Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.11.22

Good Monday morning.

For all our readers in New York City, today is Manhattanhenge, when the sunset aligns with the Manhattan street grid. Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the phenomenon here.

It’s that time of year again.


Hurricane center eyes system with potential to develop in Gulf of Mexico — According to the National Hurricane Center 8 p.m. advisory: “A surface trough of low pressure is expected to form in a couple of days over the northern Gulf of Mexico, partially related to a decaying frontal boundary currently located over the southeastern U.S. Some slow development of this system is possible if it remains offshore during the middle and latter part of the week while it moves little. Regardless of development, heavy rains will be possible along portions of the northern Gulf coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle over the next several days.”


Come for true insights about both Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio from a politico who has worked for both pols … stay for the discussion about Stanley Kubrick and Michael Mann: Brad Herold is the latest guest of the “Hunkering Down with Peter Schorsch” podcast.

Listen here.


The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its first round of endorsements in state legislative races, backing 18 sitting Senators and more than 50 incumbent Representatives who are running for re-election this year.

The Chamber endorsements went to a mix of Republicans and Democrats and were primarily based on the grades lawmakers received on the Chamber’s recent Legislative Report Card, which scored lawmakers’ votes on the Chamber’s priority legislation.

A handful of the lawmakers in the initial list have already been re-elected without opposition, including Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker-designate Paul Renner, though some are running in a competitive Primary or are facing a formidable General Election opponent, such as Rep. Jim Mooney and Sen. Jason Brodeur.

Kathleen Passidomo gets one of the first rounds of Chamber endorsements; not that she needed it — Passidomo had already won.

The Chamber said it will put “its full 100-plus years of combined political experience behind getting them re-elected.”

“The Florida Chamber has a long and proven track record of endorsing incumbent candidates who continue to drive sound policy helping Florida maintain a pro-jobs climate and safeguarding the strength of our economy,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson.

“We trust these incumbent legislators to make Florida’s future a priority, focusing on job creation and further economic opportunity for everyone.”

The Florida Chamber said it will release more state legislative endorsements in the coming weeks.


Matt Puckett, the longtime Police Benevolent Association executive director and lobbyist, has joined the lobbying team at Rutledge Ecenia.

Puckett has more than 20 years of experience lobbying the Legislature, Cabinet, state agencies and numerous local governments. His areas of expertise are in public safety, labor associations, collective bargaining, public pension and investment plan policy, and public relations consulting.

Congrats to Matt Puckett, the latest solid hire at Rutledge Ecenia

Puckett, a graduate of Florida State University and a U.S. Army veteran has been the PBA’s Executive Director for the past 11 years. The organization provides labor, legal and legislative services to over 30,000 law enforcement, correctional, and correctional probation officers in the state.

He previously worked as the PBA’s deputy executive director, chief lobbyist, and as staff lobbyist for the Association. During his time as Chief Lobbyist, the PBA team successfully secured hundreds of millions of dollars in recurring funds for state law enforcement and correctional officers, along with major reforms to the municipal police pension law.

Founded in 1992, Rutledge Ecenia is one of the state’s top administrative law and government affairs firms. Puckett joins a lobbying team that also includes Corinne Mixon, Gary Rutledge, Diana Ferguson, Jessica Janasiewicz, Rick Lindstrom and Andrew Rutledge.


Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@JMooney1341: Governor DeSantis’s frustration with the Federal Government over the approval to allow Canadian drug importation to be approved, is spot on. Florida has been waiting since 2019 for the approval. The savings for consumers are up to $150 million. PBM’s are profiting at our expense

@CHeathWFTV: I know Giant African Land Snails 🐌 are all the rage right now, but Florida is home to sooooo many other invasive species that can kill you, or your pet.

Tweet, tweet:


36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 8; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 9; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for 2022 Primary — 10; 2022 Sunshine Summit begins — 11; Deadline to register for 2022 Primary — 14; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 18; MLB trade deadline — 22; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 25; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 29; Early voting begins for Primaries — 33; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 37; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 38; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 41; 2022 Florida Primary — 43; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 51; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 51; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 53; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 59; 2022 Emmys — 63; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 66; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 87; Deadline to register for General Election — 92; 22-23 NHL season begins — 92; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 106; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 106; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 106; Early voting begins for General Election — 110; 2022 General Election — 120; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 123; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 125; FITCon 2022 begins — 129; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 129; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 133; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 133; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 134; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 142; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 142; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 158; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 221; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 239; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 256; 2023 Session Sine Die — 298; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 298; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 326; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 494; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 627; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 746.


Ron DeSantis plan to deny trans treatment under Medicaid leads to raucous hearing” via Jason Delgado of USA Today Network — A raucous and rowdy debate unfolded late Friday afternoon at a state public hearing to consider a contentious DeSantis administration proposal that would deny Medicaid insurance coverage for treatments that include puberty-blocking medication and hormone therapy for Florida’s low-income transgender individuals.

The hearing in Tallahassee focused on gender dysphoria, which the federal government defines as clinically “significant distress that a person may feel when sex or gender assigned at birth is not the same as their identity. “No final decision was rendered Friday, but more than 70 public speakers registered to speak.”

The fight over gender dysmorphia gets rowdy — on both sides.

Attendees jeered and cheered in competition with each other throughout the two-hour hearing, with one even waving a large American flag whenever anyone spoke in favor of the state’s plan. The panel often had to remind the crowd to maintain decorum, but those on both sides of the issue clapped and booed between speakers, seemingly unfazed by the panel’s warnings.

“This is a war on children,” said Anthony Verdugo, founder and executive director of the Christian Family Coalition. “These are crimes against humanity. Groomers are using their authority as adults to pressure children and ruin their lives.”

“The proposed rule is about politics, not public health,” said Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer, who also argued that AHCA lacks the legal authority to rule on the issue.

— 2022 —

DeSantis puts $1.9M into TV, digital ads — Gov. DeSantis’ re-election campaign made another $1.9 million in media buys. According to AdImpact, the buy includes $1.75 million in broadcast ads in the Miami market and $157,000 in digital ads on Facebook and Google. The broadcast ads will air July 12-Aug. 22. DeSantis has now spent more than $5 million on ads this cycle. Additionally, DeSantis’ affiliated political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, boosted its digital buy on Facebook by $31,000. It has now spent $575,000 on ads.

