Good Monday morning.
Former Department of Business and Professional Regulation Chief of Staff Thomas Philpot is joining GrayRobinson’s National Alcohol Beverage Practice as a shareholder.
“Thomas is a consummate professional, and we consider him a pivotal addition to our Nationwide Alcohol Industry Group,” said GrayRobinson shareholder and Regulated Products Section Chair Richard Blau. “As the recent past president of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators, Thomas is recognized and respected across the country by industry members and regulators alike.”
At GrayRobinson, Philpot will use his understanding of regulations to help clients identify pathways for regulatory compliance, pursue policy changes, and set up connections with public officials.
“In my years as a regulator, I respected the depth of preparation and proficiency that GrayRobinson’s team consistently invested in their representation of client interests, and I appreciated the candor and enthusiasm that accompanied their commitment to achieving client objectives on many complex matters,” Philpot said. “I share these values, and I am honored to bring my experience to such a high-caliber team of professionals who are striving every day to find solutions and deliver results for clients facing regulatory challenges at all levels of government.”
Philpot, an FSU law grad, was DBPR’s Chief of Staff for nearly all of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first term. His tenure coincided with the implementation of Florida’s most comprehensive occupational licensing reform package in years with the passage of the 2020 Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act.
Philpot also served as the director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco during a period of substantial growth in Florida’s alcoholic beverage industry. And in 2021, he was elected national president of NCSLA — the conference’s first president elected from Florida in nearly 40 years and only the third since the organization’s establishment following the repeal of Prohibition.
A few other items crossing my radar:
🦃 — Avian flu, not just inflation, causes 20% spike in turkey prices: An avian flu outbreak is taking many turkeys from the Thanksgiving supply, causing a shortage that, paired with ongoing inflation, is making Thanksgiving dinner more expensive this year. America’s Farm Bureau Federation estimates the average cost of a 16-pound turkey is up 20% from last year, from $23.88 to $28.96. Increases can be more or less depending on the bird and region. But inflation is playing a role too, with the cost of pumpkin pie mix, pie shells, milk and whipped cream all also on the rise. Read more here.
😤 — What will this year’s Thanksgiving gripe be? Tension is no stranger to large family gatherings such as Thanksgiving, with common tropes emerging from uninvited guests, squabbles over sides, unaccommodated food allergies and random family disagreements. But in recent years politics, and the politics of a pandemic, have made the otherwise festive affair something, for some, to fear rather than relish. New York Times columnist Pamela Paul speculates this year’s challenges, ranging from the cost of the meal in general (is it inflation or something else, travel nightmares, and lingering concerns for contagion. But what if, she posits, Thanksgiving is just not a problem this year? Read her friendly reminder to celebrate shared gratitude here.
🙏 — And a few tips to keep the feast drama-free: San Diego Union-Tribune writer Steven P. Dinkin is reviving his list of must-follow Thanksgiving decorum tips to keep politics and friction from serving up a menu of scorn and disdain this year. Among them, “discard the contentious notion of ‘right versus wrong,’ think before you speak, listen, choose your tablemate wisely, respond respectfully, be humble, and celebrate shared values and cherished family memories, among others. Sage advice is found here.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@POTUS: Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs, and for those injured in this senseless attack. While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that gun violence has a particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation.
—@MaxwellFrostFL: When hate and bigotry are armed, this happens. We shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence. My prayers go to the victims and families; my actions go toward the future we deserve. Sending love to our LGBTQ+ family.
—@LindaStewartFL:💔Most people don’t hate but it only takes one to attack. The killings at LGBTQ club in CO last night was another example of our country without boundaries. 5 dead 18 injured. 🙏Tonight, our community will stand together with Colorado and the LGBTQ community
—@ShevrinJones: Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and the normalizing of it has caused this. Elected officials who campaigned on anti-LGBTQ or anti-trans policies perpetuates acts of violence like this. One living their truth doesn’t hurt or kill no one! But hate does! Hate kills!
—@NikkiFried: Leaders of the extreme Right have been villainizing our innocent LGBTQ+ communities for too long. Creating false hysteria amongst their followers. There is no question why an attack like this happened to us in Orlando, and why it’s happened in Colorado Springs. It has to stop.
Girl, shut up. https://t.co/8uC3wyFEzh
— Michele Rayner-Goolsby (she/they) (@micheleforfl) November 20, 2022
—@ChadChronister: Prayers for those affected by the Colorado Springs LGBTQ 🏳️🌈 nightclub shooting, a tragic event that could have resulted in more injuries and deaths if not for the courageous acts of others who overtook the assailant to stop the violence.
—@oneunderscore__: The last Facebook post before the shooting at the LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs promoted an all-ages Drag Brunch for the next morning. Drag Brunches have been the target of incessant threats and harassment from anti-LGBTQ groups and accounts over the last year.
—@bjoewolf: We just want to live. Is that so much to ask?
