Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.
Former House Speaker Will Weatherford was elected Chair of the University of South Florida Board of Trustees on Tuesday in a unanimous vote.
The former Wesley Chapel lawmaker was appointed to the board by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January.
Weatherford is the managing partner of Weatherford Capital, a private investment firm he runs alongside his brothers. He served in the House from 2006-14, culminating in a term as House Speaker. Notably, he was the youngest lawmaker in the country to lead a legislative chamber when he took the gavel in 2013.
“It’s an honor to be selected by my fellow trustees to serve in the role of board chair. I firmly believe that the University of South Florida is such a valuable asset to Tampa Bay that the region will only go as far as USF will take it in the future,” said Weatherford, who will take over as chair on July 1.
“In the coming years, we have an exciting opportunity at USF to reach even greater successes in pursuit of becoming a top-25 public university and positioning for membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities.”
Weatherford is a member of the Florida Council of 100, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Jacksonville University Board of Trustees. The Jacksonville University alumnus also recently served as co-chair of the Super Bowl LV Host Committee.
He succeeds Jordan Zimmerman, who recently announced he would not seek another term as chair.
In other notes:
️ — 70% support same-sex marriage, a record: A new Gallup poll shows record support for same-sex marriage, clocking in at 70%. That’s up 10 percentage points from 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court rule that states must recognize same-sex marriages. It’s good news for Pride Month. Read more here.
— Fake news out, foreign policy in: An Axios analysis of spending on issues and political ads on Facebook finds more money is going toward messaging relating to foreign policy than to “fake news,” a shift from the Donald Trump presidency to Joe Biden’s. Spending is also going to issues surrounding the climate and voting rights. Read more here.
— Trump lost his megaphone when he was booted from social media, but does it really matter? A New York Times analysis of former President Trump’s social media comments before he was banned from Facebook and Twitter on Jan. 8th, and an accompanying interactive display, shows a pervasive echo chamber of support. After his ban, his reach shrunk significantly, yet through his many ardent supporters, comments from his website or other sources still managed to gain the median traction as pre-Jan. 8. Take a look at the report to learn how that happened.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@Swerdlick: Saying that infrastructure talks have broken down is a mischaracterization. These were never serious talks, to begin with, and it’s not likely there are more than 10 Republican votes to be had for anything that remotely resembles a genuine split-the-difference compromise.
—@LedgeKing: .@SenRickScott said he’s not surprised talks collapsed: “I never thought they (the negotiations) were real anyway. There was never going to be a deal. I mean, they want to raise taxes, and we’re never going to raise taxes. It’s not going to happen.”
Well… Jones now appears to be softening her statements on a run. pic.twitter.com/w1nTOAjPxp
— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) June 8, 2021
—@Mdixon55: Y’all really thought she was running, huh?
—@willweatherford: It’s and honor to serve the @USouthFlorida and our community alongside such great leaders and fellow USF Trustees. Congrats to my fellow trustee @mikegriffinFL #GoBulls
Thank you @HistoryCenterFL for this powerful exhibit honoring our 49 @pulseorlando angels and memorializing the worldwide #OrlandoUnited spirit that brought us together to disarm hate and bigotry. 🏳️🌈
You can visit the Pulse exhibit FREE thru 6/13 10-5 everyday and Sunday 12-5. pic.twitter.com/yY3P6eRogL
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) June 8, 2021
— Jim Rosica (@JimRosicaFL) June 9, 2021
— DAYS UNTIL —
E3 2021 begins — 3; Father’s Day — 11; Amazon Prime Day — 12; Microsoft reveals major Windows update — 15; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 16; Bruce Springsteen revives solo show, “Springsteen on Broadway” — 17; ‘Tax Freedom Holiday’ begins — 22; Fourth of July — 25; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 30; MLB All-Star Game — 34; Jeff Bezos travels into space on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight — 41; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 44; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 44; the NBA Draft — 54; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 56; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 62; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 76; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 86; NFL regular season begins — 92; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 97; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 103; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 107; ‘Dune’ premieres — 114; MLB regular season ends — 116; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 121; World Series Game 1 — 140; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 146; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 146; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 149; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 163; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 170; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 184; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 194; NFL season ends — 214; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 216; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 216; NFL playoffs begin — 220; Super Bowl LVI — 249; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 289; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 331; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 358; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 394; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 485; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 520.
“Rebekah Jones announces run for Matt Gaetz congressional seat” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — Jones announced on her brand-new Instagram account Tuesday that she intends to run for U.S. Congress against Gaetz in Florida’s 1st District. Jones, currently a Maryland resident, had not filed campaign paperwork as of Tuesday afternoon. “I had hoped that someone in the Republican Party would step up and Primary him, and I’ve yet to see that happen. And so, if it takes me going home to Florida to run against Matt Gaetz, then I will do it. If it means getting one child sex trafficker out of office, you’re damn right I’ll do it,” Jones said in the video.
To watch Jones ‘announcement,’ click on the image below:
Well, maybe — “Fired Florida data official yo-yos on congressional bid” via WFLX — Jones was recently banned from Twitter, criticized by the Governor’s office, and has said she is running for Congress. But it’s unclear if she will actually run for Congress. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The former Floridian-turned-Washington, D.C.-area resident has since gained a large online following. And only hours before, she was de-platformed on Twitter and said she had little interest in running for Congress. Later that evening, amid the back and forth, Jones took to Instagram to announce she would be challenging U.S. Rep. Gaetz in 2022. Jones then softened in a subsequent statement, hours later. She said if a Republican or Democratic challenger does not appear, she would consider a run.
