Takeaways from Tallahassee — Celebration time

Blue Tally Takeaways (4)
It was May 20, 1865, that the Emancipation Proclamation was first read on the steps of the Knott House.

Tallahassee has been experiencing a tough time after storms and tornadoes battered the area, but the city is gearing up to celebrate Emancipation Day.

While June 19 is the official federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, Gen. Edward McCook first read the Emancipation Proclamation on the steps of the Knott House in downtown Tallahassee on May 20, 1865.

A handful of events centered around the day — which is a holiday for City of Tallahassee employees — including the dramatic reenactment of the proclamation reading on the steps of the still-standing Knott House.

Gen. Edward McCook. Image via State Library and Archives of Florida.

The celebration kicked off on Friday evening with the second annual Freedom’s Eve Emancipation Concert, held at Adderley Amphitheater at Cascades Park. The concert featured the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, with guest conductor Chelsea Tipton II, and local gospel groups Jay Williams and Total Praise.

On Saturday night the Emancipation and Abolitionist Ball will be held at Parkview at Cascades Park. This is a formal event that highlights the era with a special menu, entertainment, and attire representative of the period. There will also be historical presentations and the handing out of the Althemese Barnes Historic Preservation Award.

It will be a packed day on Monday.

In the morning, the 2nd Infantry Regiment USCT will perform a Union soldier reenactment with a traditional 21-gun salute to fallen soldiers. Then, members of the community will join the ceremony of decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers.

At 11 a.m. church bells throughout the city will ring to celebrate Florida’s Emancipation Day.

The reading of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation will take place a half-hour later at the Knott House. Free lunch and family-friendly activities will follow across the street in Lewis Park.


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, 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 —

Windmills, tilted — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1645 this week, making climate change less of a priority in state law and banning wind turbines in Florida. The legislation was derided by environmental groups who criticized it as moving in the wrong direction as the Florida peninsula faces growing threats from the symptoms of climate change: sea level rise, more frequent and powerful hurricanes and sweltering summers. The new law also removes a requirement for state and local governments to buy the most fuel-efficient vehicles when replenishing their fleets. DeSantis defended the measure as “restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.”

‘Is it safe?’ — A South Florida dentist who is also an imam at an Islamic mosque and runs an Islamic school is facing the loss of his license and the end of taxpayer-funded scholarships after some lawmakers took notice of his antisemitic preachings. Rep. Randy Fine, a Brevard County Republican, first raised concerns this week about Dr. Fadi Kablawi of North Miami. Fine wrote to the Board of Dentistry asking it to suspend his license over several instances of derogatory references to Jews, including referring to Jews as “worse than Nazis.” Several South Florida Jewish Democrats joined Fine, the Legislature’s only Jewish Republican, in calling for Kablawi’s license to be suspended. Later in the week Fine discovered Kablawi runs an Islamic school that receives taxpayer-funded vouchers and asked the Department of Education to investigate.

Zero-sum game?: DeSantis said that First Lady Casey DeSantis has “zero” interest in getting into the “political thicket” and running for Governor in two years. He based his assessment on her having a “front-row seat for all the nonsense that goes on when you do it.” Casey DeSantis’ name has routinely been floated as a potential Republican candidate for Governor in 2026 after her husband is termed out. Some polls have even shown Casey DeSantis ahead of other potential GOP candidates in what could be a crowded primary.

More details: Ousted Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler acknowledged in court this week that he kept numerous videos of sexual partners besides his wife. The revelation came during a hearing on a now-closed investigation as the former politician and his wife Bridget, a Sarasota County School Board member, seek to keep further details of their sex life private. The couple have sued the Sarasota Police Department and the 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office to stop the further release of his personal data. Sarasota Police have copies of many videos that were downloaded from Ziegler’s iPhone last year.

Moving ahead: A panel of federal judges refused to halt a lawsuit alleging that two Tampa Bay state Senate seats are illegal racial gerrymanders and should be tossed. In a brief ruling the judges rejected a motion to dismiss the case that came from Secretary of State Cord Byrd. The ruling stated that attorneys representing the state had not addressed the central claims in the lawsuit while calling for it to be dismissed. The two Senate seats are not on the ballot this year, but the lawsuit could eventually force the Legislature to redraw several Senate districts.