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 9; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 9; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 14; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 15; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 15; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 25; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 41; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 65; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 72; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 88; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 89; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 106; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 123; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 143; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 158; 2023 Session Sine Die — 165; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 165; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 193; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 242; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 249; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 347; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 494; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 550; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 613; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 613; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 655; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 718; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 816; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 893. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,082.
— TOP STORY —
“Rick Scott didn’t flip the Senate for Republicans, then he lost to Mitch McConnell. Now what?” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — In February, Florida’s junior Senator broke ranks to roll out a controversial policy plan that Scott said was needed to define the party’s agenda — the details of which put him at odds with some other Republicans and became a favorite target of Democratic attacks.
Then he publicly feuded with Senate GOP leader McConnell over political strategy.
This week, Republicans failed to retake the Senate, as Democrats defied historical trends to flip a key Pennsylvania seat blue. Days later, Scott soundly lost his long shot bid to be minority leader. The vote was 37-10 in favor of McConnell’s re-election, Senators said.
Scott has been rumored to have national ambitions, but some observers wonder if these events could leave him the odd man out among Florida’s ambitious leaders as former President Donald Trump announces his 2024 run and DeSantis basks in heightening presidential buzz. Sen. Marco Rubio also won re-election by a double-digit landslide.
Scott, for his part, has said he’s staying the course, and that his actions stem from his desire to hold the Washington establishment accountable.
Considering Florida’s rightward swing, Scott’s current political issues may not have any impact on a re-election bid in two years, multiple observers said.
In the meantime, though, he’s not expected to stop talking about his desire for change within the Republican Party.
“I believe it’s time for the Senate Republican Conference to be far more bold and resolute than we have been in the past,” he wrote in the letter to his colleagues announcing his challenge to McConnell. “We must start saying what we are for, not just what we are against.”
“How Florida turned red: Changing population, weak opposition, aggressive Ron DeSantis” via John Kennedy and Zac Anderson of the Tallahassee Democrat — While a Republican red wave missed most of the nation this election season, it washed over Florida powered by energy from shifting demographics, a dysfunctional Democratic Party and DeSantis. Combined, these forces gave Republicans historic control of every statewide elected office in Florida, along with supermajorities in the state House, Senate and congressional delegation. It leaves Democrats not only far removed from political influence, but also questioning the party’s future in a state turned so lopsided against them. DeSantis and Trump, from his Palm Beach home, have emerged as Florida’s dominant forces.
“GOP to DeSantis: Thanks for helping us flip the House” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — DeSantis was heavily criticized last spring when he pushed Republican lawmakers to adopt congressional maps that were much more friendly to the GOP. Republican lawmakers were initially reluctant to go along with the Governor and GOP legislative leaders even punished rank-and-file members for siding with DeSantis. But Republicans in Florida and nationally are now praising the Governor for strong-arming his own party to approve his congressional maps, which netted Florida Republicans four additional congressional seats.
“DeSantis, Nikki Haley present themselves to GOP Jews as Donald Trump’s top challengers” via Ben Samuels of Haaretz — DeSantis and Haley headlined the final night of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual confab in Nevada, aiming to send a clear message to Trump and GOP voters that they are the party’s future. They spoke following a whirlwind 24 hours of potential 2024 candidates laying out their vision for the party after the disappointing Midterms in which the Republican Party failed to take back the Senate and achieved only a slim majority in the House of Representatives. Speaking via satellite, Trump had earlier sought to remind the crowd that any potential challenger had a massive hill to climb if they hoped to defeat him. However, the crowd at the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino welcomed DeSantis as if he were Trump’s natural successor.
“DeSantis presents ‘blueprint for success’ at Republican Jewish Coalition presidential cattle call” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis, at the first cattle call for 2024 presidential contenders, touted his record as a proven path for victory for other Republicans. “What the election results in Florida show is that Florida really has a blueprint for success,” he said. The Florida Governor, fresh off a landslide re-election, spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit in Las Vegas. He enjoyed a high-profile speaking slot Saturday evening. Fox News reports DeSantis received multiple standing ovations. With the particular audience in front of him in mind, DeSantis noted he performed especially well with Jewish voters. “We won the highest share of the Jewish vote for any Republican candidate in Florida history,” DeSantis said.
“‘DeFuture’? Ron to the Rescue super PAC kicks off with 2024 ad” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis continues to be coy about plans to run for President in 2024, but supporters aren’t waiting to make that case for him, labeling DeSantis as “DeFuture.” The “Ron to the Rescue” super PAC is rolling out a new ad that spotlights how the Governor is the best answer for Republicans to what Joe Biden has done since taking office. The 60-second spot begins with newscasters discussing COVID-19 “lockdown” mitigation measures, over shots of barren streets from Anytown USA. The tropes of inflation, high gas prices and violent crime were introduced next, establishing the theme of America as a “nation on the brink.”
