Rep. Dane Eagle could be the next head of the Department of Economic Opportunity.
According to sources familiar with the selection process, Eagle is in the running to replace Ken Lawson, who resigned as DEO’s executive director on Monday after a tumultuous 2020.
When the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing mass job losses caused the state’s unemployment system to faceplant, Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed Lawson to the side and put the Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter in charge.
DeSantis didn’t mourn Lawson’s resignation on Monday, telling media instead that he wants to move fast on the new appointment — shortly after Lawson’s exit was reported, the Governor said he could name a replacement in as little as 24 hours.
It’s a timeline Eagle could oblige.
The Fort Myers Republican is term-limited in the state House and there’s little to no legislative work to handle before his successor takes the reins and his most recent job lead — representing Florida’s 19th Congressional District — fell through when fellow Rep. Byron Donalds beat him by a hair in the primary election.
Though DC may be out of the cards, a longer tenure in Tallahassee and a top-level job in the DeSantis administration is a decent consolation prize.
First on #FlaPol — “Ron DeSantis extends SAT and ACT deadline for Bright Futures Scholarship” — DeSantis is giving recently-graduated high school seniors a second chance to achieve a qualifying SAT or ACT score for a Bright Futures scholarship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who graduated in the 2019-2020 school year will have until Dec. 1 to meet the minimum qualifying score requirement. Both SAT and ACT tests across the country have been canceled because of the pandemic. In June, the Florida Department of Education extended the qualification deadline for Bright Futures Scholarship Awards to July 31. But that deadline came and went with no SAT tests. And while some ACT tests were administered, many tests were canceled or reached capacity.
The Republican Party of Florida has submitted its list of presidential electors to Gov. DeSantis.
The list includes 29 recommendations — one for each of the state’s electoral votes — and features several lawmakers, influencers and current and former party leaders.
Senators on the list include Joe Gruters, who chairs RPOF, as well as incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson and his likely successor, Kathleen Passidomo. Sen. Keith Perry also got the nod.
Representatives include incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Rep. Daniel Perez, who is set to lead the chamber after the 2024 election. They’re joined by Reps. Randy Fine and Jason Fischer.
Other notables include South Florida business owner Maximo Alvarez, who spoke at the RNC; Southern Group lobbyist Nelson Diaz; Charter Communications VP and former Constitution Revision Commission member Marva Johnson; Keiser University founder Belinda Keiser; former Sen. Pat Neal; and Florida GOP Vice-Chair Christian Ziegler.
Florida law requires the state executive committee of each political party to send their presidential elector picks to the Governor by Sept. 1.
The Governor must then nominate the recommendations, pulling only from each political party’s recommendations.
GrayRobinson is entering a new fiscal year, and many of its employees are celebrating with a title bump.
“As we continue to build on our 50-year foundation and begin our new fiscal year, we are proud to announce the promotion of 15 of our attorneys and consultants across Florida and in Washington, D.C.,” said GrayRobinson president and CEO Dean Cannon.
“These individuals are proven stewards of our firm’s culture and core principles, and consistently demonstrate a tremendous work ethic and deliver value for our clients, especially during these challenging times. We congratulate them and look forward to their continued success here at GrayRobinson.”
On Tuesday, the firm announced the promotions: Topping the list is Joe Fitos of GrayRobinson’s Orlando office — he’s now an equity shareholder.
Richard Danese, Matthew Jones, Ashley Lukis, Craig Novick, Rebecca Rodrigues and Tiffany Walters all became shareholders; Greg Mesack was moved up to government consultant; Stephen Anderson ascended to of counsel; and Hannah Becker, Emily Pineless, Josef Rosen, Jonathan Sieg, Tucker Thoni and Jennifer Vanover were promoted to senior associate.
The promotions went into effect Sept. 1.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@realDonaldTrump: It never ends! Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes. Never happened to THIS candidate — FAKE NEWS. Perhaps they are referring to another candidate from another Party!
—@SVDate: Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, ridiculing [Joe] Biden for campaigning in Minnesota: “This would be like our campaign scheduling a trip to one of the reddest states in the country.” Like, say, Oklahoma?
—@Brfreed: If one candidate leads slightly in, say, New Hampshire, at 11 p.m. on Nov. 3 with 65% of votes counted, but loses slightly after counting is done on Nov. 5, that’s not the result of any chicanery, “rigged vote,” or an army of antifa super-soldiers. It’s just the final count.
—@AlexBerenson: Boom. @GovRonDesantis has led the way all along. He hasn’t gotten the political credit yet, and he may not for years. But he will. The reality will be impossible to argue.
—@NoahPransky: Screw up Florida coronastats, get fired. Screw up Florida unemployment checks (@), get a giant contract extension! Lessons learned by all.
—@JimmyPatronis: When the FL Treasury received ~$5.9 B in CARES Act funding, our team worked to invest these dollars to generate capital for priorities like health care, schools & roads. Through strategic investments, I’m proud to say we’ve generated $41 M in interest.
—@Rob_Bradley: So often, government plays catch up when it comes to infrastructure needs. Florida is ahead of the curve on transportation and environmental infrastructure. Thanks to @and my colleagues in the @ for boldly moving forward on M-CORES and the EAA Reservoir.
—@ChrisLatvala: Thank you for all the well wishes and prayers. I should be able to be discharged today to finish my recovery at home. I am a blessed man and God is good. Thank you again to the amazing staff at Largo Medical.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” rescheduled premiere in U.S. — 2; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 4; 2020 NFL Season begins — 8; Walmart Amazon Prime competitor, Walmart+, will launch nationwide — 13; Rescheduled date for French Open — 20; First presidential debate in Indiana — 28; “Wonder Woman 1984” premieres — 31; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 32; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 35; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 36; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 41; Second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 44; NBA draft — 45; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 45; NBA free agency — 48; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 49; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 51; 2020 General Election — 63; “Black Widow” premieres — 67; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 69; College basketball season slated to begin — 78; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 80; “No Time to Die” premieres — 80; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 93; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 159; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 171; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 304; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 325; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 332; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 430; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 528; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 570; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 762.
— SMOLDERING —
“‘Civil unrest’: Leon County enacts curfew to curb violence at protests” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Saying Leon County is in a state of “civil unrest” and pointing to troubling intelligence, local officials instituted a curfew through Sept. 8 at the request of law enforcement. The emergency order issued by Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge cites violence at a protest Saturday in which a man pulled a handgun during an altercation with demonstrators in front of Florida’s Capitol. “Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil requested the countywide curfew in an effort to prevent further violence and unrest,” county news released on the curfew said. Starting Wednesday and lasting through Sept. 8, a curfew is in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Most of the protests in Tallahassee have been during the day.