— Record-breaking numbers —

DeSantis is touting record-breaking tourism numbers.

New data from VISIT FLORIDA showed that the state had 40.6 million visitors during the first three months of the year — a record high and a 1.2% increase over the same time period in 2023.

During the first quarter, an estimated 37.2 million visitors from other states, 2.1 million from overseas and 1.3 million from Canada visited the Sunshine State. The strong showing in the first part of 2024 comes after a year that saw nearly 141 million people flock to the Sunshine State.

“Once again, Florida leads the nation as an unrivaled destination for tourists,” said DeSantis. “These record-breaking numbers show that our work has made the free state of Florida even more attractive to visitors.”

Tourists are flocking to Florida in droves.

The influx of tourists is reflected in data from Florida’s airports, which have seen significant hikes in the number of people boarding jets in the state, including rises at Orlando, Miami, Fort Myers and Tallahassee.

“Florida continues to welcome visitors with open arms,” said Dana Young, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “The record-breaking visitation seen in 2023 and continued through the first quarter of 2024 reaffirms Florida’s status as a must-visit destination for travelers worldwide.”

— Busted! —

A river of fraud and arrests runs through Yulee and Jacksonville.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit announced this week the arrests of Latrena Marie Thomas and Donald Ray Adams II.

Thomas is the owner of A River’s Journey home health care agency, which has residential home care facilities located in Yulee and Jacksonville. Thomas is accused of hiring non-licensed individuals to provide hands-on personal care services to Medicaid recipients.

Thomas also paid Adams, a parent of a disabled Medicaid recipient, to provide medically licensed care for his own child. Thomas fraudulently billed Medicaid claims for 30 distinct medically needy Medicaid recipients, resulting in a total loss of more than $1.6 million.

Steal from Medicaid and see what happens.

“This fraudulent billing scheme not only defrauded the Florida Medicaid program out of more than $1.6 million but did so at the expense of Medicaid-dependent recipients, one being a disabled child. In addition to manipulating the system for extra money, the hiring of unqualified and unlicensed medical staff resulted in poor treatment and medical emergencies for Medicaid patients. I’m grateful for our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for putting a stop to this scheme,” Moody said.

According to the investigation, Thomas and the agency hired employees who were not licensed as certified nursing assistants, several of whom would have failed the Level 2 background screening required by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to provide hands-on personal care to Medicaid recipients.

Thomas did not have a director of nursing on staff as required by law to provide oversight of the licensed practical nurses and other staff employed, falsified work-related documents and billed for round-the-clock care for a recipient, all while paying Adams.

These oversights and mistakes created three separate medical emergencies, including a trach tube dislodging, extreme sunburn, and a delay in contacting emergency medical services.

Thomas faces one count of Medicaid provider fraud, $50,000 or more — a first-degree felony — and Adams faces one count of Medicaid provider fraud, $10,000 or less: a third-degree felony

A River’s Journey paid Adams for providing unsigned progress notes for his own child’s care. Adams received payments in cash, gift cards and bank deposits from the agency. In total, Adams received $7,320 for involvement in the scheme to defraud Medicaid.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested Thomas and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Adams. Moody’s MFCU will prosecute the case through the State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit.

— Reasons to celebrate —

The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program has helped protect 100,000 acres, a milestone that Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson celebrated this week.

Simpson recognized 20 family farms that are current participants in the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program at an event held at Buck Island Ranch.

“The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program’s success is a testament to the dedication of all stakeholders involved, including landowners, land-related professionals, legislators and conservationists. As Florida’s agricultural lands face increasing threats from urban development, this program is paramount in ensuring the long-term future of our state’s agricultural community and our natural resources,” Simpson said.

Wilton Simpson has 100,000-plus reasons to celebrate the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.

A former Senate President, Simpson lobbied to increase funding for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and the Florida Wildlife Corridor, including the acquisition of conservation easements under the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program with the Legislature agreeing to increase funding for each by $100 million annually.

