Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.16.23

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Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Breaking overnight — “After meeting with Xi Jinping, Joe Biden hails talks on fentanyl, military communication” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — President Biden said Wednesday that his talks with President Xi of China brought “important progress” in stabilizing the relationship between the two major powers and vowed that the two leaders would try to resolve future disagreements by picking up the phone rather than pushing their nations to the edge of conflict. Emerging from hours of talks with Xi outside San Francisco, Biden told reporters that the conversation had been the “most constructive and productive” between the two and announced modest agreements to resume military communications and combat the spread of fentanyl that has killed many thousands of Americans. But they produced no major breakthrough and left many issues unresolved.

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to restore some military-to-military communications between the U.S. and China.

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Breaking overnight — “Senate passes stopgap spending bill, sending to Biden with time to spare” via Ursula Perano and Caitlin Emma of POLITICO — The bill, which cleared the House Tuesday, passed in the Senate Wednesday night by an 87-11 vote. The vote was stalled for hours Wednesday evening over negotiations on defense policy legislation still on Congress’ to-do list this year. The stopgap bill uses a two-tiered deadline structure pioneered by Speaker Mike Johnson, which will keep part of the government open until Jan. 19 while funding for the military and some of the government’s biggest domestic programs will last through Feb. 2. The idea is to stagger funding deadlines, which Congress notoriously struggles to meet, so lawmakers aren’t stuck with a massive 12-bill government funding bundle. “I have good news for the American people: This Friday night there will be no government shutdown,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech shortly before passage.

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Top of Sunburn usually highlights key hires in The Process, but today, we’re using the space to highlight some angels — literally.

Florida Angels of Adoption is a new organization that aims to celebrate all the people who have positively impacted the life of a child who has been adopted, not just the rockstar families who brought on a new addition.

Founded by Kristin Welch-Scheurer, herself an adoptee, Florida Angels of Adoption accepts nominations from across the state to recognize professionals and families that exemplify the positives in adoption experiences and to inspire more families to adopt children. That aligns with the organization’s overarching goal — reducing the number of children in Florida awaiting adoption by fostering a community where every child finds a loving permanent home.

Florida honors some literal angels.

“I want to recognize the people and families that selflessly helped positively impact someone’s adoption story. Whether it is the loving adoptive parents, the foster parents, the community connectors, the Judge, the social worker, the doctors, the administrators, or any other role that is meaningful to a child,” Welch-Scheurer said. “I know there are a lot of adoption stories that do not have happy beginnings and happy endings, but I know a lot of them do and I want to celebrate those individuals helping make a positive difference.”

Florida Angels of Adoption has a list of six day-one award winners:

Judge Russell S. Roberts of Florida’s 14th Circuit Court, who “works around the clock” to finalize adoptions; NWF Health Network Adoption Coordinator Supervisor Jacy Smith of Florida’s 1st Circuit Court, who facilitated more than 200 adoptions in the 2022-23 fiscal year alone; family law attorney Melanie Coats in Florida’s 2nd Circuit, who logs more than 50 adoptions per year and participates in Christmas adoptions in the Tallahassee area; Kids Central Adoption Coordinator Juanita White in Florida’s 5th Circuit, who recently retired after 40 years working to help the state’s most vulnerable children; and foster parents Matthew and Janna Bartoli, also in the 5th Circuit, for fostering many children over the past decade and adopting five of them.

“If you know someone who has helped shape someone’s adoption story for the better, please go to our website at FloridaAngelsofAdoption.org and tell me more about their story. I would love to honor and recognize them,” Welch-Scheurer said.

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As today marks National Rural Health Day, Chartis Center for Rural Health has recognized Baptist Medical Center Nassau with a 2023 Performance Leadership Award for excellence in patient outcomes.

Florida’s rural counties are experiencing significant growth, and community hospitals like Baptist Medical Center Nassau play a critical role in meeting the increasing demand. As the only community hospital in Florida to be named to the Chartis Center for Rural Health’s annual list of the top 100 rural and community hospitals in the United States, Baptist Medical Center Nassau is committed to addressing disparities and ensuring that quality health care reaches every member of our community.

Hospital President Ed Hubel stands in front of the award-winning team at Baptist Health Nassau.

A leader in health care on multiple fronts, Baptist Medical Center Nassau has also received an “A” rating in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades and a 5-star hospital rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“At Baptist Nassau, we take immense pride in our role as providers of safe, trustworthy care to our community. We are a vessel of hope to those in a time of uncertainty. Every care team member, from doctors, nurses, support staff, volunteers and board members, is dedicated to ensuring that every patient receives the highest standard of care possible. It is this commitment that makes Baptist Nassau the No. 1 choice for health care in the county.” — Ed Hubel, FACHE, Hospital President of Baptist Medical Center Nassau.

“Rural hospitals play a vital role in strengthening Florida’s health networks by enhancing care delivery in the areas that rely on it most. We are proud to have a leader like Baptist Nassau serving our community and working to ensure that every Floridian receives the care and attention they deserve.” — Sen. Clay Yarborough.

“Rural hospitals support our communities in so many critical ways. By providing access to essential health care, preventive care, health education and employment opportunities, rural hospitals like Baptist Nassau are contributing to the physical well-being and economic prosperity of our community and state.” — Rep. Dean Black.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@ChristinaPushaw: Another weak attempt at a walk back. We all heard (Nikki) Haley the first time … and the second time. It’s on video. Twice. She said loud and clear that she would take action on Day One of her presidency to force platforms to ID all users, including Americans. How would she propose to determine the nationality or location of ANONYMOUS accounts, anyway? Would she ban VPNs, too?

@RepMoskowitz: While I appreciate the efforts, I do not support any ethics investigation into Chairman (James) Comer based on his outburst toward me. Not every mistake requires an ethics investigation. The public can judge for themselves. I’m fine, clearly, he needs a spa day.

@fineout: Florida Senate today rolled out so-called “deregulation” school bills that would make it easier for high school students to graduate & would totally rewrite one of the key components of @JebBush education plan first put in place back in 1999 …

Tweet, tweet:

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— DAYS UNTIL —

Miami Beach mayoral runoff — 5; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 6; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 6; ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ premieres — 6; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 14; Florida TaxWatch’s 2023 Government Productivity Awards Ceremony — 20; in-person sports betting begins at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa — 22; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 28; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 36; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 39; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. (Gov. Ron) DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 54; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 54; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 54; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 60; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 61; House District 35 Special Election — 61; Red Dog Blue Dog 2024 — 69; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 79; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 82; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 100; Michigan Democratic Primary — 102; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 108; Super Tuesday — 109; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 112; 2024 Oscars — 116; Georgia Democratic Primary — 117; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 121; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 176; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 185; Republican National Convention begins — 239; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 243; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 252; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 253; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 283; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 327; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 339; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 400; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 456; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 535; ‘Moana’ premieres — 591; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 765; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 896; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 919; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,132; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,271; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,227; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,590.

— TOP STORY —

Florida Republicans target scholarships, grants for students supporting Hamas” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — The idea is the latest attempt by Florida policymakers to punish college students who are expressing support for Palestinians as the Israel-Hamas war rages on with tensions inflamed on campuses across the country.

Already, Florida has attempted to disband Students for Justice in Palestine groups at two state universities while DeSantis on the GOP presidential campaign trail pledges to cancel student visas for anyone sharing “common cause with Hamas.”

Florida looks at defunding students who openly support Hamas.

Identical legislation filed in Florida’s House and Senate would make students ineligible for several key financial benefits at state colleges and universities if they promote a “foreign terrorist organization.” The proposed law would specifically include “Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad” as well as other organizations designated by the U.S. State Department to possess “capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity.”

