Good Friday morning.
You couldn’t blame Republican leadership in Tallahassee for confusing former state Rep. Mike Hill with the creepy “Michael Myers” character in the Halloween movie series.
Hill used to represent his Pensacola district in the state House.
We could understand if that memory would cause GOP leadership in Tallahassee to awaken in the middle of the night, sweating profusely. They’ve done everything they can to erase the memory of Hill’s homophobic and nonsensical ravings.
They rebuked him, disavowed him, and banished him into irrelevance. When he ran for re-election as an incumbent in 2020 with enough baggage to fill a cruise ship, they were relieved when he lost.
I mean, his political career should have been DOA the moment he laughed at a joke about stoning gays, but he just keeps coming back.
Hill filed to regain a seat in the House, challenging incumbent Rep. Michelle Salzman in the Republican Primary. She beat him two years ago, and it was easy to see why.
During the early days of the pandemic, Hill turned his back on a constituent who asked him for help to navigate Florida’s broken unemployment system.
He mocked efforts to protect the public from COVID-19.
He filed a bill to overturn Florida’s widely praised “red flag law” that allows law enforcement to temporarily seize the weapons of someone deemed a danger to the public or themselves.
Hill was unsuccessful.
The red flag law, however, is a success. The state reported it had been used nearly 6,000 times, possibly saving us from the horror of another Parkland or Pulse.
These and other examples show Hill is not a serious lawmaker. But if the good people of House District 1 choose him, here’s what they will get:
Republican leadership exiled Hill from any impactful role after his widely condemned laugh at the “joke” about gays. Even Gov. Ron DeSantis joined the chorus. If Hill somehow upsets Salzman, voters will have sent a guy to Tallahassee who brings them bupkus.
He won’t get anything close to an important committee assignment. Any bill he offers will land in the circular file.
Of course, current GOP leadership will try to ensure Hill doesn’t darken their door.
Upon the news that Hill was in the race, Speaker-designate Paul Renner had a rapid response: He forcefully endorsed Salzman.
“Michelle Salzman is a strong conservative and the fresh voice we need in Tallahassee,” Renner said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Rep. Salzman to continue delivering for her community in Northwest Florida.”
Renner didn’t mention Hill, but perhaps he heard the Halloween music. Maybe sometime Hill will go away for good, but it looks like this is not that time.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
What an unreal image. pic.twitter.com/ese1dKrA3O
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) June 16, 2022
—@AbbyDPhillip: J. Michael Luttig is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and he is issuing an unvarnished warning that (Donald) Trump and his allies are “executing that blueprint” to overturn the next election in 2024 “in open and plain view of the American public.”
—@TamaraLush: Basically, the Jan. 6 committee is urging America to use their version of the CrimeStoppers phone number. Except we don’t even get McGruff the Crime Dog as a mascot.
—@RonFilipowski: Jason Miller, under oath, is a completely different person than the one we see on TV.
—@RachelVScott: Are Republican members of Congress are watching the Jan. 6 hearings? Rep. @MaElviraSalazar told me she has not watched and doesn’t plan to. “I have not because my district, we’re thinking about inflation, gas prices, the eggs finding workers to go to the shop.”
—@ChristianCamara: @ChristinaPushaw is without a doubt the most effective Press Secretary in the country, and those who would vociferously disagree are proof of it.
—@Fineout: There is still time if someone — oh, who could that be? — wanted to create a real kerfuffle and file a candidate against incoming Senate President @Kathleen4SWFL — who is currently running unopposed.
—@StephHayes: Each day in Fla is like a Calvinball of terror
From being loved by her allies to being both feared & respected by her enemies @MarionHammer1 has left her mark on Florida history. I remember the day I met her 22 yrs ago. I’ll always think fondly of the time we spent in the political trenches fighting for the 2A. pic.twitter.com/yOhEIUlrK0
— Anthony Pedicini (@anthonypedicini) June 16, 2022
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘Civil: Ben Crump’ premieres on Netflix — 2; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 11; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 20; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 32; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 36; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 54; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 62; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 65; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 75; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 75; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 77; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 83; 2022 Emmys — 87; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 112; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 129; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 130; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 130; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 146; FITCon 2022 begins — 153; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 153; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 157; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 157; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 158; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 166; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 166; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 180; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 244; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 262; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 280; 2023 Session Sine Die — 322; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 322; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 350; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 406; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 490; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 651; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 770.
—TOP STORY —
“Longtime NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer to retire” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Hammer, a former National Rifle Association President, announced her retirement as Florida’s top lobbyist for the NRA Institute for Legislative Action in the state.
