Wednesday, October 5

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.21.22

Good Wednesday morning.

Inflation is the top concern among Florida voters according to a new poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of the James Madison Institute.

According to the poll, 42% of voters say that they are concerned about the rising cost of consumer goods, putting the issue far ahead of others such as immigration and gun control, neither of which registered in the double digits.

Florida’s biggest concern? Inflation.

The poll also asked voters whether Congress should focus on addressing inflation or passing regulations targeted at Big Tech. Inflation topped tech regs 83%-9%.

This issue test comes shortly after members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission began pushing for tech regulations, supposedly at the expense of tamping down inflation. The poll further showed that Florida voters believe tech industry regulations will exacerbate inflation rather than lower it.

“Voters in Florida are very clear; they’re concerned about the economy and inflation and believe acting on policies to break up American technology companies is not only unfair, but will also increase prices on consumer goods,” said Robert Blizzard, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “Pursuing policies in Washington like antitrust is a lose-lose situation. Focusing on these policies could actually be detrimental for lawmakers seeking reelection.”

If Congress were to insist on tackling tech issues, voters would prefer lawmakers prioritize legislation to prevent cyberattacks (25%), increase security measures to better protect children online (18%), and alert customers involved in data breaches (18%) over antitrust reforms.

“The poll confirms that Florida voters don’t want heavy-handed government regulations that will increase prices and stifle innovation,” said Sal Nuzzo, vice president of Policy at The James Madison Institute. “As inflation continues to stifle the economy, voters are right to demand their elected officials focus on the kind of free-market principles that will lead to lower costs on everyday goods.”

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A top of ‘burn happy birthday shoutout to Aly Coleman of On3PR, recognized as a rising star in a previous edition of INFLUENCE Magazine but nowadays a full-fledged star who always delivers the goods.

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Assignment editors — Simply Healthcare Plans, joined by Reps. Tom Fabricio and Alex Rizo among other community leaders, celebrates the opening of its new Hialeah Community Service Center: 9:30 a.m., 1905 West 35th Street, Hialeah. RSVP to Madison Dorval at [email protected].

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Here are a few other items on my radar:

⚖️— In 2020, Democrats were 20% more likely to respond to pollsters than Republicans, and that imbalance likely contributed to polling errors during the election cycle. According to Nate Cohn of The New York Times, it may not be as big of a factor in 2022 as the response rate gap has fallen to about 5% — its lowest since October 2019.

🛡 — In states and counties across the country, election deniers are running to oversee elections, and Time magazine is highlighting some of the candidates who are standing in their way — including a Marine running for Arizona Secretary of State who says, “the stakes are literally the fate of the free world.”

📢 — The “Big Lie” has propelled some former nobodies into influencer territory in conservative circles. As Elizabeth Dwoskin and Jeremy B. Merrill write for The Washington Post, some of those who parroted Donald Trump’s claims early have seen their follower counts — and thereby their influence — double or triple since.

🧗‍♀️—Democrats have been registering voters at a high clip in the months since SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, but as Jessica Piper writes for POLITICO, the party is mostly climbing out of the hole it was in after nearly two years of rising GOP registrations.

🗳—Technically voting is free. But it still costs time and effort. A new analysis highlighted by The New York Times ranks the states by how easy it is for voters to cast a ballot, finding New Hampshire and Mississippi carrying the highest personal cost. After recent election law changes, Florida fell from No. 28 to No. 33.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@RepTroyNehls: Democrats claim It’s “human trafficking” when (Ron) DeSantis flies 50 illegal migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. But not when (Joe) Biden flies 425,000 illegal aliens on midnight flights around the country. You can’t have it both ways.

@LtGovNunez: While everyone is suffering under the weight of Bidenflation, @GovRonDeSantis’ tax relief proposal puts the needs of Florida families first. We look forward to working with the legislature to pass this important tax relief package this upcoming Legislative Session.

Tweet, tweet:

@Jason_Garcia: The @FloridaChannel is a state treasure.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Biden to speak at a DNC rally in Orlando — 6; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 11; 22-23 NHL season begins — 16; WPEC televised debate in Florida Governor’s race — 21; deadline to register for General Election — 23; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 27; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 30; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 33; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 34; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 34; Early voting begins for General Election — 38; 2022 General Election — 48; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 51; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 51; FITCon 2022 begins — 57; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 57; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 61; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 61; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 70; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 70; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 76; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 86; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 102; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 133; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 149; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 167; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 184; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 209; 2023 Session Sine Die — 226; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 226; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 254; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 303; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 408; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 422; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 555; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 674; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 674; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 779; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 957.

— TOP STORY —

Seven weeks ahead of Election Day, Ron DeSantis proposes $1.1 billion in tax breaks next year” via John Kennedy of the USA Today Network — DeSantis unveiled plans in Bradenton to ask the Republican-controlled Legislature next year to permanently eliminate the state’s 7% sales tax on diapers, strollers and cribs, medical supplies and equipment, along with over-the-counter pet medications.

The Governor also proposed one-year breaks on household items costing $25 or less, children’s toys and books, athletic equipment used by youngsters up to age 18, and four weeks of back-to-school holidays, adding a spring semester round to the summer break the state has given out.

