Good Friday morning.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings has pulled even with incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio according to a new poll conducted by Change Research.
The poll, conducted Aug. 2-5, found both candidates with 46% support among likely General Election voters, with the remainder undecided. The measure was commissioned by EMILY’s List, an organization backing Demings that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.
It is the second consecutive poll commissioned by partisans that characterize the General Election race as essentially tied. A poll released earlier this week by Progress Florida and Florida Watch, two progressive groups, had Rubio and Demings both at 45%.
No major, nonpartisan groups have released polling on the race in recent weeks, though the last such poll released — conducted by Center Street in July — showed Demings on an upswing but still 8% behind Rubio.
Beyond the top-line numbers, the poll provided additional good news for the Demings campaign, showing it has made gains in name ID and that voters are more likely to be hearing positive things about the likely Democratic nominee than they are negative.
Rubio, meanwhile, appears to be underperforming among White women. Though he holds a 5-point lead with that bloc, that is still 12 points below what Donald Trump managed two years ago. His margin among Republican women is also trailing the former President by 15 points.
The online survey was conducted in English and Spanish and has a sample size of 1,031 likely voters.
Here are a few other thoughts:
🏛 — Historians visited the White House last week to tell President Joe Biden why they think American democracy is … well … almost history. During the two-hour conversation, the academics said that the country may be going through its most perilous period in modern history, comparing it to the years leading up to the Civil War and the rise of fascism.
🤔 — According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, voters have mixed feelings about the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, with party affiliation largely determining their sentiments. The survey found 49% of voters approve of the raid while 37% disapprove and 13% have no opinion. However, the action has 84% support among Democrats while only 15% of Republicans approve.
👑 — There’s a new trend in fundraising: “club memberships.” As Hailey Fuchs writes for POLITICO, lawmakers have started offering lobbyists more direct access and one-on-one time by selling tickets to small gatherings. The prices range from $1,000 on the low end, to $5,000 on the high end.
📥 — Campaign emails just got an all-access pass to your inbox thanks to a Federal Election Commission decision. The federal campaign finance watchdog approved a Google program that will let political emails through spam filters on Gmail accounts. The FEC ruling said the bypass would not be an impermissible contribution to political committees.
🐦 — Twitter wants its users to keep it civil this election season. The social media platform has announced a series of changes to its “Civic Integrity Policy” that it believes will protect civic conversation and prevent the spread of misinformation. Steps include “pre-bunks” and applying labels to misleading tweets.
Congrats to Shannan Dunaway of The Fiorentino Group and Jim Boxold with Capital City Consulting on their beautiful wedding nuptials in Paris.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@AhtraElnashar: Stunning how rapidly mis/disinformation is already spreading. AG (Merrick) Garland “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter.” He did not approve the actual warrant. The actual warrant itself was authorized by a federal court.
—@AaronParnas: Merrick Garland called Trump’s bluff. Plain and simple.
—@EWErickson: Personal theory: They used classified documents as the excuse to search but were really looking for January 6-related materials. They didn’t find them. So, they’re now pushing back claiming it really was the classified docs all along.
—@RealJacobPerry: Turns out it’s quite easy to trick MAGA World into stepping in the piles of shit the rest of us see quite easily
—@DavidAFrench: The core of the Trump movement is Very Online, and like all Very Online movements it jumps on talking points and messages that can seem weird and wrong to normal folks offline. Defunding or dismantling the FBI is not something normal folks will buy.
—@NateSilver538: I mean the change is within the margin of error which doesn’t really match the “THIS IS HUGE THE FBI JUST HANDED THE NOMINATION TO TRUMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!” punditry we’ve seen all over this platform this week.
—@NikkiFried: No Floridian is above the law.