— 2022 —
“‘Roadblocks to democracy’: Charlie Crist kicks off ‘Voting Rights Tour’ in Tampa” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Crist kicked off his statewide Voting Rights Tour Tuesday morning in Tampa, surrounded by local elected officials and community leaders discussing efforts from Florida GOP leadership to implement stricter voting provisions. The group, which was hosted by Tampa’s St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, included fellow Congresswoman Kathy Castor, state Rep. Dianne Hart and former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who is also a St. Petersburg mayoral candidate. The elected officials were joined by worker rights leaders, disability advocates and other community activists. The discussion centered around the impact new voting laws would have on minority communities. Specifically, members of the discussion focused on the effect of DeSantis’ recently signed elections bill (SB 90).
Assignment editors — Crist continues his voting rights tour: Gainesville voting rights conversation with college students, 10 a.m.; Tallahassee voting rights roundtable with Black leaders, 2 p.m. For locations, RSVP [email protected].
“Wilton Simpson committee brings in $50,000” via News Service of Florida — A political committee chaired by Senate President Simpson raised $50,000 in May, with all of the money coming from Duke Energy, a newly filed finance report shows. The Jobs for Florida committee had about $1.5 million on hand as of May 31, the report posted on the state Division of Elections website shows. The committee spent $20,231 during the month, with most of the money going to consulting expenses.
“Kathleen Passidomo committee collects $350K” via News Service of Florida — With the money coming in three large chunks, a political committee linked to future Senate President Passidomo raised $350,000 in May. The Working Together for Florida PAC had about $2.35 million on hand as of May 31. Passidomo, chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, is slated to become Senate President after the 2022 elections. The PAC received $275,000 in May from another committee known as Floridians for Economic Advancement. It also received $50,000 from Duke Energy and $25,000 from a Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC. It spent $38,374 during the month.
“Shane Abbott rakes in $16K in May for HD 5 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — DeFuniak Springs Republican Abbott raised more than $16,000 in May for his bid to succeed Rep. Brad Drake in House District 5, his campaign announced Tuesday. Abbott’s most recent fundraising haul brings his campaign’s total collection to $118,870. Abbott’s affiliated political committee, Prescription for Florida’s Prosperity, has also raised $7,500 since its launch, providing an overall bank of $126,370 since Abbott started his campaign four months ago. Abbott’s campaign provided the latest finance update. More information on expenditures and donors will be available when he releases the required campaign finance disclosure to the Florida Division of Elections, which is due Thursday.
“Paul Renner committee pulls in $65K” via The News Service of Florida — A political committee led by future House Speaker Renner raised $65,000 in May, with most of the money coming from Duke Energy, according to a newly filed finance report. The committee known as Conservatives for Principled Leadership had about $633,000 on hand as of May 31. State candidates and political committees face a Thursday deadline for filing reports showing May finance activity. Renner, chairman of the House Rules Committee, is slated to become speaker after the 2022 elections.
Save the date:
Personnel note: Anna Eskamani taps Shalla Solomon-Hollett as campaign manager — Rep. Eskamani added Solomon-Hollett as her campaign manager for the 2022 cycle. Solomon-Hollett is a UCF political science student who served as an intern on Eskamani’s 2020 campaign. “I am thrilled to be building a bench of talented young leaders and to welcome Shalla into the role as campaign manager,” Eskamani said. “We got a lot of work to do in Central Florida, and I am lucky to have such an amazing team.” The Eskamani campaign also announced it raised more than $10,000 and collected more than 300 candidate petitions since she officially filed for reelection on May 7. The campaign will be reopening its office later this summer.
“Judge asked to block new law that limits contributions to Florida amendment initiatives” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other supporters of three proposed constitutional amendments designed to expand voting want a federal judge to block a new state law that places a $3,000 limit on contributions to ballot-initiative drives. The ACLU and three political committees last week filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, arguing the contribution limit is unconstitutional and would prevent them from collecting enough petition signatures to put the proposed amendments on the November 2022 ballot. “If not enjoined, plaintiffs’ efforts to engage with voters, convince voters to support their initiatives, collect petitions and advance their initiatives will be severely impaired,” said the motion submitted by ACLU attorneys.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“VISIT FLORIDA CEO, staff get pay raises” via Jim Turner of News Service of Florida — VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young got an 8% boost in pay and a $7,500 bonus Tuesday, as leaders of the tourism-marketing agency pointed to Florida being in a “position of strength” against other states trying to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. The VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors also directed Young to distribute up to $130,000 in performance raises among staff members. Young’s salary after July 1 will go from $175,000 a year to $189,000. Young’s salary currently comes from state and private money, with taxpayers covering $120,000. With the vote Tuesday, the board shifted her entire pay to private sources. Staff members haven’t seen raises since before 2019 when the agency cut one-third of its staff of 135.
Happening today — Aides to DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet will meet in advance of a June 15 Cabinet meeting, 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room.
Happening today — The Florida Department of Education will continue a “listening tour” for public input on civics and English-language arts and new standards on a variety of subjects, 6 p.m., Macclenny Elementary School, 1 Wildkitten Dr., Macclenny.
“YouTube pundit decries Doug Broxson speech as indoctrination” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sen. Broxson spoke on Saturday at the commencement ceremony for Gulf Breeze High, touching on the particular challenges the Class of 2021 faced this school year, the pandemic chief among them. “I’m certain many times you went home saying, how stupid can government be, making you do the things you had to do,” he said. YouTube personality Farron Cousins, who boasts more than 137,000 subscribers, had a son graduating. The progressive pundit was displeased by Broxson’s remarks. “When Doug Broxson gave his little speech, he told the kids, No. 1, that the government is incompetent — the government that he works for and he helps run here in the state of Florida because Republicans control the state Legislature,” Cousins said.
