Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.20.23

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Good Monday morning.

Breaking late Sunday — “Rosalynn Carter, outspoken former First Lady, dead at 96” via Bill Barrow and Michael Warren of The Associated Press — The Carter Center said she died Sunday after living with dementia and suffering many months of declining health. The statement announcing her death said she “died peacefully, with family by her side” at 2:10 p.m. at her rural Georgia home of Plains. “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.” The Carters were married for more than 77 years, forging what they both described as a “full partnership.”

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With Thanksgiving only days away, we are putting out a last call to our loyal Sunburn fans — particularly those in The Process — to let us know what you’re grateful for this year. We will publish the comments in our Tuesday edition — the last one for the holiday week. For inclusion, please send your message of gratitude by the 5 p.m. deadline to [email protected].

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Before families in Southwest Florida gather for Thanksgiving, it’s time for the Helping Hands for The Holidays event.

Now in its 25th year, the annual event in Cape Coral will be hosted by the Aubuchon Team of Companies at its corporate headquarters on Southeast 9th Place.

Caring means sharing.

“It is with great pleasure and excitement that we extend this heartfelt invitation to you for the 25th Annual Helping Hands for the Holidays Fundraiser,” reads an invitation from Gary Aubuchon, president of the Aubuchon Team.

Longtime followers of The Process will remember Aubuchon as a former state Representative. The Cape Coral Republican remains active in philanthropic efforts, including charity bike rides to benefit cancer research. This event will benefit Make-A-Wish Southwest Florida, Builders Care and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida.

“Over the past quarter-century, our community has come together in the spirit of giving, spreading joy, and making a difference during the holiday season,” Aubuchon wrote. “This year’s milestone event promises to be more extraordinary than ever, and we would be honored to have you join us. Your presence and support to help us raise much-needed funds for three amazing local charities will be a gift in itself as we continue our mission to bring hope and cheer to our community.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

 

@JaredEMoskowitz: These Hamas tunnels under a Hospital is a War Crime and a violation of International law.

@Sama: I love the Openai team so much

@SenJohnMartin: Plenty we can do to update our prisons but Air Conditioning for all prisoners is on the bottom of my list after our corrections officers, first responders, prosecutors, victim advocates, judicial staff, clerks, teachers, schools, roads and infrastructure are fully funded.

Tweet, tweet:

 

@NickDiCeglie: Growing up waiting for Santa to deliver presents on Christmas morning was torture. Waiting for my daughter to come home from college for Thanksgiving is even worse. Thankfully, we will have the DiCeglie fam back together in a few minutes, just in time for Sunday dinner.

@IraShoffel: Had a few people ask about sending cards to Jordan. I was told if they are sent to FSU’s athletics department, the staff will make sure they get to Jordan and his family. Here ya go: Jordan Travis Florida State Athletics 403 Stadium Dr. Tallahassee, FL 32304

@JimBoydFL: @NBCSports lost one of the best analysts in golf ⁦⁦⁦@PaulAzinger. His commentary was from years of tour play, wins and championships. He helped us understand the game better and made it more personal for all. Great job my friend!

— DAYS UNTIL —

Miami Beach mayoral runoff — 1; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 2; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 2; ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ premieres — 2; Disney’s Bob Iger holds an end-of-the-year town hall — 8; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 10; Florida TaxWatch’s 2023 Government Productivity Awards Ceremony — 16; in-person sports betting begins at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa — 18; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 24; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 32; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 35; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. (Gov. Ron) DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 50; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 50; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 50; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 56; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 57; House District 35 Special Election — 57; New Hampshire Primary — 64; Red Dog Blue Dog 2024 — 65; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 75; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 78; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 96; Michigan Democratic Primary — 98; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 104; Super Tuesday — 105; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 108; 2024 Oscars — 112; Georgia Democratic Primary — 113; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 117; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 172; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 181; Republican National Convention begins — 235; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 239; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 248; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 249; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 279; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 323; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 335; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 367; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 396; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 452; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 531; ‘Moana’ premieres — 587; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 761; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 892; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 915; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,128; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,267; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,223; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,586.

— TOP STORY —

Washington Post lawsuit challenges Florida law shielding Ron DeSantis travel records” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — The Post’s lawsuit marks the first effort to challenge the law, which the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature passed just weeks before DeSantis officially announced a run for President.

GOP legislators said that the law — which applied not just to future travel but also to trips DeSantis had already taken — was needed to protect the Governor and his family’s safety. But Democrats said the move was made to help with the Governor’s political ambitions by shielding his travel from public scrutiny.

The Washington Post is suing for more transparency from the Ron DeSantis administration.

