Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.9.24

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Heat up your day with a dose of Sunburn, the premier first read of Florida politics and policy.

Good Thursday morning.

John Deere tractors and other farm equipment dotted the National Mall as contractors held an Ag On The Mall event. Associations from the International Fresh Produce Association to the American Soybean Association lobbied lawmakers directly as Congress prepares an overdue Farm Bill.

Both U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack and Darren Soto, the lone Florida lawmakers on the House Agriculture Committee, could be spotted touring the heavy machinery parked near their Washington offices.

“It was great to see the emerging technologies that support our farmers, ranchers and producers across the country,” read a post from Cammack’s official X account. The Gainesville Republican also shared photos of herself as a “Celebration of Modern Agriculture” hearing about sustainability practices.

Darren Soto and Kat Cammack represent two sides of the same coin.

Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, showed a picture of himself biting into a fresh pepper, as well as having discussions with equipment manufacturers about the future of farming. “As a member of the Ag Committee, I will continue to advance technology in the #FarmBill to improve yields, lower costs and help feed America,” Soto posted.

The lawmakers also spoke with Florida Politics in recent weeks about the protracted drafting of the Farm Bill, with each suggesting that Summer is a critical month in preparing legislation taken up by Congress only twice a decade.

Each said Florida has a tremendous amount at stake in the bill, especially as the industry continues to recover from Hurricane Ian, which in 2022 devastated the industry with a 40% crop loss and touched thousands of acres of farmland.

Cammack, a Gainesville Republican, hopes to see a markup held on the Farm Bill by Memorial Day. She’s confident Florida’s needs will be addressed in the bill despite the Sunshine State having just two representatives on the 54-member House Agriculture Committee.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work over the last couple of years and making sure that, despite us not having a lot of members representing Florida interests on the Committee, we have very vocal members on the Committee,” she said. “At the end of the day, I think that is what matters.”


After a wave of ads blasting him went on air in Northeast Florida, Rep. Tom Leek’s campaign for state Senate is rolling out a counterattack.

Leek’s new is a response to the political committee The Truth Matters, which has peppered Senate District 7 with flyers, launched an anti-Leek website, and now spent money on broadcast time.

The ads assert the four-term Representative merely “claims to be a Republican but his record is not conservative.” Leek’s response: BS.

“You wouldn’t trust a vegetarian to pick a steakhouse, so don’t trust the liberal lawyers attacking Tom Leek, they’re full of shit,” a narrator says in the ad, which started running Friday.

“Tom Lee fought the waste fraud and abuse, driving up prices. That’s why billboard personal injury lawyers are attacking him. Who’s endorsed Tom Leek? Every local Sheriff, our conservative State Attorney and both America First Congressmen,” the ad continues.

“They know what the Democrats know: Tom Leek is the conservative liberals fear.”

It’s not entirely clear who is behind the ads attacking Leek, who is widely considered the front-runner for SD 7, although signs do point to trial lawyers. Florida Politics previously reported that The Truth Matters is chaired by former AIF General Counsel Erika Alba, who now works for Ponte Vedra-based personal injury law firm Woolsey Morcom.

Leek is widely considered the front-runner to succeed exiting Sen. Travis Hutson. Retired professional wrestler Gerry James will also be on the Primary ballot, but his fundraising is dwarfed by Leek’s and SD 7’s partisan lean all but assures the district’s next Senator will be decided Aug. 20 rather than November.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:


@JaredEMoskowitz: Looks like (Mike) Johnson got Trump in the divorce.

@MDixon55: Florida GOP finalized its at-large RNC delegates Some notable names on the list, including @EricTrump @DonaldJTrumpJr @kimguilfoyle Ike Perlmutter And maybe most notable, upcoming high school graduate Baron Trump is on the list Baron is an at large Florida delegate

Tweet, tweet:


@MarcACaputo: Tomorrow @SenRickScott meets Trump @ Trump Tower, rides w/the candidate/defendant to the courthouse & might join him in trial for a time Trump & Scott could give a press avail. The Senator isn’t bound by the gag order limiting Trump Scott 1st has a 6 a.m. Fox interview

Tweet, tweet:


@MattZollerseitz: For years on here I’ve been talking about how the fortunes of tech companies are built on destroying artists, and now @apple has an ad celebrating it.


‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 1; ‘The Blue Angels,’ a feature documentary from J.J. Abrams opens in IMAX theaters — 8; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 9; French Open begins — 11; Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 12; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 13; Monaco Grand Prix — 17; Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 23; the 2024 World Cup begins — 33; DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 36; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 38; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 50; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 53; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 54; Republican National Convention begins — 65; the 2024 World Cup ends — 69; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 74; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 77; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 78; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 81; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 99; Florida Primary Election — 103; Democratic National Convention begins — 103; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 107; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 107; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 115; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 120; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 120; first Presidential Debate — 130; Vice Presidential Debate — 139; second Presidential Debate — 145; third Presidential Debate — 153; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 162; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 165; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 174; 2024 Presidential Election — 180; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 193; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 207; MLS Cup 2024 — 208; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 278; the 2025 Oscars — 297; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 299; 2025 Session ends — 359; ‘Moana’ premieres — 409; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 440; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 440; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 546; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 588; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 725; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 742; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 953; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,093; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,052; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,774.


Judges sound skeptical about Ron DeSantis push for executive privilege” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Judges on a Florida appeals court sounded skeptical Tuesday about assertions by DeSantis that he can sidestep the state’s public records laws by asserting he has executive privilege — a right that has not been recognized previously in state law.

Ron DeSantis tries to push the envelope on executive privilege.

The highly watched case before the 1st District Court of Appeals could have repercussions for media organizations and members of the public and allow DeSantis and future Governors a way to shield records detailing deliberations and discussions inside the Governor’s office.

But at the same time the three judges on the panel also acknowledged that they could sidestep the entire legal question and reject the underlying lawsuit for other reasons, including that it was brought by an anonymous person.

Philip Padovano, a former appeals court judge representing the person suing the DeSantis administration, urged the judges to address whether the Governor has executive privilege even if the panel rejected the lawsuit for other reasons.


As UF pro-Palestinian protesters chant, DeSantis touts response to campus ‘nonsense’” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Protesters chanted “Free Palestine” and other slogans nonstop at the University of Florida on Wednesday as DeSantis touted the efforts by Florida universities to prevent the “nonsense” happening on other campuses across the country. DeSantis never acknowledged the dozens of protesters as he criticized how Columbia, UCLA and other schools have dealt with the encampments, occupation of school buildings and disruption of graduation ceremonies. “We don’t do that here in the state of Florida. And so, they did have an encampment here, and it lasted about a few minutes,” DeSantis said. Even though protesters were banned from setting up tents on the UF campus, they have maintained a 24/7 presence by maintaining their spot in shifts, according to the Independent Alligator, the student-run newspaper.

UF protests, while DeSantis calls it ‘nonsense.’ Image via WUFT.

Solid deep-dive on a horrible bill signed into lawNo shade, no water, no breaks: DeSantis’ new law threatens Florida outdoor worker health” via Kate Cimini of the Fort Myers News-Press — In South Florida, one of the state’s hottest regions, María González works outdoors cleaning planes. González spends her nights on the airport tarmac doing deep cleans of planes — scrubbing away feces, vomit, animal and human hair and more. Often, she said, airline staff turn off the plane’s air conditioning to save gasoline and money, and let it sit on the asphalt, which radiates heat. “Hay mucho calor, entonces uno sude y sude y sude,” González said. “El calor se duplica ahora porque empiece el verano.” In English: it gets so hot on the planes as she cleans that she can’t stop sweating. And in the Summer? The heat doubles.

DeSantis signs law protecting info of Floridians who sign up for property scam notifications” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis has just signed legislation to make it safer for Floridians to sign up for services that notify them of a potential property scam or fraud. The measure (HB 285), which lawmakers unanimously approved this past Session, became effective upon receiving the Governor’s signature. In short, it protects the private information of people who sign up for recording notification services (RNS) — typically free programs that inform deed holders if a document has been filed to change ownership of their property. Those programs, including one under Broward County Property Appraiser Marty Kiar, help counteract deed fraud, a growing problem where scammers file fake deeds to steal houses from their rightful owners.

DeSantis appoints Carson Good to Board of Governors” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis appointed Good, president of Good Capital Group, to the Florida Board of Governors for Florida’s universities. He fills a vacancy on the Board and one of 14 seats for the 17-member Board appointed by the Governor. He also served on DeSantis’ Economic Transition Committee. Good also serves on the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, to which DeSantis re-appointed Good in 2022. The Orlando area leader has also served as Chair of the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission and was a Board member of Orange County Parks and Recreation. In the private sector, Good serves as a Board member of Alpine Income Property Trust, a private real estate investment company providing capital operators and making direct investments specifically within Florida.