Why a wave of social media ads may signal a potential DeSantis White House run” via Jason Lange and Alexandra Ulmer of Reuters — DeSantis, a rising Republican star, has been careful not to nurture growing speculation that he will make a presidential bid in 2024. He has brushed off questions about his political ambitions, while the party’s presumptive front-runner, Donald Trump, repeatedly hints he will run again. But there are signs that DeSantis could be preparing for a White House run even as he campaigns for another term as Governor in November’s midterm elections.

New social media ads suggest a Ron DeSantis presidential run.

Racing to the finish: Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist double down on outreach in Broward” via Natalia Galicza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fried and Crist are making their pitches to Broward County voters as they enter the final stretch of their campaigns to win the Democratic nomination for Governor. Both candidates are ramping up efforts to attract voters in Broward, a reliably blue speck of Florida. Fried and Crist spent time in the second-most populous county in the state on Wednesday, Fried to make one of her final appointments as Agriculture Commissioner in Fort Lauderdale and Crist to meet with Haitian faith and community leaders in North Lauderdale.

—“In race to face DeSantis, it’s Ms. ‘something new’ versus Mr. seventh time around” via S.V. Date of HuffPost

Crist brings in $1.2M in June, fourth consecutive $1M+ month — Crist’s campaign is announcing June fundraising has reached over $1.2 million, the fourth consecutive million-dollar month in the gubernatorial race. This haul ranks Crist as the third-best fundraiser of any Democratic gubernatorial challenger across the nation. He raised over $11.5 million in total, with grassroots support from over 55,000 individual donors. June also set a record in digital fundraising, with Crist’s largest single-day haul of nearly $45,000, much of that from first-time donors.

If we don’t mention this poll, folks will say we’re biased. Still, it’s a crap poll. —“New Democratic primary poll shows Crist, Fried tied in deadlock” via Caden DeLisa of The Capitolist

Crist announces affordable housing plan” via Chris Hippensteel of the Tampa Bay Times — Crist lays the blame for Florida’s lack of affordable housing on two things: Wall Street investors and Gov. DeSantis. Crist released his proposal to address Florida’s housing crisis that focuses on curbing the influence of large real estate investment firms he says are buying up housing stock in Florida neighborhoods and driving up rent prices. “We’re in an affordability crisis like I’ve never seen,” Crist said. He called large investment firms “vultures” that prey on tenants, homebuyers and the housing market.

Crist opens first regional campaign office in South Florida Crist’s gubernatorial campaign is opening its first regional office in South Florida at the United Teachers of Dade headquarters in Miami Springs. The office — the first regional campaign office to be opened by any gubernatorial candidate this cycle — will serve as a hub for staff, grassroots supporters, and volunteers to mobilize and engage voters in the upcoming elections. “South Florida is ground zero for the issues that affect Floridians most, from the affordability crisis that is hurting everyday Floridians to climate change that threatens our way of life. I’m grateful to the United Teachers of Dade for welcoming us into their home as we work together to defeat Governor DeSantis and build for a Florida that works for all,” Crist said.

Who are all these other people running for Governor of Florida?” via Anna Wilder of the Miami Herald — The lesser-known candidates include Cadance Daniel, a Democratic candidate from Jacksonville who’s running to give a voice to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated constituents in Florida. Carmen Jackie Gimenez is a self-employed, non-partisan candidate from Hallandale Beach. Jodi Gregory Jeloudov is a disabled veteran and LGBTQ rights activist from Jensen Beach running with no party affiliation. The Libertarian Party candidate is Hector Roos, a political consultant who grew up in Miami. Robert Willis, a schoolteacher in Cocoa in the Democratic Primary because he says people are being mistreated in Florida. There are also three write-in candidates: Kyle KC Gibson, James Thompson and Piotr Blass.

Mark Lombardo puts another $52K into CD 1 ads — Republican Lombardo made another media buy for TV ads in the race for Florida’s 1st Congressional District. The flight, brokered by SRH Media, directs $19,000 toward broadcast ads and $33,000 toward cable ads that will run July 12-18 in the Mobile media market. The cable ads will air on Fox News. Lombardo has now spent $212,000 in his campaign to oust U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. The incumbent placed a $5,000 digital ad buy and has so far spent $563,000 on ads this cycle.

Republicans blast Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick for spending tax money on TV ads” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Democratic U.S. Rep. CherfilusMcCormick has been running ads on TV in South Florida using official government funds, and the Republican Party is crying foul. Cherfilus-McCormick was elected to Florida’s 20th Congressional District in a January special election. Spending on the non-election commercials is a “significant gray area” legally, and Cherfilus-McCormick’s congressional press secretary said the ads are “not unusual,” describing them as public service announcements.

Congress candidate bashes fellow Democrat Jared Moskowitz over ties to DeSantis, former employer’s donation to pro-Trump super PAC” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Ben Sorensen, seeking to gain attention and to damage Moskowitz, is repeatedly attacking Moskowitz by linking him to DeSantis. A major theme of Sorensen’s campaign is the suggestion that Moskowitz can’t be trusted to fight for Democratic values and is sympathetic to DeSantis’ policies and Trump’s MAGA movement. Sorensen is also highlighting a $500,000 campaign contribution from Moskowitz’s former employer to a pro-Trump super political action committee. Moskowitz was the company’s general counsel at the time, but there’s no indication he did anything wrong.

— MORE 2022 —

Spotted — At a fundraiser for Rep. Alex Andrade and viewing party for the Blue Angels at The Hilton on Pensacola Beach: Gaetz, Rep. Jayer Williamson, Brady Benford of Ballard Partners, Carol Dover and Nick Lowe of the FRLA, Zach Hubbard of Rubin Turnbull & Associates, Nick Iarossi of Capital City Consulting, Collier Merrill, Julian McQueen, Foyt Ralston, and Alan Suskey of Shumaker Advisors.

Lee County GOP chair Jonathan Martin faces battery investigation over meeting dispute” via Dan Glaun of the Fort Myers News-Press — Martin, the chair of the Lee County Republican Party and the sole GOP candidate for the SD 33 seat, is under investigation for battery. DeSantis released an executive order Wednesday transferring the investigation to the 12th Judicial Circuit, after local state attorney Amira Fox reported a conflict of interest because a member of Martin’s family works for her office. Tara Jenner, a Lee County GOP committee member, said her son filed the complaint that led to the investigation, following a confrontation with Martin at a Republican Executive Committee meeting in May.