“Gunfire in a Tallahassee parking lot leads to arrest of armed couple, complaints of racism” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Charles McMillon Jr. was dropping off a U-Haul van with his young son and childhood friend Kendrick Clemons on Thursday night when out of nowhere bullets started flying. They had just parked the van at a U-Haul drop-off spot at the Fountain Plaza strip mall on Apalachee Parkway and were sitting in McMillon’s truck getting ready to go. As he typed in the mileage on a phone app, a gunshot rang out. They looked back and saw an older couple coming toward them, both pointing guns in their direction. They yelled “Don’t move!” and other commands to surrender. But McMillon threw his GMC truck in reverse, drove around the van, and sped off in a blind panic. They heard more gunfire as they fled. It turned out the two shooters, Wallace Fountain and his wife, Beverly Fountain, own the strip mall and were staking it out inside a U-Haul of their own. They said they were having problems with people stealing gas and wanted to scare off any culprits. But McMillon and Clemons said the Fountains, who are white, never asked why they were there or even whether they needed any help. They just opened fire.
“After 11 years, Miami-Dade on the brink of having civilian police review board again” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade on Monday moved to the brink of reviving its police review board after county commissioners passed compromise legislation that Mayor Carlos Giménez said he wouldn’t veto. Backers of the Independent Review Panel agreed to spare county employees and elected officials from subpoenas issued by the civilian panel, and Gimenez gave reluctant support for allowing the new law take effect. He had vetoed two versions with subpoena power in 2018 and in July when sponsor Barbara Jordan used the momentum from protests tied to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis to try and revive an oversight board last in operation 11 years ago.
“New policy means Jacksonville police bodycam videos released in weeks vs. months, years” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — Police bodycam video of officer-involved shootings in Jacksonville should be released faster via a new policy announced Tuesday by the State Attorney’s Office. The change could see those videos released within a month of an officer-involved shooting involving the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, instead of taking almost a year or more as seen in the past such as following the Dec. 14 death of Jamee Johnson. The changes announced by State Attorney Melissa Nelson come after months of repeated demands for faster release of bodycam video from families of those shot as well as recent protests at the Sheriff’s Office, Duval County Courthouse and elsewhere in the country. “No later than 30 days” into its investigation into whether an officer’s use of force was lawful or not, the State Attorney’s Office will now tell the Sheriff’s Office whether it has any objection to public release of the bodycam video, Nelson said. It will be up to the Sheriff’s Office to release the video as the State Attorney’s Office then completes its full investigation within a new six-month deadline, Nelson said.
“Pinellas County Sheriff updates search warrant policy in wake of high-profile national incidents” via Ryan Hughes of WFLA — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced that his agency has changed the way it serves search warrants. It comes on the heels of high-profile incidents across the U.S., including the death of Breonna Taylor, a Kentucky woman shot and killed when police served a warrant on her boyfriend’s home. “The preservation of life and the mitigation of harm to members or occupants and the public, in general, are paramount considerations when deciding how to serve a search warrant,” the sheriff said during a news conference. Gualtieri hopes the changes cut down on the risk for all involved. As of Sept. 1, the sheriff announced that deputies must conduct surveillance to see who lives at a home or business and how often they come or go. Deputies cannot go through with a so-called “dynamic entry,” where they use force to enter, unless completely necessary, he said.
“Far-right militias are learning impunity from the cops” via Melissa Gira Grant of The New Republic — There have only been 12 days in 2020 in which police did not kill someone in the United States. As of August 22, the day before Officer Rusten Sheskey of the Kenosha Police Department shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake, police nationwide had killed 751 people this year. Going by years past, it’s entirely reasonable to assume that very few of the officers who have killed people in 2020 will be charged with a crime, and even fewer will be convicted. It is not an exaggeration to say that almost every day in this country, police get away with murder. Police know this. So do others who see themselves as agents of law and order.
“Black Lives Matter and ‘antifa’ are not the same thing” via Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post — Can’t believe I have to say this, but here goes. Black Lives Matter and “antifa” are not the same thing. Let me repeat. Black Lives Matter and antifa are not the same thing. This moment of clarity (I hope) was inspired by a headline in the New York Post clearly designed to rile its conservative audience and one loyal reader in particular by the name of Donald Trump. “Man suspected in deadly Portland shooting calls himself ‘100% ANTIFA’” was based on a report in the Oregonian newspaper with this more newsy headline, “Man under investigation in fatal shooting after pro-Trump rally allegedly took loaded gun to earlier Portland protest.”
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Can Florida save us from a contested Presidential election?” via Ed Kilgore of New York Magazine — As we get closer to November 3, a “Red Mirage” scenario, in which Trump takes an early lead based on the higher proclivity of his supporters to cast the first votes that will be counted, is becoming more and more plausible. Democrats who fear that Trump will use this statistical anomaly to claim victory based on unsupported assertions of mail-ballot fraud are trying to take countermeasures. Florida is a state with considerable experience in handling large numbers of mail ballots. Moreover, the partisan split in voting methodology that could produce the Red Mirage in other places probably won’t prevail there, since Florida Republicans convinced Trump to express confidence in the Sunshine State’s voting-by-mail system which, of course, he is utilizing himself. So Florida will likely get returns in relatively quickly and they won’t have a partisan skew, or at least not enough of one to call exit polls into question. And here’s where the Democratic hope comes in: If Biden wins Florida on election night, it gets very difficult to project an ultimate Trump victory.
“Poll shows 7-point swing for Joe Biden in Tampa market following $1.7 million EDF ad buy” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A new poll from ALG Research for the Environmental Defense Action Fund shows a 7-point swing for Biden in the Tampa media market, following the launch of a $1.7 million EDF television campaign directed at Tampa Bay voters. Before the ad campaign, polling from AGL Research had shown Trump leading in the critical market. That poll, released July 6, showed a competitive margin between the two candidates at the time, Biden trailed by just 3 points in the Tampa market. However, the July poll showed Biden with a 15-point lead in Hillsborough County. Biden also held a 5-point lead in Pinellas County. Following the run of the ad, which criticizes Trump’s leadership on environmental issues and his declarations that climate change is “a hoax,” Trump now trails Biden by 4 points in the Tampa market, according to polling released last Wednesday.
“A GOP election dilemma: Twitter Donald Trump keeps boxing out humanized Trump” via Meredith McGraw of POLITICO — For one week, the Republican Party sent out a parade of people to make the case that Trump, insulter-in-chief, has a heart. Within days, Twitter Trump had returned. At the Republican National Convention, everyone from little-known Americans to first lady Melania Trump insisted the Trump seen lashing out on social media and in news conferences is not the compassionate man they see “when the cameras are off,” as Vice President Mike Pence put it. But over the weekend, Trump went right back to his bare-knuckle approach. He insulted his niece and boosted a video from a white nationalist user that falsely blamed “Black Lives Matter/antifa” for a violent 2019 incident. He mocked and retweeted profane jokes about the Portland mayor and retweeted a video of Trump supporters in Portland shooting paintball guns and pepper spray at racial justice protesters in the city, saying it “cannot be unexpected.”
“Swift Boat mastermind to launch massive super PAC to boost Trump” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Senior Republicans are launching a massive super PAC this week to bolster Trump’s reelection in the final stretch of the campaign — a move that comes as the president has been pummeled by Biden on TV. The new organization, Preserve America, is poised to begin a $30 million advertising blitz, an amount that’s likely to escalate in the weeks to come, two people familiar with the effort told POLITICO. The super PAC is expected to draw the support of a range of GOP megadonors, including Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. Preserve America will be overseen by Chris LaCivita.