DeSantis taps Carson Good for the Florida University Board of Governors.

Jimmy Patronis tells Donald Trump to tap unclaimed $54K for fight against ‘BS charges’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — CFO Patronis wants to make Trump whole, at least in the Sunshine State, so that the former President can fight the “very nasty people coming after” him in court. Patronis has alerted Trump that he, his family members and businesses have more than $54,000 worth of unclaimed property in Florida — commonly uncashed checks, dormant bank accounts, stocks and dividends — that they should retrieve through Florida’s Treasure Hunt program. “There are some very, very nasty people coming after you, and every dollar matters in your efforts to fight back against these radical state attorneys who have weaponized the courts,” Patronis wrote in a short but effusively praiseful letter.

Happening today — Patronis will host a Keeping Policyholders First Roundtable discussion, joined by state legislators, insurance industry leaders, regulators, and stakeholders: 2:30 p.m., Biltmore Hotel, Aragon Room, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables. If additional information is needed, contact Ryan Walker at [email protected] before the event.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Abortion rights advocates warn that Florida women seeking an abortion must travel hours out of state” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Under Florida’s new six-week abortion ban, women needing abortions are forced to travel to Charlotte, North Carolina — the closest city to the Sunshine State’s borders that offers the medical procedure. One Florida doctor warned the waitlist is too long in North Carolina, so she sends her patients as far away as Pittsburgh, Chicago, and New York. Medical providers and advocates warned about the consequences from the state’s abortion ban that went into effect this month and vowed to fight back in front of a friendly pro-abortion-rights crowd Wednesday during the League of Women Voters of Orange County’s Hot Topics luncheon in Winter Park. Floridians will decide in November where to limit government intervention on Amendment 4.

Florida women seeking a safe abortion will need to plan an extensive road trip.

— 2024 — PRESIDENTIAL & DC —

Court of Appeals to consider Fani Willis removal in Trump Georgia election case” via Bill Rankin, Tamar Hallerman and David Wickert via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — The Georgia Court of Appeals decided to hear an appeal of a Judge’s ruling allowing District Attorney Willis to remain at the helm of Fulton County’s election interference case against former Trump. The court’s decision almost certainly means a significant delay of a trial here for Trump and his 14 co-defendants and signals that Willis could still be disqualified from the case, the biggest in her career and one she spent years assembling. It is unclear how long the busy appeals court will take to decide the issue, but it could stretch into 2025. “There’s no way this case gets to trial this year,” said Atlanta defense attorney Andrew Fleischman, who is closing following the case.

Georgia’s Court of Appeals will revisit Fani Willis’ removal.

RFK Jr. says doctors found a dead worm in his brain” via Susanne Craig of The New York Times — In 2010, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was experiencing memory loss and mental fogginess so severe that a friend grew concerned he might have a brain tumor. Several doctors noticed a dark spot on the younger Kennedy’s brain scans and concluded that he had a tumor, he said in a 2012 deposition reviewed by The New York Times. Kennedy was immediately scheduled for a procedure at Duke University Medical Center by the same surgeon who had operated on his uncle, he said. While packing for the trip, he said, he received a call from a doctor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital who had a different opinion: Kennedy, he believed, had a dead parasite in his head.

Kevin McCarthy vs. Matt Gaetz: The GOP’s never-ending feud” via Olivia Beavers of POLITICO — McCarthy backed Gaetz’s new Florida GOP Primary challenger; a top McCarthy adviser also acknowledged playing a role in vetting that opponent, Aaron Dimmock. And McCarthy delivered a slashing attack on Gaetz, who led the effort to overthrow him as speaker last Fall. “Gaetz is the Hunter Biden of the Republican Party,” McCarthy said. “He’s got an opponent who is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, trained at Pensacola, went to the Naval Academy and flew jets to defend us while Gaetz was getting kicked out of high school, buying coke and paying minors for sex.” Gaetz responded by inviting McCarthy to appear in the district with Dimmock, arguing it would be a boon for his campaign: “I whooped Kevin McCarthy in Washington. I don’t think he’s going to fare better when I’m playing home-field advantage in North Florida.”


