Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.25.23

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Wake up right: Get your scoops and other news about Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

Breaking overnightMike Johnson wins first Speaker ballot, still lacks majority” via Olivia Beavers, Sarah Ferris, and Jordain Carney of POLITICO — Johnson has the most votes in the House GOP’s latest attempt to nominate a Speaker though he’s still short the majority he needs to become the conference nominee. Three candidates are now out of the running: Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Rep. Roger Williams were eliminated after receiving the fewest votes, while Rep. Marc Green dropped out after the second round. Republicans will keep voting by secret ballot until a candidate receives a simple majority of the conference. If candidates continue to win by pluralities, the contender with the lowest number will be eliminated after each vote.

Mike Johnson becomes the closest thing to a House Speaker that Republicans had in weeks.


As a parent and business owner, I found one advocate’s message at this week’s Future of Florida Forum to be a major wake-up call for the entire business community. Equal parts warning and opportunity, Children’s Movement of Florida CEO Madeleine Thakur told the audience that Florida businesses will lose the talent war if they don’t pay attention to what to their employees require to thrive — the ability to take care of the needs of their families.

According to a recent survey for the Children’s Movement, over half of employed Florida parents would consider changing jobs if it gave them more flexibility in how they live their lives. COVID-19 gave many workers a taste of how flexibility — remote work, hybrid arrangements, flexible work schedules — could improve their lives. And working parents have no desire to go back.

Madeleine Thakur says Florida workers taking care of families is good business.

Psst, employers … it isn’t just about money. More than a third would even consider taking a pay cut in exchange for a more family-friendly workplace.

And employers who meet the demand for family-friendly work policies will be rewarded with loyalty and retention: Just 16% or parents who already have “very” flexible schedules said they’re likely to switch jobs.

The message is clear and it resonates: Family-friendly workplaces are a win for everyone — the employer who enjoys greater productivity and less turnover, the employee who is less stressed trying to juggle work and family demands and Florida’s children, 68% of whom live in families where all parents work outside the home.

Smart business owners will read the writing on the wall.


The Florida Chamber’s 2023 Future of Florida Forum is over. The takeaway: Florida can have a bright future and a booming economy with the right politics and policy.

Over the course of two days, subject matter experts in education, transportation, technology and more outlined where the Sunshine State currently stands and how it can grow into a Top 10 economy by the start of the next decade.

While the state’s economy already stands toe-to-toe with Saudi Arabia’s — the 16th largest national economy in the world — climbing six rungs will require the state to add more than 1.2 million new jobs and nearly $600 billion in GDP.

The Florida Chamber suggests that with good politics and policy, Florida’s future is bright.

Many trendlines are heading in the right direction. Florida is currently adding more than 1,000 new residents a day and over the past year, new arrivals have brought about $39.2 billion in wealth with them.

But more needs to be done. Conversations spanned from how business investment in child care can boost employee morale and retention, to a comprehensive overview of the property insurance market and the impact of lawsuit restrictions passed in the 2023 Legislative Session.

The Florida Chamber’s political experts also shared the latest information on Florida’s redward shift in voter registrations and how it will impact the races on the 2024 ballot. The GOP is expected to hang on to its supermajorities in the House and Senate.

The conclusion: Seven years out from 2030, the Top 10 is within reach.

“Florida is still at a crossroads. There’s a lot of countries that want to be better than Florida. A lot of other states,” Florida Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson said. “If we unify the business community for good, good things happen.”

—”Chamber Forum: Democrats face ‘tough path’ to break GOP supermajorities in 2024” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—”Michael Yaworsky gives insurance market history lesson” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

—“Chamber Forum speaker on AI: ‘You just have to commit to it’” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

—“Research partnerships can keep high-skill grads in Florida” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics


The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is announcing a stack of promotions for upper-level staff.

At the top of the list, 20-year FDACS veteran Thomas Poucher has been promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture. He joins fellow Deputy Commissioners Kelley Boree and Derek Buchannan.

Justin Eichermuller has been elevated to Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, a title he will share with the recently promoted Steven Hall. A news release says that while Eichermuller is new to the department, he “has already proven himself to be a thought leader and positive contributor to the Department.”

Congrats to Thomas Poucher, promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture.

Succeeding Eichermuller as Senior Policy Adviser is Alex Haley, a longtime member of the FDACS Legislative Affairs team alongside Isabelle Garbarino. In the new role, he will work on policy research and development while continuing to help FDACS track its policy and budget priorities.

Alongside the promotions, FDACS announced that Director of Strategic Initiatives Jaime Jerrels is returning to the private sector.

“Jaime came to FDACS during our transition and assisted the senior staff in developing a strong connection with the agriculture community. Her service was invaluable and will have a lasting impact on the administration. We wish her the very best in her new endeavor,” FDACS Chief of Staff Kathy Mears wrote in a news release.


Tweet, tweet:

@Iran_UN: If the Israeli apartheid’s war crimes & genocide are not halted immediately, the situation could spiral out of control & ricochet far-reaching consequences — the responsibility of which lies with the U.N., the Security Council & the states steering the Council toward a dead end.

@RealDonaldTrump: I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors. RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them. He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement, or the breadth and scope of MAGA — MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! He fought me all the way, and actually spent more time defending Ilhan Omar than he did me — He is totally out of touch with Republican Voters. I believe he has now learned his lesson because he is saying that he is pro-Trump all the way, but who can ever be sure? Has he only changed because that’s what it takes to win? The Republican Party cannot take that chance because that’s not where the America First Voters are. Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!

@metzgov: Tom Emmer’s tenure as the Republican nominee for Speaker of the House lasted roughly 4 hours.

Tweet, tweet:

@RepStefanik: Congratulations Speaker-designate @RepMikeJohnson!

@realannapaulina: Looks like we’re getting a Speaker tomorrow. Massive support. Let’s go Mike Johnson! @RepMikeJohnson!

@PeterSchorschFL: If a tomato can opened up a campaign account to challenge @VoteRandyFine, said tomato can would be the best funded San Marzanos you ever tasted.

@DouglasSoule: Every year for nearly a decade, three names were added to the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. That stopped under Gov. Ron DeSantis. Last week marked four years since the last Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame ceremony.

