Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.14.23

Sunburn Orange Tally (1)
Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Breaking overnight — “House approves Joe Biden impeachment inquiry as GOP hunts for an offense” via Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — Republicans said the vote was needed to give them full authority to continue carrying out their investigation amid anticipated legal challenges from the White House. Democrats have denounced the inquiry as a fishing expedition and a political stunt. Wednesday’s vote underscored how the political ground has shifted, with Republicans unanimously willing to endorse an inquiry even as some emphasized that they were not yet ready to charge the President. The vote of 221 to 212 was along party lines, with all Republicans voting to approve the inquiry and all Democrats opposed.

The Republican House votes to go forward on a Joe Biden impeachment inquiry.


Property insurance is a top concern for Florida homeowners, who have been dealing with rising costs, non-renewals and other woes for years now.

Lawmakers have taken action to address the crisis — the 2023 Legislative Session brought about a rewrite of the state’s tort laws, which, depending on who you ask, was a once-in-a-generation reform or a gift to insurers.

But there’s still work to be done, and many of the top leaders in business and politics who will play a role in what happens next are gathering in Orlando this week to take part in the 2023 Florida Chamber Insurance Summit.

The Thursday docket includes a “rundown” from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a talk from Lt. Gov. Jeannette Nuñez on the importance of leadership in solving the crisis, as well as a “State of Florida’s Insurance Market” address from Insurance Commissioner Mike Yaworsky.

Jimmy Patronis is again a featured speaker at the 2023 Florida Chamber Insurance Summit.

Citizens Property Insurance President and CEO Tim Cerio will also headline a segment titled “Returning Citizens Property Insurance to the Insurer of Last Resort” — a relevant topic considering the state-backed insurer has seen its policy count zoom past the 1 million mark.

The agenda is also stocked with panel discussions. One of the highlights: Lawyer-lobbyist Tim Meenan, whose firm specializes in insurance issues, will moderate a panel on insolvencies and receiverships featuring Department of Financial Services General Counsel Michael Dobson and American Guaranty Fund Group President Corey Neal.

Check out the full agenda for the 2023 Florida Chamber Insurance Summit.


Speaking of the Insurance Summit, the James Madison Institute has released a white paper that JMI Senior Fellow Christian Cámara will be presenting at the Chamber event.

Lawmakers have OK’d numerous bills aimed at stabilizing the property insurance market, most of them focused on curbing litigation, which insurers have long cited as a key driver in premium increases.

But despite the enactment of a major torts bill and a pair of Special Sessions on insurance, lower rates haven’t materialized. “Hold the Line: Florida’s Insurance Reforms and the Path Ahead,” however, assures lawmakers that market stabilization is on the way and encourages them to “resist any pressure to dilute any of the reforms that are already having a positive impact less than a year after they were enacted.”

Christian Cámara will present a white paper that focuses on stabilizing property insurance.

“Florida policymakers made great progress in the past year to address the challenges faced in our property insurance market — challenges that have festered for 20 years. Like any major reform, redirecting our insurance market to a better trajectory will not happen overnight,” said JMI Senior Vice President Sal Nuzzo.

“Insurance markets need time to respond favorably to reforms, and our litigation environment needs time to cycle through the thousands of lawsuits filed before the 2023 reforms being signed into law. We urge our policymakers to stay the course in their efforts ahead.”

Cámara added, “Property insurance in Florida is about geography, weather and litigation. We can’t control the first two of those. We can influence our litigation environment. While thanks are absolutely owed to policymakers and the Governor for the aggressive reforms over the past year, translating those reforms into premium relief will unfortunately take time.

“Insurance is risk mitigation, and the flood of lawsuits filed in advance of the reforms of 2023 have to wind their way through the system before the market can adjust in ways consumers see. We hope policymakers hold the line on the efforts and improvements they made in 2023.”


The Associated Industries of Florida is rolling out its wish list for the 2024 Legislative Session.

“As we gear up for another Legislative Session in Tallahassee, AIF is proud to release our 2024 priorities, highlighting what will be the top issues for Florida’s job creators,” said AIF President & CEO Brewster Bevis.

Brewster Bevis unrolls AIF’s Session wish list.

“For more than 100 years, AIF has advocated for policies that support our core principles of prosperity and free enterprise to foster a strong business climate that ultimately benefits all Floridians. We look forward to continuing that long history of legislative advocacy this Session as we continue to stand up for those who build businesses, employ our citizens, and generate a strong economic engine for this great state.”

The 2024 Session Priorities publication, which is delivered to all lawmakers, outlines the pro-business group’s legislative agenda for next year in several policy silos, with many bullet points focused on their opposition to government mandates on the private sector.

Other key priorities include funding for aerospace industry development and tourism marketing via VISIT FLORIDA as well as legislation that would address worker shortages in the health care industry that closely aligns with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’sLive Healthy” pitch.

AIF is also anticipating numerous legislative proposals that revolve around Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $114.4 billion “Focus on Florida’s Future” budget recommendation.

“Gov. DeSantis’ proposed budget, which includes a robust $1.1 billion tax relief package to allow Florida families and businesses to keep more of their hard-earned money, illustrates his commitment to ensuring the ongoing success of our great state,” Bevis said. “We appreciate the leadership of Gov. DeSantis, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner, as they continue to exercise fiscal responsibility and make our state an example for the rest of the nation.”


Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers has named Patrick Manderfield as its new Director of Marketing and Communications.

Manderfield, who has worked as FCCC’s Deputy Director of Communications since 2020, will now lead the association’s in-house communications team and guide statewide marketing and communications initiatives on behalf of Florida’s 68 independently elected Clerks of Court and Comptrollers.

Congrats to Patrick Manderfield for his new gig at Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers.

Patrick has a proven and versatile skill set in media and public relations that makes him an excellent choice to step into this critical role as our Director of Marketing and Communications,” said FCCC CEO Chris Hart IV.

“Over the last few years, he’s been intimately involved in elevating our communications at the association, and having recently served as our interim director, he’s well poised to take over the position full time and continue helping Clerks share their story in a way that resonates with their constituents and stakeholders. FCCC is proud to have him on our team.”