Bill Posey endorses Randy Fine for Florida Senate” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice — Republican U.S. Rep. Posey announced his endorsement of state Rep. Fine, a Palm Bay Republican, as Fine vies for a state Senate seat this November. “I am especially pleased to endorse Rep. Randy Fine in his campaign for the Florida Senate because of his interest, knowledge, and continuing support of Activity-Based Total Accountability,” Posey said. “Taxpayers are best served by representatives with not only the willingness but the demonstrated ability, to demand transparency and accountability of government resources like Randy Fine has,” he added. Fine thanked Posey for the endorsement, highlighting their strong relationship over the years.

Randy Fine gets a big thumbs-up from Bil Posey.

JJ Grow’s quest for HD 23 seat kicks into gear” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — The race two years ago was a dress rehearsal. Now it’s the real deal for Grow. Grow, an Inverness agribusinessman, is well into his race for House District 23 to replace Rep. Ralph Massullo, who is termed out after eight years in office. With five weeks until qualifying, Grow’s only Republican challenger is Tod Cloud, a retired Florida Highway Patrol trooper who ran for the same spot two years ago and finished second in a three-candidate race, well behind Massullo. Democrat Judith Vowels awaits the Republican Primary winner. Grow had kicked off his campaign in 2022 when Massullo was thought to be running for SD 11. Massullo instead sought re-election after DeSantis endorsed Massullo’s Senate opponent, Blaise Ingoglia.

Firefighters line up behind Vicki Lopez in HD 113 — The Florida Professional Firefighters want Rep. Lopez in Tallahassee for another two years. Lopez’s campaign said in a news release that FPF, which represents over 28,000 Florida firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, officially offered their endorsement to her campaign. “I’m grateful to the Florida Professional Firefighters and 6th District Vice President David Perez for supporting me and my campaign for re-election,” Lopez said. “The brave firefighters and EMS across our state work around the clock to keep our communities safe, and we are indebted to them for their service. I would be honored to continue representing their interests in the Florida Legislature.”

Happening tonight:

Another donor ponies up big for hunting and fishing rights ballot initiative” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The International Order of T. Roosevelt’s affiliated “T. Roosevelt Action” political committee is pouring a quarter-million dollars into Amendment 2 in November.” We are thrilled to announce a contribution of $250,000 to the ‘Yes on 2!’ Committee in Florida, advocating for the passage of the constitutional right to fish and hunt amendment,” said Luke Hilgemann, CEO of T. Roosevelt Action and national Chair of Yes on 2. “At T. Roosevelt Action, we are proud to take a leadership role in this crucial effort, demonstrating our commitment to forever protect the cherished fishing, hunting, and conservation traditions in Florida for all to enjoy.”

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami Beach City Hall barricaded ahead of pro-Palestinian protest aimed at Congresswoman” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — Barricades surrounded Miami Beach City Hall and dozens of police officers descended on the area Tuesday morning in anticipation of a pro-Palestinian rally calling on U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson to withdraw her support for Israel’s war in Gaza. Protesters had advertised the event as taking place at Wilson’s Miami Beach satellite office, located in City Hall. But police sought to ensure that the rally didn’t take place inside or directly outside the building. An officer said the group could stand in a designated “First Amendment zone” in nearby Pride Park but ultimately allowed the protesters to instead set up on the swale next to the sidewalk across from City Hall on 17th Street. Police appeared to outnumber protesters, with more than two dozen uniformed Miami Beach officers and several Miami-Dade officers in the area.

Pro-Palestine protesters force Miami Beach City Hall to barricade.

Miami to vote Thursday on new map after gerrymandering lawsuit” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A year-and-a-half legal battle to redraw Miami’s district boundaries to ones devoid of racial consideration may finally conclude Thursday with a City Commission vote. Members of the five-person panel are scheduled to decide whether to accept a settlement agreement between the city, local civil rights groups and the American Civil Rights Union (ACLU). Under the agreement, the city would adopt a map the plaintiffs drew and cover their more than $1.5 million litigation fees. If approved, the agreement dictates that the new map would be effective for the November 2025 Municipal Elections and any Special Election before.

‘We cannot afford it’: Miami-Dade’s Waste Director resisted Daniella Levine Cava’s $269M office deal” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Levine Cava’s plan to move Miami-Dade’s Solid Waste Department into a $269 million office complex had an early detractor last year: her solid waste director. “The cost is too high, and we cannot afford it,” Olga Espinosa-Anderson said in an Oct. 16 email to Alex Muñoz, the department director overseeing real estate deals for Levine Cava. The objections from Espinosa-Anderson, then interim director of the Department of Solid Waste Management, didn’t gain traction, even though the cash-starved agency in charge of the county’s garbage collection expected its office rent to double after the planned move.