To watch Cousins’ video, click on the image below:
— STATEWIDE —
“5 years after Pulse shooting, Florida has seen few gun reforms” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Gun reform advocates vowed action after 49 people were killed in the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando five years ago, but since then, state and federal leaders have accomplished little toward that goal. After years of repeated mass shootings, including the third in Miami in two weeks on Sunday, advocates worry the country is becoming numb to gun violence. Days after Pulse on June 12, 2016, Democrats held a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House trying to force Republicans to vote on gun control. But the effort failed, as did Democratic calls for a special session of the Florida Legislature to address reforms. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith has introduced bills to ban sales of assault-style rifles in Florida every year since his election in 2016. None has come to a vote in the GOP-controlled chamber.
“Lauren’s Kids launches new PSA for National Internet Safety Month” via Florida Politics staff reports — Lauren’s Kids, which offers help to childhood sexual abuse survivors, is launching a new PSA warning of the dangers of unmonitored online activity during National Internet Safety Month. The minute-long video plays out a worst-case scenario, where a young girl has met up with a stranger she connected with online. The PSA is another in a line of Lauren’s Kids productions cautioning parents about the dangers of the internet. Sen. Lauren Book, herself a survivor of child sexual abuse, founded Lauren’s Kids before joining the Legislature. “Unfortunately, where kids go, so too do those who wish to harm them,” Book explained.
To watch the PSA, click on the image below:
New public-private coalition targets black market trade — A group of corporations and law enforcement agencies are teaming up on a public education initiative to raise awareness on illegal trade, such as counterfeit merchandise sales. The United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade includes the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and Florida Retail Federation, as well as international fashion and pharmaceutical companies. Former ICE Director Matt Albence said the sale of counterfeit goods — including vaccines — has jumped “nearly 40%” during the pandemic. “In today’s hyper-connected world — with growing worries about global security, the proliferation of criminal organizations, and a surge of new digital tools — concerted efforts and broad public-private cooperation are vital for implementing meaningful, long-term solutions against illegal trade,” he said.
“Personnel note: Cristal Cole joins Amazon” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Amazon announced Tuesday that Cristal Cole had been hired on as the company’s regional policy manager for the Southeastern U.S. Cole comes to one of the world’s largest retailers from one of the world’s largest telecommunications company’s — she’s spent the past five years working as AT&T’s regional director of external and legislative affairs in South Florida. Cole is a graduate of the Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, where she earned a degree in public relations. She first entered The Process as a press team member under former Gov. Jeb Bush. She later worked as the press secretary for the Agency of Health Care Administration.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“COVID-19 vaccinations are dropping, and our return to normal life is at risk” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As Biden pushes a goal of 70% of Americans vaccinated by July Fourth, Florida is nowhere close to that target. Only about half the population in the state is vaccinated, and reaching the rest has proved almost insurmountable, especially among young people. Floridians have begun to travel, eat in restaurants, shop in stores, visit friends, and hug their family members. But those who have yet to get a vaccine aren’t rushing to get one, to the point where doctors sometimes toss out vaccines at the end of the day. Public health officials say stagnant vaccination rates could make masks a permanent fashion accessory and require a desperate scramble for a vaccine booster should cases rise again.
“How COVID-19 (almost) reshaped Florida agriculture, and why it still might” via Daniel Rivero of Health News Florida — When the COVID-19 pandemic first took hold in the United States, Florida was the only state that was in the middle of its primary harvest season. Sam Accursio, a longtime farmer of land in South Dade, destroyed much of his harvest. Paying workers to pick the produce didn’t make financial sense if there was nowhere to sell it to, and local food banks were already overwhelmed with the amount of local produce they were given. Then he had an idea. If Accursio couldn’t ship his produce hundreds of miles away, he decided to sell his produce locally. The idea took off, and long lines of cars started to line up at his farm.
“Norwegian threatens to defy Ron DeSantis with fully vaccinated cruises” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced that it plans to resume cruising from Miami in August with fully vaccinated passengers, a plan that threatens to defy orders of DeSantis and creates yet more uncertainty about one of South Florida’s most important tourist draws. The cruise line’s announcement offered no indication that DeSantis has agreed to exempt cruise lines from his edict banning businesses from requiring vaccines, nor did it suggest that any compromise had been reached between Norwegian and the governor. Instead, it creates confusion about plans of cruise lines that in recent days have announced diverging strategies for resuming operations with some planning test voyages, some requiring vaccines, and some welcoming people on board with masks and social distancing.
“From ketchup to autos, U.S. supply chain stumbles leading to temporary shortages of items” via Antonio Fins of The Palm Beach Post — David Menachof, associate professor in Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business, counseled people to be patient in the coming months as the world works through shortages in supply chains caused by the pandemic. “It is more complex than it sounds on the surface. But I would predict we’re going to see a continuing of these cycles of random shortages. It’s hard to predict what’s going to pop up as the next problematic item.” At the heart of the problem was last year’s prolonged business shutdown to stem the spread of coronavirus. That brought the production of many goods to a halt and led manufacturers to fear that the economic freeze would profoundly cut into people’s buying power.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“Homeless moving out of hotel as coronavirus cases plummet” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It was a novel way to stop coronavirus spread: hotel rooms for the homeless. But with cases easing and masks coming off, Fort Lauderdale’s pandemic-era program will soon come to an end, city officials say. Now caseworkers scramble to find shelter beds and long-term housing for 86 people staying at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale. When they checked in, they were told they could stay through September. That was the plan: Offer hotel rooms to as many as 145 homeless people from April through September for $3.4 million. Federal grants tied to the coronavirus relief package were to pay for the $3.4 million program.