Before joining FCCC, Manderfield served as Deputy Communications Director for the Agency for Health Care Administration, acting as the agency’s representative and managing communications efforts for Florida’s Medicaid program and the Office of Health Quality Assurance. He also previously served as Press Secretary for the Florida Department of Corrections and as a speechwriter for the Florida Department of Health.


Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 8; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 10; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 26; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 26; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 26; CNN to host first of two GOP Primary debates — 27; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 32; House District 35 Special Election — 32; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 34; CNN’s second GOP Primary debate — 38; New Hampshire Primary — 40; Red Dog Blue Dog 2024 — 41; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 51; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 54; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 72; Michigan Democratic Primary — 75; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 78; Netflix to stream “The Netflix Slam,” Rafael Nadal/Carlos Alcaraz faceoff — 80; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 81; Super Tuesday — 82; 2024 Oscars — 87; Georgia Democratic Primary — 89; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 147; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 161; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 197; Republican National Convention begins — 215; ‘Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 225; Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 246; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 254; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 309; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 312; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 343; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 428; ‘Moana’ premieres — 561; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 589; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 694; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 694; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 736; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 869; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 895; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,100; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,240; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,199; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,927.


Ron DeSantis staffers blocked release of travel records, whistleblower says” via Beth Reinhard of The Washington Post — When top aides to DeSantis met with state law enforcement agency officials about two months ago to discuss a lawsuit seeking the release of the Governor’s flight records, the conversation quickly turned heated.

Two Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials argued that some records should be released, but DeSantis’ aides overruled them, citing a new state law that restricts access to his travel records, according to an FDLE staffer briefed on the meeting.

A whistleblower claims Ron DeSantis’ staff worked to hide travel records.

That dispute — as described by FDLE Deputy Chief of Staff Patricia Carpenter in a recent email to the agency’s chief — escalated into a major battle over the new law limiting disclosure of DeSantis’ travel activities and information about his state taxpayer-funded security detail as he crisscrosses the country seeking the GOP presidential nomination. The FDLE is tasked with protecting and transporting the Governor and maintaining his travel records.

In the weeks after the tense meeting, DeSantis staffers blocked a promotion for an FDLE attorney who favored turning over the records. Carpenter, the agency’s deputy, filed a whistleblower complaint, and she and FDLE Chief of Staff Shane Desguin were pushed out of the agency, according to Carpenter’s email.

The shake-up is the latest example of what many former FDLE staffers have portrayed as potentially dangerous overreach by the Governor’s Office. They say the office has interfered with a statewide police department that is supposed to operate as nonpartisan and independent, but which has been drawn into DeSantis’ political agenda to crack down on illegal immigration and ineligible voters.


The four biggest takeaways from the DeSantis Iowa town hall” via Eva Surovell of The Messenger — Didn’t shy away from leveling attacks at Trump throughout the hourlong town hall, criticizing Trump’s “flip-flopping” on abortion and his handling of the economy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Two questions during the town hall dealt with abortion, an issue Republicans have struggled to surmount during the previous two election cycles. Though DeSantis reiterated his record in Florida, where he signed a restrictive six-week abortion ban as Governor, he also appeared to echo messaging also used by former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley when asked about a case concerning a Texas resident who was forced to flee the state this week in order to obtain an abortion while waiting on a court ruling.

DeSantis goes on the offense at a CNN town hall. Image via CNN.

DeSantis responds to Iowa polling numbers during CNN town hall in Des Moines” via Ophelie Jacobson of KCCI — DeSantis talked to Iowa voters during a CNN town hall. DeSantis fielded questions from both decided and undecided voters on a wide range of issues, from border security to Social Security. The GOP hopeful also answered questions from moderator Jake Tapper throughout the night. Tapper asked DeSantis about a new poll that came out Monday that shows DeSantis in second place among likely Republican Caucusgoers. “I’m sick of these polls. Haven’t we learned as Republicans? We were supposed to have a red wave in November of 2022. What happened to that? The polls were telling us,” DeSantis said. “They’re using the poll as a narrative. The reality is we’ve gotten the best organization anyone has ever had in Iowa. We’ve got tens of thousands of Iowans already committed to caucus for us. You have the opportunity to make this decision. Do not let the media choose your candidate.”

—“DeSantis downplays Chris Sununu’s Nikki Haley endorsement” via CBS News

DeSantis escalates attacks on Donald Trump ahead of Iowa” via Erin Doherty of Axios — DeSantis sharply criticized his top GOP foe and the Republican Primary front-runner during a CNN town hall Tuesday, and made an urgent pitch to voters with just five weeks before the Iowa caucuses. DeSantis made more than half a dozen criticisms against Trump over the course of an hour during the CNN town hall at Grand View University in Des Moines. On COVID-19, DeSantis said that “shutting down the country was a huge mistake, printing trillions and trillions of dollars was a huge mistake.” DeSantis hit Trump over what he called “flip-flopping” views on abortion.

Poll: Haley outperformed DeSantis in debate” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Per a poll from The Economist and YouGov, Haley was perceived as the strongest participant in the four-person debate last week. Haley was judged by 21% as doing the best, three points ahead of DeSantis’ 18%, with Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy at 12% and 10%, respectively. DeSantis has been attempting to goad Haley and Trump into debates ahead of key nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire next month. “I think if you’re not willing to debate in Iowa on the eve of the caucus, that shows the voters a lot about you, and about your willingness to engage on these issues. So, I want to debate. I’ll be there,” DeSantis told Iowa media.

The last debate goes to Nikki Haley.

DeSantis rips move to ‘rig’ Nevada Caucuses” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis told reporters that Nevada was “supposed to have a Primary in February” but power brokers changed it to a Caucus for the benefit of Trump. “The state party changed it to a Caucus. The state party people are basically trying to rig it for Trump. And so, the delegates are going to be done on the Caucus,” DeSantis said. That Caucus is expected to attract more conservative Republicans who are more likely to be Trump supporters than the wider GOP electorate. Haley will participate in the nonbinding Nevada Primary, a decision DeSantis said showed she wasn’t really trying to win the nomination, suggesting she’s a stalking horse for Trump.