$1.1 billion … Ron DeSantis is just getting started. Image via Reuters.

“We’re not done yet,” DeSantis said.

Florida’s economy is rich with revenue helped by nationwide low unemployment, the release of pent-up spending from the pandemic and an increase in dollars and spending, although some of it is caused by inflation.

Florida’s $109.9 billion state budget also has been helped by $3.5 billion in federal aid intended to help the state weather COVID-19’s effect on the economy. The Governor, though, said “the Biden economy” combined with rising interest rates is going to “continue to put a drag on the economy.”

DeSantis floats $1.1B tax cut plan aimed at children’s items” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics

Aaron Bean praises DeSantis’ tax cut plan — State Sen. Bean, who is now the Republican nominee in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, lauded the Governor’s $1.1 billion tax cut plan in a statement released by his campaign. “I’m proud of our tax-cutting Governor, and I look forward to Florida making these family-friendly tax breaks permanent and expanding more relief,” he said. “This is the type of tax-cutting spirit I will take to Washington to overturn the Biden-(Nancy) Pelosi tax increases and their reckless spending that have given our country the worst inflation since the Jimmy Carter economy.” Bean, of Fernandina Beach, faces Democrat L.J. Holloway in the General Election for CD 4. The seat is expected to perform Republican in November.


— DESANTISY LAND —

DeSantis threatened to send migrants to Joe Biden’s Delaware home. It was a no show.” via Michael Collins of USA Today — Officials in three states monitored reports Tuesday that a plane carrying migrants was heading to Biden’s home state of Delaware, but the plane and the migrants never showed. “We have no reports of anyone arriving at this point,” said Jill Fredel of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, after public officials and community groups mobilized resources to the Delaware Coastal Airport in Sussex County and waited for hours. The drama swirling around the no-show aircraft comes amid a feud between Biden and DeSantis that has captured headlines and put a spotlight on Biden’s border policies.

Ron DeSantis vows to send migrants to Delaware. It was an empty threat.

DeSantis on migrant flights: ‘It will be a big issue in the elections, I can tell you that’” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — Despite criticisms, potential lawsuits, and calls for investigations, DeSantis took credit for elevating the immigration issue Tuesday amid reports that another airlift of asylum-seekers was headed from Texas, this time to beach communities in Delaware, home state to Biden. The Governor claimed Biden’s policies are encouraging people to risk their lives traversing migrant routes from Central and South America, allowing the importation of the dangerous narcotic fentanyl into the United States, and allowing criminal aliens to harm Americans.

—“DeSantis defends Martha’s Vineyard decision, blasts Biden during visit in Bradenton” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

‘Easy pickings’: In Texas town where Martha’s Vineyard ordeal began, few options for migrants” via Sarah Blaskey and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — The journey to Martha’s Vineyard began in Eagle Pass. This tiny Texas town, located 2.5 hours of sweltering highway southwest of San Antonio, has become a common point of entry for asylum-seekers from Central and South America. Migrants who cross here are vulnerable to scammers, said Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. To get out of Texas, the migrants need to reach San Antonio, which offers a resource center for people who’ve just arrived in the United States. That’s where the earlier group of 48, who Garcia said were mostly Venezuelan, received the offer of free flights.

Were migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard given ‘fake addresses’ by DHS? Agency responds” via Bianca Padró Ocasio and Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — A day after DeSantis took credit for sending a group of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, immigration attorneys in the Boston area jumped into action to help them deal with their immigration cases. Some of the migrants flown from San Antonio had falsified addresses in their paperwork, some linked back to homeless shelters across the country. She said that had set migrants up to be in default with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Officials with DHS now say the allegation is not only unrelated to what they called DeSantis’ “stunt” of sending planes to sanctuary jurisdictions but also appears to be a misunderstanding of how they process migrants at the border.

Mitch McConnell: DeSantis ‘helped’ migrants with his Martha’s Vineyard stunt” via Morgan Watkins of Louisville Courier-Journal — McConnell on Tuesday indicated he liked DeSantis’ controversial stunt that sent 48 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last week under what several of the migrants and immigration attorneys have said were false pretenses. McConnell, who’s married to an immigrant, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, acknowledged “there’s been a good deal of talk about what some of the governors have done to transport illegal immigrants up to other parts of the country. “I personally thought it was a good idea,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “But if you added up all of the (immigrants) who’ve been taken to Chicago or Washington or Martha’s Vineyard, it would be fewer than people down in Texas have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Assignment editors — Lawyers for Civil Rights and Alianza Americas are holding a virtual news conference after the organizations filed a lawsuit accusing DeSantis and the state of Florida of deliberately tricking a group of nearly 50 people to board a plane from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard: Noon Eastern time, Zoom link here.

