Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.20.24

Sunburn Orange Tally (3)
Get ready for Sunburn — a double shot of Florida politics and policy.

Good Thursday morning.

If you’re looking for a feel-good story where hard work and determination pay off, pick up a copy of “From Start to Success: 40 Stories of Successful C-Suite Executives.”

The book, which was released into the Forbes Executive Library today, features a chapter by Strategos Group’s Adam Giery. Over the last decade, Giery went from teaching middle schoolers to running the show at the multimillion-dollar education management consultancy.

As Giery’s profile rose, so did Strategos’ — he and his team successfully executed an organizational turnaround and acquired Strategos, transforming it into a national enterprise with offices in seven states.

Adam Giery spills the tea on the secret to his success.

He credits a leadership philosophy that fosters a laboratory culture where creativity, experimentation and failure are encouraged. The approach has led the firm to stake out new practice areas, create TEDx productions, record podcasts exploring new market opportunities, and build investment capabilities to accelerate client growth.

“The Strategos story is about a collective committed to a vision to impact the American education system. The success of our enterprise is a journey of persistence and patience on the journey of entrepreneurship,” Giery said. “What is unseen in the process is the fortitude required to return each day in pursuit of something unique. A business creating a market and driving impact.”

A snippet of advice from his chapter: “New entrepreneurs should double down on the value of focus vs syndication and prioritizing expertise. It’s about giving each endeavor great attention and declining opportunities that do not align with your core focus. This process has yielded many of my greatest successes.”

For the full story, order a copy of the book.


Tucker/Hall has added a new executive to its roster, Katie Mitzner has been hired as Vice President of the firm’s Orlando office.

Mitzner is an award-winning public relations professional with more than 25 years of experience. Most recently, she served five years as director of public affairs for Brightline, where she led public relations for the company’s high-speed rail expansion from South Florida to Orlando.

Tucker/Hall adds Katie Mitzner as the latest VP in its Orlando office.

Mitzner has also worked for the Florida Department of Transportation on its Turnpike Enterprise and for the engineering, environment and professional services firm WSP.

“Katie’s background, experience and connections are a perfect fit for our firm and our clients,” Tucker/Hall Chief Operating Officer Darren Richards said. “We look forward to working with Katie to grow our presence and impact in Orlando and Central Florida.”

While Mitzner will be based in Orlando, she will work with Tucker/Hall clients throughout the state and nation, bringing with her transportation experience, as well as a strong background in health care communications through work at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center and at Orlando Health. Mitzner also has firsthand news media experience, having worked for 10 years as a broadcast journalist.


@VoteRandyFine: I am at a makeshift military base only a couple hundred meters from the Gaza fence line, cooking and serving food to soldiers coming and going into battle. It’s just me and an Israeli woman who has organized this once a week. I have been around some amazing people in my life, but I have never been in greater awe than I am right now. Will post pictures and videos once it is safe to share location.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@MDixon55: Just saw my first Cyber Truck in the wild, but does it count if I didn’t tweet a picture of it?


CNN Presidential Debate — 7; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 9; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 10; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 13; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 14; Donald Trump’s felony sentencing — 21; Republican National Convention begins — 24; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 33; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 36; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 37; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 40; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 58; Florida Primary Election — 59; Democratic National Convention begins — 61; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon, begins — 62; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 66; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 66; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 74; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 79; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 79; Vice Presidential Debate — 98; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 122; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 129; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 137; 2024 Presidential Election — 138; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 152; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 152; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 169; MLS Cup 2024 — 170; College Football Playoff begins — 183; Fiesta Bowl — 194; Peach, Rose & Sugar Bowls — 195; Orange Bowl — 203; Sugar Bowl — 205; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 239; the 2025 Oscars — 257; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 259; 2025 Session ends — 319; ‘Moana’ premieres — 369; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 403; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 403; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 510; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 548; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 684; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 701; FIFA World Cup 26™ final — 721; FIFA World Cup 26™ final match — 759; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 912; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,052; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,011; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,733.


Citizens insurance seeks maximum 14% rate hike on more than a million Florida policies” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — The corporation’s Board of Governors on Wednesday approved a proposed 14% rate increase overall for its policies.

The request is still subject to approval by Florida regulators.

Citizens was created by the Legislature for homeowners and businesses unable to find insurance on the private market. Its rate increases are capped under state law, although lawmakers in recent years raised those caps.

Citizens is looking to hammer homeowners’ piggy banks.

For 2025, the cap is 14% for a primary home and 50% for secondary homes, defined as those occupied nine months or less each year. Most of the corporation’s nearly 1.2 million policies are typical homeowners policies, which cover fire, theft and windstorms.

Although Citizens is asking for a 14% increase on those policies, the effect would be about a 13.5% increase overall.

Miami-Dade homeowners with those policies would see their premiums increase from an average of $5,113 to an average of $5,804.

In Broward County, homeowners with those policies would see their premiums go from an average of $5,385 to $6,112.

The increases wouldn’t be quite as drastic in Tampa Bay because the premiums are lower. In Hillsborough County, the average $2,667 premium would go up to an average of $3,028.

In Pinellas County, it would go from $2,854 to $3,234. Homeowners with only wind coverage through Citizens would see an average 14.6% increase.