—@GovRonDeSantis: In Florida, we believe veterans have a wealth of knowledge and experience they can bring to the classroom, so we created a new program to help veterans become teachers. We stand by our veterans and want them in our classrooms.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Early voting begins for Primaries — 1; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 5; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 6; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 9; 2022 Florida Primary — 10; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 16; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 19; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 19; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 21; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 27; 2022 Emmys — 31; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 34; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 34; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 55; deadline to register for General Election — 59; 22-23 NHL season begins — 60; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 74; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 74; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 75; Early voting begins for General Election — 79; 2022 General Election — 88; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 91; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 91; FITCon 2022 begins — 97; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 97; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 101; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 101; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 102; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 110; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 110; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 126; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 189; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 207; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 224; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 249; 2023 Session Sine Die — 266; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 266; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 294; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 343; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 448; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 462; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 595; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 714; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 714; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 819; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 994.
— TOP STORY —
“Merrick Garland moves to make public the warrant and supporting documents used in the search of Mar-a-Lago” via Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — In a clipped, two-minute statement to reporters at the Justice Department’s headquarters in Washington, Garland said he decided to make a public statement because Trump had confirmed the action. The Attorney General also cited the “surrounding circumstances” of the case and the “substantial public interest in this matter.”
Minutes before Garland took the podium, a top official in the Justice Department’s national security division filed a motion to unseal the warrant — along with an inventory of items retrieved in the search — redacted to prevent the release of national security information.
The former President’s lawyers have the opportunity to challenge the motion.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, the judge in the case, issued an order requiring the Justice Department to serve a copy of its motion to Trump’s lawyers. It says the department must then tell the judge by 3 p.m. on Friday whether Trump opposes the motion.
Garland’s move is less noteworthy for its legal import than its political significance: By giving Trump the right to oppose the motion in court, Garland’s team is aiming to shield the Justice Department from accusations that it is unilaterally releasing material intended to embarrass him.
Garland will also be able to claim to his critics that he has publicly addressed the FBI search and shown the public his legal justification for the action, even though the documents being released are likely to contain minimal new details and be riddled with redactions.
“FBI searched Donald Trump’s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say” via Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Perry Stein and Shane Harris of The Washington Post — The people who described some of the material that agents were seeking did not offer additional details about what type of information the agents were seeking, including whether it involved weapons belonging to the United States or some other nation. Nor did they say if such documents were recovered. Material about nuclear weapons is especially sensitive and usually restricted to a small number of government officials. Publicizing details about U.S. weapons could provide an intelligence road map to adversaries seeking to build ways of countering those systems. And other countries might view exposing their nuclear secrets as a threat. “If that is true, it would suggest that material residing unlawfully at Mar-a-Lago may have been classified at the highest classification level,” said David Laufman, the former chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence section, which investigates leaks of classified information. “If the FBI and the Department of Justice believed there were top secret materials still at Mar-a-Lago, which would lend itself to greater ‘hair-on-fire’ motivation to recover that material as quickly as possible.”
“Florida swing voters: Bring on the search warrants” via Alexi McCammond of Axios — Florida swing voters in the latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups said the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago was justified — and that it would be a “serious crime” if Trump did take classified documents. Trump’s GOP allies are almost universally echoing his unsubstantiated claims of law enforcement overreach or politicization. The rhetoric may be boosting Trump’s base support and fundraising, but it’s not cutting through this mix of Democrats, independents and Republicans who once backed him. Eleven of 12 participants said it was proper for the FBI to execute a signed search warrant at the home of the former President — and it would be a serious crime to take documents from the White House in an unauthorized fashion even if that person previously held the office. None said they would support Trump if he ran again.
— 2022 —
“The DeSantasy is over” via Tina Nguyen of Puck News — There’s a hope among Trump’s allies that the anti-Democratic fervor could freeze out the rest of the field, particularly Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trolling woke millennials with corporate pressure campaigns in Florida pales in comparison to veritable political warfare with the Deep State. “I think this basically makes it impossible for a DeSantis [run] now,” another Trumpworld adviser suggested. Of course, the Florida Governor released a Trumpian statement of his own, likening the Biden administration to a banana republic and condemning the DOJ for slow walking its investigation into Biden’s son Hunter. But for the first Trump adviser, it’s game, set, match: “The DeSantasy is over!” Wishful thinking, perhaps, in a political-media universe where today’s outrages are quickly replaced and forgotten. DeSantis remains a popular Trump understudy, especially if his baggage becomes tiresome. But for the moment, at least, the former President’s legal woes are energizing, not enervating, the moderate center of the party that was beginning to cast around for an alternative.