Tweet, tweet:


Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ released — 2; the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit — 3; Apple launch event to announce new MacBook laptops — 5; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 14; 2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 15; ‘The Marvels′ premieres — 17; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 23; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 28; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 28; ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ premieres — 29; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 35; Florida TaxWatch’s 2023 Government Productivity Awards Ceremony — 42; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 50; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 58; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 61; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 76; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 76; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 76; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 82; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 83; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 101; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 104; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 122; Michigan Democratic Primary — 124; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 131; Super Tuesday — 132; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 136; 2024 Oscars — 138; Georgia Democratic Primary — 139; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 143; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 198; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 207; Republican National Convention begins — 261; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 265; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 274; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 275; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 305; Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 349; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 361; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 422; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 478; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 557; ‘Moana’ premieres — 613; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 787; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 918; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 941; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,154; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,293; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,249; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,612.


Lone Jewish Republican member of Legislature knocks Ron DeSantis, endorses Donald Trump” via Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — Rep. Randy Fine, a longtime ally of DeSantis and the only member of the Florida Legislature who is both Jewish and Republican is withdrawing his support for the Governor’s 2024 presidential bid and endorsing Trump, accusing DeSantis of not doing enough to combat antisemitism.

In an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Times, Fine outlined his past support for the Governor, writing that he endorsed DeSantis before he ever won the GOP nomination for Governor in 2018 and served as the Jewish outreach Chair of that campaign. He said he helped shepherd some of the Governor’s most controversial policy priorities through the state Legislature.

Randy Fine drops Ron DeSantis like he’s hot.

But when it came to combating antisemitism, Fine wrote, DeSantis has done too little.

“I love his words,” Fine wrote. “His actions have broken my heart.”

Fine wrote that it was Hamas’ surprise assault on Israel just over two weeks ago that forced a reckoning with his endorsement, calling Trump the only candidate “who can bring this to an end.”

“The past two weeks have made me realize our choice as Jews is simple,” Fine wrote. “We can vote for the Governor who says all the right things, or we can vote for the President who actually does them. When it comes to action, Donald Trump has never let us down.”

Even before announcing his endorsement of Trump, Fine had shown some frustration with DeSantis. He sent a letter to DeSantis earlier this month urging him to use his powers as Governor to crack down on pro-Palestinian protests on Florida university campuses.

“I did not write these laws to create news conferences,” Fine wrote in the Oct. 13 letter.

DeSantis swipes at ally who accused him of tepid antisemitism response” via Marc Caputo of The Messenger — In accusing Fine of trying to get on Trump’s good side for his upcoming legislative campaign, DeSantis tacitly acknowledged Trump’s standing in the Republican Primary, where the former President’s support is wider and his endorsement carries more weight. Fine also faulted the Governor for not forcefully denouncing neo-Nazis in Florida. Democrats and Sen. Rick Scott decried the racists. But DeSantis largely held back. Asked why, DeSantis said he didn’t want to “elevate” a handful of “knuckleheads.” He said the neo-Nazis were demonstrating with pro-DeSantis swag “to try to smear me.” “Why would I want to elevate that nonsense? You know, you have these people that are just marginal in society. I think some of them are fake. I think they’re trying to just get media clicks,” DeSantis said.


DeSantis finances raise fresh scrutiny ahead of Iowa Caucus” via Caroline Vakil of The Hill — DeSantis’ fundraising numbers are raising new scrutiny as he seeks to close the gap with Trump and hold off a newly energized Nikki Haley. While DeSantis raised $15 million in the third quarter — outpacing his main non-Trump contenders — federal campaign filings showed the Governor’s campaign spent nearly all the money it raised between July and September. Meanwhile, Haley has shown signs of traction with her fundraising in recent months after a pair of strong debate performances, though her overall cash haul for the third quarter still trails DeSantis.’ This month, filings from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) showed DeSantis’ principal campaign committee raised $11.1 million and spent $11 million. The campaign also reported more than $1 million in debt.

Nikki Haley hammers Ron DeSantis on questionable finances.

DeSantis will set out foreign policy agenda in Washington speech” via Hadriana Lowenkron of Bloomberg — DeSantis is expected to discuss the conflict in the Middle East and US-China relations. The platform offers him an opportunity to demonstrate foreign policy knowledge, as he seeks to fend off momentum from Haley. His speech, which will be delivered at the Heritage Foundation, comes a week after President Joe Biden submitted a $106 billion emergency spending measure to Congress to bolster Israel and Ukraine. The legislation includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion to help arm Israel and $10 billion for humanitarian efforts, including assistance for Palestinian civilians. It also has funds for security at the U.S.-Mexico border and Taiwan. DeSantis says he opposes bundling assistance for Israel with Ukraine as well as efforts to aid civilians in the Gaza strip. He has also said the U.S. should not accept refugees from the area.

War of words: DeSantis, Nikki Haley trade fire over who was more China-friendly Governor” via Paul Steinhauser, Aubrie Spady of Fox News — As they battle to be the top alternative to Trump in the race, DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador and Haley are increasingly trading fire. The latest flash point is China. In an interview, DeSantis charged that Haley “rolled out the red carpet for China” during her tenure as South Carolina Governor. Haley’s campaign fired back, claiming DeSantis has “aggressively recruited Chinese companies to Florida.” While Trump remains the commanding front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination, DeSantis for months had second place in the polls to himself, ahead of Haley and the rest of the field of Republican White House contenders.

DeSantis falsely claims ‘no pro-lifer has ever argued’ to jail a woman for getting an abortion” via Daniel Dale of CNN — DeSantis falsely claimed last week that “no pro-lifer has ever argued” that a woman should be jailed for getting an abortion. DeSantis made the claim while criticizing a rival for the nomination, Haley, the former South Carolina Governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. DeSantis and Haley have sparred more frequently in recent weeks as they have battled to become the top alternative to Trump, who holds a big lead in opinion polls of the party Primary. At a Thursday event at Winthrop College in South Carolina, DeSantis was asked if he took exception to anything Haley has been advocating on abortion-related policy, such as banning “late-term” abortions, encouraging adoptions, ensuring access to contraception and making sure women are not jailed for having an abortion.

DeSantis says his ‘spiel’ will close the deal in New Hampshire” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis claims his “spiel” is resonating with Granite State voters and will help him close a polling gap with not just Trump but also Haley, the two candidates leading him in polls. During an interview on “The Pulse of NH,” DeSantis told host Jack Heath that the more time he spends in the state, the better he does. “What I found when I’m out is I will say, I will do my spiel, or I’ll just meet with voters, and people come up to me and they’ll say, ‘You flipped me from Trump to you. I’m with you now,’” DeSantis said.