‘Your law-and-order candidate’: Joe Sanchez debuts TV ads for Miami-Dade Sheriff’s race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Sanchez is launching his first TV ad campaign to support his bid for Miami-Dade Sheriff. It highlights what he sees as a stark difference between him and other leading candidates. The ads are running on Fox News, Telemundo and América TeVé. Sanchez’s campaign said the initial ad buy will be for a five-figure sum, but the campaign plans to stay on the air throughout the election season with “strategic buys.” A 30-second spot shared with Florida Politics depicts Sanchez describing himself as “your law-and-order candidate” for county Sheriff. He notes that he’s lived in Miami-Dade all his life, “unlike other candidates who live in Broward.” “I’ve been a Republican all my life,” he continues.

Joe Sanchez hits the airwaves with his first campaign ad.

A school without enrollment issues may be closed. Hollywood wants Broward to reconsider” via Raisa Habersham of the Miami Herald — Hollywood city officials are asking Broward County Public Schools to reconsider its proposal to permanently close Oakridge Elementary School, which serves a predominantly Black neighborhood in the city. Broward County is considering closing anywhere from three to 42 public schools because of declining enrollment. Oakridge is not under-enrolled. In a letter to Superintendent Howard Hepburn, Hollywood City Manager George Keller said that City Commissioners are adamant that they don’t want any public schools to close. He noted that Oakridge specifically “has historically been a strong neighborhood school where most of the students come from the immediate surrounding neighborhood and under-enrollment is not a concern.”

Palm Beach County takes next step with $200 million in affordable housing funds” via Abigail Hasebroock of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A batch of developers have applied for shot at a portion of the $200 million pool of funds set aside for affordable housing in Palm Beach County as hundreds of new affordable housing units may come into the pipeline. County Commissioners this week approved funding for three projects that would pull from the bond: Calusa Point II, an affordable 168-unit multifamily housing project in Belle Glade, which requested about $7.56 million; Community Land Trust, which would bring four single-family villages with two units each for eight total units in various sites across Lake Worth Beach requested $1.6 million; and Residences at Marina Village, an affordable 148-unit multifamily housing project in Riviera Beach requested about $4.7 million.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Osceola agency eases public records policy that likely broke state law” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Osceola Property Appraiser Katrina Scarborough removed language from her agency’s website that said citizens must pay $25 to submit a public records request, a practice the newspaper’s attorney and open government advocates deemed illegal. Scarborough said it was never her intent to charge for records requests. However, text on the appraiser’s site, which appeared under the header “public records request,” was hyperlinked to a page prompting requesters to enter their credit card information. “If you are looking for information other than property data, please submit a public records request by clicking here. There is a $25 charge to process your request,” the website read. The state allows agencies to charge for public records requests, but the fee must be based on an estimate of the time it would require an employee to fill the request, which could include redacting documents, compiling data or making copies.

Katrina Scarborough retcons language on her agency’s website that illegally requires fees for public records requests.

Orlando’s proposed stormwater fee hike sparks outrage” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Faced with century-old pipes, wetter hurricanes and a rapidly growing population, Orlando leaders say they need more money to fund maintenance and upgrades to systems that remove rainwater from neighborhood streets. On the hook for that are property owners in the city, who likely will pay stormwater fees that are more than double the current rate in coming years to cover the need. That alone would have aggravated some residents, but an April letter to affected homeowners had some believing the increases were even larger than the city is actually proposing, fanning the flames. A second letter outlining each property owner’s proposed fees was issued recently to clarify matters.

Brevard County approves $5M in funding for Brightline Cocoa station in a close vote” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — A future Brightline train station in Brevard County became one step closer to reality when the Board of County Commissioners approved $5 million of tourism money to go toward a stop in Cocoa. Commissioners Jason Steele, Rita Pritchett and Tom Goodson voted in favor of the grant money for the station project, while Commissioners John Tobia and Rob Feltner opposed the measure. Brightline, along with the city of Cocoa, envisions the future station as an “intermodal” hub that would include shopping and dining options in the area for travelers, along with the potential for nearby multifamily residential construction with easy access to the station.