>>>This incident was first reported on Florida Politics nearly a month ago. Keep up, FMNP.

Jonathan Martin’s legal troubles are old news to Florida Politics fans. Image via Facebook

🚨🚨🚨 — “Mike Hill outraises Michelle Salzman in last two weeks of June” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Since filing to win back his House District 1 seat in June, Republican Hill has outraised incumbent GOP Rep. Michelle Salzman. Hill raised $12,600 in the second half of June, while Salzman raised $11,650 in the same time frame. But Salzman still has plenty more cash on hand to fend off the Primary challenge from the former Representative. And the House leadership is supporting Salzman in her bid to retain her HD 1 seat. She received $49,000 from The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee on June 17. Overall, Salzman raised $65,846 in June.

—”Police union backing Jessica Baker in HD 17” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Big bucks: Money raised in race for Palm Beach’s HD 91 surpasses $500K” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The race to fill the newly drawn House District 91 in Palm Beach County has already seen more than half a million dollars funneled into campaign coffers. The race pits Boca Raton City Councilman Andy Thomson against Highland Beach Town Commissioner Peggy GossettSeidman. Thomson, a Democrat, says he raised $52,910 in June, counting donations to his personal campaign account and his political committee. That brings his total raised to $285,999. Gossett-Seidman raised $26,000 in the first half of June, making it very possible that she outraised Thomson last month — data that will be confirmed when reports are released. The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee staked her $25,000 in June, and the Republican Party of Florida chipped in $3,600. Gossett-Seidman showed $228,033 on hand as of June 17 and lent her campaign $200,000. A more distant Republican rival in the money race, Christina DuCasse, raised $1,795 in June and spent $2,793. She has a total of $2,120 for her race.


DeSantis slams ‘baby jabs’ as profit generator for Big Pharma” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis is accusing the Biden administration of approving COVID-19 vaccines for young children to drive pharmaceutical profits, slamming the FDA for slow-walking drug importations from Canada while fast-tracking vaccines at a Cape Coral news conference. Last month, the FDA provided an emergency use authorization for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children six months to 5 years old. The same week, DeSantis announced his administration would recommend against vaccines for young children. Florida was the only state that did not pre-order vaccines from the federal government in anticipation of the emergency use authorization.

—”DeSantis falsely claims Joe Biden trying to ‘buy off’ states to adopt critical race theory” via Yacob Reyes of PolitiFact

Ron DeSantis promotes false info about CRT.

DeSantis orders state to take closer look at pharmacy benefit managers, drug costs” via Christine Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis has issued an executive order to bring more transparency to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). DeSantis took the action Friday, expressing frustration that a Canadian drug importation program he approved in 2019 has yet to get underway because it has failed to gain final approval from the Biden administration. The state has estimated the program could save Floridians between $80 million and $150 million. Once the program is approved, DeSantis said, the AHCA will be able to start importing drugs within 90 days. Meanwhile, the executive order will direct state agencies — primarily AHCA and the Department of Management Services — to review contracts with PBMs, which negotiate with drug manufacturers on behalf of insurance companies to purchase drugs at reduced prices or with the promise of additional rebates. There are 66 PBMs registered in the state. Express Scripts, CVS Caremark, and OptumRx have more than 89% combined market share.

Gov. DeSantis appoints Melanie Surber to 15th Judicial Circuit — DeSantis on Friday appointed Surber, of Delray Beach, to serve as a judge on Florida’s 15th Judicial Circuit Court. Surber served as a Palm Beach County Court judge since 2019 when she was appointed to the position by DeSantis. She previously spent 19 years working as a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Appeals Division. She received her bachelor’s degree from Boston University and her law degree from Nova Southeastern University. Surber fills the judicial vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Janis Brustares Keyser.

Jason Pizzo: Put the abortion question to the people” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — With the federal right to an abortion gone and left to state legislatures to decide, Miami Democratic state Sen. Pizzo’s call for the question to be thrown to voters is blowing up. “If women’s reproductive rights are now left up to the states, then it should be left up to the PEOPLE of those states, not the legislature,” he tweeted this week. “Let’s put it on the ballot.” As of Sunday morning, the tweet had more than 41,100 likes and 7,488 retweets. Pizzo hasn’t yet drafted the measure, but it could get on the ballot for voters to decide through a joint resolution of the Legislature.

Florida emergency management accused of stiffing contractor for COVID-19 test kits” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s Division of Emergency Management stiffed a private contractor for some $4.4 million in COVID-19 test kits during the state’s first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. A new lawsuit claims the state agreed to order some 600,000 test kits in March 2020 — a time when public health officials were still scrambling to respond to the potentially deadly virus. Despite emails from the state that appear to confirm the purchase, the Division of Emergency Management ultimately accepted and paid for only a third of the tests.

COVID-19 cases ebb as hospitalizations keep climbing” via Ian Hodgson if the Tampa Bay Times — COVID-19 infections slowed last week in Florida, but hospitalizations still are ticking up. The state reported 9,687 cases per day, on average, from July 2-8. That’s down 10% from the week before and is the first sign in three weeks that cases may have peaked. Despite the drop in cases, 95% of Florida residents still are at “high” risk of COVID-19.

Algal bloom task force reorganizes to address health effects” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — A group working to address the health effects of harmful algal blooms is moving out of the Department of Health (DOH) and under the purview of the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Task Force, an effort of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The goal: expand the task force’s reach to help group members reach better solutions. The committee started with the task of health research relating to long-term exposure to harmful algal blooms. Now, they will expand to guide the task force in establishing these projects, contracts and the like, beyond what DOH can do itself. The plan is to go into more detail on the reorganization at the task force’s November meeting.

Algae has become a hot topic — again. Image via University of Florida.

Proposed change to Florida prison policy could severely restrict visits” via Amanda Rabines of The Orlando Sentinel — A new rule proposed by the Florida Department of Corrections could cut prisoner visiting hours in half. The measure is included in an FDC proposal of modifications to its visiting procedures. Currently, FDC’s standard practice allows weekend visitations and major holiday visits. The new proposal would create a rotation schedule, which only allows visitations to take place every other weekend. The proposal also includes a measure to reduce the number of non-family member visits. According to the proposed policy, no more than five of the allotted 15 visitors may be non-family members. FDC Press Secretary Paul Walker said the new rules being proposed are meant to modernize and define visitation procedures.