Established in 2001 Rural and Family Lands Protection Program recognizes that working agricultural lands are essential to Florida’s economic future. To counter urban encroachment the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program partners with farmers and ranchers to ensure sustainable production practices while protecting natural resources.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act directed the state of Florida to better protect and connect its natural areas and wildlife habitats and preserve working agricultural lands from future development. Simpson also secured $300 million for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program while serving as Senate President.

— Jimmy P appoints three —

Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis appointed Glenn Ritchie and Benjamin Treuil to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association Board of Directors.

Ritchie has worked for State Farm Insurance for 46 years and has been a State Farm Insurance agent since January 2024. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Louisiana Monroe and his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Florida. Ritchie is certified as a chartered underwriter, a chartered financial consultant, and a chartered property casualty underwriter.

Jimmy Patronis rounded out the FIGA board with a pair of appointments this week.

Treuil has worked with Frontline Insurance for over 20 years. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Miami. Currently, Treuil serves as Frontline’s Executive Vice President of Finance.

Patronis also reappointed Kimberly Blackburn to the FIGA Board of Directors.

Blackburn, who lives in Gainesville, has previously served as Chair of the FIGA Board of Directors. She graduated with a bachelor‘s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee. Blackburn currently serves as the Vice President of products and compliance at Florida Farm Bureau Insurance.

FIGA is a nonprofit corporation created by the Florida Legislature in 1970 and services pending claims by or against Florida policyholders of member insurance companies that become insolvent and are ordered liquidated.

— Instagram of the Week —

—The Week in Appointments —

DeSantis this week announced the appointment of Mary Chambers, Stephen Hammond, James “Doc” Muir, Kathryn Ovide, Mary Spottswood, Erica Sterling, Lesley Thompson and Richard Toppino to the Lower Florida Keys Hospital District.

Chambers is the president of MyCERA, a former superintendent of Alachua County Schools and deputy superintendent of Monroe County Schools. She currently serves as the treasurer of the Monroe County Education Foundation and the Monroe County Tropical Research Nonprofit. Chambers earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Florida State University, her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Central Florida, and her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Florida.

Hammond is a Realtor at Lokation Real Estate and is a member of the Key West Association of Realtors. Hammond earned his bachelor’s degree in business and finance and his master’s degree in business and administration from Samford University.

Muir is retired and previously served as an airline pilot for FedEx Corp. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, retiring with more than 20 years of service. Muir earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York.

Ovide is the marina manager at Sunset Marina. She is a founding member of the Lower Keys Heart Council. Ovide attended the College of the Florida Keys.

Spottswood is the in-house counsel for Spottswood Companies. She previously served as the assistant state attorney for Miami-Dade County and was an associate at Spottswood Sterling Law Firm. Spottswood earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Vanguard University and her law degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Sterling is a partner at Spottswood, Spottswood, & Sterling. She also is a member of the Star of the Seat Foundation Board of Directors and the Monroe County Housing Association. Sterling earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting, her master’s degree in accounting, and her law degree from the University of Florida.

Thompson is the director of exceptional student education for Monroe County Schools. She is the recipient of the 2008 Monroe County District Administrator of the Year Award, the 2010 Service Above Self Award from the U.S. Coast Guard, and the 2003 State of Florida Administrator of the Year Award from the Florida Department of Education. Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree in criminology and special education from Saint Leo University, her master’s degree in educational leadership from Troy State University, and her doctorate in child and youth studies from Nova Southeastern University.

Toppino is the President of Charley Toppino and Sons and currently serves on the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, Toppino attended the College of the Florida Keys and the University of Miami.

DeSantis also announced the appointment of Edward Bielarski, Craig Carter, Eric Lawson, David Haslam, and Robert “Chip” Skinner to the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority.

Bielarski is the former general manager of Gainesville Regional Utilities. He previously served as the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of the Lehigh County Authority. Bielarski earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Loyola University and his master’s degree in strategic management from Saint Joseph’s University.