To watch the ad, please click on the image below:
“DeSantis may be Republicans’ best chance to prevent Trump’s return” via The Economist — In light of his outperformance in Florida while Republicans elsewhere foundered in the Midterm Elections, some donors now view DeSantis as a potential savior for the Republican Party, as it tries to move beyond Trump. The 2024 election is still years away, and DeSantis has yet to announce his candidacy, but support for him is growing. He managed to raise more than $200m for his campaign for Governor, a national record. 46% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents prefer DeSantis as the 2024 nominee, compared with 40% who prefer Trump.
“How Trump vs. DeSantis is playing on Miami’s conservative Spanish-language media” via Andres Viglucci and Lesley Cosme Torres of the Miami Herald — Speaking as a guest on a leading program on Miami’s Spanish-language Radio Mambí a week after the Midterm Elections, conservative Cuban American businesswoman Remedios Diaz-Oliver inadvertently crossed an invisible line: Diaz-Oliver said she felt “upset” by Trump’s much-publicized shots at his presumed rival for the 2024 GOP nomination, DeSantis, who had just won re-election by a historic margin. “The last thing we want is a civil war in the Republican Party,” Diaz-Oliver said.
“Why DeSantis is shrugging off Trump — for now” via Max Greenwood and Amie Parnes of The Hill — For now, at least, Republicans say that DeSantis’s strategy of simply brushing off the budding rivalry with Trump is working. For one, there are still lingering questions about Trump’s influence over the GOP and whether his bombastic political brand is more of an asset or a liability. Some said that Trump may only end up hurting himself by picking a fight with someone as popular among the GOP’s conservative base as DeSantis. “Trump’s extremism has passed its expiration date. With each passing day, he’s becoming more and more irrelevant,” Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist, said. “Gov. DeSantis is rising in approval ratings, so why punch down?”
“Cord Byrd says there’s ‘plenty of time’ for possible Ron DeSantis run in 2024” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida’s Secretary of State is the latest Republican voice to express enthusiasm about a potential DeSantis run for President. Byrd, appointed to the position by DeSantis earlier this year, says the “Nation’s Governor” has “plenty of time” before any such run would have to begin. “When I travel around the country and the state, people call him the Nation’s Governor. He’s going to continue to do great things for Florida and be an example to the nation,” Byrd told Fox News’ Harris Faulkner on Thursday.
“Wealthy donors finance DeSantis’ sojourns across U.S., Florida” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — A group of superwealthy people helped foot the bill as DeSantis barnstormed Florida and the rest of the country campaigning for his re-election and stumping for political allies running up to the Midterm Elections this month. They include hoteliers, developers, restaurateurs, investment brokers, trucking magnates, health executives, gas station and convenience store owners, and oil distributors, some benefited from appointments to state boards and from laws enacted by DeSantis. Those include the state’s gas tax holiday, raising the commission for retailers on lottery ticket sales, earmarking millions of advertising dollars for Visit Florida, and lifting the state’s lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
— STATEWIDE —
“Federal judge puts Florida’s ‘Stop WOKE Act’ on pause for universities” via Sam Sachs of WFLA — A lawsuit filed by a professor and student at the University of South Florida, contesting the state’s “Stop WOKE Act,” officially titled the “Individual Freedom Act,” has temporarily blocked the law’s impact on public universities, thanks to an order from a federal judge. House Bill 7, dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act” when first announced by DeSantis before the 2022 Legislative Session, bans the teaching of critical race theory in public schools and universities. USF Professor Adriana Novoa, who teaches history, and student Sam Rechek filed suit in federal court contesting the law on grounds that it is government censorship.
Assignment editors — The Florida Senate Democratic Caucus will host the official designation ceremony for Leader Lauren Book as Senate Democratic Leader for the 2022-2024 term: 1 p.m., Florida Senate Chamber. The ceremony will be livestreamed and later archived on The Florida Channel at thefloridachannel.org.
“New House rules: No need for appropriations bills” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — House members will no longer need to file individual bills for appropriation projects to ensure they’re placed in the budget process after incoming Speaker Paul Renner released the chamber’s new rules. The bill filing requirement was one of the major changes implemented by former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who also insisted each spending project be accompanied by a request form filled out by who was making the request and other project details, such as local and federal funding for the project and the timeline to complete it. Those other requirements will remain in place.
“Renner restructures House panels, strengthens emphasis on infrastructure, school choice” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — In another update from Renner, the Palm Coast Republican is out with the committee structure for the new Legislative Term. Renner’s outline calls for nine main committees and 23 subcommittees, including the consolidation, elimination and restructuring of several panels. Gone is the Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee and say hello to the Infrastructure Strategies Committee. With the Legislature’s Organization Session coming Tuesday, Renner has been rolling out his structural vision for the House this week, including leadership announcements and proposed rule changes. The latest announcements come on Friday, four days ahead of the organizational Session.