Dave Kerner, a Palm Beach County Democrat, backs DeSantis’ re-election. What’s behind it?” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Kerner — a former police officer widely seen as hoping to someday become Palm Beach County Sheriff — repeated the Republican allegation that Democrat Charlie Crist favors defunding the police. Kerner and DeSantis heaped effusive praise on each other at a rally at the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, called solely for the purpose of the endorsement announcement. “We are a state on the rise, and I give a lot of credit to our Governor for the trajectory of our state,” Kerner said. “I have never been beholden to the rigid and disingenuous confines of partisan politics. This was not a difficult choice for me. This was not the proverbial lesser of two evils. Gov. DeSantis has demonstrated himself beyond worthy of the humbling duties of his office.”

Dave Kerner gives the thumbs-up for Ron DeSantis’ re-election. Image via the Sun-Sentinel.

OAN’s Trumpy boss cuts a fat check for DeSantis” via Justin Baragona of the Daily Beast — Far-right channel One America News (OAN), currently in the midst of an existential crisis, may be cartoonishly loyal in its efforts to boost all things Trump, but it appears as if the network’s founder and boss is playing footsie with the ex-President’s top potential 2024 Primary rival. According to Florida election filings shared with Confider by the liberal American Bridge 21st Century PAC, OAN founder and CEO Robert Herring earlier this month cut a $20,000 check to Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC, DeSantis’s state-level political action committee currently boosting his re-election campaign.

— 2022 —

Marco Rubio declines to say whether he’ll accept election results, calls Democrats the real election deniers” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Rubio has largely expressed faith in America’s electoral system, but recent comments he’s made and declined to make indicate he might be thinking of adopting rhetoric similar to that of Trump if things go poorly for Republicans this November. Rubio, Florida’s senior U.S. Senator, is facing his stiffest test in years in Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings. Polling shows the two candidates are in a statistical tie. When asked Sunday by The Washington Post if he’d accept the outcome of the Nov. 8 election, Rubio joined 11 other GOP candidates, including DeSantis, in declining to answer the question.

Rubio, Val Demings campaigns squeeze each other on Mexican produce” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Rubio’s campaign is questioning the commitment of his challenger, Demings, to Florida’s agriculture industry. But the Orlando Democrat says Republican plans would hurt Florida’s competitiveness. The Rubio campaign is highlighting two efforts driven by Rubio that received bipartisan support. One letter calls for an investigation into drug smuggling through Mexican fruit imports, and another from two weeks ago calls for an investigation into an increase in Mexican fruit imports that may make Florida’s agriculture industry less competitive. The entire Florida delegation signed the letter, except for Demings.

Val Demings and Marco Rubio get into a Mexican fruit fight.

Owner of business featured in Rubio ad previously arrested for soliciting prostitute” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The president of a company featured prominently in an advertisement for Rubio’s campaign has a criminal record. Silvino Barragan, president of Diego’s Taqueria & Margaritas Bar, pleaded no contest in 2001 to a charge of soliciting or procuring a prostitute. After the Panama City man’s plea to the misdemeanor charge, adjudication on the case was withheld. Less than three months after the first appearance on June 28, 2001, Barragan paid $297 to the court. Barragan incorporated Diego’s in 2013. The business grew a local following within a few years, according to the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce. The restaurant now has two locations in Panama City Beach.

Adam Hattersley gets public funding boost in CFO bid, but Jimmy Patronis still leads money chase” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Hattersley received $126,837 last week from public funds for his Chief Financial Officer campaign, an amount that nearly doubled his full campaign haul, which now stands at $264,334. He has used $30,000 on digital ads and fundraising emails and as of Sept. 16, he has $83,925 on hand. That means he still trails Patronis, who has nearly $1.1 million available, or a more than 13-to-1 advantage on Hattersley. Patronis has a political committee he controls, Treasure Florida, with more than $3.6 million in it as of Sept. 9.

Matt Gaetz draws misleading comparison on Rebekah Jones ‘campaign event’” via Yacob Reyes of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gaetz posted two photos side-by-side on Facebook that he suggested showed a stark difference between support for his re-election and support for his Democratic challenger. “Gaetz vs. Jones campaign events,” Gaetz wrote in the caption on the Sept. 10 Facebook post. One image showed a room full of people, some holding “Keep Gaetz fighting” signs. It was taken at a ticketed event Gaetz hosted in July in Navarre, Florida, as part of his “Back Our Troops Tour” with former Trump adviser Kash Patel. The other photo showed a booth draped with a tablecloth promoting “Rebekah Jones for Congress.” Jones is a former Florida Department of Health data analyst. The sole person in that image has their head down on the table.

Eric Lynn makes $37K cable buy in CD 13 — Democratic nominee Lynn booked a new cable flight in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the campaign spent $37,404 on ads that will run Thursday through Wednesday in the Tampa Bay media market. The flight includes ads on CNN, Food Network, HGTV, ID, MSNBC, S1TP and USA. Lynn is running against Republican Anna Paulina Luna in the newly drawn Pinellas-based district, which went for Trump by 7 points in 2020 and DeSantis by 4 points in 2018.

Democratic women Senate candidates in new ads: We’re freedom’s fighters” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — DeSantis claims to be the guardian of the “Free State of Florida,” but five fighting females, all Senate Democratic candidates, are taking him on for that title in a new pair of ads. A new digital advertising push, “Front Lines” highlights the re-election campaigns of Sens. Loranne Ausley and Janet Cruz, along with Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, now pursuing a Senate seat, and “bold newcomers” Raquel Pacheco and Janelle Perez. Against rousing orchestral music, Senate Leader Lauren Book explains why “This is our moment.”