Carter is a commercial Realtor and sales associate at Coldwell Banker Commercial M.M. Parrish Realtors. He previously served as a Commissioner for the City of Gainesville. Carter currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Gainesville Regional Airport Authority and is a member of the Gainesville Rotary Club.

Lawson is the CEO of HCA North Florida Regional Hospital and has held multiple executive positions at HCA over the last 30 years. Lawson earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Tennessee Technological University.

Haslam owns Campus Scooters of Gainesville. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he serves as the production team leader for Victory Church and attended Santa Fe College.

Skinner is the president of Gainesville Area Lacrosse and is a coach and volunteer for Alachua County Public Schools and an assistant coach at the Lacrosse Club of Gainesville. Skinner earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Florida.

DeSantis also appointed Samuel Giles, M.D., to the Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Committee. Giles, of St. Johns, is the co-founder, medical director, and neurologist at Memory Treatment Centers. Board-certified in neurology, he previously served as a neurologist at Ascension St. Vincent and Lee Health. He earned his bachelor’s degree in human biology from the University of Southern Maine and his medical degree from Tufts University.

— Greener pastures —

Pivotal legislation that marked a new phase in conserving Florida’s ecologically sensitive lands just turned 30. The measure’s author says there’s no better time than now to replicate it.

In 1994, former Polk County Rep. Dean Saunders passed a bill that gave birth to the Sunshine State’s conservation easement program enabling landowners to be paid to protect their land forever rather than sell it to developers.

The measure created the Green Swamp Land Authority through which the state could buy developmental rights from property owners in the 323,000-acre Green Swamp area spanning Polk, Lake and Sumter counties. Under the program, the owners kept their land, oftentimes continuing to operate upon them agriculturally.

The program led to others, including the Florida Forever program, through which the state acquired more than 1 million acres of protected land with a $3.3 billion bond.

Dean Saunders. Image via Saunders Ralston Dantzler.

Despite the program’s success, Gov. Jeb Bush switched its funding to a pay-as-you-go model that was later hampered when the recession hit. Fast-forward to now: There’s still ample land in need of protection but no dedicated, recurring funding to do it.

And the clock is ticking. Land and development rights values have skyrocketed in the past three decades. This year, 1000 Friends of Florida reported that the state is poised to lose more than 2 million acres of open land to development as an expected 12 million new residents arrive through 2070. That’s on top of a 10 million-resident surge since the 1990s with which adequate preservation funding has not kept pace.

DeSantis has invested billions in environmental projects, with massive set-asides for Everglades restoration and the Florida Wildlife Corridor. That’s a good start, Saunders said.

“They are providing more significant funding (now, but) we need a consistent, predictable source that people know about,” he said. “Second and more important is that 30 years ago we were spending $300 million a year. Land values have quadrupled over that time. So, if we’re going to protect the same amount of land we used to protect, we’re going to have to quadruple the funding. You’re talking over a billion dollars, and we really need it consistently.”

— First-ever —

It’s being billed as the “first-ever” event honoring veterans in the Buenaventura Lakes community, and Rep. Paula Stark is hosting it.

Stark’s Memorial Day Celebration will feature special guests including Retired Army Col. D.J. Reyes, representatives from the Veteran’s Council, Military Museum, St. Cloud and Kissimmee Police Department, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, including their Color Guard, and all branches of the U.S. Military, including the Borinqueneers and other Veterans, as well as U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and other local dignitaries.

Paula Stark is hosting Buenaventura Lakes’ ‘first-ever’ event to honor veterans.

“We are excited to bring a Memorial Day event to honor those who have served this great country to the Buenaventura Lakes community,” said Stark. “It is important that we celebrate and honor our local veterans at 65th Infantry Veterans Park in Osceola County on Memorial Day.”

A shoutout to Melao Bakery and Toho Water Authority for providing the crafts.

The celebration begins at 4 p.m. Monday at the 65th Infantry Veterans Park, 301 Buenaventura Blvd., in Kissimmee.

—Coming soon —

Arguably it’s the largest state event focusing on people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and those who develop and implement state policy.