What Jeff Brandes is readingAs home values soar, calls grow to increase Citizens Insurance eligibility cap to $1 million statewide” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Inflation has raised home replacement values, leaving owners of Citizens-insured homes with previous values around $500,000 to $600,000 without an option to renew, forcing them to seek far-more expensive coverage. The notices say that rising construction and labor costs pushed their replacement values beyond a $700,000 eligibility cap in place for every Florida county except for two — Miami-Dade and Monroe. In those two counties, homeowners don’t have to worry about becoming ineligible for Citizens unless their replacement values exceed $1 million, an exemption approved in 2015 by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Happening today — Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. is scheduled to talk about teacher recruitment and retention during an event co-hosted by the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations and the Florida Philanthropic Network, 2 p.m. Register here.


Joe Biden: why I’m going to Saudi Arabia” via The Washington Post — A more secure and integrated Middle East benefits Americans in many ways. Its waterways are essential to global trade and the supply chains we rely on. Its energy resources are vital for mitigating the impact on global supplies of Russia’s war in Ukraine. And a region that’s coming together through diplomacy and cooperation — rather than coming apart through conflict — is less likely to give rise to violent extremism that threatens our homeland or new wars that could place new burdens on U.S. military forces and their families.

Avoiding that scenario is of paramount importance to me. I’ll pursue diplomacy intensely — including through face-to-face meetings — to achieve our goals.

The Middle East I’ll be visiting is more stable and secure than the one my administration inherited 18 months ago.

As President, it is my job to keep our country strong and secure. We have to counter Russia’s aggression, put ourselves in the best possible position to outcompete China, and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world. To do these things, we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes. Saudi Arabia is one of them, and when I meet with Saudi leaders on Friday, my aim will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values.


At 79, Biden is testing the boundaries of age and the presidency” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — Polls show many Americans consider Biden too old, and some Democratic strategists do not think he should run again. It is, unsurprisingly, a sensitive topic in the West Wing. Although White House officials insist they make no special accommodations the way Ronald Reagan’s team did, privately they try to guard Biden’s weekends in Delaware as much as possible. Everyone ages differently, of course, and some experts put Biden in a category of “super-agers” who remain unusually fit as they advance in years.

Joe Biden: Super-ager.

Two long weeks: Inside Biden’s struggle to respond to abortion ruling” via Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Three days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Biden used a break between Group of Seven summit meetings at the luxury Schloss Elmau resort in Germany to get an update on the stunning and sudden loss of abortion rights for millions of Americans back home. Biden declared at the outset of the call that he wanted to endorse ending the Senate filibuster to codify Roe into law, a position he so far had refused to take, angering many Democrats in the process. But Biden kept his decision private until three days later. The timing of the decision also caught Biden and his team off guard. Some aspects of the White House reaction have felt to some Democrats like a routine response.

Outrage erupts as White House calls abortion-rights activists ‘out of step’” via Alan Halaly and Zachary Petrizzo of The Daily Beast — The White House tried to defend Biden’s seemingly drowsy response to the reversal of Roe v Wade on Saturday but instead sparked an instant backlash by labeling pro-choice activists “out of step.” The apparent jab was made in a statement responding to criticism of what many Democrats see as a response that has been too little, too late. Women’s March Director Rachel O’Leary Carmona told activists she hoped to “push [Biden’s] authority to the limit” regarding abortion rights. Abortion rights activists further tied green bandannas to the gates of the White House as part of their demonstration.

’Why elections matter’: Biden ad draws contrast with ‘Ultra-MAGA’ Rick Scott” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A new video from Biden‘s Twitter account is adding fuel to his fiery feud with Scott. Incorporating rally footage, the video mentions Scott, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson. “This is why elections matter,” the President warns, in footage from a recent speech. The video begins with Scott, though it doesn’t mention his name. “The Ultra-MAGA Republicans,” Biden said. “They’re coming after your Social Security. They’ve written it down!” The Biden clip continued to reference Scott’s controversial 11-point plan to “rescue America,” which suggested reviewing federal programs every five years for potential sunset. “Every five years, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have to be reauthorized or they go out of existence.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Matt Gaetz ‘wingman’ gets new sentencing date” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — Joel Greenberg, a convicted former Seminole County Tax Collector and one-time close associate of Rep. Gaetz, will receive his sentence on Dec. 1. That comes after more than a year of cooperating with federal investigators. U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell agreed to delay sentencing as Greenberg cooperated with prosecutors looking into Gaetz and an even larger scandal that emerged from their initial investigation. Greenberg pleaded guilty to six charges, including sex trafficking a minor. He faced a minimum 12-year sentence, but it’s unclear how that could be affected by his cooperation. Greenberg originally faced 33 federal charges but cut a deal with prosecutors to drop dozens after he agreed to cooperate.

— JAN. 6 —

Stephanie Murphy suggests Jan. 6 Committee ready to scrutinize members of Congress” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Murphy says an upcoming congressional hearing will focus on violent groups and other members of Congress who aimed to subvert democracy on Jan. 6, 2021. “I think all of that is pretty public,” Murphy said. “They were quite public about their efforts to amplify the President’s call to use Jan. 6 as a last stand in this effort to remain as President.” Murphy, a member of the Jan. 6 Committee, spoke about what topics may arise in the next public hearing on Tuesday.

Jan. 6 panel didn’t specifically ask Pat Cipollone about Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony on legal consequences of going to Capitol during riot, sources say” via Pamela Brown, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, Jamie Gangel and Zachary Cohen of CNN — Sources say the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot did not ask Trump White House counsel Cipollone if he told then-White House aide Hutchinson the day of the attack that they would “get charged with every crime imaginable” if they went to the U.S. Capitol. If asked, he would not have confirmed that particular statement, the sources said. But no one has refuted any of Hutchinson’s testimony under oath. When asked specifically if Cipollone confirmed testimony from Hutchinson, a Democratic member of the committee said, “Not contradicting is not the same as confirming.”

Pat Cipollone’s testimony did not cover all the bases. Image via AP.