Joe Biden won’t appear on New Hampshire Primary ballot” via Elena of POLITICO — Biden’s name will not appear on the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary ballot as the state moves forward with an unsanctioned nominating contest in 2024. In a letter to New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez wrote, “While the President wishes to participate in the Primary,” he is “obligated” to comply with the Democratic National Committee’s presidential nominating calendar. She wrote that he will “refrain from submitting a Declaration of Candidacy” ahead of Friday’s filing deadline, though he will appear on the General Election ballot in November 2024.

DeSantis says he can get the RFK anti-vaxxer vote in General Election” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “RFK Jr. will be a vessel for anti-lockdown and anti-Anthony Fauci voters if Trump is the nominee. If I’m the nominee, they all go to me because I stood up against Fauci,” DeSantis said in footage recorded in Londonderry. DeSantis added that he would “clean out” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s a big part of my platform with Trump though; he created Fauci. He elevated Fauci, he never fired him. He said that he did everything right during COVID. He claims he saved 100 million lives, you know, with the mRNA vaccine and all this stuff,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis’ stance on vaccines could peel off those anti-vaxxer votes.

Trump campaign completes DeSantis ‘kiss of death’ countdown” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Trump campaign wrapped up its “Kiss of Death” countdown for DeSantis’ 2024 campaign, but they aren’t done dragging the Florida Governor anytime soon. “The daily hits on DeSanctus will continue because we won’t ever stop. The ‘end’ will be an everlasting experience DeSanctus will have to endure until he gets it through his thick skull that he has no shot to be the nominee, let alone the President,” the Trump camp contended. “The only way we’ll stop is when DeSanctus returns to the Epcot Center, where all his issues began, and starts singing ‘It’s a Small World After All’ while taking the Drinking Around the World Tour, because that’s the closest he’ll ever become to being a world leader,” the Trump camp snarks. “Until then, can’t stop, won’t stop.”

— MORE 2024 —

Tim Scott and DeSantis flex powers of elected office amid Israel-Hamas war” via Nnamdi Egwuonwu and Alec Hernández of NBC News — Only a handful of candidates in the 2024 Republican presidential field currently hold elected office. And both DeSantis and Sen. Scott have leaned on the power they have in those offices following the deadly terrorist attack in Israel and the subsequent war with Hamas. DeSantis’ administration-chartered flights out of Israel for Florida residents trying to get out of the country, while Scott has used his Senate perch to publicize new legislative proposals. Using elected office to amplify a campaign message is nothing new in presidential politics.

Tim Scott and DeSantis lean into the power of elected office.

Scott defends calling Biden ‘complicit’ in Hamas attack” via Zachary Leeman of The Messenger — Scott on Sunday defended calling Biden “complicit” in Hamas’ attack on Israel and proclaiming the current commander in chief has “blood on his hands.” “I’m saying with clarity that weakness from the American President, plus the negotiations leading to terrorist attacks — by negotiating with the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world, yes, it creates complicity,” Scott, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, said. Scott argued the “weakness” of Biden’s presidency “attracts conflict” globally and blasted $6 billion in Iranian funds previously being unfrozen last year as part of a hostage negotiation.

DeSantis mocks Trump for struggling to use a teleprompter” via Geoff Earle of the Daily Mail — DeSantis unloaded on Trump with some of his sharpest language yet, calling the former President someone who has ‘lost the zip on his fastball.’ DeSantis grabbed the attack from Trump’s wheelhouse. Trump regularly mocks Biden as someone who has lost a step, ridiculing him for taking the ‘baby stairs’ on Air Force One and pointing out times the President has botched his stage directions. He also aimed directly at one of the odd diversions from Trump’s speech in Derry, New Hampshire, on Monday, where he told a crowd it was more important to take part in poll-watching activities than to cast votes.

Mike Pence says he would have had boots on the ground in Gaza if President” via Tara Suter of The Hill — Pence said he would put boots on the ground in Gaza if he were President Friday. “We’re talking about Americans now,” Pence, a 2024 GOP Presidential Primary candidate. “Jake, we’re talking about Americans that have been captured and taken hostage, by the brutal Hamas terrorists.” Pence said he “welcomed” the release of two Americans taken as hostages by the Palestinian militant group Hamas during its attack on Israel earlier this month.

Pence faces a cash shortage and questions about how much longer his 2024 campaign can survive” via Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — With three months to go before the Iowa caucuses that he has staked his campaign on, Pence faces mounting debt and lagging poll numbers that are forcing questions about not only whether he will qualify for the next debate, but whether it makes sense for him to remain in the race until then. Pence ended September with just $1.18 million left in his campaign account, a strikingly low number for a presidential contest and far less than his rivals, new filings show. His campaign also has $621,000 in debt and is scrambling to meet donor thresholds for the Nov. 8 debate. While he would likely meet the debate’s polling requirements, Pence has struggled to gain traction and is polling in the low single digits nationally, with no sign of momentum.

Chris Christie says Trump’s lead in 2024 race is ‘fatally flawed’” via Olafimihan Oshin of The Hill — Christie argued Trump’s current lead in the 2024 GOP primary race is “fatally flawed.” During an appearance on MSNBC, host Stephanie Ruhle asked Christie why Trump remains the front-runner despite the legal battles he’s currently facing. “Look, I think that he’s the nominee twice in the last eight years, and there’s a lot of folks who still think that sticking with Donald Trump is the way the best way to beat Joe Biden,” Christie said. “I think that’s fatally flawed on a couple of fronts.”

DeSantis campaign launches ‘Trump accident tracker’” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — DeSantis’ campaign launched a “Trump accident tracker” Tuesday intended to highlight slip-ups and controversial statements from the former President, escalating the battle between the two 2024 GOP rivals. “To highlight the liability that Trump is for his own campaign and remind the American people of the liability he would be in the Oval Office, we will now be keeping a daily record of how long Trump can go without causing an accident on the job,” Andrew Romeo, a representative for the DeSantis campaign, said. The effort launched a day after Trump spoke to supporters in New Hampshire, where the DeSantis campaign noted that Trump confused the leaders of Turkey and Hungary, referring to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as the “leader of Turkey.”

What Trump suggests his supporters do to undermine the next election” via The New Republic — Trump is already prepping to undermine the 2024 Election: this time, by explicitly calling on his supporters to focus on harassing voters and election workers. At an event in Derry, New Hampshire, on Monday, Trump told a crowd of supporters that rather than participate in the upcoming presidential election, “you gotta be careful, you gotta get out there and watch those voters!” “You don’t have to vote; don’t worry about voting. The voting — we got plenty of votes,” Trump bizarrely said to his own supporters.

