Takeaways from Tallahassee — Grab the chocolate milk and go, go, go

Blue Tally Takeaways (5)
What a lovely morning for a run!

Running is a passion for some and a labor of love for others.

This weekend, running, walking, and rucking transcend exercise for the body and clarity for the mind and become an opportunity to see Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and other politicos at the Race for Our Heroes 5K at Tom Brown Park on what promises to be a beautiful Saturday morning.

And for the registered competitive types, there’s even an opportunity to take home a Challenge Coin if you place at the top in your respective categories.

Grab the chocolate milk and go, go, go.

The 5K is Nuñez’s brainchild. And like all good administrators, the Lt. Governor delegated the task of organizing the event to the people who can do what it takes to make it a reality.

So, she turned to Tallahassee running enthusiast and Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) Deputy Executive Director Bob Asztalos and Florida Veterans Foundation board member and Florida Health Care Association communications maven Kristen Knapp.

Bob Asztalos is a go-to guy for the Lt. Governor.

It makes sense given the duo in 2022 helped revitalize a Veterans Day 5K race put on by the group Vet Tally. Asztalos, himself a veteran, volunteered in 2022 to help Vet Tally with its 5K and, he said, “looped in” Knapp, also a running enthusiast, to help make it happen.

The pair mapped out a 5K route that starts at the Vietnam War Memorial, meanders through downtown Tallahassee, and finishes at the Korean War Memorial. In addition to mapping a new route, the race was renamed the Memorial-to-Memorial Veterans 5K.

Their efforts paid off. That year 135 people registered for the Memorial-to-Memorial Veterans 5K, raising thousands for Vet Tally. The race grew, attracting 199 registered runners in 2023 and raising even more money.

Knapp says their efforts have been a success but more importantly, she said, “It’s a privilege to coordinate.”

“So when the Lt. Gov. wanted to put on this race and she connected with Bob and Bob connected with me, of course, I said, ‘Sure, let’s do it,’” Knapp said. “We kind of have the secret sauce now for making something happen.”

As of Friday afternoon, 187 people had registered for the event. There are the usual suspects who appear at 5Ks. But they will be joined by Nuñez and some legislators — we are looking at you, Sens. Danny Burgess and Jay Collins — as well as the FDVA Executive Director, Maj. Gen. James Hartsell.

Proceeds from the race go to the Florida Veteran’s Foundation, which was initially established by the Legislature in 2008 as the FDVA’s tax-exempt public charity.

“The purpose of the Foundation is, if a veteran can’t get help anywhere else, the Foundation is there to help them. That’s really what they do,” Asztalos said.

That puts the Foundation on his work radar.

Making the event successful, though, goes beyond a work commitment for Asztalos.

He is striving to match Nuñez’s efforts for veterans, which, he says, are bar none.

“She visits our state veteran homes. And she sits down with the World War II veterans. There’s no press. It’s not an event. She just goes and sits and talks with them, listens to them and makes them feel special. That impresses the hell out of me,” Asztalos said.

Us, too.


Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel, and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

—Take 5 —

In the light: The Florida Legislature this week voted for a bill that would ease the unsealing of 2006 grand jury testimony and evidence in a Palm Beach County case against Jeffrey Epstein. Gov. Ron DeSantis quickly said he planned to sign the legislation into law. One of the enduring questions regarding Epstein — who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges — is how he only wound up getting charged by a grand jury with just one count of solicitation of prostitution. The legislation comes after an appeals court already ordered a judge to review, redact, and release the material following a lawsuit filed by The Palm Beach Post.

Here and gone: The Florida House quickly floated out and then rescinded the idea of bringing back runoff elections starting in 2026. House Speaker Paul Renner asked the House to consider the idea of requiring the top two candidates in a party primary to go to a runoff if no one won more than 50% of the vote. This is the way Florida used to handle elections until the early 2000s but the idea of bringing it back was promptly savaged by many Republican legislators. The change would have been part of an elections bill that also put new limits on the number of drop boxes. The bill was supposed to come up in a committee this past week, but the bill was postponed amid opposition from both parties. Renner later conceded the measure was dead for Session.

