Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.10.21 | #politics | #trump

A top-of-Sunburn welcome to the worldEthan Noah Giery arrived on June 2 after a quick delivery by Elyssa Giery. New dad, Adam Giery of Strategos Group, says mom is “feeling great and recovering smoothly.”

“It is without a doubt,” he adds, “women are amazing.”

Happy birthday to Ethan Noah Giery!

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Another top-of-Sunburn congratulations — To Sen. Danny Burgess, promoted Monday to Major in the United States Army Reserve.

“It is an honor to wear the uniform and reaffirm my commitment to my country with my family by my side, said Burgess, who represents parts of Tampa, Thonotosassa, New Tampa and Zephyrhills.

Burgess also gave shoutouts on Instagram to newly appointed Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director (Burgess’ old job) Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James “Hammer” Hartsell, Senate President Wilton Simpson, Major Mike Wilson, and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Luis Visot for “being there to support me, promote me, and put on this event.”

Congratulations (and Hoo-ah!) to Sen. Maj. Danny Burgess. Image via Instagram.

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A decade ago, before he was even a Congressman, Gov. Ron DeSantis published a book.

The book aimed to counter the book former President Barack Obama released in the mid-1990s, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” and it had a similarly long-winded title.

Unlike Obama’s book, “Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama” was not a bestseller. It’s more of a collectors’ item, really — signed copies of it are going for $500 to $550 on eBay right now.

If the Governor has a few boxes of them in his garage, he could whip out a Sharpie and make a few bucks. The publishing company could probably do a second run and make bank.

Even better, DeSantis could capitalize on his newfound stardom by writing a second book.

DeSantis is a — or, to some, the — rising star in the Republican Party. His brand of politics has captured eyes and ears across the country. He’s on the radar of every American who isn’t a fan of masks, vaccine passports, so-called “woke corporations,” or Big Tech.

DeSantis is a lot of things, but let’s be honest, wealthy isn’t one of them. He’s been in the public sector for his entire adult life — from Navy JAG to Assistant U.S. Attorney to congressman to Governor. Those positions are prestigious, sure, but nobody gets into them for the paycheck.

According to DeSantis’s most recent financial disclosure, his net worth is $291,449.

Politician-penned books, however, generate a lot of cash.

Maybe he won’t get Obama-level sales, but he doesn’t need to. Just look at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — he cashed an $800,000 check before his book, “An American Son,” landed on shelves in 2013. He’s earned plenty more since then through royalties. That put him in the black and then some.

DeSantis doesn’t need a Time magazine cover hailing him as the “Republican Savior.” Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts got a $700,000 advance for his book.

DeSantis is arguably more popular now than Rubio was at his zenith, and like the Senator, he also has an interesting life story. He didn’t come from a family of means, but he ended up with Ivy League degrees that East Coast elites drool over. His Yale J.D. didn’t land a cushy job in Big Law; it landed him in Iraq and Gitmo.

DeSantis won’t allow himself to think this, but there’s also the possibility that his star could fade. Were he to turn out to be this decade’s version of former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, DeSantis’s leverage negotiating a book deal could fall apart.

Now is the time for DeSantis’s to get behind the keyboard!

Plus, a book release is essentially a rite of passage for would-be presidential contenders. With all the 2024 talk surrounding DeSantis, now is time for him to start a second book. Or, at the very least, get some publisher to give him an advance.

In other notes:

🛑 — What Charlie Crist doesn’t want you to read: Crist has lost two elections — in 2010 to Rubio in his first U.S. Senate bid and 2014 to then-Gov. Rick Scott. FiveThirtyEight crunched some data to highlight why most don’t go for a third attempt, finding that among even among candidates who ran after just one loss, only 33 of 121 who ran for U.S. Senate, Governor or President since 1998 have won second bids. After two failed bids, only 20 have run, with just one finding success — Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy. Read more about why Crist faces an uphill battle here.

 — SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@POTUS: Folks, the Delta variant — a highly infectious COVID-19 strain — is spreading rapidly among young people between 12 and 20 years old in the U.K. If you’re young and haven’t gotten your shot yet, it really is time. It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love.

@barbarastarrcnn: Sometimes, I just wonder if govt officials need to reread the First and Fourth Amendments. The Constitution actually works if one follows it.

Tweet, tweet:

@jeffzeleny: Just when you had an earful of cicada tales, here’s another: Swarms of the creatures are to blame for delaying the White House press plane to Europe for President (Joe) Biden’s trip overseas. Tonight’s chartered flight is expected to be delayed for hours until a new plane arrives. Yep.

@NikkiFried: First, Ron DeSantis signed a transphobic bill on day one of #pride month. Then, he vetoed mental health funds for Pulse shooting survivors. Yesterday, his state agency blocked the Acosta Bridge in Jacksonville from using rainbow lights. @JaxYoungDems & l know where he stands.

@CharlieCrist: The Governor’s mansion should be no home for hate.

@NateMonroeTU: Hey guys, per @KatherineMLewin — those “several complaints” that prompted FDOT to force JTA to take the pride lights down (contrary to the “permitting” excuse provided earlier in the day)? Wouldn’t ya know it, they were all phone calls, and they took no information down.

@Scott_Maxwell: It’s buyout-decision time at Tribune papers again, so I’ll cut to the chase: I’m staying. I still love — and believe in — what we do. It’s an honor to do it. So, while I can, I will. To quote a @BianchiWrites text from this morning: “I’m riding this dinosaur into the tar pit.”

