Get ‘burned first: Here’s your AM review of the news driving Florida politics.
Good Friday morning.
We begin with some news we really don’t want to share.
Sen. Tina Polsky, an attorney and rising star among Democrats, has been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and will begin treatment at Boca Raton Regional Hospital Lynn Cancer Institute next week.
Polsky, 53, self-detected a suspicious mass about a month and a half ago and, after a biopsy showed it was cancerous, underwent a lumpectomy on Sept. 27.
She is awaiting the results of one more test, but for now, she is scheduled to treat her cancer with radiation.
She decided to publicize her cancer diagnosis and treatment plan to underscore the importance of self-examinations and annual mammograms and how they improve breast cancer health outcomes, Polsky told Florida Politics on Thursday.
“I wanted to share because word got out even though I asked people to keep it quiet. So, I’d rather get ahead of the story,” she said. “In addition, I also wanted to use my public position to educate others about early self-detection and mammograms.”
Polsky is one of an estimated 20,160 Florida women who the American Cancer Society projected in its annual report would be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021; it is the most diagnosed cancer in the state, according to the association’s report.
Meanwhile, Polsky said she has a particular interest in improving early cancer detection for younger women who can have more aggressive cancer than postmenopausal women but aren’t eligible for annual mammograms.
“I don’t know if it’s a legislative answer, I don’t think so, but younger women really need to stay on top of it because they are not supposed to get regular mammograms. We have to be able to do something about that,” she said.
First on #FlaPol — If former President Donald Trump tunes into Fox News this week, he might see MeidasTouch’s new ad lambasting him as a no-show in the Virginia Governor race.
“Donald, why are you so scared to go to Virginia? Is it because you know Glenn Youngkin wants nothing to do with you? Or is it because your loser stench rubs off on everyone you touch,” the ad narrator says.
“President (Barack) Obama is showing up. President (Joe) Biden is showing. Dr. (Jill) Biden is showing up. Stacey Abrams is showing up. If you weren’t too weak or scared or washed up, you would get to Virginia fast. But you won’t. Instead, you’re just phoning it in. Like a coward.”
The progressive Super PAC released the ad, titled “#TrumpinHiding,” on social media on Oct. 18 and it has amassed more than 1.2 million views in the days since.
MeidasTouch hopes it will get in front of at least one more pair of eyes by way of a five-figure ad buy on Fox News in the Palm Beach media market. Though it’s 800 miles south of the Virginia border, it’s also home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
To watch “#TrumpinHiding,” click on the image below:
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) October 18, 2021
The Southern Group, the top-earning lobbying firm in Florida over the last year, has won the Golden Rotunda for Lobbying Firm of the Year.
Nick Iarossi, the man responsible for the rapid rise of Capital City Consulting, was named Lobbyist of the Year. And the award for Boutique Lobbying Firm of the Year went to Johnston & Stewart, founded by Jeff Johnston and Amanda Stewart two years ago this month.
The Golden Rotundas are awarded by INFLUENCE Magazine to recognize the best in the governmental affairs profession. Winners are determined by voting within the profession.
In years past, we reached out to industry professionals to submit nominations for individual lobbyist awardees and firm winners. We asked each to submit three nominations, weighted the results, and voila, the 2021 Golden Rotundas are here.
Several other firms and lobbyists won Golden Rotundas across more than a dozen categories. You can read about the winners in the latest edition of INFLUENCE.
Troy Kinsey takes to the skies — Longtime TV journalist Kinsey is prepped for takeoff. On Thursday, he announced that he’d turned in his two-week notice to Bay News 9/News 13 and that he’d already lined up a new off-screen gig with American Airlines Group. “Fasten your seat belt and place your seat back in its full upright position!” Kinsey, an avid pilot, said. The FSU and USC alum will be flying for American’s Envoy Air sub-brand, which taxis out of Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, and Miami, so his Florida fans will still have the chance to hear him speak into a microphone. No word if Kinsey will make return trips to Tallahassee for cameos for his famous impressions of Charlie Crist or Rick Scott. Here’s to a smooth landing.
Mike Bender, Gary Fineout to hold live Q&A at Midtown Reader — The Wall Street Journal reporter will swing through town next week to promote his new book, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.” The former Tallahassee resident is scheduled to hold a live Q&A session with POLITICO Florida’s Fineout on Thursday at Midtown Reader. Bender said conversation topics will include “Florida politics, the 2022 midterms — the anecdotes and details from my book that inform both — and anything else you might want to get off your chest.” The event starts at 7 p.m. Attendees will also have an opportunity to get a signed copy of Bender’s book. Copies are available ahead of time via Midtown Reader’s online store.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
CNN: The poll of polls includes the five most recent national polls measuring the views of adults.
CNN Poll of Polls
Biden Job Approval
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 20, 2021
I’m glad to be home! pic.twitter.com/ZoYuy54Q6R
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) October 20, 2021
—@JimmyPatronis: It is heartbreaking to hear first responders getting pink slips because they won’t bow down to the political pressure of a local government on vaccine mandates.
—@JakeMGrumbach: When police resign, instead of following this very easy rule, just imagine how many codes of conduct they routinely break, how important it is to their occupational identity that they obey no civilian authority.
—@ChristineSexton: Since @GovRonDeSantis is calling legislators back for a Special Session — Will lawmakers approve the spending of $1.1 billion in increased federal Medicaid funds the state received for home and community-based services?
—@AnnaEskamani: Hi! My name is Anna (Eskamani), and not everything I tweet has to fit a dominant political narrative. What I love doing is share evidence-based policy points that even cross-party lines because our goal is to help solve problems, not create them or cause more drama
“Today’s identity politics is endemic in the political parties themselves. In this moment, it will prove difficult to organize politics any differently.”
New Voter Study Group report out today. https://t.co/u0sABENcgs pic.twitter.com/4TJ3UduVP0
— Lee Drutman (@leedrutman) October 21, 2021
I’ve never known a Florida Press Corps without @TroyKinsey. Sucks for the public that he’s turning in his custom suits, makeup, and hairspray for the friendly skies, but I couldn’t be happier for him. He turned his true passion into a paycheck. I love him for that — and more! pic.twitter.com/4Gp4bLsecv
— Kevin Cate (@KevinCate) October 21, 2021
We love the movies, don’t we folks pic.twitter.com/YbmxDpGpIB
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) October 21, 2021
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ returns — 2; World Series Game 1 — 4; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 5; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 5; Georgia at UF — 8; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 11; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 11; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 14; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 14; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 16; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 17; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 17; Miami at FSU — 20; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 23; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 27; FSU vs. UF — 36; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 40; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 46; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 49; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 56; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 61; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 68; CES 2022 begins — 75; NFL season ends — 79; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 81; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 81; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 83; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 84; NFL playoffs begin — 85; Super Bowl LVI — 114; Daytona 500 — 121; St. Pete Grand Prix — 128; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 133; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 196; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 217; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 223; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 259; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 271; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 350; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 378; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 385; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 420; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 483; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 637.
“Ron DeSantis calls for Special Legislative Session to fight Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — “We have an opportunity here to take additional action, and I think we have to do it,” said DeSantis, who previously also said he would challenge the mandates in court. “I think we have got to stand up for people’s jobs and their livelihoods.” The Governor did not announce a date for the Session. DeSantis’ call for a special legislative session does not require approval from state Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls. Simpson did not respond to text messages about the Governor’s plan. In a memo to the state House, Sprowls said: “At this time, we have not received the dates or details regarding any proposed call.” “To add protections for people in the state of Florida, and that’s something that cannot wait until the Regular Legislative Session next year, it needs to happen soon,” DeSantis said.
—“DeSantis calls for lawmakers to end COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Florida” via Jeffrey Schweers of the USA Today Network
“Counterprogramming Biden, DeSantis returns to prime-time cable” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — With Biden appearing on a rival network’s town hall Thursday, Fox News naturally booked the man supporters call “America’s Governor” to counterprogram the Democratic President. DeSantis appeared in the second quarter-hour of Tucker Carlson, after a week in which he redoubled his opposition to Biden on several issues. DeSantis vowed Special Session action against vaccine mandates. Additionally, he suggested Florida could save Christmas from Biden-caused supply bottlenecks, offering seemingly unlimited capacity for rerouted freight at ports. Those tropes recurred in the Tucker hit. DeSantis defended the need for a Special Session, noting that mandates are “unconstitutional” and “bad all-around.”