“How the Trump FBI search puts swing-state Republicans in a bind” via Natalie Allison of Holly Otterbein of POLITICO — As news broke that the FBI had searched Trump’s Florida home, MAGA loyalists and even some of the former President’s potential 2024 rivals rushed to a full-throated defense of Trump. But not every Republican joined the chorus. While the FBI search has given a jolt of energy to the conservative base, the issue is proving to be more complicated in pivotal battleground races that could determine control of the chamber, places where Republicans had been hoping to keep the focus on Democrats’ economic woes and off Trump.
“DeSantis to headline Mark Ronchetti for New Mexico Governor rally” via Carol Clark of the Los Alamos — The rally will take place Aug. 14, at the Walter Gerrells Performing Arts and Exhibition Center in Carlsbad. “I’m honored to have Gov. DeSantis help us fire up our Ronchetti team in New Mexico,” Ronchetti said. “Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has failed New Mexico.” The campaign said “DeSantis has spent his first three and a half years enacting policies focused on keeping Florida free. Because of his leadership, the Sunshine State has thrived. Gov. DeSantis has kept Florida open, protected Florida’s children from woke ideologies in the classroom, kept Florida’s communities safe, and secured record funding for Florida’s natural resources.”
“After all these years, Marco Rubio still hasn’t figured out how to comply with federal campaign fundraising laws” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — In late June, the Federal Election Commission sent Rubio for Senate a letter warning about its acceptance of more than 2,000 contributions that appeared to exceed federal contribution limits. In an Aug. 1 reply letter, campaign treasurer Lisa Lisker acknowledged taking those illegal donations and explained that some had been returned, redesignated to other elections, or returned to the committees. Also, Lisker essentially declared, it ain’t our fault. Rubio’s headache here is that Lisker is the treasurer of both his joint fundraiser Rubio Victory Committee and his campaign committee, Rubio for Senate. It appears then that Lisker, a longtime campaign treasurer for Rubio, should know when funds come in whether federal contribution limits are exceeded. Even as his Senate campaign has continued to rake in contributions, Rubio’s failed 2016 presidential campaign remains in debt.
Charlie Crist launches statewide “Hope for Florida” tour to close out Primary — Kicking off Saturday, the 10-day statewide tour will visit key communities across the Panhandle, North, South, and Central Florida. Crist’s “Hope for Florida” tour will campaign aggressively in cities including Jacksonville, Miami, Pensacola, Orlando, Gainesville, and Daytona Beach to share his vision of a Florida for All and energize and mobilize voters ahead of the Aug. 23 Primary. With early voting underway, Crist will join elected officials and key community leaders across the state for a series of rallies, meet and greets, and Souls to the Polls efforts. The campaign will announce daily public schedules one day before events for times and locations.
“Glades residents left behind: Nikki Fried’s ‘changes’ to cane burning served only Big Sugar” via Antigone Barton and Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — For a third year, the pre-harvest burning season had brought no sign to Glades’ residents of the “major” and “historic changes” to sugar-cane burning that Fried announced on Oct. 1, 2019. That day, Fried, who heads the agency with sole authority over agricultural burn permits and who now is campaigning to be the Democratic nominee for Governor, called herself committed to “new approaches.” The announcement Fried made was profoundly misleading on multiple levels. Some reworded existing rules with minor adjustments, and none had binding authority.
>>>Flashback: “Glades Mayors ask gubernatorial candidates to ignore ‘coordinated attacks,’ help with ‘pressing issues’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
Assignment editors — Fried joins local activists in Orlando for a “Roe the Vote” rally on reproductive rights and abortion access; 6:30 p.m., Lake Eola Park; 512 E Washington St., Orlando.
Happening Saturday — Fried joins Broward Democratic Party Chair Rick Hoye and the Broward County DEC to kick off early voting; 9:30 a.m., Hollywood Branch Early Voting Site, 2600 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood.