@thejasonkirk: I was pretty worried about the ongoing pandemic situation until I learned Sam Darnold is evaluating it

@MollyJongFast: All five of us have had both our Pfizer vaccines, and yet none of us are magnetized. What am I doing wrong?

— DAYS UNTIL —

E3 2021 begins — 2; Father’s Day — 10; Amazon Prime Day — 11; New York City Mayoral Primary — 12; Microsoft reveals major Windows update — 14; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 15; Bruce Springsteen revives solo show, “Springsteen on Broadway” — 16; ‘Tax Freedom Holiday’ begins — 21; Fourth of July — 24; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 29; MLB All-Star Game — 33; Jeff Bezos travels into space on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight — 40; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 43; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 43; the NBA Draft — 53; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 55; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 61; Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 69; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 75; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 85; NFL regular season begins — 91; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 96; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 102; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 106; ‘Dune’ premieres — 113; MLB regular season ends — 115; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 120; World Series Game 1 — 139; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 145; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 145; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 148; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 162; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 169; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 183; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 193; NFL season ends — 213; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 215; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 215; NFL playoffs begin — 219; Super Bowl LVI — 248; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 288; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 330; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 357; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 393; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 484; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 519.

— TOP STORY —

Val Demings announces run for Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Her announcement had a clear law-and-order theme that drew heavily on her policing career before Congress when she became a high-profile surrogate for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Republicans across the country, including Rubio, successfully attacked many Democrats as anti-police during the 2020 election. Demings’ three-minute announcement video included a mashup of local officials praising her work as police chief. “They said we’d never lower crime, but I said ‘never tire,’” Demings said. “Along the way, we brought law and order to a lawless President.” In the announcement video, Demings argued that Rubio is a creature of Washington, though she didn’t directly refer to him by name.

To watch the announcement video, click on the image below:

—”‘Never tire’: Demings launches campaign for Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—”Demings sees Rubio as ‘desperate’ to get reelected” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”Joe Henderson: Demings poses Rubio’s toughest challenge yet” via Florida Politics

Demings needs to punch back against Rubio to win, experts say” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The 2022 U.S. Senate campaign in Florida will be one of the most-watched races in the country, and Democrats are hoping they have a strong candidate in Demings who can overcome Rubio’s advantages as a two-term incumbent in an increasingly GOP-leaning state. To win, Demings must work toward rebuilding the coalition that helped Obama win the state twice while also fighting back against the socialist tag that helped torpedo Andrew Gillum’s quest for the governorship. Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who led the Obama campaign in Florida in 2008, said, “There are a million things Democrats have to do better than they’re doing right now,” including vast improvements with Hispanic outreach and voter registration.

— 2022 —

Nikki Fried’s 1-week old launch video is still making waves on social media … for better or worse” via Florida Politics — With a rousing, orchestral score and a pledge to “break the rigged system in Florida,” Fried’s video debut as a candidate for Governor splashed down on social media June 1. One week into her official kickoff, the current Fried’s campaign video has several times the number of Facebook and Twitter views, likes and retweets of her opponent’s month-old video campaign kickoff. Tuesday’s tally of Twitter comments stood at 2,201, in stark contrast to the 219 comments posted to the May 4 campaign debut from Fried’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Crist. “It would be great to have a Governor who respects the will of the voters!!!! Time for change! #nikkifried,” wrote one Longwood woman on Facebook.

Nikki Fried’s launch video is going viral.

Fried wrongly attributes failed unemployment system to Charlie Crist” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fried wrongly attributed Florida’s broken unemployment system to her Democratic primary opponent on Tuesday. Fried tried to pin the system on Crist during an interview. Crist was elected as Governor in 2006 as a Republican, and Fried has lumped him in with 20 years of GOP leadership in the state. But she stepped beyond the facts when she pegged him for Florida’s widely criticized CONNECT system, which failed last year under a crush of claims early in the pandemic. “The contract was first signed under Charlie Crist,” Fried told WINK. But it wasn’t. A $77-million contract for the unemployment website and system was set up under former Gov. Scott.

—“Crist signals moderate position on police reform” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

After Alcee: The race for Congress — major donor weighs in” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Mitchell Berger, one of the biggest players in Democratic Party fundraising in Florida, is helping congressional candidate Omari Hardy raise money. That’s important for two reasons: Hardy is a state representative from West Palm Beach. Though he was born and raised in Broward County, he’s had more exposure in the northern part of the 20th Congressional District. The other four elected officials seeking the Democratic nomination are from Broward, which is home to about 70% of the district’s voters. Also, Hardy is the most progressive of the elected officials seeking the nomination, and backing from Berger — who epitomizes establishment, mainstream Democrats — is a sign to establishment Democrats that Hardy is OK.

Happening today:

Nick DiCeglie raises $100K in May for Senate bid” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Senate District 24 candidate Nick DiCeglie raised $100,435 in May as he looks to succeed term-limited Sen. Jeff Brandes. His campaign raised $59,935, and his Economic Freedom Committee brought in $40,500. DiCeglie’s campaign reported 122 donors in May, including about 40 donations worth $1,000. The $1,000 drops included PACs such as the Defending Conservatism and Democracy committee, the Florida Insurance Council, the Florida Farmers and Ranchers Union, and Citizens for Building Florida’s Future. He received a $1,000 donation from Alen Tomczak, a candidate running to succeed DiCeglie in HD 66. The candidate’s political committee saw 10 donors, including a $15,000 contribution from Conservative Florida PAC, and another $12,500 from Conservatives for a Better Florida.

