslide at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon four years ago caused an “injurious wedgie” that left her with severe gynecological trauma. In a lawsuit filed last week in Orange County Circuit Court, Emma and Edward McGuinness said they were seeking at least $50,000 in damages from Walt Disney World stemming from what happened on the Humunga Kowabunga slide in October 2019. The lawsuit, filed by attorney Alan Wagner of Tampa, claims that Emma McGuinness suffered injuries when she slid down the 214-foot-high, five-story slide while on a visit with her family celebrating her 30th birthday.
“Disney World donating $1.5M to Florida nonprofits” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World announced new donations of $1.5 million to 19 nonprofit organizations in Florida. The company’s 2023 grants are going to groups that work with homelessness, poverty, environmental protection, education, arts, science, youth issues and other causes. “Florida has been our home for more than half a century and each organization receiving a grant is doing amazing work for our community,” Rena Langley, senior vice president of communications & public affairs at Disney World, said in a news release. “This will help them continue making big differences and is another step forward in our long history of giving back to those around us.”
“Ron Jon, founder’s foundation donate $2M to Brevard Zoo’s aquarium project at port” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Ron Jon Surf Shop and its founder’s foundation are donating a total of $2 million to the Brevard Zoo’s planned aquarium project at Port Canaveral. The donations ― announced by Ron Jon founder, Ron DiMenna, and his wife, Lynne DiMenna ― also put the zoo more than two-thirds of its way to its $100 million fundraising goal for the project, with more than $67 million raised since the Our Legacy Campaign launched in December 2021. The money will help construct the beach-themed entrance complex at the zoo’s aquarium and conservation center. Cocoa Beach-based retail company Ron Jon Surf Shop will provide $1 million.
— LOCAL: TB —
“Who will be Tampa’s next Mayor? It’s already the talk of the town” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — In Tampa, they’re already talking about 2027. The next Tampa Mayor’s election is more than three years away, but that isn’t stopping the chattering political classes from chattering — and possibly some potential candidates from positioning themselves. It’s unusually early to speculate, but the amount of talk among local insiders is getting hard to ignore. Names being bandied include three City Council members — Bill Carlson, Lynn Hurtak and Luis Viera — plus former Mayor Bob Buckhorn, County Commissioners Harry Cohen and Pat Kemp, Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez and former state Rep. Sean Shaw. All are Democrats. None of them rule it out. “Never say never” is a political rule of thumb. But none expressed a concrete intent. Nearly all acknowledged they’ve “been approached” or heard the chatter. “People are talking about it,” said Viera, who appears to be working hard to boost his public profile. Why all the talk so early? Some insiders say it’s because the Council’s conflicts with Mayor Jane Castor have raised their profiles and diminished hers; others say it’s because there is no obvious successor on the horizon for when Castor terms out in Spring 2027.
“City officials approve budget amid housing, stadium concerns” via Mark Parker of St. Pete Catalyst — St. Petersburg property owners will see lower tax rates amid increased valuations; however, city-provided utility bills will increase, and many residents remain concerned over budget allocations. The 2024 budget’s millage rate reduction from 6.535 to 6.4675 will still net the city an additional $19.94 million in ad valorem revenue due to a citywide 12.36% property value increase. Some public speakers at the Sept. 28 final budget hearing said that would benefit non-local property owners and those able to afford the increasing cost of living. The average resident’s monthly utility bill — sanitation and potable, waste, storm and reclaimed water services — will increase by about $14 to $16.50, depending on their stormwater tier. The City Council approved the rate changes, effective Oct. 1, and an $835.25 million operating budget by a 7-1 vote.
“Tampa Bay Rays to host 3 focus groups to gather input on new stadium” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Following news that the Tampa Bay Rays are staying put, the team is now planning a series of focus group sessions to receive feedback on how to create a positive fan experience at a new stadium. The team reached a deal last month with the city of St. Petersburg to build a new stadium at the Historic Gas Plant District where Tropicana Field is currently located. “The Rays are focused on designing a state-of-the-art ballpark that will provide our fans an experience unlike any other in Major League Baseball,” the team wrote in an email to fans.