RPOF drops $280K on Governor, Cabinet ads — The Republican Party of Florida has made a three-pack media buy supporting DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. According to AdImpact, the new $279,379 cable flight began Thursday and will run for a week. Among the networks included in the buy are ESPN, Food Network, Fox News, CNN and HGTV. The flight includes seven media markets, with the Tampa market receiving the most money at $73,528.
— 2022: CONG —
“‘Women Against Matt Gaetz’ group gains traction in 1st Congressional District” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — A group calling itself “Women Against Matt Gaetz,” formed less than two weeks ago, has already organized a successful protest and accumulated 5,800 Facebook followers. Samantha Herring, Walton County’s elected Democratic State Committeewoman, started the group and established the site after Gaetz made national news by branding female abortion rights protesters as “just disgusting” and launched into an insult-filled diatribe against them.
“More Aaron Bean coming on Jax TV thanks to PAC” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Large-dollar independent expenditures in the Republican Primary for Florida’s 4th Congressional District are keeping Sen. Bean’s name and face in front of voters, despite recent polling that shows him trouncing opponents Erik Aguilar and Jon Chuba. Keep Florida Red PAC reported to the Federal Election Commission this week three independent expenditures, the largest amount spent in late July, nearly $292,900 to SRCP Media of Alexandria, Virginia, for media placement. The PAC dropped another $7,119 Tuesday for the same. A new ad for the PAC went up the same day. Nearly $43,900 went to the ad “Inflation into Recession.”
“Byron Donalds backs Anna Paulina Luna for CD 13 Republican nomination” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Donalds is endorsing Luna as she faces a crowded Republican Primary roster for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Donalds was first elected to Congress in 2020. The businessman serves Florida’s 19th Congressional District, which covers the bulk of Southwest Florida including Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero and Naples. “Anna Paulina Luna is a constitutional conservative, U. S. Air Force Veteran, and Freedom Caucus candidate. She is not only fully backed by President Trump, but she will make a wonderful representative for the residents of Pinellas County,” Donalds said.
“GOP Primary heats up with six-figure attack ad buys in CD 13 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Luna and Kevin Hayslett are putting up a fierce fight for the Republican nomination in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, with political committees dishing out six-figures in the last week on attack ads targeting each of the front-runners. A political committee backing Hayslett, Stand for Florida, has so far spent $861,460 this week on advertisements against Luna, according to federal expenditure reports. That expenditure included a $618,350 drop on Red Eagle Media for ad production, two separate ad placement purchases worth $100,000 and $82,360, as well as $60,750 spent on SMS messaging. The Super PAC also dished out $78,390 in the last week on ads promoting Hayslett, including $17,640 on media placement and $60,750 on SMS messaging.
New CD 13 ad attacks ‘shady lawyer’ Kevin Hayslett — A new ad paid for by a committee known as Conservative Outsider PAC is attacking Hayslett and boosting Luna in the Republican Primary for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “Like a shady lawyer, Kevin Hayslett is trying to trick you. Anna Paulina Luna hit Barack Obama for immigration double talk, and Hayslett edited out her warning about illegals. If we together don’t find our voices to stand up against this, we will lose an election, but we’re going to lose a lot more than just an election. We’re going to lose this country. Trump trusts Luna on immigration. Trump endorsed her, not him.” Earlier this week, AdImpact reported that the PAC spent $30,900 on broadcast ads running through Aug. 21 in the Pinellas-based district.
To watch the ad, please click on the image below:
Laurel Lee tops Tampa Bay Chamber Hob Nob straw poll — Lee took the lead in a straw poll at the Chamber’s 2022 Political Hob Nob event in Tampa. The biannual gathering at Amalie Arena drew 50-plus candidates — in races from U.S. Senate to School Boards across Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties — and hundreds of constituents. In the contest for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, Lee took 30% and Rep. Jackie Toledo came in second with just under 26%. Democrat Alan Cohn was third (11%), followed by Rep. Kelli Stargel (8%), Demetries Grimes (<8%) and Eddie Geller (<8%).