Wilton Simpson, Chris Sprowls speak on Special Session — Sprowls and Simpson, in a joint statement: “Florida will respond to this gross overreach by the federal government. In the coming days, we will review the Governor’s specific proposals as well as discuss our own ideas for legislative action, including whether now is the time for Florida to withdraw from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and establish our own state program. We believe that by doing so, Florida will have the ability to alleviate onerous federal regulations placed on employers and employees. During the upcoming Special Session, our goal is to make our laws even more clear that Florida stands as a refuge for families and businesses who want to live in freedom.”
“Democrats knock vaccine Special Session as DeSantis’ latest campaign play” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — House Democratic Policy Chair Rep. Fentrice Driskell said she and her colleagues were shocked and taken aback. She said Sprowls’ memo saying he was still in communication with the Governor’s Office over dates “suggests that there’s a departure from the way that things have been going, or perhaps that this Governor just feels so emboldened and so ambitious that he doesn’t think that he has to check in with the House or with the Senate on the moves that he takes.” Rep. Eskamani stops short of calling people who believe misinformation “extremists.” But people in power are exploiting others with misinformation at a time when the public traditionally looks toward officials like the Governor, she continued.
“Keith Perry preparing new ‘plan of attack’ to block vaccine, mask mandates” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Perry will refile legislation expanding on the recently passed vaccine and mask mandate bans. Last week, Perry filed a measure (SB 452) banning mask mandates in schools as well as medical requirements. However, the Senator is developing a new plan of attack, including a measure that would possibly prevent businesses from requiring vaccines for employees, an ask from DeSantis. “Local governments across the state have been persistently violating COVID-19 policies,” Perry said. As originally filed, Perry’s public health bill would prohibit counties and municipalities from requiring any United States citizen to undergo a medical procedure or treatment, covering shots.
“Can Florida ditch OSHA? Lawmakers are considering it” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — When Florida convenes for the planned Special Session on vaccine mandates next month, the Legislature might “withdraw” Florida from the nation’s workplace safety agency. Biden has asked the OSHA to mandate that businesses with 100 or more employees require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. A similar provision extends to federal contractors. OSHA allows states and territories to create their State Plans, of which 22 oversee private and public businesses. However, OSHA monitors State Plans and requires they are at least as strict as OSHA’s guidelines in preventing work-related injuries, illness, and deaths.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“Sprowls blames media, COVID-19 for lagging traffic to health care transparency website” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics+ — Florida spent $5.5 million on a health care transparency website former Gov. Scott muscled through the Florida Legislature in 2016 as a way to lower health care costs for Florida consumers, but it isn’t being used. House Speaker Sprowls, who sponsored the legislation in 2016 necessary to create the website, puts the blame, in part, on the media. That, and the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have had a hell of a time getting the media to cover this in any substantive way,” Sprowls told Florida Politics, referring to the Florida Health PriceFinder website. “I think people don’t know that this is an option for them to check.”
“Democrats rally support to end prison ‘slavery’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — For the second year in a row, Tampa Rep. Dianne Hart is backing the measure (SJR 392/HJR 39) to add protections against slavery and involuntary servitude to the Florida Constitution. But unlike last year, she started campaigning for it early with some Republican House members and has a Senate sponsor in West Palm Beach Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell. “I’m not asking for people not to work. What I am saying is don’t work me for free,” Hart said she told her Republican colleagues. Hart has already discussed the measure with a couple of Republican colleagues and was scheduled on Wednesday to discuss it with Rep. Chuck Brannan.
“House subcommittee OK’s measure bolstering criminal drug laws” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A House subcommittee passed a multipronged measure Thursday that, among other changes, would make charging a drug dealer easier if they sell a controlled substance that led to someone’s death. The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee OK’d the measure (HB 95) with a 14-4 party-line vote. Rep. Scott Plakon is the bill sponsor. A drug dealer in Florida may face a death sentence or life in prison if they sell a controlled substance that verifiably caused the death of a consumer. Plakon’s measure, however, would broaden the law’s scope, allowing a prosecutor to pursue a first-degree murder charge if a controlled substance is considered a “substantial factor” in a person’s death.
“A bill would make it a crime to get within 30 feet of police. Miami-Dade objects” via Douglas Hanks of Florida Politics — To argue against legislation that would make it a crime to get too close to the police, former public defender Keon Hardemon left his seat at the Miami-Dade County Commission dais Tuesday and walked the floor with a tape measure. “This isn’t good legislation,” Hardemon said from the second row of the chambers after measuring roughly 30 feet from where his fellow Commissioners sat. “This is about maintaining control, really, of communities … If an officer is telling you from this distance: Back up, you’re too close,’ then what’s too far?” Commissioners sided with Hardemon, rejecting a resolution endorsing state legislation by Rep. Alex Rizo that would create a misdemeanor offense for staying within 30 feet of officers for the purpose of provoking or harassing them.
“Lawmakers to address National Guard troop shortage, may prohibit ‘unconstitutional’ deployments” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics+ — State lawmakers are hatching plans to bolster the ranks of Florida’s woefully staffed National Guard, suggesting they may send a letter to Congress or pass a memorial urging Washington to act, among other options. The political call-to-arms was swift, coming moments after Florida’s top-ranking general stressed the issue to a Senate panel. Florida, the general warned, is ill-positioned to handle its next major emergency or “worst day.” “This is stark. This is scary. It’s a ticking time bomb,” responded Sen. Danny Burgess, an Army reservist and member of the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security. Florida’s disproportionate ratio of Guard members to citizens is decades in the making.
The Eyeball Wars are back for the 2022 Legislative Session — On Wednesday, members of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology turned up for a meeting of the House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee to warn of potential dangers if lawmakers expand optometrists’ scope of practice. Optometrists are generally primary eye care providers. They are licensed to prescribe corrective lenses and have limited prescription powers. Ophthalmologists, meanwhile, are medical doctors who specialize in eye care. They argue optometrists do not have the education and training needed to perform surgery or prescribe certain controlled substances. “Optometrists are key members of the eye-care team who are trained to diagnose a variety of vision issues,” said Dr. Darby D. Miller, the immediate past president of FSO. “However, optometrists are neither medical doctors nor trained surgeons, and simply do not have the experience or the training required to perform surgeries on or around the eye.”
“Legislature trying again for statewide vacation rental regulation” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics+ — In an annual rite of legislation, the Florida Senate is preparing again to consider making regulation of vacation rental homes and their marketing platforms a statewide process. This year’s most likely main legislative vehicles are Burgess’ Senate Bill 512 and Republican Rep. Jason Fischer’s House Bill 325. They are much like the final version of last year’s effort — which made it further through the Legislative Process than most efforts in previous years — but it still died in the Session’s closing days. “Vacation rentals have become a perennial issue that I hope to help resolve,” Burgess said.
“Linda Stewart, Mike Grieco bring back bills to let cities and counties ban single-use plastics” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Two Democratic lawmakers are returning to a yearslong effort to allow local governments to ban single-use plastics. Florida law currently states that “no local government, local governmental agency, or state government agency may enact any rule, regulation, or ordinance regarding use, disposition, sale, prohibition, restriction, or tax of such auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags.” That provision blocks cities and counties from barring those plastics, even if such a move would be supported by local residents. Similar bills to those from Stewart and Grieco (SB 320 and HB 6063) have been introduced in years past. But none have moved forward in the Legislature.
“Removing tax on plane sales could be high-tech job booster, lawmaker says” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics+ — Republican Rep. Toby Overdorf is continuing a yearslong effort to eliminate the state’s sales tax on airplane sales, a move he says will be a job booster within Florida. This is the first year Overdorf has fronted legislation (HB 6051). Republican lawmakers have pushed for the exemption in the past, though, to no avail. Current law exempts plane sales for use by common carriers (such as Delta, American Airlines and others) from Florida’s 6% sales tax. Overdorf’s bill would apply that exemption to sales of charter or private planes of any size. Overdorf said purchasers had described the practice of buying an aircraft out-of-state, then waiting six to eight months to relocate the plane to Florida.
“Tracie Davis eager to move on from ‘mistake’ in financial disclosure form” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Davis is ready to put a “mistake” in her financial disclosure history behind her. Friday’s meeting of the Florida Ethics Commission will see the panel consider a stipulated settlement, in which the Jacksonville Democrat from House District 13 admits to errors in her 2019 Form 6 declaration of assets and liabilities, required yearly for lawmakers. Davis had previously listed as an asset an $89,000 equity interest in a home on W. 10th Street, which she and her husband tried and failed to purchase from her husband’s mother. The form has since been corrected, with Davis’ net worth for 2019 now in the negative by more than $11,000 as a result of that and other modifications regarding itemizing credit card and student loan debt.