The word “promote” is not defined in the proposals.

Namely, these students would be unable to access state grants, financial aid, tuition assistance and fee waivers. They would also have to pay out-of-state tuition instead of the lower in-state rate.

Sure to be opposed by Democrats, lawmakers are set to consider the proposal during the upcoming 2024 Session, which begins in January.

“Instead of addressing issues like property insurance, the Florida Legislature will be targeting students who they say are promoting terrorism,” state Rep. Anna Eskamani posted on social media. “Meanwhile actual domestic terrorists will continue to access assault weapons.”

— THE TRAIL —

Nikki Haley is on the brink of croaking Ron DeSantis” via Ed Kilgore of New York Magazine — In the understandable focus on which Republican presidential candidate is running a distant second to Trump in Iowa, it may have passed notice that Haley is beating the tar out of DeSantis in the next two early states, New Hampshire and her native South Carolina. A new survey of the Granite State shows Haley second at 18%, while DeSantis is fourth (slightly behind Chris Christie) at 7%. That’s no outlier: Haley is at 17% in the RealClearPolitics averages for New Hampshire while DeSantis is at slightly less than half that number (8.3%, tied with Christie for third place). More predictably, in her home state, Haley leads DeSantis in the RCP averages: 18.8% to 10.5%. You have to assume that Tim Scott’s withdrawal from the contest will benefit Trump and Haley, now the only South Carolinian in the race, much more than DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis is now playing underdog in several states. Image via Never Back Down.

New Hampshire poll shows Republicans prefer Haley, Chris Christie over DeSantis” via Mallory Wilson of The Washington Times — DeSantis, who was once viewed as Trump’s biggest competitor, has fallen into fourth place in a poll of the key battleground state New Hampshire. The new survey shows that DeSantis is polling at 7%, down 10 points from March. Trump leads with 49%, followed by Haley with 18%. Christie, who has typically been performing low in the polls, surpassed DeSantis with 9%. Vivek Ramaswamy is in fifth place behind DeSantis with 5%.

DeSantis at 12% in South Carolina, trailing Donald Trump, Haley” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — New polling from the Palmetto State suggests a tough path for Florida’s Governor in the early Primary state. A Winthrop University survey of 626 registered Republicans shows DeSantis at 12%, a distant third place behind Trump (52%) and Haley (17%). Winthrop Poll Director Scott Huffmon said “Haley continues her steady lead over DeSantis for the distant second choice among South Carolina Republicans. However, the Miami GOP debate occurred in the middle of our polling, so we may not have picked up whether she received any bump from her debate performance.” Huffmon acknowledges that Haley will have a hard time catching Trump though in the race to take the 50 convention delegates up for grabs Feb. 24.

Poll: DeSantis plummets to single digits, third place in Texas GOP Primary” via Hannah Bleau Knudsen of Breitbart —Trump leads with a majority support, garnering 58% among likely Texas GOP Primary voters the latest CWSResearch/Defend Texas Liberty PAC Texas survey found. No other candidate comes close, as Haley comes in a distant second, 47 points behind with 11% support. DeSantis falls to the single digits, 49 points behind Trump with 9% support. Vivek Ramaswamy comes in fourth place with 5% support and remaining names saw 2% support or less. Another 13% remain undecided. Further, the survey asked respondents who they would support if the field were narrowed to just Trump or DeSantis. Still, Trump takes the majority of support, 59%, followed by DeSantis with just 24% support. In that case, 17% remain undecided.

DeSantis campaign brings Kim Reynolds’ ‘endorsement’ to Iowa TV” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Iowa Republicans are set to get frequent reminders of who their Governor is backing in the race. The new DeSantis ad features a familiar face: Kim Reynolds, who is DeSantis’ most high-profile endorser in Iowa. The 30-second TV spot, entitled “Endorsement,” features the Iowa Governor enthusing about DeSantis. “We need someone who puts this country first and not himself. Ron DeSantis is the person that we need (to lead) this country. He is probably the most effective leader that I know. I am so proud to give him my full support and endorsement,” she says in the spot.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

DeSantis redoubles effort to goad Haley into confrontation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The perception in the Republican presidential race in some quarters is that Haley has eclipsed DeSantis as the leading Trump alternative. Whether that’s reality or not is ultimately a question open to subjective interpretation, but all appearances are that an energized DeSantis operation is focused on dispatching Haley. “Count me in,” the Governor posted to X Wednesday, in response to a Laura Ingraham call for Haley and DeSantis to debate on her program. It’s uncertain why Haley would agree to a debate on likely unfriendly terrain, given that the Fox News host accused the former South Carolina Governor of “political suicide” last week after she got praise from the center after her performance in the presidential debate in Miami.

DeSantis rips Haley attack on ‘anonymous speech’ on social media” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is speaking out in favor of the right to express yourself without identifying yourself. DeSantis is arguing against Haley’s assertion that social media users should be “verified,” a position the former South Carolina justified on “national security” grounds. DeSantis argued that the proposal was reminiscent of something embraced by the totalitarian regime in Beijing. “Forcing disclosure of names and registration, that’s what China has done. China did that recently. That is totally inappropriate for the United States of America,” he said. DeSantis lumped in Haley’s idea with the “cancel culture” he claims has beset people on the right.

DeSantis agrees to debate Haley one-on-one: ‘Count me in!’” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis agreed to a one-on-one debate with Haley as the two have got into multiple spats with the GOP Primary heating up. Laura Ingraham of Fox News initially proposed the debate on Wednesday afternoon. “Count me in!” DeSantis said. The potential for another one-on-one debate for the Florida Governor comes as he will participate in a similar kind of debate Nov. 30 against California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Most recently, DeSantis grilled Haley for her proposed plan to use the federal government to unmask the identities of social media users. “Every person on social media should be verified by their name,” Haley said.

DeSantis fights to fend off Haley in early states as ex-South Carolina Governor surges” via Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — Haley is giving DeSantis a run for his money. She is looking to build off a bout of recent momentum by outflanking DeSantis in a slew of early voting states, including Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state that DeSantis’ team sees as a key part of his effort to overtake Trump in the 2024 GOP Primary. On Monday, Haley’s campaign announced that it would take out $10 million in TV, radio and digital ads in Iowa and New Hampshire beginning the first week of December. The expected ad buy is more than five times larger than the DeSantis’ campaign’s current advertising investments for the same period.

After Tim Scott’s exit, DeSantis and Haley take the gloves off” via Brittany Bernstein of National Review — With Sen. Scott out of the race, voters can expect the battle between DeSantis and Haley to heat up, strategists say, with the former South Carolina Governor well positioned to win over Scott’s supporters. The two are expected to duke it out to become the leading non-Trump candidate. DeSantis came out swinging this week, going after Haley over everything from her response to the riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death to her views on immigration to her recent comments about the need for verification for social media users. DeSantis accused Haley of caving to the Left’s narrative on the Black Lives Matter riots.

DeSantis campaign calls Haley a ‘China liberal’ as he ramps up attacks on rival with video of her praising and defending Beijing” via Katelyn Carelle of the Daily Mail — DeSantis’ campaign is going all-in on attacking ‘pro-China liberal’ Haley as the former U.N. Ambassador closes the gap between second and third place in recent polling. DeSantis’ team claims his 2024 competitor is soft on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the regime continues to pose a rising threat to the U.S. The one-minute attack video from DeSantis War Room weaves together clips of comments made by Haley that it then compares to statements made by Biden in regard to China.