Ben Diamond clears $250K in first 4 weeks of CD 13 bid” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Donors include a 94-year old Largo retiree who contributed $25 to the campaign, the campaign said. The donor, who lives on a fixed income, wrote Diamond explaining his contribution. “One year ago, I visited with (you) about the massive weeds that have caused a pollution ‘block’ in our County Lakes. You sat up and listened to what I had to say,” the man, who the Diamond campaign did not name, said. “I want you to know I appreciated your concern. You have my vote, and I will try to influence others. I would be willing to speak at any rally if it would help.” Diamond, a St. Petersburg Democrat, is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District to succeed U.S. Rep. Crist, who is running for Governor.

Berny Jacques clears $14K in May, as Alen Tomczak closes cash gap in HD 66 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Tomczak raised $10,975 in May for his House campaign, bringing his total fundraising to $64,170 since he launched his campaign in March. Jacques, who filed his finance numbers Monday, raised $14,127 in May for his campaign. Between his campaign and affiliated political committee, Florida Values Coalition, Jacques has raised $55,542 this cycle. Tomczak received eight $1,000 donations, including from Tallahassee lobbyist Ron Book‘s consulting firm, Orange Blossoms Funding, Broadleaf Property Management, BCL Medical Fund, and several beer wholesalers PACs and organizations. As far as spending, Tomczak dished out $3,546 in May, with $2,000 going to fundraising consulting services, and the remainder split between accounting services and credit card processing fees.

Berny Jacques posts a solid second month of his campaign.

— DATELINE TALLY —

Ron DeSantis signs property insurance changes into law” via The News Service of Florida — DeSantis signed a property-insurance package Wednesday that could lead to larger rate increases for customers of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. while seeking to curb roof-damage claims and lawsuits. But he added more will need to be done to make the private insurance industry “stronger.” The heavily negotiated bill (SB 76), which passed the Legislature in April, drew criticism from some lawmakers for going too far, while others argued it didn’t go far enough. Senate Banking and Insurance Chairman Jim Boyd said everybody “had to give a little bit” in negotiations on the bill, which is intended to bolster an insurance market that has seen wide-ranging rate increases and policies pouring into Citizens.

Ron DeSantis gives the OK to insurance reform, to curb lawsuits and abuse. 

Veteran suicide prevention, Tyndall Air Force Base score grant funding” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Florida Defense Support Task Force awarded more than $324,000 on Wednesday to support veteran suicide prevention efforts and an ongoing construction project at Tyndall Air Force Base, DeSantis announced. Of the $324,000, nearly half will go to the Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council, which provides suicide awareness programs to service members, military dependents, and retirees, among other services. The other half will be provided to the Bay County Board of County Commissioners to support the rebuild of Tyndall Air Force Base, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Michael in 2018. The rebuild will restore the base’s ability to facilitate drone and fighter jet operations.

DeSantis vetoes emergency funding bill” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis vetoed a bill Tuesday that would’ve created a rainy-day fund for the Governor to use during hurricanes and other states of emergency. The proposal (SB 1892), sponsored by Republican Sen. Manny Diaz, aimed to create the $1 billion fund with federal relief dollars. However, new federal guidance surrounding the use of American Rescue Plan dollars derailed the plan. Under the updated guidance, states cannot use the money to meet future needs. “We were going to run into the risk of having the feds come after us for it,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis, Cabinet to take up expressway extension” via News Service of Florida — DeSantis and members of the Cabinet will take up a March 2020 recommended order by Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk that says a comprehensive plan amendment adopted for the Dolphin Expressway by the Miami-Dade County Commission did not comply with state law and was possibly incompatible with efforts to protect the Everglades. Van Wyk issued the recommended order after the comprehensive-plan change drew challenges from environmental groups. The prioritization of the expressway extension was part of a controversial state transportation bill that DeSantis signed into law in 2019. The law focused on the future of the Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority.

Happening today — The State Board of Education will meet to consider guidelines for teaching U.S. history in Florida schools, 9 a.m., Florida State College at Jacksonville, Advanced Technology Center, 401 West State St., Jacksonville.

Judge dismisses Chuck Clemons social-media dispute” via News Service of Florida — A federal judge has dismissed a long-running lawsuit stemming from Rep. Clemons blocking a constituent from social media accounts. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker granted a request by plaintiff Peter Morgan Attwood to dismiss the case and rejected arguments that Attwood should be required to pay Clemons’ legal costs and possibly pay attorney fees. Attwood filed the lawsuit in 2018 after he was blocked from the lawmaker’s Twitter and Facebook accounts after a post about gun control. The lawsuit alleged, in part, that Clemons violated Attwood’s First Amendment rights. But Attwood’s attorneys last month filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying Attwood had decided that “the potential benefits of continuing this litigation are outweighed by the costs.”