DeSantis lays blame on Trump administration for Satanic Temple display in Iowa Capitol” via Biong M. Biong of the Des Moines Register — Seeking to turn a Satanic Temple of Iowa display in the Iowa Capitol into a presidential campaign issue, DeSantis is laying the blame at the feet of Trump’s administration. The temple received permission for the display, including an altar and a figure of the pagan idol Baphomet, under a state policy that allows temporary religious displays in the Capitol. There also is currently a Christian Nativity scene. Iowa Republican leaders are divided over the display, which one said was permitted under a policy that calls for allowing all religious displays or none of them. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has endorsed DeSantis, said: “In a free society, the best response to objectionable speech is more speech, and I encourage all those of faith to join me today in praying over the Capitol and recognizing the Nativity scene that will be on display ― the true reason for the season.”

— MORE 2024 —

Biden-Harris 2024 rolls out Hispanic ad in battleground states Biden’s re-election campaign is launching a new ad directed at Hispanic voters living in the top 2024 battlegrounds — Florida isn’t one of them, but Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin are. “Sees Us” and a Spanish language version, “Nos Ve,” compares Biden’s agenda with the plans of his GOP rivals, including Trump, who the campaign likens to Latin American dictators. The ad continues what Biden-Harris 2024 describes as the “largest and earliest paid media campaign in Hispanic and African American media for a re-election campaign in history.” Campaign Manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said, “President Biden’s agenda is focused on the issues that matter most to Latinos and their families. Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans have failed Latinos on everything from the cost of health care and jobs to protecting freedom and keeping our communities safe. Next year’s election will come down to a simple question — who has our backs, who sees us? It’s Joe Biden.”

To watch the ads, please click the images below:


DeSantis names Gregory Tony as a favorite Democrat” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis isn’t a fan of most Democratic officials in Florida. But if more want to win his favor, he said, they should take notes from Sheriff Tony. Asked by Jake Tapper during a CNN town hall in Iowa who his favorite Democratic official is, DeSantis first waffled over the question, apparently anxious about the criticism he might receive. “Oh man,” he said. “The minute I do that, they’re all of a sudden going to have a …” Tapper then interjected to repeat his query with more leeway: “Maybe give me one who is in the top 10.” Not missing a beat, DeSantis named Tony, a controversial figure whom the Governor appointed in January 2019 to replace suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

DeSantis makes a safe pick of Gregory Tony as his ‘favorite Democrat.’

3 teachers challenge Florida pronoun law in federal lawsuit” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Three public schoolteachers challenged a new Florida law in federal court, arguing the state’s ban on using personal titles and pronouns that do not match a person’s sex at birth is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two transgender women who teach in the Hillsborough County and Lee County school districts, respectively, and a nonbinary teacher in Orange County fired from the Florida Virtual School in October for using gender-neutral courtesy titles in their online physics classes. The state’s new law “targets Florida’s transgender and nonbinary teachers for being themselves at work” and “clearly and unlawfully discriminates based on sex and restrains their speech, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and civil rights statutes,” said a statement issued by the attorneys for the three teachers.


Supreme Court will hear challenge to abortion pill access” via Abbie VanSickle of The New York Times — The Supreme Court announced it would decide on the availability of a commonly used abortion pill, the first major case involving abortion on its docket since it overturned the constitutional right to the procedure more than a year ago. The Biden administration had asked the justices to intervene after a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit favored curbing distribution of the drug, mifepristone, appearing skeptical of the FDA’s regulation of the pill in recent years. In its ruling, the panel said that the pill would remain legal, but with significant restrictions on patients’ access, including prohibiting the medication from being sent by mail or prescribed by telemedicine. The move sets up a high-stakes fight over the drug that could sharply curtail access to the medication, even in states where abortion remains legal.

Access to abortion pills is on the SCOTUS docket.

Fed leaves rates unchanged and signals three cuts next year” via Jenna Smialek of The New York Times — Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged in their final policy decision of 2023 and forecast that they will cut borrowing costs three times in the coming year, a sign that the central bank is shifting toward the next phase in its fight against rapid inflation. Interest rates are set at a range of 5.25 to 5.5%, where they have been since July. After making a rapid series of increases that started in March 2022 and pushed borrowing costs to their highest level in 22 years as of this Summer, officials have held policy steady for three straight meetings. That patient stance has given policymakers time to assess whether interest rates are high enough to weigh on the economy and ensure that inflation will slow to the Fed’s 2% target over time — and increasingly, slowing inflation and a cooling job market have convinced them that policy is in a good place.

Hunter Biden defies Republican subpoena in visit to the Capitol, risking contempt of Congress charge” via The Associated Press — Biden defied a congressional subpoena to appear privately for a deposition before Republican investigators who have been digging into his business dealings, insisting outside the U.S. Capitol that he will only testify in public. In a rare public statement, Hunter Biden slammed a GOP subpoena requesting closed-door testimony, saying it could be manipulated. “Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry, or hear what I have to say,” Biden said. “What are they afraid of? I am here.” Rep. James Comer, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, has said Republicans expect “full cooperation” with the private deposition.

Hunter Biden is a no-show at The Capitol; in its place, he made a public statement blasting the GOP.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls impeachment inquiry perverse ‘dirty work’ of Trump” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Wasserman Schultz dismissed an impeachment inquiry into Biden as a “perverse illegitimate effort to do Donald Trump’s dirty work.” During debate on the floor about opening a formal inquiry of Biden, the Weston Democrat said the GOP effort served itself as obfuscation of justice. “This is nothing but an extreme political stunt built on absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing,” she said. “The one thing it does do is prove Republicans are focused on the wrong priorities.” Wasserman Schultz noted that even many of the witnesses subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee said they had no knowledge of Biden’s involvement in any financial deals.