Those with Citizens’ condominium policies would see an average 14.2% increase.

Citizens’ Board members are lawyers and business executives appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and the Republican leaders of the Legislature.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Florida medical marijuana patients get an unexpected email praising Ron DeSantis” via The Associated Press — Florida has more than 700,000 medical marijuana patients and DeSantis — who is battling a proposal to allow the recreational use of marijuana — wants them all to know what a great job he’s doing. The Department of Health last week sent a blast email to its medical marijuana patient list boasting that DeSantis signed the state budget. The email praised a cancer research program promoted by first lady Casey DeSantis, listed health issues like HIV, hepatitis and syphilis that are in the spending plan and gave a message from Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo that he and DeSantis are “advancing public health and personal responsibility in Florida.”

Florida medical marijuana patients get a note praising Ron DeSantis.

‘No to dictators, no to Donald Trump’: Billboard on Palmetto draws outrage, agreement in Miami” via Max Greenwood and Syra Ortiz Blanes of the Miami Herald — A roadside billboard in Miami that draws comparisons between Trump and dictators like Fidel Castro is aiming to strike a chord with South Florida Hispanics. For some, it’s touching a nerve. The billboard, which reads “No a los dictadores, no a Trump” — “No to dictators, no to Trump” — was posted Monday along the Palmetto Expressway near Northwest 67th Avenue by an anti-Trump outside group called Mad Dog PAC. It depicts Trump and the late Castro face-to-face on opposite sides of the sign. The “dictator” rhetoric is nothing new in South Florida, where politicians pull from the politics and history of Latin America in domestic elections to appeal to South Florida’s immigrant communities. Yet the billboard has elicited intense emotions among many voters in a part of the state that has been shaped in large part by exiles who fled Cuba in the years and decades since Castro seized power on the island.

— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

New ad scathes ‘never-Trumpers’ backing David Shoar, attacking Tom Leek in SD 7 Primary” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — A new political ad released by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee scathed “never-Trumpers” for meddling in the GOP Primary for Senate District 7. Taking place between Rep. Leek and former St. Johns County Sheriff Shoar, the Primary has resulted in controversy over Democratic dollars fueling anti-Leek attacks. The dollars have helped benefit a committee called “The Truth Matters,” which runs a website called “Liberal Leek,” attacking the GOP representative on claims of covertly buddying up to Democrats. The FRSCC, chaired by Senate President-Designate Ben Albritton said Democrats “are trying to steal the election.”

Are Democratic dollars fueling David Shoar’s attacks on Tom Leek?

Broward mailers paint Democratic Senate candidate as a major GOP donor (he insists he’s not)” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Mailers portraying Democratic lawyer Chad Klitzman as the man behind nearly $2 million in campaign contributions to Trump, DeSantis and other GOP politicians are now hitting mailboxes across southwest Broward County. The thing is, Klitzman never donated to them, nor did his former law firm that the mailers say the money came from. Klitzman is one of three Democrats running to succeed term-limited Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book in the seat representing Senate District 35. Another one of those Democratic candidates is a former Republican who mounted a costly challenge against Book in 2022. The third is a first-time candidate with ties to the political committee that paid for the mailers, which only target Klitzman.

— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT 2 —

A rematch for HD 35? It’s a seat both parties have their eyes on” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Rep. Tom Keen could get a rematch with Erika Booth, the Republican whom he defeated in the Special Election in January to flip House District 35. The Orlando Democrat beat Booth with 51% of the vote in the Special Election for the Central Florida district. Some predicted that the win shows the Democrats have a chance to gain ground in Tallahassee. Now, Republicans are investing resources to try and win it back. “It is not surprising to me that Republicans want to try and take back a district they lost five months ago for the first time in over 30 years,” Keen said. “However, I am confident that our grassroots effort and focus on important issues will once again resonate with voters, pushing us over the finish line in November.” Booth said she feels like a November General Election with higher voter turnout will play into her favor. The Special Election in January was also close to the holiday season to keep some voters away, Booth added.

Erika Booth and Tom Keen could be headed to a rematch in HD 35.

Brandy Alexander suspends HD 81 campaign, endorses Greg Folley” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Lawyer and educator Alexander has suspended her campaign in House District 81 and endorsed former Caterpillar executive Folley for the open seat. “I can confidently say that Greg Folley is undoubtedly the best choice for the House District 81 seat,” Alexander said. “He holds those qualities and skills necessary to excel in Tallahassee and is a proven leader. His impressive academic and professional accolades are strong indicators that he will serve as an invaluable asset to the Florida State Legislature, thereby improving the lives of all Floridians. It is important that we elect Greg Folley to the Florida state House of Representatives, as he shares our values and vision for the future, but most importantly, he has repeatedly shown his ability to achieve results.”


Joe Biden again calls Trump a ‘convicted felon’ at a fundraiser pushing his five-day total to around $40M” via Seung Min Kim of The Associated Press — Biden again taunted Trump as a “convicted felon” during a high-dollar fundraiser Tuesday, saying his likely opponent in November’s election is waging an “all-out assault” on the U.S. legal system. Tuesday’s event with Bill Clinton raised $8 million for Biden’s re-election campaign. That’s part of a roughly $40 million sum raised by Biden and his top surrogates over the last five days. The vast majority came from Saturday’s glitzy fundraiser with movie stars and former President Barack Obama in Los Angeles, which raised more than $30 million. First lady Jill Biden also has been on her own personal fundraising swing that has brought in $1.5 million.