Trump compares himself to Nelson Mandela, fantasizes about punching Biden during New Hampshire pop up for GOP Primary” via Ryan King and Diana Glebova of The New York Post — Trump likened himself to late South African President and anti-apartheid icon Mandela, while also fantasizing about punching Biden, during a lively campaign outing in New Hampshire on Monday. Trump implied that he wasn’t fazed about the threat of getting tossed behind bars like Mandela, who spent years in prison over his opposition to apartheid in his country. “If you want to challenge the result of an election, they hound you,” Trump bemoaned during an event in Derry after formally filing to enter the state’s GOP Primary race. “But we don’t get scared — we don’t get scared. I’ll tell you what, I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela, because I’m doing it for a reason,” Trump said.

Trump fancies himself a Nelson Mandela type.

Trump and Michael Cohen come face-to-face at New York fraud trial” via Graham Kates, Clare Hymes of CBS News — Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and longtime “fixer,” confronted his ex-boss face-to-face for the first time in five years on Tuesday, when he testified that the former President personally authorized the fraudulent inflation of his net worth and property valuations. With Trump looking on, Cohen appeared at Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, where he told the court about his knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump Organization. Cohen was an executive vice president and counsel to Trump for years, and he alleged that he and the company’s former chief financial officer “reverse engineered” Trump’s financial statements to meet valuations that Trump “arbitrarily elected.” Trump and his co-defendants are accused in the civil suit of fraudulently inflating the value of assets for their own financial benefit.

In court faceoff, Cohen testifies against Trump. Trump shrugs: ‘Proven liar’” via Jake Offenhartz and Jennifer Peltz of The Associated Press — In a courtroom showdown five years in the making, Trump’s fixer-turned-foe Cohen testified Tuesday that he worked to boost the supposed value of the former President’s assets to “whatever number Trump told us to.” Trump’s lawyers and outside court, Trump himself, by turn, sought to portray Cohen as a serial deceiver who pleaded guilty to crimes that include tax evasion and telling falsehoods to Congress and a bank. During a fractious cross-examination, Cohen, a disbarred attorney, even floated his own lawyerly objections, responding to some queries with “asked and answered!”

Mark Meadows granted immunity in federal 2020 election case against Trump” via Victor Nava of The New York Post — Former White House chief of staff Meadows was granted immunity by special counsel Jack Smith in exchange for his testimony in the federal 2020 election interference case against Trump. Trump allies have long suspected that Meadows was cooperating with Smith, and some have even been apprehensive about talking with the former White House aide over fears that the FBI was monitoring his communications. Meadows reportedly told Smith’s team that he informed Trump several times in the weeks after his 2020 Election loss that allegations of widespread voting fraud were without merit. The former North Carolina Congressman also reportedly told prosecutors that Trump was being “dishonest” when he first claimed victory in the race just hours after polls closed on Nov. 3, 2020.


Israel war: DeSantis directs Florida colleges to shut down pro-Palestinian student group” via Jeremiah Poff of The Washington Examiner — The state university system of Florida announced Tuesday that campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine must be “deactivated,” citing their support for recent terrorist attacks by Hamas. The announcement was made in a letter to state university presidents from state university system Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, who said the decision was made in consultation with DeSantis because the student groups have made statements supportive of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel. The attack and Israel’s subsequent military response have claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people on both sides.

DeSantis is seeking to shut down any pro-Palestinian student groups.

DeSantis says pro-Palestinian ‘bozos’ want a ‘second Holocaust’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is telling New Hampshire voters that pro-Palestinian protesters want a “second Holocaust,” though they may be too stupid to realize it. During a campaign stop in Seacoast Tuesday evening, DeSantis bashed the “bozos” in American streets and universities, agitating against Israel as the country prepares to launch a ground offensive against Hamas in Palestinian territory. “When you see these bozos at Harvard and these universities protesting in favor of Hamas, when they say, ‘To the river to the sea that so-called Palestine shall be “free,’ understand they are advocating a second Holocaust,” DeSantis said.

Florida doles out $50 million to contractor providing DeSantis Israel flights” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Emergency management officials have authorized up to nearly $50 million in taxpayer dollars to one contractor for open-ended charter flights since DeSantis ordered the state to bring Floridians home from Israel two weeks ago, public records show. State officials have offered little information about who’s involved in helping Americans leave Israel amid the war with Hamas besides identifying Project Dynamo, a Tampa-based nonprofit international rescue group founded by ex-military personnel helping to run the mission. So, it’s unclear if all the money is going to the Israel evacuation or to DeSantis’ controversial migrant flights as well.


Tom Emmer drops Speaker bid after right-wing backlash” via Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — Emmer’s abrupt exit signaled that Republicans were as far as ever from breaking a deadlock that has left Congress leaderless and paralyzed for three weeks. It made Emmer the third Republican this month to be chosen to lead the party, only to have his bid collapse in a seemingly endless cycle of GOP grievances, personality conflicts and ideological rifts. Republicans have now succeeded in repudiating all three of their top leaders over the past few weeks. They were prepared to go to the floor for a vote of the full House as soon as Wednesday if anyone could muster a majority, but it remained unclear if that was possible amid the current strife.

GOP nominates Johnson for Speaker after spurning Emmer” via Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — Divided House Republicans chose and then quickly repudiated yet another of their nominees for Speaker on Tuesday and rushed to name a fourth, prolonging a remarkable three-week-long deadlock that has left Congress leaderless and paralyzed. Rep. Johnson of Louisiana emerged Tuesday night as the latest contender for the post after Emmer, the No. 3 House Republican, dropped his bid only hours after securing the nomination. Emmer’s downfall followed a swift backlash from the right, including Trump, which left his candidacy in shambles.

Byron Donalds drops out of nomination race for Speaker” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Donalds has dropped out of the race to be the next Speaker of the House. The Naples Republican came in third place in four ballots during a GOP conference meeting before being eliminated. He consistently came in behind House Majority Whip Emmer and House Republican Vice Chair Johnson. Donalds dropped out of the race rather than going through a ballot with just three candidates. The sophomore Congressman announced a run Friday after the conference dumped Jim Jordan as the nominee.

Byron Donald was in, then out, then in again — then out for good.

