Politics

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.18.22

Good Wednesday morning.

Kinley Morgan has joined Pinnacle Media as Vice President of Communications, CEO Jenn Meale Poggie announced Wednesday.

“I’m thrilled to bring Kinley on as Vice President of Communications,” Poggie said. “Kinley’s energy, work ethic, and strong communications experience in both the legislative and executive branches of state government will enable us to continue delivering successful outcomes for our clients.”

Morgan comes to Pinnacle from the Florida Senate Majority Office, where she served as Press Secretary and previously worked as a legislative analyst.

Pinnacle Media will benefit from Kinley Morgan’s solid work ethic.

Morgan previously served as a legislative assistant to Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry and as a spokesperson for former Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. She also has experience working at a public relations firm specializing in tourism marketing.

Morgan is a graduate of Florida State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in applied American politics and policy.

“Jenn is one of the most respected and effective communicators in the field, and I am extremely excited to join the Pinnacle Media team,” Morgan said. “I look forward to working together to elevate the voices of our clients to ensure they reach their goals.”

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Democratic advertising agency MDW Communications has promoted two employees to senior leadership roles and added three new members to its digital division.

Landon St. Gordon, who joined MDW in 2015, has been elevated to Vice President of Creative. Through his work with MDW, Landon has been a consultant on over 100 successful campaigns and causes, including the historic elections of Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Sen. Shevrin Jones.

St. Gordon also manages MDW’s work with Equality Florida, one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ State Federations in the U.S. He is the winner of multiple Pollie Awards from the American Association of Political Consultants and multiple Reed Awards from Campaigns&Elections, a leading industry publication.

Congrats: Landon St. Gordon and Martin Page moved up to senior leadership roles at MDW Communications.

Martin Page, who joined MDW in 2019, has been promoted to Vice President of Strategy. Page’s work over the past three years has established MDW as a leading digital fundraising firm for Democratic campaigns across Florida and has helped grow the firm’s national footprint.

Page currently serves as a lead digital strategist for many of MDW’s top clients, including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson.

Alongside the promotions, MDW announced that Shannen Bazzi, Kendahl Hawkins, and Caitlin Lang will work at the firm’s growing digital division.

Bazzi comes to MDW from DC-based 20/20 Vision, an economic policy research and advocacy firm. Hawkins previously worked at Register2Vote, a civic engagement and technology nonprofit, with prior experience working with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And Lang was previously the Press Associate for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

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On Monday, the young organizers of the “Say Gay” movement were honored with the Webby Award for the Social Movement of The Year at the 26th Annual Webby Awards.

Known as the “internet’s highest honor,” the Webby was jointly awarded to Will Larkins, Jack Petocz, Abbie Garretson and Javier Gomez. Upon being presented with the award by Tan France and Tig Notaro, each of them delivered a five-word acceptance speech.

Petocz’s speech was aimed directly at the Governor: “We will vote (Ron) DeSantis out.”

The #SayGay effort gets special recognition as Social Movement of the Year.

Collectively, the winners created a rapid response movement that challenged the Parental Rights in Education bill, which its opponents have described as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

They claimed the measure, now signed into law, advances homophobia, threatens LGBTQ rights, and could potentially harm LGBTQ individuals.

“I grew up without LGBTQ education, and even though I was in an accepting environment, it caused me to really hate myself and I see myself in this whole generation and that’s scary because our suicide rates are higher, drug abuse, self-harm, homelessness, everything about the queer community is struggling in regard to mental health, and this is just making it worse,” Larkin said at the Webbys.

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Markel Trial Day 2 — From 200 potential jurors called to appear in Katherine Magbanua’s retrial for her alleged role in the 2014 murder of Dan Markel, prosecutors and defense attorneys selected about 60 to interview in greater detail.

One by one, Judge Robert Wheeler asked jurors to disclose if they had any personal relationships with individuals listed as witnesses, and from there, prosecutor Georgia Cappleman and defense attorneys Tara Kawass and Chris DeCoste took turns asking more pointed questions.

Of the initial 21 who were individually questioned, 13 were excused. Another batch was brought in, and as of 4:45 p.m., the legal teams were still deciding which jurors would remain. But by 5:30 p.m., final jurors were selected.

“Seven men, seven women selected,” tweeted Jeff Burlew with the Tallahassee Democrat.

“We officially have a jury in Katherine Magbanua’s retrial. Jury selection took a full two days,” tweeted Jada Williams of ABC27.

The process moves slowly but is a critically essential element of the trial. Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday morning.

Read more of the story here.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JayRosen_NYU: Wait. You’re saying that when (Joe) Biden said he wants to “restore the soul of America,” that was like a campaign promise… and you’re here to ask whether he has delivered on that promise? Because a racist got a gun and shot 10 people dead?

@RonDeSantisFL: Biden’s plan to prop up the Cuban dictatorship represents yet another failure when it comes to standing for freedom in our hemisphere. Money from “tourism” will go into the pockets of the Cuban regime — and will help fortify the government against those seeking freedom in Cuba.

@BillFoxLA: There were 234,088 migrants encountered at the Southern border in April, per a DHS court filing today. That’s the highest number in DHS history. 117,989 migrants were released into the U.S. in April. 113,248 were removed, including 96,908 expelled via Title 42.

@Mdixon55: .@CharlieCrist has agreed to a debate in Miami. His opponent @NikkiFried has been hitting him for not agreeing to debates. She has agreed to five, I believe.

Tweet, tweet:

@steveschale: One smart foundation of both the House and Senate GOP success in FL is real continuity of leadership in their conferences. On flip side, there are eras the Ds are more like a series of massive speed bumps. @FentriceD is a real chance for Hse Dems to build long term continuity

Tweet, tweet:

@billbarnwell: I pitched this idea a few years ago, but in every draft lottery, there should be one ball that just says CHAOS, and the rules for CHAOS should be kept under total lock and key until it gets picked

— DAYS UNTIL —

Property insurance Special Session begins — 5; 2022 Florida Chamber Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit — 7; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 7; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 9; Hyundai Air and Sea Show National Salute to America’s Heroes, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association — 10; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 15; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 20; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 23; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 30; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 41; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 51; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 62; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 64; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 83; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 91; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 95; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 105; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 107; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 113; 2022 Emmys — 117; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 141; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 159; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 160; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 160; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 177; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 183; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 187; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 187; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 188; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 210; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 274; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 292; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 310; 2023 Session Sine Die — 352; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 352; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 380; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 436; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 520; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 681; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 800.