The 26th Annual Family Café will be held in Orlando from June 14 to 16. This year’s event follows a Legislative Session that saw significant increases in funding for programs that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With incoming House Speaker Daniel Perez set to take the gavel, more changes are ahead for these important programs.

Since 1998, the Annual Family Café has brought Floridians with disabilities together for three days of information, training, and networking. The event coincides with the Governor’s Summit on Disabilities and offers attendees unprecedented access to policymakers.

Registration is open for the 26th Annual Family Café.

There is no registration fee for individuals with disabilities and their families, and limited financial assistance is available to cover the cost of hotel stays at the host site, the Hyatt Regency Orlando. To apply for financial assistance, simply check the box on the registration form. Financial assistance is determined by lottery.

Liberty Dental Plan, one of three Medicaid-managed care dental providers, will be offering free dental screenings on the first day of the event.

A sneak peek of some of the events can be found here. Full program details weren’t available at press time.

— Cultivating Kindness (and art) —

The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) has picked a winner for its 2024 Long Term Care Photo Contest.

Shoutout to Sabal Palms Health Care Center in Largo, which took the top spot for its photo “Veterans Wall of Honor,” taken by Sabal Palms Director of Life Enrichment Lauren Evarts


FHCA gave the facility a $500 contribution for a social event for residents and staff. Evarts will also receive a $50 gift card for her submission.

“We are inspired by the outpouring of submissions we received for this year’s long-term care photo contest,” said FHCA CEO Emmett Reed. “These photos, taken by caregivers, facility staff, and volunteers, capture the unique and special bonds shared in our long-term care communities. The stories shared through the pictures showcase the amazing history and relationships housed in each of our centers across the state. We are overjoyed each year to receive these submissions and learn more about the lives being changed through the kindness cultivated in our centers.”

The winning photo, ‘Veterans Wall of Honor,’ was taken by Sabal Palms Director of Life Enrichment, Lauren Evarts.

More than 200 photos were entered into this year’s contest, which focused on the theme “Cultivating Kindness” The contest is sponsored by Incite Strategic Partners.

The announcement coincided with National Skilled Nursing Care Week.

The second-place winner is “Sharing is Caring” by Island Lake Center in Longwood, submitted by recreation assistant Freida Bratcher. The photo features residents who have been married for 50 years sharing a slice of pizza on National Pizza Day.

Bratcher said the couple “have always been inseparable. I love their love story, and I have always seen how loyal she is to her husband, how his face lights up when he sees her, and how she prides herself on spending time with him every day.”

“100th Birthday Party” by Bridgewater Park Health and Rehabilitation in Ocala placed third in the photo contest. Activity Director Joy Dean submitted the photo of a resident’s 100th birthday party surprise birthday celebration.

“I was inspired to take her picture because I happened to look over and see this normally reserved and humble lady, just positively glowing with happiness and love, and with her crown and sash I thought she looked like a queen and wanted to always keep that radiant memory with me,” said Dean. “I look forward to seeing her every day and I like to think the feeling is the same for her.”

The winning photos will be displayed during FHCA’s 2024 Annual Conference & Trade Show in Orlando. To read more about this year’s Long Term Care Photo Contest, click here.

— Hall of Famers? —

With the broadening of the Florida Scholarship program in 2023 and the improvements to the law contained in this year’s HB 1403, the Governor, House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate Education Chair Cory Simon belong in the “Florida Education Choice Hall of Fame.”

So says the James Madison Institute, an organization that touts itself as “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, economic freedom, federalism and individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility.”

Paul Renner belongs in the Hall of Fame, JMI says.

JMI released a statement after DeSantis signed HB 1403 this week.

“Not only does this year’s measure make a number of needed improvements to Florida’s scholarship programs, but HB 1403 is also significant for what it did not do — impose sweeping restrictions on parents’ use of their scholarship accounts,” said William Mattox, director of the JMI Marshall Center for Educational Options.

He praised the Governor and legislators who supported HB 1403 for “working to make certain Florida remains No. 1 in education freedom.”