“Bars, colleges and workplaces are new front line for vaccinating young adults” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Palm Beach County is taking its most aggressive steps yet to get people vaccinated against COVID-19. The county’s mobile vans will go to bars, college campuses, and businesses to persuade holdouts — particularly young people — that they are critical to ending the coronavirus pandemic. Schools also remain a critical turning point, though it may be too late to send vans to high school graduations. The plan is to concentrate on three areas, according to Dr. Alina Alonso, the state health department director for Palm Beach County: Schoolchildren and their families; the entertainment areas such as Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth Beach, and hard-to-reach communities; businesses or locations that are requesting it.
— CORONA NATION —
“U.S. increasingly unlikely to meet Joe Biden’s July 4 vax goal” via The Associated Press — For months, Biden has laid out goal after goal for taming the coronavirus pandemic and then exceeded his own benchmarks. Now, though, the U.S. is unlikely to meet his target to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4. The White House has launched a monthlong blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy and a lack of urgency to get shots, but it is increasingly resigned to missing the President’s vaccination target. The administration insists that even if the goal isn’t reached, it will have little effect on the overall U.S. recovery, which is already ahead of where Biden said it would be months ago. About 16 million unvaccinated adults need to receive at least one dose in the next four weeks for Biden to meet his goal. But the pace of new vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped to about 400,000 people per day.
“U.S. report found it plausible COVID-19 leaked from Wuhan lab” via Michael R. Gordon and Warren P. Strobel of The Wall Street Journal — A report on the origins of COVID-19 by a U.S. government national laboratory concluded that the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation. The study was prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and was drawn on by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic’s origins during the final months of the Trump administration. It is attracting fresh interest in Congress now that Biden has ordered that U.S. intelligence agencies report to him within weeks on how the virus emerged. Biden said that U.S. intelligence has focused on two scenarios, whether the coronavirus came from human contact with an infected animal or a laboratory accident.
“Millions of J&J COVID-19 vaccines are at risk of expiring in June” via Jared S. Hopkins and Julie Wernau of The Wall Street Journal — Hospitals, state health departments, and the federal government are racing to decide how to use up millions of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine doses that are set to expire this month. The prospect of so many doses going to waste in the U.S. when developing nations are desperate for shots would add pressure on the Biden administration to share stockpiled vaccines. But there are few practical solutions to administering them quickly in the U.S. or distributing them in time to foreign countries. The stockpile is, in part, an unintended consequence of the U.S.’s decision in April to temporarily suspend administration of J&J doses to assess a rare blood-clot risk.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“As PPP loan program ends, Tampa Bay small businesses’ haul nears $10 billion” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Since opening in the spring of 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program has shepherded about $800 billion in largely forgivable relief loans to 8.5 million small businesses and nonprofits. The program officially closed on May 31. And while the totals are incomplete as banks process the final loans, it’s clear that the aid to Florida’s economy was immense. Over 14 months, banks approved at least $51.2 billion in loans to more than 1 million Sunshine State businesses, according to data compiled by the Small Business Administration through June 1. In Tampa Bay, at least 161,000 loans worth more than $9.8 billion went to businesses in the eight counties around Tampa Bay.
“Four Doral police officers relieved of duty following federal investigation” via Eden Checkol of WPLG — Several officers from the Doral Police Department were taken off the street last month. A total of four Doral police officers were relieved of duty on May 13 following a federal investigation. Sources told Local 10 News those officers are accused of fraudulently applying for and receiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in February and March. The officers were identified as Sgt. Pablo Rodriguez, Det. Jorge Gallardo, Ofc. Mauro Olivera and Reserve Ofc. Osvaldo Castillo.
— MORE CORONA —
“Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids on track, with shots to come in the fall, company says” via Karen Weintraub of USA Today — Pfizer released details Tuesday about the progress of its COVID-19 vaccination trials in children, showing that they have completed early testing and are moving forward with lower-dose trials in younger kids. Children are less likely than adults to have a serious case of COVID-19, so drug companies are trying to minimize vaccine side effects while maximizing benefits. For now, Pfizer, which collaborates with German biotech BioNTech, is testing its vaccine at lower doses in grade-schoolers than adolescents and still lower doses in younger children. Their vaccine trials showed that adolescents developed a strong antibody response to the virus. The vaccine prevented infections and did not lead to intolerable side effects.
“This man spent last year flushing hundreds of toilets. The new fear as the pandemic wanes: Legionnaires’ disease” via Elizabeth Weise of USA Today — “Every week, we go through the entire property and flush every toilet, run every hand sink, turn on every shower. You start at one end of the floor, and by the time you get back, you can turn them off,” Michael Hurtado said. Hurtado is the lead engineer for the Ahern Hotel, right off the Las Vegas Strip. It’s officially been closed during the pandemic, and Hurtado had the job of keeping the building systems safe despite the lack of guests. “It easily takes 60 hours a week every single week for my team,” he said. Keeping water moving is necessary to protect shutdown buildings against pathogens that can build up in their miles of pipes. The one that keeps safety experts up at night is Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes 95% of Legionnaires’ disease cases. It kills at least 1,000 Americans a year.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Biden to shore up supply chains for four sectors after 100-day reviews” via Gavin Bade of POLITICO — Biden will direct federal agencies to shore up production and delivery of pharmaceuticals, computer chips, advanced batteries and critical minerals after completing reviews of their supply chains. The actions include a $60 million investment in research for advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing through the Department of Health and Human Services, and new domestic manufacturing rules and funding for batteries at the Energy Department, a senior administration official said. To prevent shortages of key medicines, HHS plans to establish an onshoring consortium with major drugmakers under the authority of the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era law that allows the government to mandate domestic production of key products. That group’s first task will be to identify 50 to 100 drugs for an “enhanced onshoring effort.”