Glenn Beck probes DeSantis on his ‘disconnect’ from GOP Primary voters” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis can’t escape questions about why his campaign, which once led Trump’s in some early polls, has faded far behind that of the former President. During an interview with Beck, the 2024 presidential candidate was asked about his “disconnect” with GOP Primary voters and his failure to “close the deal.” DeSantis’ response included less than comprehensive answers to that question, leaving unclear whether the candidate has a clear strategy with the Iowa caucuses just two months away. DeSantis cited his victory for re-election last year and his “ability to serve two terms” as unique value adds, while saying he could staff up in a way the former President can’t if elected to a second term next year.

Glenn Beck asks what the hell happened to Ron DeSantis. Image via Glenn Beck.

Biden condemns Trump’s ‘vermin’ remark, compares it to Nazi rhetoric” via Libby Cathey, Fritz Farrow and Gabriella Abdul-Hakim of ABC News — In another sign Biden is resharpening his attacks on Trump ahead of their potential rematch next year, he condemned Trump for comparing political enemies to “vermin” and saying some immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” Biden suggested those phrases were intentional reminders of Nazi Germany as Trump vows vengeance against his opponents. “In just the last few days, Trump has said if he returns to office, he’s going to go after all those who oppose him and wipe out what he called the ‘vermin’ — quote, the ‘vermin’ in America. A specific phrase with a specific meaning,” he said Tuesday evening at a fundraiser in San Francisco. “It echoes language you heard in Nazi Germany in the ’30s. And it isn’t even the first time.”

— MORE 2024 —

Chris Christie criticizes Haley, DeSantis for not taking on Trump more directly” via Sarah Fortinsky of The Hill — Christie criticized Haley and DeSantis for not more directly taking on Trump, who has maintained a sizable lead in the Primary for months. “I am the only candidate running against Donald Trump. Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis seem to be running against each other for second place. Good for them,” Christie said. Christie invoked the two candidates’ responses at the most recent debate about how they plan on winning over Trump voters, suggesting the two candidates do not even appear to be running against Trump.

Chris Christie goads the other GOP candidates into taking on Donald Trump directly.

Biden voters say more motivated to stop Trump than to support President-Reuters/Ipsos” via Jason Lange and James Oliphant of Reuters — Americans inclined to vote for Biden in the 2024 Election say they are more motivated by stopping Trump from returning to the Oval Office than they are by supporting the incumbent. The two-day poll, which closed on Tuesday, showed Biden and Trump locked in a tight race, with Republican Trump leading Biden 51% to 49% when respondents were asked to pick between the two, within the poll’s credibility interval of about four percentage points. Biden’s supporters were more likely than those backing Trump to say they would cast their vote to keep the other candidate from winning, a possible indicator of low enthusiasm for Biden as well as a deep disdain for Trump among many Democrats.

What Trump’s second term could look like” via Mary Harris of Slate — If there’s one thing I’ve learned from covering Trump, it’s that he doesn’t keep his agenda secret. In just the past few months, he’s pledged to “root out the communist, Marxist, fascist, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,” to “carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history,” and to end “automatic citizenship for children of illegal aliens.” He’s also said, “If I happen to be President and I see someone who’s doing well and beating me very badly, I’d say, ‘Go down and indict them.’ They would be out of business, out of the election.” Susan Glasser says Trump is “the politician who’s famous for saying the quiet part out loud.” Glasser reports on politics over at the New Yorker. She’s been following along as day by day a Trump doctrine seems to be coming together. “His plans are very explicitly anti-constitutional, unconstitutional,” she said.

Trump targeting court officials could land him in jail, his former White House special counsel warns” via David Jackson of the USA Today — Trump’s constant and escalating attacks on court officials — including this week’s reposting of a call for a “citizens’ arrest,” could wind up landing the former president in jail, a former Trump White House special counsel said. “He’ll keep doing it until someone punches him in the nose,” said Ty Cobb, a former Justice Department official who worked in the White House during the Trump administration. On Tuesday, Trump reposted and later deleted, a post from a Truth Social user who called for the “citizen’s arrest” of New York Attorney General Letitia James and state Judge Arthur Engoron for “election interference and harassment.” James has sued Trump and family members for alleged bank fraud. Engoron, who is hearing the case, has fined Trump a total of $15,000 for violations of his limited gag order already in place.

Colorado case using ‘insurrection’ argument to bar Trump from the ballot goes to the judge” via Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press — A Colorado judge heard closing arguments on whether Trump is barred from the ballot by a provision of the U.S. Constitution that forbids those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. The hearing came on the heels of two losses elsewhere for advocates who are trying to remove Trump from the ballot under Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which bars from office those who swore an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it. The measure has only been used a handful of times since the period after the Civil War, when it was intended to stop former Confederates from swamping government positions.

Trump seeks New York fraud mistrial, citing judge’s ‘demonstrable bias,’ law clerk’s ‘co-judging’” via Aysha Bagchi of USA Today — Trump requested a mistrial in a high-stakes New York civil fraud case that could cost the GOP front-runner $250 million and strip him of his ability to do business in the state, decrying what he called the judge’s “ample bias” and a law clerk’s “co-judging.” Given “the demonstrable partisan bias present on the bench at trial, the only way to maintain public confidence in a truly independent and impartial judiciary and the rule of law is to bring these proceedings to an immediate halt,” Trump and several co-defendants said.

Donald Trump again seeks a mistrial in his fraud case.

Former Democratic Party chair hosts fundraiser for Trump prosecutor Fani Willis” via Alexander Bolton of The Hill — Scott Bolden, a prominent trial attorney, white-collar defense lawyer and former chair of the D.C. Democratic Party, is hosting a fundraiser Wednesday evening for Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Willis, who indicted Trump in August on 13 charges. The event will be at Bolden’s K Street law office, and attendees are invited to give between $250 and $6,600 to welcome and help re-elect Willis.


— DESANTISY LAND —

Casey DeSantis demands Hamas surrender in response to Israeli plea to Jill Biden” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Casey DeSantis posted her demand to X: “Shouldn’t even have to ask for this to be said and it can’t be said loud enough. Hamas must release every single hostage immediately, lay down their weapons, and unequivocally surrender. Release all hostages NOW!” The First Lady was quote-tweeting a letter from Sara Netanyahu to the United States First Lady Jill Biden, in which the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to Dr. Biden on an emotional level. Netanyahu noted that she not only was “Bibi’s wife” but was writing as a “mother” to Biden as a “First Lady and mother.” She noted that 32 children were kidnapped last month by Hamas, vividly describing the uncertainty they face.

Casey DeSantis rises to a First Lady moment in the Israel/Hamas conflict.

DeSantis announces $14.4 million for 57 apprenticeship, preapprenticeship programs” via Florida Daily — On Tuesday, DeSantis awarded $14.4 million through the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant (PCOG) to fund 57 proposals to start, expand or operate registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs at Florida school districts, colleges, state universities and private training entities. The funding will support over 5,000 participants as they commit to simultaneously receiving on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. “Today’s awards help ensure Florida remains the national leader in developing a strong workforce and providing businesses with the talent they need to be successful,” said DeSantis.

— D. C. MATTERS —

How the next Republican President could stop most abortions without Congress” via Caitlin Owens of Axios — The next Republican President could effectively ban most abortions through a simple policy change at the Department of Justice, experts and advocates on both sides of the abortion debate say. While Republicans disagree about whether to pursue a national abortion ban that would face long odds in Congress, a GOP President may be able to unilaterally curb access to medication abortion across the country using an obscure 19th-century law. At issue is the meaning of the 1873 Comstock Act, which banned the mailing of “obscene” material like pornography, as well as abortion drugs and contraception. While the law has been cut down over the years, the abortion provision remained but was ignored while Roe v. Wade was in place.