Joe Biden and Bill Clinton host a blockbuster fundraiser, calling Donald Trump a ‘convicted felon.’

Trump in Racine dwells on immigration, claims economy is a wreck” via Erik Gunn of Wisconsin Examiner — Trump took the stage in Racine Tuesday afternoon crowing the praises of Milwaukee, a week after he was reported to have said the city where the Republican National Convention will take place in July “is a horrible city.” At an outdoor arena in Downtown Racine on the shores of Lake Michigan, Trump went on to spend an hour and a half describing Biden’s presidency as a disaster that he will end if voters return him to the White House in November after a four-year absence. “We were respected all over the world. None of this stuff would have been happening that’s happened now, with Russia and Ukraine and the attack on Israel,” Trump declared.

Trump says he loves Milwaukee after reported ‘horrible’ remark” via Lauren Sforza of The Hill — Trump lavished praise on the city of Milwaukee during a Tuesday evening campaign stop in Wisconsin, just days after it was reported he thought the city was “horrible.” Trump kicked off his rally in Racine, Wisconsin, by declaring his love for the largest city in the Badger State. He also said he was the one who decided to host the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) national convention in Milwaukee, pushing back on reports that said he disparaged the city last week. “I love Milwaukee. I was the one that picked Milwaukee, I have to tell you. I was the one who picked it,” the former President said Tuesday. “These lying people that they say, ‘Oh he doesn’t like Milwaukee.’ I love Milwaukee.”

Trump tries to set expectations and floats excuses, for his debate with Biden” via Shawn McCreesh of The New York Times — A few minutes into his speech at a campaign rally on Tuesday, Trump asked a question of the few thousand who’d turned up to hear him speak. “Is anybody going to watch the debate?” Trump was in Racine, Wisconsin, but it was clear his mind was in Atlanta, the site of his matchup against Biden next week. He repeatedly mused about the potential scenarios, lowering expectations that he would dominate Biden and then, as if he couldn’t help himself, raising them again. The expectations game is a particular challenge for the Trump campaign. Trump, 78, has spent months casting the 81-year-old Biden as a husk of a man who can barely walk or formulate complete sentences. Republicans have pumped out a stream of videos of Biden walking stiffly — some deceptively edited — that are meant to be proof of Biden’s decline.

How Marco Rubio went from rival to one of Trump’s VP finalists” via Marianne LeVine of The Washington Post — When Rubio flew with Trump on Air Force One in 2017, the Republican Senator from Florida cracked a joke about Trump’s reported strong handshake with French President. Rubio knew his hands weren’t small, Trump quipped. Trump was referring to Rubio’s awkward attack on him — an implicit reference to male anatomy — during the 2016 Primary, when the two were bitter rivals, charting different courses for the GOP.

Trump’s campaign has lost whatever substance it once had” via David A. Graham of The Atlantic — Trump’s 2016 campaign was, among other things, one of the most impressive displays of branding on a large scale, in a short time, ever. There were hats. There were flags. And above all, there were slogans. “Make America Great Again.” “Build the wall.” “Lock her up.” And later, “Drain the swamp,” which Trump conceded on the stump that he’d initially hated. No matter: Crowds loved it, which was good enough for Trump to decide that he did, too. One peculiarity of Trump’s 2024 campaign is the absence of any similar mantra. At some recent rallies, neither Trump nor the audience has even uttered “Build the wall,” once a standard. Crowds are reverting instead to generic “U-S-A” chants or, as at a recent Phoenix rally, “Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!” which has a winning simplicity but doesn’t have the specificity and originality of its predecessors.

Has Trump’s campaign lost it mojo?

Biden’s ads haven’t been working. Now, he’s trying something new.” via Eric Levitz of Vox — Biden’s odds of re-election may be worse than they look. And they don’t look great. The 2024 presidential race remains very close. Trump leads Biden by a little less than 1 percentage point in national polls, while the two candidates are virtually tied in Michigan and Wisconsin. But Trump leads Biden by more than 2 points in polls of Pennsylvania and by considerably more than that in the Sun Belt battlegrounds of Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia. Meanwhile, Trump’s approval rating is 3.3 points higher than Biden’s. It’s not surprising, then, that The Economist’s election forecast gives Trump a roughly 70% chance of victory in November. For anyone who doesn’t want an illiberal insurrectionist in the White House, these numbers are concerning enough on their face. But they are even more disconcerting when one considers an underappreciated piece of context: Trump hasn’t even begun to air campaign advertisements, while Biden has been blanketing swing-state airwaves.

Author says he has cognitive questions about Trump after interviewing him six times” via CNN — Journalist and author Ramin Setoodeh has interviewed Trump six times since Trump left the White House. In an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Setoodeh says Trump’s struggled with his memory and appeared to still believe he had foreign policy powers.