“Gus Bilirakis to again host no-cost dental care day for veterans” via Florida Politics — Those who have served may get the chance to get free dental work done in November. That’s courtesy of Bilirakis and the Pasco County Dental Association. They’re teaming up to once again host the annual “Stars, Stripes and Smiles” event on Nov. 3, a week before the country celebrates its soldiers on Veterans Day. Bilirakis prioritizes veterans’ issues, including dental care, in Congress. He said in a statement that it’s unfortunate that dental care through the VA is limited to those who are 100% disabled or have a direct service-connected injury impacting their oral health. Bilirakis is working on expanding that coverage.
“Duke Energy donates $100K for energy bill payment assistance, $1K at a time for Rays wins” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Collaborating with the Tampa Bay Rays, Duke Energy is donating $100,000 to help customers pay their energy bills. The company donated $1,000 to Share the Light Fund agencies for every regular season win the Rays racked up. The Share the Light Fund program provides customer assistance to Floridians struggling to pay utility expenses, including electric, gas, oil or wood. The Duke Energy Foundation matches donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $500,000.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“Gaetz’s father seeks return to Florida Senate” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Don Gaetz, a former Republican state Senate President and father of MAGA firebrand GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, is seeking a return to the Florida Legislature. Gaetz planned to file paperwork on Monday to run for the state Senate seat now held by outgoing Sen. Doug Broxson, who is leaving office next year due to term limits. Gaetz, who has held a variety of appointed positions since leaving elected office in 2016, said that he has been approached in recent weeks by voters in the Panhandle asking him to run. Gaetz’s decision to enter the race prompted former state Rep. Frank White to drop out of the contest even though he was the only candidate for the post.
“Mayor Donna Deegan pushes for direct flights from Jacksonville to London during her trip overseas to lure businesses” via Jim Piggott of News4Jax — A lot of eyes in Jacksonville are on London this week where the Jaguars will be playing two games in a row. Deegan is already there and has been since Saturday, not only for the game but recruiting businesses to come to Jacksonville. And she is working on a special way to do that. One of the things Deegan is doing on the trip is trying to get a direct flight from Jacksonville International Airport to England. She said that could bring more business to town. For years now, city leaders have been pushing the assets of Jacksonville to businesses in London. But something has been missing to make that happen: a direct flight between the two cities. Now Deegan is trying to make that connection happen with the help of British companies and the government.
“Inspector general weighs in on appearance of favoritism in Jacksonville contracts” via David Bauerlein of The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Chief Resilience Officer Anne Coglianese played a role in the award of three city contracts to Louisiana organizations that employed people she had a “personal or professional relationship” with from her time working for the city of New Orleans, but her involvement did not violate any ethics or procurement laws, an Office of Inspector General review found. Inspector General Matthew Lascell’s letter outlining his findings recommended the city tighten its standards for all city employees to avoid even the appearance of favorable treatment. Mayor Donna Deegan agreed and directed the city’s Ethics Office and the procurement division to put the language suggested by Lascell in the materials they use for training and guidance to city employees.
“City crews clean third sewage spill in less than a week in northeast Tallahassee” via Elena Barrera of the Tallahassee Democrat — A pipe burst spilling “untreated wastewater” into a ditch along Centerville Road marks the third reported sewage spill in northeast Tallahassee in less than a week. The line broke at 2:20 p.m. Sunday spewing 23,000 gallons of sewage into a stormwater ditch. Everything flowed back toward an earlier burst main over the course of 15 minutes “where it was fully contained and recovered,” according to an initial report. This pipe broke in a domino effect following Sunday morning’s main break that occurred near 1610 Capital Circle Northeast. As much as 100,000 gallons of sewage rushed through the street for almost two hours, which led to multiple lane closures and major utility repairs into the night and through Monday morning.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“New College of Florida expected to officially make Richard Corcoran president this week” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees is poised to select its next president at the upcoming meeting Oct. 3, according to the meeting’s agenda, a decision that is widely expected to result in giving Interim President Corcoran the permanent title. The selection would conclude an accelerated presidential search process, which generally can take upward of a year, launched after the trustees swiftly fired the college’s previous President Patricia Okker in January as they implemented the DeSantis-led conservative transformation of the school’s leadership, direction and character. The three finalists for the position include Corcoran, Tyler Fisher and Robert Gervasi.