— STATEWIDE —
“Board of Education chair Tom Grady faces up to one year in prison for federal water dispute” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida Board of Education Chair Grady faces a federal misdemeanor charge for excavating a property in waters around the Florida Keys, a violation punishable by up to one year in prison. Grady, a lawyer and former Republican state lawmaker, insurance executive, and state financial regulator, has been accused in a federal indictment of “obstruction of navigable water” in April 2017 off the coast of Islamorada. He did so “without the authorization of the Secretary of the Army acting through the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers),” a violation of federal law, an indictment from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida said.
“State details veteran suicide prevention efforts amid pandemic” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Members of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs highlighted Wednesday the state’s effort to address veteran suicide at a House subcommittee meeting. The presentation comes as suicide prevention experts fear the COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately impact vulnerable members of the state’s veteran community. Despite a federal report recently suggesting a decrease in veteran suicides, the 2019 data is years old and does not account for the pandemic. Other indicators, meanwhile, indicate the pandemic is indeed an aggravating factor. Speaking to the House Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, FDVA Executive Director James Hartsell pointed to other data points of concern.
“CFPB orders prison banker to pay $6 million for charging inmates ‘unfair’ fees” via Aaron Gregg of The Washington Post — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ordered a leading prison banker to pay $6 million for siphoning off taxpayer-funded benefits and forcing recently incarcerated individuals to pay hidden fees. JPay, a Florida-based company owned by the private equity firm Platinum Equity Partners, is a dominant financial services provider to prisons, jails and inmates. The company provides former inmates with debit cards as they leave prison. The cards typically contain money seized when the former inmates were locked up, earnings from prison labor, or state benefits designed to help them get back on their feet.
“Man behind ‘ghost’ candidate cash also led dark-money group supporting Florida’s big utility companies” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — The same man who led a dark-money group supporting spoiler “ghost” candidates in key state Senate races last year also led another dark-money group that helped the electric-utility industry combat an effort to open up competition in Florida’s retail energy market. Tax records show that the second dark-money organization distributed more than $10 million in 2019 to groups fighting a proposed constitutional amendment that would have broken up regional electricity monopolies, an idea that was fiercely opposed by the state’s existing utility companies. The dark-money nonprofit is called the “Center for Popular Progressive Values and Democracy Inc.” Its president is Richard Alexander.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Christina Brodeur, Jan Gorrie, Ballard Partners: Axon Enterprise
Dean Cannon, Carlecia Collins, Katie Flury, GrayRobinson: City of Gainesville, Organon
Chip Case, Jefferson Monroe Consulting: Florida 1.27
David Childs, The Vogel Group: American Resort Development Association
Angela Gochenaur: Pear Therapeutics
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida COVID-19 update: 465 more deaths added to state tally; most died in the last month” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida on Thursday reported 465 more deaths and 2,262 additional COVID-19 cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Miami Herald calculations of CDC data. All but 63 of the newly reported deaths — about 86% — occurred since Sept. 23. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,633,097 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 58,608 deaths. There were 2,730 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida, according to a Thursday report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. COVID-19 patients take up 4.7% of all inpatient beds in the state, compared to 5.09% the previous day. Of the people hospitalized in Florida, 697 people were in intensive care unit beds. That represents about 11.09% of the state’s ICU hospital beds, compared to 11.81% from the previous day.
“Merrick Garland unsure whether DeSantis has cooperated with his office” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch inquired during a House committee hearing with Garland. The South Florida Democrat set up the question with narratives of threats targeted toward School Board members, asking if DeSantis had been “cooperative” with the Attorney General’s office. DeSantis, Deutch noted, has claimed that Garland “weaponized” the Department of Justice against parents opposed to mask mandates in schools. The Governor has fumed since Garland announced earlier this month that he was considering using the Department of Justice and FBI to protect school board members from threats of violence. “I don’t know the answer to the question that you’re asking,” Garland said.
“DeSantis vows to ‘fortify’ protesting school parents” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — DeSantis pledged Wednesday to pursue legislation to “fortify” parents’ rights to peaceful protests against school boards that are pushing policies parents don’t like. “We are going to be fortifying parents’ rights. I mean, the Parents Bill of Rights (approved in the spring) was good, but I don’t think it was written with the idea that you would face intransigent officials to the extent that we would,” DeSantis said Wednesday in Titusville. “There’s going to be things that are going to be fortified on top of what’s been done,” the Governor said at a news conference. He suggested that may include providing parents the right to seek damages from school districts if the parents are convinced the school district’s mask policies caused harm to children.
“Nikki Fried: Governor’s mask policy punishes school districts keeping kids healthier” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — More data is in, showing Gov. Ron DeSantis is punishing those school districts that that are doing what’s keeping students the healthiest: Requiring students wear masks, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said. Fried, who is running to replace DeSantis in the Governor’s Mansion, released data her office compiled about how Florida’s school districts are performing in COVID-19 infections by mask policy, adding to an Oct. 7 release. DeSantis issued an edict prohibiting school districts from requiring students wear masks and schools that have defied him are facing losses in state funding.
“Ashley Moody supports suit challenging Orange County vaccine mandate” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Moody has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by 43 firefighters and medics against Orange County, challenging the county’s mandate that they get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Orange County firefighters and medics are challenging an executive order from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings that required nearly all county employees, including 1,300 employees in the Fire and Rescue Department, to receive at least the first COVID-19 vaccination shot by the end of September. Moody asked the Circuit Court in Orange County Wednesday for permission to file an amicus brief in the case of Jason Wheat versus Orange County, which was filed in that court on Oct. 1 by the firefighters and medics.
“Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo questions COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness, safety” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Ladapo, who runs the state’s coronavirus response, questioned Thursday whether COVID-19 vaccines work well and said more should be done to highlight “adverse reactions” to them. “You remember when people were telling you that, you know that these vaccines would stop transmission and the rates of protection were greater than 90%?” Ladapo said at a DeSantis news conference. “We’re finding that the data is showing that in some of these vaccines, the protection from infection is less than 40%.” Vaccination, however, has a significant effect on whether a person is hospitalized or dies from the disease.
DOH spends $1.3M on vaccine incentives — The Florida Department of Health has quietly paid more than $1.3 million to purchase $10 grocery store gift cards that are handed out to people after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The gift card purchases were unearthed by POLITICO Florida in a Department of Financial Services database. The payments are at odds with the DeSantis administration’s hard-line approach to the vaccine, which has seen the Governor and top officials tour the state touting monoclonal antibody treatments and go after local governments and school districts that enact mask or vaccine mandates, rather than encourage Floridians to get vaccinated.
“Florida agency banned mask rules even though it saw health emergency” via Scott Travis of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida health officials saw COVID-19 as a serious enough threat last month to take immediate action in schools, but the solution, banning mask requirements, has left some school districts baffled. Now, six school districts that have refused to comply, Broward, Miami-Dade, Orange, Duval, Leon and Alachua, are challenging the state Health Department’s authority to enact the emergency order. The hearing before Administrative Law Judge Brian Newman started Thursday and is expected to conclude Friday. Two other school districts, in Palm Beach and Brevard counties, also defied a Sept. 22 Health Department order but didn’t join this complaint. All eight districts were recently fined by the state Board of Education.
“Nurse shortage threatens Florida” via The Gainesville Sun — The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating and demoralizing to people in all walks of life but nurses carry a heavier burden than most. Nurses have been on the front lines caring for hospitalized COVID-19 patients separated from their loved ones, making the job even harder. Just when it seemed like the pandemic was winding down, the delta variant of the virus spread largely through the unvaccinated population and caused a summer surge in cases. It is no wonder why so many nurses feel burned out. The rest of us owe a debt of gratitude to nurses and other front-line health care workers, which we can help repay by being vaccinated and taking other precautions to prevent yet another wave of cases.
“Gainesville defends vaccine mandate in court even after city abandoned its plans to impose one” via Fresh Take Florida — Just weeks after abandoning its vaccine mandate for city employees under pressure from the DeSantis administration, Gainesville’s lawyers are defending the defunct mandate in state court. The city asked Alachua Circuit Judge Monica Brasington to modify or rescind the temporary injunction she issued on Sept. 22 preventing Gainesville from requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Brasington has not yet ruled on the city’s request to reconsider her ruling. The city’s legal maneuver comes after a Sept. 23 meeting in which city commissioners voted 6-1 to scrap the vaccine plan entirely. It’s not clear why the city is continuing to defend the ordinance now that it no longer exists.