The media organization first sued the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency that keeps DeSantis’ travel records, over the Summer after it rebuffed the Post over four separate public records requests. Florida Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey ordered FDLE to turn over all “nonexempt public records” following a September court hearing, but the agency said certain records were exempt due to the new law.

In late October, lawyers for the Post filed a 25-page motion asking that Dempsey order the law enforcement agency to hand over additional records, asserting that the travel records exemption was overly broad and unconstitutional. Florida voters in 1992 passed a “Sunshine Amendment” that guarantees public access to government records and open meetings.

“The exemption sweeps from public view every record relating in any way to the expenditure of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, including the most basic information needed to inform the public about what those services are for, when they were provided, who received them and why,” states the motion filed by the Post’s lawyers. “The Florida Constitution prohibits such a gaping disconnect between the narrow justification for an exemption and its sweeping coverage.”

— THE TRAIL —

DeSantis taps new big donors for $2 million haul” via Alex Thompson of Axios — While Nikki Haley has been making inroads among big GOP donors, DeSantis continues to raise significant cash in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The fundraisers also show DeSantis — who’s pitching himself as the most viable Republican alternative to Trump — has managed to expand his high-dollar donor base after many of his donors had already maxed out, according to campaign finance records. The five fundraisers were on DeSantis’ home turf in Florida where donors were asked to donate up to $11,600 — split between a leadership political action committee, a fund for the Primary and a fund for the General Election. One fundraiser in Vero Beach asked for $10,000 for a photo and access to a reception.

Ron DeSantis reels in another.

DeSantis exacerbates attacks on GOP rival with ‘Real Nikki Haley’ website” via Tara Suter of The Hill — “Haley is not the conservative she pretends to be, so the Ron DeSantis for President campaign is launching a new microsite today shining a light on the real Nikki Haley.” DeSantis’ campaign said in a news release. “The site will allow Republican Primary voters to see for themselves that Haley has supported every liberal cause under the sun.” DeSantis and his campaign have been taking recent swings at Haley. On Tuesday, he went after her for suggesting an idea of verification of identity for all social media users in a Fox News interview.

DeSantis’ two-pronged approach in Iowa: Hit Donald Trump on abortion, and get personal” via Nicholas Nehamas of The New York Times — A DeSantis victory in Iowa remains a long shot, but Trump’s criticisms of the hard-line abortion restrictions favored by many evangelical voters in Iowa may have created a lane for the Governor to bolster his standing. The former President has described a six-week abortion ban signed by DeSantis in Florida as “a terrible mistake.” Trump has blamed extreme positions on abortion for recent Republican losses at the polls and — looking to win over moderates in the General Election — has avoided supporting a federal abortion ban. That has deeply disappointed some evangelical leaders and voters who cheered him after his appointments to the Supreme Court helped overturn Roe v. Wade.

—“DeSantis uses ‘full armor of God’ to repel ‘DeSanctimonious’ dis” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“DeSantis says Republicans nominating Trump in 2024 is ‘high risk’ with ‘low reward’” via Ken Tran of USA Today

Ramaswamy and DeSantis share family miscarriage stories during Iowa forum” via Alex Tabet of NBC News — “I actually haven’t shared this story before,” said Ramaswamy, as he described the moment he and his wife Apoorva learned their first child was on the way while she was doing her medical residency in New York City: “About three and a half months in … one day she woke up, she was bleeding. She had a miscarriage. We lost our first child.” Moments earlier, DeSantis described his family’s experience with miscarriage. DeSantis spoke about a trip he and his wife, Casey, took to Israel early in their marriage, where the Governor said the couple prayed for a child. “We go back to the United States, and a little time later, we got pregnant,” DeSantis said. “But unfortunately, we lost that first baby.”

Presidential candidates get personal in Iowa. Image via AP.

DeSantis, Kim Reynolds vow to restrict abortion despite ballot losses in other states” via Katie Akin of the Des Moines Register — Iowa Gov. Reynolds and Ron DeSantis pledged to continue their efforts to restrict abortion, regardless of recent elections that revealed a groundswell of support for abortion rights even in Republican-led states. Over a Saturday night brisket dinner, Pulse Life Advocates Christmas Gala attendees heard speeches from activists who oppose abortion rights, Reynolds and Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, and Ron and Casey DeSantis. “This isn’t about me. It’s about rejecting the inhumanity of abortion. It’s about an ironclad commitment to the smallest and most vulnerable among us. It’s about saving and caring for the unborn,” Reynolds said. “A worthy battle — and one I will never, ever concede.”