Offline: The Florida Legislature will send the Governor one of the nation’s strictest social media bans even though DeSantis has been skeptical of the effort. The bill was tweaked before it was passed by both chambers and sent to DeSantis, but it still prohibits minors under the age of 16 from being on many social media platforms, even if they have parental permission. The legislation also requires the use of age verification. DeSantis said on Friday that he had not looked at the changes made this week by legislators but that he would let lawmakers and the public know shortly whether he would support it.

Healthy Living: The Legislature also will be sending the Governor a sweeping health care bill (SB 7016) that directs $717 million to help boost the numbers of doctors and nurses and to fortify hospitals. A 2023 Department of Health report shows that about 98% of physicians work in urban counties and the remaining (less than 2%) work in offices and hospitals across 31 rural counties. In addition to the main bill, the Legislature also passed a second Live Healthy proposal (SB 7018), which, over the next decade, directs a $50 million appropriation to fund a Health Innovation Grant program.

Pressure building: A bill that would change Florida’s defamation laws cleared its final committee in the House and is now ready for the floor, but the legislation is coming under increased scrutiny from conservative media outlets and figures. Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and Newsmax were among those calling on state legislators to scuttle the legislation that has been sponsored by Rep. Alex Andrade in the House and Sen. Jason Brodeur in the Senate. Andrade tweaked the bill at its final stop by changing a provision dealing with where defamation lawsuits can be filed. But the bill remains stalled in the Senate so it’s not clear if the bill will pass by the end of Session.

— Pitch Day at the Capital —

The Department of Management Services and FloridaCommerce this week welcomed a slate of Israeli tech companies to Tallahassee for a “Pitch Day at the Capital.”

The Governor’s office said Florida and Israel share a “unique economic relationship, particularly in the technology sector,” and highlighted multiple Memorandums of Understanding and trade missions led by DeSantis.

The event, held in collaboration with SelectFlorida, the Florida Opportunity Fund and the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator, was attended by representatives from the Governor’s Office, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of State, Florida Department of Revenue, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Division of Emergency Management and Space Florida.

Ron DeSantis and a handful of state officials heard pitches from Israeli tech companies this week.

“In addition to our one-of-a-kind economic relationship, there is no greater friend to Israel and the Jewish people than the DeSantis administration,” said Nuñez. “Bringing more Israeli businesses to Florida cements both our economic and cultural ties at a time when our partnership has never been more important.”

Following remarks from Nuñez and Deputy Consul General Mike Driquez, 30 technology companies delivered pitch-style presentations to state agency leaders and procurement officials. Companies in the infrastructure, supply chain, cybersecurity, and health care industries presented ideas and technologies that could further bolster the resources and capabilities of state entities.

“Today’s event was an opportunity to strengthen the bond that Florida and Israel share by linking groundbreaking tools with the state that’s on the forefront of cybersecurity resilience,” said Department of Management Services Secretary Pedro Allende. “Israel has a long history of innovation, and we’re excited to find opportunities to collaborate.”

— Check twice —

Attorney General Ashley Moody is issuing a Consumer Alert to warn Floridians about fraudsters digitally altering checks, commonly called check cooking.

The process involves fraudsters taking photos of stolen checks and using digital tools to alter critical information, such as the payee’s name and the amount and then cashing the forgeries.

Recently, Moody’s Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit assisted law enforcement in an investigation involving a Tampa man who manipulated checks. The fraudster stole more than $50,000 from victims and now faces 30 years in prison.

Seriously, though. Have you considered using modern payment methods?

“Fraudsters are now digitally altering stolen checks to fill their own bank accounts while draining those of the victims — like a Tampa Bay resident who stole more than $50,000 before our Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit caught up with him. Although scary, staying informed will help Floridians avoid falling victim to digital check manipulation schemes,” Moody said.