“It has been an honor to serve NRA members as state lobbyist in Florida,” she said. “When I was first hired in September 1978, I was given one mission — ‘Do what you need to do, but do not let Florida become another California.’ For 44 years, I am proud to say that I faithfully delivered on that assignment with the help of our great NRA members.”
Primarily through Hammer’s influence, Florida has become not only a state known for valuing gun rights but somewhat of a testing ground for legislation expanding legal protections for gun owners. She played a critical role in passing the nation’s first “stand your ground” law, for example, allowing the use of deadly force for those who feel their own life or another life is threatened.
Wayne LaPierre, the longtime CEO of the NRA, praised Hammer, who from 1995 to 1998 served as the national organization’s first female President: “Marion Hammer’s name has become synonymous with the Second Amendment and with the NRA.”
—“NRA’s Tallahassee lobbying legend is retiring but still fighting for gun rights” via Romy Ellenbogen and Kirby Wilson of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times
— STATEWIDE —
“Ron DeSantis defends state decision not to order COVID-19 vaccines for young kids” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — DeSantis defended the state’s decision not to preorder COVID-19 pediatric vaccines for children under 5, saying that parents who want the shots can access them without the state’s help. “Our Department of Health has been very clear: The risks outweigh the benefits, and we recommend against,’’ DeSantis said at a news conference in the Everglades to announce the state’s annual python capture challenge. “Doctors can get it. Hospitals can get it. But there’s not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to, you know, get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” he said. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we’re going to be utilizing our resources in that regard.”
—“Florida hospitals, physicians scramble as DeSantis opts out of vaccine order for young kids” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News
Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will hold a news conference on reports that Florida is the only state that will not order COVID-19 vaccines for children from the federal government, 9:30 a.m., 560 NW 27th Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
“DeSantis blasts Joe Biden for playing ‘blame’ game on oil prices” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis kicked off the state’s python challenge, but his critical rhetoric extended beyond invasive snakes. The Governor pilloried Biden, accusing him of speeches full of “drivel,” which play the “blame” game and seek a “scapegoat” for his epic incompetence. “He needs to take responsibility,” DeSantis said. “Always trying to blame other people. He’s always trying to create a scapegoat.” The idea of Biden seeking to “blame” others is one with increasing currency in the messaging of high-profile Florida Republicans as the Midterms approach. Sen. Rick Scott has described the President as “Blame Game Biden,” in a similar context, bemoaning year-over-year price increases. DeSantis hectored Biden for challenging oil companies to produce more oil and sabotage their profit margins.
.@GovRonDeSantis slams Biden’s $5 Gas: “If you could give me a time machine to go back to January 20, 2021 … We would just do the opposite of what Biden has done and we’d be in a better spot.” pic.twitter.com/GetNsr1Asp
— Robbie Myers (@robbievmyers) June 16, 2022
—“Liberals have a complete meltdown over DeSantis’ joke about earning Elon Musk’s support” via Leah Barkoukis of Town Hall
“DeSantis taps D.C. law firm billing $725 an hour to defend culture war laws” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — A conservative Washington law firm with deep political connections has emerged as the courthouse defender of much of Gov. DeSantis’ culture war agenda, raking in nearly $2.8 million in legal fees and contracts from taxpayers to defend some of his top priorities. One of the firm’s star lawyers, Adam Laxalt, roomed with DeSantis during officer training school and is now running for U.S. Senate in Nevada with his endorsement. DeSantis’ administration has turned to the Cooper & Kirk law firm to defend a controversial social media law, a ban on cruise ship COVID-19 “vaccine passport” requirements, and a restriction on felons seeking to vote, according to an Orlando Sentinel review of legal contracts.
“U.S. trial judge nixes caps on donations for citizen initiatives” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — A federal judge in North Florida Wednesday struck down two Republican-backed laws that critics said would unfairly limit the rights of citizens to amend the state’s Constitution. Adopted in 2021, Senate Bill 1890 would have capped at $3,000 individual donations to political action committees that support or oppose proposed constitutional amendments. The American Civil Liberties Union successfully fought to have the implementation of that law blocked temporarily and now permanently, arguing that it would violate the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. Adopted in 2022 following the injunction against SB 1890, House Bill 921 modified the donation cap to apply only to out-of-state contributors. It was to go into effect July 1, but it is also permanently blocked.