“Florida pro-choice advocates are ready to fight if GOP supermajority targets abortion access” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Pro-choice leaders are mobilizing in response to potential changes to abortion access in Florida. The Midterms were the first round of nationwide elections since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, nixing a constitutional right to abortion that had been in place since 1973. If abortion is further restricted in the state, Planned Parenthood will expand its patient navigation and transportation program to provide additional financial assistance for Floridians who need to travel to get care. The organization is also battling the current law alongside organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
“The Legislature will have more Black GOP lawmakers in both chambers” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Now the Legislative Black Caucus has increased to four GOP members overall for the 2022-24 term. Three African Americans are Republicans in the House. And in the Senate, Corey Simon is the only Black Republican lawmaker. In addition to Rep. Webster Barnaby, the other two new Republican members in the Black Caucus from the Florida House are Berny Jacques and Kiyan Michael. Overall, the Black Caucus is made up of 29 members from both major political parties; most Black members are from the Democratic Party. The Senate has seven Black lawmakers; the House has 22. Sen. Shevrin Jones told the Phoenix that “for the first time in a long time, in both chambers, Black legislators make up the majority of the Democratic caucus.”
“GOP sees Latino vote grow some, with big gains in Florida” via Adriana Gomez Licon and Acacia Coronado of the Orlando Sentinel — Republicans had placed hopes on a roster of Latina candidates around the country as they looked to make gains with Latino voters in a Midterm Election that some had predicted would yield sweeping GOP victories. The verdict was mixed, despite strong gains in Florida. While Republican House candidates made modest inroads among Latino voters in 2022 compared with 2018, several GOP Latina candidates in high-profile races lost. Overall, the House will see a net gain of at least eight Latino members, with seven of them being Democrats, according to a tally by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
“Florida wildlife officials will feed manatees again this winter to curb die-off” via Max Chesnes of the Tampa Bay Times — In an effort to slow an ongoing manatee die-off, Florida wildlife officials announced Wednesday they will once again feed the wild animals lettuce this winter to curb starvation from a human-caused lack of sea grass. It’s the second time Florida’s leading wildlife agency will conduct the feeding program after a record 1,100 manatees died in 2021, many from starvation or severe malnourishment. Biologists first suggested the feeding option last year as a temporary fix to the intensifying chronic malnutrition problem, wrought by decades of polluted water in the northern Indian River Lagoon on the state’s Atlantic coast.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Joe Biden asks Congress for nearly $30 billion in disaster aid for Florida, Puerto Rico” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Biden is asking Congress to allocate over $37 billion in aid for Florida, Puerto Rico and other parts of the country recently affected by natural disasters, less than two weeks before the official end of the 2022 hurricane season. The Biden administration’s push for disaster relief comes alongside its recent request for additional COVID-19 funds and aid to Ukraine, as Congress reconvenes to pass a spending bill to fund the U.S. government for the rest of the fiscal year by Dec. 16. “The President has visited many of these communities in recent months, including parts of Florida and Puerto Rico that have been devastated by Hurricanes Ian and Fiona,” said Dhara Nayyar, White House regional communications director.
“Nancy Pelosi won’t seek leadership role, plans to stay in Congress” via The Associated Press — Pelosi said she will not seek a leadership position in the new Congress, a pivotal realignment making way for a new generation of leaders after Democrats lost control of the House to Republicans in the Midterm Elections. Pelosi announced in a spirited speech on the House floor that she will step aside after leading Democrats for nearly 20 years and in the aftermath of the brutal attack on her husband, Paul, last month in their San Francisco home. Pelosi, who rose to become the nation’s first woman to wield the speaker’s gavel, said she would remain in Congress as the representative from San Francisco, a position she has held for 35 years. “Now we must move boldly into the future,” Pelosi said.
“The new heavyweights in Congress” via Charlie Mahtesian of POLITICO — Scattershot outcomes will shift power between states in the next Congress, with some poised to see their interests prosper under a new Republican majority and others likely to face a notable loss of clout. Thanks in part to DeSantis’ aggressive effort to gerrymander a more GOP-friendly congressional map, Republicans netted four more seats out of Florida. The GOP now holds a 20-8 majority in Florida’s House delegation, cementing the state’s status as the second-largest Republican delegation in the House. Under the new GOP majority, the state might get its first Committee Chair in years — Rep. Vern Buchanan is in contention to take the gavel of the powerful, tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
“GOP plans to punish ‘woke’ Wall Street” via Zachary Warmbrodt and Sam Sutton of POLITICO — Wall Street loves Republican tax cuts and deregulation. It’s going to hate the GOP’s plans for 2023. Republican lawmakers, who will be in the House majority come January, are pressing party leaders to send a message to big financial firms: Stop appeasing the left with “woke” business practices, keep financing fossil fuels and cut ties with China. Republicans will have committee gavels and subpoena powers to back that up.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Elon Musk restores Trump’s Twitter account after online poll” via The Associated Press — Musk reinstated Trump’s account on Twitter, reversing a ban that has kept the former President off the social media site since a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was poised to certify Biden’s election victory. Musk made the announcement in the evening after holding a poll that asked Twitter users to click “yes” or “no” on whether Trump’s account should be restored. The “yes” vote won, with 51.8%. Previously, Musk had said Twitter would set up new procedures and a “content moderation council” before making decisions to restore suspended accounts. “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted, using a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
“Trump 2024 rivals court his donors as Primary season begins” via Steve Peoples of The Associated Press — Republicans considering a 2024 run for the White House will assemble in Las Vegas this weekend, with anxious donors and activists openly considering whether to support Trump for a third straight time. Trump will be among the only major Republican prospects not in attendance for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, which organizers suggest marks the unofficial beginning of the 2024 Presidential Primary campaign season.