“Fired New College VP blasts hostile atmosphere, attack on higher ed under Corcoran” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — New College of Florida fired Ryan Terry, the university’s vice president of communications and marketing. The move came a day before New College trustees are expected to hire Corcoran on a permanent basis. Terry only joined the university’s administration in July. But during a few months on the job, Terry said the worst criticisms about a hostile takeover at the school were confirmed. His termination took place days after a meeting with Corcoran that left him concerned the college president courts fights with the media and eschews efforts to restore a sense of community. “When I was talking about unity on campus and saying we need to repair relationships in the organization with positive stories shared from campus, I was told, ‘I don’t care about unity on campus,’” Terry said.
“New College proposed business plan ‘not financially viable,’ UF prof’s analysis finds” via Ryan Dailey of the Orlando Sentinel — A business plan outlining sweeping changes at New College of Florida is “not financially viable” in its current state, a University of Florida business-school faculty member said in an analysis that critiqued New College’s “strategic vision.” The review of the business plan came as the New College Board of Trustees is expected Tuesday to choose a new president. Corcoran is among three finalists for the job. Corcoran emphasized the business plan as part of an August interview with trustees. The plan details efforts to increase New College’s enrollment from roughly 800 students to 1,200 in the next five years, overhaul the curriculum over the next three years and make improvements to the Sarasota campus.
“New College of Florida approved to join NAIA athletic association, will compete in 2024-25” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Just six months after launching an athletics department, New College of Florida was approved to join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in a unanimous recommendation to the NAIA’s Council of Presidents. The New College of Florida Mighty Banyans will compete in the Sun Conference of the NAIA starting July 1, 2024, with colleges such as Ave Maria University, College of Coastal Georgia, Keiser University and Savannah College of Art and Design. The college was among five selected to join the NAIA on Monday, along with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Baptist Bible College, Defiance College and Spartanburg Methodist College.
“Forced by insurance to replace roofs, Sarasota homeowners can expect higher tax bills, too” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Florida homeowners have increasingly been forced by insurance companies to replace their roofs under threat of huge spikes in premiums — that is, if they can get coverage at all. At the same time, in Sarasota County, unlike other nearby jurisdictions, that new roof carries another cost: a higher tax bill. Other area counties’ elected property appraisers consider replacing a roof with the same material to be a maintenance issue, but Sarasota County’s Property Appraiser classifies it as a capital improvement that enhances the home’s taxable value. Sometimes that increased value is greater than 3% on homesteaded property, which one local attorney says “skirts the spirit” of the Florida Constitution that caps the annual increase in taxable value.
“Southwest Florida Eagle Cam is back! What to know as the hit livestream starts 12th season” via Samantha Neely of the Fort Myers News-Press — Southwest Florida’s favorite eagles have returned! The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam is back up and running, with livestream operating announcing that their latest season started on Sunday, Oct. 1. During the previous season, viewers got a front-row seat to the ultimate show as the beloved bird family experienced challenges and tragedy, as well as triumph and perseverance. From missing matriarchs to humongous hurricanes, it was a chaotic season for the history books. Here’s what to know about the popular livestream as it starts up again, as well as who has returned to the nest so far. The Pritchett McSpadden family co-founded the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam in 2012.