“Jackie Toledo-tied super PAC spends $70K slashing Laurel Lee” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A super PAC just dropped more than $70,000 on negative media against Lee. Funding for the group traces back to a political committee once run by Toledo. Engineering America’s Future, a Tampa-based federal PAC formed in March, reported a $60,000 media placement, as well as $7,000 in production costs with Premier Constituent Services. Additionally, the super PAC spent $3,853 on text messaging and voter contact through Alliance Forge. FEC reports indicate only that the spending opposes Lee. The super PAC has reported $110,000 in fundraising since its formation. But the bulk of its funding came courtesy of a $100,000 donation in March from Engineering a Better Future, a state political committee formed in 2017 and originally Chaired by Toledo.
“Teachers’ unions put Jared Moskowitz at the head of his class” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Moskowitz is tops in his class for his bid for a congressional seat representing South Florida. The major teachers’ unions for the state and the country have endorsed his campaign to succeed Rep. Ted Deutch. The National Education Association, the Florida Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. are endorsing Moskowitz. These nods follow the support he’s received from local teachers’ unions in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, the Broward Teachers Union and Palm Beach Classroom Teachers Association. Moskowitz, in a prepared statement, said he’s proud to receive the trust and support of these educators as the best candidate to represent the district.
“GOP candidates call for more oil drilling, just not near Florida” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida Republican candidates are slamming Biden on the campaign trail over his energy policy and high gas prices but at the same time promising to keep drilling away from their state’s coastline. DeSantis and Republicans running for Congress want to authorize more drilling on federal lands and restart the Keystone XL pipeline. DeSantis has accused Biden of “stepping on the neck” of U.S. energy production, blaming him for the high prices at the pump. Biden has countered that GOP attacks are untrue, and the United States is actually on track to set a record for domestic oil production next year with gas prices on the decline.
— 2022: LEG. —
“Lawsuit withdrawn in HD 45 brouhaha” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A lawsuit brought by the fiance of Carolina Amesty against one of her House District 45 Republican Primary Election opponents, his consultants, and a political committee was quietly withdrawn. The suit from Jesus “Jay” Rosario had charged Republican Bruno Portigliatti; his political consulting firm SimWins and its principles Anthony Pedicini, Thomas Piccolo and David Millner; the political committee, Citizens for Principled Leadership; and its Chair, William Helmich, with violating his rights with campaign mailers sent by the “Citizens” committee to HD 45 Republican voters.
— 2022: D-BALLOT —
“‘A bad translation’: How Broward botched the Spanish version of school tax question” via Lisa J. Huriash and Yvonne H. Valdez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — An inaccurate Spanish translation of a proposed School Board tax that’s already on Broward’s ballot is now raising concerns whether it could affect how people vote on the issue. Broward voters start heading to the polls early Saturday, but more than 64,000 voters have already sent in their vote-by-mail ballots by Wednesday afternoon. In addition to state races, local judges, School Board members and County Commissioners, voters are also being asked to agree to double a special school tax.
“Chad Choate, Sean Conley competing for Manatee School Board District 4 seat” via Samantha Gholar of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Two Manatee County natives and school district graduates are vying for the District 4 School Board seat in the Aug. 23 election, Choate and challenger Conley. Earlier this month, voters began absentee balloting and in-person early voting begins on Aug. 13. The nonpartisan School Board race allows all registered voters to take part in the election. The winner will be elected to a four-year term. Choate was appointed to serve on the School Board in August 2021 by DeSantis. Conley has worked as a substitute teacher in the Manatee school district for a number of years and has a background in intelligence analysis.
“Jeremy Matlow gives $20K to PAC; David Bellamy donated to Ron DeSantis” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — From 2012 through late July, candidates running for City and County Commission, School Board and county judge have contributed an estimated $157,000 at least to a variety of officeholders and seekers along with political committees and parties. The biggest donors include City Commissioner Matlow, who’s running for re-election, his opponent, Bellamy, and Mayor John Dailey, who’s also seeking a second term. Their donations amount to nearly 70% of all the money local candidates have given to other political campaigns and causes over the past decade-plus.