‘One of the most dangerous times in U.S. history’: Congress warned of terror threats by Hamas and others” via Tom Fitzgerald of Fox 5 — Top national security officials told Congress Wednesday that the U.S. is seriously concerned about the possibility that Hamas or another terror group may try to launch attacks here in the U.S. The troubling testimony comes as the U.S. continues its efforts to support Israel in its war against Hamas. Mark Green, Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security Chair, opened the hearing with a critical statement. “Twenty-two years have passed since Sept. 11. Since then, the nature of the threats we face has evolved, and the security challenges are becoming more dynamic each day. I do not say this lightly; this is one of the most dangerous times in the history of the United States,” he proclaimed.

—“Congress holds hearing on antisemitism as pro-Israel rally garners nearly 300,000 attendees” via Fox News

Chaos in Congress: GOP Senator, former MMA fighter, challenges Teamsters boss to fight during hearing” via Scott Johnson of News4Jax — A congressional hearing devolved into an angry confrontation between a Senator and a witness on Tuesday after Sen. Markwayne Mullin challenged Sean O’Brien, the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to “stand your butt up” and settle long-standing differences right there in the room. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Senate panel that was holding the hearing, yelled at Mullin to sit down after he challenged O’Brien to a fight. Mullin had stood up from his seat at the dais and appeared to start taking his ring off. “This is the time, this is the place,” Mullin told O’Brien after reading a series of critical tweets O’Brien had sent about him in the past. “If you want to run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.”

Tough guy Markwayne Mullin demonstrates why people look down upon Congress.

The ominous rise of congressional anger” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — It is probably not terribly useful to draw sweeping conclusions from Mullin’s demand Tuesday that a witness at a Senate hearing stand up and fight him. Mullin’s background is atypical for a Senator, including a brief stint about 15 years ago during which he did mixed-martial arts fighting. The witness, meanwhile, was the head of the Teamsters union; his willingness to goad Mullin into the challenge was probably also atypical for someone appearing on Capitol Hill. We might also be cautious about the weird, probably overheated interaction between Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Tim Burchett, also on Tuesday. But there’s an undeniable thread that links them, an acceptance, however slight, of the idea that physical violence has a place in the resolution of disputes. Should this pattern continue — or accelerate — it would mirror other countries in which democracy is eroding. Including, at one point, the United States.

Mayorkas warns of dangers to the U.S. if it loses tools to block terrorists from using drones and WMD” via Rebecca Santana of The Associated Press — The U.S. government is at risk of losing key tools for preventing terrorists from using drones, chemicals or weapons of mass destruction if Congress doesn’t take action soon, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned Wednesday. Congress could temporarily extend the measures dealing with drones and WMD as part of a bill the House approved Tuesday to avert a government shutdown. But a bill regulating chemicals stalled in the Senate after a Republican Senator raised concerns that it could make the U.S. chemical industry less competitive, and those powers expired in July. The others also expire this year unless Congress takes action to extend them. “Congress must not allow these DHS authorities to lapse,” Mayorkas said, arguing that they are vital for protecting the country. “This is not a moment to let our guard down.”

Senate looks to speed ahead on temporary funding to avert government shutdown through the holidays” via Stephen Groves of The Associated Press — The Senate was pushing toward a vote Wednesday night on a temporary government funding package as lawmakers sought to keep the holiday season free from any suspense over a government shutdown. Senators were trying to speed forward on the funding package one day after it passed the House on an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Passage would push a final confrontation on the government budget into the new year, when the House and Senate will be forced to confront — and somehow overcome — their considerable differences over what funding levels should be. In the meantime, both top Republicans and Democrats in the Senate appeared ready to avert a shutdown and pass the temporary funding patch well before government funding expires Saturday.

Key spy tool will expire at the end of year if Congress and White House can’t cut a deal” via Aneeta Mathur-Ashton of The Messenger — A key U.S. spy tool is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress and the Biden administration can cut a deal to renew it. The tool, Section 703 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was enacted in 2008 and allows the U.S. intelligence community to collect the communications of foreigners overseas suspected of posing a threat to national security without a warrant. The law also allowed the government to collect communications of American citizens and others inside the U.S. when they are in contact with those targeted.

—“Supreme Court starts ethics work, Congress or Court must finish” via Michael Broyde, Charles Geyh and Danielle Caputo of Bloomberg Law

Ethics report on Rep. George Santos won’t make recommendations for House action” via Ryan Nobles and Kyle Stewart of NBC News — The House Ethics Committee will release its report on Rep. Santos before the end of the week, but it won’t offer any recommendations for what members should do about the scandal-plagued Republican, the panel’s chair said Wednesday. “We are not going to make any recommendations to the House,” said Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest. “That will be up to each individual member as to whether they feel like the information that’s obtained in the report, that is available in the public domain, rises to the level of expulsion.” Guest added that issuing a report recommending sanctions would have delayed the investigation into next year. The bipartisan Committee had vowed to release the results of its investigation by Friday.

Congress Investigating Apple’s Jon Stewart Cancellation” via Matt Wilstein the Daily Beast — Stewart’s Apple TV+ series was abruptly canceled last month and Congress wants answers. In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the bipartisan leadership of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party wrote, “While companies have the right to determine what content is appropriate for their streaming service, the coercive tactics of a foreign power should not be directly or indirectly influencing these determinations.” The move comes after a report from The New York Times that claimed future episodes of The Problem with Jon Stewart around China and artificial intelligence played into Apple’s decision to ax the show. The committee indicated that it had also reached out to Stewart as part of its investigation.

Apple canceled the Problem with Jon Stewart. Congress wants to know why.

Panel blames rising U.S. aviation risk on ‘recurring gridlock’ in Congress” via Lauren Irwin of The Hill — An independent panel blames the rising risks of flying on the “recurring gridlock” and politically motivated government shutdowns in Congress. The panel conducted a review of the internal structure of the Air Traffic Organization and provided recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve its safety approach after investigations found “an increase in the most serious type of runway incursions” from earlier this year. In its report, the National Airspace System Safety Review Team said many of the issues — including process integrity, staffing, facilities, equipment and technology — all stem from “inadequate or inconsistent funding.”

SpaceX gets OK to try 2nd launch of massive Starship and Super Heavy” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — The Federal Aviation Administration gave SpaceX the OK to go on its second attempt to launch its Starship and Super Heavy, and Elon Musk’s company is aiming for a Friday morning liftoff of the massive test rocket. “The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements,” according to an emailed statement. Starship and Super Heavy’s first attempt at a launch on April 20 ended up with significant destruction to the launchpad and the rocket being sent a self-destruct command after the Starship didn’t separate from the Super Heavy first stage. The FAA grounded the next-generation rocket as it worked through dozens of required fixes before allowing SpaceX a second try.

— STATEWIDE —

Bryan Ávila measure urges Biden admin to reverse ‘misguided’ sanctions relief on Venezuela” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Lifting sanctions on the dictatorial regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has been a failure, and Biden’s administration needs to reverse the policy, a measure by Ávila says. The memorial (SM 398), filed this month for the upcoming Legislative Session, would urge U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to reinstate economic sanctions on Venezuela. It would also recommend additional sanctions on companies that do business with the country while it remains under Maduro’s control. “The regime has destroyed countless lives, ruined a once-thriving economy, and ruthlessly censored any opposition to Maduro’s tyranny,” Ávila said.

Lifting sanctions on Venezuela was a failure, says Bryan Ávila.