“Biden ends infrastructure talks with Senate GOP group” via Andrew Duehren, Sabrina Siddiqui and Kristina Peterson of The Wall Street Journal — Biden called off an effort to reach an infrastructure compromise with several Senate Republicans after progress stalled, shifting his focus to a separate set of negotiations with a group of Republicans and Democrats to salvage a bipartisan deal on the issue. Weeks of discussions between Biden and a group of six Republicans had left the two sides still deeply divided on the size of an infrastructure package and how to pay for it. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden informed GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito that the latest offer from the Republican group didn’t meet his threshold. Republicans, meanwhile, said Biden hadn’t shown enough willingness to narrow the scope to more traditional infrastructure projects.
“Biden surprises Parkland graduates with a message: ‘This class lost a piece of its soul’” via Michael Wilner and Carli Teproff of the Miami Herald — Biden surprised graduates of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a video address, celebrating the class for “turning pain into purpose and darkness to light” after surviving the deadliest high school shooting in American history, followed by the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic. “Three years ago, your lives and the lives of this community changed in an instant,” Biden told the graduates in a video from the East Room of the White House. “This class lost a piece of its soul. You’ve been tested in ways no young person should ever have to face — from a freshman year, a year of unspeakable loss, to a junior and senior year upended by a pandemic.”
To watch the video, click on the image below:
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Are we destined for a Donald Trump coup in 2024?” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — Right now, alarmed progressives see preparations for a Republican coup in 2024 everywhere they look: in the jettisoning of Liz Cheney from House leadership, in provisions tucked into the voting regulations being passed in states like Georgia and Texas that they fear set up postelection power grabs, in exercises like the election audit in Arizona that both reflect and feed paranoia on the right. What I see, by contrast, is much more in continuity with the pre-Jan. 6 dynamic in Republican politics. The Republican leadership is still doing what it did throughout Trump’s presidency, trying to talk about anything other than his sins, excesses and potential crimes.
“‘We turned so far right we went crazy:’ How Fox News was radicalized by its own viewers” via Brian Stelter of CNN Business — When Trump lost the presidency last November, Fox News lost too. But unlike Trump, Fox was never in denial about its loss. The network’s executives and stars stared the ratings in the face every day and saw that their pro-Trump audience was reacting to the prospect of President Biden by switching channels or turning off the TV. To fix the problem, Fox ran even further to the right. It worked. The postelection changes at Fox happened one day at a time, one show at a time, but they are unmistakable and stark when viewed in totality. And because Fox News is the primary trusted source of information for millions of Americans, including Republican elected officials and party activists, the changes affect everyone.
— CRISIS —
“Barack Obama criticizes Republicans for embracing 2020 falsehoods” via Dan Merica of CNN — Former President Obama said Republicans have been “cowed into accepting” a series of positions that “would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago,” telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper he is worried about the state of democracy in the United States in an exclusive interview that aired Monday. “We have to worry,” Obama said, “when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago.” The clearest example of this, Obama said, was the January 6 insurrection.
“Capitol Police had intelligence indicating an armed invasion weeks before Jan. 6 riot, Senate probe finds” via Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post — The U.S. Capitol Police had specific intelligence that Trump supporters planned to mount an armed invasion of the Capitol at least two weeks before the Jan. 6 riot, according to new findings in a bipartisan Senate investigation released Tuesday, but omissions and miscommunications kept that information from reaching front-line officers targeted by the violence. It is the first such record of systemic deficiencies and leadership mistakes to have the endorsement of senior Democrats and Republicans — a rare bright spot in a Congress riven by partisan division as it debates how to investigate the riot’s genesis. But in a sign of the political pitfalls that remain, the report conspicuously steers clear of offering any assessments or conclusions regarding Trump’s responsibility.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Kamala Harris says she will visit the U.S.-Mexico border, calls GOP criticism ‘shortsighted’” via Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner of The Washington Post — Vice President Harris said she will visit the U.S.-Mexico border and rejected Republican criticism as “shortsighted” for failing to recognize the reason migrants are coming to the United States. Harris made the comments at a news conference after meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City as part of the second leg of her trip focused on addressing the root causes behind a surge in migration from Central America to the U.S. southern border. Talks between Biden and Sen. Capito, the GOP point person on infrastructure spending, ended with no agreement as financing the plan with increased corporate taxes proved unacceptable to Republicans.
“Is it war? Rick Scott accuses China of ‘killing Americans,’ says it’s ‘intentional’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott, appearing on the conservative-leaning Newsmax cable network, addressed a series of Sinophobic questions on the Grant Stinchfield program when the host asked if COVID-19 and imported fentanyl were tantamount to war being declared on Americans. “Whether it’s a war or not, they’re clearly killing Americans, and it’s intentional,” Scott said of the drugs coming in, measuring his words carefully in response to a seemingly unexpected question. “They’re not cracking down on this,” Scott added before pivoting into the more familiar terrain of economic nationalism. “Every time an American buys a product made in Communist China, just remember what they’re doing. They’re helping the government of Communist China sell fentanyl in this country,” Scott added.