“An unlikely state tightens up” via David Siders of POLITICO — Minnesota, which once looked like a vanity project for Trump, is suddenly emerging as a critical test of his effort to turn his campaign around. Interviews with more than a dozen officials and strategists from both parties in recent days depict a state in which Biden is leading, but where the President is making inroads in rural Minnesota. Public surveys and internal polling by Democrats and Republicans alike in recent weeks has suggested the race is narrowing, though with Biden still ahead. In a sign of its increasingly competitive nature, Biden today will begin airing his first television ads in the state, in the Twin Cities as well as Duluth and Rochester markets. And last week, Biden included Minnesota in a list of battleground states he said he wants to visit — travel that suggests the state is far from a lock.
“Biden campaign launches official Animal Crossing: New Horizons yard signs” via Makena Kelly of The Verge — Starting today, September 1, Animal Crossing: New Horizons players will be able to deck out their island homes with Biden yard signs as part of the campaign’s broader initiative to organize voters online this fall. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. earlier this year, campaigns like Biden’s have been forced to entirely rethink how they organize voters. Instead of in-person rallies, Biden’s team has opted for livestreamed events and fundraisers along with socially distanced productions and interviews. The entire Democratic National Convention was held virtually earlier this month, with most guests streaming in over video software like Zoom to deliver speeches. The Biden-Kamala Harris campaign released four sign designs for players to download, featuring the official Biden-Harris logo, Team Joe logo, the “Joe” Pride logo, and an image of aviator sunglasses shaded in red, white, and blue. Players will be able to access the designs in-game by scanning the design QR codes through the Nintendo Switch Online app.
“U.S. Chamber of Commerce again endorses Democrat Stephanie Murphy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Adding credibility to her claim to be a moderate on fiscal issues and pro-business, Murphy‘s reelection campaign announced she has again been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Murphy is seeking a third term representing Florida’s 7th Congressional District, a swing district representing Seminole County and parts of northern, eastern, and central Orange County. She faces Republican nominee Leo Valentín in the November 3 General Election. He has sought to paint her as a closet socialist, or at least someone under potential great influence of the Democratic Party’s socialist wing. It’s a characterization that Murphy has roundly dismissed. She calls herself a “proud capitalist.” Many of her endorsements and donors to her campaign, which already includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, support her contention.
“Miami Democrat wants gun dealers held responsible for suspected straw purchases” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — A new bill from Miami Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell would make gun dealers responsible for identifying when customers are purchasing a weapon for someone else and halting the transaction. Mucarsel-Powell will introduce her bill, called the Firearms Retailer Code of Conduct Act, when the House of Representatives comes back to Washington after Labor Day. She announced the legislation during a news conference held Tuesday with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the March For Our Lives and Parkland parents Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver, who both lost their children during the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The bill would require gun dealers and their employees to regularly complete training to identify and stop suspected illegal purchases. It would also require dealers not to sell guns to anyone who appears to be intoxicated or those at the risk of harming themselves or others.
“Jaguars launch voter registration initiative” via John Reid of The Florida Times-Union — The Jaguars launched an initiative Tuesday to raise awareness and encourage voter registration before the Oct. 5 deadline for the general election in November. The franchise’s campaign will include public service announcements, grassroots engagement, and local and national partnerships and activations through social media. “You can look at voting as a privilege, and as a naturalized U.S. citizen, you can be assured that I do,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said. “But I also see it as a civic responsibility. If we’re serious about being better in our communities and throughout our nation, and all voices being heard and respected, we have to participate in the electoral process. No exceptions.” The Jaguars’ public service campaign will feature coach Doug Marrone and quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Meanwhile … “The curious saga of the deceased Herman Cain’s living Twitter account” via Travis M. Andrews of The Washington Post — Cain died on July 30. So it naturally came as a surprise when, two weeks later, his Twitter account tweeted a link to an anti-Biden video with the caption, “Just in case you thought Biden’s candidacy was going to be anything other than completely nuts, team Trump has released a new video. #JoeBiden #KamalaHarris.” It was the account’s first tweet since announcing Cain’s funeral on Aug. 7. At the time, the account still bore Cain’s name and photograph. It looked as if the man himself had tweeted. He began trending, with outrage appearing alongside the many “Weekend at Bernie’s” jokes. The account soon changed its name to the Cain Gang and changed its bio to “Official Twitter for Team Cain. Formerly run by Herman Cain, now supervised by his team and family. The mission continues.”
“Twitter forces Democratic candidate to delete post flouting voter suppression rules” via Cristiano Lima of POLITICO — Twitter on Tuesday forced a Democratic House candidate to delete a tweet that urged supporters of Trump to vote the day after this November’s election, a company spokesperson confirmed. The company said an Aug. 18 tweet by the campaign for Elizabeth Hernandez, who is challenging GOP Rep. Kevin Brady for his seat in Texas’ 8th Congressional District, violated its rules against voter suppression. Twitter’s action against a Democrat follows a number of efforts by the company to crack down on deceptive messages from Republicans, including Trump and his campaign. Twitter’s rules on election misinformation prohibit “posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process.”
— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —
“Can Republicans take back the Senate District 37 seat from a well-funded incumbent?” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — As of late May, Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez was facing a clear path to reelection in Senate District 37. The incumbent had built up a sizable war chest after narrowly winning the seat in 2016 by fewer than 6,000 votes. That’s a margin of just over 3 percentage points. The Democrat succeeded Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla. With Republicans intent on spending big in several open Senate races, it looked like Sen. Rodríguez might coast to a second term. That changed when Senate GOP leadership announced they were backing Latinas For Trump founder Ileana Garcia in her bid to challenge Sen. Rodríguez. Garcia officially filed for the seat on June 1. Garcia worked in the Trump administration. She served as the first Hispanic female Deputy Press Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security under Trump. She previously founded Latinas For Trump.
—“Rodríguez holds nearly $670K ahead of SD 37 General Election” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
—”Danny Burgess leads SD 20 race with $112K advantage over Kathy Lewis” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics
“Last Democratic House hopeful denied chance to qualify for ballot” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida courts denied a candidate from trying to qualify in the only House district with no Democrat running. Anita Huffman, a Freeport Democrat, previously filed to run in House District 5 against Rep. Brad Drake, but she did not qualify based on a problem with her paperwork. She was part of a progressive effort to run Democrats in every open House and Senate seat in Florida this year. Division of Elections officials rejected her qualification documents based on a notary that was signed instead of stamped. Attorneys for Huffman argued state officials normally allow the correction of minor errors, and thus it should be considered a mistake by the state not the candidate. But Circuit Court Judge Angela Dempsey ruled on Tuesday state officials applied the law consistent with statute. No corrections are allowed to be made to documents after noon on the qualification date.
“David Smith, Pasha Baker press different commitments to service in HD 28” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida House District 28’s very different election candidates, Republican Rep. Smith and Baker, each says the proof of their commitments to the community is in decades of public service outside elected office. Their very different public service commitments, each say, have transformed their campaigns in very similar ways heading toward the Nov. 3 General Election. Smith spent 30 years in the Marines, rising to the rank of colonel and serving combat duty along the way. In 2018 he won the HD 28 seat. His commitment, Smith said, not only helped make him one of the most effective freshmen of his or any class, sponsoring six policy bills and 10 local appropriations that were approved and signed into law, it has kept him busy through the coronavirus crisis to help people get unemployment benefits and to help businesses get resources they needed.