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Joy Goff-Marcil fundraising picks up steam, but can she match Jason Brodeur’s resources?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As Sen. Brodeur faces new questions about knowledge of a “ghost candidate” scandal, Goff-Marcil has started to outraise him. But Brodeur still holds a massive cash advantage in a year many still expect will be rough for Democrats. Rep. Goff-Marcil reported $16,125 in new contributions to her campaign in Senate District 10. With the Florida Democratic Party largely providing all necessary campaign apparatus, she has remained frugal with spending, and closed the reporting period with $62,831 in cash on hand. Meanwhile, Brodeur’s fundraising slowed significantly, and he collected just $3,510 over the same period.

Carlos Guillermo Smith significantly outraises Susan Plasencia in HD 37” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Smith continues to considerably outraise Plasencia. But both candidates report support coming in from the state party as Election Day draws closer in House District 37. Smith, an Orlando Democrat seeking his fourth term in the House, reported another $30,931 in contributions in the last reporting period, from Aug. 27 through Sept. 9. On top of that, he also received in-kind support, including $4,850 worth of campaign staff time from the Florida Democratic Party and $515 in free legal work courtesy state Rep. Ben Diamond, a Democratic colleague.

Derek Reich gets serious about fundraising, but still massively lags Fiona McFarland” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Reich outraised his opponent, Rep. McFarland, in the last reporting period — at least in her official account. But when counting resources in McFarland’s campaign account and political committee, Reich remains far behind the Sarasota Republican in the resource war. Reich reported $11,612 in new contributions in the most recent period, his strongest fundraising period since jumping into the race in May. The donations made between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9 represent more than 27% of all checks to his campaign to date.

Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago endorses Vicki Lopez in HD 113” via Jordan Kirkland of The Capitolist — Mayor Lago is backing Vicki Lopez for House District 113. “I am proud to endorse Vicki Lopez for HD 113,” said Lago. “She is a tried-and-true leader who will never back down from a fight when the welfare of our communities is at stake. I am confident that she is the representative we need in Tallahassee, a strong advocate for government accountability and a champion for the issues important to the citizens of Miami-Dade.” Before his election in 2021, Lago served as City Commissioner for eight years holding the position of Vice Mayor from 2019 to 2021. He has served on many civic boards in Coral Gables, including the Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Board and the Coral Gables Community Foundation Board of Directors.

— STATEWIDE —

Sunshine State unemployment rate shines brightest among 10 largest states” via Bethany Blankley of The Center Square — While the national unemployment rate increased to 3.7% in August, Florida’s remained the lowest of the country’s 10 largest states at 2.7%. Florida’s unemployment rate has been lower than the national rate for 21 consecutive months, since December 2020. For 25 consecutive months, its statewide unemployment rate has either declined or remained unchanged. “Florida has the lowest unemployment rate among the 10 most populous states and the highest number of new business formations because we have encouraged workforce development, kept the economy open, and put Florida families first,” DeSantis said. Florida also leads the U.S. in new business formations with 1,534,221 new businesses created in the Sunshine State.

Gaming Control Commission sets agency vision in mission statement” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Spinning up an agency from nothing can be an oddly compelling sight since it’s been rare that people can see why some foundational decisions are made the way they are. Faced with an agenda light on line items but heavy on details, the Florida Gaming Control Commission decided what its guiding mission statement would be. Of four options presented, Commissioners opted for the fifth. “Preserve and protect the integrity of gaming activities through fair regulation, licensing, effective criminal investigation, and enforcement,” stated Concept 5, the off-menu selection Commissioners unanimously backed.

Tweet, tweet:

Happening today — The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors meets: 8:30 a.m., World Golf Village Renaissance, 500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine. Zoom link here. Call-in number: 1-786-635-1003. Code: 85637927111.

Happening today — The Revenue Estimating Conference meets for a conference about revenue from lottery operations, 11 a.m., Room 117, Knott Building.

SPOTTED: At the City & State Florida launch event at the Orlando Science Center for the first issue of its magazine and the debut of the Florida Power 100 list (in no particular order): GrayRobinson’s Charlie Gray, AARP Florida’s Jeff Johnson, Salter Mitchell PR’s Heidi Otway, conservative attorney and activist John Stemberger, Dean Mead’s Anna Long, Orlando Sentinel opinion editor Krys Fluker, AT&T Florida’s Dan Pollock, Pasco County Schools’ Wayne Bertsch, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, state Sen. Vic Torres, and many more.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Doctors say Lindsey Graham abortion ban would force women to have transvaginal ultrasounds” via Jonathan Allen of NBC News — Graham’s national 15-week abortion ban would likely force many women to undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasounds before terminating pregnancies. Under the bill, which Graham introduced last week, physicians could be prosecuted for terminating pregnancies after 15 weeks, except in a handful of scenarios: to save the life of the mother or in cases where the pregnant woman or girl has previously reported that the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

Lindsey Graham’s proposed abortion ban could have serious health consequences.