‘DeSantis stagnates’: pollster details reality in Iowa after Reynolds’ endorsement” via Hannah Bleau Knudsen via Breitbart

— MORE 2024 —

Joe Biden campaign works to ease Democratic anxiety over re-election chances” via Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager and Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — During a political panel that included Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, an audience member worried aloud that the Democratic Party had a serious problem. Biden is too old and could lose the election; this person fretted before asking the question that has been disquieting Democratic circles for more than a year: What is the backup plan? Klain’s rebuttal was swift, recalled one attendee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details of the private event. Some Democrats later approached Klain to thank him for his forceful defense of Biden.

Democrats are starting to get worried. Image via AP.

DeSantis bashes Bethlehem as ‘pigsty,’ maligns historic mosque” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — During remarks to the 2023 Presidential Thanksgiving FAMiLY Forum in Iowa, the Governor talked about his trip to Bethlehem, which is administered by the Palestinian Authority, and how the municipality wasn’t up to the standards of cities controlled by Israelis. “In fact, Bethlehem is controlled by the Palestinian Arabs. And so there, there’s a church where you can go where they, they say, is where Christ was born. And it’s a beautiful church. But (when) you walk out, first of all, it’s like a pigsty. The city, it’s not well-kept. And then they built this massive mosque right in front of it to like tower over it.” The Governor seems to be referring to Omar Ibn Al Khattab, which is the sole mosque in Bethlehem’s Old City, opposite the Church of the Nativity.

Trump returns to Iowa for rally, needles Kim Reynolds for endorsing DeSantis” via The Associated Press — Trump celebrated a win in a closely watched election case during a return visit to Iowa Saturday. He also blasted his political foes and encouraged his supporters to not move past their grievances with Biden. A Colorado judge Friday rejected an effort to keep the GOP front-runner off the state’s primary ballot, concluding Trump engaged in insurrection during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol but that it was unclear whether a Civil War-era constitutional amendment barring insurrectionists from public office applied to the presidency. It was Trump’s latest win following rulings in similar cases in Minnesota and Michigan. Trump, campaigning in west-central Iowa, called the decision “a gigantic court victory” as he panned what he called “an outrageous attempt to disenfranchise millions of voters by getting us thrown off the ballot.”


— DESANTISY LAND —

NBC News poll shows DeSantis’ nationally popularity at a historic low” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Only 27% of voters have a positive view of DeSantis, and only 9% have a strongly positive view, according to an NBC News survey conducted by Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies. The poll shows DeSantis trailing far behind rump in terms of support for the Republican presidential nomination. About 58% of Republican Primary voters said they would pick Trump for the job, compared to 18% who chose DeSantis. The Governor does poll against the next closest option, Haley, at 13%. No other candidate received more than 3% support. If there’s good news for DeSantis, 36% list him as a second choice, more than any other candidate including Haley at 15% and Trump at 13%.

Ron DeSantis drops to an all-time-low. Image via Never Back Down/Facebook.

—“Casey DeSantis blames ‘Bidenomics’ for her penchant for shopping at Walmart” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

DeSantis refuses to condemn Elon Musk for endorsing antisemitic conspiracy theory” via Alison Main of CNN — DeSantis refused to directly condemn Musk for publicly endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory popular among White supremacists. The Governor first told CNN’s Jake Tapper he did not see the comment but said Musk has had a “target on his back” ever since purchasing the platform. The X post said: “Jewish communties (sic) have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against Whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” “I know Elon Musk; I’ve never seen him do anything. I think he’s a guy that believes in America. I’ve never seen him indulge in any of that. So, it is surprising if that’s true. But I have not seen it. So, I don’t sit there and pass judgment on the fly,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis still threatening to ‘flatten’ the Bahamas in case of a 9/11 style attack on Fort Lauderdale” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Again, DeSantis compared Israel’s onslaught on Hamas to what would happen if he, as Governor of Florida, had to respond to “missiles” from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale in a 9/11 parallel metaphor. “I think to myself as Governor of Florida, if we had, if someone in the Bahamas (were) launching missiles into Fort Lauderdale, we would not accept that for a minute,” DeSantis vowed. “We would go in, and we would flatten them in no time certain.” “And yet Israel is supposed to just live there with this … with this existential threat,” he said Sunday during a campaign swing through Charles City before moving onto the more imminent threat Israel faces from Hamas.