— TOP OPINION —
“Our nation is in dire need of leaders like Feinstein” via Hillary Rodham Clinton for The Washington Post — Feinstein, who passed away on Thursday evening, was a giant of the Senate. She was brave, honorable, honest and unafraid to do what was right for her constituents and her country. We both came to Washington in 1993, I as First Lady and Dianne as Senator. When she used her first floor speech to support the Family and Medical Leave Act, I knew I had found a kindred spirit.
When I joined Dianne in the small sisterhood of Senate women eight years later, I gained an appreciation for her blend of principle and pragmatism. In an institution known for show horses, she was a workhorse. Perhaps because she had been a Mayor, she believed in delivering results not rhetoric — and that’s what she did.
For all of us who loved Dianne, her passing is a deep personal loss. It is also a loss for our country when we are in desperate need of leaders willing to show half the backbone she displayed throughout her storied career.
We could have used Dianne’s voice in the fights ahead. Democracy needs champions. So do our institutions, creaky and frustrating as they might be. The United States needs leaders willing to respond to attacks on the rule of law with the same fearlessness that Dianne showed when she exposed unlawful “enhanced interrogation techniques.” We must summon the passion of Dianne’s answer to Sen. Craig back in 1993. We all can honor her legacy by finding in ourselves the courage that Dianne showed on that bloody day in 1978.
Dianne’s journey has ended, but the fights of her life are far from over.
— OPINIONS —
“DeSantis loves to tout Florida’s growth. But it may be making our insurance crisis worse” via the Miami Herald editorial board — DeSantis brags about how many people are pouring into Florida. But all that growth isn’t necessarily a good thing. That’s the conclusion of a report by a major global re-insurance company that draws links between the state’s soaring home insurance costs and the explosion of new residents, especially along the coast. Do we even need a report to tell us that? It’s just common sense. The more we build along coastlines, the more homes (and people) we put in harm’s way during a hurricane. Climate change isn’t helping, either: Warmer ocean waters, which are linked to stronger and wetter hurricanes, may increase the problem even more.
“The emptiness of the Vivek Ramaswamy Doctrine” via Jacob Heilbrunn of The Atlantic — The truth is that Ramaswamy is slapping the realist brand onto a hodgepodge of policy proposals that are divorced from reality. Realism is about a number of things — the balance of power, national interests, spheres of influence — but one thing it is not about is wishful thinking. Yet that is what Ramaswamy is peddling. Like more than a few Republicans these days, Ramaswamy is obsessed with China, which he depicts as the locus of evil in the world, and cavalier about Russia, which stands accused of perpetrating war crimes in the heart of Europe. He does not explain how China’s current troubles — a faltering economy, an aging population, grave environmental problems — can be reconciled with his portrait of a totalitarian power about to turn a new generation of Americans, as he averred in a speech at the (Richard) Nixon library, into “a bunch of Chinese serfs.”
“Justices rightly hold utility regulators to account” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — When a parent tells a child, “Because I say so,” there’s no avenue of appeal. A state agency needs to provide a better explanation than that. “Because we say so” was essentially how the Public Service Commission justified its 2021 approval of a settlement resulting in $1.25 billion so far in electric rate increases for Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility. Not so fast, the Florida Supreme Court said. In a significant if temporary victory for ratepayers, the court has sent the issue back to the PSC with orders to explain its reasons in detail for awarding FP&L the largest rate increase ever, potentially totaling $4.9 billion. The decision has lasting benefit for the public if it sets a new benchmark for the court to strictly consider rather than rubber-stamp future decisions by the PSC and other regulatory agencies.