New analysis reveals Trump’s Truth Social media diet” via Oliver Darcy of CNN — Trump can’t quit Fox News. He may lash out in strong terms at the right-wing channel for supposedly not being sufficiently loyal to him, but a fresh analysis of the content posted on his Truth Social page shows that he promotes the outlet more than any other. In the month of May, Trump posted 56 videos from Fox News, dwarfing the volume of content he posted from any other outlet. In addition to the 56 video clips, Trump posted an additional six articles linking to, for a total of 62 pieces of content from the Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch-controlled media organization.


Tropical Storm Alberto forms in Southwest Gulf, first named storm of the hurricane season” via Alfredo Peña and Mariana Martínez Barba of The Associated Press — Tropical Storm Alberto formed on Wednesday in the Southwestern Gulf of Mexico, the first named storm of what is forecast to be a busy hurricane season. Alberto, which is bringing strong winds, heavy rainfall and some flooding along the coasts of Texas and Mexico, is expected to make landfall in northern Mexico on Thursday. “The heavy rainfall and the water, as usual, is the biggest story in tropical storms,” said Michael Brennan, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center. The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday afternoon that Alberto was located about 150 miles east of Tampico, Mexico, and about 320 miles south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. The storm is moving west-southwest at 9 miles per hour.

The Gulf’s first named storm is kicking off hurricane season.

Hurricane season raises threats from the world’s deadliest animal: The mosquito — The Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA) is reminding residents to be aware of mosquito bites and to protect against contracting the disease. “The world’s top mosquito control scientists and experts are in Florida, working 24/7 to control and mitigate the threat of disease,” said Richard Weaver, president of the Florida Mosquito Control Association and business manager at the Anastasia Mosquito Control District in St. Johns County “Floridians know and understand the need to be vigilant about hurricanes and tropical storms, however, we must also be vigilant about mosquitoes.” With all the standing water from storms — including a deluge that recently hit South Florida — these pests can thrive and be a danger if Floridians aren’t prepared.

DeSantis signs off on mental health reform bill” via Collin Bestor of the Northwest Florida Daily News — On Friday, DeSantis signed a bill, introduced by state Rep. Patt Maney, that will introduce major reform to mental health care in Florida. Known as HB 7021, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the bill is set to modernize Florida’s Baker and Marchman Acts for the first time since they were approved in 1971 and 1993, respectively. In a Friday news release, Maney said that this bill will be a “monumental step” in the state’s future of mental health care, adding, “Florida’s families are going to benefit. Our communities are going to benefit. The Governor’s approval of this law today puts all Floridians grappling with mental health and substance abuse issues on a positive trajectory.”

New law gives at least three Black farmers a shot at marijuana licenses” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis has agreed to change the law to abate legal wrangling over medical marijuana licenses for Black farmers. It’s the second time in as many years the Governor approved changes to the state’s medical marijuana licensure laws for Black farmers. At least three Black farmers tied to what is known as the “Pigford” litigation will benefit from the changes. That’s according to Sen. Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat who helped champion the 2024 changes included in SB 1582, an omnibus bill related to the Department of Health. The new law gives Black farmers who applied for licenses under a 2023 law another 90 days to cure any errors or omissions on medical marijuana applications they submitted to the state.


Biden envoy told Benjamin Netanyahu his comments about U.S.-supplied weapons were ‘unproductive’ and ‘completely untrue’” via Natasha Bertrand, M.J. Lee, Arlette Saenz, Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood of CNN — U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a meeting on Tuesday in Israel that his public comments this week that the U.S. is “withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel” were “unproductive” and “more importantly, completely untrue,” a senior U.S. official said. In that same meeting, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew also reiterated to Netanyahu that his comments were not correct, walking through all of the arms the U.S. has transferred to Israel in recent months. A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Israel confirmed that Lew spoke with Netanyahu on Tuesday. The spokesperson reiterated that “with the exception of ongoing discussion regarding large diameter munitions, other items are either delivered or in the process of being delivered, or in the normal review process.”

Will a Miami prison be named after Trump? Here’s what Florida lawmakers are trying to rename” via Samantha Neely of USA Today Network — From streets and buildings to federal holidays and even organisms, thousands of places and objects have been renamed in honor of our country’s Presidents. Though for one former President, it’s been a bit harder. But that hasn’t stopped lawmakers, especially those in Florida, from trying. In an effort to get noticed, USA TODAY noted several Republican lawmakers have proposed bills and resolutions seeking to honor convicted felon and 2024 GOP front-runner, Trump. One lawmaker in Arizona suggested the U.S. Treasury reprint $500 bills again after 79 years, with time with Trump’s portrait on it. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna also pushed a bill to award Trump the Congressional Gold Medal for his administration’s foreign policy successes. Rep. Greg Steube introduced legislation on June 14 to rename the United States Exclusive Economic Zone after Trump.

Republicans are on a kick to name things after Trump.

Supreme Court ruling on bump stocks could open door to more lethal weapons” via Jack Healy of The New York Times — After a gunman in Las Vegas killed 60 people at a concert in 2017, officials focused on a gun accessory known as a bump stock, a device that allows a rifle to fire at nearly the rate of a machine gun. Bump stocks were banned by the Trump administration after that mass shooting. But when the Supreme Court last week struck down that ban, which had been a rare victory for gun safety advocates in recent years, it had the potential to open the door not just to bump stocks. The ruling could also undercut Biden’s efforts to restrict other gun accessories that give semiautomatic rifles rapid-fire capabilities, lawyers and gun policy experts on both sides of the gun debate said. The devices are replacement triggers known as “forced-reset triggers” or “wide-open triggers” that allow shooters to fire more than 900 rounds in a minute with one continuous squeeze, federal officials say.