Moody offers the following tips to help Floridians avoid falling victim to digital check manipulation:

— Secure Mailboxes: Check mailboxes regularly and talk to trusted neighbors to help keep a watchful eye to help prevent the theft of sensitive documents, including checks;

— Monitor Accounts: Constantly monitor bank and financial statements for any unauthorized or suspicious transactions;

— Check for Unusual Delays: Beware of unexpected delays in receiving mailed checks, as this could indicate potential tampering or theft; and

— Consider E-Checks: Contact financial institutions about using e-checks to make payments online, rather than risk using a physical check.

— CFO approved —

Elon Musk’s free speech advocacy and use of Starlink satellites to help hurricane victims in Florida mean he should receive the Nobel Peace Prize, according to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

Patronis wrote to the Sweden-based Nobel Foundation on Friday to throw his support behind Musk’s nomination, which Norwegian lawmaker Marius Nilsen floated earlier in the week.

“As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal, I felt compelled to share my enthusiasm for the work of Elon Musk and give him my wholehearted endorsement for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Patronis wrote.

Jimmy Patronis thinks this guy should get the Nobel Peace Prize. Image via AP.

“His tireless advocacy for two essential ideals, including free speech and universal internet access, has forever changed the world for the better. In a world increasingly caught up in censorship, cancel culture and digital divides, Musk’s beliefs shine as a beacon of progress, creating a path toward a brighter, more connected future for humanity.”

Musk, 52, is a business owner who has founded or led a slew of companies that made technological advances in the 21st century, including PayPal and SpaceX. He bought Twitter in 2022 after criticizing the way it censored and curated content. He has since rebranded the social media site as X.

Musk has styled himself as a “free speech absolutist” but has also threatened to sue journalists who criticized him. He also endorsed an antisemitic tweet in November 2023.

— Instagram of the week —

— The week in appointments —

Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court — DeSantis named Carlos Gamez and Christine Hernandez to judgeships in the 11th Circuit. Gamez has served as a County Judge for Miami-Dade County since 2020. Previously, he served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Miami. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and his law degree from the University of Miami. Hernandez has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida since 2018. Previously, she served as an Assistant State Attorney in the 11th Circuit. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and her law degree from the University of Miami.

Orange County Court — DeSantis named Jeramy Beasley and Mark Skipper to serve as judges on the Orange County Court. Beasley has worked as a litigation attorney for Garganese Weiss D’Agresta & Salzman P.A. since 2022. Previously, he served as the Director of Legal Services for the Hillsborough Regional Transit. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and his law degree from Florida A&M University. Skipper has worked as the sole practitioner for the Law Office of Mark A Skipper P.A. since 2007. Previously, he served as a Senior Attorney for the Florida Department of Children and Families. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Osceola County Court — The Governor appointed Celia Dorn and Juna Pulayya to serve as judges on the Osceola County Court. Dorn has worked as a Staff Attorney for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP since 2021. Previously, she was an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Kissimmee. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and her law degree from UF. Pulayya has served as a General Magistrate for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit since 2022. Previously, he was an Attorney for JMP Law, P.A. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UF and his law degree from FAMU.

Miami-Dade County Court — DeSantis appointed Jennifer Hochstadt and Jason Reding Quiñones to serve as judges on the Miami-Dade County Court. Hochstadt has served as an Assistant County Attorney in the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office since 2015. Previously, she was a law clerk for United States District Judge Martinez in the Southern District of Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and her law degree from the University of Miami. Quiñones has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida since 2018. Previously, he served as an attorney adviser for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UF and his law degree from Florida International University.

— Embrace your inner child —

Hands down, It’s the most wonderful time of Session.

Sunday marks the beginning of Children’s Week Florida an event that attracts thousands and strives to elevate the needs of children and youth — who often aren’t always represented by high-profile lobbyists — to Legislative leaders.

For the last 29 years, Children’s Week Florida has displayed in the Capitol and surrounding downtown streets, custom artwork of young children and their teachers.