— OG makes a comeback —

FSU President Emeritus, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, state Senator, and OG supporter of the FSU College of Medicine, John Thrasher, is delivering the commencement speech for the 20th class of FSU medical school graduates today.

As House Speaker, Thrasher helped create the FSU the College of Medicine, securing the funding necessary for a medical school. The college’s building on campus is named in his honor.

Thrasher will preside over a ceremony for 110 graduating physicians, all of whom began their medical academic careers in Fall 2020.

John Thrasher is coming back to campus for commencement. Image via Colin Hackley.

Every graduating physician from the FSU class of 2024 who entered “Match Day” was matched with a residency. “Match Day” is a worldwide event where graduating physicians from the United States and across the world learn where they will spend the next three to seven years completing the training needed to become board-certified.

In addition, the college will graduate its 15th class with a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences—Bridge to Clinical Medicine. By completing the program, the eight Bridge students have qualified and will begin medical school at Florida State on May 28 as members of the incoming Class of 2028.

The commencement ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall on FSU’s campus and is a ticketed event. But it will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Viewers and participants are invited to join in on social media using #FSUMed24.

— FAMU fallout —

Amid increasing scrutiny, the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees voted this week to conduct an independent investigation into the handling of a supposed $237 million gift from Texas hemp farmer Gregory Gerami.

The vote came the same day that one of those involved in arranging the deal — Shawnta Friday-Stroud, the Vice President for University Advancement and executive director of the FAMU Foundation — resigned from her post. Stroud will remain employed at the college in her role as the School of Business and Industry dean.

Several trustees complimented the work done in the past by Friday-Stroud, who has raised more than $70 million for the university since 2020.

But it was clear that many were upset and embarrassed about the Gerami donation, which they knew little to nothing about before it was announced at a graduation ceremony where Gerami was allowed to speak.

Shawnta Friday-Stroud. Image via FAMU.

Since the announcement there have been rising questions as to whether the gift is anywhere near what it was purported to be. Gerami had previously pledged a large gift to Coastal Carolina University before that deal fell apart.

FAMU President Larry Robinson, who said he was taking “full responsibility” for what happened, said that executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer (COO) Donald Palm will step in to serve as the interim Vice President for University Advancement.

“Donald brings with him a wealth of experience and a dedication to our institution’s mission. I am confident that he will capably fulfill this role,” Robinson said.

Palm has served in his current job since August 2023. He holds a doctorate in pharmacology from Penn State University. Before coming to FAMU, Palm served as Vice President/Provost at Virginia State University.

FAMU officials said the school is in the “process” of identifying a longer-term interim Vice President for University Advancement as it prepares for a national search.

“I am committed to ensuring a smooth transition and maintaining the momentum of our advancement efforts during this period,” Robinson said.

A national search in 2023 failed to produce a replacement for Friday-Stroud, who has previously expressed her desire to return to SBI full-time.

During the BOT meeting, Trustee Belvin Perry praised Friday-Stroud for her good years in the Foundation and her efforts at “producing record numbers in giving.”

“Nobody has raised the kind of money she has,” Perry said. “I just want to thank her as we move forward for the outstanding job she has done.”

Since July 1, 2020, Friday-Stroud and her fundraising team have raised $75.3 million in cash and $10.7 million in pledges.

Chair Kristin Harper also praised Stroud for her contributions.

In response to a question from Trustee Loryn May, the Student Government Association President, Robinson was emphatic.

“FAMU’s financial standing is strong,” said Robinson, citing a recent clean audit from the state. He also mentioned a $225,000 gift from Shell received Wednesday.

“People out there still have tremendous confidence in you, our students,” Robinson said.

— Cleanup crew —

FAMU continues to clean up and recover from the tornadoes that walloped Tallahassee last week and left parts of the south side looking like a war zone.

Summer A and C classes were held remotely through Friday following the storm, and the add-drop period was extended through Monday, May 20.

Faculty and non-essential staff work remotely, and other professional service (OPS) employees are permitted to work with the authorization of their supervisor.

FAMU is still recovering from the storm.

But FAMU’s Department of Environment, Health and Safety Director Victor DeLaire is cautioning faculty researchers against entering their labs until they receive the all-clear.