Marco Rubio urges Pope Francis to push for Nicaraguan Bishop’s release — U.S. Sen. Rubio wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking him to request the immediate release of Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, who is being detained by the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua. Earlier this year, he was given the option of being forced into exile and renouncing his nationality but refused to leave Nicaragua. “I humbly ask that you intercede for the release of Bishop Álvarez and the right to worship for all Catholics in Nicaragua. I endeavor to follow your counsel to take refuge in the Word of God and pray for those in Nicaragua who are persecuted for their faith,” Rubio wrote.

Dan Daley visits White House to meet with Kamala Harris and other leaders on gun violenceDaley took part in the White House State Legislative Convening on Gun Violence Prevention, talking with the Vice President, state legislators and others “The scourge of gun violence is one of the most crucial issues facing our country, and I’m proud of the ongoing efforts of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the administration,” Daley said. “As a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and former member of the Coral Springs City Commission, the aftermath of tragic and violent shootings has been front and center in our community for years now. Florida has a long way to go and today’s convening was an opportunity to work with colleagues from across the country to help make this happen.”


Legislation advances that would weaken local government control over vacation rentals” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Another crack at solving the conundrum that has pitted long-term residents against the revolving vacation party next door produced some fireworks in the Senate. The first Committee stop for Sen. Nick DiCeglie’s legislation (SB 280) was before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Sen. Jason Pizzo wanted to know why DiCeglie’s bill has aspects of last year’s House version — weakening local governments’ ability to regulate rentals — that the Senate rejected as the last Session closed. A certain weariness was apparent in the proceedings. “You’re as sick of talking about vacation rentals as the rest of us are,” said Sen. Ed Hooper. Hooper noted the state has made progress in collecting taxes from the online companies that serve as a broker between property owners and renters.

Nick DiCeglie gets pushback from Jason Pizzo for trying to weaken home rule.

Cold case legislation would ease calls for reinvestigations of unsolved murders” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Families of unsolved murder victims could gain a new tool in seeking answers through proposed legislation by a pair of South Florida lawmakers. Sen. Rosalind Osgood and Rep. Christopher Benjamin have filed twin bills (SB 350/HB 837) to make it easier for residents to ask police to reinvestigate homicide cold cases. The murder in question must have occurred at least five years before, and the person requesting another look into the case must be an immediate family member, in-law, or legal guardian of the victim.

Cheered on by chain restaurants, Florida Republicans push forward with a bill to let businesses make teenagers work longer hours during the school year” via Jason García of Seeking Rents — After shutting down public testimony and cutting off debate, Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives forced a bill forward that would allow businesses to make teenagers work more during the school year. On a 10-5, party-line vote, the House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee approved House Bill 49, which would eliminate decades-old child-labor protections that prevent employers from ordering 16- and 17-year-old teens to work after 11 p.m. on a school night or for more than 30 hours during a school week. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Linda Chaney, said she filed the legislation in part to provide more labor for Florida’s tourism industry. “Being in a tourist area of Florida and knowing the needs of the hospitality industry … I felt this was a common-sense bill,” Chaney said.

Senate panel OK’s bill that would require drivers who refuse breathalyzers to install interlock devices” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. DiCeglie is bringing back legislation that would require drivers who have their license suspended for a suspected DUI to install interlock devices in their cars, even if they refused a Breathalyzer. The legislation (SB 260) moved through its first Committee stop in front of the Senate Transportation Committee, but not without some questions from Democrats on the panel. Sen. Victor Torres asked DiCeglie about the cost not just to install the device, but also to recharge or fix the device.

Bill shielding suicide media, autopsy reports from public records request advances” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Losing a loved one to suicide is heart-wrenching. It’s made even worse when materials depicting a person’s final, anguishing act are spread online for millions to view and share. A bill (SB 474) advancing in the Legislature aims to change that by making photos, videos and audio recordings of people taking their own lives exempt from general public records requests. It would do the same for their autopsy reports. The bill’s sponsor, Vero Beach Republican Sen. Erin Grall cried while explaining the measure to members of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. “I think we’ve all been touched by suicide, some of us more recently than others,” she said.


8 a.m. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update on DeSantis’ proposed 2024-2025 budget. Morris Hall, House Office Building.

1 p.m. The Revenue Estimating Conference meets for an “impact” conference. Room 117, Knott Building.

Happening today — Patronis, Yaworsky and Cerio are the featured speakers at a Florida Chamber of Commerce insurance summit. 8:30 a.m. JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek, 14900 Chelonia Parkway, Orlando.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, state Sen. Hooper, state Rep. Brad Yeager and local officials are scheduled to attend a holiday food drive hosted by Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano. 9 a.m. Faith Baptist Church, 9230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Cory Mills will speak at the Pinellas County Republican Party’s Reagan Day “Blue Jeans & Blazers Dinner.” 5 p.m. Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, 105 North Bayshore Dr., Safety Harbor.


Nick DiCeglie backs Ed Montanari for HD 60” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Sen. DiCeglie, himself a former state Representative, is endorsing St. Petersburg City Council member Montanari for House District 60. Montanari, a Republican, is running for the St. Pete-based district in hopes of unseating Democrat Lindsay Cross. “As a State Senator, I’ve worked with Council member Montanari for years and witnessed firsthand the proven leadership he delivers to St. Petersburg,” DiCeglie said. “I look forward to working as a partner with Ed in the Florida Legislature as he brings his common-sense approach to addressing important issues like water quality, inflation and the insurance crisis.”

Nick DiCeglie says Ed Montanari has ‘proven leadership’ from years on St. Pete’s City Council.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Judge to decide if millions of Miami parking surcharge fees to be refunded. City fighting it” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Both sides involved in a legal dispute over a substantial parking surcharge the city of Miami has been collecting for two decades asked a Judge to rule in their favor. The 15% parking surcharge at all Miami garages and lots has netted the city tens of millions of dollars since residents voted for it in 2003. But it came with a catch: A state law that preempted the referendum only allows cities to supplement revenue with the tax if more than 20% of their real property value is tax-exempt. The city says it does. The plaintiffs, three workers in Miami who have paid the surcharge at parking lots in several different Miami neighborhoods, disagree.