“More Florida specialty license plates on tap, others get lifeline after DeSantis signs bill” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis signed a specialty license plate bill that creates another slew of potential tags for Florida’s roads and extends the period for existing tags that were under threat of being pulled from production. The Governor’s office released late Wednesday news he had signed SB 364, which adds plates for Inter Miami CF soccer team, Safe Haven for Newborns, Pap Corps Champions for Cancer Research, Learn to Fly, Florida Swims, Down Syndrome Awareness, Gopher Tortoise and Take Stock in Children. It also calls for a version of the new Blue Angels plate to be available for motorcycles.
Scoop — “For love and honor: Todd Inman stepping down from DMS — ‘the business arm of state government’” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The British crown was once relinquished for “the woman I love.” Now that same tender reason is behind the resignation of one of DeSantis’ agency heads. Department of Management Services Secretary Inman has submitted his resignation so he can live in the same city as his top-tier executive wife. It is not one of those departures that commonly occur in the months before a gubernatorial election but rather the result of Inman’s wife Ann (formerly Duncan) landing a top C-suite position with a global company. When the couple was planning their wedding late last year, Inman vowed that he would never let his job come between them, a commitment that posed a more significant challenge when Ann’s promotion made working from Tallahassee very difficult.
Rest in peace — “Dept. of Elder Affairs’ Jack Capra — Navy vet and service dog advocate — dies” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Capra, Interim General Counsel at the Department of Elder Affairs and a U.S. Navy veteran who served alongside DeSantis in Guantánamo Bay, has died suddenly. “The First Lady and I are deeply saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Jack Capra, who served the State of Florida for many years. We send our deepest condolences to his loving wife Sandi and his entire family,” DeSantis said. Capra and his service dog, Rocco the black labradoodle, were well-known in government circles. In addition to his service, Capra was an advocate for service members and service dogs, including as an early graduate of K9s for Warriors.
“MAGA influencers flock to Florida, chasing political clout and connections” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — The tongue-in-cheek digital campaign ad mirrors the script of an insurance commercial, where “Jake for State House” is reminiscent of the State Farm representative, with a Republican twist. But for a subset of voters, there’s a wink within the joke: The other man in the ad is a well-known right-wing social media star named Rogan O’Handley, known online as DC Draino. Jake Hoffman, a candidate running for a Tampa state House seat in District 65, is betting that O’Handley’s following (over 2 million on Instagram alone) will boost his candidacy among conservative voters. “It’s a game-changer,” Hoffman said. “You’re getting organic reach that you’d normally have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for.”
— 2022 —
“DeSantis wades into School Board races with ideological survey” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis on Thursday rolled out his “education agenda,” the latest sign that the Governor intends to weaponize School Board races in the 2022 cycle. The DeSantis Education Agenda, subtitled “Putting Parents First, Protecting Parents’ Rights,” presents “a policy agenda that focuses on student success, parental rights and curriculum transparency.” The website includes a survey for candidates who may want the Governor’s backing. The website says that completing the survey is not tantamount to a coveted endorsement. Among the questions for survey respondents: Whether they support “workforce education,” the Governor’s “increases in teacher compensation,” or the concept of students being “locked out of school or subject to forced masking.”
“Nikki Fried polling shows her close to Charlie Crist, with room for growth” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Kevin Cate, a consultant to Fried’s gubernatorial campaign, released new polling showing U.S. Rep. Crist’s front-runner status as small and tenuous, leading Fried 38% to 34%, with only the margin of error between them. With another 29% undecided, even though the poll found Crist’s name identification level was quite high at 79%, Cate and Rosa Mendoza of Global Strategy Group told journalists Thursday they believe the gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election race is wide-open. Cate called it a dead heat. Crist’s campaign dismissed the poll’s results as full of contradictions and suggested it shows Fried’s campaign going negative on Crist. The Global Strategy Group poll, taken June 8-13, also found that Democratic voters are most motivated by a desire to see DeSantis defeated and want to pick a nominee based on that prospect.
“Will Fried and Crist play nice in the Democratic primary for Governor?” via Steven Lemongello of Florida Politics — The race is set for the Democratic primary for Governor, with Fried qualifying ahead of Friday’s deadline and quashing any talk that she would join former candidate Annette Taddeo in switching to run for a seat in Congress. Fried’s team says she can win if they can contrast her political background with U.S. Rep. Crist while insisting they won’t go too negative despite their repeated attacks on his past stances on issues such as abortion. “[There’s] only nine weeks between the end of the primary and the general election,” said Aubrey Jewett, a professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida. “So, if it becomes really divisive and personal and nasty, then that would probably hurt Democratic chances.” Polls so far have shown Crist with a sizable lead over Fried.