What Brian Burgess is reading — “Rick Scott slams Raphael Warnock for using borrowed dog in political ad” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott issued a new attack on a Georgia Democratic Senator Tuesday, in the latest sign that the 2022 campaign has gone to the dogs. Scott, the Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who has in the past faced frustrating questions about his own canine connections, pointed out Warnock’s borrowing of a supporter’s beagle in a campaign ad as an attack. “Raphael Warnock? A Marxist. And he is lying about his record. He ran as a middle-of-the-road guy in 2020. He had a nice ad with a little dog, which he doesn’t even own,” Scott said.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Donald Trump’s lawyers acknowledge Mar-a-Lago probe could lead to indictment” via Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post — The Justice Department and lawyers for Trump filed separate proposals for conducting an outside review of documents seized at the former President’s Mar-a-Lago home, with key disagreements over how the process should work and Trump’s team acknowledging that the criminal probe could lead to an indictment. Both sides referenced a “draft plan” given to them by Judge Raymond J. Dearie, the newly appointed special master. Trump’s lawyers expressed concern that Dearie posed questions about the documents that the judge who appointed Dearie has left unasked, arguing that Trump might be left at a legal disadvantage if he answered them at this stage of the process.

Are indictments a foregone conclusion? Image via The Associated Press.

Trump sidesteps question about DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Trump, appearing on Newsmax, was asked about the Governor’s decision to have two charter flights land in the Massachusetts vacation community. In fact, he sidestepped the question entirely, redirecting his answer to his own record as President. “I think the border is such a disappointment because we had the safest border, the best border in the history of our country,” Trump said on the “Wake Up America” program. Trump went on to talk about his commitment to “building the wall,” but did not offer any evaluation of DeSantis’ decision or even acknowledge DeSantis at all. A Rolling Stone report recently highlighted that Trump is privately angry at DeSantis for the Martha’s Vineyard move, asserting DeSantis stole the idea from him.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

DeSantis suspends Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez following felony charges” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Three weeks after Martinez turned himself in for booking on felony charges of unlawful compensation, DeSantis has officially suspended the longtime county official and will appoint his replacement “in the coming weeks.” On Tuesday, DeSantis issued an executive order announcing Martinez’s suspension, “effective immediately.” “(It) is in the best interest of the residents of Miami-Dade County that Martinez be immediately suspended from the public office that he holds,” the Governor’s director of communications, Taryn Fenske, said in a memo. “The Governor will appoint a Commissioner to fill the District 11 seat in the coming weeks.”

The hammer fell on Joe Martinez.

USDOT announces $12.5M grant to improve safety at Tri-Rail crossings” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Twenty-five Tri-Rail crossings across South Florida are getting upgrades thanks to an investment from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). On Tuesday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) announced a $12.5 million grant for the Southern Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) to improve safety at Tri-Rail crossings at highways in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The grant, which comes during National Rail Safety Week, is one of five funded through FHA’s Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement (CARSI) program. California, New York and Pennsylvania are receiving grants for similar projects.

Smoking on the beach? Fort Lauderdale might outlaw that. Vaping too.” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A ban on cigarette smoking and vaping could soon be on the way to tourist-friendly Fort Lauderdale. The ban would apply only to the sandy part of the beach and city parks under a proposal coming before the City Commission on Thursday night. Stogie fans need not worry. Unfiltered cigars are not covered by the ban. But lighting up a cigarette on the beach or a park could bring a fine of up to $500 and/or 60 days in jail if the plan wins approval. Commissioners plan to take their first vote on the ban Thursday. The new law would not kick in until after a second vote, likely before the end of the year.

A Delray Beach man lied about being an HOA president during a city meeting, police say. He’s now been arrested.” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A man says he’s an HOA president at a public meeting, talks about everyone being “in favor” of a controversial plan for an apartment building, then winds up in jail because police say he wasn’t who he claimed to be. Neil Carson had identified himself on Aug. 9 as the homeowner’s association president for Andover, a gated residential community less than a mile from a proposed eight-story apartment development by Congress Avenue, police say. He approached the lectern and spoke for three minutes, praising the project.

‘Total lack of transparency.’ Keys investigators say ‘strategic plan’ kept vote secret” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — An investigation by the Florida Keys prosecutor’s office found a governmentwide ‘strategic plan’ was hatched in May to keep a high-ranking city employee’s generous severance package out of the public eye before it was approved without discussion by elected officials. The report concluded that “all parties involved, except the public, clearly knew” that the Islamorada Village Council planned to approve the $185,000 separation agreement for Roget Bryan, the village’s in-house attorney. The separation agreement was placed on the meeting agenda as “Tab X” with no explanation and no prior public notice. Four of the five council members present voted in favor of the agreement six hours later with no discussion.