Gavin Newsom TV ad hits DeSantis on abortion as Fox debate looms” via Christopher Cadelago of POLITICO — Newsom is debuting a new TV ad that accuses the Republican Governor and presidential candidate of pushing policies that criminalize women and doctors who pursue abortions after six weeks. The ad, narrated by Newsom, shows pictures of a woman and a doctor under a “Wanted” sign and states that their possible arrest is “by order of Gov. Ron DeSantis.” DeSantis signed Florida’s six-week abortion ban into law this year, upending his state’s status as an abortion haven in the South as he sought to boost his conservative bona fides in the Presidential Primary. Newsom’s ad — set to run in Florida and Washington, D.C. — continues the long-simmering feud that culminates Nov. 30 with a 90-minute event with DeSantis moderated by Fox’s Sean Hannity.

To watch the ad, please click the image below;

 

DeSantis’ racism just won him a big lawsuit in Florida” via Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling of the New Republic — On Thursday, the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine announced that it is suing DeSantis, Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, University of Florida President Ben Sasse, and other university leaders for “violating their [First] Amendment rights,” according to a statement by the nonprofit Palestine Legal. The lawsuit, filed by Palestine Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, stems from an unusual action taken by the state government last month, in which Rodrigues issued a letter calling for all chapters of the pro-Palestine group to be “deactivated,” claiming that they were providing “material support” to a “terrorist organization.” Florida State’s chapter, however, argues that it has little to do with the national group or the statements it makes, according to the lawsuit.

— D. C. MATTERS —

A split emerges as Biden struggles to deter attacks on U.S. troops” via Alex Horton, Dan Lamothe and Abigail Hauslohner of The Washington Post — A surge in attacks on deployed U.S. forces has roiled some within the Defense Department, where officials, frustrated by what they consider an incoherent strategy for countering the Iranian proxies believed responsible, acknowledge the limited retaliatory airstrikes approved by Biden have failed to stop the violence. “There’s no clear definition of what we are trying to deter,” said one defense official. The Pentagon sees few good alternatives to the measures taken thus far, which, in addition to the limited retaliatory airstrikes and buildup of air defense weapons, including the deployment of two aircraft carriers near Israel and Iran.

Joe Biden struggles with Iran; not everyone agrees. Image via AP.

Marco Rubio questions behavior of Cuban asylum-seekers” via Ivan Taylor of CBS News Miami — Sen. Rubio has ignited a debate after his remarks concerning those coming from Cuba seeking asylum in the U.S. “If you come from Cuba, you are presumed to be fleeing political persecution, so you’re automatically eligible for refugee cash, you’re eligible for food stamps, and within a year you can apply for a green card, then you can travel to Cuba as often as you want,” Rubio said during a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. Rubio questioned Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, about the seeming contradiction between the refugee status of Cubans and their frequent return visits to Cuba. Rubio said some Cubans travel multiple times to their homeland, unlike other migrants who apply for the same status.

Jared Moskowitz to lead one final tour of Stoneman Douglas shooting site” via GQL Share — Six members of Congress, including two from South Florida, are scheduled Monday to take a final tour of the building where a gunman murdered 17 people and wounded 17 more in the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a building that is scheduled to be torn down next year. U.S. Rep. Moskowitz arranged the tour with five fellow members of Congress: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Florida), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania), Daniel Goldman (New York), Greg Landsman (Ohio), and Wiley Nickel (North Carolina). In previous visits, the members of Congress and other public officials who have toured the site have been from both major political parties. Family members of the victims have said they want government officials to see the site for themselves so they can consider it while making public policy decisions.

Kevin McCarthy predicts Matt Gaetz will soon face same troubles as George Santos” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — McCarthy said a House investigation could leave Rep. Gaetz without his current relevancy. McCarthy unprompted added further fuel to his ongoing feud with Gaetz. “Unfortunately, we have a number of members doing the exact same thing they did before, stopping bills from moving forward,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to have to come together.” Then he made clear he believes Gaetz continues to stall policy advancement.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis’ State Guard contracts with combat-training company” via Ana Ceballos and Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — To recruit and train members of a civilian military force under his control, DeSantis’ administration has hired a company that specializes in combat training and lists as one of its instructors a former U.S. Navy SEAL accused of war crimes. Previously unreported records show the state has agreed to pay Stronghold SOF Solutions up to $1.2 million to recruit, vet and train volunteer members of the Florida State Guard, the World War II-era force that DeSantis revived last year to respond to emergencies. The Florida company trains police and military members on tactical shooting, explosives and urban combat and is owned by a former Army Green Beret who supports DeSantis’ campaign.

Florida State Guard is getting training from a suspected war criminal. Image via AP.

Florida leaves $800 million on the table for disability services, advocates say” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida officials responsible for providing services to people with lifelong disabilities have allowed nearly $800 million in state and federal matching funds to fall through the cracks in the past two years. The advocates say that’s enough to give the 23,000 people on a waiting list maintained by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities the critical services they need to live with their disorders, which include autism and cerebral palsy. The money could be used for medical treatment, therapy, housing and to help people maintain a level of independence and stay out of institutions. The 34,000 people who do receive those services — a number that hasn’t changed much in two decades — face cuts each year to the services that help them live fuller lives.