The FAMU Police Department has been providing security for the American Red Cross Shelter at the Lawson Multipurpose Center.

And now for the good news …

FAMU’s baseball team will host Mississippi Valley State University today for the final regular season series. The ground will be open to spectators.

— Do-over! —

With tens of thousands of residents and scores of businesses without power, Mother’s Day celebrations were not what many had hoped for or expected.

At least one restaurant with canceled Mother’s Day events decided to turn lemons into lemonade. Charie Park announced this week that it’s offering a Mother’s Day Part 2 Redo celebration on Sunday.

But the party isn’t just limited to the mamas out there.

If the first try was ruined, there’s a do-over on Sunday.

May babies are also invited to celebrate their birthdays and can snag a free mimosa with the purchase of any brunch plate.

When making the Mother’s Day Part 2 Redo reservations online include “The Redo” in the notes, and Charlie Park will serve mamas a complimentary mimosa or bloody mary.

Charlie Park is a rooftop restaurant and is within walking distance from Cascades Park, the Adderley Amphitheater, and Downtown Tallahassee.

— Capitol Directions —

Ron DeSantis — Down arrow — The devastating storms in Tallahassee offered yet another opportunity for this Governor to demonstrate his startling lack of empathy.

Ron DeSantis, Part 2 — Down arrow — Sorry kids, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

George Lemieux Uthmeier — Up arrow — If James invites Ron to a late-night meeting at Whataburger on Thomasville …

Kathleen Passidomo — Up arrow — All hail the savior of your vacation.

Paul Renner — Up arrow — Cheers to the Speaker for giving staff the day off when Leon Schools closed their doors.

Danny Perez — Up arrow — He gave FIFA what some call “un golpe de estado.”

DEP — Down arrow — We’re not sure they know what their job is.

FHP — Up arrow — The black and tan don’t mess around.

Jason Weida’s golf game — Trophy — Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.

Jared Perdue — Down arrow — We were into patriotic lights long before you, but we also learned how to use the app to change the colors every now and then.

“Climate change” — Down arrow — Huh? Never heard of it.

Cat Fund — Up arrow — We hope we won’t need it, but we’re glad it’s there.

Dana Young — Up arrow — VISIT FLORIDA just earned another year of safety.

Keith Truenow — Up arrow — The Senate President-designate just twisted the dagger on his primary opponents.

Carolina Amesty — Down arrow — There’s a shrinking list of laws she isn’t suspected of breaking.

Randy Fine — Up arrow — Nine out of 10 dentists agree: antisemitism is bad.

Corey Simon, Allison Tant, Jason Shoaf — Up arrow — They were visible and accessible, before, during and after the storm

Human Trafficking awareness — Up arrow — The Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking just topped 39,000 trainees and they raised another $500K to support future efforts.

Florida TaxWatch — Crossways arrow — We appreciate its hard work, but they sure flagged a lot of Holocaust and Jewish-related “turkeys.”

Federalist Society — Crossways arrow — They might just run out of people to put on the bench.

Brookstone Senior Residences — Down arrow — Wait, didn’t we pass a law about this a few years ago?

FSU Circus — Prayer hands — It’ll be back and better than ever.

Don Gaetz — Crossways arrow — He was already raising boatloads of cash. Now he has a reason to use it.

Shev Jones — Up arrow — If anyone can get Miami-Dade Dems back on track, it’s him.

Jennifer Jenkins — Up arrow — At least Karens will have another roadblock in their way.

Desmond Meade — Up arrow — It’s only taken six years, but the state might finally implement Amendment 4.

Seminole Tribe — Up arrow — C’mon, does every court have to say it? The Compact is a done deal.

FIFA — Down arrow — Ole ole, you’ll have to pay your own way.

Andres Malave — Up arrow — He got a smooth landing and Jones Walker got a stellar comms guy.

Elizabeth “Buff” Miller — Down arrow — We just want to know where that nickname came from.

Shawnta Friday-Stroud — Down arrow — Remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Terrell Jennings — Up arrow — See you in Foxborough.

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.


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