KCB Commission candidates: What should Key Colony be talking more about?” via Keys Weekly — What is one issue for KCB residents that you feel has not received an appropriate amount of attention thus far and should be addressed? “KCB as all the Keys is faced with how to maintain our quality of life that we enjoy in the face of fast-growing vacation rentals. In KCB, vacation rentals are over 60% of our homes, up from 30% just five years ago,” said John Deneale. “Mitigating the negative impacts of vacation rentals to ensure the best quality of life for KCB residents and visitors alike, and ensuring we not only have a seat at the table but a voice in decision making during County emergency operations,” via Beth Ramsay-Vickery.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Former Joel Greenberg consultant charged with bribing public official” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — A former Republican operative and campaign consultant who worked for Greenberg has been charged by a federal grand jury with paying bribes and receiving kickbacks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for getting favorable treatment from a public office. Michael Courtney Shirley faces four counts of fraud and a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was arrested on Aug. 31 in western Texas, where he is currently living, and faces a hearing on Thursday at the federal courthouse in downtown Orlando.

Another Joel Greenberg associate is in hot water with the law.

Boom, boom: Suspended UCF instructor claims disturbing ‘racism,’ Nazis & corruption” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Scott Launier said he witnessed a disturbing amount of racism at the University of Central Florida. But when he tried to sound the alarm, Launier said he lost his job as a UCF instructor. Launier’s contract was not renewed shortly after he was suspended for calling his fellow colleagues Nazis. The lawsuit and school documents released from a Florida Politics public records request depict two different sides to the breakdown in their relationship. Launier, whose contract wasn’t renewed beyond August 2021, sued UCF late last month in Orange Circuit Court. He had previously served as president of the United Faculty of Florida’s UCF chapter from 2015 to 2020.

Personnel note: Ken Welch announces new staffers — St. Petersburg Mayor Welch’s appointments include Jordan Doyle Walsh as interim Chief of Staff, Alizza Punzalan-Randle as managing director for Communications and Community Engagement, Erica Riggins as Public Information Officer, and Shelly Loos as director of Stakeholder and Community Engagement. Walsh, an 8-year veteran of local government in the Tampa Bay region, previously served as a senior adviser in the Mayor’s Office. Riggins is an award-winning journalist and morning anchor on Spectrum Bay News 9. Loos is a veteran marketing and engagement executive and served as vice president of Marketing for a South Florida-based tech firm. Punzalan-Randle, a nonprofit executive for over two decades, was a chief development officer for St. Pete Free Clinic.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot — “Siesta Key hotel developers convinced Sarasota County planners to reverse key island policy” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Siesta Key has for decades avoided the high-rise condos and towering hotels that line the shores of many popular coastal Florida destinations. That postcard, laid-back beach town charm is why many residents say the beach community is so sought after and admired. But high-rise hotel and condo developers didn’t pass by Siesta Key because they didn’t want to be there. Sarasota County planners effectively unleashed the controls, reinterpreting the county’s regulations in a way that could pave the way for the more than 500 hotel rooms on Siesta Key — far more than the 26 rooms per acre that the long-standing rules would allow.

Will school referendum pass test with voters?” via Daniel Sutphin of the Port Charlotte Sun — Charlotte County school tax referendum supporters defended it during a recent Charlotte County Republican Club meeting. The referendum, which taxpayers approved nearly four years ago, expires on June 30, 2023. The Charlotte County Public School district is asking voters to renew it on Nov. 8. If passed again, it would add $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value to every Charlotte County property owner’s tax bill. The referendum allows the district to hire teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, academic coaches and security aides, as well as pay for supplies and repairs, officials say.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

SAO: It was an ‘unintentional’ gunshot by Jacksonville police that killed suspect on July 30” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — A State Attorney’s Office review of a fatal July 30 police shooting says the 41-year-old suspect’s death was the result of “unintentional” but not criminal gunfire by the officer. Bobby James Brown was killed as he brandished a steak and butter knife at officers during an hourlong standoff at a family member’s home in the 2300 block of Grunthal Street, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. The situation began about 4:30 a.m. that Saturday, Chief Brian Kee said at the scene. Officers went to the home after reports of a man armed with two knives banging on doors on Grunthal Street.

John Dailey raises nearly $72K, his best showing yet, for re-election campaign” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Dailey saw his single biggest fundraising haul since filing for re-election last year, raking in a whopping $71,824. Dailey’s contributions were more than double the amount raised by his challenger, Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier, who collected $29,226, according to campaign finance reports from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9. The Mayor upped his fundraising total to $342,734, the highest of all the local candidates, while Dozier’s total increased to $160,682. Dailey has spent $285,430 so far; Dozier has spent $121,349.

John Dailey is lapping opponent Kristin Dozier in his re-election effort.

Wakulla Co. Commissioners table vote on airport’s fate. Now they look to change a Florida statute.” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — Wakulla County Commissioners tabled a vote on the fate of the county’s only public-use airport Monday. County Commissioner Ralph Thomas said the subject will be shelved while he aims to change a Florida statute in the next Legislative Session to release the county from “a Catch-22 situation.” The statute, Chapter 333, prohibits residential construction in the surrounding area of any public-use airport that has not been the subject of a noise study, like the Wakulla County Airport. “This would affect at least 20 parcels and many landowners,” Thomas told the Democrat Tuesday. “We don’t want to stop them from being able to build on their land.”