“Mayor Jerry Demings on DeSantis’ criticism of Orange County’s vaccination mandate: ‘Bring it on’” via Steven Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Mayor Demings blasted DeSantis for “failed leadership” during the pandemic and for using firefighters to create “political theater,” after the governor hosted a news conference Thursday with Battalion Chief Stephen Davis, who was fired by the county for insubordination. Davis didn’t issue written reprimands to firefighters alleged to have disobeyed Demings’ vaccination mandate, saying earlier in the day the discipline orders he was given by superior officers violated his colleagues’ civil rights.
“‘We are a county of small businesses.’ Miami-Dade launches vaccine initiative for workers” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County has partnered with the Health Foundation of South Florida and more than 20 chambers of commerce to launch a new initiative to encourage vaccinations among small businesses. “A sustained post-pandemic recovery depends on our small businesses being safe, stabilized, and reignited,” said Loreen Chant, president and CEO of the Health Foundation of South Florida. Business owners who want to take the pledge can visit WeDidItSFL.com for a one-stop-shop of resources that provides tips and talking points on how to discuss COVID-19 vaccines with employees and a list of incentives that can be used to motivate workers, such as offering bonuses and paid time off.
“Mask mandate in Miami-Dade Schools could be relaxed by the end of the month, Alberto Carvalho says” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County Public Schools could ease its mask mandate by the end of the month because Superintendent Carvalho said Wednesday local rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have declined significantly since the beginning of the academic year, as have the number of students needing to quarantine. And most people eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccination in the district have received at least one dose, he said. Speaking at the School Board’s monthly meeting in downtown Miami, the superintendent said the district could announce easing the mask mandate by the end of the week or the beginning of next week.
“As COVID-19 cases dive, Tallahassee doctors warn ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’” via Alicia Devine of the Tallahassee Democrat — Two months after Tallahassee saw the largest and deadliest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers are continuing to trend downward. But doctors at the city’s largest hospital warn it would be premature to abandon basic precautions. At a briefing Thursday, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Vice President and Chief Integration Officer Dr. Dean Watson said that hand-washing, mask-wearing when appropriate and getting vaccinated remain the best defense and path to normalcy. “We’re not out of the woods yet and if you’re ill, you need to take this seriously,” he said. “I don’t think we can go out and say it’s over.”
“Fire chief fired for not forcing firefighter vaccinations” via The Associated Press — A fire chief in Florida has been fired for insubordination. Orange County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Davis wouldn’t discipline employees who refused to follow Orange County’s mandate that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. Orange County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Lisa McDonald says Davis was fired Tuesday for failing to follow a direct order. A union member says Davis didn’t discipline the firefighters because some had already been vaccinated, and others had applied for religious exemptions. Almost four dozen Orange County Fire Rescue employees who don’t want to be vaccinated have sued the county, calling the mandate “unlawful, unconstitutional and highly invasive.”
“Tampa mom pulls kids from school over masks, sues so they can still play sports” via Daniel Figueroa IV of Florida Politics — A Tampa mother and state-certified EMT who pulled her children from Hillsborough County schools over mask mandates is suing the district so her kids can still play sports. And she wants the district to pay $5,000 per day, per child for every day of sports they miss. “I believe parents have the right to determine what’s best for their kids. It’s not just about my two. It’s about everybody else that comes behind,” Amarilis Vazquez said. Vazquez said her two children, Leilani and Lazaro Urbay, were enrolled in “choice” schools Ferrell Girls Preparatory Academy and Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, not their zoned schools, at the beginning of the year.
“Ivermectin frenzy: Despite warnings, doctors assist Florida patients with accessing anti-parasite drug” via Dustin Wyatt of The Lakeland Ledger — In recent months, Dr. John Littell has seen a surge in new patients at his offices in Ocala and Kissimmee. Word has gotten out around the state and beyond that, he’s willing to help people get their hands on ivermectin. A top official with the FDA has advised doctors not to prescribe the drug, calling it a potentially “tragic mistake.” Littell isn’t the only doctor in Florida prescribing ivermectin. Two Polk County Commissioners have said in public meetings they have prescriptions. A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit called The Frontline Critical Care Alliance created a resource designed to help people secure the drug. The list includes names and phone numbers of more than 60 doctors with a presence in Florida.
— 2022 —
“‘Tone down the rhetoric’: Florida elections officials tell politicians to chill out” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s elections supervisors have a message for elected officials: “Tone down the rhetoric.” In a plea to officials at “all levels of government,” the group representing the state’s Republican and Democratic county elections officials are asking them to denounce “false claims” surrounding last year’s election. The memo was considered extraordinary for the Florida Supervisors of Elections, the organization representing the officials overseeing elections in the state’s 67 counties. Despite Florida’s turbulent history with elections, supervisors have largely stayed out of the limelight, even while Florida legislators were passing a contentious voting reform bill this year.
—“Death threats are creating a mass exodus of election officials” via Madeleine May of Vice
What Bridget Ziegler is reading — “Energizing conservative voters, one school board election at a time” via Stephanie Saul of The New York Times — Republicans are using fears of critical race theory to drive school board recalls and energize conservatives, hoping to lay the groundwork for the 2022 midterm elections. Education leaders, including the National School Boards Association, deny that there is any critical race theory being taught in K-12 schools. Teachers’ unions and some educators say that some of the efforts being labeled critical race theory by critics are simply efforts to teach history and civics. Republicans say critical race theory has invaded classrooms and erroneously casts all white people as oppressors and all Black people as victims.
“Annette Taddeo’s run for Governor will be uphill” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — You have to go back more than half a century to find a bigger long shot than state Sen. Taddeo running for governor. We’ve seen plenty of plucky, undaunted underdogs who disregard the odds, laugh at the conventional wisdom, and take a chance. There are usually one or two optimistic unknowns every two years, and if they even qualify, when filing time arrives, they usually sink without much of a wake. The last one to win without a famous name or big money behind him was the late Gov. Reubin Askew in 1970. He was a little-known senator from Pensacola whose hard work and fresh-faced honesty helped him overtake a Senate president, attorney general, and Miami-Dade County Mayor for the Democratic nomination.
“Omari Hardy defends his stance on Israel. Jewish Democrats urge his defeat.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Hardy is reiterating his positions on two major issues involving U.S. policy toward Israel, putting him at odds with Jewish leaders in the Democratic Party and fueling a controversy he started a week ago. The Florida Democratic Party Jewish Caucus said it “opposes the election of Omari Hardy because of his positions on these fundamental issues.” The issues in question are the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at pressuring Israel to change the way it treats Palestinians. Hardy supports BDS, which is an anathema to many in the Jewish community.
“Vern Buchanan pays down campaign debt as Martin Hyde racks it up” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The story of third quarter fundraising in Florida’s 16th Congressional District was about movement in the red. Rep. Buchanan reported more than $221,163 in new contributions last quarter. He also spent more than $412,956. But most of that went toward paying back $250,000 worth of loans the Longboat Key Republican previously made to his own campaign. The campaign still owed $375,000 in debt, at the time of filing. Meanwhile, Primary opponent Martin Hyde added to his campaign debt. The Sarasota Republican lent another $34,000 to his campaign. That brings his debt to $64,000. Outside of the loan, he raised $9,168. He also spent $42,974 over the course of three months.
“Byron Donalds raises nearly $900K, spends more” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Donalds reported more than $900,000 in total receipts from July through September. But despite being an overwhelming favorite for reelection, he didn’t sock any of it away. The Naples Republican spent a whopping $914,593 in the third quarter of the off-year. That’s more than the $882,839 in total contributions to his campaign during the quarter. This fundraising quarter comes after a massive $1.1 million haul in the last quarter. But at the end of September, his campaign held $960,940 in cash on hand. That’s likely plenty as far his reelection chances should go. He’s poised for a rematch against Cindy Banyai, who he defeated last year with more than 61% of the vote running for an open seat.
“Mario Díaz-Balart grows CD 25 cash to $1.3M, dwarfs challengers” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Díaz-Balart’s already massive war chest got a sizable cash infusion last quarter as his campaign revved up to again defend his seat representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District next year. Díaz-Balart, the longest-tenured current member of the Florida congressional delegation, held about $1.33 million last month. That includes nearly $582,000 he received between July 1 and Sept. 30. He also spent heavily over that stretch, expending nearly $209,000. That’s more than gains so far among both his opponents, fellow Republican Darren Dione Aquino and Democrat Adam Gentle, whose combined cash on hand is about $66,000.