Blaise Ingoglia, Tom Fabricio want Florida collecting all inmate DNA” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ingoglia and Fabricio filed legislation calling for the collection of DNA from all inmates currently serving sentences but never submitted a sample. “Capturing these DNA samples will allow law enforcement to potentially close decadeslong cold cases and bring the families much-needed closure they deserve,” said Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican. Ingoglia filed his bill (SB 524) on Friday. If passed, to require any inmates who don’t already have DNA in the state’s database to provide a sample before Sept. 30. Fabricio filed identical legislation (HB 533) in the House: “This bill will close a loophole in the law and will allow us to obtain DNA evidence from all persons incarcerated in Florida state prisons so that our backlog of cases can be closed, which will bring finality and closure to many Florida families.”

Tom Wright, Lindsay Cross file bills cracking down on ‘copay accumulators’” via Florida Politics — Sen. Wright and Rep. Cross have filed legislation requiring copay assistance payments to count toward patients’ health insurance deductibles. The bills (SB 228/HB 363) specifically target “copay accumulators,” which are copay assistance payments accepted by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and insurance companies on behalf of patients but do not apply to deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, or co-payment responsibilities. The legislation would require that all money paid to PBMs and insurance companies for prescription drugs be applied to a patient’s deductible, out-of-pocket maximum, and co-payment responsibility — no matter who paid.

Brendon Leslie: ‘Captains for Clean Water is a political shill group’” via Michael Costeines of Florida’s Voice — Florida’s Voice CEO Leslie blasted environmental advocacy organization Captains for Clean Water as a “political shill group” on the Drew Steele radio show. “They’re not an environmental group; they’re a political shill group looking to demonize our farmers,” Leslie said. “They always say big sugar, big sugar, big sugar south of the lake. A majority of the vegetables, probably three-fourths of the vegetables and produce during the winter months for the Eastern Seaboard comes from those farms down there.” According to the Florida Farm Bureau, the Everglades Agricultural Area supplies food for millions of Americans during the winter months. Lettuce production provides 1 billion salads each year while cabbage harvesting contributes 250 million servings of coleslaw.

— DOWN BALLOT —

House candidate pleads guilty to misdemeanor for incident at Lakeland clinic” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — An abortion-rights activist now running for the Florida Legislature pled guilty to a charge of attempting to disturb a lawful assembly for an incident in May at which she allegedly threw underwear toward a sheriff’s deputy. Bonnie Patterson-James, a candidate for the Florida House in District 50, entered a misdemeanor guilty plea for an incident from May. The judge agreed to withhold adjudication. Court records show that Patterson-James of Lakeland signed an agreement to plead guilty, with adjudication withheld. Patterson-James agreed to pay a fine of $320.50 plus $200 for investigative costs and other fees.

Bonnie Patterson-James pleads to making a scene.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Michael Góngora, Steven Meiner square off for Miami Beach Mayor runoff. Here’s where they stand on the issues.” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami Beach Vice Mayor Meiner and Góngora, a three-time Commissioner, are on a collision course for the city’s top office Tuesday. They were the largest vote-earners in the city’s General Election earlier this month, when they left behind former Rep. Mike Grieco and Bill Roedy, a former MTV executive who dropped almost $3 million on the race. But neither secured a large enough percentage of the vote to win outright, pushing the two men — separated by 2 percentage points representing 242 votes in the election Nov. 7 — to a runoff.

It’s faceoff time for Michael Góngora and Steven Meiner.

Miami Beach employee says Mayor candidate threatened to fire her for blocking him at a senior center” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A Miami Beach city employee is accusing former Commissioner Góngora, who is running for Mayor, of threatening her with termination last month after she blocked him from attending a party at a senior center. Gloria Campos, a liaison to the City Commission and outgoing Mayor Dan Gelber, said the incident took place Oct. 10 at a “senior building that wasn’t allowing political campaigning.” “I told Góngora he couldn’t come in; he yelled at me and told me I would be fired (on) his first day as Mayor,” she said.

Will new law ‘bust’ Florida’s largest teachers union? Miami-Dade teachers wait for news” via Sommer Brugal and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Florida’s largest teachers union, United Teachers of Dade, will head down the path toward decertification if it cannot prove that hundreds more teachers began paying dues over the last week, an unprecedented situation that threatens to leave about 30,000 Miami-Dade public schoolteachers and personnel vulnerable to possible labor contract changes. On Friday, to meet the new state law requirements that at least 60% of union members pay dues, Miami-Dade Public Schools gauged how many eligible employees were union-paying members within UTD. The last tally put that number at just 58.4%. It was unclear Friday whether the 60% threshold would be met, and union leaders and district administrators were uncertain exactly what the future would hold if they fell short.