Assignment editors — Crist will attend the Christian Alliance for Racial Equity Leadership Conference, 9:30 a.m., Pompano Beach. Location via RSVP at [email protected]
“Service employees union endorses Charlie Crist, others” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Continuing his efforts to round up labor union support, Crist picked up the endorsement of the Florida chapter of Service Employees International Union on Thursday. The union, representing 80,000 professionals and workers statewide, also announced its endorsements of Val Demings, former State Attorney Aramis Ayala for Attorney General, and former state Rep. Adam Hattersley for Chief Financial Officer, as well as dozens of congressional, legislative and local candidates. That followed about 30 endorsements the union announced earlier. Just about all the endorsements went to Democrats, but many of them are in Democratic Primary Elections, where union approval could be a factor.
Val Demings books $1.25M in ads to close out June — Democratic U.S. Rep. Demings has spent $1.25 million to run TV ads for her U.S. Senate campaign in media markets across the state. According to AdImpact, the new buy was placed through AL Media and covers broadcast ads that will run June 14-27 and cable ads that will run June 21-27. The flight includes the Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach media markets. The cable channels include CNN, ESPN, Hallmark, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MSNBC, TLC, and TNT. The new ad buy makes for $9.1 million in TV spending for Demings this campaign cycle.
Mark Lombardo drops $21K on CD 1 ad buy — Republican Lombardo, who announced this week he will challenge U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, made a $21,000 ad buy on Thursday. According to AdImpact, the buy was placed through SRH Media and totals $21,000. It will pay for ads to run June 21-27 on broadcast TV in the Mobile, Alabama media market, including much of CD 1. It is Lombardo’s first ad buy of the 2022 cycle. Gaetz, meanwhile, has spent $303,000 on ads for his re-election campaign.
—“Nearly two dozen current and former Nassau County officials back Aaron Bean in CD 4” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics
“Ex-Rep. Corrine Brown, fresh off tax fraud plea deal, is running for Val Demings’ seat in Congress” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Brown, who recently pleaded guilty to tax fraud, unexpectedly announced Thursday she’s a candidate again for Congress, joining a hotly contested race to succeed Demings as she runs for U.S. Senate. Brown, a once-powerful Florida Democrat, is vying for the Orlando-area District 10 seat just a month after she resolved federal criminal charges that accused her of siphoning money from a charity for personal use. “We’ve got to turn this country around, move forward instead of backward,” she said in her campaign announcement. “That’s what this campaign is all about.”
“Club for Growth backs Anna Paulina Luna in CD 13” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Luna has landed a major endorsement from the conservative Club for Growth. The Club for Growth PAC, the group’s political arm, cheered Luna. She won the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Crist in 2020 and is now running again for the open seat as Crist runs for Governor. “Anna Paulina Luna has long been on Club for Growth PAC’s radar as a pro-growth economic conservative, and we are proud to endorse her for Congress in Florida’s 13th District,” said Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh. “Her record as a veteran and a conservative fighter proves she will never back down from a challenge and is the perfect candidate to oppose Biden’s radical socialist agenda.”
“Alan Cohn files to run in open, newly drawn CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cohn will again run for Congress, this time in an open seat. The Democrat on Thursday filed with the Federal Election Commission to run in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. CD 15 is an open seat on a new congressional map signed by DeSantis. Cohn won the Democratic nomination for the pre-redistricting CD 15 in 2020 but ultimately lost to Scott Franklin. When he ran, Cohn was challenging then-U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, but Franklin beat Spano in a Primary. But this year, Franklin has qualified to run in Florida’s newly reconfigured 18th Congressional District.
— MORE 2022 —
“Jonathan Martin promises to be team player in Senate and support DeSantis’ agenda” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Martin has long been interested in serving in the Legislature. But that conversation turned very serious in recent days. “It hasn’t been very long. I’d say a little over a week,” he said. He ultimately learned for sure that a seat would open on Wednesday when a state lawmaker shared a tweet about Sen. Ray Rodrigues potentially stepping down for a job in the administration. Events seemed to transpire quickly, with DeSantis and the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee rapidly endorsing the eight-year GOP county Chair for the Senate District 33 seat. But Martin acknowledged he’d already had long conversations about the job with family and others.
—“DeSantis attempts to take over the GOP-led Florida Senate” via Andrew Atterbury and Matt Dixon of POLITICO
“Peter Vivaldi files for new challenge of Victor Torres in SD 25” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Vivaldi has filed to challenge Sen. Torres in Senate District 25, seeking a rematch of the 2016 election won by Torres. Vivaldi, who has a syndicated conservative talk show, is convinced he can expect a reversal of the 2016 results because he’s certain redistricting has changed the district representing Osceola County and part of southern Orange County, and political winds have changed the lean of Hispanic voters who are predominant there. Torres won the 2016 contest soundly, 59% to 41%, and then easily won re-election in 2020; in that election, his Republican opponent essentially withdrew because of injuries from a car crash.