— TOP STORY —

Joe Biden’s policy changes toward Cuba, Venezuela roil Florida’s election-year politics” via Zac Anderson of the Tallahassee Democrat —The Biden administration’s latest steps to ease restrictions on Cuba and Venezuela are roiling Florida’s election-year political landscape, with Republicans quick to condemn the moves and some leading Democrats voicing concerns.

Florida Democrats already have been struggling against strong political headwinds this election cycle because of soaring inflation.

Adding the explosive issue of rapprochement between the U.S. and Latin American countries whose repressive regimes have sent many of their citizens fleeing to Florida could further compound the Party’s problems winning over Cuban and Venezuelan voters.

Loosening restrictions on Cuba is a mixed bag for Florida.

Republicans are pressing the issue, with DeSantis offering his thoughts unprompted during a news conference in Miami, home to the nation’s largest Cuban American community.

The Governor said Biden’s decision to loosen restrictions on travel to Cuba would only help the nation’s authoritarian rulers. “I think we’ve seen this song before,” DeSantis said. “That is going to increase the amount of money that’s going to the dictatorship.”

Cubans cheer Biden move to ease restrictions, U.S. reaction muted” via Dave Sherwood and Brian Ellsworth of Reuters — Cubans in Havana on Tuesday celebrated the Biden administration’s decision to ease (Donald) Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to the island, a crack in the door that comes as its government wrestles with an economic crisis and a mass exodus of its citizens to the U.S. Tensions between longtime rivals Cuba and the U.S. flared again last year following Cuba’s crackdown on protesters who took to the streets on July 11 for anti-government rallies believed to be the largest since Fidel Castro‘s 1959 revolution. On Monday, 10 Republican lawmakers, including Cuba hard-liner and U.S. Marco Rubio, said the Biden administration had turned its back on those who protested last July. Elsewhere, on talk radio and morning television, the response from Miami was muted compared with years past.

Biden easing travel restrictions to Cuba ‘may enrich’ dictatorship” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Tuesday the Biden Administration’s move to ease travel restrictions to Cuba “may enrich” the Cuban dictatorship. “I remain unconvinced that easing group travel restrictions — even with new post-trip audits — will truly weaken this regime’s oppressive policies,” she said. “In fact,” she warned, “it may enrich the Díaz-Canel dictatorship at a time when its Kremlin paymaster faces economic ruin.” It will also be easier for families to visit their relatives in Cuba and authorized U.S. travelers to “engage with the Cuban people.”

— 2022 —

MoveOn plows $30 million into ‘Us vs. MAGA’ campaign” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO — MoveOn is pouring $30 million into midterm battles for Congress, governorships and secretaries of state, a badly needed infusion for Democrats facing an uphill battle this fall in a tough political climate. The progressive organization is rolling out a dozen endorsements in the coming days and pledging to spend millions in several critical swing states. And the group is framing the race in a very specific fashion: “2022 is about us versus MAGA,” said Rahna Epting, MoveOn’s executive director, using the acronym for Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan that Democrats are seeking to co-opt as an insult for pro-Trump Republicans.

MoveOn ponies up big to take on MAGA Nation.

Donald Trump waded into GOP primaries. Democrats hope he sticks around.” via Shannon Pettypiece and Scott Wong of NBC — Trump has inserted himself into the Republican primaries this week in Pennsylvania, much to the chagrin of some GOP members there, who think he may have picked the wrong candidates and needlessly shuffled the race. Democrats, however, aren’t so sure they’ve got a problem with the former President making himself an outsize figure in the races there or nationwide, as they try to leverage his divisiveness to their advantage in yet another election. Democrats are largely still trying to settle on exactly what role Trump should play in their campaigns as they defend razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate this fall.

Former CrossFit CEO cuts $75K check to Ron DeSantis — Former CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman, who resigned his position after making racist comments, contributed $75,000 to Gov. DeSantis’ re-election campaign. Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reported that the check came from GG123, a separate company run by Glassman and former CrossFit CFO Matt Holdsworth. Glassman’s spokesperson did not respond to why the former exec was backing DeSantis in the Governor race. In addition to DeSantis, Glassman has made campaign contributions to Republican candidates in Missouri and Arizona. Glassman’s resignation came after tweets he made in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Charlie Crist accepts Democratic gubernatorial debate in MiamiCrist accepted an invitation from NBC 6 and Telemundo 51 to debate in Miami on July 21. The event will be broadcast in both English and Spanish across the Sunshine State. “I look forward to a robust debate about the future of Florida with my fellow Democratic candidates for Governor,” Crist said. “The voices of Floridians are the most important voices this election cycle, and come November, they will be heard.” Over the past months, Crist has already taken part in four forums with his fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Crist is also scheduled to participate in the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida Forum this weekend. Plus, the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee Forum at the end of the month.

Happening tonight:

Nikki Fried campaign unveils ‘Senior’s Bill of Rights’ — Fried’s campaign for Governor on Tuesday unveiled a policy plan that would provide $1 billion in rebates to older Floridians through the state’s Department of Elder Affairs. Dixon of POLITICO Florida reported that the “Senior’s Bill of Rights” would provide one-time grants of $200 per Floridian over 65 years of age with no restrictions on how it could be used. “The COVID-19 pandemic took a considerable toll on our senior population,” Fried said. “Today, few are bearing the brunt of our current economic crisis more than Florida’s seniors.” Fried’s campaign platform also includes creating an ombudsman for long-term care issues, expanding Medicaid and improving nursing home staffing.

Veterans for America First backs Erick Aguilar for CD 4 — VFAF, an organization founded by combat veterans, has endorsed Republican candidate Aguilar in the race for Florida’s 4th Congressional District. “Erick is a 20-year Navy combat Veteran and a battle-tested and proven leader on and off the battlefield,” said Stan Fitzgerald, VFAF’s Chief Political Adviser. “Erick’s campaign is rooted in the America First agenda where he vows to sponsor and champion legislation that takes care of our veterans at home instead of sending unnecessary funds to proxy wars overseas. We need a veteran in Congress who is going to step up to the plate and address the problems facing our Vets here at home — Erick is that guy.” Aguilar is one of several Republicans running for the seat, with others including state Rep. Jason Fischer.