“María Elvira Salazar raises $642K in Q3 to defend CD 27” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Salazar raised more than $642,000 last quarter to defend her seat representing Florida’s 27th Congressional District through a mixture of individual and corporate donations crossing a multitude of state lines and business sectors. Salazar’s financial report shows her campaign had more than $806,000 on hand as of last month. The campaign spent about $355,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30 and owes Salazar $372,000. Salazar received about 400 donations, including hundreds from individuals ranging from $15 to the maximum allowable individual contribution of $5,800.
—”Frederica Wilson adds just $43K in Q3, but maintains hefty cash lead” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
—”Lois Frankel leads a pack of Republicans in CD 21 money race” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics
“Ruth’s List Florida endorses six Senate Democrats including Lauren Book” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ruth’s List Florida, an organization that endorses women candidates who support abortion rights, is backing six incumbent senators in their respective reelection bids. That group includes Book, who is looking for another term representing Senate District 32. Ruth’s List also backs Sens. Loranne Ausley, Lori Berman, Janet Cruz, Tina Polsky, and Linda Stewart. “These Democratic pro-choice women leaders embody the spirit of Ruth’s List,” said Lucy Sedgwick, president and CEO of Ruth’s List Florida, in a Wednesday statement announcing the endorsements. Some of those Senators, such as Berman and Book, aren’t likely to face competitive General Election contests in their districts as currently drawn.
—”Lake Ray adds five state Senators to list of endorsers” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
Save the date:
— CORONA NATION —
Breaking overnight — “CDC signs off on Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters and says people can get a shot different from their original one” via Lena H. Sun and Katie Shepherd of The Washington Post — Tens of millions of Americans can sign up to get Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters beginning Friday after the nation’s top public health official endorsed recommendations from expert advisers that the shots are safe and effective at bolstering protection against the coronavirus. The green light from Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, means that eligible Americans at risk of severe disease can choose any of the three boosters now authorized in the United States regardless of their original shot. “The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given,” Walensky said in a statement.
“As White House tries to finalize vaccine mandate, dozens of groups seek last-minute meetings” via Eli Rosenberg of The Washington Post — Federal officials are plowing through meetings requested by more than 40 groups and individuals that have raised questions and concerns about the coming rule that will require many companies to implement coronavirus vaccination or testing protocols for their workers, according to records posted on a government website. Lobbyists from industry associations and unions, as well as some private anti-vaccine individuals, are lining up to take meetings with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is in the process of finalizing the rule that will apply to some 80 million workers, before its expected release in coming weeks.
“Waiting on U.S. mandate, some nursing homes are slow to vaccinate staff” via Reed Abelson of The New York Times — Idaho was hard hit by the Delta surge this summer and early fall, and nursing homes were not impervious to the highly contagious variant that swept through many states with lower vaccination rates. Ten states, including Florida, Michigan and Ohio, still report vaccination rates for nursing home staff under 60%. Others, like New York and California, and some large nursing home chains have imposed their mandates. But many nursing home administrators are waiting for the federal government to issue new rules that will govern a mandatory vaccination program for all their staff members that Biden first announced two months ago. And some facilities and labor groups are still pushing for a testing option instead of a shot.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“U.S. unemployment claims fall to new pandemic low of 290,000” via The Associated Press — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a new low point since the pandemic erupted, evidence that layoffs are declining as companies hold on to workers. Unemployment claims dropped 6,000 to 290,000 last week, the third straight drop. That’s the fewest people to apply for benefits since March 14, 2020, when the pandemic intensified. Applications for jobless aid, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily from about 900,000 in January. Layoffs levels are increasingly returning to normal, but many other aspects of the job market aren’t. Officials such as Jerome Powell had hoped more people would find work in September as schools reopened, easing child care constraints, and enhanced unemployment aid ended nationwide.
“Biden’s vaccine mandate has cargo giants in a pre-holiday panic” via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — A trade group for air cargo giants like UPS and FedEx is sounding the alarm over an impending Dec. 8 vaccine deadline imposed by President Biden, complaining it threatens to wreak havoc at the busiest time of the year — and add yet another kink to the supply chain. A letter sent to the Office of Management and Budget asks the administration to postpone the deadline until “the first half of 2022.” Unlike private businesses, companies that act as federal contractors cannot opt out by instead submitting their workforces to frequent Covid testing.
“Biden quietly deciding how to restart student loan payments” via Michael Stratford of POLITICO — The Biden administration is developing plans for how it will restart federal student loan payments early next year when the pandemic pause on monthly payments for tens of millions of Americans ends. The Education Department is eyeing proposals that would give borrowers new flexibility as they face student loan bills for the first time in nearly two years, such as an initial grace period for missed payments, the documents and sources show. And the administration is actively considering a sweeping plan to expunge the defaults of borrowers who were struggling even before the pandemic.
— MORE CORONA —
“Finally, an answer for Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients. Here’s what I chose.” via Leana S. Wen for The Washington Post — J&J reports a second dose of the vaccine would substantially increase protection to 75% against symptomatic disease and 100% against severe and critical disease. This further supports that the J&J vaccine probably should have been a two-dose vaccine from the start. I would rather not receive a second dose of the J&J vaccine because of the blood-clotting disorder, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), associated with this vaccine. TTS is extremely rare, but it has caused severe illness — and death — in a handful of cases. The group most prone to TTS seems to be women under 50. As a 38-year-old woman, I opted for an mRNA booster because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not linked to TTS.
“More Republicans support opposition to government vaccine mandates than support open carry” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — What we saw during the fourth surge was a correlation between vaccinations and deaths. The question that follows is the extent to which politics drove vaccination patterns and, therefore, deaths. It’s striking that vaccine mandates are as politically polarizing as abortion. It’s also striking that there are few questions on which views of the right to reject vaccines diverge much from the partisan split. Eight in 10 Republicans said that people should be absolutely free to refuse a vaccine required by the government, a larger percentage than any question besides one about free speech and another about accruing wealth.
“When local reporters resist vaccination mandates, everyone in town hears about it” via Paul Farhi of The Washington Post — As a news anchor at KGWN in Cheyenne, Wyoming., Kerri Hayden said she tried to stay neutral in reporting about the coronavirus pandemic. Hayden refused, citing personal objections, which promptly led her employer to fire her earlier this month. Because of their high profiles, the fired journalists have captured local headlines and, in some cases, have become heroic figures to local vaccine resisters. Not all journalists seem to agree on the underlying medical facts, either. When Karl Bohnak, a meteorologist, was fired over his vaccination resistance last month, his departure became a small cause célèbre. One of Bohnak’s objections to getting immunized was his concern about developing blood clots.
WTF is the matter with people? — “A couple died of COVID-19, leaving five children behind. A relative says people called their deaths ‘fake news.’” via Julian Mark of The Washington Post — Two days after arriving at a Fredericksburg, Virginia, hospital with COVID-19 in September, Misty Mitchem was put on a ventilator. Another two days later, she died. Misty’s husband, Kevin Mitchem, got the news as he arrived at a separate hospital with an unshakable cough. Kevin died on Oct. 8, orphaning the four children he and Misty had raised together. Since the Mitchems’ deaths have made headlines, Mike Mitchem said, almost a dozen people have reached out to tell him they have been vaccinated because they heard Kevin and Misty’s story. Yet, he’s also noticed that others online have called the story “fake news.” “Why would the media make up a story this tragic?” Mike said. “I would give anything for it to not be true, just to have my brother back.”
“Cincinnati Zoo administers COVID-19 vaccine for 80 animals — from giraffes to great apes” via Wyatte Grantham-Philips of USA Today — Eighty animals at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine created for veterinary use. Veterinary technicians have been administering vaccines to big cats, great apes, giraffes, red pandas, skunks, goats, river otters, bearcats, and domestic dogs and cats. The team worked with zookeepers over several weeks to ensure that the animals would be as comfortable as possible when receiving the injections. The zoo also noted that most of the injections didn’t require anesthesia and that no adverse reactions to the vaccine had been observed. The remaining animals at the zoo will receive their second doses this week or next.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Biden’s support is fading as concerns over the economy and COVID-19 grow, CNBC survey finds” via Steve Leisman of CNBC — Biden’s approval rating slipped deeply underwater in the CNBC All-America Economic Survey as Americans soured on his economic leadership, lost some confidence in his handling of the coronavirus, and grew increasingly concerned about inflation and supply shortages. Just 41% of the public approve of Biden’s handling of the presidency, compared with 52% who disapprove. The poll of 800 Americans, conducted Oct. 14-17, has a margin of error of 3.5%. Biden’s negative 11-point net rating compared with a positive 3 points in the July survey when 48% approved and 45% disapproved. Behind the decline is a surge in negative views of his handling of the economy, with just 40% approving and 54% disapproving, a 7-point increase from July.