Chuck Clemons is off the hook. Image via Colin Hackley.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Bradley Burleson, Robert Burleson, Ballard Partners: Stonemont Financial Group

Stuart Williams: Florida Community Care, Independent Living Systems 

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis: ‘We got to go on offense against antisemitism’” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — Amid alarming statistics showing a spike in anti-Semitism, seven Jewish organizations in Florida united lawmakers and law enforcement for a virtual town hall to call attention to the issue. Seven chapters of the Florida Jewish federations organized the virtual town hall, which also hosted Rubio and Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan and Byron Donalds, among other local leaders. DeSantis, who traveled to Jerusalem in 2019 to sign a bill that made religion a protected class in the state’s education system, was also on hand. DeSantis discussed international policy during the town hall and said “sanctions by the United Nations” are feeding into anti-Semitism. The U.N. has adopted resolutions condemning Israel, not sanctions.

Ron DeSantis believes education is the best way to combat antisemitism.

Poll: Floridians want federal infrastructure plan to deal with climate change” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — As a “dorm room debate” rages in Washington over how to define infrastructure, Floridians are weighing in too. Their idea? Natural infrastructure. The poll comes as Democrats in Washington are hoping to push through a nearly $2 trillion infrastructure plan they’re calling the American Jobs Plan. The deal has so far gone nowhere in the Senate. A new poll shows that most Floridians think infrastructure improvements in the plan should include measures to deal with the effects of climate change or natural infrastructure investments to build resiliency and lower the costs of climate-driven extreme weather events. EDF Action, the advocacy partner of the Environmental Defense Fund, commissioned Morning Consult to conduct the survey.

Florida Supreme Court says it won’t review Denise Williams murder conviction reversal” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Florida Supreme Court Wednesday declined a request to review the appellate court decision that overturned Williams’ murder conviction. Williams, 51, was convicted of helping orchestrate with then-lover Brian Winchester the December 2000 murder of her husband, Mike Williams. She is still serving a 30-year prison sentence on a conspiracy to commit murder charge. The justices gave no specific reason for declining the case, adding that “no motion for rehearing will be entertained.” The decision comes after the Florida Attorney General’s Office asked the Supreme Court to review a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that reversed her conviction and life sentence for first-degree murder as well as a charge of accessory after the fact

Federal court denies EPA approval of controversial pesticide for Florida’s citrus industry” via Karl Schneider of Naples Daily News — A federal court on Monday rejected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval to use a pesticide on Florida’s citrus groves citing the agency’s failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act. The pesticide, known as aldicarb, was previously discontinued in the U.S. after the EPA found it poses “unacceptable dietary risks, especially to infants and young children.” The Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Working Group and Farmworker Association of Florida filed the lawsuit in early April to stop the pesticide from being used on citrus groves in the state. The EPA can request a rehearing, but pending an appeal, aldicarb approval is dead in the water.

Happening today — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will update its forecast for the 2020-2021 citrus season, noon. Call-in number: (855) 384-4184. Meeting code: 6486013.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

State fires back in cruise-ship fight” via News Service of Florida — On the eve of a court hearing, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office pushed back Wednesday in a fight with the CDC about restrictions on cruise ships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Department of Justice attorneys filed a brief Monday that said, in part, recent developments “further undermine” the state’s arguments that a preliminary injunction is needed to block the restrictions. Those developments include the CDC approving simulated voyages that involve testing cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate risks of the virus. In a Wednesday response, Moody’s office said the CDC is “coercing” the cruise industry into requiring almost all passengers to be vaccinated before they can go on cruises — which would violate a state ban on what has become known as COVID-19 vaccine “passports.” 

Ashley Moody doubles down on cruise ships and vaccine passports.

Unmasked: Polk County School Board members vote unanimously to make masks optional” via Kimberly C. Moore of The Ledger — Polk County School Board members voted unanimously to rescind the COVID-19 mask mandate and make wearing masks optional, effective immediately. “I think that we’re all in agreement to what’s going to be proposed today,” said School Board Vice-Chair Kay Fields. “I see this as being in a toolbox, and we can use it if we need it, and it’s there if we want to use it. I am definitely wanting to see something kept within the policy.” Last summer, the School Board voted to implement a mandatory face mask policy for all students, kindergarten through 12th grade.

Masks are no longer required in Pinellas County Schools” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — The Pinellas County School Board lifted its school masking order, but not before being upbraided for two hours by parents who have fought the rule all year. Some were accompanied by small children who delivered prepared statements about sweating into their masks and struggling to breathe. Several wove other themes into their remarks about the masks: how they were against the teaching of critical race theory and sex education, for example. Offering conspiracy theories, they tied unions and Democratic Party leaders to decisions made about COVID-19 safety.

— CORONA NATION —

U.S. increasingly unlikely to meet Joe Biden’s July 4 vax goal” via Zeke Miller and Leah Willingham of The Associated Press — For months, President 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, particularly in the South and Midwest, but it is increasingly resigned to missing the President’s vaccination target.

It’s looking less likely that the U.S. will reach Joe Biden’s July 4 goal. Image via AP.