“Allen Weisselberg testifies Trump Organization tax schemes were for his benefit” via Shayna Jacobs of The Washington Post — Weisselberg, the longtime finance chief at Trump Organization, appeared to get emotional Thursday, testifying as a witness for the prosecution as part of a plea agreement, said on cross-examination that he was embarrassed by his conduct “more than you can imagine” and that his actions betrayed the Trump family, for whom he had worked for a half-century. He is “practically” family to the Trumps, he said. Weisselberg also testified that he was acting only for his own benefit — a position that could work against a conviction in the criminal tax fraud and conspiracy case against Trump’s namesake company. “It was my own personal greed that led to this,” Weisselberg said.
“Inside Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s gilded Florida paradise — far from Trump or 2024” via Emily Jane Fox of Vanity Fair — Kushner picked up the remote and turned on the television. He and his wife were re-watching the first season of Game of Thrones. It’s this story that the Kushners have taken to telling friends who ask whether he and Trump would go back to Washington should their king win in 2024. The apartment they are currently renting occupies three floors in one of Surfside’s most expensive buildings, a pyramid-shaped condominium right on the beach. The building has a private tennis court on the roof, and a 75-foot indoor lap pool, though the Kushners have their own private outdoor pool and yard.
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“As DeSantis injects politics into School Boards, parents are getting more influence” via Sommer Brugal of the Miami Herald — In September, a debate over whether the Miami-Dade School Board should recognize October as LGBTQ history month again left board members facing a divided roomful of constituents. It was the latest strain in School Board-parental relations. So, board member Lubby Navarro offered what she believed to be a timely reminder to the crowd. “We can never forget who our customers are. Our customers are our parents,” she said. “And we have to be driven to give parents what they’re asking us, this school system, for our children.” The comment drew a rebuke from the Board’s student adviser, Andrea Pita Mendez, a senior. The Board, she countered, was there to serve students, and that students should be at the center of their decision-making.
“Tina Polsky and Gayle Harrell named new leaders of PBC’s legislative delegation” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Sen. Polsky and Sen. Harrell are the Palm Beach County legislative delegation’s new leaders for the coming term, lawmakers decided at Friday’s organizational meeting. Polsky, whose new district straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties, was the delegation’s unanimous choice to succeed Rep. Mike Caruso as delegation Chair. And Harrell, whose district straddles Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, got a unanimous vote to succeed Polsky as the delegation’s Vice Chair. “I know we will be in very good hands,” Caruso said.
“Unopposed city pols glide to election in Palm Beach County in advance of March elections” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The General Election is over, but qualifying deadlines elected municipal candidates in Palm Beach County as no one emerged to challenge their candidacy. The day after the General Election, Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer was re-elected to his final term leading Palm Beach County’s second-largest city. Qualifying deadlines also hit West Palm Beach, the county’s largest city, allowing two incumbent City Commissioners there to slide into new terms. Commissioner Shalonda Warren was the sole qualifier for representing District 2 as was Commissioner Joseph Peduzzi for District 4.
“Broward School Board candidate files lawsuit challenging her opponent’s eligibility to hold office” via Kate Payne of WLRN — A Broward County School Board candidate has filed a lawsuit challenging her opponent’s eligibility to hold elected office because of a felony conviction, urging a judge to step in to ensure that the voters’ representative is legally able to carry out his duties. In a petition filed on Nov. 14, Marie Murray Martin asked a judge to prevent certifying the election results of her opponent Rod Velez and to bar him from taking office, unless he can prove his eligibility. “[Velez’s] disregard for the law deceived voters and usurped the election process,” Martin wrote in her petition.
“‘Consistent winner’ Jesse Manzano-Plaza notches another successful election cycle” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For Manzano-Plaza, the 2022 Election cycle was a blowout success. The veteran political insider went undefeated guiding four campaigns to landslide victories. Working out of his Coral Gables firm, Tridente Strategies, Manzano-Plaza has built a reputation as an ace-in-the-hole consultant and strategist for politicians and private sector interests alike. His performance this year only strengthened that designation. The first big win came in August, when Miami residents OK’d a Primary Election referendum extending the lease for Riverside Wharf, a nightlife hot spot developers plan to expand with hotel and entertainment pieces.