Congress debates expanded draft amid military recruitment challenges” via Robert Jimison of The New York Times — The United States military has not activated a draft in more than 50 years, but Congress is weighing proposals to update mandatory conscription, including by expanding it to women for the first time and automatically registering those eligible to be called up. The proposals making their way through the House and Senate stand a slim chance of becoming law, and none would reinstate the draft compelling service right away. But the debate over potential changes reflects how lawmakers are rethinking the draft at a time when readiness issues have risen to the fore and as the Pentagon is facing recruitment challenges amid a raft of risks and conflicts around the world. The House last week passed an annual defense policy bill that, along with authorizing $895 billion in military spending, including a 19.5% pay raise for troops, contained a bipartisan proposal that would make registering for the draft automatic.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Broward Sheriff’s Office is asked to trim proposed budget that would top $1B” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony publicly detailed why his agency is seeking a budget that would surpass $1 billion this coming year, presenting “things that are reasonable, things that are necessary” to ensure public safety. But County Commissioners replied they don’t have the money to pay for all of it, and asked his office to work on a revised budget that will be ready for approval this Fall. Among Tony’s requests: $91.6 million for personnel, and $167.7 million for operating expenses, including $24 million for helicopters, which is above the $15 million the county already committed last year. Of that, $9.6 million is for the down payments on additional helicopters that he already ordered.

DeSantis announces $5 million for artificial reefs in Florida Keys, highlights coral reef efforts” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis celebrated the state’s efforts to restore coral reefs across the state and announced an additional $5 million for artificial reef recovery. He made the comments during a news conference in the Florida Keys on Wednesday. “Last year, we invested a record $47 million for coral reef restoration and for coastal protection,” DeSantis said. “I think when I became Governor it was a few million going into that.” Including the new funds the Governor added in the last budget, he reported that Florida has spent $115 million for coral reef recovery since he took office.

Ron DeSantis announces $5M to help Florida Keys’ coral reefs.

Miami Commissioners haggle over future of city agency caught up in bribery scandal” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — The future of a taxpayer-funded Miami redevelopment agency whose former Chair was arrested last year hangs in the balance after the City Commission on Tuesday delayed a vote that would have extended its existence for the next two decades. Miami’s Omni Community Redevelopment Agency was founded in 1987 with a mission to reduce “slum and blight” in the city’s Omni neighborhood, just south of Wynwood. It’s run by a team of professionals, with a Miami elected official, typically the District 2 Commissioner, serving as Chair. The agency — which provides grants to small businesses, builds affordable housing and makes infrastructure improvements — is scheduled to end operations in 2030 if not granted an extension. The Commission’s hesitation on Tuesday to extend the agency’s life until 2047 came as a surprise to District 2 Commissioner Damian Pardo, the current Chair of the agency.

A shake-up ahead for Palm Beach County Commission? Many candidates are now in the running” via Abigail Hasebroock of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — This year’s elections could bring big change to the Palm Beach County Commission, where nine candidates are now in the running for three County Commission seats. They’re among the many competitors seeking various county offices this year. Some candidates will face off during a Primary Election on Aug. 20; others in the General Election on Nov. 5. An incumbent, Commissioner Maria Marino, recently won re-election unopposed as a qualifying period recently ended. Marino will retain the seat for District 1, representing certain areas in northern Palm Beach County, including Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter. The seats still up for grabs represent Districts 3, 5 and 7.

Bay Harbor Islands Police Chief promoted to top spot despite ‘double-dipping’ findings by Miami-Dade police” via Francisco Alvarado of the Florida Bulldog — A recent whistleblower’s lawsuit lays bare how Bay Harbor Islands Police Chief Lindsley Noel ascended to the top spot despite getting caught “double-dipping,” earning tens of thousands of dollars in off-duty pay when he was also on-duty for the town’s cop force. In promoting Noel, who began his police career in Bay Harbor Islands in 2006, town officials relied on a private investigator’s analysis downplaying the findings of a Miami-Dade County Police administrative investigation. While state prosecutors declined to charge him with a crime, Miami-Dade detectives documented more than four dozen instances of double-dipping by Noel between 2017 and 2019, as well as violations of Bay Harbor Islands Police policies.

‘Ideal candidate’: Latino Victory Fund backs Annette Taddeo for Miami-Dade Clerk and Comptroller” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former state Sen. Taddeo is continuing to garner support for her run to be Miami-Dade’s next Clerk of the Court and Comptroller, with the Latino Victory Fund backing her candidacy. The organization supports progressive Latino candidates running for office. Taddeo is the only Democratic candidate in the race. “Annette’s journey from Colombia to the United States, her success as a small-business owner, and her historic tenure as the first Latina Democrat in the Florida Senate exemplify her resilience and dedication to public service,” said Sindy M. Benavides, Latino Victory Fund president and CEO.