But then — “Donalds announces run for Speaker — again” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As the fight for Speaker of the House enters another phase, Donalds is again in the running. Majority Whip Emmer secured the most support from the GOP conference during Tuesday’s voting. Emmer’s chances seemed immolated after Trump posted on his Truth Social account that he did not trust Emmer. “I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors,” Trump posted. “RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them. He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement or the breadth and scope of MAGA — MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

‘Are we screwed?’: Anguished House GOP seeks fourth Speaker pick” via Sarah Ferris, Jordain Carney, Olivia Beavers, Anthony Adragna and Jenniver Scholtes of POLITICO — Their third Speaker pick in three weeks lasted barely four hours. Now, with their desperation on full display, Republicans are trying again. The House GOP is convening Tuesday night for its fourth internal huddle of the day as it hears from yet another unwieldy field of candidates to lead its broken ranks. No one has demonstrated the ability to do what the three previous failed Speaker hopefuls couldn’t: unite enough Republicans to land 217 votes on the floor.

‘Too smart to want the job’: Why no women are running for Speaker of the House” via Ali Vitali of NBC News — As Republicans remain stalled on picking the next House Speaker, nearly a dozen men have looked in the mirror and despite little to no name recognition or the possibility of getting the job, imagined themselves as the most powerful person in the House. Zero women within the GOP’s ranks have moved to do the same. That’s not because there aren’t options. Rep. Elise Stefanik serves as the No. 4 Republican in leadership. Reps. Lisa McClain and Stephanie Bice also serve in leadership roles. And three Republican women serve as Committee Chairs. Asked about the lack of women tossing their hats in the ring for his old job, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy told NBC News, “I don’t know.”

Latino voters could swing control of Congress” via Brittany Gibson of POLITICO — Latino voters could determine the next President of the U.S. as Trump seeks to make inroads with the community. Increasingly, GOP operatives believe the same voting bloc will also decide control of the House of Representatives. An internal analysis from the National Republican Congressional Committee showed nearly half the most competitive districts have an above-average Latino voter population, about 14%. Many of these seats were decided by just a few thousand votes — including Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, currently held by GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, which was decided by fewer than 600 votes in 2022. The NRCC’s belief that Hispanics will play a critical role in determining control of the House foreshadows a 2024 cycle in which the parties are even more aggressively targeting this demographic.


Feds say appeals court must advance Florida sports betting ruling — The Biden White House calls on the U.S. Supreme Court to allow an appeals court ruling to move forward on whether the Seminole Tribe of Florida can offer online sports betting throughout the state. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar filed a response last week after Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily halted the appeals court ruling, which could be the next step to bring sports betting to Florida. Pari-mutuel companies West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. are seeking a stay as they plan to ask the Supreme Court to challenge the appeals court ruling. The final step in the appeals-court ruling (a “mandate”) is “hereby recalled and stayed pending further order of the undersigned (Roberts) or of the (Supreme) Court.”

Rosalind Osgood, Carolina Amesty seek ban on shock therapy for children” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida still allows shock therapy to be used on children. But two lawmakers are working across the aisle to ban the practice. Sen. Osgood filed a bill (SB 252) in the Senate. Rep. Amesty is carrying a companion bill (HB 255) in the House to outlaw the practice. Specifically, the legislation would prohibit the use of electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) and psychosurgical procedures on minors and make clear the procedures can only be done on adult patients by a licensed physician. “In Florida, we prioritize the well-being and safety of our children above all else,” Amesty said.

Rosalind Osgood and Carolina Amesty propose a shocking bill for kids.

Move over eyeball wars, here come the sleep battles” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — “Dr. Sleep” is the name of a 2013 Stephen King novel and follow-up to the 1980s flick, The Shining. It could also be the title of the real-life fight over the delivery of anesthesia in Florida and who is authorized to do what. Two Republicans are sponsoring legislation this year that strikes a requirement for certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to put patients under without having to enter into written protocol agreements with physicians. Rep. Mike Giallombardo says striking the paperwork requirement will help improve access to health care and will keep highly trained nurses working in the state. But opponents say HB 257 is “scope creep” and will work to kill it.

Happening today — The Gilchrist County legislative delegation will meet: 10 a.m., Gilchrist County Commission, 210 South Main St., Trenton. The Alachua County legislative delegation will meet: 1:30 p.m., Santa Fe College, Joseph W. Fordyce Building, 3000 N.W. 83rd St., Gainesville. The Nassau County legislative delegation will meet: 3 p.m., Nassau County Commission chamber, 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee. The Brevard County legislative delegation will meet: 3 p.m., Canaveral Port Authority, Port Maritime Center, 445 Challenger Road, Cape Canaveral.

New condo safety regs could mean financial calamity, lawmakers warned” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Deadlines to meet new condo safety regulations are looming and local leaders are warning that legislation the deadly Surfside disaster spurred might bring on a financial calamity for many of the state’s condo residents. As the Session approaches, the Broward County Commission met with the county’s legislative delegation and told them about the panic they are hearing regarding what it’s going to cost for condos 25 years old or older that are required to comply with the legislation (SB 4D) that was passed in a 2022 Special Session. The first deadline to comply with the required structural integrity reserve study comes on Dec. 31, 2024.


Contest for open House seat in central PBC shows Democrat outraising GOP opponent” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Democrat Deborah Tendrich is leading Republican Daniel Zapata in the money race to fill an open House seat representing central Palm Beach County. The two are vying to represent House District 89, a seat that will come open as Democratic state Rep. David Silvers is termed out. Zapata, who works at a private school, is making his second bid to represent HD 89. Tendrich, the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Eat Better, Live Better, ran for the Delray Beach City Commission in 2020 and is now making her first bid for the Florida House.

Deborah Tendrich is lapping Daniel Zapata in the race for David Silvers’ PBC seat.

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister endorses State Attorney Suzy Lopez Chronister, a 31-year Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office veteran, has served as Sheriff since 2017. “An advocate for crime victims who tirelessly pursues justice in the courtroom, Suzy Lopez has restored Hillsborough County law enforcement’s faith in the State Attorney’s Office. Suzy stands with our community in the fight against violent crime and is holding more of these offenders accountable,” said Chronister. Lopez responded: “The safety of our families is my highest priority. That means standing with law enforcement, upholding the law, and keeping criminals off our streets. I am proud to work with Sheriff Chronister and the tremendous men and women of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to protect Hillsborough County.”

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Panel addresses impacts of gun violence and gun laws in communities” via Gianna Montesano of Treasure Coast Newspapers — According to the Gun Violence Archive, the United States has seen at least 34,916 deaths caused by gun violence this year. For Indian River County, the number is one in 2023, according to Sheriff Eric Flowers. How many people in Indian River County hold gun permits is unknown since keeping a database is illegal. And that presents a problem for law enforcement, Flowers told an audience gathered for a panel discussion on gun violence. “How many people in Indian River County have a permit? I don’t know,” Flowers said. “I can’t tell you that; I’m not legally allowed to do that. I’m not allowed to keep a database of people who have guns.”