State finds Broward water district broke laws and stymied competition as it handed out millions in public contracts” via Bob Norman of Florida Trident — A public utility in northwest Broward County violated state law while doling out nearly $70 million in public contracts, according to a preliminary report issued by the Florida Auditor General. The North Springs Improvement District (NSID), which provides 40,000 residents with water and sewer service in Parkland and Coral Springs, at times failed to use a competitive bidding process as required by law, didn’t provide adequate time for prospective companies to respond to solicitations, and didn’t always obtain legally required guarantees of performance from contractors. “They weren’t following state law,” said Rep. Dan Daley. “And they weren’t following industry standards.” It was Daley who initiated the state audit based on investigative findings published last year by the Florida Center for Government Accountability.

Years after a racial inequities complaint was filed against Brevard Schools, questions linger” via Finch Walker of Florida Today — It’s been more than 10 years of unanswered questions for William “Bill” Gary. In Spring 2013, the Brevard civil rights activist filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education about Brevard Public Schools. The complaint raised concerns about the disproportionate rates of discipline of Black students, the closure of three schools that served predominantly Black students while schools with high White student populations were kept open; and the district’s practices related to hiring and promoting Black teachers. Much has remained the same at Brevard Public Schools since that complaint was filed: Black students are more likely to be disciplined than students of any other race.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Reedy Creek firefighters don’t yet have cash replacement for Disney passes” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Unionized firefighters are waiting to receive cash stipends to make up for Disney perks ended by DeSantis’ tourism oversight district. About 200 unionized employees, more than half of the district’s workforce, haven’t gotten the $3,000 stipend because of a disagreement with the district over the benefit’s value, said Jon Shirey, president of the district’s firefighter union. “We have had one bargaining session over the stipend, but it went nowhere,” he said. The deadlock comes as administrator Glen Gilzean touts increased employee morale at the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District made possible through his “open door” policy and additional benefits.

Chris Dorworth won’t pay $400,000 owed to Seminole County. Now what?” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Nearly a year after a judge ordered Dorworth’s development firm to pony up more than $432,000 to reimburse Seminole County’s legal expenses after a failed lawsuit, Dorworth still hasn’t paid and says he has no intention of doing so. In 2021, U.S. District Judge Anne Conway dismissed a lawsuit from Dorworth, who charged the county violated the Fair Housing Act in rejecting his proposed development. Last year, Conway sided with the county again, ordering the firm to pay back Seminole for most of the expenses the county incurred defending itself and writing that Dorworth’s attempts to invalidate the Rural Boundary were “completely unreasonable, groundless, and bordering on bad faith.”

What happens next for Chris Dorworth?

Sheriff Wayne Ivey calls for open carry, touts Florida’s Second Amendment protections” via Amber Jo Cooper of Florida’s Voice — Brevard County Sheriff Ivey said he would “love to see” Florida be an open carry state. “I just want our citizens to have the absolute rights they’re guaranteed by the Constitution, and I think we’ll eventually get there,” Ivey said. Last Legislative Session, lawmakers passed permitless carry, which allows people to conceal a firearm without needing a permit from the government. Sen. Jay Collins and Rep. Robert Charles Brannan carried the legislation.

DeSantis appoints three to Early Learning Coalition of Orange County” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis made a trio of Board appointments Friday to the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, one of roughly 30 state-created entities tasked with enhancing and planning for prekindergarten provisions and school readiness programs. One is already a member. The others are newcomers. The returning member is Chair Linda Shaughnessy, a retired former interim CEO of the Basilica of the National Shire of Mary, Queen and the Universe in Orlando. She also chairs the Diocese of Orlando Pension Committee and previously led the Orange County Health Facilities Authority.

— LOCAL: TB —

Florida Police Benevolent Association endorses Suzy Lopez for Hillsborough state attorney” via Amber Jo Cooper of Florida’s Voice — The Florida Police Benevolent Association endorsed 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Lopez as she runs to keep her seat in 2024. The Florida Police Benevolent Association is the largest police union in the state. Rep. Danny Alvarez, who is general counsel and representative for the association, said backing Lopez is “simple” because she “fights crime and she believes in law and order — period.” “She promised us as a county, and as a society, that she would do that when she was appointed, and she’s done an incredible job so far,” Alvarez said. Lopez already holds the position and filed to run for the 13th Circuit seat in July.