Arguably the pièce de résistance is the Celebration of the Hands — construction paper color cutouts of children’s hands that dangle from the rotunda in the Capitol. The tiny cut-out hands greet visitors as soon as they enter the building, bringing smiles to faces and serving as a reminder that the children hold the future in their hands.

Come next week, the rotunda will be covered with hands.

Lt. Gov. Nunez is the keynote speaker at the Advocacy Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Monday night at the Leon County Civic Center. The Chiles Advocate Award, Impact Advocate Award, and Youth Advocate Award will be presented.

There’s a 30-minute news conference on Tuesday that will be attended by House Speaker-Designate Danny Perez and Senate President-Designate Ben Albritton. Additionally, lawmakers and FSU and FAMU “celebrities” will read to children in the Capitol Courtyard between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the North and South Capitol plazas which are being transformed into “Children’s Day Storybook Village and Legislature Lane.” Tuesday is capped off with a private screening of the acclaimed film, “Speak Life End Bullying the Musical,” and a VIP reception. That begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Challenger Learning Center.

The Women’s Club of Tallahassee plays host to an Early Learning Breakfast at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Kyle Baltuch will be presented with the Early Learning Leader Award. Moreover, 100 teenagers from across the state will descend upon the Capitol to learn more about the legislative process.

On Thursday, those who couldn’t make the trek to Tallahassee can attend a Zoom meeting and webinars.

Sunshine Health, Aetna Better Health, Humana Healthy Horizons in Florida, CareSource, Imaginecare, Farm Share, the Children’s Forum and Florida After School Inc. are helping to sponsor Children’s Week Florida 2024.

You’re invited!

To celebrate African American History Month, Sen. Geraldine Thompson and The Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture are hosting a gospel concert celebration on Saturday called “The Return.”

The featured singer is Maurette Brown Clark, who recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the President of the United States for her contribution to gospel.

One guess where Geraldine Thompson will be on Saturday.

Her most acclaimed song is “I Just Wanna Praise You.”

The 90-minute concert begins at 7:30 at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church, 535 W. Washington St., in Orlando.

Recognition but probably not PTO

It appears to be inching closer to reality.

The House this week passed a bill (HB 1227) that designates the fourth Thursday in March as Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day.

Initially sponsored by Reps. Bruce Antone and Doug Bankson, the bill passed the House by a 115-0 vote and every member agreed to also become co-sponsors of the bill.

“Today we finalized the step toward a day designated as the ‘Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day’ on the Fourth Thursday in March of each year,” Antone said.

The Tuskegee Airmen may get their day, but don’t expect any extra PTO.

The Senate companion, SB 1312, is on the Senate calendar and ready for a floor vote. It is identical to the House bill.

The Tuskegee Airmen were African American fighter pilots, who trained near Tuskegee Institute, now known as Tuskegee University. The pilots formed part of the 332nd Fighter Group which was comprised of four squadrons of African American pilots in the 15th Air Force during World War II. The squadrons were commonly referred to as the “Red Tails,” a nickname penned from the painted tails of 332nd fighter planes. The Red Tails flew more than 200 missions in the performance of defending heavy bombers from enemy interceptors.

The designation of a legal holiday in Florida statute does not mean that the day is a paid holiday. Legal holidays can and do impact contract timelines and deadlines. Legal holidays in Florida are:

—New Year’s Day, Jan. 1;

—Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 15;

—Birthday of Robert E. Lee, Jan. 19;

—Lincoln’s Birthday, Feb. 12;

—Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday, Feb. 15;

—Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February;

—Good Friday;

—Pascua Florida Day, April 2;

—Confederate Memorial Day, April 26;

—Memorial Day, the last Monday in May;

—Birthday of Jefferson Davis, June 3;

—Flag Day, June 14;

—Independence Day, July 4;

—Labor Day, the first Monday in September;

—Columbus Day and Farmer’s, the second Monday in October;

—Veterans Day, Nov. 11;

—General Election Day;

—Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November;

—Christmas Day, Dec. 25; and

—Shrove Tuesday, sometimes also known as “Mardi Gras,” in counties where carnival associations are organized to celebrate.