Broward embarks on the latest plan to close some schools. Here’s what to know.” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Five schools will be closed during the 2025-26 school year to deal with dwindling enrollment, the Broward County School Board insists, reviving a pledge that it’s so far had trouble enacting. The new effort will be countywide rather than focusing only on a couple of areas of low enrollment and will be done with much more community involvement than a recent failed attempt, district officials say. The plan is not expected to include any high schools. The district will also look for ways to add or overhaul programs and bring back students who have chosen charter, private, or homeschool options and left the district with 43,000 empty seats.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Budget would boost tax rate for Sheriff’s Office and provide $3.5M for motocross facility” via Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Volusia County Council is forecasting reduced property tax rates in several categories but a hike in the rate that supports the Volusia Sheriff’s Office. The budget forecast also includes $3.5 million for a motocross facility in the county. The forecast was unveiled during a Volusia County Council meeting presentation. The county presented a five-year forecast for its taxing funds, which includes a look at possible tax rates for the upcoming budget. The recommended budget and tentative millage rates will be presented on July 16, and the budget will be finalized across two public hearings in September.

Lake Republicans censure Tax Collector and his brother over alleged ‘elections fraud’” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — An outraged Executive Committee of the Lake County Republican Party voted unanimously to censure Tax Collector David Jordan and his brother Mark, alleging they “concocted a plot to steal the Republican nomination” for property appraiser from incumbent Carey Baker. Though a censure is largely symbolic, GOP Chair Anthony Sabatini said this morning that the action opens up a range of options: “We can prohibit (them) from party events, take away any official recognition, remove them from the party website, literature, and other resources.” Neither David Jordan nor Mark Jordan returned phone messages.

Republicans in Lake County vote to censure David Jordan for his electoral shenanigans.

Orange elections chief adds early voting sites in Eatonville, west Orlando” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County elections chief Glen Gilzean is adding early voting sites in Eatonville and west Orlando, part of a push to expand access to the ballot box in Black communities and address what he called “voting deserts.” Gilzean announced the new locations on Juneteenth, which celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States in 1865. “The story of Juneteenth demonstrates the principle of freedom and liberties, which starts with the ballot box,” said Gilzean, Orange County’s first Black Supervisor of Elections, at a Wednesday news conference. The new sites will be at Eatonville Town Hall and a wellness center near Camping World Stadium. In total, Orange County will have 22 early voting sites for the Aug. 20 Primary and the Nov. 5 General Election.

The home she owns is outside the city, but Kissimmee says she can run for Mayor” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — The home owned by Kissimmee mayoral candidate Olga Cariño lies outside the city limits. But after a heated debate, the City Commission accepted Cariño’s contention that she has lived for more than a year at two leased residences within the city and allowed her name to remain on the ballot. Cariño, a well-known local restaurateur, submitted a bevy of legal documents to counter concerns from Kissimmee city staff and complaints from critics including the Osceola Action Committee, a slow-growth political action group, that she is not a legitimate candidate. “I have lived in Kissimmee for a year and half and have given the city everything they’ve asked for,” an exasperated Cariño said at one point.

Volusia OKs $4.7M in Volusia Forever funding for land purchase” via Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Volusia County is claiming another large piece of land for preservation through the Volusia Forever program. The County Council OK’d spending over $4.7 million in Volusia Forever dollars to buy 2,508 acres of environmentally sensitive land within the Indian River Lagoon “blueway.” The land is expected to help with flood protection, water quality and recreation, among other things. The county expects to get reimbursed for much of the purchase when the state buys 2,047 acres of the property for over $3.2 million ― the lands are in a Florida Forever project area. The St. Johns River Water Management District agreed to manage the land as an addition to the Turnbull Hammock Conservation Area.


Text message claims Tampa’s Italian Club destroyed Black, Cuban cemetery” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Who erased College Hill Cemetery and its more than 1,200 graves for early Black and Cuban residents? The answer might be in a text message from a retired city employee to a friend. Sometime after 1941, the cemetery disappeared. It was located on the land that today is a parking lot for the Italian Club Cemetery. A few weeks ago, someone shared a text message with Tampa City Council member Gwen Henderson, whose District 5 includes the East Tampa cemetery land.

Tampa’s Italian Club could be behind the disappearance of a Black and Cuban cemetery.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Baker Sheriff Scotty Rhoden, who is under investigation, gets his campaign headquarters for $150 a month. Can that possibly be legal?” via Jack Randall of Florida Trident — On June 8, Baker County Sheriff Rhoden hosted a meeting of about a dozen supporters outside his campaign headquarters, where he cheerfully handed out campaign signs and posed for photographs. Rhoden seemed unfazed that day by an executive order signed the previous week by DeSantis authorizing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate his Sheriff’s Office, an investigation he’s claimed is politically motivated and designed to “divide our BCSO family.” While the reasons for the criminal investigation remain undisclosed, the Florida Trident has uncovered serious questions about his campaign headquarters building that appear to be worthy of additional attention by the Florida Division of Elections for potentially improper campaign contributions.

Scotty Rhoden gets a sweet deal on his campaign headquarters.