Biden administration to buy 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to donate to the world” via Tyler Pager and Emily Rauhala of The Washington Post — The Biden administration is buying 500 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to donate to the world as the United States dramatically increases its efforts to help vaccinate more of the global population. The first 200 million doses will be distributed this year, with the subsequent 300 million shared in the first half of next year. Covax will distribute the doses, the World Health Organization-backed initiative to share doses around the globe, and they will be targeted at low- and middle-income countries. Pfizer is selling the doses to the United States at a “not-for-profit” price. The deal comes amid growing calls for the United States and other rich countries to play a more substantial role in boosting the global supply of coronavirus vaccines.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Florida’s economy performing at higher level than before COVID-19” via Anneken Tappe of CNN Business — America is not yet back to its pre-pandemic normal, but some South Dakota, Florida, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Idaho are all thriving, operating at or above where their economies were in early March 2020 before the pandemic forced businesses to shutter and workers and students to stay home according to the Back-to-Normal Index created by CNN and Moody’s Analytics. According to the index, South Dakota’s economy is at 106% of its pre-pandemic strength, while Florida’s economy is at 101%. The other three states are operating at 100% of the pre-COVID-19 level.

Universal does what Tallahassee won’t: Help Florida’s working-class” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Remember when Disney World would raise its admission prices and the other Central Florida theme parks would quickly fall in line with their own price hikes? We like the newest version of theme park one-upmanship much better. This time, theme parks are competing for employees by raising their minimum wage to $15. Disney was scheduled to boost its lowest wage for union employees in October, but Universal beat Disney to the punch, recently announcing an across-the-board, $15-an-hour minimum wage. It’s some of the best news we’ve heard in a long time for a workforce that can’t catch a break from state policymakers, who pronounce themselves champions of the working class and then rig the economy to work against them.

Universal is picking up the slack.

— MORE CORONA —

What the pandemic has stolen from Black America” via Peter Jamison of The Washington Post — Howard Croft told his grandson stories about when he risked his life to register Black voters in Mississippi in the early 1960s. Now, like nearly 600,000 others this past year, Croft is gone. He was 78, a member of the generation the virus stalked most mercilessly. Hundreds of thousands of families across the country lost their elders to the pandemic, and with everyone there vanished a piece of history. But the piece of history that vanished with Croft was especially remarkable. He belonged to the generation of Black activists who challenged segregation alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr but lost his life to COVID-19.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

‘You’re already changing the world’: Joe Biden gives surprise speech at Parkland graduation” via Colby Bermel of POLITICO — President Biden on Tuesday surprised graduates of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a speech praising their resolve after surviving a mass shooting and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Three years ago, your lives and the lives of this community changed in an instant. This class lost a piece of its soul,” Biden said in video remarks, referring to the 2018 massacre that killed 17 people and injured 17 others at the Broward County high school. “You’ve been tested in ways no young person should ever have to face,” he said.

Joe Biden gives Marjory Stoneman graduates some inspiration.

1,200-mile Keystone pipeline project canceled after Biden stands firm on blocking permit” via Matthew Brown of The Associated Press — The sponsor of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline pulled the plug on the contentious project Wednesday after Canadian officials failed to Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit on the day he took office. Calgary-based TC Energy said it would work with government agencies “to ensure a safe termination of and exit from” the partially built line, which was to transport crude from the oil sand fields of Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska. Biden canceled it over long-standing concerns that burning oil sands crude would make climate change worse. The province had hoped the pipeline would spur increased development in the oil sands and bring tens of billions of dollars in royalties over decades.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP — 

Donald Trump’s election fraud claims propelled them to the Capitol on Jan. 6. His ongoing comments are keeping them in jail.” via Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu of The Washington Post — Although Trump has been blocked from major social media platforms and recently shut down his own blog, he is still monitoring and promoting false claims of election fraud. Citing Trump’s ongoing comments, federal judges have shared fears that those defendants accused of the worst violence or threats of violence that day remain a danger to public safety. “Unfortunately,” said Judge Amit Mehta in detaining a man accused of throwing a hatchet and a desk during the riot, the “political dynamics that gave way to January 6 have not faded.” In keeping a Trump supporter and felon in jail in Michigan pending trial, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson highlighted a message in which the man said: “Trump’s the only big shot I trust right now.”

Trump-Bill O’Reilly ‘History Tour’ coming to Orlando on Dec. 12” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — O’Reilly will host a “History Tour” with Trump, with a previously announced show in South Florida. The Orlando event will occur at the Amway Center on Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets go on sale on June 21 at 10 a.m. and will be available on ticketmaster.com. The tour is billed as a “series of live conversations across the country” where the pair “will discuss exactly how things were accomplished, as well as challenges, both good and bad, during the four years of Mr. Trump’s presidency,” according to a news release announcing the Orlando date. The other dates for the tour announced so far are for South Florida on Dec. 11 and on Dec. 18 and 19 in Houston and Dallas.

Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly will be heading to Orlando.

— CRISIS —

Takeaways: Senate report on ‘absolutely brutal’ Jan. 6 siege” via Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press — A Senate report examining the security failures surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol says missed intelligence, poor planning, and multiple layers of bureaucracy led to the violent siege. It does not fault  Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat just before hundreds of them stormed the building. To be bipartisan — and to find quick agreement on security improvements to the Capitol — Senate Democrats wrote the report with their Republican counterparts and largely steered clear of addressing the former President’s role.

Trump impeachment lawyers are now representing Capitol riot defendants” via Tom Dreisbach of NPR — Attorneys Michael van der Veen and Bruce Castor defended former President Donald Trump at his Senate impeachment trial over allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. Even as van der Veen, Castor and the Trump defense team called the impeachment “political theater” and ultimately secured Trump’s acquittal, they condemned the rioters for bringing “unprecedented havoc, mayhem and death” to The Capitol. They argued in a legal brief that the rioters’ actions deserve “robust and swift investigation and prosecution.” Now, van der Veen and Castor find themselves on the other side of those prosecutions, defending at least three people charged in connection with the Capitol breach.