— ’Such a good solution’ —

Pharmacists may soon be on the front lines in the state’s efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDs.

The House unanimously passed HB 159 this week, sending the measure down to the Senate for consideration.

The bill authorizes pharmacists to screen adults for HIV exposure and to provide the results of such screening. The bill also establishes a process by which certain pharmacists who work under collaborative agreements with physicians may become certified to order and dispense postexposure prophylaxis.

HB 159 sponsor Rep. Gallop Franklin ran an amendment on the floor Wednesday that named the proposed new law the John W. Rheay Act. Rheay was the brother of Rep. Dana Trabulsy, who was brought to tears by the move.

On Thursday she tanked Gallop.

Gallop Franklin renamed his bill in honor of Dana Trabulsy’s deceased brother.

“Yesterday was an extremely emotional day for me. Hearing you read the words off the page to reflect on someone’s life that meant so much to me and so many other people. But I’m not alone. I’ve learned over the past few days that I’m not the only person in this chamber who has lost a sibling or a loved one to AIDs. So, we are not unique, and we are bound more to each other than we even know,” Trabulsy said.

Rep. Rita Harris also shared that she had lost a loved one to AIDS nearly 28 years ago.

“How I wish she had the opportunity for medication like this that might have saved her life. How I wish she were here to see all the ways that we have improved and how far we have come. But she’s not, and that’s OK because we are going to be saving lives with this bill,” she said.

Harris also said the legislation goes a long way to remove the stigma around AIDS.

“We are talking about this bipartisanly. We are people who come from all different walks of life who have experience with this and it’s touched us and it’s broken us and it’s made us emotional, and we are talking about it again. I think sometimes people don’t talk about it enough anymore. It’s not something people want to discuss. I get it. It’s scary. But we shouldn’t run from the things that are scary. We should face them and find solutions. And this is such a good solution,” she said.

The Senate companion bill is on the Rules Agenda for Monday.

— Another plate —

Florida already has more than 100 specialty license plates, but it simply wouldn’t be a Legislative Session without scads of bills seeking to give you decision anxiety the next time you go to the DMV.

In 2024, potential new options on the table include metal rectangles that would support the USO and honor the legacy of a multiplatinum Margarita aficionado. Another plate pitch by Democratic Rep. Katherine Waldron doesn’t fit the typical mold.

Her proposal (HB 121) would create “Overdose Awareness” specialty license plates. A portion of the annual use fees will go to help reverse the stigma of addiction and mental health through outreach and education. The language was folded into another bill (HB 403) which cleared the full House on Friday.

Katherine Waldron’s specialty plate proposal passed the House. Image via Colin Hackley.

“There is a growing mental health problem and substance use disorder in our state and in our country,” Waldron said, adding, “Almost everyone has a family member, friend or colleague who has been impacted by this problem.”

Proceeds from the sales of these plates will go toward the Project Addiction: Reversing the Stigma organization. The organization was founded by a group of residents who gathered in their grief after having lost a loved one to addiction and mental health.

— Fowl weather friend —

February marked a second and well-deserved Thanksgiving for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Investigator Gregory Todd Hoyle, who earned national honors for his work bringing an illegal turkey poacher to justice.

On Feb. 16, the National Wild Turkey Federation presented Hoyle with its National Wildlife Officer of the Year Award in recognition of a more than two-year probe he led that resulted in the arrest of Brent Hurst of Steinhatchee.

All told, Hoyle’s investigation revealed Hurst killed at least 150 wild gobblers, several during the closed season, and harvested far more than the seasonal bag limit for deer as well.