Federal St. Augustine flooding study expected to yield solutions in four years” via Noah Hertz of JAX TDY — Facing sea level rise that’s expected to get worse, St. Augustine reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After a few years of waiting to get a study approved, the corps started its examination last year of what infrastructure can best protect St. Augustine well into the future. “It’s addressing a huge issue that will affect everybody who lives in the St. Augustine area and will live in the St. Augustine area for the next 50, 60, 100 years,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson David Ruderman tells Jacksonville Today. The study is known as the St. Augustine Florida Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study. The “Back Bay,” Ruderman explains, is “not the coast, but the water in between the barrier island and the mainland.” It’s a large undertaking because there’s a lot of area to look at along the Matanzas, Tolomato, and San Sebastian rivers. The study officially started 18 months ago, but he says they’re just finishing “the first inning.”


DeSantis taps Kevin Cooper to Chair Early Learning Coalition in Sarasota County” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cooper, the top fundraiser in a Sarasota Hospital Board race, just added a new line to his résumé: He’s now a DeSantis appointee. The Governor appointed Cooper to Chair the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County. DeSantis named Cooper and two others, yes. every kid. Government Affairs Director Tiffany Barfield and Holiday House of SRQ founder Jennifer Infanti, to the organization’s Board. The appointment comes as Cooper continues his run for Seat 2 on the Sarasota County Hospital Board. Cooper has raised more than $28,000 for the race, more than anyone has ever raised for a Hospital Board position in Sarasota County history. He will continue running for the seat.

Kevin Cooper is appointed to Chair the Early Learning Coalition in Sarasota County.

Lee County Tax Collector faces no opposition; will serve another term” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Lee County Tax Collector Noelle Branning will serve another four years. The qualifying deadline to run for elected offices ended June 14 and nobody stepped forward to run against Branning. She became tax collector in January 2021. Branning, 48, ran for the position in 2020 but faced no opposition in that election cycle. Previously she was Deputy Tax Collector under Larry Hart, who announced he would not seek re-election to the top post a few months earlier. Branning is known for embracing technology and making services more readily available for residents. In 2023 she added two new locations for appointments for driver tests in Bonita Springs and Cape Coral.

Sarasota County saw tens of thousands of gallons of sewage spill during recent flooding” via Christian Casale of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sarasota County had a wet and wild day courtesy of tropical system Invest90L last week. Amid the downpours and subsequent flooding, county staff discovered an overflowing maintenance hole at 7208 Pine Needle Road, where about 73,200 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled. Between the Riverview, Linwood, and Sam’s Seltzers Lift Stations, about 41,000 gallons of untreated wastewater were spilled. The Wastewater Reclamation Facilities saw three times their usual flow during the storms as runoff flooded the system. The county’s largest wastewater treatment facility on Bee Ridge Road produces an average of 7 million gallons a day. Within the past week, the flow hit a peak of 20 million gallons a day.

Sarasota School Board discusses reading scores, approves Superintendent contract extension” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Sarasota County School Board unanimously approved a positive performance evaluation and a new, bigger contract for first-year Superintendent Terry Connor at a meeting. Connor’s newly approved contract extends his tenure through 2029 and keeps his compensation at $255,000 per year. The approval comes following a Board workshop earlier in the morning where Connor’s staff presented updates on the district’s yearly budget and comprehensive reading plan. The presentation on the district’s reading plan comes as Sarasota County projects to see a 7-percentage-point increase in third grade reading achievement — a dramatic increase compared to the previous year.


The freedom to work is on the line” via Skylar Zander for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — What do barbers, medical professionals, taxidermists, school bus drivers and manicurists all have in common? They need an occupational license from the state to be allowed to do their job in Florida.

Currently, many of these skilled professionals cannot perform their jobs in many other states if they hold a Florida occupational license — nor here in Florida if their occupational license is from elsewhere. Thankfully, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 1600 this 2024 Session, which will be a game changer for new residents to get to work quickly.

Arguably, most of these professionals would perform their job duties the same way, regardless of where they practice their trade. By eliminating barriers to these professionals in other states who want to live here in Florida, the state can more easily welcome them in and let them contribute to our state’s economy, all while serving our residents.

These hardworking Americans shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to perform the same job in another state. Universal license recognition doesn’t just benefit the individual — it’s a positive for the entire state, supporting a flourishing Florida economy by boosting employment. Universal licensing also lowers costs for businesses because there is no outlay to retrain these professionals as they were already trained to earn a license in the state they came from.

Currently, 20 states have adopted universal recognition for out-of-state licensees. Florida, the fastest-growing state, should become the 21st, promoting growth in its economy and better serving residents as they come or go. We shouldn’t let unelected bureaucrats and special interests hold back individuals from getting to work faster.


On Juneteenth, freedom came with strings attached” via Charles M. Blow of The New York Times — Last week at a Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris said that on June 19, 1865, after Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, “The enslaved people of Texas learned they were free.” On that day, she said, “They claimed their freedom.” With those words, Harris, who stood alongside Biden when he admirably signed the legislation that made Juneteenth a federal holiday, expressed a common oversimplification, one born of our tendency to conjugate history’s complexities. Most Black people couldn’t claim their freedom on June 19, 1865, because their bodies (and their free will) were still being policed to nearly the same degree and with the same inveterate racism that Southern whites had aimed at them during slavery.