“Democratic voters want Biden’s big-spending deal — and they’re getting impatient” via Eliza Collins and Tarini Parti of The Wall Street Journal — Democrats in Washington remain divided over the scope of Biden’s expansive domestic policy agenda. But their voters, both moderates and progressives, have primarily rallied around the push to increase government spending and say they worry lawmakers will disagree. Several recent polls indicate broad party support for legislation to expand social safety net programs and pass measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. Most of the Democratic voters interviewed said they believed that if their elected leaders didn’t act on the most ambitious legislation possible, the party risked losing congressional seats in next year’s midterm elections and the White House in 2024.
—“How about zero?” Joe Manchin, Bernie Sanders get heated behind closed doors” via Alayna Treene and Hans Nichols of Axios
“‘We always lose the message war’: Democrats worry Biden’s plans not reaching rural voters” via Bryan Lowry and Alex Roarty of The Kansas City Star — Biden’s infrastructure plan, which passed the Senate in August, would steer $65 billion toward improving and expanding broadband with a stated goal of delivering reliable high-speed internet to every household in the nation, a promise he made as a presidential candidate. It’s just one part of what advocates say is an overlooked feature of the president’s broader agenda, a spending plan that could deliver hundreds of billions of dollars in investment to rural regions for programs such as increased access to child care and cleaner drinking water. Those proposals are tied up in a pair of bills that represent trillions of dollars in proposed federal spending and nearly the whole of Biden’s domestic agenda.
“Biden ties legislative agenda to Martin Luther King Jr. push for racial justice” via Darlene Superville of The Associated Press — Biden tied his legislative priorities on voting rights, police reform and climate change to King’s push for racial justice as he marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the civil rights leader’s memorial on the National Mall. Biden, introduced by Vice President Kamala Harris, sought to reassure his supporters that he wouldn’t let up the fight as he works to muscle his massive social spending bill through a divided Congress. Invoking King, Biden said the country was still working to live up to its ideals as a nation and had reached an inflection point on issues including fighting voting restrictions. Biden spoke at the memorial a day after Senate Republicans blocked debate on Democrats’ elections legislation.
“Border arrests have soared to all-time high, new CBP data shows” via Nick Miroff of The Washington Post — U.S. authorities detained more than 1.7 million migrants along the Mexico border during the 2021 fiscal year that ended in September, and arrests by the Border Patrol soared to the highest levels ever recorded. Illegal crossings began rising last year but skyrocketed in the months after Biden took office. As CBP arrests increased this past spring, Biden described the rise as consistent with historical seasonal norms. But the busiest months came during the sweltering heat of July and August when more than 200,000 migrants were taken into custody.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Donald Trump announces launch of his very own social media site” via The Associated Press — Nine months after being expelled from social media for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Trump said he’s launching a new media company with its own social media platform. Trump says his goal in establishing the “Truth Social” app is to create a rival to the Big Tech companies that have shut him out. “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced,” he said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.” Conservative voices actually do well on traditional social media. On Wednesday, half of Facebook’s 10 top-performing link posts were from conservative media, commentators or politicians.
“Trump Organization, already under indictment, faces new criminal inquiry” via William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess of The New York Times — Trump’s family business, which is already under indictment in Manhattan, is facing a criminal investigation by another prosecutor’s office that has begun to examine financial dealings at a golf course the company owns, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The full scope of the investigation could not be determined, but the district attorney, Mimi E. Rocah, appears to be focused at least in part on whether Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes, one of the people said.
— CRISIS —
“House finds Steve Bannon in contempt for defying Jan. 6 inquiry subpoena” via Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — The House voted on Thursday to find Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for stonewalling the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, pressing for information from a close ally of Trump as Republicans moved to insulate the former president from accountability. The vote of 229 to 202, mostly along party lines, came after Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the assault, declining to provide the panel with documents and testimony. The action sent the matter to the Justice Department, which now must decide whether to prosecute Bannon and potentially set off a legal fight that could drag on for months or years. Only nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting to enforce the panel’s subpoena.
—”Marjorie Taylor Greene fights with House colleagues during Bannon vote” via Sarah Mucha of Axios
“Soldier with ‘Hitler mustache’ is first to be thrown out of military after Capitol riot charges” via Alex Horton of The Washington Post — An Army reservist charged in the Justice Department’s sweeping investigation of the U.S. Capitol riot was demoted and discharged earlier this year, becoming the first known service member to be forced out of the military after officials learned of alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was working part-time as an Army Reserve sergeant in human resources. In May, he was demoted to private, the enlisted force’s lowest rank, and given an other-than-honorable discharge the next month, terminating a 12-year military career, said his attorney Jonathan Crisp. Federal authorities have accused Hale-Cusanelli of illegally entering the Capitol, using hand and arm signals to advance rioters forward and harassing police officers.
“NAACP leaders say Deltona Commissioner Loren King, a former Oath Keeper, should resign” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A Deltona City Commissioner who was once part of the Oath Keepers is defying calls for him to step down. Two people, one of whom is president of the West Volusia Branch of the NAACP, said during public comment at Monday’s Deltona meeting that Loren King should no longer sit on the Commission. “If you’re calling for my resignation,” he said in response, “don’t hold your breath.” The Oath Keepers is a militia organization labeled extremist by the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations that track hate groups and domestic threats. Some Oath Keepers were involved in the planning and executing the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Marco Rubio wants John Kerry fired for profiting off Chinese slave labor” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Rubio this week called for Kerry to be fired as Biden’s climate envoy for national security. That’s after accusing the former Secretary of State and presidential candidate of profiting off slavery in China. In an op-ed published by Fox News, Rubio said Kerry and wife Teresa Heinz hold a $1 million financial stake in the Hillhouse China Value Fund. That investment fund is a top shareholder in YITU technology, a company involved in the “the surveillance, detention, and repression of Uyghurs and others.” Florida’s senior Senator has been one of Congress’ most vocal critics of China’s human rights record, which last year prompted the superpower to impose sanctions on Rubio personally, including being barred from entering the country.
“Rubio says DeSantis port push only offers ‘short-term’ fix to supply issues” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rubio offered a qualified endorsement of Florida’s proclamation that its ports were open to more imports, saying it is a “short-term” solution to supply crunches. “In the short term, the answer’s yes,” Rubio said. “I think in the long term the answer is, one of the things we really should be working on is strategically, and that is bringing more of these production places, the places where they make things, out of Asia, out of China. Either to the United States, if possible, but if not, we have plenty of countries in the Western Hemisphere that could use these jobs.”
“Charlie Crist splits with Biden administration, criticizes IRS reporting proposal” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Crist is slamming a controversial proposal to expand account reporting requirements to the Internal Revenue Service. The measure would require banks to provide data to the IRS on accounts with total annual deposits or withdrawals worth more than $10,000, not including wages or federal benefits such as Social Security. Backed by the Biden administration, that measure is a revised version of a plan that originally had a $600 threshold. “Floridians depend on their banks and credit unions to secure more than just deposits. They depend on them to safeguard their personal information,” Crist said in a statement. Instead of pursuing account reporting requirements, Crist suggested addressing the current tax code and auditing top earners.
“Republican group’s ad taunts Stephanie Murphy over pork in stimulus bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Another Republican TV commercial is launching to press moderate Democratic U.S. Rep. Murphy to stay a no-vote on the Democrats’ big stimulus plan — or risk being tied to what Republicans are calling Speaker “Nancy Pelosi‘s tax and spending scam.” The new 30-second spot from the American Action Network rolls out a handful of spending plan details in the Build Back Better Act, which last week was coming in at 10 years and $3.5 trillion in spending, but has been whittled to $2 trillion or so as Democrats negotiate among themselves. “Liberals spend your money, but take care of themselves. It’s a cynical Washington game,” a narrator begins.
“Justice Dept. adds two top prosecutors to Matt Gaetz case” via Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Benner of The New York Times — The Justice Department has added two top prosecutors from Washington to the child sex trafficking investigation of Rep. Gaetz. The prosecutors, one a public corruption investigator with expertise in child exploitation crimes, and the other a top leader of the public corruption unit, have been working on the Florida-based investigation for at least three months, the people said. It is not unusual for prosecutors from the Justice Department in Washington to be added to local teams of federal investigators in high-profile cases that require deep and specific expertise, like sex crimes.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“How Spanish-language radio helped radicalize a generation of Miami abuelos” via Lautaro Grinspan of the HuffPost — Misinformation targeting Latinos comes from different sources, from chats on popular messaging and social media platforms. Many of these platforms translate conspiracy theories that originated in English into Spanish. Political analysis of this phenomenon has focused on the role misinformation could have played in helping doom Democrats’ prospects with Latino voters in 2020, including Biden’s, as well as those of South Florida congressional incumbents Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. However, more intimate fallout continues to reverberate across South Florida as family members, many of them second- or third-generation Cuban Americans, grapple with what they describe as the deepening radicalization of older loved ones.