Whatever you do, don’t ask Eric Flowers how many gun permits are in Indian River County.

‘Billionaire Bunker’ Florida home listed at $85M. Jeff Bezos got it for $79M” via Jennifer Sangalang of the Palm Beach Post — Owning a home in Billionaire Bunker is so luxe. Owning two homes there? That’s rich. Amazon founder Bezos recently did that. The billionaire and Blue Origin CEO reportedly paid $79 million for a seven-bedroom, 14-bathroom mansion set on 1.84 acres in Indian Creek Village, according to Bloomberg. The ultra-luxe, ultra-private neighborhood is near Miami Beach and earned the nickname Billionaire Bunker for its residents. In August, news reports show Bezos bought a waterfront estate there for $68 million. Bezos has many ties to Florida. He graduated from Palmetto High School in Miami. His company, Blue Origin, has a facility in Cape Canaveral next to Kennedy Space Center and SpaceX.

California man sentenced for cyberstalking father of Parkland school shooting victim” via Omar Rodríguez Ortiz of the Miami Herald — A man who sent hundreds of repulsive online messages to the father of a high school student killed in the Parkland mass shooting was sentenced in Miami federal court to a year behind bars. James Catalano, 62, who had pleaded guilty to cyber harassment, must also spend three years of supervised release after he gets out of prison. Records show that he has until Nov. 29 to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Miami. The California resident admitted to authorities that he sent more than 200 vile messages to Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter was one of 17 people killed at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Arcade in St. Lucie County accused of illicit gambling closed down Tuesday” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Sheriff’s officials raided the fourth alleged illicit arcade in the county since last month following accusations of illegal gambling. Law enforcement officials in the early afternoon loaded machines into a large black truck outside the arcade in a plaza on the east side of U.S. 1 at State Road A1A north of downtown Fort Pierce. Signs outside the establishment, blocked off with yellow tape, simply read “sweepstakes.” “Right on the machine they are saying the maximum donation that you could put in the machine is $10,000, and they’re trying to legitimize themselves as being a sweepstakes center,” Sheriff Ken Mascara said, standing inside with several machines behind him.

’My Grandma is my world:’ Remembering Shirley Gibson, Miami Gardens’ first Mayor” via Raisa Habersham of the Miami Herald — Fittingly, Gibson’s memorial service contained a saxophone tribute. “Good morning, I want to welcome you to Jazz in the Gardens,” said pastor Wendell Baskin of the New Way Fellowship Praise & Worship Center, in a nod to the late Miami Gardens Mayor’s creation of the premiere event and one of her accomplishments touted during the service. At least 300 people, including Miami Gardens City Council members, attended Gibson’s services inside the church on Northwest 22nd Avenue. Gibson, remembered for her leadership and commitment to service, died Monday, Oct. 16. She was 79. Just before she sang the first notes of “Don’t Cry for Me,” Shenita Hunt spoke of Gibson’s respect for her.

Miami Gardens remembers trailblazer Shirley Gibson.

South Florida designated a federal ‘Tech Hub’ for climate resilience” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — South Florida efforts to defend against sea level rise and other environmental challenges could gain additional support from the federal government, thanks to a new designation the region just received. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced that the region, inclusive of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, is among 31 inaugural “Tech Hubs” nationwide. Getting on the list isn’t just an honorary accomplishment. It opens the area to upward of $75 million in federal grants.

A Broward deputy was called to help a teenager. Now he faces charges, cops say” via Devoun Cetoute and David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — A 17-year-old girl expected help from the Broward Sheriff’s Office when an altercation between her and her parents prompted authorities to be called, officials say. But the deputy who responded later sent lewd messages to her trying to have sex, according to officials. “This here is one of the most grotesque and deliberate attempts to really abuse a minor in our community,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said at a news conference. “Get past the fact we are talking about a deputy; a criminal is a criminal. I don’t care if you are wearing a star on your chest or you’re a civilian … we’re going to hold you accountable to the laws of this state.”

— LOCAL: C. FL —

5 Brevard communities have uncontested municipal, special district elections this year” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Elections were scheduled in 10 Brevard County cities, towns and special districts on Nov. 7. But, in five of the 10 communities, all the races are uncontested, so the candidates who qualified for the ballot are elected without opposition, and there is no need to have polling places open. That happened in Indialantic, Malabar, Melbourne Village, Palm Shores and the Port Malabar Holiday Park special district. In fact, there were more available positions than candidates in Melbourne Village and Port Malabar Holiday Park.

Seminole Republicans: Discrimination claims by Chris Anderson are ‘baseless’” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — A day after Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Anderson wrote a letter to state and national Republican Party leaders asking for an investigation into racial discrimination he says he has faced since his first day on the job nearly five years ago, two Seminole County Republicans named in Anderson’s letter have responded calling the claims “baseless” and accusing him of playing “the race card.” Bruce Cherry, who is also Black, and Kelly Shilson, Chair and Vice Chair respectively of the Seminole County Republican Committee, both penned letters responding to Anderson’s latest accusations of racist treatment in Seminole. In his letter to party leaders, Anderson described a meeting planned by Seminole County Commissioner Amy Lockhart in August.

Seminole Republicans push back on Chris Anderson’s request for an investigation into discrimination.

Did Hunter’s Ridge development violate agreements? Ormond Beach Commission to offer answer” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Part of the Hunter’s Ridge development could lose access to water and sewer service provided by Ormond Beach if the City Commission determines its developer has violated several agreements. Ormond Beach Commissioners on Wednesday will consider a resolution finding the Hunter’s Ridge developers in violation of a 1991 development of regional impact (DRI) agreement, state law, and the city’s comprehensive land-use plan and development regulations. A 1,665-page city staff memo lists five potential violations, including failing to transfer a portion of conservation lands to the city and providing a road easement in that conservation area to Flagler County. Mayor Bill Partington said that Ormond Beach’s five Commissioners will hear evidence and rule in a quasi-judicial setting.


Whitney Fox resigns from comms post at PSTA, will run for Congress in Anna Paulina Luna’s district” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Fox has resigned her position as Director of Communications and Marketing for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and will run for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional District as a Democrat. Luna won the district in 2022 amid a red wave in Florida. “As a mother of two young girls and through my work in public transportation, I see the struggles of the affordability crisis affecting so many families across Florida,” Fox said. “Inflation in this district is two times the national average, housing and food prices are out of control and dangerous politicians like Anna Paulina Luna have left us behind in pursuit of an extreme agenda. Florida’s 13th Congressional district needs a leader committed to working together to get things done for our children, our families, and our communities.”