New report showcases pathway to address energy affordability in Florida” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Floridians across the state have felt the pinch in their pockets this year when their power bills. Recent findings from a report published by the Environmental Defense Fund in partnership with the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) shed light on energy affordability and measures for increased efficiency to avoid skyrocketing and unpredictable cost increases in Florida. Rural Floridians especially find themselves in outdated housing with inefficient systems, placing significant and unnecessary financial burdens on families. Conflicts overseas and global market demands create extremely unpredictable natural gas prices while the growing frequency of extreme weather events, homeowners’ insurance and inflation compound threats to Florida remaining affordable for seniors and many in the state.

Recess moms sound alarm on students losing playtime” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The “recess moms,” a group of parents who pushed for recess requirements in Florida schools, say playtime is at risk. A series of bills intended to reduce regulations on school districts includes revisiting requirements in place since 2017. Angie Gallo lobbied seven years ago for the Legislature to put requirements in place for at least 20 minutes of unstructured free play time each day — equaling 100 minutes a week — during the school day from kindergarten through fifth grade. Gallo now serves as an Orange County School Board member and will testify in favor of keeping recess in state law. “I just want to remind them of the work we did in 2017 and the reason the bill was implemented,” Gallo said.

Lawmakers raise questions, concerns about high Communications Services Tax rates” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Lawmakers voiced concerns with the current Communications Services Tax (CST) rate during a workshop in the House Ways & Means Committee. Florida’s CST rate is the 12th-highest in the nation, largely due to local governments levying additional tax increases on top of the state CST rate. CST is a charge added on any cell, landline, cable and satellite television, or video and music streaming service bill. Last Session, lawmakers took a first step to rein in the CST by including in the tax package a moratorium on local governments from increasing their portion of the CST rates for the next three years. Now, lawmakers are considering how they can further reduce this tax burden on Floridians.

Legis sked

9 a.m. The House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee meets for an update from the Division of Emergency Management on what the agency can do during emergencies. Room 404, House Office Building.

9 a.m. The House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee meets for an update from the Department of Health about workforce programs. Reed Hall, House Office Building.

9 a.m. The House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee meets for an update about the aerospace industry in Florida. Room 212, Knott Building.

Noon. The House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee meets for an update on career and technical education. Reed Hall, House Office Building.

Noon. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee will hold a panel discussion on what is known as an “offer of judgment” law. Room 404, House Office Building.

2 p.m. The House Ethics, Elections & Open Government Subcommittee meets to consider bills related to current open-government laws. Reed Hall, House Office Building.

2 p.m. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update from the Agency for Health Care Administration about health information transparency. Morris Hall, House Office Building.

— DOWN BALLOT —

Joe Saunders campaign for HD 106 nets nod from Miami Beach Mayor” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Former Rep. Saunders’ campaign for House District 106 now has the backing of Miami Beach’s top elected official. Mayor Dan Gelber is throwing his support behind Saunders’ bid to unseat Rep. Fabián Basabe next year. “Miami Beach needs an advocate in the Florida Legislature who shares our values,” Gelber said in a statement. “Joe Saunders has demonstrated a genuine commitment to improving the lives of our residents. Joe is the right person for the job, and I’m proud to endorse his campaign.” The nod from Gelber, a former state lawmaker who faces term limits as Mayor this year, joins others from Senate Democratic Leader-designate Jason Pizzo, House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell, numerous current and former state and federal legislators, and several advocacy groups.

Joe Saunders gets backup in his bid to usurp Fabián Basabe.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Suspended Miami Commissioner loses family home to foreclosure sale days before election” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Suspended Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla lost his childhood home in a foreclosure sale one week before voters decide if they’ll give the embattled politician another term at City Hall. The sale comes as Díaz de la Portilla faces criminal charges that he sold his City Commission vote in exchange for $245,000 in campaign contributions and gifts, which prompted DeSantis to suspend Díaz de la Portilla the day after he was arrested in September. As he seeks re-election to the Commission’s District 1 seat, legal issues have mounted for the longtime politician, who denies wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty to charges that include bribery and official misconduct.

It’s one thing after another with Alex Díaz de la Portilla. Image via Jose A. Iglesias/el Nuevo Herald.

3 key items from West Palm Commission meeting: Affordable housing, Dreher Park, El Cid property” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — Affordable housing, Dreher Park land, and commercial development expansion were among the topics discussed at West Palm Beach’s Commission meeting. The topic of affordable housing in Palm Beach County has been a critical issue for the past few years. “House prices and rents continue to escalate at a pace that far outstrips the increase in workforce income and hinders our businesses’ ability to retain and attract workers,” according to a recent Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County report. West Palm Beach, particularly downtown, has been a focal point of awareness for city leaders, which is why Monday’s decision was so important.

Miami-Dade school band director arrested on sex charges with student” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — The band director of South Dade Senior High School was arrested on charges he had a sexual relationship with one of his students since September, according to police. Scott Michael Davis, 47, was charged with sexual activity with a minor, offenses against a student by an authority figure and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The relationship began last November after the teen was hospitalized following a “mental health crisis” he suffered following a breakup with another person, according to the Miami-Dade County Schools Police arrest report.

‘It’s just becoming messier.’ Financial concerns bog down Coral Gables annexation” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — After overcoming a major hurdle last month, Coral Gables’ efforts to absorb a neighboring enclave hit a potential snag, with officials now wanting to poll residents on the matter and citing concerns about projected six-figure annual losses. The City Commission instructed staff to come to the next meeting in December with options for gauging Coral Gables residents’ interest in annexing Little Gables — whether through an informal survey or a formal ballot referendum — potentially further slowing a process that’s crawled along for decades. “I promised residents of Coral Gables that they would have a say in this matter,” said Commissioner Ariel Fernandez, who was elected in April.

Ariel Fernandez wants Coral Gables residents to have a say on annexation.

County will need to rescind Miami Wilds deal for water park at zoo, Mayor says in memo” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Mayor Daniella Levine Cava wants to kill the agreement to build a for-profit water park outside Zoo Miami that conservation groups say will be a disaster for endangered bats living in the nearby forest. In a memo, Levine Cava asked Miami-Dade Commissioners to cancel a Dec. 12 vote on the agreement her administration originally negotiated with Miami Wilds to extend development deadlines the project is set to miss later this year. She also said Miami-Dade should take steps to cancel the Miami Wilds county lease on zoo parking lots that the Commission endorsed in 2020 and again in 2022.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Gov. DeSantis appoints 2 new judges to Volusia County court bench” via Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — DeSantis announced two new Volusia County court judges. DeSantis appointed Joseph LeDonne, of Port Orange, to fill the seat vacated when Volusia County Judge Judith Campbell retired, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. LeDonne has served as an Assistant State Attorney for the 7th Circuit State Attorney’s Office since 2015. Previously, he was a senior attorney for the Florida Department of Children and Families. DeSantis appointed Katherine Miller, of Daytona Beach, to the Volusia County court seat which was vacated when Judge Belle Schumann retired. Miller has worked as an attorney for Wright & Casey, P.A., since 2016 and was previously a partner at Cobb & Cole, P.A.

Suspended state attorney Monique Worrell rebuts successor’s ‘100-day update’” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — Suspended State Attorney Worrell said her successor is pursuing many of the “exact same” policies as she did, in a rebuttal news conference to his 100-day update. At a law office in downtown Orlando, Worrell pointed to the reintroduction of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office’s adult civil citation program, which was initially discontinued by appointed state attorney Andrew Bain before he announced it will resume this month. The program offers alternatives to arrest nonviolent offenders, such as counseling or community service. She further cited her office’s conviction rates, with what she said was a 70% felony conviction rate and 99% for homicide cases in the second quarter.

Monique Worrell pushes back.