—“Joel Rudman outraises HD 3 field in May” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics
—“JAXBIZ picks ‘proven leader’ Mincy Pollock in HD 14 Democratic Primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“DeSantis endorses David Smith for HD 38” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — DeSantis has endorsed Rep. Smith for another term in the state House. In a Wednesday evening tweet, DeSantis said Smith “is a proven fighter for Florida. I commend his service in the USMC and his service in the FL House. I look forward to winning with him in November.” The endorsement comes as Smith runs in a crowded race for the new House District 38. The Winter Springs lawmaker is up against two other Republicans, with four Democrats also competing to make the November ballot. DeSantis’ support could be a difference-maker in the race. In other contests, the Governor’s endorsement has cleared the field; notably, DeSantis’ endorsement of Jay Collins for Senate District 14, also announced Wednesday, led Shawn Harrison to leave the race.
—“Jen McDonald tops in HD 65 May fundraising, Karen Gonzalez Pittman stays in lead overall” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics
“Traci Koster picks up Democratic challenger David Tillery” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — As the state’s qualifying period wraps up, incumbent Rep. Koster has picked up a Democratic challenger, changing what was less than a week ago unopposed re-election to House District 66. Tillery entered the race as a Democrat in hopes of representing the North Tampa area in HD 66. He filed his paperwork last Friday, days before the state’s election qualifying week began. “When I found out there were some different districts that were open and no Democrats were running, I was unhappy,” Tillery said. “When I found out there was an open spot in the district I lived in, I was incredibly motivated to step forward and run.” Tillery is the founder of the nonprofit North Tampa Dart Association, which raises money for various charities, including Autism Speaks, and boasts almost 50 members.
—“Write-in candidates close GOP House primaries in Duval. Co.” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“John Dailey releases Tallahassee mayoral campaign ad on job growth” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Dailey released another video ad in his bid to lead the capital city for another four years, focusing on job growth. The video, part of a five-figure ad buy, will target Tallahassee voters on various stations. The ad highlights job creation in the capital city, linking the Mayor with 5,000 new high-paying jobs. “Each ribbon cutting means that years of hard work to bring good, high-paying jobs to Tallahassee is starting to make a difference. And it’s more than just the numbers,” according to the ad. “For Mayor Dailey, it’s about helping local families find local jobs that pay well and offer real benefits.” It’s Dailey’s third ad of the campaign, with ads in March and April focusing on promises kept and what he’s most proud of.
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Bracing for the end of Roe v. Wade, the White House weighs executive actions” via Charlie Savage of The New York Times — Biden’s top aides weigh whether he can or should take a series of executive actions to help women in Republican-controlled states obtain abortions if the Supreme Court eliminates a woman’s right to end her pregnancy, according to senior administration officials. Some of the ideas under consideration include declaring a national public health emergency, readying the Justice Department to fight any attempt by states to criminalize travel to obtain an abortion, and asserting that FDA regulations approving abortion medications preempt any state bans, the officials said. Contingency planning is also said to include what to do if such a fiercely polarizing development leads to acts of violence. The administration has already heightened security for the Supreme Court justices.
“Biden says a recession is ‘not inevitable’” via Josh Boak of The Associated Press — Biden said the American people are “really, really down” after a tumultuous two years with the coronavirus pandemic, volatility in the economy, and now surging gasoline prices that are slamming family budgets. But he stressed that a recession was “not inevitable” and hoped to give the country a greater sense of confidence. The President emphasized the battered economy he inherited, and the lingering psychological scars caused by a pandemic that disrupted people’s sense of identity. He bristled at claims by Republican lawmakers that last year’s COVID-19 aid plan was fully to blame for inflation reaching a 40-year high, calling that argument “bizarre.”
“The Jan. 6 select committee makes a criminal referral — its own way” via Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu of POLITICO — The Jan. 6 select committee made its most forceful case that Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 Election was more than an affront to the democratic process, it was a crime. For all the panel’s public quibbling over whether to vote on referring Trump to the Justice Department for a possible criminal case, members did it their way. They used Thursday’s public hearing to present what they see as some of their most compelling evidence and thereby mount a case, with Attorney General Merrick Garland watching, that Trump broke the law in his effort to make former Vice President Mike Pence single-handedly overturn the election.