Steve Bannon now willing to testify before Jan. 6 panel” via Hope Yen and Farnoush Amiri of The Associated Press — Bannon, a former White House strategist and ally of Trump who faces criminal charges after months of defying a congressional subpoena over the Capitol riot, has told the House committee investigating the attack that he is now willing to testify. Bannon’s turnabout was conveyed in a letter late Saturday from his attorney, lawmakers said, as the committee prepares to air some of its most striking revelations yet this week against Trump in what may be its final set of hearings.

Oath Keeper members brought explosives to DC area around Jan. 6 and had a ‘death list,’ prosecutors say” via Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand of CNN — The Justice Department has released new details of the alleged extensive planning by the Oath Keepers to prepare for violence in Washington, on Jan. 6. The newly released evidence reveals lessons to conduct “hasty ambushes,” a “death list” of Georgia election officials and attempts to acquire homemade firearms. Prosecutors intend to use the evidence against the Oath Keepers during their trial in September, charging nine Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy for extensively preparing for violence and plotting to stop Joe Biden from assuming the presidency. All nine have pleaded not guilty and have denied the allegations.

More Republicans now call Jan. 6 a ‘legitimate protest’ than a ‘riot’” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — In the days following Jan. 6, 2021, while people were unable to agree on Trump’s role in the event, there was a non-partisan understanding that the riot was bad and violent. That has changed, however, with time prompting many Republicans to shift their view about the character of that day. A Monmouth University poll shows that Republicans increasingly don’t even believe what happened that day actually happened. The poll found that while 33% of Republicans said back in June 2021 that Jan. 6 was an “insurrection,” that number is now just 13%. While 62% labeled it a riot back then, only 45% do now. And, more Republicans also consider the event a “legitimate protest,” up from 47% last June to 61% most recently.


How a crowded GOP field could help Trump in 2024 campaign” via The Associated Press — As Trump considers another White House run, polls show he’s the most popular figure in the Republican Party. Competing at one point against a dozen rivals for the presidential nomination in 2016, Trump won only about one-third of the vote in key early states. But he prevailed because those in the party who opposed his brand of divisive politics were never able to coalesce around a single rival. That same dynamic could repeat itself as Trump mulls a new bid for the presidency. With a growing list of candidates gearing up to run, even a Trump diminished by two impeachments and mounting legal vulnerabilities could hold a commanding position in a fractured, multi-candidate primary.

The more, the merrier for Donald Trump. Image via AP.

Top op-ed — “I was betrayed by Trump” via Aquilino Gonell of The New York Times — I never would have imagined that an American President would not only not come to the aid of law enforcement officers defending the Capitol but encourage that crowd to march on it. Instead of being notified about the danger, my colleagues and I were kept in the dark and thus walked into an ambush unprepared. Other disturbing details I heard at the hearing had to do with Trump’s apparent disregard for everyone but himself. With our lives in peril, I would have been justified in using lethal force. But I didn’t want to spark a massacre. Even more galling are the Republicans who still refuse to provide testimony under oath and instead dangerously downplay how close we came to losing our democracy.


Big changes ahead for Broward voters” via Steve Bousquet of The Sun-Sentinel — Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott is making big changes this redistricting year. All 1.2 million Broward voters will soon receive a large, hard-stock card from the elections office that contains vital information such as a new precinct number, polling location and newly assigned districts. The changes will mainly impact those voting in-person on Election Day. Every precinct has been renumbered, even if the location hasn’t changed. Scott has notably reduced the number of locations and precincts, and some longtime polling places no longer exist. The county went from 577 precincts to 345, and 380 polling places to 262. “It will make for a more positive election experience,” he said. Scott has also expanded Broward’s early voting sites to 23.

Video shows Vice Mayor cursing at a Broward cop after traffic stop. The internet is angry” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — A Pompano Beach elected official has garnered unwanted attention after she had a bit of an outburst following a routine traffic stop in April. In a video obtained by Cop Watch and posted to YouTube and then reported by WPLG-Local 10, Pompano Beach Vice Mayor Barbara Perkins is seen inside her white SUV after a Fort Lauderdale police officer pulled her over. “Miss Perkins, you need to slow down. OK?” the officer says as he hands back her ID. As he walks away, she asks for his name. She then is heard telling the officer that he needed to “find something better to [expletive] do.” Then she drives off. It’s that F-bomb that has some angry with Perkins.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Broward school district donated LGBTQ books ahead of new Florida law” via Shira Moolten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County Public Schools donated boxes full of LGBTQ-oriented children’s books to the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale this summer, weeks before Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law took effect. The school district said it donated the books to make room for new departments as part of a district reorganization. But the museum is questioning the timing of the donated books, with the new LGBTQ-censorship law going into effect on July 1. The law bans instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for students from kindergarten to third grade, or instruction that isn’t “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Despite community pushback, annexations by four Miami-Dade municipalities advance” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade is advancing a nearly two-decade push to annex 8 square miles of mostly industrial and commercial land in the county’s unincorporated area — a request made by the municipalities of Doral, Medley, Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens. Miami-Dade attorneys are now drawing up resolutions and ordinances to make the changes, and Commissioners will still need to vote on the measure, which residents heavily criticized at a Friday Commission meeting. Each annexation will raise ad valorem taxes for property owners in the areas, but officials from two municipalities vowed to mitigate the financial impact via reduced tax rates.

County says no to CDD idea: Why it rejected a special district for housing development at Forest Oaks” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — Don’t expect Palm Beach County Commissioners to approve a community development district anytime soon. They voted 4-3 on May 22 to deny a request made by Mattamy Homes to create one for a 450-unit development planned for the Forest Oaks Golf Course west of Lake Worth Beach. A CDD is a governmental unit created to help long-term community needs such as planning, constructing and operating the infrastructure and services. There are nearly 600 CDDs in Florida, and Palm Beach County Commissioners have approved 10 in the past 20 years; the last was in 2016.

Lake Worth Beach moves to ban cigarette smoking at beach; Delray, Boca, Palm Beach next?” via Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post — Lake Worth Beach has begun work toward passing an ordinance that will prohibit smoking at the beach and municipal parks. A new law signed by DeSantis in June empowers cities and counties to regulate smoking, overturning previous legislation that bestowed the state the right to control outdoor smoking only. Other cities and towns in Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Palm Beach, are also taking steps to remove cigarettes at the beach. Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Sarah Malega raised the possibility of a smoking ban days after DeSantis signed the bill into law and received support from Mayor Betty Resch and Commission colleagues.