“Senate approves sprawling $250 billion bill to curtail China’s economic and military ambitions” via Tony Romm of The Washington Post — The Senate voted to adopt an approximately $250 billion bill to counter China’s growing economic and military prowess, hoping that major investments in science might give the United States a lasting edge. In a chamber often racked by partisan division, Democrats and Republicans found rare accord over the sprawling measure. The proposal commits billions of dollars in federal funds across a wide array of research areas. It pours more than $50 billion in immediate funding into U.S. businesses that manufacture the sort of ultrasmall, in-demand computer chips that power consumer and military devices, which many companies source from China.
“Puerto Rico’s former Secretary of Education pleads guilty to fraud conspiracy in federal court” via Syra Ortiz-Blanes of the Miami Herald — Former Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher pleaded guilty to two federal fraud conspiracy charges Tuesday for crimes committed during her time as the island’s top education official, striking a felony plea bargain with prosecutors and potentially avoiding maximum jail time. Keleher agreed to admit guilt on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and another count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud at a hearing, in which she participated via video conference from Pennsylvania. Should the court agree to the sentencing recommendations, Keleher will spend six months in federal prison followed by a year of house confinement. Prosecutors also recommended a fine of $21,000.
“Many of the uber-rich pay next to no income tax” via Paul Wiseman and Marcy Gordon of The Associated Press — The rich really are different from you and me: They’re better at dodging the tax collector. Amazon founder Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011. Tesla founder Elon Musk’s income tax bill was zero in 2018. And financier George Soros went three straight years without paying federal income tax, according to a report from ProPublica. Overall, the richest 25 Americans pay less in tax, an average of 15.8% of adjusted gross income, than many ordinary workers do, once you include taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Its findings are likely to heighten a national debate over the vast and widening inequality between the very wealthiest Americans and everyone else.
“Personnel note: Robert Wexler named managing partner of Ballard Partners D.C. office” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Wexler is now the managing partner at Ballard Partners’ Washington office, the firm announced Tuesday. “Robert’s exceptional reputation with his former congressional colleagues and the Biden administration make him the ideal choice to lead our Washington office,” firm founder Brian Ballard said. Wexler served in Congress from 1997 through 2010. He joined Ballard Partners in 2017. His elevation comes as Sylvester Lukis transitions from managing partner to senior partner. “It has been an honor to work with Brian and the exceptionally talented professionals at Ballard Partners for the past four years,” he said. “I am humbled by this new responsibility and look forward to building on the firm’s success and growing our firm’s reach and capabilities in Washington.”
— LOCAL NOTES —
“No-party candidate in Florida Senate race agrees to ethics violations” via Samantha J. Gross of the Tampa Bay Times — As the high-profile public corruption case revolving around former state Sen. Frank Artiles continues to play out in court, the no-party candidate accused of being paid and recruited to run in the Senate District 37 election was slapped with a fine for his involvement in entering the race. In Miami District Court, Artiles’ defense team continues to squabble with the state attorney’s office over how much of a disc brimming with potential evidence should be made public related to an alleged scheme to recruit and pay Alexis Pedro Rodriguez to run as a no-party candidate in the state senate race. Rodriguez has agreed to pay a $6,500 fine for filing an inaccurate financial disclosure form and for accepting money with the understanding that he would change his party affiliation from Republican to no party affiliation.
“Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously passes Peace and Prosperity Plan to combat gun violence” via Ian Margol of WPLG — Miami-Dade County is pushing forward with its Peace and Prosperity Plan to combat gun violence. The multi-million-dollar endeavor aims to stem the recent rise in crime and violence with firearms in the county. “These tragic events over the last several days, especially just this past weekend, are reinforcing that we must take immediate action to help make our neighborhoods safer,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. On Tuesday, a Miami-Dade County Commission meeting took place in which the plan was discussed. Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, commissioners voted and unanimously approved the plan, which calls for nearly $8 million over the next two years on prevention, intervention, economic investment, and re-entry programs.
“Florida judge favors pre-dawn partying in rowdy South Beach” via The Associated Press — A South Florida judge has sided with the Clevelander hotel in a lawsuit over a new Miami Beach law that sets a 2 a.m. closing time in the South Beach entertainment district. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko said in a hearing on Monday that the City Commission’s vote to approve the law wasn’t properly executed. The entertainment district had been serving alcohol until 5 a.m. The judge said the ordinance was presented as a general ordinance that requires a simple majority, but should have been pitched as a land-development regulation that requires broader commission support.
“This Miami apartment building is evicting all of its 200 tenants in 60 days” via Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — Steven Leidner, who has lived in a one-bedroom corner unit at the Hamilton on the Bay apartment tower in Edgewater for 18 years, sensed something was up when his lease was up in November and noticed the building’s new owner had added a provision to their leases. “I noticed an early termination clause that wasn’t there before,” said Leidner, 66. “I was not in a position to go all over town looking for a new place. But I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.” That shoe came in the form of a letter from Aimco/AIR, the Denver-based company that bought the 28-story bayfront building in Aug. 2020 for $80.9 million.
“A new Miami housing project could cost the Allapattah library branch its home” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Plans for a new affordable-housing complex in Miami include bad news for the Allapattah library branch, which rents space from the city at the planned development site and has been ordered to clear out later this year. Last fall, Miami commissioners voted to terminate the rent-free Allapattah lease with Miami-Dade County’s library system, an agreement that dates back to the 1970s when the county agreed to take over all of Miami’s own libraries. The termination took effect in May, triggering a six-month window for the county to find a new location for the popular library branch. A county spokesperson said the city gave the Allapattah branch until Dec. 8 to vacate the premises.