“North Miami is still considering changing its local election date. Residents are concerned” via Raisa Habersham of the Miami Herald — The North Miami city council discussed changing its May 2023 municipal elections to November 2024 to align with national elections, but ultimately decided to delay their vote on the matter. The change would mean that two council members would spend an additional 18 months in office. Friday evening’s vote to table the legislation to Monday passed 4-1, with District 4 Council member and Vice Mayor Alix Delsume being the lone no-vote. Desulme wanted to hold the vote at the council’s Dec. 13 meeting. There will be a special council meeting on Monday.
“Innocence Sold: Florida hotels have stacked up thousands of violations of a 2019 sex-trafficking law. But not one has been fined.” via David Fleshler, Spencer Norris and Brittany Wallman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The assault spilled into the fifth-floor hallway of the Plaza Hotel on State Road 7 in Fort Lauderdale. Angry that a 17-year-old girl refused to turn over the full $200 taken from two sexual encounters with men, Damion Miller allegedly struck her and choked her. She fled the room and ran down the hallway screaming for help as other hotel guests called 911. Miller, who had been paying the girl with drugs, would be arrested a week later at another Fort Lauderdale hotel, plead no-contest to sex trafficking and receive a five-year prison sentence. The Plaza Hotel would be cited four times in the next three years for violating a 2019 state law intended to fight sex trafficking at hotels.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“Appeals court nominations for Rep. Mike Beltran, Judge Jared Smith challenged” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — A state lawmaker is challenging the eligibility of three candidates for Florida’s new 6th District Court of Appeal because the candidates don’t live within the district. A Judicial Nominating Commission put forward 18 names to DeSantis for three seats on the appeals court, including two Tampa Bay residents: state Rep. Beltran and Hillsborough Circuit Judge Smith. It also recommended Leon County Circuit Judge Stephen Everett. Rep. Geraldine Thompson filed the challenge with Florida’s Supreme Court on Thursday night, arguing that the Commission exceeded its authority with those three recommendations.
“Recalling Pulse, Orlando LGBTQ activists mourn Colorado victims” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — A crowd of nearly 70 gathered Sunday evening, weeping, singing and embracing at the Pulse memorial to mourn the deaths of the five killed at an LGBTQ nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs this weekend. The Orlando Gay Chorus sang “Love is Love is Love” to a crowd bearing the cold rain with teary eyes. One Orlando Alliance, which was created in the aftermath of the Pulse attack, noted that the shooting occurred during the weekend of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, where 32 members of the trans community who have been violently killed would be honored. Now the organization will mourn five more victims of violence.
“Disney busy after earning miss: Raises prices, cuts positions and buys new cruise ship” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — The Walt Disney Co. is making some big moves after disappointing earnings this month sent Disney stock prices tumbling. The company raised the cost to go to Disney World, froze hiring positions to save money, and then expanded its cruise line business with the acquisition of one of the world’s largest cruise ships. Disney+, the company’s streaming service, lost $1.5 billion for the quarter, up from $630 million a year earlier, and Disney’s revenue disappointed analysts. “Assuming we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate, we still expect Disney+ to achieve profitability in fiscal 2024, as losses begin to shrink in the first quarter of fiscal 2023,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek promised.
— LOCAL: TB —
“Hoyt Prindle to kick off Tampa City Council bid with support from Pat Kemp” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Tampa City Council candidate Prindle is officially kicking off his campaign for District 6 on Dec. 14, he announced Friday. The kickoff will be at Cigar City Brewery in Tampa from 6-8 p.m. Prindle is launching his campaign with early support from Hillsborough County Commissioner Kemp. “I am excited to see Hoyt on the Tampa City Council. He is a natural leader and his background as a businessman, lawyer and community advocate will bring a much-needed voice to the Tampa City Council,” Kemp said in an endorsement announcement.
“Alan Clendenin to officially launch Tampa City Council bid” via Florida Politics — Clendenin will officially kick off his campaign on Dec. 1 at the Cuban Club in Ybor City. Clendenin is running for the District 1 seat currently occupied by City Council Chair Joe Citro, who is seeking re-election. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs through 7:30. Dozens of supporters have already signed on, including state Reps. Fentrice Driskell and Dianne Hart, former Rep. Andrew Learned, Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court Cindy Stuart, suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, former Hillsborough County Clerk Pat Frank and nearly 50 other community leaders and advocates. Clendenin hopes to improve on his 2019 City Council bid, in which he lost to Citro and Walter Smith (Smith is now serving on Clendenin’s host committee) with just over 19% of the vote. Citro went on to defeat Smith.