A judge will sort out an attempt to rectify Miami’s outrageous parking prices.

Miami-Dade creates $10-million-a-year film incentives jackpot” via Richard Battin of Miami Today — The Miami-Dade County Commission accepted René García’s stepped-up campaign to lure movies and TV shows to the county, approving a 49-page resolution calling for annual incentives of up to $10 million with the creation of a Miami-Dade High Impact Film Fund Program. The county’s robust film industry went into decline in the past decade after the state discontinued its film incentives program, with films and industry professionals leaving the state for areas with higher incentives. The county subsequently created smaller incentives for lower-budget productions, an incentive scheduled to continue as the new larger-film program takes hold. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s budget included $2.5 million for the new fund in the approved $11.7 billion 2023-2024 budget. “It’s not enough,” Sen. García said. “It’s not even close.” His plan now goes to Levine Cava for review.

Record 9.5 million visitors push Palm Beach County into full recovery from COVID-19, tourism chief says” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Palm Beach County’s once battered tourism industry has not only rebounded but is in full recovery from COVID-19 as a record 9.5 million visitors poured into the area this year, the county’s top tourism executive said. “We can say the short answer is yes, not only as a destination but the South Florida region,” said Milton Segarra, president and CEO of Discover the Palm Beaches. “We’re over COVID-19.” The agency is forecasting “modest growth” for 2024, despite inflation’s role in keeping room rates high. And it expects to reach out more to the international market, which has trailed the domestic side during the pandemic recovery.

Keith James, Shalonda Warren defend West Palm’s homeless assistance amid criticism of feeding ordinance” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — Elected officials in West Palm Beach defended the city’s efforts to help the homeless amid continued criticism of its ordinance requiring people and groups to get a permit before feeding groups of 25 or more at city parks. “I stand with our staff,” Commissioner Warren said. “I believe that our staff works very hard, that our staff is compassionate. I believe we are doing the best we can in the face of something that is devastating and is impacting our entire country.” Warren and other City Commission members moved tweaks to its large-scale feeding event policy one step closer to final approval.

Broward anti-abortion center broke the rules and still got more and more taxpayer money” via Laura C. Morel and Clara-Sophia Daly of the Miami Herald — For years, Mary’s Pregnancy Resource Center in Broward County was one of the crown jewels of the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, the little-known nonprofit that administers the state-funded “alternatives to abortion” program. In April, the network’s profile grew tremendously after the Florida Legislature approved a fivefold funding increase to $25 million a year. In October, state support grew once again after the Florida Department of Health quietly increased the contract to up to $29.4 million. This year’s funding eclipses the entire last decade when the network handed out nearly $23 million in taxpayer money directly to pregnancy centers. Mary’s has been one of its biggest beneficiaries, taking in more than $2.2 million in that period.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Disney World oversight district spent up to $360K on scathing report” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis’ tourism oversight district spent up to $360,000 on a scathing review of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, relying on a roster of outside experts to dive into decades of Central Florida history and stacks of financial records. District officials say the consultants flagged opportunities for savings, and the report will more than pay for itself. Board Chair Martin García called the findings “illuminating and not infrequently shocking.” The report’s authors ripped the previous Disney-controlled Reedy Creek as “the most egregious exhibition of corporate cronyism in modern American history.” The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District budgeted $360,000 for “legislative reporting,” including $110,000 that went to Donald J. Kochan, a conservative law professor at Virginia’s George Mason University.

Martin García is touting a ‘frequently shocking’ report about the Disney district.

Osceola County collects record-breaking $81.6M in TDT funds” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — Osceola County collected a record number of tourist development tax funds in 2023, a rebound from a slow Summer for tourism that drew predictions of netting a loss. The bed tax, also known as TDT, drew $81.6 million from October 2022 to September, a record collection, despite softening in the vacation home rental sector but buoyed by international travelers. The increase in TDT collections was up 14% compared to the previous year’s collection of $76.6 million, which relied on vacation home rental income, a typical trend for the county. Osceola County Commissioner and Tourism Development Council Board member Viviana Janer applauded the recovery. “That’s a number to be proud of,” Janer said.

OCPS to test weapons-detection system at seven high schools. Wekiva High starts Monday.” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Students at seven Orange County high schools will soon walk through a new weapons-detection system as they enter their campuses each morning, as the district tests a device school leaders hope will make schools safer. The pilot project will start Monday at Wekiva High School in West Orange and then move to six other high schools in the coming months. The new system, called OpenGate, aims to quickly screen large numbers of people without requiring that they take off backpacks or hand over purses. Students will have to remove their OCPS-issued laptops from their bags, however, and hand them to a staff member before they walk between the device’s two poles.

Volusia County Schools may rezone another 460 students bringing the total to 1,400” via Mary Ellen Ritter of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Volusia County School Board voted to gather feedback on rezoning another 460 students meaning about 1,400 kids might end up going to a different school next year. The Board unanimously passed a motion to look at proposed school attendance boundaries for DeBary Elementary, Discovery Elementary, Enterprise Elementary and Forest Lake Elementary. This decision follows the Board’s Oct. 10 decision to get community feedback on rezoning more than 950 students. The new rezoning proposal could impact more than 460 students. Six elementary schools in the DeBary area ― Enterprise, Spirit, Timbercrest, DeBary, Manatee Cove and Orange City ― are currently overcapacity, according to Danielle Johnson, Volusia’s director of community information.

Volusia County Schools’ Board hires seven additional middle school resource deputies” via Mary Ellen Ritter of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Due to mounting concerns about student safety, the Volusia County School Board voted to staff seven additional schools with resource deputies from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The seven new deputies are in addition to the seven deputies already requested and agreed to by the district on June 27. The motion, made by Anita Burnette and seconded by Jessie Thompson, passed by a 4-1 vote. Ruben Colón was the sole dissenter. According to the amendment, Volusia County Schools’ Board will fully fund the seven new deputies at $90.56 per billable hour, adding up to $507,136 in total costs for the 100-day term.