Pasco County educator Lisa Yeager to run for late County Commissioner’s seat” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Yeager, a conservative who previously served as the director of the Teen Parent Program for Pasco County Schools, has filed to run for Pasco County Commission in District 4. She’s running to fill the remaining term of the late Commissioner Gary Bradford, who died last month after a battle with leukemia. Yeager, a Republican, is the third candidate to file for the race. She joins fellow Republican Christina Fitzpatrick and Democrat Daniel Ackroyd-Isales in the race so far. The candidates are running in a Special Election to be held concurrently with regularly scheduled 2024 Primary and General Elections. “I believe that people deserve to have a fighter working for them every day in public office,” Yeager said.

Conservative educator Lisa Yeager seeks an empty seat on the Pasco County Commission. Image via Lisa Yeager campaign.

FDOT: New Howard Frankland Bridge could open this year” via Tim Wronka of Spectrum News — “If you’re driving across the bay, you really get to see the progress,” said FDOT project manager David Alonso. “We’re over 50% complete now.” Alonso said the project, which started in 2020, is the largest bridge being built in Florida by deck area. FDOT officials say crews have placed nearly 70% of the deck, which is what cars will eventually be driving on. They’ve also already driven 100% of the pilings, the long poles that support the new bridge. Alonso said that means crews should be done with the water part of the project soon. Barring any major issues — a busy hurricane season, for example — Alonso said he hopes to have the new bridge open to traffic later this year.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Jaguars stadium renovation deal will be announced Tuesday, City Council President says” via Hanna Holthaus and David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The Jaguars and Mayor Donna Deegan have reached a deal for renovations of the stadium, City Council President Ron Salem announced. “The Mayor reached out to me late yesterday afternoon to inform me that the executive branch and the Jaguars have reached an agreement on the stadium renovation,” Salem said at the beginning of a joint meeting with the Duval County School Board Wednesday morning. The Mayor’s office and consultants have led the city’s negotiations since August and will present the proposed agreement to the Council at the next regular meeting on Tuesday. “We have reached an agreement on the framework of a deal,” Deegan said in a statement Wednesday. “The negotiating team is currently putting the final details on paper, and we will release that information as soon as it is available.”

Donna Deegan is ready to unveil the agreement to renovate the Jaguars’ stadium.

Jaguars stadium deal will be a challenge for Mayor Donna Deegan unlike any other” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Deegan’s administration and the Jacksonville Jaguars have reached an agreement on financing a major renovation of EverBank Stadium, Council President Salem said Wednesday, but details on the big-ticket deal, including how much taxpayers will put up, remain a closely held secret by the Mayor’s office. That agreement will represent one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in the city’s history and, if the 19-member City Council signs off on the financing, a term-defining achievement for Deegan — though not one without some risk for a Mayor who ran on a promise to shake up the established order.

Baptist Health settles with Justice Department over Medicare costs. Here’s what to know” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville’s Baptist Health System Inc. will pay the federal government $1.5 million after self-reporting that its subsidiaries offered Medicare patients discounts that the U.S. Justice Department said violated a law against kickbacks, the department reported. The health system, which operates hospitals and emergency centers across Northeast Florida, “took significant steps entitling it to credit for cooperating with the government’s investigation,” the agency said in a release. A Baptist spokesperson issued a statement that the hospital chain “made a voluntary self-disclosure of outdated courtesy discount practices.”

FAMU Board of Trustees calls special meeting amid questions over $237 million donation” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — FAMU’s Board of Trustees Chair Kristin Harper has called a special Board meeting regarding a controversial $237 million donation that was recently gifted to FAMU by Batterson Farms Corporation CEO Gregory Gerami. The call comes after days of swirling skepticism and mounting questions. On Tuesday, Board of Trustees Vice Chair Deveron Gibbons urged FAMU President Larry Robinson and Harper to convene an “emergency” meeting for more “transparency” about the sizable donation that was announced Saturday. While university officials say they are bound by an NDA on details of the donation, Gerami said Monday afternoon that he does not know “where the confusion or the skepticism would be” since the stock has been in FAMU’s possession for more than a month.


Southwest Florida may keep flood insurance discounts after all as FEMA re-evaluates” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Southwest Florida residents may get to keep their discount flood insurance rates after all, as discussions between local governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) revealed a series of “miscommunications.” In March, the federal agency informed five communities in Lee County, including the county itself, that their shoddy rebuilding practices after Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic hit in September 2023 meant the communities were at risk of losing their discounts on federal flood insurance — as much as 25% in annual premiums. The communities protested, calling it a “late, devastating blow” and casting FEMA as a “villain.” Both Florida’s Senators wrote letters admonishing the agency.