Biden should stop appeasing Venezuela’s regime” via Marco Rubio for the Miami Herald — Biden will be remembered as one of the most naive heads of state in American history. From Iran to Cuba to Venezuela, he has routinely appeased our nation’s adversaries only to reward their aggression and criminality. In the case of Nicolás Maduro’s narco-dictatorship, the President’s strategy has completely and predictably backfired. Consider the events of the last six months: Maduro violently suppressed peaceful protesters, threatened war against his neighbors, and hosted terrorist groups but faced no repercussions from the White House. Instead, Biden helped create a United Nations-operated assistance fund for the regime, lifted sanctions from its oil, gas, and gold sectors and released a Maduro ally and convicted money launderer, Alex Saab, from U.S. prison.

Is the Biden campaign sleepwalking into a Black-voter catastrophe?” via Audrey Fahlberg and Brittany Bernstein of National Review — Black lawmakers and community leaders aligned with Biden have spent months issuing a not-so-subtle warning to the President’s re-election campaign: The incumbent’s message isn’t getting through to many Black voters, particularly men and younger voters, and time is running out for the campaign to change course. Recent shifts in strategy have some Black lawmakers feeling confident that things are looking up ahead of an election that could be decided by tens of thousands of votes in a handful of swing states. “We’ve been working with the campaign on this,” Rep. Maxwell Frost told National Review earlier this month, praising the Biden campaign for ramping up advertising and canvassing in Black communities.

Florida’s costly, misguided plan for Canada to solve its Rx woes” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Last week, the Orlando Sentinel revealed that Florida has spent $50 million on a Canadian drug import plan that hasn’t actually imported any drugs. The stinky story got even ranker when it revealed that the money has gone to yet another politically connected firm — one that has funneled money into GOP campaigns, hired a lobbying firm cozy with DeSantis and had previously snagged another state contract without going through the normal bidding process. The firm, Life Science Logistics, scored a $50 million deal, courtesy of taxpayers who aren’t reaping any benefits. Let me submit that the biggest problem in all this isn’t this $50 million contract. It’s the fool’s-good solution of suggesting Americans turn to Canada for our prescription drug woes. Democratic politicians have suggested it. Republican politicians have suggested it. It’s a bipartisan cop-out.

Miami is entering a state of unreality” via Mario Alejandro Ariza of The Atlantic — About a foot and a half of water had fell across South Florida — not the product of a hurricane or a tropical storm but of a rainstorm, dubbed Invest 90L, a deluge that meteorologists are calling a once-in-200-years event. It was the fourth massive rainfall to smite southeastern Florida in as many years. “Rain bombs” such as Invest 90L are products of our hotter world; warmer air has more room between its molecules for moisture. That water is coming for greater Miami and the 6 million people who live here. This glittering city was built on a drained swamp and sits atop porous limestone; as the sea keeps rising, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts that South Florida could see almost 11 extra inches of ocean by 2040. Sunny-day flooding, when high tides gurgle up and soak low-lying ground, has increased 400% since 1998, with a significant increase after 2006; a major hurricane strike with a significant storm surge could displace up to 1 million people. And with every passing year, the region’s infrastructure seems more ill-equipped to deal with these dangers, despite billions of dollars spent on adaptation.


— ALOE —

Good news for travel procrastinators: Passport agency to open in Orlando” via Lauren Brensel of the Orlando Sentinel — Procrastinating before a trip has never been more convenient: Central Florida residents should soon find it easier to secure their passports with a new office to do so opening in Orlando. The city is one of six in the U.S. to receive new passport agencies, U.S. Rep. Frost announced in a news conference Tuesday. The result? Fewer 235-mile trips from Orlando to Miami, currently the site of the only passport agency in the state. There are about 25 “passport counters” within 25 miles of downtown Orlando, usually in government buildings like post offices, but they can’t do what an agency can. It may take up to a year for the U.S. General Services Administration to determine where the office should go. In the meantime, Frost said he wants recommendations from city leaders. Frost said receiving approval for a passport office is difficult because of the amount of federal money required, though he didn’t know the exact amount at Tuesday’s conference.

Getting a passport in Central Florida has become much easier.

Tampa’s ‘Boom by the Bay’ 4th of July celebration returns for 2024” via Rachel Tucker of WFLA — Boom by the Bay, Tampa’s Independence Day celebration, will be back at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park for 2024. The celebration, which takes place on July 4 this year, includes three festive locations to view fireworks and enjoy the Independence Day festivities. “There’s nothing like celebrating America’s birthday in America’s greatest city,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said in a statement. “This is a chance to celebrate our freedom by having a blast with our friends and family. We want people to come, enjoy themselves along the river all day, and wrap up with a huge smile, watching those fireworks boom overhead.” In addition to Julian B. Lane Park, fireworks can be viewed from the Star-Spangled Sparkman event at Sparkman Wharf and the Heights District Fourth of July Celebration at Armature Works. Fireworks will not take place off Bayshore Boulevard this year.


Celebrating today are Matt Harringer, our friend Todd Josko of Ballard Partners, Ed Miyagishima, and the great Ieva Smidt.


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.

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

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