Anita Burnette seeks to hire more Volusia middle school resource deputies.

Dick Nunis, executive who helped shape Disney World, has died” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Nunis, former Chair of Walt Disney Attractions and a 44-year cast member, died in Orlando, his family has confirmed. He was 91. His Disney career began as an orientation and training instructor in 1955 before the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California. He later said he was earning $1.80 an hour. Nunis went on to be instrumental in the development of Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. “Dick took the values and philosophies he learned directly from Walt and incorporated them into everything he did at Disney. We are grateful for his many achievements, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones,” Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., said in a statement.


Hillsborough officials sobered as state grades show too many D and F schools” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — With hope, resolve and some social analysis, members of the Hillsborough County School Board spent much of Tuesday’s Board meeting responding to this week’s disappointing school grades from the state. Released on Monday, the report made it clear that many of the district’s 200,000 students cannot demonstrate passing levels of proficiency in English and math. The 2023 numbers were sobering in much of Florida, as none of the schools got credit for the growth students achieved from year to year. That’s because the state changed its standards and testing systems, making it impossible to compare one year to the next. But the statistics were bleak in Hillsborough, especially among the youngest students. Hillsborough’s elementary schools went from having six D schools and one F school in 2022 to 23 D schools and four F schools in 2023. By comparison, Pinellas County’s elementary schools had four D’s in 2022 and four D’s in 2023, with no F’s anywhere. Pinellas is about half the size of Hillsborough. In Pasco, the elementary grades improved — from six D’s and four F’s to eight D’s and two F’s.

Insurance CEO on Florida rates: ‘Nobody has been able to put a price tag on global warming” via Christina Georgacopoulos of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The past 24 months rank among the most turbulent periods on record for Florida’s property insurance industry, with billions of dollars of reported losses, the collapse of more than a dozen carriers and a large-scale retreat of capital from the state. The crisis may have turned a corner, but the industry has not fully solved the problem of escalating climate risks, according to Miami-based NSI Insurance CEO Oscar Seikaly. ““The predictions they used before no longer make any sense. Nobody has been able to put a price tag on global warming,” Seikaly said. While the market is reaching price stability and homeowners and businesses shouldn’t expect another year of 80% rate increases, Seikaly said he still expects costs to climb higher. He said NSI’s commercial clients are in store for 10% to 15% rate increases in 2024, granted the insurance market isn’t disrupted by a severe hurricane next year.

Oscar Seikaly says there is no knowing (yet) what’s the cost of climate change.

Speer YMCA and joint middle school open” via Ashley Morales of St. Pete Catalyst — The area’s first joint YMCA and magnet middle school campus is officially open. YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg and Pinellas County Schools cut the ribbon on its new campus on Dec. 13. The 19-acre site at 501 62nd Ave. NE is home to Speer YMCA and Mangrove Bay Middle School. “This project is like no other in Tampa Bay, a first of its kind,” said David Jezek, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. “We talk about a lot about organizations going on trips elsewhere to find unique projects. I can guarantee people are going to come from all across the country to see what we created here, and we will be proud to share.”

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Council approves nearly $26 million mayoral task force funding budget” via Ric Anderson of the Jacksonville Daily Record — Jacksonville City Council members gave final approval on Dec. 12 to the bulk of $27 million in spending requests in Mayor Donna Deegan’s Mayoral Task Force budget for initiatives including literacy, homelessness, small businesses and housing. The Council OK’d nearly $26 million of funding for Deegan’s requests, which were based on recommendations by Transition Committees that Deegan organized after taking office in July. Those Committees examined city programs, policies and procedures during the first several months of her term before submitting a 206-page final report in November with recommendations. Deegan expressed gratitude for the nearly 1,000 citizens who served on the Committees and thanked the Council for working collaboratively with her office.

Jax City Council greenlights Donna Deegan’s spending requests.

$22 million fraud case reveals deep dysfunction in Jaguars’ business operations” via The Florida Times-Union — While all eyes were on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ oft-dysfunctional, sometimes successful, and almost always perplexing football operations, a true white-collar drama was building in secret: Federal prosecutors last week accused Amit Patel, a former Jaguars finance manager, of swindling more than $22 million out of the organization over the course of about four years and using the proceeds to pay for luxury goods and to underwrite a jet-setting, lavish lifestyle. Patel’s attorney has said the former Jaguars manager plans to plead guilty to the wire fraud scheme, and that he suffers from a “serious gambling addiction,” which most of the proceeds underwrote. The Jaguars said, “no other team employees were involved in or aware of his criminal activity.”

Shari Sebastiao hits the ground running after being appointed to Milton’s City Council” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News-Journal — Sebastiao looked like she knew what she was doing after taking her place alongside members of the Milton City Council following her appointment to the Ward 4 seat recently vacated by Jason Vance. And well she should, as she’s been there before. The small-business owner and now former member of the city’s Community Improvement Board had served as a Council appointee once before, from 2021 until 2022. Sebastiao jumped right in to make the first motion of the city’s regular meeting Tuesday after it had reconvened following a short break during which she was sworn in. She would make several more during the course of the meeting.

Tallahassee City Commission to consider latest plan to tackle issues in Midtown” via Arianna Otero of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee’s Midtown neighborhood has long been a flashpoint, with residents, businesses, developers and city leaders all at odds with each other over the years. Now, the city has come up with a proposed solution: “One plan for Midtown,” if you will. What’s being called the “Midtown Implementation Plan” hopes to “consolidate project lists from multiple public agencies,” breaking up its priorities into land use, transportation, and more. Highlights include ideas to expand parking in the area, which aligns with the recommendations of an Advisory Committee, as well as proposals to make it more walkable, to name a couple. The plan will be presented at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the City Commission meeting at City Hall.