“Kimberly Overman says Tampa City Council seat not in plans” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — She’s heard the rumors that she’ll run for Tampa City Council. “I’ve gotten several calls,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Overman, who lost her re-election bid last week. But Overman, who lives in Guido Maniscalco’s district in Seminole Heights, said she isn’t planning to jump into the fray for the city elections in March. “I’ve been very clear, I’m not done,” Overman told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday morning. “But my next cycle is 2024 or 2026.” Overman spoke highly of Hoyt Prindle III, a lawyer who has already announced for Maniscalco’s seat. “He’s talented and thoughtful. He’s awesome,” Overman said of Prindle.
Assignment editors — Rep. Kathy Castor will be joined by veteran small-business owners in the Tampa Bay area to share what you need to know to shop Small Business Saturday: 10 a.m., LAB Theatre Project, 812 E Henderson Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). RSVP at [email protected].
“Salvation Army of Clearwater to give away 12,000 turkey dinners for Thanksgiving” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The Salvation Army of Clearwater is hosting its annual Thanksgiving dinner giveaway this week, serving families and individuals 12,000 turkeys. The event begins at 10 a.m. Monday at the Salvation Army Mallory/Powell Center located at 1521 Druid Road in Clearwater. An anonymous donor provided 12,000 turkeys for this year’s giveaway, a tradition that began 12 years ago. The donation also includes potatoes, stuffing and vegetables to round up a full Thanksgiving feast. An army of volunteers will be on hand to staff the drive-thru distribution, where they will load turkeys and sides onto carts and place them in recipients’ vehicles.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“‘Your whole life is gone’: Elderly retirees in Florida struggle to rebuild after Ian” via Danielle Kaye and Marisa Peñaloza of WUSF — In a parking lot in Fort Myers surrounded by barren trees, dozens of people gather under a white tent. It’s a sunny, breezy Sunday morning at Southwest Baptist Church. Service has been held outside since Hurricane Ian flooded their building in late September. The congregation, which is about 98% seniors, provides a comforting life rhythm for its members, with Bingo Nights and Bible studies. Robert Walker said he tried a few churches before settling at Southwest Baptist. “I really like the church. It helps the healing. It really does,” Walker said. “This is family.” Walker’s home flooded. He doesn’t have insurance or the means to hire help, but he’s a retired builder and can use his tools and skills to do the work himself.
“Perfect paradise: How the CIA helped fight developers eyeing Sanibel Island” via Greg Baker for Florida Politics — Don Whitehead, a former CIA agent, and his wife were living in a simple block home when one of Whitehead’s former charges, Porter Goss found it fit his needs. Former director of Planning, Programming, and Budget of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, Fred Valentin, soon joined them. They opened the Island Reporter, Sanibel’s first newspaper, in 1973. Reporting on the activities of the Lee County Commission was part of their coverage. Many points of Commission business included developers trying to build on Sanibel. Goss would attend these meetings, passing his notes to Whitehead, who would write them up for publication. Goss and the Island Reporter group took an anti-development editorial stand with the paper, encouraging the notion that Sanibel should incorporate and control its destiny regarding growth and development.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“Plaintiffs ask court to reject Jacksonville City Council’s redrawn map” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — The Jacksonville City Council failed to fix the problems with its original redistricting plan, plaintiffs argued Friday in a court filing asking a federal judge to reject the city’s second attempt at drawing new district lines. Last month, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard struck the city’s council and Duval County’s School Board district maps as racial gerrymanders, finding the City Council had segregated voters based on race for decades. The city got the first chance at drawing up a new plan, submitting one last week to the court while its attempts to halt the court order failed. The court must give deference to the city’s plan, but Howard could still reject it.
“‘I will miss the work’: Kristin Dozier’s plans uncertain after loss in Mayor’s race” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — For the first time in 12 years, Dozier won’t be reporting for duty on the fifth floor of the Leon County Courthouse. Dozier, who came up short in her bid to unseat Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, is wrapping up her third term as County Commissioner. Her successor, David O’Keefe, takes office Tuesday. “As you can imagine, there is a mix of emotions,” she said in an interview. Dozier said she might have felt differently had she sought a fourth term for the County Commission and lost. She noted she decided to retire from the District 5 seat last year, well before she jumped into what became a bitterly fought Mayor’s race.
“Jacksonville Sheriff Pat Ivey announces retirement as T.K. Waters prepares to take over agency on Sunday” via News4Jax — Jacksonville Sheriff Ivey is set to step down as Sheriff-elect Waters prepares to take over the agency on Sunday. On Thursday, Ivey announced he will retire from the Sheriff’s Office. DeSantis appointed Ivey as interim sheriff from undersheriff back in June after Sheriff Mike Williams resigned amid controversy surrounding his residency. Waters, a Republican, was elected last week after clinching victory over his opponent, Democrat Lakesha Burton, with 55% of the vote. “It’s time to get to work,” Waters told his supporters. “We’re going to take care of the people in our city because it’s absolutely the best city in the entire world.”