FEMA could allow SW Florida homeowners to keeping flood insurance discounts.

Sarasota School Board rejects Title IX protections against gender identity discrimination” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Following a five-hour meeting, the Sarasota County School Board approved a resolution to reject new federal protections against gender identity discrimination in a divisive 4-1 vote. The vote came as Board member Bridget Ziegler brought forward the resolution to reject the new Title IX regulations days ahead of the meeting. Not following federal regulations could put the district’s federal funding at risk — about $50 million annually that goes toward schools with a high number of students from lower-income families who benefit from free and reduced lunch programs, among others. Board member Tom Edwards cast the dissenting vote.

Months after threesome scandal, Bridget Ziegler attacks protections for Florida transgender students” via Jacob Ogles of the Advocate

Marco Island City Council elections deadline approaches” via J. Kyle Foster of the Naples Daily News — Marco Island City Council could look very different come November. Four of seven seats are up for election and a fifth will open with the imminent resignation of Greg Folley so he can run for state Representative. Chai Jared Grifoni is ineligible to seek re-election after two consecutive terms in office. Becky Irwin and Joe Rola are in their first terms and can run again but both say they are undecided about whether they will do so. Rich Blonna, who also is completing his first term, has begun collecting signatures and started a re-election campaign website. The Marco Island City Council election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in conjunction with the countywide General Election.

2 new candidates file for Venice Council Seat 3; incumbent seeks second term in Seat 4” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Venice voters will choose between at least two new faces for Seat 3 on the City Council this November, with incumbent Helen Moore declining to seek a third term, while the Seat 4 incumbent, Vice Mayor Jim Boldt, plans to seek a second term on the Council. Moore has met one of two people who have filed to succeed her in Seat 3, Kevin Engelke, but not the other candidate, Patricia Ouellette. While Engelke and Ouellette have not knowingly crossed paths yet either, both live on the island of Venice and both are members of the Venice Yacht Club. Moore, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Company, called the requirement to serve on Venice City Council “a heavy lift.”

Appointed Paul Applegarth, CEO of Value Enhancement International, to the Florida Gulf Coast University Board of Trustees.

Residents report sewage gurgling out of manholes in Manatee County on Cinco de Mayo” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Residents reported sewage flowing out of manholes on Cinco de Mayo in Manatee County. The Manatee County Utilities Department responded to reports of wastewater gurgling up utility holes on 14th Street West and 53rd Avenue West in Bradenton at about 5:45 p.m. on May 5. Staff found the issue was caused by a grease mat in a nearby lift station that prevented floats from operating properly, resulting in discharge from five different maintenance holes. About 1,550 gallons of wastewater were discharged before county staff broke up the grease mat and manually turned the lift station pumps on.


No one knows what universities are for” via Derek Thompson of The Atlantic — In 2014, the political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg published “The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters,” in which he bemoaned the multi-decade expansion of “administrative blight.”

From the early 1990s to 2009, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew 10 times faster than tenured faculty positions, according to Department of Education data. Although administrative positions grew especially quickly at private universities and colleges, public institutions are not immune to the phenomenon. In the University of California system, the number of managers and senior professionals swelled by 60% from 2004 to 2014.

How and why did this happen? Some of this growth reflects benign, and perhaps positive, changes to U.S. higher education. More students are applying to college today, and their needs are more diverse than those of previous classes. Today’s students have more documented mental health challenges. They take out more student loans. Expanded college sports participation requires more athletic staff. Increased federal regulations require new departments, such as disability offices and quasi-legal investigation teams, for sexual assault complaints.

As the modern college has become more complex and multifarious, there are simply more jobs to do. And the need to raise money to pay for those jobs requires larger advancement and alumni-relations offices — meaning even more administration.

But many of these jobs have a reputation for producing little outside of meeting invites. “I often ask myself, What do these people actually do?” Ginsberg told me last week. “I think they spend much of their day living in an alternate universe called Meeting World. I think if you took every third person with vice associate or assistant in their title, and they disappeared, nobody would notice.”


With cultivated meat ban, Florida drags the right into the left’s anti-science idiocy” via David Mastio of the Miami Herald — So, DeSantis has signed a law that will protect me from one of my greatest fears: that the rib-eye I am eating is Frankenfood grown in a lab somewhere. In America, food politics has become identity politics. As a result, it is only going to get more toxic. Liberals are going to micromanage your choice of drinking utensil while conservatives protect you from being confused by advertisements for Impossible Meat that make you think it comes from a steer. Pantry police progressivism is now competing with the conservative catering cops.