Pandemic prevention PAC pledges $1M to support Maxwell Frost in CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Frost has received the backing of a new super PAC that’s pledging $1 million to support his candidacy in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Protect Our Future Political Action Committee, founded earlier this year, seeks to help elect Democratic candidates across the country who are committed to addressing the prevention of future pandemics. The group has pledged to spend $20 million across 20 races this year.

Sheriff Grady Judd endorses Kevin Hayslett in CD 13” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Judd is endorsing Hayslett in his run for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Judd is recognized across the state as an outspoken defender of law enforcement, often captured in sound bites and press events. This year, Judd was named “Sheriff of the Year” by the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA). As such a well-known conservative figure, his endorsement is coveted among Tampa Bay Republicans.

Grady Judd weighs in on Kevin Hayslett.

—”Laurel Lee running for Congress in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Florida Family Action endorses Kelli Stargel for CD 15 — State Sen. Stargel, who this week entered the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, received an endorsement from the conservative group Florida Family Action. The group cited her work to push back against “socialist Democrats” who “tried to shut down our economy” and “our churches,” as well as legislation she championed that banned trans girls from participating in women’s sports. Stargel is one of several Republicans running in the new CD 15, largely seen as Florida’s “new” congressional district. She faces former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, state Rep. Jackie Toledo and now Lee in the Republican Primary.

Republican House Latinos mobilize to bolster ranks and influence” via Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post — Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Tony Gonzales are launching a political action committee to support first-time Republican Latino congressional candidates across the country in hopes that having more such members will influence the direction of their Party, which has often alienated prospective Hispanic voters with its harsh, sometimes racist rhetoric. The Hispanic Leadership Trust already has the backing of top Republican leaders and aims to compete with the Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s fundraising arm, the Bold PAC.

— MORE 2022 —

Tina Polsky announces 38 endorsements for Senate re-election — Boca Raton Democratic Sen. Polsky has announced more than three-dozen endorsements for her Senate re-election campaign. The new backers include current elected officials and community leaders from within the Broward and Palm Beach County-based Senate District 29. The list includes U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, Senate Democratic Leader Book and Broward County State Attorney Harold Pryor, among others. “I am honored to have earned the backing of so many leaders for whom I have such great respect. Representing the people of Broward and Palm Beach counties in our State Capitol is a responsibility I intend to continue fulfilling to the best of my ability for as long as they see fit to allow me that privilege,” Polsky said.

Tina Polsky lets loose a wave of endorsements for her re-election bid.

—”John Thrasher endorses Lake Ray in HD 16 GOP primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“Fred Hawkins picks up DeSantis’ endorsement for re-election in HD 35” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—”DeSantis endorses Tom Leek for re-election” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Jordan Leonard hauls in $23K for HD 106 run with help from real estate, legal firms” via Jesse Sheckner of Florida Politics — Former Democratic Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Leonard collected more than $23,000 last month to maintain his fundraising lead in the race for House District 106, with noteworthy showings from real estate and legal businesses. Leonard has raised $331,000 since filing to run in February 2021. As of April 30, he had about $278,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Americans for Florida. Leonard gained a clear path to the General Election this week when Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson, his sole Democratic Primary opponent dropped out of the race.

—“Ashley Gantt stacks $18K to take fundraising lead in HD 109” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Demi Busatta Cabrera adds $10K to defend HD 114, rescinds donation to husband’s campaign opponent” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Busatta Cabrera added $10,000 in April with help from several political committees across Florida to defend her seat representing a southeastern portion of Miami-Dade County in House District 114. She also spent more than $4,000 last month. Of that, $1,000 went toward a donation to the campaign of Coral Gables City Commissioner Jorge Fors Jr. That’s notable because Fors later filed to challenge Busatta Cabrera’s husband, Kevin Marino Cabrera, and three other candidates for the soon-to-be-open seat representing District 6 on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Internal poll shows Matt Willhite leading Palm Beach County Commission race” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Rep. Willhite holds a seven-point lead in the Primary for Palm Beach County Commission District 6. Conducted by SEA Polling and Design, Willhite pulls ahead by 22 points once voters have more information about his and the other candidates’ backgrounds. Both measures fall outside of the poll’s margin of error. Additionally, the poll found that 47% of voters were familiar with Willhite, which matches the name ID score for incumbent Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who is vacating the seat after her current term. “It’s clear that voters recognize my lifetime of service to our country and community and are excited to have a Palm Beach County Commissioner who puts public service over politics,” Willhite said.

Ken Burke files suit against Pinellas County over election bill lawsuit” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Pinellas County Clerk of Court Burke has filed suit against Pinellas County over its litigation expenditures to overturn a new statute that puts the Commission’s single-member seats up for election in 2022. The complaint was filed Monday. The complaint argues the suit from the County Commission is an unlawful use of public funds and, as the county Comptroller, Burke can decide the legality of such expenditures. “The clerk, as auditor, is required by law to refuse to sign and deliver a county warrant for an unlawful expenditure, even though approved by the Board of County Commissioners,” the complaint states.

Save the date:

— DATELINE TALLY —

Fight over soil and water district qualification requirements raises constitutional questions” via Jake Stofan of Yahoo News — Should there be professional requirements for elected officials? The only offices that currently have such limits in Florida are the Attorney General and judicial positions, but a bill soon to be on the Governor’s desk could block the vast majority of the population from running for another elected position: soil and water conservation districts. Under this bill, you could only run for one of these positions if you’ve worked 10 years in the agriculture industry, currently work in agriculture, or own land classified for agricultural use. That would exclude most Floridians from running.

So, who is eligible to serve on a water and soil board? A new law could make it virtually no one. Image via Duval Soil and Water Conservation District.

Seeking rate hikes, insurers say roofs, reinsurance and lawsuits are pushing costs up” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Three different property insurance companies asking state regulators to approve rate increases cited similar reasons during hearings Tuesday: more roof claims, higher reinsurance costs and the threat of more lawsuits related to the jump in claims. “We’ve seen many more roof claims with much higher costs,” said Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Company Vice President Ben Kimmons. Florida Farm Bureau is asking the Office of Insurance Regulation to approve a 48.7% rate increase for its 63,135 residential property insurance policies. Most of those policies, 62,169, are homeowners’ policies.