“Personnel note: Justin Roth joins FSU Board of Trustees” via Florida Politics — The Florida Board of Governors confirmed Roth’s appointment to Florida State University’s Board of Trustees on Nov. 9. He begins his term immediately. Roth, a Miami native, is a partner at LINK Public Affairs, where he leads the Washington, D.C. office and provides strategic advice and counsel to clients on public affairs matters. A 1997 FSU graduate who double-majored in history and political science, Roth is a seasoned political and policy professional with expertise in legislative strategies, domestic policy matters and foreign affairs. He has more than two decades of experience in government affairs and lobbying. Most recently, Roth served as Chief of Staff to three U.S. Representatives, one of them DeSantis, and former U.S. Sen. Martha McSally.
“How Julie Dennis uses vision, skills to improve quality of life — connecting grants with projects” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Dennis will never forget the feeling of the bump in the road. It turns out that driving over a downed power line has a particular feel to it. She remembers that feeling most clearly from the return to her parents’ Bay County house after Hurricane Michael. Her parents’ house was destroyed. The entire community was changed forever. “I’m a community planner and I’ve been working in disaster recovery for two decades,” Dennis said. Dennis left Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity shortly after Michael and she took her skills in grant writing to help people in the Panhandle recover.
“More people turning to Northwest Florida nonprofit groups this holiday season” via Olivia Iverson of WEAR-TV — Northwest Florida nonprofit groups say more people are leaning on them for help this holiday season. Those organizations say families are struggling to put food on the table every day — Thanksgiving included. As these organizations explain, you may not see the need, but we all see the factors that put people in a tough financial situation. That includes gas prices, rent, utilities and inflation, which affects everything you buy, including food. Manna Food Pantries helps both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. They see that need firsthand daily.
“Why I changed my mind about law and marriage, again” via David French of The Dispatch — In the years since Obergefell, three things have become quite clear. First, it’s plain that there are progressive Americans who most assuredly do not believe there are good faith objections to same-sex marriage, even on religious grounds. They view any objection to same-sex marriage as inherently and purely bigoted and want the law and culture to punish orthodox Christians for upholding the teachings of their churches.
This brings us to a second reality that’s emerged since Obergefell. Even as attacks on religious liberty escalated, the legal response was stronger still.
Since Obergefell, both LGBT Americans and people who uphold orthodox Christian teachings on marriage enjoy expanded individual and institutional liberty. That doesn’t mean there aren’t issues left to resolve — and it certainly doesn’t mean that parts of the left aren’t keen to reverse religious liberty’s legal advance — but the bottom line is that the legal environment post-Obergefell is far better than I dared to hope in June 2015 when the case was decided.
Then there’s the third key factor. Millions of Americans have formed families and live their lives in deep reliance on Obergefell being good law. It would be profoundly disruptive and unjust to rip out the legal superstructure around which they’ve ordered their lives. One senses the Supreme Court feels the same way.
That’s why I wrote Friday in The Atlantic in support of the Senate’s version of the Respect for Marriage Act. Not because I’m backing down one inch from Christian orthodoxy, but rather because it represents the best compromise I’ve seen yet that protects the rights and dignity of all Americans.
— OPINIONS —
“Biden’s era of big government is over” via Kate Davidson of POLITICO — For two years, Biden has pushed a vision of how the federal government could lead the way in rescuing a pandemic-battered economy and bolstering it with long-term investments. With Republicans set to take control of the House and Biden’s Democrats keeping a razor-thin edge in the Senate, the President must now find a way to work with GOP lawmakers to get things done. Rather than driving the economic policy agenda on Capitol Hill, Biden will be along for the ride — forced to grapple with issues that Republicans care about, or else settle for gridlock. That means he’ll have to seek common ground with the GOP on issues from standing up to China to reining in Big Tech.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Disney Cruise Line to buy unfinished ship that will become largest in fleet” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — One cruise line’s loss is Mickey Mouse’s gain. Disney Cruise Line has announced it will buy the unfinished Global Dream cruise ship under construction in Germany. The 208,000-gross-ton ship was being built for Genting Hong Kong, which ran Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises as well as the Lloyd Werft and MV Werften shipyards. What was originally targeted to serve the Chinese market, the Global Dream would have had the capacity for about 9,000 passengers. Disney Cruise Line has no intention of cramming that many people on board, but the ship is significantly larger than all the existing ships in its fleet.
“UCF’s 11 a.m. kickoff is the price you pay for cashing that TV check” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — I’ve received a few complaints this week from UCF fans who are upset that Saturday’s game against Navy has been moved to 11 a.m. so it can be televised during ESPN’s new early time slot. I absolutely understand why fans feel that a morning kickoff is utterly inconvenient. You can’t rant about TV networks moving games to inconvenient times and then rave when UCF moves to the Big 12 next season and soon starts cashing that projected $30 million annual TV check.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are the lovely Gina Spencer and the incomparable Rick Wilson.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.
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