“Jackie Toledo enters General Election with $59K more than opponent Julie Jenkins” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Toledo will start her General Election campaign with $59,500 more than Jenkins as the two battle for House District 60. Toledo, the incumbent Republican, finished the most recent period, which spanned Aug. 14 through Aug. 21, with about $140,930 cash on hand, while Jenkins left with $81,430. The recent period covered the week of the August Primary Election, which was on Aug. 18. Toledo raised $13,240 in the most recent reporting period, and spent $8,588. Jenkins raised $6,122 in the same period, but did not have any expenditures. Donors to Toledo’s campaign this period include Florida Farmers and Ranchers United PAC, which gave $1,000, as well as the Florida HIV AIDS PAC, which also gave $1,000. Jenkins’s primary contributors were made up of several dozen individuals.
—”Brady PAC backs Christine Hunschofsky in HD 96” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
—”Alex Rizo has money lead over Annette Collazo as HD 110 General Election begins” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Daniella Levine Cava touts another $1 million raised as former rival endorses Steve Bovo” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Levine Cava says she raised another $1 million in just 10 days following the Aug. 18 Primary Election. The announcement comes as former mayoral candidate Xavier Suarez is endorsing Bovo over Levine Cava. Candidates last submitted official fundraising reports on Aug. 14, covering pre-primary fundraising through Aug. 13. Those reports showed Levine Cava was one of the best fundraisers in the contest, raising $3.73 million between her campaign and her PC, Our Democracy. Bovo raised $2.22 million through Aug. 13. That’s still a hefty sum but well short of Levine Cava’s total. Now, Levine Cava Senior Adviser Christian Ulvert, says his candidate has banked another $1 million ahead of the Nov. 3 General Election.
“Orange County voters to decide Split Oak question after judge’s ruling” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A circuit judge slapped down a request by Osceola County to stop an election question about the Split Oak Forest from appearing on the Orange County ballot in the General Election. Circuit Court Judge Patricia Strowbridge abated Osceola’s request for an injunction to stop Orange County voters from considering a proposed county charter amendment. The proposal would put additional preservation protections on the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Conservation Area. Osceola County filed suit last week seeking an injunction to prevent the ballot question from going before Orange County voters. Strowbridge told Osceola that before it could sue Orange it must first go through mediation with the neighboring county. That process would take far more time than the critically-short period, days, that Orange officials have to finalize the ballot layout for the Nov. 3 election. Consequently, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said Tuesday the ballots would be sent to the printers with the charter amendment question on them, meaning Orange voters will get to vote on the issue. Military vote-by-mail ballots are sent out by Sept. 16.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida reports 7,569 COVID-19 cases because lab ‘dumped’ months-old tests, DeSantis says” via Howard Cohen, David J. Neal and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday reported 7,569 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 because, DeSantis’ office said, Quest Diagnostics suddenly unloaded 80,000 test results, some of which were as old as April. After what DeSantis called a “dump” of test results, the state of Florida dumped Quest Diagnostics. “To drop this much unusable and stale data is irresponsible and Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida,” the Florida Department of Health said on its Twitter feed. DeSantis “is ordering all Florida executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest effective immediately.” “This is the most egregious dump we have,’‘ DeSantis said Tuesday at a media event in Jacksonville.
“Quest data dump raises new concerns about whether COVID data is underreported” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — For months, Florid officials have used test results as the foundation on which it has built a response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the revelation that a lab that has supplied 22% of all of the test results has been withholding results for months has raised new concerns about whether the state has been underreporting its data. “It’s rank incompetence on the state and federal level,’’ said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber after the Florida Department of Health announced it had severed ties to Quest Diagnostics because the laboratory violated state law and failed to report nearly 75,000 coronavirus tests. “No national testing program and absurd turnaround times on the state level means we are flying blind.”
“Florida announces it will lift ban on nursing home visits” via Kelli Kennedy and Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press — DeSantis will lift the state’s ban on visiting nursing homes that cut off vulnerable seniors from family since mid-March over fears of spreading the new coronavirus. With his voice cracking at times, he wondered aloud if his actions might have contributed to suffering in his state as he made his announcement during a round table in Jacksonville. “Part of having a healthy society is understanding that human beings seek affection,” DeSantis said. The visibly emotional governor paused to collect himself, and silence filled the room for about 20 seconds. “I think it’s difficult to think that some of our actions may have precipitated,” the governor said, his final word barely audible as he invited another speaker to take over. DeSantis said he would lift the ban on visitations in an executive order later Tuesday, following recommendations from a nursing home task force.
Florida earned $41M in interest on CARES funding — The state’s Treasury Division generated $41.25 million in interest from CARES Act funding for the state’s general fund, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said Tuesday. “When Treasury received the nearly $5.9 billion in CARES Act funding, our team went to work in investing these dollars to generate more capital for priorities like health care, schools and roads,” Patronis said. “Through these strategic investments, we’ve generated more than $41 million that can be used for any purpose the Governor and Legislature deem necessary. That’s a huge sum of cash that can positively impact our communities. With the coronavirus affecting state finances, every dollar counts, and I want to thank the Trump Administration for giving states the opportunity to keep the generated interest.”
— BACK TO SCHOOL? —
“Cyberattack, plus software failure, responsible for Miami-Dade Schools’ woes, Alberto Carvalho says” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Carvalho said the district suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack Monday morning, simultaneously with a software glitch that blocked access to the district’s servers, rendering multiple online school district features useless and teaching nearly impossible. Carvalho said the FBI and Secret Service have been called in and subpoenaed Comcast, the school district’s internet provider, around 3 p.m. He said he did not know who the perpetrator may be, but vowed to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. “Yesterday I said I was frustrated and disappointed,” Carvalho said. “Today, I am frustrated and angry.”
“Classrooms could reopen in 2 weeks. But now the county wants businesses to go first.” via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post — They insisted for weeks they wanted no part in school-reopening decisions, but now Palm Beach County government leaders are requesting public school campuses stay closed at least until the end of September. Postponing the reopening of classrooms would let movie theaters, bowling alleys and escape rooms go first — and allow health officials to keep watch for any increases in COVID-19 infections before campuses welcome back as many as 180,000 students. The request — the first time the county government has officially waded into the school-reopening debate — came from County Administrator Verdenia Baker, who revealed a step-by-step plan Monday for the county to move into the second phase of Florida’s reopening plan Sept. 8.
“Palmetto High School sends more than 100 students into quarantine” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — More than 100 students and staff from Palmetto High School in Manatee County have been sent into 14 days of isolation as school officials identified possible COVID-19 exposure, according to a pending release to the school community and confirmed by district officials. Palmetto High Principal Carl Auckerman was expected to notify the community of an “abnormal number of students being quarantined” Tuesday evening, according to a copy of his ConnectEd message obtained by the Herald-Tribune. Manatee School Board member Scott Hopes and a second high-ranking district leader confirmed that there were more than 100 students affected. Auckerman’s message says that health officials couldn’t definitively rule that students were not exposed, suggesting that teachers were not using seating charts, which are vital to accurate contact tracing.