Florida insurance crisis bleeds into reinsurance, experts say” via Shawn Rice of Law 360 — As Florida lawmakers convene for a Special Session this month, the state’s hurricane catastrophe fund and reinsurance market are two areas that insurance experts say need attention in an environment that has seen three insurers go insolvent this year and prompted others to stop underwriting in the Sunshine State altogether. Bob Warren, client services manager of Demotech, which rates most of Florida’s domestic insurers, said that the rating agency isn’t “overly confident” that the state’s lawmakers will do anything in a time frame to help insurance companies in 2022 that “will improve their lot.” “In many respects, Florida can’t get out of its own way,” Warren said.

When Florida’s property insurers fail, few ask why” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — As state lawmakers meet next week to try to fix the spiraling property insurance market, they could draw on the lessons of the graveyard of insurers that have failed in recent years. If only they knew what those lessons were. Florida’s Department of Financial Services does a financial “autopsy” on every insurance company that fails. But once finished, the reports are effectively shoved into a drawer. Few people, including top lawmakers, trade groups and the state’s insurance consumer advocate, were aware of their existence before being contacted by a reporter. The reports aren’t even automatically sent to the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation.

Happening today — Sen. Jason Brodeur and Reps. Anna Eskamani, Carlos Guillermo Smith and David Smith will hold a legislative update as part of a Winter Park Chamber of Commerce event, 8 a.m., Center for Health & Wellbeing, 2005 Mizell Ave., Winter Park.

Happening today — The Florida Elections Commission meets, 9 a.m., Room 306 of the House Office Building.

Happening today — A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a Florida battle about whether Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings could require passengers “vaccine passports” — showing they have been immunized against COVID-19, 9 a.m., James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building, 99 N.E. Fourth St., Miami.

Assignment editors — Reps. Eskamani, Ben Diamond, and Angie Nixon join Adrian Alberto Madriz, executive director of Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing (SMASH), for a virtual news conference to address the ongoing affordable rental housing crisis in Florida, 11 a.m., Zoom link here.

DeSantis’ spokesperson got duped by a fake story about a dog that’s ‘homophobic’” via Claire Goforth of the Daily Dot — On Monday, DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted a screenshot of a fake story by Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz headlined, “This dog is the new face of online homophobia: Internet trolls have turned a dachshund into a viral homophobic meme — and her gay owners don’t know what to do.” People wasted no time pointing out that the story isn’t real. Many mocked Pushaw, who’s notorious for picking fights on Twitter and has frequently tweeted criticism of Lorenz’s reporting, as well as other journalists. Via Twitter direct message, Lorenz told the Daily Dot, “I would have assumed a Press Secretary could recognize the difference between a fake screenshot from a meme page and a real news story, but apparently not.”

Tweet, tweet:

Republican who put tent on Nancy Pelosi’s lawn slams DeSantis protest law” via Adam Staten of Newsweek — Laura Loomer, who is running in a GOP primary for a U.S. House seat representing Florida’s 11th Congressional District, took to social media to slam the new law signed by DeSantis on Monday. On Gettr, Loomer wrote that she’s not supportive of the new law and referred to it as a “violation of the First Amendment” and stated that it is “unconstitutional.” Loomer mentioned a 2019 protest at Pelosi‘s California residence, where Loomer reportedly jumped a fence and set up a tent on the yard, calling it “one of my most effective protests.” Loomer wrote that during that particular protest, she “claimed sanctuary on her [Pelosi’s] lawn with illegal aliens to protest her refusal to fund the border wall.”

— STATEWIDE —

Gov. DeSantis announces $100M for cancer research in Florida” via Thomas Mates of Click Orlando — DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced plans to “go big” on cancer research and care, with $100 million in the state budget. The DeSantises made the announcement Tuesday in Miami at the University of Miami Health System’s Don Soffer Clinical Research Center. The money, which the Legislature approved, will go toward the UM clinical research center, the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, and UF Health in Gainesville. The funding is a big infusion of cash for cancer research in the state. It’s a cause that’s near and dear to the DeSantises. Casey DeSantis is a cancer survivor. “Pretty much everyone in Florida is touched by cancer in one way or another,” Gov. DeSantis said.

Ron DeSantis announces Florida’s latest push into cancer research.

DeSantis doles out millions but fails to mention it mostly comes from Uncle Sam” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis has been on a spending spree for months, taking credit for millions of dollars in federal stimulus money he’s handing out to primarily rural Republican counties while at the same time bashing Biden’s big government spending. Federal bucks have bolstered the state budget for two years in a row, shoring up the state’s reserves, and funding such things as DeSantis’s job growth program, climate “resiliency” against rising waters, road projects, broadband expansion, college training programs and tax cuts.

Deborah Birx in West Palm Beach warns of big summer COVID-19 surge in Florida” via Chris Persaud of the Palm Beach Post — Florida should expect an “exponential” COVID-19 surge this summer, former White House coronavirus response coordinator Birx said Monday during a visit downtown. Birx spoke to an audience of more than 200 people at the Kravis Center for lunch hosted by Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, where she touted her recently released book, “Silent Invasion.” Few attendees wore masks. Birx warned of a summer swell of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across Florida and the South. She also described what went on behind the scenes in the Trump administration as the coronavirus spread in 2020, which she details in her book.

State reveals questions received about request for information regarding Medicaid bid” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida health care officials received 19 questions from managed care companies and interested parties regarding a request for information (RFI), including questions about the application of Florida’s “Government in the Sunshine” laws. The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) released a Medicaid request for information on May 6 and gave interested parties until May 13 to submit to the agency any questions they may have about the RFI. Simply Healthcare Plans, Inc. submitted two questions to the state, according to a worksheet AHCA provided to Florida Politics. One question was whether there was a required font size the agency wanted vendors to use when replying to the RFI. The second question had to do with the timing of the release of the responses to the RFI.

Chris King says he has an answer to the affordable housing crisis; will investors buy?” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — King, a Winter Park businessman, may have lost his bid for Florida’s Lieutenant Governor four years ago, but his Elevation Financial Group is chalking up some impressive gains in providing affordable housing across the country. While the nation struggles with rapidly climbing rents, King is heading into his 16th year using a novel private investment model to pour $100 million into the preservation and rehabilitation of affordable housing in 13 states, most for people 55 and older.

Happening today — The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors meets, 9 a.m. Zoom link here. Call-in number: (786) 635-1003. Dial-in code: 88307560058.