Gainesville unveils street sign in honor of community activist Charles S. Chestnut III” via Voleer Thomas of The Gainesville Sun — Family, friends and community members gathered across from Chestnut Funeral Home on Tuesday to witness the unveiling of the street sign named after the late Chestnut. Chestnut, who died on Dec. 4 at age 83, was a longtime community activist, business owner, local politician and friend and mentor to many in the community. The sign unveiling ceremony took place at the intersection of Northwest Eighth Avenue and First Street. “He was a humble man,” said Gainesville City Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut, to whom he was married for 48 years. She also said her late husband would have been deeply moved by the city’s sign unveiling for his legacy. “He would’ve been beyond disbelief that something like this would happen,” she said. “He would be surprised that the city would go to this extent.”

Gainesville honors a longtime community activist.


Vern Buchanan calls for Christian Ziegler to resign as GOP Chair” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The official who gave Ziegler his start in politics now wants him to resign. U.S. Rep. Buchanan is calling for Ziegler to step down as Chair of the Republican Party of Florida. The move comes days before the party’s Executive Committee is expected to launch a process to sanction Ziegler. “Christian should voluntarily step down before the Executive Committee takes action against him,” Buchanan said. “His position as party leader is no longer tenable given what has transpired.”

Christian Ziegler’s mentor jumps on the bandwagon to call for his resignation.

Manatee County Attorney resigns, ethics complaint filed against Chair” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Longtime Manatee County Attorney Bill Clague announced plans to resign from his post early next year at the final Manatee County meeting of the year. A former Manatee County animal services volunteer has also filed an ethics complaint against the current County Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge. The Florida Commission on Ethics has yet to decide if the complaint has enough legal merit for further investigation. Commissioners named new officers for the Board of County Commissioners in 2024, including naming Commissioner Mike Rahn as the county’s new Chair. Commissioners also approved the purchase of the Crooked River Ranch for conservation purposes.

Beth Petrunoff threatens to resign from Naples City Council.” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Petrunoff has threatened to resign from the City Council in Naples. “I am thinking about it. But I haven’t decided yet,” she said. While she’s happy with the job, she’s not happy with the new state requirements for financial disclosure, which she sees as intrusive. If she remains on the Council, she’d have to comply with the more rigorous rules that take effect Jan. 1. Those rules require city and town officials to file the same financial disclosure forms as state lawmakers, the Governor and other local elected officers, such as County Commissioners and Judges. In those forms, filers must reveal their entire net worth, including the dollar amounts of their assets, liabilities and income over $1,000.


DeSantis finally gets the message” via Patrick Brown of CNN — Through much of 2023, DeSantis has seemed to shy away from leveling critiques of the former President that could seem too stringent. His campaign strategy was to leverage his successful record of advancing conservative priorities in the Sunshine State to appeal to Trump’s supporters, while at the same time connecting with college-educated Republicans longing for a contender with less baggage.

A strategic détente toward Trump may have made some sense in the Summer months, but the clock has run out. Tuesday night’s CNN town hall with DeSantis in Iowa may have been his pivot toward a more direct line of attack. At various points throughout his hour onstage, DeSantis offered his most pointed critiques to date of the former President, dinging him on issues from COVID to abortion to temperament.

It was far from the type of gloves-off pummeling that someone like Christie might have offered. But it was a sign that DeSantis and his advisers realized the hour is getting late.

DeSantis still has a war chest, and Tuesday’s town hall illustrated the extent to which he has pushed all his chips in on the Iowa Caucuses (unfriendly territory in New Hampshire and South Carolina, the second and third states in the Primary lineup, likely influenced his decision).

It’s possible there is nothing DeSantis could have done differently to alter this fundamental dynamic. But if he is to have any chance at avoiding an early exit from the 2024 race, his criticisms of Trump have increasingly needed to be less subtext and more overt. Tuesday’s town hall — while far from a full-throated battle cry — suggested an eleventh-hour reckoning with that fact.


A speedy Trump trial is the best course for the nation” via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post — It would be best for the country if defendant Trump were tried before the General Election campaign is in full swing. Special counsel Jack Smith was correct to ask the Supreme Court to take the unusual step of leapfrogging the appeals process to hear Trump’s argument that he is immune from prosecution. Notice that I say tried before the election, not tried and convicted. The outcome of Trump’s trial on charges that he sought to subvert the 2020 Election is irrelevant to my argument. Yes, a conviction might dissuade some voters if he becomes the GOP nominee, but, as a technical matter, would not disqualify him from winning the presidency. If elected, he could pardon himself, or try to, and it is hard to see how such a move could be challenged in court.

What happened to DeSantis?” via Daniel McCarthy of Creators Syndicate — DeSantis is running as the true-blue conservative in the race for the nomination. And he’s learning the hard way that Republicans don’t nominate true-blue conservatives. As Trump leads every poll by double-digits, DeSantis, who seemed such a promising prospect just a year ago, is now at risk of falling to third place. If Haley bests DeSantis in Iowa, his 2024 campaign won’t be the only casualty; his hopes of ever becoming President will dim, and rivals won’t fear him as they look to ‘28 or ‘32. His record and rhetoric make DeSantis an outstanding candidate for the Republican right. DeSantis isn’t too conservative to win, but his campaign sells him like spinach — as if it’s irrelevant whether voters like him, so long as they acknowledge that he’s right.

Let Floridians vote in Iowa? What were they thinking?” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — It’s nothing new for candidates to ask their home folks to help them out in Iowa before its Caucuses. Jimmy Carter’s “Peanut Brigades” trudged through the snow to put him on a path to the presidency. None had suggested actually packing the Caucuses with ineligible out-of-state voters. That’s what First Lady Casey DeSantis did. He compounded her mistake by sitting silently as she called on supporters — her “Mamas for DeSantis” — to participate in the Iowa Caucuses on Jan. 15. He could have saved them both from a major embarrassment with prompt clarification. “We’re asking all of these moms and grandmoms to come from wherever it might be — North Carolina, South Carolina — and to descend upon the state of Iowa to be a part of the Caucus,” she said. “You do not have to be a resident of Iowa to be able to participate in the Caucus.” Yes, you do.