Todd Hoyle is presented with the National Wild Turkey Federation Wildlife Officer of the Year award. Photo courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Hoyle’s effort led to a search of Hurst’s house in Taylor County and a hunting camp in Lafayette County, where FWC authorities seized two shotguns, Hurst’s iPhone, 312 turkey feet, 155 turkey beards and 21 sets of deer antlers. Additional suspects have been identified and the investigation continues.

“Investigator Hoyle has put in countless hours protecting Florida’s natural resources,” National Wild Turkey Federation co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “His determination to provide justice for our natural resources and bring a habitual poacher to prosecution is a testament to his dedication.”

Hoyle said it was a “big surprise” to receive the award.

“Officers all over the country do a lot more important and significant work,” he said. “To win an award singling out the work we have done really means a lot and I am truly thankful.”

— Electric Boogaloo —

This Saturday, electric line workers from across Florida will convene at Jacksonville’s Metropolitan Park to show off their skills and craft knowledge during the 2024 Florida Lineman Competition Rodeo.

The annual event, established in 2001 by the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA), will see journeymen and apprentices compete for professional recognition, attend training courses and practice essential skills in a safe environment.

Attendees will get to see linemen do what linemen do best.

It remains to be seen whether anyone will be able to dethrone City of Tallahassee Utilities’ Blake Burns, Michael Patterson and Michael Gramling from the first-place post they earned last year in the Journeymen Class or if JEA’s Ryan Kornegay can be supplanted for the Apprentice Class’ top spot.

The Florida Lineman Competition Rodeo is technically a two-day event. Sign-ins, registration, written tests, and a welcome reception and vendor expo took place Friday. But the real fun starts with a 7:30 a.m. opening ceremony Saturday morning, followed by the competition at 9 a.m. and a 6-9 p.m. award banquet.

FMEA represents the unified interests of 33 public power communities in the Sunshine State that provide electricity to more than 3 million Florida residential and business consumers.

FAMU: Give us the money, we’ll deliver the results

Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson has a message to legislators: You have helped in the past and you can help even more this year.

Robinson, who for more than six years has been at the helm of the Historical Black College and University (HBCU) in Tallahassee, penned an op-ed this week where he detailed how the institution has fared in national rankings, athletics and student success. He pointed, for example, to how increased funding has helped FAMU’s School of Nursing, which saw nearly all of its students in spring 2023 pass a national licensure exam on the first try.

“Their success means more licensed FAMU nurses are in the state’s health care workforce,” wrote Robinson. “Results matter. Funding matters. We are seeing increases in our retention and graduation rates as part of our student success initiatives.”

Larry Robinson is highlighting FAMU’s successes and says the school is primed to continue its rise.

Robinson listed several items that FAMU is seeking during this year’s Legislative Session, including money to help accelerate efforts to be among top-ranked Florida universities as well as support high-profile academic programs and help with “pressing” infrastructure needs.

The request list includes $29 million to renovate the south wing of the School of Business and Industry, $19 million for the Chemical and Biological Laboratory Research Center and $13.1 million for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

“Our goals bear repeating,” Robinson said. “We aspire to become a leader among the SUS top-tier institutions; remain a top 100 national public university; rank in the top 10 for social mobility; a Carnegie Research 1 institution; and a top talent producer in STEM, health and business. I am pleased with our progress, and I am optimistic about our future. We are boldly striking.”

—A heady rush —

Music lovers tune in and science lovers bond.

A collaborative musical piece inspired by poetry, chemistry and relationships will be presented Saturday by two Florida State University faculty members as part of the 2024 Festival of the Creative Arts.

The “Sing with the Symphony” event includes two exciting premieres, including a new musical piece with text taken from the poem “Happy Chemicals,” written by David Kirby, a Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English. The final part of the poem will be set to music by assistant professor of Composition Liliya Ugay.

The performance will feature the University Symphony Orchestra along with the combined choirs of FSU. The event will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in the historic Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.

David Kirby and Liliya Ugay. Image via FSU.