Facing GOP backlash, Disney gears up for Pride Month” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Amid the political backlash with Republicans over Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” measure by critics — Disney is donating all the profits from its pride merchandise to charities that help the LGBTQ community, the company announced Monday. “Disney has a long history of supporting LGBTQIA+ organizations and charities around the world,” Disney said on its parks blog. “This year, we are further deepening our support.” The company said 100% of the profits through June 30 are going to various organizations, including GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, Zebra Coalition, Los Angeles LGBT Center, LGBT Center Orange County, San Francisco LGBT Center and Ali Forney Center.

Despite blasts from GOP lawmakers, Disney is going all-in on Pride. Image via Disney.

New Yorkers, Californians flock to Sunshine State, bringing higher rents” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — New Yorkers and Californians are flocking to the Sunshine State, with Florida reporting the largest year-to-year increase in net migration among all U.S. states. In 2020, 167 people moved into Florida for every 100 who left. In 2021, that number surged to 210 inbound residents for every 100 who left, meaning more than twice as many people moved into the state than left it. In 2022, the surge is so far being led by Californians and New Yorkers, with each state representing 10% of inbound moves to Florida as of early 2022, or about 20% collectively. Following New York and California, individuals from Illinois (6.8%), New Jersey (5.9%), and Pennsylvania (5.4%) also make up a significant percentage of new settlers.

— D.C. MATTERS —

In Buffalo, Biden mourns victims, says ‘evil will not win’” via The Associated Press — Biden on Tuesday condemned the poison of White supremacy and said the nation must “reject the lie” of the racist “replacement theory” espoused by the shooter who killed 10 Black people in Buffalo. Speaking to victims’ families, local officials and first responders, Biden said America’s diversity is its strength and warned that the nation must not be distorted by a “hateful minority.” “The American experiment in democracy is in danger like it hasn’t been in my lifetime,” Biden said. He declared: “In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail. White supremacy will not have the last word.” Biden’s emotional remarks came after he and first lady Jill Biden paid their respects at a makeshift memorial of blossoms, candles, and messages of condolence outside the Tops supermarket.

The evil in Buffalo will not win, Joe Biden says.

U.S. to ease a few economic sanctions against Venezuela” via Regina Garcia Cano of The Associated Press — The United States government is moving to ease a few economic sanctions on Venezuela in a gesture meant to encourage resumed negotiations between the U.S.-backed opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The limited changes will allow Chevron Corp. to negotiate its license with the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, but not to drill or export any petroleum of Venezuelan origin. Additionally, they said that Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores, a former high-ranking PDVSA official and nephew of Venezuela’s First Lady, will be removed from a list of sanctioned individuals.

White House tries to soothe solar probe fallout” via Sophia Cai and Hans Nichols of Axios — White House officials told Democratic Senators they’re committed to resolving the uncertainty the solar industry is facing because of an investigation into whether China is secretly manufacturing solar panels destined for U.S. markets, Axios has learned. The Biden administration is trying to mitigate political fallout of its own making. It erupted after the Commerce Department announced an investigation into whether Chinese companies circumvent U.S. tariffs. The investigation, requested by Auxin Solar, an American solar manufacturer, has effectively frozen big solar panel installation projects — outraging congressional Democrats. They’re concerned the threat of retroactive tariffs will prevent big solar projects from taking off, slowing efforts to combat climate change.

Marco Rubio warns Miami about Chinese influence campaign” via Jimmy Quinn of National Review — Sen. Rubio warned Miami Mayor Francis Suarez that the Chinese Communist Party is continuing its efforts to influence local government officials. While there has been previous concern about Chinese influence efforts at the state and municipal levels, Rubio’s letter this week to Suarez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, followed a recent incident in his city. The presence of Chinese state media in Florida is relatively robust compared with some other states. Four Florida-based media outlets took part in a Chinese state media-backed national forum in 2019.

Marco Rubio has a warning about China interfering in domestic affairs. Image via AP.

FBI records reveal Matt Gaetz was in chaos mode as scandal broke” via Roger Sollenberger of Yahoo News — Fifteen minutes before Rep. Gaetz was due to go on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show on March 30, 2021 — hours after a bombshell report that he was under investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a minor — Gaetz was shouting, repeatedly, at FBI agents in his family home. “Do you have a warrant to be here?” Gaetz yelled, according to an FBI report of the event obtained by The Daily Beast. But as adversarial as Gaetz was in those moments, the agents weren’t after him. They were there to help him and his father, who had been cooperating with the FBI for several days in a sting operation that Gaetz claimed on live TV minutes later would clear his name.

European baby formula will soon stock U.S. shelves, addressing ongoing shortage” via Stegania Lugli of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Rubio and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan introduced the “Urgently Feeding America’s Babies Act” to address a nationwide shortage of baby formula. By invoking the Defense Production Act to escalate domestic supply, the act directs Biden to designate baby formula as a “scarce and critical material,” allowing the Food and Drug Administration to trigger a process to stock shelves with formulas from Europe. The Biden Administration announced similar steps to ease the shortage: pushing the FDA to streamline its review process for foreign manufacturers to import their formula, a temporary structure lasting six months. It is unclear whether Rubio and Buchanan’s legislative move was a motivator in the decision.

— EPILOGUE: TRUMP —

Senior Trump official at State met with election denial activists Jan. 6” via Rosalind S. Helderman of The Washington Post — On Jan. 6, 2021, around the time Trump’s supporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol, a top Trump appointee at the U.S. State Department met with two activists who had been key to spreading the false narrative that the presidential election had been stolen. Robert A. Destro, a law professor at the Catholic University of America then serving as an assistant Secretary of State, confirmed to The Washington Post he met with the two men, Colorado podcaster Joe Oltmann and Michigan lawyer Matthew DePerno, amid the tumultuous day. The two men have previously claimed to have huddled on Jan. 6 with State Department leaders.

Robert Destro took an interesting meeting on Jan. 6.

How Trump’s pact with the Club for Growth turned into a grudge match” via Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post — David McIntosh, head of the influential conservative group the Club for Growth, used to fly on Air Force One, get personal shout-outs from Trump and boast to friends about his access to the former President. Now McIntosh and Trump aren’t speaking. People who have spoken to Trump say he regularly rails about the Club for Growth and the organization being disloyal. The alliance cracked open after they backed different contenders in the Ohio Senate Primary two weeks ago. And it has fractured further as the Club for Growth has doubled down by pumping millions into Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary to boost late-surging Kathy Barnette against Trump’s candidate.

— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —

Jacksonville’s secret police and an $87,401 invoice for public records” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Eighty-seven thousand four-hundred and one dollars: That is what the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office wanted to charge Times-Union partner First Coast News before officials would even begin working on what should have been a routine and basic request for public records on the agency’s servers. JSO actually invoiced that amount. Consider what it says about an agency’s attitude toward private citizens when it’s comfortable sending out an $87,000 invoice for public records in the first place. It’s behavior that appalls other public officials in Jacksonville, though they are reluctant to say so publicly. And it’s not the first time JSO has done it.

‘A reckless path:’ Tempers flare at Pensacola City Hall over Carpenter Creek restoration” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Tensions between Councilwoman Sherri Myers and Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson are boiling over after Robinson sent a memo blasting Myers for proposing a last-minute agenda item over Carpenter Creek. Myers wanted the council to formally ask the Florida Department of Transportation for its plan to replace trees removed as part of a creek bank repair project on Carpenter Creek at the Davis Highway bridge over the creek. Robinson, who was not able to attend the council meeting Thursday, sent a memo to the council objecting to the request. “…(Myers) has chosen to pursue a reckless path based on (a) deliberate misrepresentation that does not focus on any solution but simply her ambition to rant,” Robinson wrote in the memo.

Sherri Myers has ‘an ambition to rant.’ Image via the Pensacola News-Journal.

St. Joe gets warning letter for environmental issues at Watersound Origins” via Jim Thompson of Northwest Florida Daily News — After three inspections of ongoing development of Watersound Origins, a massive residential project on the southeastern edge of Walton County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued a warning letter to the St. Joe Co., the project’s developer. The May 11 letter states that the inspections in Phase 7 of the project, located east of Splash Drive and south of Sawbuck Drive, revealed “possible violations” of state environmental laws and of state administrative regulations regarding the permitting of activities involving environmental resources. Specifically, the letter notifies St. Joe that during inspections on March 17, March 29 and May 3, FDEP personnel noted both “unauthorized activities in wetlands” and “water quality violations (that) occurred as a result of dewatering activities.”

St. Johns sushi restaurant managers charged with harboring undocumented immigrants” via Katherine Lewin of The Florida Times-Union — Ge Tang and Yanshen Huang, listed as managers of Tank’s Sushi Bistro Seafood & Steak, were arrested and charged with illegally harboring undocumented immigrants “for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain” by employing them at a local sushi restaurant, according to criminal complaints filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Agents discovered several Guatemalan citizens employed at the restaurant arrested previously for working illegally during an earlier investigation into other Asian restaurants “harboring” people who were not legal in the U.S. On May 11, Homeland Security and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office stopped two vehicles at the restaurant in St. Augustine, and five of the people in the cars did not have paperwork to work in this country legally.

Happening today — Former Florida State University President John Thrasher, a one-time House Speaker and state Senator, will give a speech at the Flagler Tiger Bay Club, 11:30 a.m., Hammock Dunes Club, 30 Avenue Royale, Palm Coast.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Lawsuit against Orlando Gudes alleges sexual favors for political access, pedophilia and feeling immune from punishment” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — A lawsuit filed Monday in Hillsborough County Court levied startling accusations against a Tampa City Council Member already embroiled in a sexual harassment investigation that corroborated allegations he abused a former legislative aide. That aide and her teenage daughter are suing Gudes over defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit adds to the 18 instances Trenam Law found more than likely to have occurred in an independent investigation by accusing Gudes of wanting to exchange sexual favors for political access: engaging in “pedophiliac” behavior and feeling immune from punishment while creating a hostile and abusive work environment.

Documents suggest Gudes may have lied about his home address to get elected” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — According to Tampa’s city charter and the oath of candidacy every City Council candidate takes, those wishing to run for Districts 4, 5, 6 and 7 must be a resident of the district and have been for at least six months before the election. Gudes won his District 5 seat by 160 votes in an April 2019 runoff election. But three years prior, in 2016, Gudes ran in District 7. Gudes’ family owns a funeral home on Hillsborough Avenue within District 5. Rumors have long persisted throughout Tampa’s City Hall, suggesting Gudes uses his family’s business properties as an address to appear as a resident of District 5. Gudes declined an opportunity to comment on the accusation.

It keeps looking worse for Orlando Gudes.

Fired COVID-19 vaccine vendor sues Hillsborough, seeks $50 million” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Fifteen months ago, Hillsborough County Commissioners pulled no punches in describing the troubled rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination program. Now the company fired by Hillsborough County after residents complained of a malfunctioning website and hourslong waits to book appointments is offering its description of what happened: Conspiracy, fraud, bad faith, breach of contract and defamation. OnSite Screenings, now known as Horizon Health Services and Technology, and its CEO, Thutrung Alexis Nguyen, are suing Hillsborough County seeking more than $50 million over the terminated contract. The lawsuit, filed May 5 in Hillsborough Circuit Court, also names CDR Maguire, the company that succeeded OnSite Screenings in scheduling appointments and administering vaccines, as a defendant.

Surprise: Charter Review Commission kills proposal to recall school board members” via Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — The one issue before Brevard County’s Charter Review Commission that fired people’s imaginations and ignited competing passions more than any other is now dead. Public Defender Blaise Trettis’ proposal to recall Brevard Public Schools board members was dropped by the Commission Thursday and will no longer be considered. The unexpected result, created by a double whammy of the absence of key supporters of the recall proposal at the Thursday meeting, and a sudden rule change that enabled a handful of votes to kill a measure if there was no interest to keep considering it, came as a surprise to everyone at the meeting.

Happening today — Rep. Michele Rayner will hold a reproductive rights rally, 5:30 p.m., Pinellas Park City Hall, 5141 78th Ave. North, Pinellas Park.

Collateral damage: AdventHealth takes costly hit from another company’s hack” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — AdventHealth got caught up in another company’s hack that cost the Altamonte Springs-headquartered hospital system about $430,000, according to a new federal lawsuit. RxCrossroads is a Texas-based company that determines patient copay prescription reimbursements from drug manufacturers and then sends the money to pharmacies, like AdventHealth. And in turn, RxCrossroads uses Payspan to help process those payments. The problem began, AdventHealth contends in the lawsuit, when the hospital system realized $429,319 in patient copay reimbursements had been missing since January 2021. AdventHealth called the fraud “amateur in nature and easily detectable. Neither RxCrossroads nor Payspan detected or prevented it.”