“Lawmakers from Florida seek to change FDA rules for sugar levels in juice oranges” via Paul Nutcher of The Lakeland Ledger — The FDA could eventually reduce the amount of naturally occurring sugar required in pasteurized orange juice following the filing of a bill Tuesday by Sen. Marco Rubio. The measure would direct the FDA to lower the required sugar level, known as the Brix standard, in not-from-concentrate pasteurized orange juice from 10.5% to 10%. Since 1963, the Brix standard has been in effect and has not been modified. Meanwhile, growers have been struggling to keep levels high when sugar levels have been declining because of groves infected by the HLB disease, also known as citrus greening. When juice processors cannot source FDA Brix standard oranges for juice, they look to imports to blend citrus fruits to gain FDA requirements for the not-from-concentrate orange juice label.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Grand jury report to recommend removal of Broward School Board members, filing says” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A long-awaited report from a grand jury, which has already indicted the former Broward school superintendent and two other administrators, will recommend that DeSantis remove some school board members, a new court ruling says. But who those School Board members are or what they are accused of doing isn’t included in the Wednesday decision by the 4th District Court of Appeals, which focuses on which parts of the report must be redacted? DeSantis asked the Supreme Court to convene the grand jury in 2019 to focus mostly on safety and security issues statewide in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, although the focus morphed into corruption within the Broward school district.
“Surfside won’t raise a Pride flag this year. Mayor concerned Satanists may ask next” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — A year after Surfside flew an LGBTQ Pride flag for the first time outside its Community Center, the town does not plan to display the rainbow-colored flag for Pride month in June. Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger told the Miami Herald he does not support displaying the flag this year after Town Attorney Lillian Arango advised him that doing so could force the town to accept requests from outside groups to display their flags. Danzinger said he supports LGBTQ Pride month but fears the town may risk having to fly swastikas or Satanic flags — or risk a lawsuit. He mentioned the possibility of “Satanic cults” or other groups pushing for “a black cross or swastika” flag.
“Michelle Oyola McGovern retakes the lead in money race for PBC Commission” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A $50,000 donation from a law enforcement political committee catapulted McGovern ahead of her chief rival in the money race for a Palm Beach County Commission seat, May reports show. It was a repeat in reverse of April’s haul for state Rep. Matt Willhite, when a $50,000 donation from the firefighters’ union briefly propelled him past McGovern in the bid to represent District 6 on the County Commission. The two Democrats have been neck-and-neck in a four-way race to fill the seat that’s being vacated because Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is term-limited in her role.
“A candidate for Plantation Mayor is accused of making inappropriate comments. But he says it’s just dirty politics.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A former Assistant City Clerk, Ayesha Robinson, complained to city officials that Plantation City Council member Nick Sortal, who is running for Mayor, told her “my d— is hard for this” after detailing a verbal spat his wife had with current Mayor Lynn Stoner. But Sortal said that while he did comment, it wasn’t directed at the clerk. He said he was addressing his wife, which was clear because his hand was on her shoulder. Sortal noted that he intended to make it clear to his wife that he was proud of her for backing him up and talking tough. So, he made the genitalia comment.
“Free COVID-19 testing won’t end at Miami-Dade sites, after all, Mayor says. Here’s why” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Free COVID-19 testing for people without insurance will not end at sites across Miami-Dade County in July after all, even though federal funding for the effort is drying up. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced Thursday at a news conference that she has secured an agreement with Utah-based Nomi Health to continue free testing and vaccination services at the more than dozen county sites. Nomi Health is a private provider Miami-Dade hired to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccine services in the county during the pandemic.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“White residents attacked a Black teen’s car and told him to get out of their neighborhood” via Paige Skinner of BuzzFeed News — Two White men were arrested in Florida after they verbally harassed a Black teen and damaged his car as he drove through their affluent neighborhood, an attack that was recorded and went viral after it was posted on social media. The confrontation occurred in Sanford, the same city where Trayvon Martin was fatally shot 10 years ago. On June 14, Donald Corsi and Howard Hughes, both White men, confronted 16-year-old Jermaine Jones in the street as he drove his white Mercedes through their neighborhood. During the confrontation, one of the men allegedly threw a stone at Jermaine’s back window, shattering it. A traffic cone was also thrown at the car and left a big dent in the side.
“Disney delays relocation of thousands of jobs to Florida until 2026” via Katie Kilkenny of The Hollywood Reporter — The company’s timeline to move around 2,000 workers in its parks, experiences and products division, which includes a number of Imagineering workers, who are responsible for designing and engineering the company’s theme parks and rides, has been pushed to 2026. The Los Angeles Times had previously reported that the move was expected to conclude by the end of 2022 or early 2023. The Orlando Sentinel has reported that Disney could receive $570 million in state tax breaks with the construction of its new campus in the Lake Nona region.