“Chiles principal confirmed coronavirus cases, shared ‘frustrations’ in email before school start” via CD Davidson-Hiers of the Tallahassee Democrat — The week before classrooms reopened to students, Lawton Chiles High School had two employees test positive for COVID-19, and Principal Joseph Burgess is urging the Leon County School district to be transparent with families about confirmed cases of the virus among employees. “I have asked the District since Coach (Mike) Eto’s COVID-positive case became public if we could at least be transparent about staff positive diagnosis (without divulging names) to be transparent with all of you,” Burgess wrote in an Aug. 27 email to staff, which discussed some of his “frustrations” with issues of transparency. “I have that same hope for us with our students and parents — again without names being divulged — as collective health requires transparency,” Burgess said.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“Girl, 6, survived dangerous journey to U.S. She now is Florida’s youngest coronavirus victim.” via Juan Carlos Chavez of the Tampa Bay Times — Astrid Reyes was a brave girl when her mother brought her to the United States a year ago to escape poverty and violence in Honduras. The journey took a month. Both mother and daughter evaded the dangers immigrants face in their quest to reach the United States and apply for asylum. They endured inclement weather and the stalking of criminals, slept in the open and went hungry. Astrid never complained. She never shed a tear. She was 6 years old. On Aug. 19, Astrid died in the emergency room of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. She is the youngest person in Florida to die from complications of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
— MORE LOCAL —
“Five more Universal Orlando hotels announce layoffs; 1,291 workers affected” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — Universal Orlando, still reeling from the months when the coronavirus outbreak made ghost towns of its theme parks, has announced more layoffs at five of its hotels. In all, 1,291 employees at Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls Resort, the Aventura and two of Universal’s new Endless Summer hotels are indefinitely furloughed or were permanently terminated, according to notices filed with the state. About 176 employees who worked at a support facility for the hotels were also let go. Last week, Universal said 839 people at three of its other hotels, the Hard Rock, Loews Portofino Bay and Cabana Bay Beach Resort, had also either been temporarily furloughed or laid off.
“A food bank gives groceries to furloughed Disney workers. The car line stretches for 2 miles” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — At 4 a.m., the first furloughed workers arrive to stake out their spots for free groceries. They wait for 4 1/2 hours in their cars, their masked faces lit up by their cellphones in the darkness. If they show up late, the food — frozen chicken, fresh tomatoes and gallons of milk — might run out. By 9 a.m., the nearly bumper-to-bumper row of cars stretches 2 miles, clogging up one lane of Orange Blossom Trail and heading down Landstreet Road. In the line are hundreds of people: Furloughed Disney World employees, welders who saw business shrivel up, hotel workers unceremoniously laid off in mass numbers, and others. No questions are asked. There is no need to show proof of how the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed people’s livelihoods in the tourism capital of the world. Just join the line.
“Orlando-area hotels try to attract ’work from home’ families” via DeWayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Some Central Florida resorts are morphing the pandemic-bolstered “work from home” trend into a business promotion: Work from hotels. More elbow room, strong and reliable Wi-Fi and redefined “working vacations” are among the inspirations for relocating home offices, at least temporarily, executives say. Children attending virtual school can also be a factor. “You see people with their laptops out at the pool, in the lobby, in a coffee shop … so you know it’s probably been happening for a while now,” said Jim Vespa, resort president of Margaritaville Resort Orlando. “But now we’re kind of putting some marketing dollars behind it.” Margaritaville’s current “Work From Your Home Away From Home Package” includes breakfast for two people each day and a $50 resort credit for customers who book by Aug. 31 and travel by the end of 2020.
“Seminole stops new applications for virus relief because of ‘overwhelming’ response” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Less than a week after opening an online portal to help individuals and homeowners struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic, Seminole County on Tuesday announced that it has suspended taking applications for the program because of the huge response. County officials said they need time to process the “overwhelming number” of applications from homeowners seeking CARES Act money to help them pay their mortgages, rents, or utility bills. “Bear with us,” Commission Chairman Jay Zembower said. “We’ll get through this. And our hopes are that once we get through these 11,500 applications, we’ll have enough money to help additional families.” The $7-million assistance program pays for up to three months of an individual’s mortgage or rent, and utility bills.
— CORONA NATION —
“Virus crisis easing across Sun Belt but could heat up again” via Matt Sedensky of The Associated Press — The torrid coronavirus summer across the Sun Belt is easing after two disastrous months that brought more than 35,000 deaths. Whether the outbreak will heat up again after Labor Day and the resumption of school and football remains to be seen. Seven of the nine states along the nation’s Southern and Western rim are seeing drops in three important gauges — new deaths, new cases and the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus. Alabama is the only state in the region to see all three numbers rising; Mississippi’s deaths are up, but positive rates and cases are dropping. In Florida, where reported deaths from COVID-19 are running at about 114 a day on average, down from a peak of 185 in early August, DeSantis went so far as to announce Tuesday that he is easing the state’s 5-month-old ban on visitors to nursing homes.
“The most American COVID-19 failure yet” via Olga Khazan of The Atlantic — Contact tracing, the last two-thirds of health wonks’ “test-trace-isolate” mantra, was supposed to get us out of the pandemic. In the United States, this whole process is failing. There is no national contact-tracing program in the U.S., and contact tracers who work for local health departments in areas with the most coronavirus cases have reached just a fraction of the patients who have tested positive. At one point in Miami, contact tracers were able to reach only 17% of the infected. The response rates here are far lower than those in other countries. Less than 1% of sick people fail to respond to contact tracers in Iceland. In New Zealand, 86% of people contacted by tracers respond within 48 hours.
“How Trump sowed COVID-19 supply chaos. ‘Try getting it yourselves.’” via Michael C. Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus of The Wall Street Journal — Sergio Melgar, the chief financial officer for the largest health care system in central Massachusetts, was about to run out of medical-grade N95 masks. A Chinese company poised to replenish the supply wanted the money upfront. It was after midnight on March 20, too late to arrange a wire transfer. So Mr. Melgar took out his own credit card and authorized a $100,000 charge. “If I don’t do this,” he recalls thinking, “we will run out.” Days earlier, as the spread of the coronavirus pandemic was becoming clear in the U.S., stoking panic about shortages of medical supplies, the Trump administration signaled to states they shouldn’t expect the federal government to meet their medical-supply needs.
“Did COVID-19 cause only 6% of coronavirus deaths? Viral posts misrepresent CDC report” via Katie Camero of the Miami Herald — A statistic from the CDC about coronavirus deaths in the United States has sparked a wave of confusion on social media. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was the “only cause mentioned” on death certificates in 6% of deaths involving the virus, the CDC said last week. Some people mistakenly took that to mean the remaining 94% of coronavirus-related deaths were caused by other underlying health conditions and not COVID-19. The misconception went viral on social media; Twitter removed a tweet on Sunday that promoted the false interpretation of the CDC’s data, which Trump shared to his 85.6 million followers, media outlets reported.