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

Medical marijuana dispensaries could be coming to Naples soon, thanks to code change” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Medical marijuana dispensaries have yet to be welcomed in Collier County, but that could change in a few months. Collier zoning staff are drafting an amendment to the county’s land development code to potentially allow the dispensaries to operate in the same zoning districts as pharmacies. The process would take several months because the zoning designation would have to go through the county’s Planning Commission and get a supermajority vote of support from the Collier County Commission. Commission Chair Bill McDaniel at the Board’s May 10 meeting, requested and got support to start the process by having staff draw up the language for the designation.

Is medical marijuana finally coming to Naples? Image via Naples Daily News.

‘It’s for everyone’s best interest’: FHP raises awareness in wake of rising distracted drivers” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Naples Daily News — A white sedan sat on the grass at the Mercato lawn in Naples. Its headlights were shattered, the grill busted, and the hood crumpled, hiding the splintered windshield. The wrecked car reminds patrons of the effects of distracted driving, such as texting while driving or slurping a hot coffee. The exhibit was part of a monthlong, statewide campaign spearheaded by the Florida Highway Patrol, as Florida roadways have more than 1,000 distracted driving crashes each week. “This effort is ongoing, and we are always looking for new ways to engage the community on this important topic,” said Karie Partington, spokesperson for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Haunting Surfside mystery — ID of woman buried alive in ruins for hours — may be solved” via Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — Five hours after Champlain Towers South collapsed early in the morning on June 24, 2021, rescue dogs picked up the scent of a live victim pinned underneath the parking garage. Rescuers made out the voice of a woman, but the voice was so faint that whispers among the crew or movement in the standing water in which the crew worked would blot out the sound of the voice. But from the faint responses, rescuers believed the woman said she was staying at the Surfside condominium tower with her parents. Rescuers were unable to reach the woman, but a new report may solve the mystery of her identity, which has hung over this tragedy like a black cloud.

What’s next for the building evacuated in North Miami Beach after it was deemed unsafe?” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — The owners of a 60-unit apartment building in North Miami Beach that was evacuated last month after an engineer found it was “structurally unsound” are now looking to sell it — at less than half its original listing price. “This property was on sale for $15 (million), but we were recently informed that the building has structural problems,” says a listing from the real estate website Crexi. The asking price is now $7.15 million. Maria Nardi, the Realtor on the listing, told the Miami Herald on Monday that the decreased price reflects uncertainty over whether the structure can be salvaged. Residents were ordered April 4 to leave the building.

What’s next for the evacuated condominium in North Miami Beach?

With a big assist from one Commissioner, Palm Beach County’s low-income families to get boost in high-speed internet plan” via Mike Diamond of the Palm Beach Post — Thousands of low-income families in Palm Beach County are expected to benefit from a program that will reduce the cost of high-speed internet, according to Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss. Weiss went to Washington last week to attend a White House event where Biden announced details of the program. Weiss said more than 90,000 households in Palm Beach County currently lack access to high-speed internet. The plan, a feature of the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year, would cost qualifying households no more than $30 per month. Twenty internet providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, have agreed to supply high-speed service at a steep discount to low-income consumers.

Broward schools shake-up would cut academic jobs and boost public relations” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward schools may cut more than $1 million in academic positions while boosting public-relations efforts by $218,000, under a proposed district shake-up from Superintendent Vickie Cartwright. A reorganization plan, which Cartwright says would save $2.3 million, also overhauls the duties of administrators. The plan would eliminate 26 administrator positions but then creates 23 new positions, for a net cut of three positions.

Martin County School District investigates ‘concerning’ photo circulating on social media” via Lina Ruiz of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The school district has launched an investigation into a “concerning” photo circulating on social media, it announced late Monday in a Facebook post. “The district has zero-tolerance for hurtful or discriminatory messages of any type,” the post read. “We appreciate the engaged members of our community who took the time to bring their concerns to our attention this evening.” The photo, obtained by TCPalm and verified by district spokesperson Jennifer DeShazo, appears to show students holding up letters that spell out a racial slur. Posted on Snapchat, a photo-sharing and instant-messaging app, the photo is believed to have been taken outside a local middle school, she said.

Fort Lauderdale City Manager quitting to take job in Georgia” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — City Manager Chris Lagerbloom will quit his $293,000-a-year job to take a job as City Administrator in Alpharetta, Georgia — where he served as an officer and police captain early on in his career. Lagerbloom, who has been the top boss at Fort Lauderdale City Hall since January 2019, notified the entire Commission by text Tuesday morning. His last day as City Manager will be July 22. “Returning to Georgia will allow me to continue advancing my lifelong passion for serving the public, it will allow me to return to the city where that passion for service began almost 30 years ago, and it will allow me to return home and be closer to immediate and extended family,” Lagerbloom wrote.

Bragging rights: Navy ship to bear Fort Lauderdale name” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fort Lauderdale will soon have its own seaworthy baby: A namesake vessel manned by 400 sailors. Built at a hefty price of $1.8 billion, the USS Fort Lauderdale is the Navy’s first ship named for the city known as the “Yachting Capital of the World.” An invitation-only event will hold a commissioning ceremony to mark the ship’s entry into active service at Port Everglades on July 30 at 10 a.m. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who attended the ship’s christening in Mississippi last year, says he will most certainly be there for the commissioning. “It acknowledges the long history our community has had with the Navy,” he said Monday.

Miramar’s City Manager is out after six months on the job. A new leader has been chosen.” via Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The city of Miramar has new leadership after the prior City Manager only lasted six months on the job. Three City Commissioners recently gave City Manager Whittingham Gordon the boot at his half-year evaluation. That led to another leader, Roy Virgin, becoming the interim City Manager. The manager acts as the city’s CEO, overseeing day-to-day operations and department heads. Gordon, who worked for the city for 27 years, said he respected whatever the city decided. “I never professed to be perfect,” he said at a recent public meeting. “I will work to make sure that whatever decision is made that I make it as smooth as possible.”

Whittingham Gordon gets the boot.