— TOP OPINIONS —

Biden is right. The pandemic is over.” via Leana S. Wen of The Washington Post — Things changed with the arrival of vaccines. Many individuals, once vaccinated, began resuming their pre-pandemic activities. Others, like my family, waited until younger kids could receive the shots. By now, the vast majority of Americans have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 or both. The preventive antibody Evusheld and treatments such as Paxlovid and monoclonal antibodies provide further protection against severe illness.

As a result, most Americans have turned the page and abandoned mitigation measures. By August, according to a Morning Consult poll, just 14% of adults viewed COVID-19 as a severe health risk. This tracks with their other findings that only 28% still mask in all settings, while 75% were comfortable with indoor dining.

Perhaps the most significant rationale in favor of the transition from pandemic to endemic is the growing consensus that COVID-19 will never be eradicated. Countries that instituted some of the strictest policies have lifted them.

Biden’s detractors argue that he can’t have it both ways — that he can’t say that the pandemic is over and still ask Congress for funding and encourage Americans to get boosted. These critics are willfully misrepresenting public health policy. Just because a disease is endemic doesn’t mean the level of illness is acceptable or should be ignored. Consider HIV and cancer. These are not considered pandemics, but the goal is still to prevent disease and provide affected patients with state-of-the-art medical care.

No, President Biden, the pandemic is not over” via The Washington Post editorial board — No hard-and-fast rules mark the exact moment a pandemic ends. The nation and the world have come a long way since the early lockdowns and the devastating delta and omicron waves. Vaccines against the coronavirus are safe and highly effective, giving people confidence to resume many activities. Classrooms are back in person, air travel has revived, commuter traffic is picking up. A lot of the worst misery is in the rearview mirror.

But the pandemic is surely not over. The seven-day moving average of daily deaths in the United States is nearly 400 and has plateaued at this terrible level since April. The average of new daily cases is 60,000, way higher than in the spring. Weighed down by the virus, the average life expectancy of Americans fell in 2020 and 2021, the sharpest two-year decline in nearly 100 years. COVID-19 is the third-leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. Long COVID — those suffering a constellation of maladies after the immediate symptoms dissipate — threatens millions of people.

The natural progression of the pandemic emergency will be a transformation into a more predictable pattern — endemic disease, such as the flu. But waves of new variants have been anything but predictable. The arrival of omicron was just last Thanksgiving. What’s in store next? No certainty exists, except that the virus is still mutating.

Biden has not ended the official pandemic emergency. When the official emergency ends, some 15 million will lose Medicaid coverage; the reason for a student loan repayment pause will end; the rationale for Trump-era border restrictions, still held in place by a court, will disappear. All this policy transition must not be done carelessly or hastily.

— OPINIONS —

CNN is hewing toward the center? That’s good for our democracy.” via the Chicago Tribune editorial board — Under its new head Chris Licht, the original cable news network is making strides toward reasserting itself as a neutral news source. This is causing some apprehension on the far left which has come to see CNN as an ally in its fight against the Fox News Channel for the hearts and minds, and political loyalties, of Americans. To some, this is an example of the so-called bothsidesism, a pejorative that used to be a tenet of independent journalism but now is used as an example of aiding the anti-democratic enemy, as if those boundaries are clear. Even if ex-MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann called him a “TV fascist,” an absurd charge that actually made Licht’s point for him.

Florida versus Davos” via Ron DeSantis in The American Mind — I don’t think we’ve ever seen such sharp contrast between different governing philosophies as we have in the last few years. And the reality is, as much as we’re proud of the great things we’ve done in Florida, you’ve had other folks, leftist politicians that have driven people away from their cities, away from their states. In fact, the last few years have witnessed a great American exodus from states and localities governed by leftist politicians. States and localities that are failing on core matters of concern for everyday Americans. These Americans have fled to states like Florida. And we’ve really served as the promised land for record numbers of people. When you’re standing for what’s right, you don’t get very far — given all the things that are going on in our country — unless you’re willing to show a little backbone. Unless you’re willing to stand your ground when it gets hot in the kitchen. And we have done that time and time again.

DeSantis relocates Texas migrants, lets Florida businesses keep using illegal labor” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Why did the Governor of Florida use migrants from Texas for his political theater? Probably because that would highlight an embarrassing reality for DeSantis — that Florida is a hotbed for illegal immigration, thanks partly to GOP lawmakers who have given companies the green light to employ and exploit undocumented workers here. Republican lawmakers had vowed to clamp down on illegal hiring. But after the agriculture industry complained, lawmakers tweaked their plan so that the only employers forced to use E-Verify were state agencies and their contractors. The businesses essentially say: We’ll keep funding your campaigns and support your demonization of undocumented immigrants — as long as you don’t do anything to stop us from hiring them. And DeSantis hasn’t done squat.