Bruce Castor, left, and Michael van der Veen, are now defending The Capitol rioters. Image via AP.

Daytona Beach man faces up to 30 years in prison for racist slurs against Asian American family” via Frank Fernandez of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A man who scrawled racial slurs against Asians on a New Smyrna Beach family’s vehicles and placed nails in their driveway could get up to 30 years in prison after he was convicted this week of hate crimes. Kyle Christiansen, 34, of Daytona Beach, was convicted by a jury of two counts of criminal mischief with hate crime enhancements. The hate crime enhancement increased the crimes from third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison each to second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison each. The case did not involve physical violence but did include threats and vandalism. The jury of three women and three men took about 30 minutes to reach a verdict in Christiansen’s case. 

— D.C. MATTERS —

The Keystone XL pipeline is officially dead” via Ben Geman of Axios — The developer of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline abandoned the project Wednesday after a decade-plus effort. TC Energy’s decision ends one of the century’s highest-profile battles over climate change and energy. But the move is unsurprising. Biden canceled a cross-border permit in January, prompting TC Energy to suspend construction on the project that would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels per day from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. markets. President Obama rejected it in late 2015 after a drawn-out review, claiming approval would undercut U.S. leadership on climate change. The decision came despite a State Department finding that approving or denying the project would not have a major effect on emissions because it was unlikely to affect the rate of oil sands extraction.

AFP-Florida presses Stephanie Murphy to vote against infrastructure bill” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A mailer from Americans for Prosperity adds local pressure on Rep. Murphy as she considers her vote on an infrastructure bill. The new campaign-style flyer urges constituents in Florida’s 7th Congressional District to demand the Winter Park Democrat vote ‘no’ on one of Biden’s priorities. “Ask Rep. Stephanie Murphy to oppose President Biden’s Wasteful $4,000,000,000,000 ‘infrastructure’ proposal,” language on the flyer reads. The libertarian advocacy group made its opinion on the bill known before, and announced in May it would reach out to voters in 27 Congressional districts, including Murphy’s. That follows the group’s “End Washington Waste” campaign, according to spokespeople for AFP-FL, the Florida chapter for the group.

Stephanie Murphy is feeling the heat over Joe Biden’s ‘wasteful’ infrastructure plan.

The Congressional Black Caucus is blocking a Black Republican from joining the group” via Kadia Goba of BuzzFeed — The Congressional Black Caucus is blocking membership to Rep. Donalds. It’s been six months since the members who won election in 2020 were inducted into the CBC, a powerful and nominally nonpartisan group of Black lawmakers in Congress. Donalds, who won election for the first time last year, has not been included in that group. The Florida representative’s office said Donalds has talked to at least three CBC members about joining the group. The snub highlights the divide between Democrats and their Republican counterparts since Jan. 6. Sen. Tim Scott, arguably the most powerful Black Republican lawmaker right now, declined an invitation from the group in 2010. No Republicans are currently CBC members.

— LOCAL NOTES —

JTA lit the Acosta Bridge in rainbow colors for Pride. A day later, it changed it back” via the Florida Times-Union — The Florida Department of Transportation has ordered the removal of the rainbow lighting from the Acosta Bridge, according to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. “This afternoon, the FDOT informed the JTA that our scheduled color scheme for the Acosta Bridge is out of compliance with our existing permit. The JTA will comply accordingly,” according to a statement from the JTA released Tuesday night. By late Tuesday, the lights were blue.

After going back and forth, the multicolor lights are back on. but why? Image via JTA.

Pride Month controversy: Why FDOT ordered lights changed on Acosta Bridge, then reversed itself” via Katherine Lewin of The Florida Times-Union — A day after the Florida Department of Transportation ordered the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to turn off the scheduled Pride Month lights on the Acosta Bridge, the state reversed its decision. FDOT says that while the JTA violated its lighting permit for the bridge, the department is now “authorizing” the use of the multicolored lights for the rest of the week. The Acosta Bridge once again displayed the many colors of the Pride flag after a day of pushback from legislators, significant media coverage, and concern from community members that the removal of the lights was political against the LGBTQ+ movement, and had nothing to do with permits. 

—”Fried says Jax bridge lighting is part of anti-Pride pattern for DeSantis” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Did DeSantis’ FDOT attack Pride display because of cruelty, incompetence — or both?” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — If DeSantis isn’t a homophobe, then he must be the unluckiest man alive given the series of purportedly unrelated blunders that have befallen him. First, he signed a divisive bill banning transgender women athletes from competing in high school girls’ and college women’s’ sports on the first day of Pride month. Then, he accidentally vetoed $900,000 out of the state budget for programs intended to benefit LGBTQ people in Central Florida. And most recently, wouldn’t you know it, three separate Florida Department of Transportation districts from Jacksonville to Sarasota to Pinellas just so happened — all on their own and totally independent of the Governor — to deny requests to display Pride-themed rainbow lights on local bridges. Good help is hard to find!