Seminole Canvassing Board pushes vote over whether to dismiss attorney to 2024” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — With the recent Municipal Election complete, the Seminole County body tasked with certifying that votes were property counted, chose to table a decision until 2024 about whether to continue to retain the services of its attorney amid concern raised by Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson. In a heated discussion following hours of counting mail ballots days before the Nov. 7 election, Anderson called for Attorney Phil Kaprow’s removal as lawyer for the Seminole County Canvassing Board. Anderson said he did not trust Kaprow, who also formerly served as the attorney for Anderson’s office, to act in his best interest. For that reason, Anderson no longer wants Kaprow to serve the Canvassing Board, of which Anderson is a member.

Disney district chief Glen Gilzean says worker morale is up after DeSantis takeover” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Under fire from departing employees, Florida’s Disney World oversight chief Gilzean says he thinks morale has improved at the district that’s playing a starring role in DeSantis’ battle with the theme park giant. Gilzean touted new policies on Wednesday that he says have boosted employee “well-being and work-life balance” six months into his tenure leading DeSantis’ tourism oversight district. “The morale in the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has … increased as my open-door policy continues to be utilized by staff members who have met with me directly,” Gilzean said at the district’s board meeting. “Some staff have shared that this is the first time they’ve actually had a chance to meet with the district administrator.”

Return of El Nino climate poses tornado danger to Central Florida, forecasters warn” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — National Weather Service experts warned that the rise of a potent, global climate bully has set the stage for violent weather and killer tornadoes in Central Florida from now until Spring. With one occurring every few to seven years at varying strengths, an El Niño ocean-warming phase is taking shape as among the stronger on record and is forecast to have a high probability of ushering powerful storm systems across the Gulf of Mexico into the Orlando region and other parts of Florida through March. National Weather Service officials said conditions now in place put Central Florida at a comparable level of risk to 1998 when an overnight spree of tornadoes killed 42 people in the greater Orlando area.

Osceola County loans developer $4.5M for affordable housing project” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — In its quest to bring more affordable housing to the county, Osceola County Commissioners approved lending $4.5 million to developer Pinnacle Housing. Pinnacle at the Wesleyan includes 96 units on West Vine Street in Kissimmee that will be priced at or below 80% of the area’s median income for 50 years. The apartments — a mix of which will be mostly 2 bedrooms — will begin construction in December and are set to open in May 2026. According to meeting notes, the developer has 32 years to pay the no-interest loan back, which will be distributed over two years. Commission Chair Viviana Janer said it is important that the county looks for innovative ways to create affordable housing.

Viviana Janer says Osceola County needs to find innovative ways to create affordable housing.

Brevard School Board shoots down Gene Trent’s motion to use state list as guide to ban books” via Finch Walker of Florida Today — Policies greenlighting the work of a book review Committee were on Tuesday night’s meeting agenda, but before the Brevard School Board could get to them, newly elected Vice Chair Trent sprung a motion to adopt a list of nearly 300 books to ban. While the motion ultimately failed, it set off a flurry of conversation and comments that permeated the meeting, with Trent promising to bring it up again and members of the public disrupting the meeting with displeased comments and applause throughout the night. The list would trigger the removal of 298 books from all classrooms and libraries at Brevard Public Schools except in the case of AP courses, Trent said.

— LOCAL: TB —

St. Pete Housing Authority lands $1M grant for affordable senior housing project at former Ed White Hospital site” via St. Pete Rising — Plans to renovate the former Ed White Hospital building in St. Petersburg into affordable housing for seniors and administrative offices for the St. Petersburg Housing Authority’s (SPHA) took a step forward with the approval of a $1 million grant. The grant, provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY), brings SPHA closer to realizing its $29 million redevelopment project. The shuttered Ed White Hospital building at 2323 9th Avenue North is expected to be renovated into 71 apartments catering for low-income seniors. The residences will be available to seniors living at 60% or below of the Area Median Income (AMI). Additionally, the property will host SPHA’s new administrative offices and offer 1,939 square feet of leasable office space.

Ed White Hospital could see new life as senior affordable housing.

Tampa Bay Rays ballpark architect selected after other firm withdraws” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — City officials and representatives from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday only had one architectural firm to evaluate for the Rays new ballpark. The evaluation Committee, made up of seven St. Petersburg employees and three Rays representatives, met at the Campbell Park Recreation Center to rank the only two proposals received for architectural services for the new ballpark: Populous, which was part of the Rays’ proposal to redevelop the Historic Gas Plant District and MEIS architects. But on Nov. 7, Dan Meis of MEIS Architects wrote a letter to the city’s procurement office stating that his firm had decided to decline to participate. He said the proposed format of a 30-minute presentation would not give adequate time to explain “what we believe would be our particular strengths and qualifications for a project such as this.” On Wednesday, the evaluation Committee gave near-perfect marks to Populous, docking them only for not being a small business nor a minority- or women-owned business.

Maya Kowalski files complaint related to sex abuse allegations with St. Petersburg Police” via Gabriela Szymanowska of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Kowalski has filed a criminal complaint with the St. Petersburg Police Department alleging she was sexually abused while staying at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in October 2016 a day after a jury awarded her family more than $261 million in damages. A St. Petersburg Police Department representative confirmed through a statement that Kowalski filed the complaint with the department, noting that it is an open case, so no public records could be shared. Greg Anderson, the family’s attorney, said the complaint was for criminal assault against an unknown perpetrator, as the identity of the individual is still unknown, for an encounter that Maya said happened while she was at All Children’s Hospital in October 2016.

JPMorgan Chase funds extensive housing affordability study” via Mark Parker of the St. Pete Catalyst — The Tampa Bay Partnership recently found that households spend 54 cents of every dollar on housing and transportation; a new study will further evaluate the issue and help set realistic goals. JPMorgan Chase committed $250,000 for the partnership to measure the region’s available housing stock and identify the number of new homes needed to keep pace with unprecedented growth. The investment will fund five years of affordable housing research throughout Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. Bemetra Simmons, president of the partnership, said the data would inform myriad public and private stakeholders throughout Tampa Bay. She told the Catalyst that a “perfect world” scenario includes researchers finding the number of housing units needed are already in development.

Clearwater affordable housing Committee talks new strategies amid market challenges” via Lizbeth Gutierrez of Bay News 9 — The city of Clearwater’s Affordable Housing Committee came together Tuesday to provide updates on its local housing incentive strategies. But the hot topic was the potential option to increase the maximum sales price of a single-family home to $481,176. This is due to the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program, also known as SHIP. According to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, which administers the program, SHIP “provides funds to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing.” Charles Lane, the city’s assistant director of economic development and housing, said in the meeting: “While I understand the state is trying to provide flexibility to local governments to distribute the funding to help people attain homeownership, I think such a high purchase process has pros and cons and very likely some unintended consequences.”


— LOCAL: N. FL —

Donna Deegan sees no ‘interest’ in Confederate monument removal from Jax City Council” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Jacksonville’s Mayor continues to push for the removal of a Jim Crow era statue from the former Confederate Park. But she notes there’s little “interest” from the City Council in removing the obelisk paying tribute to the “Women of the Southland.” Deegan said the $500,000 the Mayor’s Office has requested for monument removal “has to go through Council and that is something Council is not interested in doing.” Deegan also said she’s facing more hurdles to take down the monument in what is now Springfield Park than Mayor Lenny Curry did when he removed a monument from what is now James Weldon Johnson Park.

Donna Deegan says the City Council has no appetite for removing Confederate monuments.