The largest police union in Florida is backing Susy Lopez for State Attorney.

With state grant, Tampa renews contract with gunshot detection program” via Olivia George of the Tampa Bay Times — For at least another year, the Tampa Police Department will continue to use a gunshot detection program that has made international headlines for accuracy and transparency concerns. That’s thanks to a $280,000 grant from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which the City Council approved receipt of Thursday. The technology uses a network of sensors to locate possible gunfire sounds. An algorithm classifies the type of sound and company workers review the audio before an alert is sent to police. In Tampa, the sensors are only spread across a 4-square-mile section of East Tampa. The city’s police department, which has used the technology since 2019, said the specific location was exempt from public release but that the monitored area includes 10 parks and 17 schools.

Tampa Bay EDC retains contract with city of Tampa” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Tampa City Council member Bill Carlson’s attempt to steer the city away from its partnership with the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council has failed. He was the sole no vote on moving forward with the city’s contract to give the Tampa Bay EDC $538,000 per year through 2025. That’s the same result and funding amount as in 2019 when the feud between Carlson and the EDC first began. The city and the private nonprofit have been partners since 2009, most recently re-upping their agreement in 2021. Carlson has argued that the city could use the resources it currently gives to the EDC to build capacity in-house. He also requested more accountability from the contract.

Tampa is sticking with the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. Image via Facebook.

Tampa Cubans fear deportation after recent court ruling” via Juan Carlos Chavez of the Tampa Bay Times — Yusmier Mesa hasn’t lost hope but is afraid. He left Cuba four years ago and reached the United States by traveling through Latin America. It was a long and dangerous journey, like one that José Manuel Garces made. Under a recent immigration rule, the I-220A designation may now become a ticket to deportation. Cubans have long been granted immigration benefits under the 1966 Adjustment Act, which allowed them to apply for permanent residence after staying in the U.S. for over a year. But in early September, the federal Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that Cubans granted I-220As are not eligible to apply for such benefits. The court’s decision has raised concern among Cubans, even though the ruling can be appealed, and the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to change the status of such immigrants.

Tampa named one of the most roach-infested cities in America” via Marysa Tuttle and Ashleigh Jackson of WFLA — While cockroaches are good for the ecosystem, they can be a nuisance and hard to avoid in some of America’s largest cities. Pest Gnome, a company that specializes in connecting people to pest exterminators in their area, ranked the most roach-infested cities in the country. Perhaps unsurprisingly, several highly populated metros made the list, which was determined using data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Tony Carvajal sues Florida TaxWatch, alleges dysfunctional work environment” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Around this time last year, Florida TaxWatch announced Carvajal would succeed longtime President Dominic Calabro. Within months, TaxWatch fired Carvajal as executive vice president. The acrimonious situation took a new turn after Carvajal filed multiple whistleblower complaints. He alleges in a lawsuit filed this week that Calabro drank at work and insisted others did as well and that the organization’s longtime leader made “inappropriate comments and sexual advances” on female employees. At this point, Carvajal said he has no choice but to take concerns public in litigation. “It is the only route I have to go,” Carvajal said. Carvajal said that he had heard complaints about Calabro’s behavior throughout his nearly three years as the executive vice president.

Dominic Calabro faces serious allegations from Tony Carvajal, his former successor.

Duval School Board silences parents reading library book about dad raping young daughter” via Zac Howard of The Florida Standard — The Duval County School Board silenced local parents while they were trying to draw attention to a sexually explicit book available to students in their school library. Ironically, those parents got exactly what they wanted, as a new state policy requires each copy of the book now will now be removed from schools in the district. During the public Board meeting last week, several concerned parents alerted the Board that a sexually explicit book is accessible to students in at least eight school libraries within the district. The book, Ellen Hopkins’ “Identical,” is about two identical twins — one of whom envies her sister because she has attracted the sexual interest of her father. Parents read passages from Identical that included graphic descriptions of the father abusing his 9-year-old daughter.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

DeSantis suspends Patty Cummings from Cape Coral Council” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis has suspended Cape Coral City Council member Cummings. The move came days after Cummings was arrested when a state attorney’s investigation determined she lied about living in the district she represents when filing for office. Cummings faces three third-degree felonies: Fraudulent application for a driver’s license and two counts of false swearing in with voting of elections. Cummings won her seat representing District 4 last November, unseating incumbent Jennifer Nelson. But she has since faced allegations that she was living in District 2 and lied both in stating her residency as a candidate and on her voter registration.

Patty Cummings is out.

— TOP OPINION —

The axe is sharp” via Maureen Dowd of The New York Times — David Axelrod is not a prick. Truly.