“Axios poll: A harsh verdict for government’s coronavirus response” via Sam Baker of Axios — Most Americans think the federal government is making the coronavirus pandemic worse, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index. This is a pretty searing indictment of the federal response — not only that it has not helped, but that it’s part of the problem. There’s a stark partisan divide here. 74% of Republicans say the federal government is making things better, while 80% Democrats say the federal government is making things worse. Most independents (68%) also say the government is making things worse. Overall trust in the federal government hasn’t changed much over the past few weeks, but it’s far below the levels we measured in the spring.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Global trade seen rebounding faster now than post-Lehman” via Catherine Bosley of Bloomberg — Global trade is on course to recover more quickly from the coronavirus pandemic than after the 2008 financial crisis, according to Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Shipping volumes are already back at levels that took more than a year to reach following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., hinting at a V-shaped recovery, the institution’s President Gabriel Felbermayr said. Trade has seen a “deep slump and a quick rebound,” he said. “The current situation is significantly better” than a decade ago. The pandemic has pushed the global economy into what may be its deepest slump since the Great Depression. The initial rebound reflects the lifting of severe restrictions to contain the virus, and policymakers have warned against premature optimism that the worst has passed. The World Trade Organization said earlier this month that projections for a strong, V-shaped trade rebound in 2021 might be “overly optimistic.”
“Small-business failures loom as federal aid dries up” via Ben Casselman of The New York Times — Tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, retailers and other small businesses have already closed. But many more have survived, buoyed in part by billions of dollars in government assistance to both businesses and their customers. The Paycheck Protection Program provided hundreds of billions in loans and grants to help businesses retain employees and meet other obligations. Billions more went to the unemployed, in a $600 weekly supplement to state jobless benefits, and to many households, through a $1,200 tax rebate. Now that aid is largely gone, even as the economic recovery that took hold in the spring is losing momentum. The fall will bring new challenges: Colder weather will curtail outdoor dining and other weather-dependent adaptations that helped businesses hang on.
“Food experts worry as USDA reinstates food stamp recertification” via Raquel Martin of WFLA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reinstating pre-pandemic rules that require applicants already approved for food stamps to prove their income is low enough to keep the benefits. Though the USDA says it will give states some wiggle room in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recertification process, food assistance advocates fear millions of needy families could fall through the cracks. “It’s quite alarming, especially for households with children,” said Dottie Rosenbaum of the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which encourages policies that combat poverty. The process requires extra paperwork and sometimes interviews. The USDA waived it in March to help states process a flood of new SNAP applicants faster. It goes back into effect this month. Rosenbaum argued the USDA should not reinstate the rules.
“Florida businesses could get break on workers’ comp insurance” via Jim Saunders of the Miami Herald — For Florida businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s a bit of good news: Workers’ compensation insurance costs could go down in 2021. State insurance regulators have received a rate filing that would reduce premiums next year in the workers’ compensation system by an average of 5.7%, which would be the fourth straight year of premium decreases, according to information released Tuesday. The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which makes annual rate filings for the industry, pointed to “unprecedented results” in the workers’ compensation insurance system nationally. Florida’s average rates dropped 7.5%, after reductions of 13.8% in 2019 and 9.5% in 2018.
“Amazon drivers are hanging smartphones in trees to get more work” via Spencer Soper of Bloomberg — A strange phenomenon has emerged near Amazon delivery stations and Whole Foods stores in the Chicago suburbs: smartphones dangling from trees. Contract delivery drivers are putting them there to get a jump on rivals seeking orders, according to people familiar with the matter. Someone places several devices in a tree located close to the station where deliveries originate. Drivers in on the plot then sync their own phones with the ones in the tree and wait nearby for an order pickup. The reason for the odd placement, according to experts and people with direct knowledge of Amazon’s operations, is to take advantage of the handsets’ proximity to the station to get a split-second jump on competing drivers.
— MORE CORONA —
“Third virus vaccine reaches major hurdle: Final U.S. testing” via Lauran Neergaard and Carla Johnson of The Associated Press — A handful of the dozens of experimental COVID-19 vaccines in human testing have reached the last and biggest hurdle, looking for the needed proof that they really work as a U.S. advisory panel suggested Tuesday a way to ration the first limited doses once a vaccine wins approval. AstraZeneca announced Monday its vaccine candidate has entered the final testing stage in the U.S. The Cambridge, England-based company said the study will involve up to 30,000 adults from various racial, ethnic and geographic groups. Two other vaccine candidates began final testing this summer in tens of thousands of people in the U.S. One was created by the National Institutes of Health and manufactured by Moderna Inc., and the other developed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech.
“America is facing a monkey shortage” via Sarah Zhang of The Atlantic — In the past seven months, more than 100 COVID-19 vaccines, therapies, and drugs have been pushed into development. But for any of these treatments to make it to humans, they usually have to face another animal first: a monkey. And here, scientists in the United States say they are facing a bottleneck. There just aren’t enough monkeys to go around. The reasons for the shortage are threefold. First, COVID-19 has created an extraordinary demand for monkeys. Second, this coincided with a massive drop in supply from China, which provided 60% of the nearly 35,000 monkeys imported to the U.S. last year and which shut off exports after COVID-19 hit. And third, these pandemic-related events are exacerbating preexisting monkey shortfalls.
“COVID vaccine front-runner held back by China’s spat with Canada” via Bloomberg — One of the world’s fastest-moving efforts to develop a Covid-19 vaccine is falling behind rivals, its advance appearing to be stymied by political tensions between China and Canada and concerns its shot may not work as well as others. CanSino Biologics, the Chinese company which in March started the world’s first human tests on an experimental coronavirus shot, has yet to kick off critical final-stage trials on the vaccine it developed with the Chinese military. Meanwhile, rivals are well into this last phase of testing. With its Phase III trials yet to begin, CanSino’s setbacks offer a look at both the scientific and political incertitudes companies are battling as they race to produce a vaccine against the virus.
“Apple and Google team up to send you notifications if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19” via Dalvin Brown of USA Today — Apple and Google teamed up to develop push notifications that let iOS and Android users know if they might have been exposed to COVID-19. The companies announced the news on Tuesday and the effort is called Exposure Notifications Express. It’s an opt-in based system that lets your local public health agency alert you to potential coronavirus exposure via a notice on your smartphone. It’ll also allow the agency to guide residents on actions to take if they’ve been exposed, according to Apple and Google. The development picks up where the company’s other collaborative effort left off. They previously worked together to create Bluetooth technology that helped health agencies develop mobile apps that can identify people who’ve been near with someone infected with the coronavirus.