South Florida campaign consultant pleads guilty to COVID relief fraud” via Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Omar Smith, who worked as a political consultant on South Florida campaigns, pleaded guilty Friday to lying on a loan application for COVID relief funds and fraudulently receiving over $200,000. Smith previously worked as a consultant for former Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 20th Congressional District. But, Holness says Smith no longer works with him. In June 2020, Smith applied for a $212,500 PPP loan for his company, A Star For I, Inc., which he claimed had 30 employees and paid an average of $85,000 in monthly payroll. Smith’s company had no employees or payroll. After pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, Smith could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.


Orlando censures staffers who cited ‘division’ in 4th of July newsletter” via Ryan Gillespie of The Orlando Sentinel — Orlando city staff members responsible for the recent controversial post promoting its Fourth of July fireworks show are facing disciplinary action. The staffers in trouble were responsible for the July 1 newsletter that invited residents to the annual fireworks show, but referenced divisiveness in the country, saying, “when there is so much division, hate and unrest, why on earth would you want to have a party celebrating any of it?” The post drew criticism from residents and the local police union and was addressed by the city. The employees had no prior disciplinary history and received an oral censure. The newsletter now has a new approval process.

Judge strikes down ‘Rights of Nature’ charter amendment. Orange County voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2020” via Amy Green of WMFE — A judge has struck down an Orange County charter amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2020 that was aimed at protecting the rights of nature. The amendment spawned a lawsuit to block a housing development in fragile wetlands. The suit claimed the development would violate the wetlands’ right to flow freely. But Judge Paetra Brownlee dismissed the suit, reasoning that state law pre-empted the charter amendment. Chuck O’Neal of Speak Up Wekiva brought the lawsuit. “It’s a realization that our power to govern ourselves locally has been taken away from us.” Legislators approved the state law about the same time the amendment went on the ballot.

The Kissimmee River loses its right to have rights.

A Tampa Bay nursing home lost its Medicare benefits. Residents lost a home.” via Hannah Critchfield of the Tampa Bay Times — Residents of the Raydiant Health Care of Brandon nursing home learned in June that it was closing. They said they were told that they had 30 days to find places to live. About half its 87 residents left within a week of the announcement, according to a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The federal government considers the termination of Medicare and Medicaid a “last resort,” implemented only after “all other attempts” fail to resolve health and safety deficiencies.

Rays’ partners respond to criticism from Stu Sternberg over latest lawsuit” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A group of Tampa Bay Rays minority owners is pushing back on criticism from owner Stuart Sternberg and the franchise over their latest lawsuit, in which the five minority partners accuse Sternberg of taking “fraudulent” control of the team by transferring legal ownership to a company he owns without their knowledge. The group of partners who filed the suit called Sternberg’s criticism “disappointing” and an attempt at “public character assassination.” In a joint statement with the franchise, Sternberg called the group’s lawsuit “improper litigation” as part of a “relentless campaign” against him. The latest litigation follows two similar lawsuits against principal owner Sternberg by the group, one filed in May 2021 and the other in February.

Tampa local consultant sues former City Council candidate” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — A military intelligence worker and former City Council candidate has been sued by a local business consultant over a fake Facebook account that was harshly critical of him and other Tampa notables. Steve Michelini, a fixture at Tampa City Hall since he worked for former mayor Bob Martinez in the 1970s, filed a defamation suit this week against John Godwin, who ran unsuccessfully against Charlie Miranda for a council seat in 2019. The amended complaint states that “Godwin the catfish” appropriated the identity of a French businessman to create the account. The lawsuit lists Godwin’s occupation as military intelligence.

Good read — “Joe Redner, Tampa’s long-reigning strip club king, still has something to say” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — Besides being the high-profile proprietor of the Mons Venus nude establishment near Raymond James Stadium, Redner also makes a living leasing out properties he owns around town. One notable tenant: the Internal Revenue Service, an agency Redner says used to routinely audit him, hunting for some nefariousness they did not find. Today, in sandals and a graying ponytail, he works from an office in a beige warehouse around the corner from the Mons Venus and across from the lucrative Cigar City Brewing, where he was an investor.

New Tavares police chief says posts that sparked investigation ‘taken out of context’” via Abigail Hasebroock of the Orlando Sentinel — Lt. Sarah Coursey will soon become the first woman to serve as police chief for the Tavares Police Department, a landmark marred for some by controversy in her past over an incendiary Facebook post. “It’s a sense of pride that I can show my daughter that if you put in hard work, no matter what adversity you face, and the hardships you face, if you power on, you work hard, you can be anything you want to be,” she said. The news of her promotion brought fresh attention to a controversy she sparked in 2012 with a Facebook comment she posted during a live speech by then-President Barack Obama. “Where’s Lee Harvey Oswald or John Wilkes Booth when you need them!?!? :),” she wrote.


Palm Bay Mayor stands by decision to honor soldier convicted of murdering Iraqi detainees” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — Palm Bay Mayor Rob Medina stirred controversy at a July 4 event hosted by the city this past weekend after honoring a former soldier convicted of murder in the killings of unarmed detainees during the Iraq War. In front of a crowd Saturday at the city’s annual Independence Day celebration at Eastern Florida State College’s Palm Bay campus, Medina invited former U.S. Army soldier Joseph P. Mayo onstage, gifting him a flag on behalf of the city and thanking him for his service. Critics rebuked the move when they learned Mayo had previously pleaded guilty and served time in a military prison for his role in the execution-style killings of four Iraqi men in the spring of 2007.

Rob Medina doubles down on a controversial honor.

FPL chief on JEA incentive plan that sunk sales attempt: ‘They couldn’t have been that dumb’” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Florida Power & Light CEO Eric Silagy said when he first heard about the lucrative JEA employee incentive plan that ended up derailing the attempted sale of JEA in 2019, his initial reaction was sheer disbelief that “they couldn’t have been that dumb.” Silagy said he thought a Florida Times-Union article about the incentive plan must have been based on erroneous reporting. “I didn’t believe it,” he said in a recent interview with several Florida reporters. “I thought you got it wrong. I honestly did.” NextEra Energy, the parent company of FPL, had been at the top of the bidding battle for JEA when it submitted an $11 billion offer in 2019, eclipsing any other bid by more than $1 billion.