“Health department spokesperson says Bucs internship posting violates Florida law” via 10 Tampa Bay — A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health says a recent internship posting by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers violates state law. In a tweet, Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern told a Bucs production manager that this description for a video production intern runs afoul legislation passed last year. Fellow Spokesperson Christina Pushaw, the Press Secretary for DeSantis, also chimed in on Twitter — suggesting the Bucs had been “Caught in 4K.” “Under Florida law, enacted in 2021, private employer COVID vaccine mandates are prohibited,” Pushaw added in an email to 10 Tampa Bay. “The Buccaneers must allow the exemptions required by state law.” Those exemptions include pregnancies, health concerns, or religious beliefs — among other factors.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“New ASU study links ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and toxic cyanobacteria algal blooms” via Max Chesnes of Treasure Coast Newspapers — There’s a “strong association” between a toxin found in some algae blooms and Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to the lead author of recent research analysis. Arizona State University researchers analyzed 258 scientific papers and found evidence linking the toxin BMAA and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a paper published recently in the journal Science of the Total Environment. BMAA can be produced in low concentrations by some species of cyanobacteria, more commonly called “blue-green algae,” which plagues the Treasure Coast. The researchers say there’s enough epidemiological evidence to conclude BMAA can cause ALS. “Exposure of these strains over time increases the risk of developing ALS,” lead author Melanie Newell wrote.
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Public outcry against storage units in downtown Jacksonville forces delay in vote” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — A groundswell of public opposition caused Jacksonville City Council to hit the pause button on deciding whether it will open more areas of downtown to new self-storage buildings. About 120 residents and business owners emailed council members and called them to kill the bill. “You’re hearing the cry of a lot of folks that are saying ‘No,’ and if they say ‘No,’ we have to listen to what the people say,” council member Ju’Coby Pittman said. Even the bill’s sponsor Reggie Gaffney said he was on the fence after hearing the pushback. City Council member LeAnna Cumber, who opposes the legislation, said if Jacksonville were to change the overlay for the entire downtown because one company wants to construct a self-storage building that’s not allowed by the current overlay, it will undermine any sense of vision for developing downtown.
“UF quarterback says he gave up free sports car, apologizes in new court-ordered essay for speeding 105 mph” via Fresh Take Florida — Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson told a judge in a court-ordered essay that he no longer drives the sports car in which he was ticketed for speeding 105 mph and apologized for risking the lives of others while letting down the university. Alachua County Judge Meshon Rawls assigned the essay to Richardson during a court hearing last week, responding to a request by the quarterback’s lawyer to avoid assessing points against the player’s driver’s license. The court made the essay available overnight Wednesday. “I understand what I could have done to not only myself but to others as well,” Richardson wrote in the two-page essay. “I also have a much better understanding of the traffic laws, rules, regulations, and the data behind them.”
“Tim Tebow to hold Faith, Food and Football event at Jacksonville’s Daily’s Place” via Tom Szaroleta of The Florida Times-Union — Tebow will sponsor a Faith, Food and Football event in Jacksonville next month. Details are slim on the event, which will be Sunday, July 17, at Daily’s Place. The amphitheater and indoor “flex field” are next to TIAA Bank Field, where Tebow played games during his storied career at the University of Florida and where he tried out for the Jaguars last year. The event will include a worship service and motivational speakers, cooking demonstrations from local chefs, and a youth football camp run by Bradenton’s IMG Academy. No specific speakers or chefs are listed on the event’s website. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.
— TOP OPINION —
“The war in Ukraine has exposed the critical American vulnerability” via Elliot Ackerman of The Atlantic — So far in Ukraine, a globalized supply chain has proved a shield that the free world has raised against Russian aggression. Vladimir Putin underestimated both his economic vulnerability and the ability of NATO to come together and exploit that vulnerability. But Russia’s troubles should put not only the tin-pot autocrats of the world on notice but also the great democracies — like the United States — that are similarly vulnerable to economic warfare.
Were China to invade Taiwan, the question wouldn’t be what sanctions the world’s liberal democracies should place on China but who would be doing the sanctioning. The Chinese possess enormous economic leverage over the West and could just as easily sanction us.
In Congress, a growing bipartisan consensus acknowledges that our supply chain is a problem, and nowhere more so than in semiconductor production. Last year, 104 companies worldwide raised $3.3 billion to manufacture semiconductors. Fifteen of those companies were American. Seventy were Chinese, and they accounted for 80% of the funding.