“Uber to require that passengers provide face-mask selfies” via The Associated Press — Mask slackers will now have to provide photographic proof they’re wearing a face covering before boarding an Uber. The San Francisco-based company unveiled a new policy Tuesday stipulating that if a driver reports to Uber that a rider wasn’t wearing a mask, the rider will have to provide Uber with a selfie with one strapped on the next time they summon a car on the world’s largest ride-hailing service. The mask verification rule expands upon a similar requirement that Uber imposed on its drivers in May to help reassure passengers worried about being exposed to the novel coronavirus that has upended society. Now, Uber believes it’s time to help make its drivers feel safer, too. The requirement will roll out in the U.S. and Canada later this month before coming to other parts of the world.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Marco Rubio says congressional oversight of intelligence faces ‘historic crisis’ following DNI announcement” via J. Edward Moreno of The Hill — Sen. Rubio, acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said congressional oversight is facing a “historic crisis” after the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe notified Congress on Saturday that the intelligence community will be scaling back in-person congressional briefings on election security. “Congressional oversight of intelligence activities now faces a historic crisis,” Rubio said in a statement. “Intelligence agencies have a legal obligation to keep Congress informed of their activities.” In his letter to Congress announcing the change, Ratcliffe said that the intelligence community would switch over to written updates on election security issues to ensure that intelligence information “is not misunderstood nor politicized.”
“Rick Scott defends Ken Lawson after DeSantis dis” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Former Gov. Scott came to the defense of Lawson, the former head of the Department of Economic Opportunity, Tuesday. “Ken Lawson is a good friend who has been committed to serving the people of Florida. I wish him all the best in this next phase,” Scott tweeted, just a little more than 24 hours after Lawson’s resignation became public knowledge. Though Lawson helmed DEO since 2019, he was one of a few high-profile holdovers from the Scott era. But it’s Lawson’s DEO tenure (or the denouement thereof) that will be remembered. DeSantis sidelined Lawson this spring after the state’s unemployment compensation system broke down. In comments to media Monday, the Governor reminded reporters that Lawson had been rendered redundant.
“Federal workers will have taxes deferred under Donald Trump’s order, sparking outcry they’re being treated as a ‘guinea pig’” via Tony Romm and Eric Yoder of The Washington Post — The U.S. government will implement an across-the-board payroll tax deferral for about 1.3 million federal employees starting in mid-September, forcing some workers to take a temporary financial boost now that they likely will have to repay next year. Unions have sharply criticized the government’s decision, fearing federal workers may not have a choice in whether to take the deferral, resulting in them receiving smaller paychecks in 2021 until the past-due taxes are paid off. Trump’s order specifically targets the 6.2 percent tax that employers deduct from their workers’ wages so the government can fund Social Security. His directive postpones payment of those taxes until January, at which point employers are required to start collecting back what is owed, perhaps by withholding double the amount they usually take until May. The deferral applies only to people who earn up to $4,000 on a biweekly basis, and less than $104,000 annually.
— STATEWIDE —
“The clock is running on remaining 2020 bills still on Ron DeSantis’ desk” via the News Service of Florida — A final batch of bills approved this year by the Legislature, many scheduled to become law Oct. 1, continue to await a call from DeSantis. The 26 remaining measures, ranging from a revamp of the state’s specialty license-plate system to putting additional teeth into the fight against shark finning and trying to curb e-cigarette use by teens, have been sitting in the House and Senate since the legislative session ended on March 19. “The Senate is coordinating with the governor’s office to send the bills over as the governor is ready to receive them, understanding that the first priority at this time is the governor’s role in leading our state’s response to the ongoing pandemic,” Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Monday. DeSantis has signed 177 bills into law from the session, including the $92.2 billion budget, and vetoed three measures. Most of the bills, including the budget, went into effect with the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
Enrollment up at Florida universities — At least half the state’s 12 public universities are reporting an uptick in enrollment, Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reports. FAU reported the largest increase, with about 1,000 more students registered this fall compared to last. UCF followed with 600 more students; UWF added about 200 more; UNF is up 100; Florida Poly is up 80. Meanwhile, FSU and FIU reported a drop in enrollment. Florida State’s freshman class dropped from 7,100 last year to about 6,000 in fall 2020. FIU’s freshman class is down by 267 students year-over-year.
“As Helen Levine retires, USF St. Pete loses a quiet but formidable force” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Levine grew up as an “academic brat” in Tallahassee, the daughter of a professor who moved between college towns and taught life lessons at the dining room table. As a child, she thought everyone knew words like “tenure.” And she learned to be fascinated by what fascinates faculty, a quality that served her well these last 11 years as regional chancellor for external relations at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus. When Levine retires on Friday, her colleagues say they will bid farewell to a quiet but formidable force who worked behind the scenes to secure the campus’ growth. Levine first witnessed USF St. Petersburg’s blossoming fortunes when she attended the ribbon cutting of its bookstore in the early 2000s while working for then-Mayor Rick Baker. Later, as a USF employee, she saw her role as a matchmaker of sorts.
“Courts are cautiously preparing for the resumption of jury trials” via Jim Ash of Florida Bar News — With COVID-19 infection rates slowing, courts throughout Florida are beginning to plan for the resumption of jury trials. While the prospect still remains “a big question mark,” Florida’s busiest court system could see a limited resumption of jury trials as early as October, said 11th Circuit Chief Judge Bertila Soto. “I along with all the other chief judges want to make sure that we start getting to the backlog of cases,” she said. By Aug. 27, an Office of State Courts Administrator website showed that more than half Florida counties had transitioned from Phase 1 to Phase 2 health restrictions, conditions that could permit jury trials under certain conditions.
“Sweetwater commissioner unseated incumbent in 2019. But she didn’t live in the city.” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — Sweetwater Commissioner Sophia Lacayo, who became the city’s first Nicaraguan American commissioner last year, has resigned and pleaded guilty to a perjury charge after falsely saying she lived in the city during her election campaign, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday. Lacayo had sworn she lived at an address on Southwest Seventh Street near 18th Avenue in Sweetwater, when in fact she lived at a different address in unincorporated Miami-Dade, the State Attorney’s Office said. She has been sentenced to one year of probation for the first-degree misdemeanor, agreeing not to run for office again during that period, to take an ethics course with the county ethics commission, and to pay $3,750 in investigative costs.
— TOP OPINION —
“It has come to this: Ignore the CDC” via Harold Varmus and Rajiv Shah of The New York Times — We were startled and dismayed last week to learn that the CDC, in a perplexing series of statements, had altered its testing guidelines to reduce the testing of asymptomatic people for the coronavirus. These changes by the CDC will undermine efforts to end the pandemic, slow the return to normal economic, educational and social activities, and increase the loss of lives. Like other scientists and public health experts, we have argued that more asymptomatic people, not fewer, need to be tested to bring the pandemic under control. Now, in the face of a dysfunctional CDC, it’s up to states, other institutions and individuals to act. Understanding what needs to be done requires understanding the different purposes of testing. Much of the current testing is diagnostic. People should get tested if they have symptoms — respiratory distress, loss of smell, fever. There is no argument about this testing, and the altered CDC guidelines do not affect it.
— OPINIONS —
“What polio can teach us about this pandemic” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Some stunning news on successful vaccines was announced just a few days ago. No, not for the coronavirus. But for polio, which has now been eliminated from Africa. This is great news for a continent where the disease paralyzed 75,000 children a year just a generation ago. Wild polio now exists in only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Beating polio is a remarkable story of science, persistence and enlightened public policy. Some people reading this may know of a loved one or a friend who suffered paralysis or perhaps even died. It’s common to compare the current pandemic to the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, but better lessons might be drawn from the decadeslong battle to end polio, which was defeated by a vaccine, something that didn’t exist for the flu a century ago. In waiting for that miracle polio cure, Americans sacrificed and took care to keep their children as free and far from polio as possible.