“Mayor Francis Suarez ‘all in’ for tech, crypto-led Miami prosperity ahead of reelection” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics+ — Suarez, Miami’s 33rd Mayor and the first native-born person to hold the office, is up for reelection Nov. 2. Under his stewardship over the last year or so, Miami has become a white-hot tech hub, a magnet for multinational corporations that have thus far brought some 9,000 jobs paying six-figure salaries. Suarez said he was already working alongside the Downtown Development Authority to sell Miami as something of a Wall Street-Silicon Valley hybrid with more favorable tax laws, palm trees and pleasant weather before a December Twitter post drew the eyes of San Francisco Bay Area and Manhattan execs to the Magic City.
“How the Proud Boys helped take down Art Acevedo“ via Joshua Ceballos of The Miami New Times — Acevedo, whom Miami Mayor Suarez dubbed the “Tom Brady” and “Michael Jordan” of police chiefs, has been defeated, after City of Miami commissioners voted unanimously last night to fire the top cop of the Miami Police Department (MPD) — and it came with a little help from an unlikely source: the far right. During a grueling hourslong commission hearing on Thursday, an attorney for City Manager Art Noriega called witnesses to testify to eight reasons Noriega had outlined for why he suspended Acevedo on Monday and why commissioners should vote to dismiss the police chief who rode into town on a metaphorical mayoral parade float a mere six months ago.
“Controversial Miami cop Javier Ortiz suspended amid internal affairs investigation” via Joey Flechas and Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — Miami’s most controversial cop has been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation. A police spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that Ortiz was sent home from his job as captain over the traffic enforcement unit amid an inquiry by police internal affairs. City Manager Art Noriega said he was not at liberty to disclose the nature of the investigation. Sources familiar with the matter told the Miami Herald the inquiry has to do with the mistreatment of fellow officers. Ortiz has risen through the ranks of the department despite a checkered past marked by racist comments, dubious arrests, numerous use-of-force complaints and other misconduct. He’s been suspended and reinstated before. Ortiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Beach Mayor up for reelection against four candidates. They oppose 2 a.m. booze ban.” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — One day after an opponent in the Nov. 2 election published leaked and edited audio of his private meeting with developers discussing a campaign to rebuild South Beach’s iconic entertainment district, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber sent an email to his supporters addressing the October surprise. Gelber campaigning to completely change the face of Miami Beach, which for the last 30 years has lived off a reputation as one of the world’s best party destinations. For months, the 60-year-old Gelber has declared war on Ocean Drive clubs and South Beach bars, a fight built on years of taxpayer frustration with the constant drumbeat and underbelly of Miami Beach’s nightlife.
Assignment editors — Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Former Mayor Philip Levine, Ocean Drive Association, Miami Design Preservation League and Miami Beach residents will hold a news conference, 10:30 a.m., Lummus Park on the corner of 10th and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach.
“Florida Senators propose new ZIP codes in Estero, Miami Lakes, Oakland and Ocoee” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Sens. Rubio and Scott say Florida needs more ZIP codes. Legislation sponsored by the senators would create ZIP codes in Estero, Miami Lakes, Oakland and Ocoee. “Your ZIP code is more than just a number — it can determine your child’s school district, car insurance rate, your property’s value, and the efficiency in how you get your mail,” Rubio said. Estero, one of Florida’s youngest municipalities, incorporated in 2014. One ZIP code, 33928, lists Estero as its post office city, but much of the property in city limits falls into other Lee County ZIP codes. There are four ZIP codes denoting addresses in Miami Lakes, 33014, 33015, 33016 and 33018.
“‘One step closer to justice.’ Parkland shooter’s guilty plea ushers in the next phase — life or death?” via Rafael Olmeda, Brittany Wallman and Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Parkland school shooter is a convicted killer now. The families of the victims, as a rule, do not speak his name. And when he finally addressed them, it was with his back turned. Fine with them. They didn’t much care what he had to say anyway. Nikolas Cruz stood before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, flanked by his defense lawyers. His head bowed, his shoulders drooping, he declared himself guilty, one by one, of 17 counts of murder and guilty of 17 counts of attempted murder. “The maximum penalty is death,” she warned him, which means “you will not come out until you are no longer alive … You are facing a minimum best-case scenario of life in prison.,” the judge said.
“Fred Guttenberg to advise Brady PAC” via The Associated Press — Guttenberg, father of a 14-year-old girl killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, announced Thursday that he’s joining the top ranks of the Brady PAC. Guttenberg will be a senior adviser to the progressive, anti-gun group to promote like-minded political candidates around the country ahead of next year’s midterm elections. His daughter Jaime, an aspiring dancer and gymnast, died with 16 others during Parkland’s Valentine’s Day 2018. Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty Wednesday to 17 counts of first-degree murder for that shooting and could face the death penalty during sentencing in January.
“Holly Raschein on late Monroe Commissioner Mike Forster: ‘I want to continue his good work’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics+ — Though Raschein is hardly a political newcomer, as the newest member of the Monroe County Commission, the former state Representative plans to initially take a measured approach to introduce ideas and items on the dais. But one thing is certain: She plans to follow through on the goals of late Commissioner Forster, whom DeSantis appointed her to replace last month. “My priorities are very much in line with Commissioner Forster’s,” Raschein told Florida Politics. “We saw eye to eye on a number of policy issues. I want to continue his good work.” The top priority, she said, is water quality.
“Some Keys roads will flood by 2025 due to sea rise. Fixing them could cost $750 million” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Consultants tasked with figuring out which roads should be elevated above rising seas first (and how much that might cost) have estimated that raising 155 miles of Monroe County roads could cost $1.8 billion. And those are just the roads at risk by 2045. The county maintains 311 miles of road — not including U.S. 1, the main road that is also known as the Overseas Highway, or city roads in places like Key West and Marathon. At a Wednesday presentation to the county commission, consultants said about $750 million of those projects may be needed in just the next four years. The list of projects isn’t public, but about 55% are in the lower keys, and 40% are in the upper keys.
“Obscurity stalks another African American cemetery” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics+ — A proposal to develop land in a Pompano Beach historically Black cemetery has raised fears that more unmarked graves are about to slip into further obscurity. Westview Cemetery started in 1952, when Jim Crow laws segregated races, even in death. According to court papers, the 15-acre parcel the cemetery sits on was given to the area’s Black community because there was no dedicated place for them to bury their dead. But now it’s fallen into such disrepair, the officers of the nonprofit say selling what is an unused 4.5-acre portion of the cemetery’s land is the only way to address conditions that had bones sticking out of one final resting place.
“Alachua County not violating First Amendment by blocking public comment on social media sites, experts say” via John Henderson of The Gainesville Sun — Alachua County has stopped allowing public comment on its social media sites to prevent controversial and divisive posts from being used by social media companies for personal gain, a county spokesman said. Other local municipalities, such as Gainesville and Marion County, still allow public comment in response to the government postings on their social media sites. “Alachua County social media sites are primarily tools to share information with citizens. It is not the county’s intent for posts to be public forums,” County Manager Michele Lieberman and County Attorney Sylvia Torres in an administrative order dated Oct. 8.
“Jacksonville City Council brings embarrassing end to police reform” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — City Council member Michael Boylan this week resigned from a special committee that had been examining police reform, accusing citizens who had engaged in the public workshops of bad faith and worse. Boylan, in a letter to City Council President Sam Newby, was particularly incensed over a meeting last Friday in which he said it dawned on him that “most of the citizens actively participating in these discussions are either unwilling or unable to demonstrate” the trust in the Sheriff’s Office necessary to have difficult conversations about policing. He is dropping his prior recommendation to explore the possibility of having a citizen policy review board that could work with Williams to make sure community input played a vital role in policing.
C’mon, Robert — “Robert Blackmon to headline St. Petersburg ‘Blexit’ event” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — When Blackmon is asked about his stance on lightning rod topics like DeSantis or Trump or abortion, Blackmon typically says he’s running for Mayor of St. Petersburg, and he wants to stick to what he can control as Mayor. “I’m always going to be a local guy first and foremost,” he told the Tampa Bay Times after saying he’s never met DeSantis. But the day before the Nov. 2 general election, Blackmon is set to participate in a partisan political event alongside a roster of outspoken conservative personalities and candidates. Blackmon promoted the event, “Blexit 727 Block Party,” on his Instagram account.