DeSantis can’t troll his way into the White House” via David Frum of The Atlantic — DeSantis evidently got the idea for his Martha’s Vineyard airlift from a July 26 Tucker Carlson monologue. That inserted a concept into the brain of the Governor of Florida is a theory about how and why immigration happens. It’s not responding to incentives, signals, and rules — not even perverse incentives, signals, and rules. It’s a plot. It’s a plot inflicted punitively on Real America by cosmopolitan elites. The right response to this plot, the theory continues, is not to address incentives, signals, and rules. The right response is to retaliate against the cosmopolitan elites, who are to blame for immigration, by imposing punitive diversity upon them too. This way of thinking is conspiratorial, paranoid, and vengeful. It’s also wrong and stupid. Nobody who thinks this way about immigration is going to be able to do anything about immigration. If you don’t understand how things work, you cannot fix things when they go wrong.

What do the book banners and burners fear?” via Leonard Pitts, Jr. for the Tampa Bay Times — There are a few things you should be asking yourself right about now. Meaning you students who find yourselves living in places where self-appointed guardians of public morality have been busily banning books. This includes Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott wants to jail librarians who allow students access to novels he deems “pornographic.” And Tennessee, where a preacher in suburban Nashville held an honest-to-Goebbels book burning to destroy such dangerous texts as “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

As Andrew Warren’s case drags on, we’ve seen this movie before” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — The decision by Federal District Judge Robert Hinkle on Monday to deny Andrew Warren’s request for immediate reinstatement as Hillsborough County’s State Attorney is logical. Had he immediately reinstated Warren, Hinkle correctly ruled it could start “yo-yo-ing” the office. DeSantis, who suspended Warren for saying he wouldn’t prosecute abortion cases, immediately would have appealed. Warren might get back in office even if he loses the case. He could run again in 2024, and I’d lay good odds that he would. Voters already elected Warren twice, and it would not be a surprise if they did it again.

DeSantis, quick to suspend Democrats, finally gives Miami-Dade’s Joe Martinez equal treatment” via the Miami Herald editorial board — For a Governor who has used the suspension of local elected officials to put Republicans in control of Democratic areas of Florida, DeSantis acted like your run-of-the-mill governor when he suspended Martinez. DeSantis will certainly appoint another conservative to fill the seat. For that reason, there was trepidation that DeSantis would drag his feet on Martinez. That he waited three weeks after the Commissioner was arrested on felony charges on Aug. 30 stands in contrast with the week DeSantis waited after the release of a grand jury report to get rid of the school board members. Under the Florida Constitution, DeSantis didn’t have to remove Martinez.

My cousin died in the Parkland shooting, which is why Floridians should elect Charlie Crist” via Samuel Schwartz for the Miami Herald — We are at a breaking point in Florida. Active shooter drills have become my generation’s nuclear “duck and cover” exercises. And while children are still dying in their classrooms, DeSantis’ only concern is with school safety and mental health, while ignoring the real crux of the problem, easy access to weapons of war. As a student who has been in the public school system my entire life, I can tell you this is not enough. We need a Governor who recognizes that these issues are made more serious when guns are readily accessible like they are in Florida. Crist’s “Freedom to Learn” plan addresses issues that teachers have had for years, like earning proper pay and emphasizing efforts to teach students the warning signs of a potentially dangerous individual. Crist’s plan aims to fix problems, while DeSantis’ only creates more of them.

Send in the National Guard? It’s time for a paradigm shift in FDOC” via Michael Hallett of the Tallahassee Democrat — When Florida says, “send in the National Guard,” you generally know that a hurricane has hit the state. In this case, however, it’s the hurricane of high staff turnover, extreme violence, low pay, and dangerous conditions decimating the Florida Department of Corrections. In late 2019 Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch declared Florida’s prison system in a “death spiral,” with Senate Appropriations chair Jeff Brandes adding: “This is not a prison system that anybody can look you in the eye and tell you a person … will be safe in the state’s care.”

Don’t move the UDB. Instead, reject harmful industrial park to save South Dade’s farmland” via Nikki Fried for Florida Politics — I testified before the Miami-Dade County Commission in opposition to expanding the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) for the proposed South Dade Logistics and Technology District Industrial Park. Altering the UDB is unnecessary for this facility’s construction and would adversely impact the agricultural integrity of the surrounding lands and further destabilize the area’s water management. I was not alone in speaking out at the May 19 Commission meeting. In fact, because of the overwhelming turnout of community members voicing their opposition, the Commission delayed its final vote on this proposal until June 1.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Orlando airport’s sparkling Terminal C made history at 3:12 p.m. with its first flight” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Airports conventionally dump incoming travelers into their windowless basements. But the walk for arriving passengers at Terminal C from jetways and gates to baggage carousels and taxis stays on upper floors and, ideally, under blue skies — although lightning bolts dominated the view for Aer Lingus fliers. The first passenger from the secure customs and immigration hall was a woman who identified herself as Julie as she responded to a crowd of cameras, saying things like “exciting” and “beautiful.” It took decades of planning, decision-making, delays and construction to arrive at 3:12 p.m. when the Aer Lingus Flight 35 touched down after 8 hours and 40 minutes over the Atlantic Ocean and taxied to Terminal C’s gate 241.

Orlando International’s new terminal proclaims, ‘Welcome to Florida!’ Image via The Associated Press.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Rep. Mike Grieco, former Sen. Denise Grimsley and Carlo Fassi, deputy director of Government Affairs for the City of Jacksonville.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.


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