Downtown Vision assessments at tax time expand to more Jacksonville property owners” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Downtown Vision will get a wider lens for its services by tripling the size of the zone where property owners pay mandatory assessments that go for services such as orange-shirted ambassadors who rove downtown. Downtown Vision’s rate is $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value, and it’s tacked onto annual tax bills. The nonprofit has collected assessments and provided services in a half-acre area of downtown since 2000. After the expansion, it will cover 1.3 acres. No property owners showed up to speak for or against the boundary expansion during a public hearing Tuesday. Downtown Vision sent out 875 notices to property-owners about the legislation and communicated by phone and email with those who wanted more information, said Downtown Vision CEO Jake Gordon.

Let’s build five-star parks to go with that Four Seasons hotel” via Mark Woods of The Florida Times-Union — At the news conference unveiling the plans for a Four Seasons on Jacksonville’s Northbank, part of the pitch was that it wouldn’t be just for visitors. The hotel will be for locals who will do things like go to the restaurant, visit the spa, use the marina. But just out of curiosity, I checked the room rates for the nearest Four Seasons, picking a date past the peak of family summer vacations. The cheapest room: $885. It’s safe to say most of us won’t be spending much time in it. My dream isn’t a five-star hotel that offers rejuvenating oxygen facials for $290. It’s a five-star park that offers a rejuvenating bit of oxygen for everyone, available all four seasons.

The Hunted: Police K-9s are meant to stop dangerous felons. They’re more often unleashed on Black people accused of stealing” via Brittany Wallman, Mario Ariza, Megan O’Matz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Sun-Sentinel examined 17 months of K-9 bites at Broward’s largest police agencies and found that 84% of people bitten were Black. The high percentage of Black people bitten by police dogs in Broward eclipses the percentage of Black residents in the local population, and far exceeds the percentage of Black arrestees. One in five people bitten were 17 or younger, despite policies that discourage police from unleashing K-9s on children. A lack of transparency compounds the problem. Fort Lauderdale, Miramar, and Pembroke Pines police don’t track their K-9 use by race. Not all K-9 officers in Broward wear body cameras and some of those who do have turned them off or forgotten to activate them without consequence. 

Nasty Broward food fight gets splatter on everyone” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Disputes over government contracts are almost always messy. But in South Florida, there’s a real food fight that should have some local politicians, and a highly regarded organization, to take a good look in the mirror. At issue is an extremely important state contract to distribute food to needy, hungry residents in Broward County. An organization called Feeding South Florida (FSF) had the contract to distribute the federal food aid but just lost it to Farm Share. Now, Feeding South Florida and its political allies are launching an all-out assault on the winning bidder that makes the food fight scene in “Animal House” look like the model of decorum. Organizations working in this same mission space should reflect respect for each other, rather than undermine the other.

After outcry over food distribution contract, Fried says she’ll review choice made for South Florida” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fried plans to review her agency’s decision not to continue using Feeding South Florida for distribution of federal food aid to the hungry. This spring’s decision by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to move the work to another organization drew howls of outrage from many Broward elected officials. Fried’s spokesman, Franco Ripple, confirmed the review. “Commissioner Fried has had several conversations with Broward County leaders to explain the unbiased selection process by expert department staff, and has offered to personally review the results.” That represents a shift. Broward Commissioner Nan Rich said last week that she had called Fried “to ask her to consider a review and rescoring of the applications, and she declined to do it.”

Farm Share, one of Florida’s leading charities, is the target of a nasty Broward food fight.

Is the Miami kiss-greeting dead? Here’s how experts say people will interact post-COVID-19” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — A woman walks into a restaurant to meet her friend. They smile and move in for a hug. But then they pause. After a moment, they laugh — and opt for an air hug instead. A few tables over, Alex Piquero, professor and chair of the University of Miami’s Department of Sociology and Arts & Sciences, watches the strange (and slightly awkward) greeting with interest. The way people interact has changed because of the pandemic, he said. Humans are social creatures who crave touch and interaction. The pandemic took that away. Now, after more than a year of being locked inside, or social distancing from others outside, people are adapting again.

Boca Raton bans balloons and confetti at its parks” via Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Boca Raton banned balloons and confetti and restricted plastic foam at its parks and on city property. Starting Jan. 1 in Boca Raton, food trucks and food stands won’t be allowed to use plastic foam on city property. Individuals and takeout businesses are exempted. First-time violations come with a warning. After that, there’s a $25 fine. The fine rises to $50 for each subsequent violation. Boca Raton joins about 25 other Florida cities that have passed similar legislation. Councilwoman Monica Mayotte said it’s aimed at keeping outdoor spaces free of materials that pollute the environment and harm marine life and other wildlife.

Battle over Lake O: County officials join private meeting about most important resource in Florida” via Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post — A decision on how the most vital freshwater resource in the state will be managed is imminent with Palm Beach County officials mustering a fight to protect its water supply. In a meeting with Rep. Lois Frankel, about 40 municipal and county representatives discussed how Lake Okeechobee will be handled under a new plan called the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, or LOSOM. Thursday’s virtual meeting, which was not open to the public, was hosted by City of West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James. City spokeswoman Kathleen Walter said the main intent of the meeting was to ask for support in getting more time to respond to the options developed by the Corps after the models are released.

Santa Rosa board denies ‘slippery slope’ request to trespass people from county property” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — County Administrator Dan Schebler said the request was made by State Attorney’s Office officials who have encountered homeless people on county property at early or late hours who don’t have official business being on the property. Law enforcement officials said they can’t legally issue a trespass warning to someone on the property without the property owner’s express permission, which, in this case, is Santa Rosa County. Commissioners were reticent to approve such a request Tuesday night after hearing from several members of the public who claimed the request was unnecessary and would establish a precedent that could allow county officials, not just law enforcement officers, to boot people off the property even if they were there on official business. 