“Man injured on Aquatica river ride, latest in recent series of incidents” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics+ — A 69-year-old man was taken to a hospital last month after he pulled out of the water at an Aquatica Orlando river ride, unresponsive but still breathing, an Orange County fire spokesperson said. According to a new quarterly state report, Florida’s largest parks self-disclose their guests ‘ most serious medical issues, the incident was one of seven times a theme park visitor was hospitalized for at least 24 hours during the past three months. The man was taken to Orlando Health Dr. Phillips ER after the Sept. 28 incident, said Lisa McDonald, a public relations and outreach specialist for the Orange County Fire Rescue.
— TOP OPINION —
“Trump and his herd are the real RINOs. So I stand with the zebras.” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Not since Panda Cam debuted at the National Zoo has the capital region been quite so animal-crazed, even though the zebra, while not exactly native to the Washington suburbs, isn’t that much of a novelty. They can be purchased as pets or even eaten, and a group calling itself the International Zebra-Zorse-Zonkey Association once estimated a few thousand of the beasts live in U.S. backyards. I’m cheering for the fugitive zebras because they refused to run with the herd. We need more of that around here. The evening after my zebra hunt, a similarly willful duo was distancing itself from the pack in Washington: Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger have refused to join the rest of Trump’s GOP on its goose step toward authoritarianism.
— OPINIONS —
“Puerto Rico, parts of South America beat Florida on COVID-19 vaccinations. Know why?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Puerto Rico has succeeded where Florida has fallen short. The U.S. territory has fully vaccinated more than 72% of its residents against COVID-19, the highest percentage in the United States. Florida, meanwhile, has fully vaccinated 58.9%. Puerto Rico is reporting about 18 cases per 100,000 residents over seven days, a “moderate” level. Compare that to Florida’s “substantial” community transmission rate of 79.5 cases per 100,000 residents over the same period. Puerto Rico has had a history of aggressive vaccine campaigns. And the people there pretty much managed to keep politics out of it.
“Comrade DeSantis throws the legislative book at businesses trying to stay COVID-19-free” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Can we call him a commie now, please? Not happy with solely tormenting Florida-based cruise ships and schools with bans on COVID-19 safety measures by executive order and fines, DeSantis is wielding a bigger stick. The Governor said Thursday he’s calling a Special Session of the Legislature to pass a ban on vaccine mandates by private employers, among a slew of other COVID-19 restrictions based, not on sound medical advice, but his infamous personal COVID-19 quackery. DeSantis is following the authoritarian playbook by using the state’s legislative body to intervene on how businesses cope with the COVID-19 pandemic as if everyone operated a one-size-fits-all establishment. How very socialist of him, isn’t it?
What Jim Rosica is reading — “Devious DeSantis disenfranchises voters across South Florida” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — For nearly three months, DeSantis has silenced the voices of hundreds of thousands of people who live in Broward and Palm Beach counties. He stubbornly refuses to hold special elections to fill three vacancies in the state Legislature at a time when political power is being redistributed through redistricting. DeSantis should stop playing this devious political game and do his job. Every day DeSantis refuses to schedule elections, he disenfranchises voters and flagrantly abuses his authority as the leader of all Floridians. It’s politically motivated because the soon-to-be-vacated legislative seats are held by Democrats in two counties that and don‘t support him. It’s racially motivated because the seats are held by Black officeholders.
“Florida’s unemployment system already was a mess. Then came the debt collectors” via the Miami Herald editorial board — In a rare victory for common sense in Florida, DeSantis has decided not to pursue what was clearly an unworkable idea right from the start: trying to claw back “overpayments” of unemployment benefits. Floridians have been saddled with a dysfunctional unemployment assistance system for years. Given that shaky ground, you might think the state would think twice before sending out stern letters to Floridians demanding money be repaid and threatening to sic debt collectors on workers. And yet, that’s what the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity did. It was a bad idea piled on top of the existing unemployment mess, and the Governor was right to call a halt to it on Friday when he ordered the state’s jobless agency to stand down.
“Experience and compromise make this candidate ready to replace Alcee Hastings in Congress” via the Miami Herald editorial board — The primary race to replace late U.S. Rep. Hastings encapsulates the internal battle currently roiling the Democratic Party in Congress. Young vs. old; progressive vs. moderate; compromise vs. sticking to Democratic principles. With 11 Democrats running on Nov. 2 to succeed Hastings, voters should look for someone who will not simply dig in their heels, but who’s also going to compromise to advance the interests of District 20, which covers parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Republicans also have a District 20 primary. Still, whoever wins the Democratic primary will be a shoo-in to win the general election on Jan. 11. This is a heavily blue district.
“Florida Poly’s academic muscle wins #1 national ‘champion’ distinction” via Randy Avent for Florida Politics — With all due deference to the NCAA, you don’t need to have a high-powered athletics program to be No. 1. Few universities may ever have a national championship athletic season, but we embrace working to own a national academic championship as often as possible. In its prestigious annual rankings of best colleges, U.S. News named Florida Poly as the very best among public colleges in the South. It’s more than just one ranking that recognizes how far Florida Poly has come in the seven years since it opened. We recently announced our first partnership with a Fortune 500 company, International Flavors & Fragrances, which will become the first tenant of a research park we expect will soon attract tremendous investment and innovation to our campus
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Gov. DeSantis issued a blindside to the Legislature in his ongoing war against mask mandates.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Caught off guard, Democrats say the Governor’s priorities aren’t in the interest of Floridians.
— And while DeSantis fights against federal vaccine mandates, local school districts say they are tired of being bullied by the state.
— Today’s Sunrise Interview with Bay News 9 Tallahassee Bureau reporter Kinsey, the former president of the Florida Capitol Press Corps, has gone public with the news that he is about to retire from news and roam the friendly skies as a commercial airline pilot. We’ll talk about his many years covering the Florida Capitol, and if he will miss the madness like the upcoming Special Session.
To listen, click on the image below:
— WEEKEND TV —
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida politics, along with other issues affecting the region.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with journalist Alan Cohn; Dr. Michael Teng, an associate professor of Medicine, USF Health; Elevate, Inc. founder and CEO Aakash Patel and political consultant Maya Brown.
In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion on the resurgence of the Space Coast and what the future holds for NASA and space missions and exploration. Joining Walker are U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz and Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO, Economic Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.
Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at DeSantis’ announcement of a Special Session for the Florida Legislature; Congress questioning Attorney General Garland; and the candidates for St. Pete City Council District 1.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Rep. Kristen Arrington will discuss current legislation being deliberated in Tallahassee, including a Texas-style abortion bull and changes to education funding that could cut down on student loan debt.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Guest host Sean Pittman speaks with FAMU Athletic Director Kortne Gosha.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville City Council members Boylan, LeAnna Cumber and Joyce Morgan; Michael Sampson II of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Sen. Perry Thurston and Rep. Hardy talk about the race for Florida’s 20th Congressional District.
— ALOE —
“Disney Wish sets sail in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” via Susan Veness and Simon Veness of the Attractions Magazine — Disney Wish, the eagerly-anticipated new ship for Disney Cruise Line, will be featured in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on November 25. The showpiece event marks the “maiden voyage” of the upcoming fifth member of the Disney fleet in magical style, with an entire float inspired by the hugely imaginative design of the cruise line newcomer that officially sets sail in June 2022. The brilliantly creative float has been christened “Magic Meets the Sea,” and will additionally feature 15 favorite Disney friends representing the array of stories and experiences on the Wish, including Captain Minnie Mouse, who proudly adorns the ship’s bow.
“Roll over, Cuties, University of Florida plans Gator Bite mandarin oranges” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Research Director Michael Rogers told a Senate panel they managed to get the school’s mascot approved for the new variety of orange. And he thinks his team’s Gator Bite mandarins could squeeze into the mini citrus market currently dominated by popular California varieties. “It tastes so much better. It’s an easy peeler, it’s seedless, it doesn’t get your hands messy, tastes very sweet and it’s HLB tolerant,” Rogers said. HLB or citrus greening is a disease that has plagued the citrus industry worldwide. Rogers told the Senate Agriculture Committee the only citrus trees in Florida that don’t have the disease were probably planted yesterday.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today is my friend Tony Carvajal, former Sen. Nancy Detert, Sen. Jim Boyd, Luke Strickland, Deputy Staff Director at Senate Majority Office, and great man Watson Haynes.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.
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