“It is thrilling to consider the premiere of two large-scale works in this concert,” said Iain Quinn, festival director and the university’s Research Fellow in the Arts and Humanities. “I am deeply grateful to work with colleagues who have contributed such wonderful pieces to the festival.”

The performance will also feature the premiere of “The Seminole Overture” by Eren Gümrükçüoğlu, assistant professor of Composition and the finale of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major, performed by College of Music associate professor of Violin Benjamin Sung.

“One of my favorite parts of the festival is it is extremely student-oriented … it will be held all over campus and bring faculty and students from different disciplines together, merging new school with old school, electronic and digital — creating harmony and looking for common ground,” Kirby said.

Kirby described his incorporation of neuroscience into the poem and manipulated English conventions to evoke a specific feeling.

“The poem weaves a braid between chemistry, music and kissing — I even work in a little neuroscience at the end because I’d read an article in The New York Times about how the brain lights up when two people kiss,” Kirby said. “Generally, I’m a stickler for standard English, but here, I use no punctuation at all because I wanted everything to come out in a heady rush.”

— Capitol Directions —

Woodrow Wilson — Up arrow — At least he won Iowa.

South Carolina — Up arrow — Thank you for getting RD out of Tally for a few more days.

Plaza Level — Down arrow — SHE’S BAAAAAACKKKK.

Gov. DeSantis — Down arrow — Looks like the Legislature clipped the strings.

Homeowners — Up arrow — The tax break won’t refill their escrow account, but it’s something.

Casey DeSantis — Up arrow — One DeSantis still has sway in the Legislature.

Matt Gaetz — Up arrow — Ayyy, Gaetz 2026 is still alive.

Joseph Ladapo — Down arrow — Next week he’ll tell us it’s OK to lick raw chicken.

ARS Global — Down arrow — It takes more than $100K to make fraud charges go away in this economy.

Glen Gilzean — Crossways arrow — He’s going to star in the most boring Disney movie ever.

Kathleen Passidomo, Paul Renner — Double up arrows — Live Healthy and stop doom scrolling!

Lauren Book — Up arrow — Hope cards are heading to the Senate floor.

Jenn Bradley — Up arrow — The Criminal Justice Approps Subcommittee is in good hands.

Clay Yarborough — Up arrow — Cassie Carli would be proud.

Passidomo and Yarborough — Up arrow — Thanks for taking the Sinophobia down a few notches.

Lawrence McClure — Down arrow — Was he just trying to check if his colleagues were awake?

Alex Andrade — Crossways arrow — Well, room-temp garbage is better than hot garbage.

Randy Fine — Down arrow — He’s not just a sore loser. He’s also a sore winner.

Christine Hunschofsky — Crossways arrow — Congrats, you landed the only job worse than being a Corporal in Rico’s Roughnecks.

Fiona McFarland — Up arrow — Somehow, she wrangled all 17 CBCs to a strong consensus product and got DCF support.

Communism — Down arrow — Now a whole new generation will know how dumb ushankas look.

Epstein victims — Up arrow — Let’s see those records.

Cigars — Down arrow — Something tells us Chris Sprowls won’t be firing up an Oliva anytime soon!

Volunteer Florida — Up arrow — They’re making a lot of sharp-dressed men — and women.

Florida Aquarium — Up arrow — The penguins brought the rizz! Oh jeez, did we just say that?

Florida Network — Up arrow — Curious if #TheNetworkWorks? Take a look at that ROI.

Seminole Tribe — Up arrow — The state is going to need like a million slot buckets.

The Southern Group — Up arrow — What’s better: $35M or bragging rights? Luckily, they don’t have to choose.

Old phone bank on 5th floor — Down arrow — So, who’s still nostalgic for the 80!?!?

Capital YRs — Up arrow — The grift is over and the adults are back in charge! Congrats to Jesse Christian, Ted Veerman, Jason Puwalski and Kristin Quirk.

Jack Porter — Up arrow — A late apology is better than no apology.

Richard McCullough — Up arrow — The FSU Prez knows how to put on a concert.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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