“First Amendment arguments rejected in mansion fight” via Jim Saunders of News Service of Florida —The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court on Tuesday rejected arguments that Palm Beach’s architectural review commission did not violate Donald Burns’ First Amendment rights when they rejected his plan to tear down a 10,063 square-foot oceanfront home and replace it with a larger mansion with a “mid-century modern design,” according to the ruling. In a 70-page majority opinion and a 66-page dissent, appellate judges Tuesday sparred about Burns’ claims and First Amendment issues ranging from tattoos to Jefferson’s Monticello home. In a majority opinion shared by Judge Ed Carnes, Judge Robert Luck wrote that the proposed mansion was not “expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.”
“Coral Springs man accused of misusing millions of dollars raised from investors” via Ron Hurtbise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Larry B. Brodman, the owner of Property Income Investors LLC, raised about $9.1 million from 156 investors through a series of unregistered securities offerings between January 2016 and September 2020, according to charges in a civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Brodman, who operated the scheme through 12 separate companies, told investors he was using their money to purchase “turnkey, multifamily properties” across South Florida, which would then be renovated and rented to tenants, the complaint states. The SEC’s complaint accuses Brodman of diverting about $1.12 million of the investors’ funds into his personal account.”
“Department of Health wants Delray Beach to pay $1.8 million fine for mismanaging reclaimed water” via Mike Diamond in the Palm Beach Post — The state Department of Health has called on the city to pay a fine of $1.8 million for mismanaging its reclaimed water program that resulted in some residents getting sick in Dec. 2018. And it also wants the city to publish a public notice acknowledging it “cannot assure utility customers that the drinking water produced and distributed met the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act for the period from inception of the reclaimed water service beginning in 2007 to the time reclaimed water was deactivated on February 4, 2020.” Both the fine and the public-notice requirement were part of a consent order recently presented to the city.
“Should the Gables bury its power lines? City will engage voters on $350 million question” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Coral Gables Commissioners voted Tuesday unanimously to resume a robust campaign to educate residents about a roughly $350 million undertaking to bury the city’s utility lines before eventually asking voters to finance the project — a preemptive step cities across Florida are taking as a protection against storm damage. The proposal, put forward by Mayor Vince Lago, directs city staff to conduct an analysis, host educational community events, and create an expected timeline for workshops on burying utilities, an increasingly popular concept in Florida’s storm-prone regions. The final say on the project would come in the form of a question on the November 2022 midterm election ballot.
“FAU gets $10 million donation to boost biotech” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida Atlantic University’s efforts to turn its Jupiter campus into a biotech hub got a boost Tuesday thanks to a $10 million donation. The gift from Jupiter philanthropist David J.S. Nicholson “will welcome an era of unprecedented research, education and discovery” to the northern Palm Beach County campus, FAU said in a release. The money will be used to help pay for a third floor on a neuroscience building now under construction, bringing the total space to 58,000 square feet. The state Legislature has also provided $35 million for the project, which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022. The building will be called the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, named after the charitable organization Nicholson runs.
“Spirit Airlines expanding to Miami International Airport. Here’s where it will go from there.” via Ron Hurtbise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Spirit Airlines will fly out of Miami International Airport beginning this October, giving the low-cost carrier a presence at all three of South Florida’s major airports for the first time. Spirit’s expansion to Miami will not result in any reduction of service at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, “which remains our primary gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean along with offering service to dozens of destinations,” Spirit spokesman Field Sutton said. “We are the largest airline at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, and we intend to stay that way,” he said. “In fact, we’ll reach 100 departures per day at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood for the first time in July. The demand is there to support growth throughout South Florida.”
“Judge tries to untangle ‘Grim Reaper’ lawyer case” via The News Service of Florida — A Northwest Florida judge is weighing how to handle an appellate court-fueled case against a lawyer who drew national headlines by donning a Grim Reaper costume to criticize DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Prosecutors in March filed a motion to pursue sanctions against Daniel Uhlfelder at the behest of a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal. The panel made the rare move of ordering State Attorney Ginger Bowden Madden to ask a judge to consider penalties for “putatively unprofessional conduct” after Uhlfelder commented to a newspaper following a court decision. In the previous months, Uhlfelder appeared throughout Florida in the macabre Grim Reaper outfit to call attention to issues such as DeSantis’ refusal to close beaches amid the pandemic.
“Sidewalk cafés won’t have to close early, but permit enforcement coming, official says” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Sidewalk cafés in downtown Orlando won’t have to close by 10 p.m., after early shuttering was under consideration to combat nighttime violence. But those cafés will need permits to operate, and code enforcement is expected to ramp up monitoring restaurants that operate on the public right-of-way this summer, said Thomas Chatmon, the director of the Downtown Development Board. Only nine restaurants are currently permitted, though the city estimates more than 50 have been serving food outdoors. City officials had considered closing the outdoor seating at 10 p.m. as part of a policy package aimed at quieting noise downtown and putting a lid on the partylike atmosphere in the streets.
“Lack of nutrient criteria in Collier’s canals leaves gaps in water quality restoration” via Karl Schneider of the Naples Daily News — Collier County’s canals shuttle freshwater toward the area’s estuaries leading to the Gulf, but the state has yet to set a limit on how much nutrient pollution they can contain. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection identifies 57 different water bodies in the county, 21 of which are impaired since they don’t meet one or more water quality guidelines. No one knows how much nutrient pollution is too much in Collier’s canals. Experts say this could feed red tide in the Gulf, such as the 2018 bloom that devastated Southwest Florida.