“In Florida, Surgeon General ushers in a bright new day for medical quackery” via Diane Roberts of Florida Phoenix — The Quack (Joe) Ladapo doesn’t want you to get the new COVID-19 booster shot. It’s terrible, horrible, no good and very bad. It hasn’t been tested! Or if it has, certain secret clinical trials reveal it could kill you or turn you schizo or maybe cause your extremities to fall off in the street, which is exactly what the CDC, the FDA, and Anthony Fauci, Doctor of Doom, want! No, he won’t show you the lab reports. You wouldn’t understand them, unless you possess the peculiar genius of the Quack, DeSantis, or perhaps Tucker Carlson, who knows ferr shurr that Fauci actually engineered the virus to murder Americans and somehow make billions of dollars. So, no booster jab for you, fellow Floridian! Unless you’re over 65. Then you can get one.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights isn’t for the faint of heart” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — In October, Universal transforms into something unexpected and frightening at Halloween Horror Nights (HHN), the premier Halloween event in Orlando. A monster jumps out from behind a corner. A ghastly murder scene is so gross, it catches me off guard. The dark shadows take over Universal Studios. HHN, which runs on select nights through Nov. 4, features 10 haunted houses this year including “The Exorcist: Believer,” HBO’s zombie hit “The Last of Us,” “Stranger Things 4” as well as others with original storylines. “We are so excited about all the haunted houses this year. We feel that everyone will have their favorite and they all won’t be the same,” said Lora Sauls, Universal’s assistant director in Creative Development and Show Direction.
“Disney may have ways to recycle Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The end is here for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, Walt Disney World’s immersive two-night experience. Its final bookings wrapped up on Sept. 30. After the announcement in May about Starcruiser’s fate, national media outlets took a run at what went wrong, using language such as “horrendously expensive” (Forbes), “warehouse-like building” (SFGATE), “slickly marketed dinner theater” (Collider) and “dangerous omen for Disney” (MovieWeb). Disney execs have taken it in stride publicly, calling it an underachiever and a learning experience. In June, Josh D’Amaro, Chair of Disney Park, Experiences and Products, assured that “something” would go into the structure, but no details have emerged. Still, there are Galactic Starcruiser elements that could find homes on Disney properties somewhere on Earth.
What John Lux is reading — “Killer manatee movie will be made in Tampa” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — “Jaws” taught the world that it’s not safe to go back in the water. Now, Tampa will be reminded of that … by a manatee? According to an application for a $100,000 Hillsborough County film incentive, the movie “No Wake Zone” will film for 13 days in the Tampa area throughout January and February. It is about a mutated manatee that terrorizes Tampa Bay, “leaving it up to a grizzled marine patrol veteran to save the day in this unique horror/comedy.” That’ll teach us to run out of lettuce. The National Wildlife Federation’s website says that manatees, often called sea cows, “are some of the most peaceful creatures in the world.” The Sarasota-based production company, Toxic Pictures, is estimated to spend around $800,000 in the county, according to the application, via 637 hotel room nights, over 26 residents on crew, plus food, location rentals and equipment. “Think ‘Sharknado’ with heart, and better-looking locations,” said Tyler Martinolich, head of Hillsborough’s Film Commission, Film Tampa Bay.
“Tom Arnold stars in ‘drug-infused, Florida Man’ mermaid film in St. Petersburg” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — A star-studded cast is shooting a Florida Man mermaid movie in St. Petersburg. According to an email from production company Angry Elf Entertainment, titled “Mermaid,” the movie stars Johnny Pemberton as a “Florida Man” addicted to painkillers who, while at his lowest point, finds a wounded mermaid. “Fascination becomes a drug-infused, one-sided relationship-sending him further into decline. When word spreads about his secret, he’ll stop at nothing to protect her.” The movie also features Arnold of “True Lies,” Robert Patrick of “Terminator 2,” Kevin Nealon of “Saturday Night Live,” Michael Madsen of “Kill Bill” and Kirk Fox of “Reservation Dogs.” Filming began on Sept. 12 and wraps this week.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are state Sen. Travis Hutson; Donna Blanton; Kimberly Leonard of POLITICO Florida, our dear friend Tracy Mayernick; Ursula Perano, formerly of POLITICO Florida; and Derek Silver.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.