Whitney Fox is eyeing APL’s Congressional seat. Image via Whitney Fox for Congress.

Pinellas Democrats enter race for congressional seat held by Luna” via Romy Ellenbogen — Fox is the latest Democrat to jump into the 2024 race. Earlier in October, Democrat Mark Weinkrantz, a retired pilot who in 2014 ran for Pinellas County Commission, filed to run. John Liccione, whose website describes him as a technology executive, filed to run in June. Weinkrantz, 66, who filed for the race about a week before Fox, said in a statement that he aims to “preserve and protect our freedoms” if elected. He noted that he swore when he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force to protect the nation from enemies, and said after seeing the events of Jan. 6, 2021, he wanted to do something to protect democracy. Luna has made a name for herself as a freshman in Congress as part of a conservative rebellion against the more moderate wing of the party. Before she was even sworn in, she was part of a group of Republicans who refused to vote for McCarthy to be Speaker.

Bob Gualtieri backs Ed Montanari in HD 60 race” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Gualtieri has endorsed Montanari for House District 60. Montanari, a current member of the St. Petersburg City Council and the only Republican on the nonpartisan Board is running to unseat Rep. Lindsay Cross. “There is no better friend of law enforcement on the St. Petersburg City Council than Ed Montanari,” the Republican Sheriff said. “He knows how hard the men and women in law enforcement work to keep our neighborhoods safe, and Ed will never fail to equip our police and Sheriff’s deputies with the resources they need to do their job. Ed will fight for law enforcement and the rule of law in the Florida House, and I am proud to endorse his campaign.”

Uhuru nonprofit arm files civil rights suit after Pinellas yanks funds” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — When Pinellas County revoked funding it had promised to a St. Petersburg nonprofit over its ties to a controversial political group earlier this year, its members publicly accused the county of trampling on their civil rights. The African People’s Education and Defense Fund has formalized those complaints. In a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court, the nonprofit alleged that the county violated its freedom of association and due process rights. It wants a court to order Pinellas to provide the money it withheld — about $104,000 in total — along with other damages and court costs. The Education and Defense … provides community health care services and space for social events, and its headquarters on 18th Avenue South include a commercial kitchen and a community radio station, WBPU 96.3 FM, also known as Black Power 96. It’s also known for its connections to the Uhuru Movement. The African socialist political group has a long history of activism and political activity in St. Petersburg, and last year, the FBI raided the 18th Avenue South headquarters, known as the Uhuru House, as part of an investigation into Russian interference in local elections.

Pinellas County pulls funding for an Uhuru-affiliated radio station. Now they are asking for it back.

CareerSource Tampa Bay CEO to depart for new job in Atlanta” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — John Flanagan, president and CEO of CareerSource Tampa Bay, has accepted a job in Atlanta under Mayor Andre Dickens. CareerSource Tampa Bay connects employees with employers as the designated workforce development nonprofit for Hillsborough County. It experienced some turmoil in the lead-up to Flanagan’s hire in January 2019 and will again see some change due to the Reimagining Education and Career Help Act. A new workforce development system spanning Hillsborough and Pinellas counties must be formed by July 1, 2024. A single CEO previously led the Hillsborough and Pinellas workforce development agencies until a scandal involving fraudulent job placements and fabricated records led to the current setup.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Lakesha Burton resigns from Donna Deegan’s administration due to family health concerns” via Hanna Holthaus of The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union — Burton resigned from her position in Mayor Deegan’s administration Tuesday due to her husband’s unexpected health issues, the city said in a news release. Burton was among Deegan’s first transition advisers and became her director of community initiatives. Lakesha Burton’s husband, Gregory Burton, became the chief of Duval County Public School police in 2021 but stepped back earlier this month. Lakesha Burton thanked Deegan for the opportunity to serve in her administration and did not specify her husband’s health concerns in her resignation letter. “I genuinely felt that I had a great opportunity to move your vision for a thriving community forward,” Lakesha Burton said in the letter.

Family medial issues are forcing Lakesha Burton to step away from the Donna Deegan administration.

Candidates campaigned to conduct national superintendent search. What changed?” via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun — As candidates attempted to convince voters in 2022 that they were best suited to join the School Board of Alachua County, they were frequently asked one major question: “What are your plans for the superintendent role?” The overwhelming answer among all candidates was to conduct a national search rather than looking locally. The goal was to find a problem solver to address rezoning, teacher retention and delve into a long-term strategic plan. But just one year later, still looking to resolve the same issues, some of those candidates have made an about-face move and say they are pleased with the current leadership.

Report finds flaws in how Escambia County contracted with utility for broadband service” via Mollye Barrows of the Pensacola News Journal — A third-party review of the deal Escambia County’s Board of Commissioners made with Escambia River Electric Cooperative (EREC) to build a broadband network in the north end of the county found they failed to follow federal, state, and county guidelines when they negotiated the contract. As a result of that failure, the accounting firm’s findings say Escambia County “significantly increases the risk of disallowance and recoupment of funds by the U.S. Department of the Treasury,” meaning the county could be on the hook to “pay back” millions of dollars if a federal audit were to find fault in the process. The report also found that parts of the contract negotiation process between Commissioners and EREC “could appear as bid tailoring.”

Mormon church donates almost $1 million to Second Harvest expansion” via Mikiyah Everett of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Second Harvest of the Big Bend’s $13-million fundraising campaign to expand its operations got a major boost Monday when The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints donated $950,000 toward the effort. “We’re over 75% of the way to the $13 million goal,” said Tobey Gable, director of Advocacy and Marketing Strategies at Second Harvest of the Big Bend. Monday’s contribution follows the church’s earlier donation of $200,000 to the operation that provides food resources for 16 counties in Big Bend. The church also recently sent four semi-trucks loaded with 181,609 pounds of food to feed 5,600 people in a week.

County Commission presents county manager, attorney evaluations, leaves out critiques” via Nora O’Neill of the Gainesville Sun — The Alachua County Commissioners discussed their yearly evaluations of two top county employees at Tuesday’s Commission meeting, thanking them for their work and avoiding discussion of the critiques they had in their written evaluations. Commissioners commended County Manager Michele Lieberman and County Attorney Sylvia Torres for their work, voting to approve a 4% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) raise and a 2% merit raise for both administrative officials. “The compensation that we are requesting for you is highly deserved,” Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler said.