Drilling for oil: We do not want this for our beautiful state” via Craig Reeder of Your Turn — I lived for 10 years in Houston while working in the oil and gas industry, and I can tell you this: if we invite oil drilling in, there will be spills, there will be pollution, there will be spoilage and degradation, but right now, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has said that instead of protecting our environment, it plans to approve a permit for drilling in the Apalachicola River flood plain. Are we willing to trade the natural beauty of our home here in north Florida for short-term economic gain? Sure, drilling operators have safeguards and technology to prevent spills and pollution, and government entities like the EPA have rules and regulations for drilling operations, but there is no way to avoid the hard truth: oil drilling is a dirty business.

Brevard votes to spend hotel taxes on rail. Orange still refuses” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Hotel taxes are a good example. You might have a sensible question like: If this county has millions of extra dollars in hotel taxes, why are you asking me to raise sales taxes on myself? The politicians will respond by citing Chapter 125.0104 of the Florida statutes, directing you to subparagraph 1 under “authorized uses of revenue.” The goal is to overwhelm you in the hopes that you’ll stop asking. But fear not. I’m here today to simplify things with a Q&A. Think of it as “Hotel Taxes for Dummies.” … If Brevard County is willing to spend hotel taxes on transit, why won’t leaders in Orange County do the same? Because a lot of Orange County leaders are spineless weenies.

Imposing net-neutrality regulations would be a step backward” via Mark Jamison for the Orlando Sentinel — Net neutrality is a sometimes well-intentioned, but always misguided attempt to regulate the internet under the guise of fairness and equality. Except for a brief moment during the Obama administration, the U.S. has always embraced light-handed regulation for the internet. This approach has served us well. Today, 95% of American adults use the internet, and U.S. broadband providers outperformed their more-regulated European peers during the pandemic. But now, President Joe Biden’s Federal Communications Commission is poised to abandon this approach and impose its vision of how the internet should work. Given the importance of the internet to American businesses and citizens’ everyday lives, it’s crucial to assess the implications of reversing the tried-and-true light-handed approach.



— ALOE —

Disney will add ESPN tile to Disney+ this year” via Caitlin Huston of The Hollywood Reporter — Disney plans to add an ESPN tile to Disney+ as it prepares to launch its new stand-alone ESPN streaming service. The tile will be added by the end of the calendar year, Disney CEO Bob Iger said, and will feature “select live games” as well as studio programming, to watch within Disney+. This feature will be available for all U.S. subscribers. “We see this as a first step to bring ESPN to Disney+ viewers as we ready the launch of our enhanced stand-alone ESPN streaming in the Fall of 2025,” Iger said on the company’s second quarter earnings call.

Look for Disney+ to offer a stand-alone ESPN streaming service.

Epic Universe? Walt Disney World? SeaWorld Orlando isn’t scared” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Universal’s Epic Universe is opening next year, teasing its Harry Potter, Nintendo and other themed lands. Meanwhile, The Walt Disney Co. has vowed to pour $60 billion over the next decade into new attractions, including a giant expansion at the Magic Kingdom. Is SeaWorld scared? The company’s CEO, Marc Swanson, opened up about his competitors’ multibillion-dollar projects down the road during a Q&A on Wednesday’s earnings call. Swanson took a diplomatic tone. “On Epic, I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said. “I’m not suggesting Epic won’t have an impact or anything like that. I’m sure there’s going to be days where they are going to be very crowded.”

Florida retailers urge state consumers to spend locally on Mother’s Day” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — The National Retail Federation (NRF) is projecting that Americans will spend $33.5 billion this year on gifts for mom for her special day May 12. While that’s a lot of money, the NRF said that estimate is slightly lower than the 2023 figure of $35.7 billion spent on Mother’s Day. An NRF annual consumer survey found that about 84% of Americans plan to buy some gifts or planned celebration items on Mother’s Day this year. That accounts for about $254.04 being spent by each consumer. Still, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is urging state residents to keep their focus on local spending when it comes to spending on mom.


Best wishes to Erica Chanti of Rubin Turnbull & Associates, our former colleague Renzo Downey, St. Petersburg City Council member Brett Gerdes, and political consultant Greg Keller.


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.

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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.

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