55 Cuban migrants stopped at sea off the Florida Keys in a week, Coast Guard says” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted 55 people from Cuba at sea off the Florida Keys over five days last week. The agency said that a Coast Guard cutter Charles Sexton returned them to Cuba on Tuesday. They were stopped at sea in six separate interdictions off the Keys from last Monday, May 9, through Friday, according to the Coast Guard. South Florida is experiencing a wave of maritime migration from Cuba and Haiti, with more people fleeing deteriorating economic, safety and political conditions. Coast Guard crews on Monday took 19 people from Cuba to the Bahamas, who the agency said it rescued last week off the Bahamian island of Anguilla Cay.

Retailers in Miami-Dade County must accept cash under new law or face fines” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Tapping the brakes on the region’s move to a more digital economy, Miami-Dade County Commissioners on Tuesday passed a law requiring most retailers to accept cash from customers. The ordinance adopted on a unanimous vote imposes fines of up to $1,000 for stores that don’t accept cash from customers paying with bills of $20 or less. First offenses would get a warning, followed by increasing fines for subsequent violations. The legislation exempts online transactions and service providers. It also exempts sports venues if they provide a gift-card machine that accepts cash for attendees who don’t want to pay electronically.

AFROPUNK comes to Miami for the first time to bring the diaspora together” via C. Isaiah Smalls II of the Miami Herald — Roots Collective co-founder Danny Agnew never thought AFROPUNK would come to Miami. A festival championing Blackness in all its forms, AFROPUNK has previously held shows in cities known for their heavy Black population like Atlanta, Oakland and Brooklyn. But Miami? A place with one of America’s largest Latino populations? Not a chance, says Agnew. “Historically, Miami has been a melting pot,” said Agnew, whose multifaceted organization does everything from providing summer camps to selling pro-Black apparel to helping run a community fridge. “I thought it would come to a Houston before here.” That diversity, however, was exactly why AFROPUNK organizers wanted to bring the festival to the Magic City.

— TOP OPINION —

Sal Nuzzo: DeSantis to fight litigation driving homeowners’ insurance crisis” via Newsmax — There is hope that state policymakers will soon address the true man-made roots of a crisis that has made Florida’s property insurance market an anomaly in the United States — a crisis dating back 15 years to then-Gov. Crist. DeSantis has called state lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a Special Legislative Session this month for the sole purpose of addressing the crisis in the homeowners’ insurance market. In doing so, DeSantis issued a strongly-worded proclamation that gets at the heart of what’s driving higher costs for consumers — Florida’s insane litigation environment. While the Sunshine State comprises 7% of the U.S. population and 9% of the country’s homeowners’ insurance claims, it accounts for almost 80% of the litigation in this area.

— OPINIONS —

Is this really the government and Governor we want?” via James Hennessey in the Tallahassee Democrat — Gov. DeSantis won in 2018 by the narrowest of margins (0.4%), yet he acts as if he was given a mandate, providing license to act in an authoritarian manner. He seems to interpret opinions and actions he disagrees with as personal insults, justifying petulant responses. His attempt to shame school children who wore masks at one of his news conferences was startling in its disrespect for those children and their parents. More recently, his vindictive legislative action toward the Disney CEO for supporting the rights of his LGBTQ employees and their families was chilling in its brazen attempt to curtail free speech. Sadly, he is enabled by the gerrymandered Republican majority in the Legislature.

The Heritage Foundation Is wrong on Ukraine” via David French of The Dispatch — On Monday, the Senate voted on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, 81-11, to advance a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. The vote came days after the House passed the package by a similar bipartisan majority, 368-57. The United States is still pouring resources into the fight against Ukraine, and it’s still largely united behind the Ukrainian people. But there’s bad news. Resistance against Ukraine aid is growing on the right, and the center of right-wing resistance is no longer Tucker Carlson but one of the most powerful think tanks in Washington, the Heritage Foundation. Heritage’s opposition would be troubling enough on the merits, but compounding the problem, Heritage (a think tank, remember) has abandoned careful analysis in support of cheap, easily rebutted MAGA talking points. It’s sad to see.

Open and shut case against no-permit open carry” via Randy Schultz for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Roughly a week after that unprovoked, near-fatal shooting at Kings Point, DeSantis made the latest of his many comments in support of Florida allowing open carry of firearms without a permit. DeSantis and his Republican enablers in the Legislature hope to turn every Floridian into a right-wing lab rat. They don’t concern themselves with collateral damage. The Governor who sicced the morality police on textbook publishers wants no restrictions on carrying firearms for anyone allowed to own one. DeSantis isn’t running the state. He’s running for President. Permitless open carry has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with politics.

— ALOE —

Michelin Guide to reveal which Florida restaurants will receive stars on June 9” via Helen Freund of the Tampa Bay Times — The wait is almost over: On June 9, Tampa chefs and restaurant owners will finally find out whether they snagged a coveted Michelin star. Michelin star recipients will find out “in real time” during a live ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes. “Bib Gourmand,” “Sommelier of the Year,” and “Exceptional Cocktails” awards will also be announced at the ceremony, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. in Orlando. Until now, the guide, arguably the most widely respected restaurant ratings system in the world, never included Florida. Only restaurants from Orlando, Tampa and Miami were included in this round.

The stars of Florida will be revealed soon.

Florida State football’s 2022 games against LSU, UF set to be played in prime-time on ABC” via Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State football’s two prominent 2022 games against SEC opponents will both be played in prime-time on a major network. ESPN announced Tuesday that the Seminoles’ Week 1 game against LSU in New Orleans on Sunday, Sept. 4 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on ABC. This will be the Seminoles’ second game of the season after their Week 0 home opener against Duquesne on Aug. 27. FSU’s home game against rival Florida will be on Friday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC. It will be the eighth time in the last 10 seasons that FSU has played in prime-time over the Labor Day weekend. The matchup against the Gators will be the first-ever prime-time game on ABC the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Lightning and Panthers ready to show what Florida hockey is about” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Fans in central and southern Florida will rearrange their schedules, if necessary, to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers square off in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Tuesday. This rivalry developed in a way that the state’s Major League Baseball and National Football League teams never achieved. The setup for this series couldn’t be better. Last season, the Lightning defeated the Panthers in six grueling games en route to their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship. And the Panthers hold the NHL’s best record this season, along with a burning desire to take down the champions.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to a slew of Florida politicos, including former Rep. Mike Miller, former St. Pete City Councilmember Robert Blackmon, FDLE PIO Jeremy Burns, Brooke Bustle, Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald, poker savant Trevor Mask, and Michael Wickersheim.

___

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


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