Panhandle counties choose RapidDeploy for Next Generation 9-1-1 tech” via Peter Schorsch — Panhandle emergency responders and law enforcement are about to get some cutting-edge emergency call center technology, accelerating their transition to Next Generation 9-1-1. RapidDeploy’s implementation of a more robust and more modern technology platform will help emergency responders, law enforcement and 9-1-1 call center operators have a more accurate and holistic view of the region and improve response times. In the coming weeks, RapidDeploy begins implementing the technology to accelerate the 12 Panhandle counties’ embrace of the Next Generation 9-1-1 technology using federal grant funds made available by the Florida Department of Management Services and its Division of Telecommunications.

— TOP OPINION —

Thank you, Uncle Sam. The vaccine rollout is the biggest government success in decades.” via Max Boot of The Washington Post — A poll finds that the percentage of Americans who trust the federal government to do what is right has fallen from 73% during the Dwight Eisenhower administration to just 24% today. The COVID-19 pandemic shows where such distrust can lead, but also a possible path back. Many people distrust public health guidance on vaccination, even though doing so will allow them to take off their masks and stop social distancing safely. This blinkered anti-vaccine prejudice is deeply frustrating, because if anything should restore trust in government, it is the rapid development and deployment of astonishingly effective vaccines.

— OPINIONS —

As food fight rages, Fried needs to deliver answers” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — A fight is raging between two competing vendors over a contract to distribute food to hundreds of thousands of hungry Floridians in Broward. This high-stakes food fight tests Fried’s ability to manage controversy without caving to political pressure, most of which comes from Democrats in Broward, her home turf and a county crucial to her statewide ambitions. Fried should rule based on facts, not politics. If she decides Farm Share won fair and square, she must explain the scoring irregularities. If she favors Feeding South Florida, there must be consequences for how this application was handled. A third option is for Fried to throw out the award and do it all over again, which would raise serious competency questions about her office.

Let’s start fining Florida lawmakers $25,000 for their unconstitutional votes.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Over the past decade, Florida lawmakers have leaned into an ugly and costly trend — passing laws that are clearly unconstitutional. Even when their own staffers warn bills may violate the U.S. or Florida Constitution, they bulldoze right ahead. And it costs you millions when they spend your tax dollars defending their garbage ideas. So today, I have a proposal: Let’s start holding them personally accountable. Any Florida politician who votes for a bill that courts later rule unconstitutional has to pay a $25,000 fine. They keep treating the constitution like a doormat because unlawful behavior has no consequences. So let’s create one. Why $25,000? Because that’s how much legislators recently voted to fine other elected officials who don’t do their jobs.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida’s Board of Education is being asked to crack down on radical teachers who indoctrinate their students to “hate the U.S.A.” and “shame white kids for what their ancestors did.” Or is it politically motivated censorship to teach an idealized version of America that whitewashes our history and refuses to acknowledge the racial bias that permeates our society? This should be a fun meeting.

Also on today’s Sunrise:

— After weeks of dropping hints, Congresswoman Demings drops a video saying she’s in the race to unseat Republican Sen. Rubio … and the former police chief says she’s the crime fighter.

— It won’t lower your premiums, but Gov. DeSantis says he’s going to sign a bill that limits payouts for roof repairs … and attorneys.

— The Governor made those remarks during a video conference of the Enterprise Florida board, where the state’s Chief Financial Officer got heckled.

— Pools are a fantastic way to beat the Florida heat, but Cassie McGovern says they can be deadly. McGovern manages the drowning prevention program for the Broward County Department of Health. Her daughter Em drowned when she was just 19 months old.

— And finally, two Florida Men risked their lives for Taco Tuesday.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

A ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse will light up the sky this Thursday” via Megan Marples and Ashley Strickland of CNN — The moon will partially block out the sun this Thursday to create a “ring of fire” solar eclipse. Some people in the Northern Hemisphere will catch the first of two solar eclipses this year on June 10. A solar eclipse happens when the moon crosses between the sun and the Earth, which blocks a portion of the sun’s rays. This eclipse is annular, meaning the moon is far enough away from the Earth that it appears smaller than the sun. When the moon crosses paths with the fiery star, it will look smaller than the sun, leaving room for bright light to glow around the edges. 

It may not be a burning ring of fire, but the solar eclipse will be impressive.

Carnival’s Mardi Gras among largest cruise ships in the world, for now” via Annabelle Sikes of the Orlando Sentinel — Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras docked in the U.S. for the first time last week, making it another of the world’s largest cruise ships to call Florida home. Now ranking in the Top 10, Mardi Gras comes in at 180,800 gross tons. It’s named after the cruise line’s first ship. That version of Mardi Gras was less than 28,000 gross tons, about 650 feet long, and could sail with about 1,250 passengers. The new one is 1,130 feet long, with a passenger capacity of 5,282 based on double occupancy and a maximum passenger capacity of 6,631. It arrived at Port Canaveral to much fanfare, becoming the first cruise ship to homeport in the U.S. powered by eco-friendly liquefied natural gas.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Melanie DiMuzioNick Iarossi of Capital City Consulting, and Amy Farrington.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter SchorschPhil AmmannRenzo Downey and Drew Wilson.


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