I’ve known him since 2007, and if I had to pick a noun to describe him, it would be mensch.

So, when Biden privately employs that epithet for Axelrod, according to POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin, it’s bad for a few reasons.

The ordinarily gracious President is punching down at the strategist who helped elevate him onto the ticket with Barack Obama in 2008 and who thinks he was “a great Vice President” and has done a lot of wonderful things as President.

When some in the Obama camp chattered in 2011 about switching Biden out for Hillary Clinton, Axelrod said, he protested: “That would be an incredible act of disloyalty to a guy who has done a great job for us.”

Axelrod drew Biden’s ire because he urged the President to consider stopping at one term, throwing open the race to younger Democrats while there’s still time, and leaving as a hero. He said that, despite Biden’s insult, he got a slew of messages agreeing with him.

He should not indulge the Irish chip on his shoulder. He needs to gather the sharpest minds in his party and hear what they have to say, not engage in petty feuds.

If Trump manages to escape conviction in Jack Smith’s Washington case, which may be the only criminal trial that ends before the election, that’s going to turbocharge his campaign. Of course, if he’s convicted, that could turbocharge his campaign even more.

— OPINIONS —

The GOP’s winning abortion strategy got lost in its Virginia defeat” via Ramesh Ponnuru of The Washington Post — Republican candidates endorsed a ban on abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and threats to the mother’s life. The theory was that this position would look more reasonable to centrist voters than a more comprehensive ban. One flaw in the theory, or at least the execution, was that Democrats were more willing to talk about abortion than Republicans were — and they said Republicans wanted to ban abortion, period. The outcome of the Virginia election has left strategists in both parties thinking Democratic tactics have been vindicated — “Abortion wins elections” is becoming a popular slogan on the left — and Republican ones discredited.

She’s back!Who speaks for the centrist voter?” via Mary Ellen Klas of Bloomberg — If you’re among the two-thirds of Americans with an unfavorable view of either the Democratic or Republican Party and are in the political middle, I feel your pain. Having covered state politics for more than 30 years, mostly in Florida, I can honestly say that governments have become increasingly incapable of representing the values of the centrist voter. The reasons for this evolution are vast and varied but let me start with an example. Imagine driving along a mountain path in the dark of night. You rely on guardrails to guide you and to steady your path. In politics that means a strong two-party system to keep charlatans away, competitive elections to tamp down extremism and hold power to account, and the public expectation that elected officials behave with dignity.”

State leaders muzzle Floridians who want to speak out” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Floridians, take notice. Your right to a representative government is being stolen away. Recent headlines document angry eruptions among an audience of people who show up to meetings ready to tell their leaders what they think, only to be muzzled by time limits that shut down some would-be participants before they could utter a single word. More often, however, the exclusion happens quietly and secretly in meetings that never occur. Closed doors that should be open. A row of empty seats on a dais facing a roomful of chairs that are also empty. The result, however, is the same: The only people who can register their concerns face-to-face with their elected officials are the elites who can afford the private clubs and campaign contributions that give them direct access to power. The voices of regular Floridians are shut out or told to shut up.

Here’s why the JetBlue-Spirit merger will benefit Florida consumers and workers” via Sean Shaw for the Tampa Bay Times — JetBlue will bring at least 2,000 new jobs to Florida while protecting workers’ rights to collective bargaining and seniority, as well as ensuring a policy of “no furloughs.” That is exactly why the major unions representing JetBlue’s pilots, in-flight crew members, and Spirit’s team members have come out to support the deal. As Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, has said, the JetBlue-Spirit merger “attempts to correct past antitrust failures, and instead drives competition to the highest standards for workers and consumers.” Florida’s consumers, as well as the tourists and visitors who are the lifeblood of the Florida economy, will also benefit from access to more low-cost flight options.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

 

— ALOE —

Happy 60th anniversary, UCF and Disney!” via James Clark of the Orlando Sentinel — There have been no proclamations or parades, but 1963 is the anniversary of the two events that changed Orlando and Florida. Sixty years ago, the Florida Legislature created the University of Central Florida and Walt Disney selected Orlando as the site of his new theme park. Orlando has never been the same, with the population increasing tenfold. In 1955, the state had three public colleges: the new Florida State University (it had been the Florida State College for Women), the University of Florida, and Florida A&M University for African American students. UCF was designed to serve the booming space industry, and it was assumed the new school would be built close to Titusville, the site of the space center.

WDW and UCF celebrate a long history.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Ella’s godfather, Anthony Pedicini as well as Laila Aziz, Jon Coley and one of St. Pete’s best, Sara Stonecipher.

___

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.


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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, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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