Why universities are getting an “F” in freedom class” via Colin Polsky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Following the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, U.S. universities have struggled to manage a wave of antisemitism. A lot of ink has been spilled decrying this failure. On Dec. 5, three elite university presidents delivered Congressional testimony to explain their positions and actions. The envy of the educational world has lobbed a softball to flex their moral guidance muscles. The testimony was a resounding failure. No one watching felt the universities were genuinely worried about Jewish student harassment. At least one president has since resigned. More shake-ups are likely. However, largely unspoken so far is an explanation for this failure, and what we can do about it.


— ALOE —

Kirsten Dunst tries to survive a divided America in ‘Civil War’ trailer” via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — Alex Garland‘s mysterious Civil War is coming into focus with its politically charged first trailer. As the trailer reveals, Dunst stars as a journalist living in a near future in which 19 states have seceded from the Union, with Western Forces (including California and Texas) and the “Florida Alliance” among those in the conflict. Meanwhile, the three-term President of the United States, played by Nick Offerman, has ordered airstrikes on U.S. soil against these forces. “Every time I survived a war zone, I thought I was sending a warning home: don’t do this,” Dunst’s character says as she attempts to reach Washington, even as forces close in on the city.

To watch the trailer, please click the image below:

‘Home Alone,’ ‘12 Years a Slave’ join National Film Registry” via Thomas Floyd of The Washington Post — As the star of “Home Alone” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Catherine O’Hara can only marvel at the news that both holiday movie classics have been added to the National Film Registry, the Library of Congress’s annual recognition of cinematic distinction, and reflect on her humble Ontario roots. “Lucky me, born in Canada,” quips O’Hara, now a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, during a phone interview Monday. “I’m glad they’re including me.” Joking about the honor conferred on two of her films by the Capitol Hill institution, she adds: “I hope the members of Congress can enjoy the films. It’ll help inform their legislative process, I’m sure.”


Ugly sweater contest? Carol-oke? Details about Hallmark Christmas Cruise trips from Florida” via Jennifer Sangalang of The Palm Beach Post — If you love Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, you might just fall in love with a Hallmark Channel Christmas Cruise. Alas, the “conflict” of this is that said cruise doesn’t actually take off until 2024 — but like those super sweet, somewhat predictable Hallmark holiday films, there is a simple, uncomplicated resolution: Plan your trip now, and everything will work out. Phew! Cue the happy music. Here’s what we know about the Hallmark Channel Christmas Cruise.

Want holiday fun? Hallmark Christmas Cruises has you covered.

What to know about Whamageddon: The holiday game thousands play by avoiding wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’” via Sadie Bell of People — Whamageddon is an annual tradition that a group of friends from Denmark started 18 years ago, as reported by The New York Times, which has continued to trend across the globe every year since. The rules, laid out on Whamageddon’s official website, are simple (but not so easy to follow, given the popularity of holiday music). As soon as Dec. 1 arrives, anyone can play by avoiding listening to Wham!’s “Last Christmas” until Dec. 24. Once you hear the 1986 hit — whether it accidentally queues up on a holiday party playlist or comes on while you’re out shopping for presents — you’re out. In that moment, players are encouraged to capture a photo or video of the moment and share it with the #Whamageddon hashtag on social media.

13 cold, stunned sea turtles from New England given holiday names as they rehab in Florida” via The Associated Press — This Rudolph will not be leading his pals Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Vixen, Comet and Cupid through the Christmas Eve sky, but maybe he will lead them back out to sea one day. For now, the seven Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and six of their pals have been given holiday-themed names as they are treated at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. Other names include Dreidel, Zawadi, Grinch and Elf. They were among 52 sea turtles flown to Tampa last week from the New England Aquarium in Massachusetts. They were suffering from a condition known as cold stun from the frigid waters in New England, which made them hypothermic. “They float at the surface, they can’t eat, they can’t dive and eventually wash up on shore,” said Marika Weber, a vet technician at Loggerhead.

The ‘Christmas Tree Boat’ shipwreck that devastated 1912 Chicagoans” via Jonathan Feakins of Atlas Obscura — On Nov. 23, 1912, the storm sweeping down from the north had ships running for cover throughout Lake Michigan — among them, a three-masted schooner, the Rouse Simmons, filled with thousands of evergreens. Having harvested its load from the coniferous forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Rouse Simmons was eagerly anticipated at its regular berth along the Chicago River. But with no sign of the ship by Thanksgiving, five days later, families of the crew began to fear the worst.

The mystery of the Rouse Simmons had Chicagoans baffled.

A white Christmas in Florida: Has it ever happened and what are the chances?” via Chelsea Robinson of WESH — As Dec. 25 grows nearer, some Floridians may wonder, is there any chance we will have a white Christmas? First, let’s answer the question of if this has ever happened. The answer is just a little complicated. Technically, according to the National Weather Service, a “white Christmas” is defined as having 1 inch or more of snow on the ground Christmas morning. There have been a couple of instances in Florida where we saw a “cold Christmas morning that featured some frozen precipitation.” For example, just last year, on Dec. 25, 2022, sleet fell in multiple towns in Brevard County as a strong cold front blasted the state over Christmas weekend.

Bah, humbugMan arrested after firing gunshots at Florida Christmas parade” via Rob Garguilo of WFLA — A man was arrested on Saturday for firing multiple gunshots at a Christmas parade after being “agitated” by the parade’s festivities. 43-year-old Douglas Moore became “agitated” by the parade festivities near his residence at 4182 County Road 218. Moore then discharged a firearm several times toward the area where people were participating in the parade. A deputy assigned to the parade heard the gunshots and responded, along with other deputies and the SWAT team. No one was injured during Saturday’s shooting. Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook praised the swift response of her deputies, stating, “I am thankful for the quick response by the deputies who ran toward the sound of gunfire to keep our community safe.”


Celebrating today are state Rep. David Borrero, Julie Ingoglia, Kyra Jennings, Judge Terry Lewis, Dinah Voyles Pulver, former Rep. David Santiago, and Ian Whitney.


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

Peter Schorsch

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


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704