Deegan’s office looking at ‘potential options’ to remove Confederate monument in Springfield Park” via Andrew Badillo of First Coast News — Deegan is looking at “potential options” to remove a Confederate monument in Springfield Park. The Mayor’s Office told First Coast News the Mayor has also engaged the City Council on the matter. This comes days after a new bill was filed that would punish elected leaders who take down historical monuments and memorials in Florida. Deegan called the bill a “slap in the face to our Black community.” HB 395 would give the Governor authority to remove officials from office if they remove monuments and memorials. State Rep. Black, filed the bill and said the goal is to protect all monuments and their history. “When we sanitize the state of all markers to our history 100 years from now people will say well the Civil War that never happened slavery that’s just a myth, a legend,” Black said.

Deegan hasn’t been in Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner’s box since she became Mayor” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — As stadium negotiations continue between the city of Jacksonville and the NFL Jaguars, the recently elected Mayor is clarifying that when she watches home games, she’s with the City Council and not the party on the other side of the table for a billion-dollar deal. “I’ll tell you where I am. Frankly, you know, if I had my way, I’d still be in my season tickets, which are in the north end zone, but the security folks don’t really like that much,” Deegan said during a radio interview on WJCT’s First Coast Connect. Instead, Deegan said there’s a box that she shares “with the City Council members.”

County to purchase inn for housing weeks after 19 squatters arrested at similar project” via Nora O’Neill of The Gainesville Sun — Alachua County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase an inn to convert into permanent supportive housing to combat homelessness in the county. The decision comes just weeks after police arrested 19 squatters for trespassing in October at another inn the county purchased to convert into housing. The county will purchase the Scottish Inn off Southwest 13th Street for a negotiated price of nearly $1.8 million, with funding coming from the American Rescue Plan Act. The county bought the former Budget Inn at 4401 SW 13th St. for $2.2 million in November 2020. Commissioner Anna Prizzia said she supported the purchase but acknowledged what happened with the Budget Inn.

Okaloosa School District seeks $8.35 million for new campus of Okaloosa Technical College” via Collin Bestor of the Northwest Florida Daily News — The Okaloosa County School District has applied for a Triumph Gulf Coast grant of $8.35 million to build a north campus of Okaloosa Technical College. “The proposed Okaloosa Technical College north campus stands to have a monumental impact on higher wage job creation in northern Okaloosa County for years to come,” Nathan Spark, executive director of One Okaloosa Economic Development Council, said in the application. “Located in the Okaloosa Industrial Air Park directly adjacent to Bob Sikes Airport, the proposed location will provide for high-impact partnerships with existing aerospace and manufacturing employers located in the immediate vicinity.”

Though Santa Rosa book ban clashes continue, few parents are actually limiting library access” via Brittany Misencik of the Pensacola News Journal — The Santa Rosa County School Board meeting Tuesday morning was a room divided. Representatives from the national Moms for Liberty group, a self-proclaimed parents’ rights group that began making waves in Santa Rosa County in May, were confronted by supporters from its opposing “Stop Moms for ‘Liberty’” group during the meeting. In a roiling debate over what books are appropriate for school children and whether sexuality has any place on school bookshelves, the Stop Moms for ‘Liberty’ chapter claims that parents should have the power to make decisions for their own children, but the frequent Moms for Liberty book challenges take library books away from everyone.

Grand jury indicts Donna Adelson in Dan Markel murder two days after Miami airport arrest” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Adelson, the matriarch of the South Florida family suspected for years in the hired killing of Dan Markel, was indicted in his murder on Wednesday, two days after she attempted to flee the country to Vietnam. A Leon County grand jury returned an indictment charging her with first-degree murder and conspiracy and solicitation in the death of her former son-in-law — the same crimes for which her son, Charlie Adelson, was convicted last week. Adelson was arrested Monday night as she and her husband, Harvey Adelson, attempted to board a flight out of Miami International Airport with one-way tickets to Vietnam, which has no extradition treaty with the United States. The couple booked the flight the day after their son was found guilty.

Donna Adelson tried to skip town, and promptly got arrested.

Tallahassee firefighter union still negotiating salaries with city after 10 months” via Elena Barrera of the Tallahassee Democrat — After talks that totaled more than 30 hours, 16 negotiation attempts and almost 10 months of pleading, Tallahassee firefighters still have no pay raise in sight. The Tallahassee Professional Firefighters Association, the Tallahassee Fire Department’s labor union, has been negotiating with the city since March to come to an agreement on a new contract, but city leaders have been uncooperative, union leaders say. “There’s been a lot of slow walking,” said Joey Davis, the president of the firefighter union. “The last negotiation session, we put two offers on the table, and they came back with no offers.”

From TCC to TSC: Board of Trustees approves ‘Tallahassee State College’ as new name” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee Community College’s new name is expected to be “Tallahassee State College,” TSC, after the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation from President Jim Murdaugh. The Board’s approval came after three different names and logos were proposed during a presentation by Pace Branding and Marketing, a consulting firm that has been working on the rebranding project with the college. At the same time, trustee Frank Messersmith, one of the longest-serving trustees in Florida who was appointed to TCC’s Board in 1999, was not impressed with the choices.

Florida State football head coach Mike Norvell addresses rumors of Texas A&M job” via Ehsan Kassim of the Tallahassee Democrat — Norvell’s name has been bandied about as a candidate for the freshly open Texas A&M football position. The Aggies fired former FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher on Sunday, following an uneven stint at College Station after he left the Seminoles following the 2017 season. Texas A&M is reportedly set to pay a $77 million payout for Fisher. Norvell has led the Seminoles to back-to-back 10-win seasons following two losing seasons to begin his FSU career in the COVID-19 pandemic 2020 season. As a result, he was named as a potential target of TAMU administrators for the position by multiple major outlets, including USA Today.

Is Texas A&M eyeballing Mike Norvell?

Listen Now! Florida Man Games coming to St. Augustine in 2024. Find out what they are” via Tim Walters of The Florida Times-Union — In 2024, St. Augustine will host the Florida Man Games, an Olympic-style event that may become an instant classic. Or, at the very least, a great headline. The Florida Man Games will feature competitions such as: “The Evading Arrest Obstacle Course”; a “Catalytic Converter, Two Bikes, And A Handful Of Copper Pipes Race Against Time”; and “Beer Belly Sumo Wrestling.” That just scratches the surface. On the latest episode of “The *State* of Florida Sports Podcast, Pete Melfi, the organizer of the Florida Man Games Festival, will explain his vision and what to expect when the games take place Feb. 24, 2024.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Inside New College of Florida’s $400 million transformation plan” via Kathryn Varn of Axios — New College of Florida is seeking $400 million in state funding over the next five years to carry out a vision by state leaders to transform the college into a “world-class classical liberal arts education institution,” according to a business plan presented last week to a state Board. The plan puts a hefty price tag on the shift in direction for the college that began in January when DeSantis appointed six conservative members to the school’s governing Board. New College President Richard Corcoran presented the plan last week to the Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system. Any state funding will be subject to approval by the Florida Legislature and DeSantis.

Cape Coral Mayor: DeSantis to decide Council member Patty Cummings’ fate after fraud charges” via Luis Zambrano of the Fort Myers News-Press — Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter said DeSantis will determine the fate of Council member Cummings after the State Attorney charged her with three third-degree felonies related to the 2022 Election. “The Council member will have to go through the legal process concerning the charges,” Gunter said at a news conference. “If there’s going to be any additional action taken it will probably be through the Governor’s Office.” The State Attorney’s Office, 20th Judicial Circuit, said it filed the charges Monday, and Cummings turned herself in Tuesday. She faces charges of fraudulent application for a driver’s license and two counts of false swearing in connection with or arising out of voting or elections.

Patty Cummins’ fate is in DeSantis’ hands.