— TOP OPINION —
“It’s Florida’s politicians, not teachers, who are trying to indoctrinate schoolchildren” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — DeSantis and Florida Republicans are about to pull off a whitewash for the ages. They are poised to implement a new rule this week that they say is designed to keep teachers from “indoctrinating” students. In other words, teachers are the enemy. “You have to police them on a daily basis” to prevent this insidious conspiracy, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said. What Corcoran is referring to is a notion called “critical race theory,” the idea that the United States government and legal system were set up to favor white men and keep power away from others, particularly Blacks. This is gaslighting at its finest. Current-day ancestors of the powerful white men who founded America have started believing their own flimsy rhetoric, and now they want schoolchildren to believe it, too.
— OPINIONS —
“Cutting extra unemployment aid hurts Florida workers” via Anna Eskamani for the Orlando Sentinel — Since the beginning of COVID-19, our team has been working overtime to help Floridians navigate the state’s criminally broken unemployment system. This crisis isn’t over yet, either: On a single day last week, our office received 71 phone calls related to unemployment. And yet DeSantis recently announced that he plans to cut unemployed Floridians off from the extra $300 a week that the federal government has been providing through this pandemic. This is both cruel and stupid. In addition to providing a crucial lifeline for families, the enhanced unemployment benefits also keep our economy solvent because folks spend this money on necessities that they buy from local businesses and rent they pay to landlords.
“How America fractured into four parts” via George Packer of The Atlantic — The country has fragmented into four groups. These narratives overlap, morph into one another, attract and repel one another. The groups are 1. Free America: Libertarians who resent regulation in favor of individual freedom, tracing a through-line from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to Ted Cruz. 2. Smart America: A class of high earners and technocrats who attend competitive schools, embrace meritocracy, own MacBooks, and don’t intermingle with the rest of the country. 3. Real America: White Christian nationalists, as recently energized by Sarah Palin and Trump. 4. Just America: A young generation that believes injustice is at the heart of the country’s problems and speaks the language of identity politics.
“Farewell, Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy” via Kevin Roose of The New York Times — A few years ago, while on a work trip in Los Angeles, I hailed an Uber for a crosstown ride during rush hour. The app spit out a price that made my jaw drop: $16. Experiences like these were common during the golden era of the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy, which I like to call the period from roughly 2012 through early 2020 when many of the daily activities of big-city 20- and 30-somethings were being quietly underwritten by Silicon Valley venture capitalists. These companies’ investors didn’t set out to bankroll our decadence. They were just trying to get traction for their start-ups. Now, users are noticing that for the first time, their luxury habits carry luxury price tags.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
The union representing Florida teachers objects to a new rule that would force them to whitewash or ignore the unpleasant truths of U.S. history.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar has more to say on that rule during the Sunrise interview.
— Gov. DeSantis joins in what’s described as an “Urgent Town Hall Meeting on Antisemitism.”
— A Florida group trying to prevent sexual abuse of children is warning parents to keep better track of what their kids are doing online. One out of five kids who touch a digital device will receive some sort of sexual come-on, and the number of reports of online enticements almost doubled last year during the pandemic.
— Congressman Greg Steube says delays at the Department of Veterans Affairs are killing veterans. He’s trying to rally support for a bill allowing veterans to ditch the VA and get health care elsewhere.
— And finally, the stories of two Florida Men: One gets 30 years in the federal pen for drugs and dogfighting; the other used a sword to settle a fight over the TV.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“Marvel’s Loki is the show that fans have been waiting for” via Stephen Kelly of BBC — The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s foray into television has been an intriguingly mixed bag so far. The wonderful WandaVision, for instance, set the bar high with a formally inventive and creatively risky riff on classic sitcoms — albeit one that felt more like a curio than MCU TV’s big bang. While The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a far more conventionally fan-pleasing show on the surface, felt far too conventional, plodding and limp in its execution. However, the first two episodes of Loki suggest a show that has managed to skilfully bridge the gap between the inventive and the familiar, with a dazzling script full of weird ideas headlined by one of the most popular characters in the MCU.
“Loki being gender fluid confirmed in trailer” via Lisa Respers France of CNN — Blink, and you missed some info about Loki. The latest teaser for the new Disney+ series includes a quick shot of the Time Variance Authority on the Marvel character, and where his sex is listed, it says “fluid.” It’s a small bit of info about the God of Mischief that had been speculated about for a while, and it quickly sparked conversation on social media after the show’s official Twitter account shared the teaser on Sunday. Tom Hiddleston has portrayed the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film franchise and reprises the role in the Disney+ series.
To watch the teaser, click on the image below:
— Loki (@LokiOfficial) June 6, 2021
“College Football Playoff could reportedly decide on future expansion soon” via Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel — The College Football Playoff could consider expansion in a series of meetings over the next several weeks, with some favoring a 12-team model, according to several reports. The management committee, which is comprised of the 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick, is expected to hear back from a working group during a series of meetings on the subject of expansion. Any recommendation favored by the management committee would then be forwarded to the Playoff’s Board of Managers, comprised of 11 school presidents and chancellors from the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame. It was after a series of virtual meetings in April that the Playoff group revealed that a working group had been considering 63 possibilities for change.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to the Ambassador of Tallahassee, Jay Revell.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.
Post Views: 35