Photo of Jacksonville City Council members at bar sparks discussion over Sunshine Law” via Robert Bradfield of First Coast News — Several photos are raising eyebrows with some Jacksonville city leaders, showing four City Council members at a downtown bar after a council meeting in late June. Council member Matt Carlucci, who was not there, wants to know what was discussed and believes it could have violated Florida’s Sunshine Laws, which are intended to guarantee public access to meetings among elected officials. The four council members were Aaron Bowman, Kevin Carrico, Rory Diamond and Nick Howland. Darren White, the man who took the picture and posted it to social media, says he overheard the four discussing Carlucci, whose proposal to remove Confederate monuments was voted down by the City Council two weeks prior.


Duval County Property Appraiser Jerry Holland is endorsing Jacksonville City Council member LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber in the race for Jacksonville Mayor.

Holland is a longtime public servant in the Jacksonville area. He was first elected Property Appraiser in 2015 after 10 years as Duval County Supervisor of Elections. He is also a former Jacksonville City Council member and Council President.

“I’m proud to announce my support for LeAnna Cumber as she runs to restore the public’s faith in Jacksonville’s leadership. Cumber’s record on the City Council, supporting first responders and victims of human trafficking, makes her the ideal candidate to lead Jacksonville,” Holland said.

Jerry Holland gives LeAnna Cumber the thumbs-up.

“She’s the only candidate who steadfastly opposed frivolous tax hikes and directed local and federal resources to our policemen and women. Her vision for Jacksonville will make her a fantastic Mayor.”

In addition to endorsing Cumber, Holland will join the candidate during a meeting of the Intercoastal Republican Club in Queen’s Harbor on Tuesday.

“I’m thrilled to have Jerry by my side as we work to get Jacksonville moving. He’s served our community honorably, and I am grateful for his support. With the help of more amazing residents like Jerry, we will win this race and turn the talk about a better Jacksonville into action,” Cumber said.


How Republican leaders broke Americans’ confidence” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — After Republicans’ years of throwing sand in the gears of government, just 7% have confidence in the Legislature and 23% in the presidency. After Republicans’ use of underhanded tactics to secure a highly partisan supermajority on the Supreme Court, just 25% have confidence in the high court. After years of Republicans’ attacks on the media (culminating in Trump’s “enemy of the people” formulation) and after the GOP’s fostering of propaganda outlets such as Fox News, just 11% of Americans have confidence in television news (16% in newspapers).

They’ve hacked away at public schools (critical race theory! trans athletes!), at the “broken” military and at the criminal justice system (“corrupt” FBI and Justice Department leaders) — and Americans’ trust in those institutions has slipped, too.

Now, against all odds, Washington is on the cusp of lowering drug prices and boosting U.S. technology over China’s. And so, Mitch McConnell, a top Senate Republican, steps in to sabotage both.

It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.


How to defeat extreme Trumpists? Build a centrist coalition.” via Michael Gerson of The Washington Post — Much about the United States’ political future depends on the answer to this question: Can liberals rally the country to the defense of democratic liberalism? There are considerable obstacles. The unreconstructed left of the Democratic Party views Republican extremism as an opening to pursue its own maximalist agenda. But this ignores a stark reality: In much of the United States, a candidate perceived as a woke socialist will generally lose to a candidate perceived as an authoritarian nationalist. And events have conspired to tempt Democrats into political choices that can shatter a centrist coalition against Republican extremism — particularly in reaction to gun violence and the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Democrats’ problem: People aren’t buying their product” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Of all the things the Florida Democratic Party has going against it in these midterm elections, voter registration looks like the most ominous. It’s not just the raw numbers; it’s the trend of political preferences. Things are going up for the GOP and down for the Democrats. Bottom line: A Republican registration advantage of about 200,000 when the Primaries are held next month. Democrats have found some glimmer of hope in the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. Division of Elections charts indicate the Democrats held a lead of 97,215 statewide two years ago. But by early 2021, the Republicans were on top by 43,102.

If only John Roberts would retire” via Pamela Paul of The New York Times — If liberal dreams really did come true, Chief Justice Roberts would resign. He’s been at it for 17 years. And he’s been incapable of tempering the Federalist Society-stamped fanatics on the right or leading the court toward any semblance of justice for all. In retiring at age 67, Roberts could make a statement about the perils of a gerontocracy and the possibility of Supreme Court term limits, even if only self-imposed. After the leaked draft of the Dobbs decision, liberals again grabbed at hope that Roberts might sway the ultraconservative bloc. Yet he stood alone in his concurring opinion that the court should have stopped short of “the dramatic step of altogether eliminating the abortion right first recognized in Roe.”

Point — Even conservative justices have a right to privacy” via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post — “The home is different,” Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in 1988, upholding the constitutionality of a Wisconsin suburb’s ordinance prohibiting “targeted picketing” outside residents’ homes. Now picketers are protesting the court’s decision to eliminate constitutional protections for abortion. And their intended targets are the homes of the justices themselves, on the leafy streets of Chevy Chase, Maryland., and in the suburbs of Virginia. The pickets at justices’ homes are beyond the pale. As I’ve written before, they’re unnecessary; protesters can make their views amply known at the court itself. They are, if anything, counterproductive.

Counterpoint —Sorry, but the Constitution contains no right to eat dinner” via Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post — I have been studying the Constitution very carefully, including the emanations of the penumbras, and I can see why people might think there was some inherent right to dinner. Eating seems so fundamental: Whether or not you want to have steak inside yourself seems like something you ought to be able to determine on your own behalf. Eating and chewing, alone or in the company of others, feels as though it ought to be up to the person most affected, and protected from abridgment of any kind, even by the states.

Enough! DACA and Dreamers have been at the mercy of the courts for too long. Step up, Congress” via the Miami Herald editorial board — In the cruel game that the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, DACA, has become, its recipients have had some walks, base hits and home runs. But they now are at grave risk of being struck out. And that would be a terrible outcome. The conservative 5th District Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments last week seeking both to save DACA and to kill it. The program, created by President Barack Obama in 2012, protects from deportation some young people who, as children, were brought to the United States illegally by their parents or other adults. DACA, rightly, also grants them work permits when they’re of age. The rationale: As young children and teens, they had no choice but to accompany their families. Why punish them by forcing them to leave the country where they have spent most of their lives?