Alice White appointed Mayor, Phil Stokes as Vice Mayor” via Frank DiFiore of the North Port Sun — Vice Mayor White received a promotion from her colleagues toward the end of the City Commission meeting. The five City Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint White as the city’s Mayor for the remainder of 2023 and most of 2024, with newcomer Stokes appointed Vice Mayor. White, who has made waves for her environmental advocacy in and out of government, thanked her predecessor, Barbara Langdon, for her own past year of service as Mayor and the example she set. “I’ve got big shoes to fill,” she said after the vote. Langdon’s colleagues also presented her with a plaque honoring her year of service as Mayor, represented by a ceremonial gavel.

Former County Administrator Scott Hopes broke Florida law, Manatee deputies say” via Ryan Callihan of the Bradenton Herald — The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office recommends criminal charges against former Manatee County Administrator Hopes. In a news release, deputies said they have reason to believe that the former county official broke Florida law, but they declined to detail the exact charges they recommend. The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation centered around “public records, theft and notary laws.” The State Attorney’s Office is expected to review the case and determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Hopes later. State Attorney Ed Brodsky also declined to detail the charges the Sheriff’s Office recommended.

— TOP OPINION —

Who can beat The Donald? The Rock.” via David Von Drehle of The Washington Post — For four years, I have been saying to anyone who will listen — not many people, I must admit — that America has a sure and happy pathway out of the doom loop of Biden vs. Trump, Trump vs. Biden, seemingly for the rest of eternity.

This political hellscape worthy of Sartre’s “No Exit,” this zombie apocalypse, this death of imagination and hope. Dwayne Johnson is that pathway. A man bigger than the Super Bowl is exactly what we need to break the cycle of despair.

Johnson for President! Many people I’ve tried this on think I am joking, because Johnson is a movie star, among other things — and movie stars can’t be elected. Except by perhaps the largest Electoral College margin since George Washington. (Looking at you, Ronald Reagan, who in 1984 won all the states but one.)

So, Johnson’s admission that “the parties” have approached him about jumping into the presidential race was music to my ears and should delight the American public. Many Republicans detest their party front-runner, Trump, and many Democrats disdain their incumbent, Biden. The solution is a unity campaign starring the gentle giant.

What are The Rock’s politics? Beats me. Reportedly registered as an independent, Johnson has attended presidential nominating conventions of both parties. His charitable work with at-risk youth puts him in touch with issues that animate many Democrats, as does his personal story of second and third chances after his youthful brushes with the law. On the other hand, when he discusses the keys to his own success — hard work, discipline, risk-taking — he speaks the language of many traditional Republicans.

American politics is sleepwalking toward disaster. Johnson is the man to wake us up.

— OPINIONS —

Republicans must answer this question on technology” via Mayor Francis Suarez for Fox News — Miami’s success stands in contrast to the struggles of many of our other Democrat-run cities. Americans must choose not simply what candidate they want but what future they want. This is why Miami’s selection for the RNC debate was so apt. It is the future, not the past, which will be on the ballot for all of us. Regardless of who you support, every candidate needs to answer: where do you stand on the future of technology? As Mayor, I’ve done everything in my power to grow our city’s economy into a national powerhouse. These efforts continue to pay off as we welcome back native talent and newcomers. Miami’s tech industry has exploded since the pandemic because we governed by leveraging technology with practicality.

Congressional Fight Club is not a thing we need!” via Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post — There is some sort of fight club going on, as far as I can tell, if reports of three separate incidents on Capitol Hill on the same day are to be believed. The last thing we need right now is to see a headline like “Congressman Jabs Opponent” or “Congressman Pushes Back” or “Congressman Fights Potential Nominees” and be UNABLE TO TELL WHETHER IT CONTAINS METAPHORS. Do you know what a devastating impact this would have on the day-to-day vocabulary of congressional correspondents?

Why Republicans are on the verge of fistfights” via Kelly Garrity of POLITICO — Joanne Freeman, a Yale historian who studies political violence in America and Congress, recalled this rather remarkable notion. “It’s certainly not the first time that there has been this kind of aggressive behavior or even physical violence in Congress,” said Freeman. When comparing today’s bitter politics and the run-up in the 1850s to the Civil War, Freeman sees “more echoes than parallels” and cautions against taking the analogy too far. Notably, Tuesday’s tiffs were not the product of partisan squabbles between Republicans and Democrats, but the result of deep rifts within the GOP. “They’re not a single party. They’re a divided party,” Freeman said.

Welcome to the ‘dumb and dumber’ Congress” via Douglas Heye of AOL — In a Senate hearing Tuesday, Mullin of Oklahoma rose to challenge Sean O’Brien, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to a “stand your butt up” standoff. On the House side, House Oversight Chair. Comer called his Democratic colleague Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida a “liar” and a “Smurf,” while Moskowitz suggested Comer needed a “mental health day.” GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted emoji of basketballs and baseballs to suggest what her Republican colleague, Rep. Darrell Issa, um, does not have (I think you get the picture). And Tennessee Republican Rep. Tim Burchett accused former Speaker McCarthy of elbowing him with a “clean kidney shot,” a charge McCarthy denies.

Make sure Florida gets its fair share of federal energy-efficiency funding” via Damien Condo in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — When I founded the energy-services company Facillitee Inc. in 2014, I quickly realized that energy-efficiency technologies and solutions are continually evolving. To remain competitive, my team needed access to up-to-date resources and training, but we faced limitations in terms of time and capital. Last year, a new opportunity emerged to support businesses like mine and the contractors we work with. The opportunity is the State-Based Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training Grants Program, which allocates $6 million in formula funds to Florida’s Office of Energy. These funds are intended to develop a program for local businesses in the energy-efficiency industry, providing training and attracting workers.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Campbell’s reveals America’s favorite side dishes for Thanksgiving. What is Florida bringing to dinner?” via Samantha Neely of the Fort Myers News-Press — Campbell’s Soup released their annual “State of the Sides” report, a food-focused trend report that dives into the top side dishes in every state. They used consumer data with representation from all 50 states to determine which state loves which side the most. Campbell’s found that 67% of respondents prefer sides to their holiday entrée, adding further that over 54% of the U.S. would be content with only sides on their holiday plate. Campbell’s discovered that both bread and root vegetable dishes rank as Florida’s favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. The only other state with bread as its top side dish was Colorado. California, New York, Arizona, and Connecticut also ranked root vegetable dishes as their favorite.

What’s Florida’s go-to Thanksgiving side dish?

Cheapest store to buy your bird and Thanksgiving sides” via Gina Birch of ESPN SW Florida — The data comes from FinanceBuzz. First, their shopping list comprised 10 staples for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Next, they shopped with a guest list of eight. Finally, they compared prices for all goods at the biggest grocery retailers nationwide. As you might expect, the turkey was the most expensive part of the meal. I did not expect the pumpkin pie to be this shopping cart’s second most expensive item. Nationwide, the most expensive place to buy all the Thanksgiving Day fixings is Whole Foods at $81.85. The survey says the turkey is the reason why. This store is known for its organic birds. Publix is the second most expensive store at $65.08. Walmart comes in as the cheapest place to buy the same meal at only $29.86.

AAA predicts near record-level of Florida drivers on the roads for Thanksgiving” via James Tutten of WFTV — According to AAA, 3 million Floridians will travel more than 50 miles during the holiday, most of them by car. The estimate for this year is expected to be very close to the record for drivers. Nationally, the travel forecast is up 2.3% over last year. “Despite various inflationary pressures, consumer spending remains strong,” said Mark Jenkins with AAA. “While people may be making cuts here and there, they are not sacrificing travel, especially (regarding) holidays.” AAA says the busiest day on the roads will be next Wednesday. Average travel times could be 80% longer than normal.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Johnson & Blanton’s Darrick McGhee.

___

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 FloridaPolitics.com, 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.



#FlaPol

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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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