“Worried about a disputed election? Steel yourself” via Cass R. Sunstein of Blomberg — Suppose that as of Nov. 4, Trump is unquestionably ahead in the key states — say, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. But suppose, too, that as those states count absentee and mail-in ballots, it becomes clear that Biden has won. Predictably, Trump alleges fraud. Everything will ultimately turn on the vote of the Electoral College, scheduled for Dec. 14, and on what happens on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to declare the winner. But if we have a fierce dispute in late November and early December, how on earth do we get to a final decision in early January? The Electoral Count Act of 1887 was designed to answer that question. Unfortunately, the act also leaves some important questions unresolved.
“Scare enough people, especially people of color, and Trump might be able to defeat Joe Biden and Kamala Harris” via Lucy Morgan of the Florida Phoenix — Twenty years ago, Black voters in Tallahassee complained when law enforcement officials set up roadblocks between minority neighborhoods and the precincts where they vote — on Election Day. You can imagine the uproar it caused. Now Trump is threatening to send all sorts of law enforcement officials into voting precincts all across the nation: sheriffs and their deputies, the FBI, federal prosecutors, attorneys general — all the power he can amass to monitor voting. I’m sure that will make our voters feel extra safe. Not. It’s yet another attempt to cut down the number of people who cast their ballots.
“A Biden presidency will move the U.S. toward a far-left future” via Michael Waltz with the Washington Examiner — A nightmare scenario for conservatives is staring us right in the face. It’s Jan. 20, 2021. In Washington, the weather is cold, the sky is gray, and snowflakes dust the ground. On the steps of the Capitol, Biden places his right hand on the Bible and takes the oath of office to become the 46th president of the United States. Biden’s allies cheer, knowing things are about to change massively in America, and these allies, once deemed too far-left and radical to be taken seriously, now have not only voices but seats at the table. Together, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer begin the process of rubber-stamping legislation cutting private health care options for individuals, paving the way for government-controlled insurance and Veterans Affairs-style hospitals, lifting restrictions on abortion, raising taxes, and curtailing the right to own most firearms.
“Trump’s secret plan to open Florida to offshore oil drilling must be stopped” via Sean Shaw in the Tampa Bay Times — Fishing in the gorgeous blue waters off Florida’s Gulf Coast is a passion of mine and has been part of my life since I was a young boy. Then and now, every time I cast my reel into the sea and watch the sunrise over the vast expanse of water, I feel connected to our planet and the countless generations of people that have relied on our seas for their life-giving resources. Floridians love and cherish our beaches, coasts, and marine waters. They are core to our identity and way of life. But our oceans are under threat. Oil drilling — something Floridians vehemently oppose — could destroy our precious waters and our quality of life.
“Carlos Curbelo: Time is running out to solve the worsening climate crisis” in The Invading Sea — Here is an edited version of an interview the Alliance for Market Solutions (AMS) conducted with Curbelo, a former Congressman and now a member of AMS’ advisory board: What influenced your commitment to addressing climate change and your interest in climate policy? In early 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists visited my congressional office. They reviewed data and maps with me that made clear the threat sea-level rise and climate change posed to my community and my state. I had not gone to Congress thinking that I would prioritize environmental issues, but I quickly realized I did not have a choice.
“The changing face of Broward County Democrats” via Mitch Ceasar of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Within the last few weeks, our county has experienced a historic Democratic primary election. Five countywide positions presumably will all be filled by minority candidates. These sweeping victories prove that Broward politics have generationally changed — and county leadership will better represent and reflect today’s population. The political history of Broward County over recent decades has certainly been one of demographic evolution, driven by snowbirds from the Northeast, immigration from the Caribbean and points south, powerful storms and now a pandemic.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Tiz the Law draws No. 17 post as 3-5 Kentucky Derby favorite” via Gary Graves of The Associated Press — Kentucky Derby favorites will need to take the long route toward winning the Run For The Roses. Tiz the Law is the 3-5 morning-line favorite for the 146th Derby and will attempt to become the first winner from the No. 17 post position drawn for Saturday’s rescheduled marquee race for 3-year-olds. The best finish in 41 starts from that spot was a second-place by Forty Niner in 1988 and two thirds. Not that trainer Barclay Tagg is fazed by the spot. “Well, I like it being on the outside,” said Tagg, who won the 2003 Derby and Preakness with Funny Cide. “I didn’t particularly want to be out that far, but it’s what we have. He seems to handle everything that gets thrown at him, so we have to leave it up to him.” All the race favorites will break from the outside at Churchill Downs. Second choice Honor A. P., at 5-1 odds, drew the No. 16 post on Tuesday. Authentic is the 8-1 third choice from the far No. 18 slot, which last year earned 65-1 long shot Country House the glory when the colt crossed the finish line second before being awarded the victory after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference.
“For 25th anniversary, Epcot food and wine festival gets lighter and longer” via Kelly A. Stefani of the Tampa Bay Times — The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop Walt Disney World from celebrating the silver anniversary of the 25th annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. They changed the name slightly, lost some crowd-favorite elements and extended the run for a record number of days. This year’s festival, called Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, is without cooking demonstrations and Eat to the Beat concerts. It started much earlier than usual, on July 15 when Epcot reopened after a nearly four-month closure, and it is expected to run through late fall or early winter. No official end date has been announced. Without celebrity chefs hosting cooking demonstrations or concerts by pop stars like Sugar Ray and Boyz II Men, Disney fans are calling Taste of Epcot “the light version” of what became one of the largest food festivals in the country. In previous years, people would flock to Epcot, planning their vacations around it, and the lines, especially on the weekends, could swell 50 people deep.
“Twitter to add context to Trending Topics” via Kate Conger and Nicole Periroth of The New York Times — Twitter said Tuesday that it would add more context to topics that trend on its service, an effort to clean up a feature that has often been used to amplify hate and disinformation. The change comes as Twitter and other social media companies struggle to respond to disinformation surrounding the U.S. presidential election. But it stops short of a solution that some Twitter employees and external activists have proposed: eradicating Trending Topics altogether. Twitter offers trends to help users identify which topics are most popular. But the system has often been gamed by bots and internet trolls to spread false, hateful or misleading information. The episodes have led some Twitter employees to believe the feature is not worth its liabilities.
“Japanese company completes manned ‘flying car’ test flight” via Jacob Knutson of Axios — SkyDrive has successfully tested its flying car with a passenger on board, the Japanese company announced in a news release. The modest test — four minutes in the air — brings humanity one step closer to one day combining the automobile and airplane, potentially doing away with the hassle of airports, commercial pilots and traffic jams, according to AP. SkyDrive’s SD-03 model vehicle, operating with eight motors and two propellers on each corner, lifted a single pilot about 10 feet into the air, according to The New York Times. Because the vehicle takes off vertically, it does not require long runways like current commercial and private airplanes. SkyDrive’s chief executive Tomohiro Fukuzawa told AP that “Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful have succeeded with a person on board.”
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Rep. Spencer Roach and Dr. Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.