“What’s happening in Russia could happen to us,” Gilman Louie told me. He is the CEO of America’s Frontier Fund (AFF), a nonprofit strategic-investment fund.
— OPINIONS —
“Why Biden shouldn’t run in 2024” via Mark Leibovich of The Atlantic — Biden will turn 80 on November 20. He will be 82 if and when he begins a second term. “It’s not the 82 that’s the problem. It’s the 86,” one swing voter said in a recent focus group, referring to the hypothetical age Biden would be at the end of that (very) hypothetical second term. In recent weeks, I’ve spoken with 10 official and unofficial advisers to the administration who have spent time around the President during these deranged and divided days in America. They say, for the most part, that Biden is coping fine. But here’s another recurring theme I keep hearing, notably from people predisposed to liking the President. “He just seems old,” one senior administration official told me.
“112 million reasons why Donald Trump should be nervous about DeSantis” via Chris Cillizza of CNN — At the end of May, DeSantis had $112 million in the bank ahead of his bid for a second term in 2022. $112 million! That is an absolutely stunning number, even in a state like Florida, where it takes a whole lot of money to run for office. And if you think that DeSantis’ fundraising is all about his coming re-election race, well, that’s simply not right. Or, at least, it doesn’t capture the full picture of what’s going on here. And polls show DeSantis running as the clear second choice to Trump in the 2024 field and, if the former President decides not to run, as the favorite in that field. You can be sure that Trump is paying attention.
“Mitt Romney’s challenge to Joe Manchin — and fellow Republicans” via Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — One of the great tragedies of American governance during the past year was the untimely death of the expanded child tax credit (CTC), which died along with Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. It was probably inevitable that Congress would allow the expanded CTC to perish, since this policy represented a moment of genuine progress at a time of great hardship. The expansion kept an estimated 3.7 million children out of poverty at the end of last year and benefited more than 65 million children before getting snatched away. Now, Sen. Romney has introduced a new version of the expanded CTC, a revision of a previous proposal Romney had championed. And this will pose a test for certain actors in our political system.
“Passing new condo legislation was the easy part. Making repairs will be much harder” via Adam Snitzer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s good news that the Florida Legislature and Gov. DeSantis have taken decisive action to safeguard Florida’s condominium housing stock. Structural restoration projects at hi-rise condominiums can easily cost $5 million to $10 million or even more. Even in the best of times, construction projects of this magnitude are hard. So hard, in fact, that most are months late, millions over budget or both. What’s more, the current construction situation in Florida hasn’t been this challenging since the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Qualified engineers and contractors are so busy, they’re turning away new projects.
— WEEKEND TV —
ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Ryan Gorman from “The Ryan Gorman Show,” WFLA News Radio; Dr. Susan MacManus; Patrick De Haan, Petroleum Analyst Gas Buddy; and Dr. Sheckin Ozkul USF Supply Chain Innovation Lab, Muma College of Business.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida’s politics and other issues affecting the region.
In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, and the impacts of the law, the progress made by women in education, employment, and athletics, and the barriers that remain. Joining Walker are Tampa Mayor Jane Castor; Seminole County Commissioner Amy Lockhart; Claire Lessinger, Vice President of Events, Tampa Bay Sports Commission; and Julia Squitteri, founder and executive director of the Ruth Project.
Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at bipartisan gun reform legislation; a recap of the Jan. 6 hearings; and candidate Audrey Henson will discuss her campaign for House District 60.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A one-on-one with Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón to discuss his 30-year career with the department after announcing his upcoming retirement from the force.
— ALOE —
“The 2026 World Cup is coming to Miami! Here’s everything you need to know” via Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald — FIFA, the world soccer governing body, announced on Thursday the long-awaited list of cities and venues that will host the 2026 World Cup, which is being held in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. As expected, Miami and Hard Rock Stadium made the cut. Miami is used to big sporting events, having hosted 11 Super Bowls — six at Hard Rock Stadium and five at the Orange Bowl — but South Florida never had an opportunity to reach a larger audience. The 2022 Super Bowl drew a TV audience of 208 million. The 2018 World Cup from Russia had a combined 3.57 billion viewers, nearly half the global population aged four and over.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Republican political consultant Brett Doster, Donna Main, Kristin Piccolo, Toby Philpot of the Florida Health Care Association, House candidate Rachel Saunders Plakon, and Sharon Smoley, founder of Central Florida Public Affairs. Early happy birthday wishes to Rep. Joe Harding and Lyndsey Brzozowski of Bascom Communications and Consulting.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.