Against the extremism of the American masculinity debate” via David French of The Dispatch — I’ve distilled my thoughts into five general truths. First, men and women are different, and they’ll always be different. Second, the differences between men and women are value-neutral. Third, each boy and girl is still an individual. Third, each boy and girl is still an individual. Fifth, because men and women are different, universal values will often manifest themselves differently. We simply can’t look at disparities of interest and outcome between men and women and presume that something is wrong. While we should diligently fight invidious discrimination (a legal term of art that generally means discrimination that is “arbitrary, irrational and not reasonably related to a legitimate purpose”), attempting to impose a leveling sameness between the sexes will always be both culturally impossible and individually destructive.

Liberals should welcome DeSantis’ rise” via Rich Lowry of POLITICO — DeSantis hasn’t even won a second term yet, let alone announced for President, and he’s already emerging as the most dangerous Republican in America. That takes some doing, given the continued intense focus on Trump and the five-alarm-fire that he represents for the American system of government. Progressives have to decide two things. One is if they really want Trump gone, or if they want him as a foil for the duration. If it is the former, they should welcome DeSantis as a potential vehicle for ending what they believe is the ongoing state of political emergency represented by Trump. If it is the latter, DeSantis could spoil everything.

Pulp nonfiction: DeSantis dispatches ‘The Wolf’ to oversee election security in Florida” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — Is there any job Pete Antonacci can’t get? Just wondering. Last week it was announced that Antonacci, who was once just a humble minion in the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, will be the director of DeSantis Office of Election Crimes and Security. I guess it’s not surprising. At this point, the frequently appointed, always-qualified-for-any-post Antonacci should have a business card that simply says “Henchman” to keep the reproduction costs down. Years ago, I started calling Antonacci “The Wolf” because he reminded me of Winston Wolfe, the Harvey Keitel character in the Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction.

“Does DeSantis have the guts to talk Gaetz?” via Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal — Will DeSantis rescue Gaetz in the Congressman’s re-election race? Gaetz faces a challenging re-election bid even as an incumbent after being plagued with scandal this past year. And now, he only faces one challenger in the GOP Primary after Bryan Jones withdrew, pushing his support to another military veteran, Mark Lombardo. Unlike previous opponents, Lombardo has legitimate cash and a reputation to compete with Gaetz. But DeSantis could impact the election with an endorsement of the disgraced Congressman, who was once a close friend and adviser. Is the Governor simply scared to speak up for political reasons? Or does DeSantis know more information about his former friend that voters of Northwest Florida have yet to find out?

‘Lower your radio volume’: Florida’s new loud music law raises old concerns” via Mark Woods of The Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office sent out an advance warning on social media: “Lower your radio volume! Starting July 1, 2022, Florida State Statute 316.3045 will once again become enforceable. What does this mean? It means that you will have to listen to your car radio at a volume that is NOT plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more.” If anywhere should know the pitfalls of such a law, it’s Jacksonville. When JSO issued its “lower your radio volume” warning, it said that starting July 1 the state statute would “once again become enforceable.” The Legislature has tweaked the law since 2012, changing some wording and eliminating parts of it.

— ALOE —

Blue Angels wrap up 2022 summer show Saturday with full beach and lots of new memories” via Brittany Misencik of the Pensacola News Journal — The common hearsay knowledge buzzing around Pensacola this week was, “If you want to get a good spot for the 2022 Blue Angels air show on Saturday, you better get to the beach early.” But early wasn’t early enough. It turns out, even 5:30 a.m. was too late to secure a parking spot to see the show. The weekend followed the pattern of a steady build, as Thursday’s practice show brought 19,661 vehicles across the Pensacola Bay Bridge, with Friday increasing to 19,865 vehicles, according to Katie King, public relations and marketing on behalf of the Santa Rosa Island Authority. Each vehicle was averaged to contain three people.

Early was not early enough for the Pensacola Beach Air Show.

Millions in grant money head to UCF for space research” via Joe Mario Pedersen of The Orlando Sentinel — In the last 18 months, UCF has had 71 approved space-related research projects — awarded with grants exceeding $10 million. The projects vary, but nearly half of them, 31, are moon-research related. NASA announced earlier in June that two UCF planetary scientists will lead a $35 million mission to explore an unknown region of the moon — the Gruithuisen Domes. Some research projects include 3D printed sensors for astronauts to monitor a ship’s integrity; a device that would create a landing pad for a rocket as it lands; and the development of a cost-effective and logistically feasible way to mine lunar ice.

College student tracking Elon Musk’s jet doesn’t plan to stop” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — Sitting beneath the photo of a Tesla sedan floating in orbit tacked to his bedroom wall, Jack Sweeney programmed a Twitter account to automatically post the movements of a certain private jet, a Gulfstream G650ER. Sweeney was freaking out a bit himself, showing friends his phone, telling his parents, all of them strategizing. Sweeney told Musk he meant no harm. Sweeney’s methods are available to any civilian. He just had the creativity to take tracking mainstream. Sweeney’s parents said they support their son. Like any parents, they’d most like to see this lead to a job.

Caricature artist reflects on 30 years drawing at Disney World” via Gabriele Russon of Florida Politics — For nearly 30 years, Keelan Parham has drawn faces at Walt Disney World. Enough time has passed for mullets to be in style, fall out of favor and then come back into fashion again. Tourists and locals, even the occasional celebrity, saw caricatures as the perfect souvenir, something hand-drawn and one of a kind. Parham figures he’s illustrated at least half a million people during his career. “I just kept doing it,” Parham said. “The reason is, because every person that sits down, every face is a new challenge. … It truly never gets old. … I think there’s beauty in everybody’s face.” His job is to capture it on paper. Sometimes, you can spot Parham and his team of artists at the festivals in Epcot, like this year’s upcoming International Food and Wine Festival, where they will be drawing “corktoons” — caricatures drawn on wine corks.


Belated happy birthday wishes to former state Reps. Gary Aubuchon, Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda and Matt Hudson; Rob Schenck; Trip Farmer, director of Media Relations for HCA Healthcare; and our former colleague Bob Sparks. Celebrating today is Rep. Fred Hawkins, Brett Cyphers of Anfield Consulting, our friend James Harris, Matthew Leger, Aaron Sharockman, executive director of PolitiFact, and former Rep. Cynthia Stafford.


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

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