Sarasota Bay sees major water quality gains, state says. Other local waters doing worse” via Ryan Ballogg of the Bradenton Herald — Sarasota Bay’s water quality has significantly improved, according to state regulators, who are proposing its removal from Florida’s list of nutrient-polluted waters. The Department of Environmental Protection assesses the health of water bodies every two years. Estuary scientists who oversee the health of the bay are celebrating the news, but they also have some advice to keep the progress going. Sarasota Bay’s watershed spans about 150 square miles of the Intracoastal Waterway along Sarasota and Manatee counties, where it provides vital wildlife habitat, fishing and boating grounds. Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Director Dave Tamasko agrees that the bay’s health has seen a big boost.

Fort Myers rabbi leads prayer in hospital bomb shelter during missile attack in Israel” via Kate Cimini of the Fort Myers News-Press — A Southwest Florida rabbi on a mission to Israel was forced to take shelter along with a number of other religious leaders earlier today when missiles flew over the Israeli hospital they were visiting. Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz shared the video with The News-Press/Naples Daily News of the rabbis praying together in the bomb shelter at Soroka Hospital in the city of Be’er Sheva as a red alert siren went off. Minkowicz, of Fort Myers-based Chabad Lubavitch, left for Israel just days ago to visit soldiers, the wounded, displaced families and those who had lost loved ones to the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas.

Fort Myers Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz was forced to seek shelter in Israel ad Hamas bombs fell.

Previewing this week’s Cape Coral Council workshop. Here is the full agenda” via Luis Zambrano of the Fort Myers News-Press — At the city of Cape Coral’s next meeting, the leadership expects to focus on parking and reports on grants, parks, capital improvements, and economic and business development. A Committee of the whole meeting will be held on Wednesday in the Council chamber at 9 a.m. As Cape Coral’s downtown grows with new economic activity and businesses opening, the city has partnered with Mobility Cohort to develop short-term and long-term parking recommendations. Since its kickoff meeting with the city in July, the consultants have gathered public input and data on parking demands, usage, and ways to address the needs of the area.

Naples Airport Authority to study move to east Collier County” via J. Kyle Foster of the Naples Daily News — For the second time in 30 years, the Naples Airport Authority will study whether a move from its current location is feasible. The Airport Exploratory Study will look at possible locations in Collier County, cost and timing, along with whether maintaining the airport in its current location along the west side of Airport-Pulling Road is a possibility, given community needs and future growth expectations. The Airport Authority Board approved a contract Oct. 19 with the consulting group Environmental Science Associates for $438,321. “There’s a lot of reasons to consider the feasibility of a new airport,” Airport Authority Executive Director Chris Rozansky said in an interview. A major one, he said, is expansion constraints.

Ethics complaint against Collier Superintendent involves Mercedes and $18K. What happened?” via Kendall Little of the Naples Daily News — In May, a Naples citizen filed an ethics complaint against Collier County Public Schools Superintendent Leslie Ricciardelli. The complaint claimed that Ricciardelli violated Florida law by not declaring part of her finances. A hearing took place on Oct. 20. We spoke with Naples lawyer Marshall Tanick to break down the case and discuss what’s next. Naples citizen Nancy Keller filed a complaint against Ricciardelli in May, stating Ricciardelli violated a Florida statute by not disclosing that she leased a Mercedes or had $18,000 in unpaid fines. Ricciardelli said she didn’t know she had to report her car as intangible property and that it was a mistake.


No amount of censorship is ever enough for DeSantis. Look what he’s up to now” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Not content with teaching school children despicable versions of Black history, like claims that there was a silver lining to slavery, and defunding diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public colleges and universities, DeSantis now wants to control what “social issues” can be debated on state campuses.

There’s no limit to how deep into our lives his fascist instincts will lead him.

The Republican lackeys who do DeSantis’ bidding are circulating a draft of a new SB266, an addition to the last Legislative Session gutting of DEI initiatives. This one would outright limit free speech by restricting the discussion of social issues defined as “topics that polarize or divide society among political, ideological, moral, or religious beliefs, positions, or norms,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.

That’s like saying an institution of higher learning can’t teach world history, national history or state history — just about every relevant topic to human life.

But the Neanderthals running the state are so lacking in intellectual rigor that they can’t even see the obvious. What will they do next? Defund political science, history, social sciences and religious studies?

A college or university education devoid of discussion and debate is a political tool of whoever is in charge. Learning critical thinking skills is part of what happens inside and outside the classroom at the college level.

If, in Florida, you won’t be able to expand your intellectual capacity when you’re an adult on a college campus, what is left of freedom of speech in this state?


Cutting through the confusion — how a new vaccine can save lives” via Linda Delo for Florida Politics — As families across the nation settle back into the rhythm of a school year, it’s important that they check off an essential item that can linger on the to-do list: getting their children vaccinated for one of this year’s most intimidating yet preventable diseases. Meningitis is a highly contagious disease that can quickly spread into an outbreak with devastating consequences. Early symptoms are like the flu but can have a much more harrowing impact, striking fast and threatening brain or organ damage and causing severe headaches, nausea, and worse. Meningitis B thrives in close-contact environments — the kind that is so common in close quarters, like locker rooms, camp cabins, and dorms.

Local collaboration is key to PACE home-improvement program” via Nicole Dritz for the Orlando Sentinel — PACE was designed as an opt-in program, meaning that local governments can decide whether the program should be available to their residents. The Florida Green Finance Authority (FGFA) believes it is imperative to maintain that partnership with local governments by first seeking local approval. We will continue to work with local governments like the City of Orlando to ensure Residential PACE is the right fit for homeowners seeking additional options to make critical home improvements. We know that working together fosters innovation and creates more sustainable communities. In Florida, there’s no ignoring that different communities have different needs. The PACE model was created because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to financing home improvements or hardening your home from natural disasters.


— ALOE —

Crown them Champions! FAMU women’s cross-country team are the 2023 SWAC champs!” via the Tallahassee Democrat — Crown them champions! The Florida A&M women’s cross-country program boasts a new title Monday (Oct. 23), 2023 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champions. The women are the first Florida A&M team to garner that accomplishment this season and did so behind 63 total points. Alabama State (72 points) and Alabama A&M (99) rounded out the top three. Junior Serenity Williams placed sixth in the 75-person field and was the first Rattler to cross the finish line. Not only did she claim a new personal record, but the time (19:19:58.2) also captured her first sub-20-minute 5K.

Congrats to the FAMU champions of SWAC women’s cross-country running.


Celebrating today are Holly Bell, Eric Conrad, Mara Frazier, and Chuck Urban.


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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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