“Jorge Fors Jr. ad for Miami-Dade Commission campaign errantly runs on Coral Gables website” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Fors Jr. may have run afoul of the county’s rules against using government resources to support a political campaign. For a brief time in the last week, an ad for Fors’ campaign for the Miami-Dade County Commission ran on the Coral Gables city website. That’s a violation of county ordinances, according to Jose Arrojo, executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. Fors blames the city’s recently renovated website for the oversight, which has since been corrected.
— STATEWIDE —
“DeSantis looking to recruit veterans to teaching field” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — First Uncle Sam wanted them to fight, now Gov. Ron wants them to teach. DeSantis signed a new law this year (SB 896) allowing U.S. military veterans to get a teaching certificate, valid for five years, before they finish their bachelor’s degree, a requirement to get a certificate. Now, he’s setting up a website to aid veterans seeking a certificate. “Florida is the most veteran- and military-friendly state in the nation,” DeSantis said. “We also know that our veterans have talents and skills that they can offer our students. This new opportunity expands Florida’s existing programs that help our veterans take their talents to our schools, and it will help Florida remain a national leader in education.”
To watch DeSantis announce the program, please click on the image below:
“‘Lose my number’: DeSantis spokeswoman slams AP over quote” via Harold Hutchison of Daily Caller — Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis of Florida, tore into the Associated Press on social media Wednesday night for using only a portion of her quote from an emailed statement. “Here is my statement to American Pravda,” she posted on Twitter, including a graphic with the full statement she sent to AP reporter David Klepper. “I expressly instructed the journactivist to print it in full. Of course, he didn’t. Last time I ever talk to the AP. Lose my number, David.” Pushaw calls the AP “American Pravda,” referring to an official newspaper of the former Soviet Union.
Florida bars Medicaid from covering gender-affirming treatment — A new rule blocking Medicaid providers from using taxpayer money to provide gender-affirming medical treatments. As Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO reports, this is the latest move by DeSantis to block such therapies for young people. New language from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration puts added restrictions on the state’s $36.2 billion Medicaid program. The new guidance includes a ban on using taxpayer money for gender dysphoria treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies or surgical procedures. The updated rule will take effect on Aug. 21, Sarkissian notes. Protesting the moves are LGBTQ and health advocates, including Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program. The coalition argues that thousands of transgender Floridians will be left without necessary care.
Florida Chamber says property insurance market ‘teetering’ — After state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. surpassed 1 million policies, the Florida Chamber of Commerce issued a statement warning that the state’s property insurance market is “teetering.” Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson said, “Under the Governor’s leadership, the Legislature took important steps earlier this summer to tackle runaway litigation and the root causes driving up property insurance rates, but it is clear more must be done. The Florida Chamber looks forward to working with state leaders to continue building on those significant steps to heal Florida’s property insurance market and return Citizens to the insurer of last resort.”
Federal policy could derail university accreditation plan — A recently introduced U.S. Department of Education policy on college accreditation could squash a new Florida law forcing universities to change their accrediting bodies, Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reports. The controversial plan was passed in the 2022 Legislative Session in response to perceived overreaches by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in the FSU presidential search and in an academic freedom investigation at UF. The new policy would require the U.S. Department of Education to sign off when schools seek to change accrediting bodies.
“Only 48% of 5th graders passed the state’s science exam; fewer than a quarter were ‘proficient’” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — Florida’s 5th graders took the 2022 statewide science exam to measure understanding of the state’s science standards, but the results were stagnant to dismal. Only 48% of 5th graders passed the exam, based on a score of 3 or higher. The Florida Department of Education considers that “satisfactory — may need additional support for the next grade/course.” The good news? The 48% was an increase from 47% in 2021. But the bad news? Between 2012 to 2019, state science results for 5th graders ranged from 51 to 55%, depending on the school year.
“Jimmy Patronis pushes Equifax to correct credit scoring errors” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Following a report that consumer credit rating agency Equifax’s internal coding error led to inaccurate credit scores for potentially millions of Americans, Patronis wrote to its leader seeking answers. Because the error could have led to consumers paying higher interest rates on loans or being denied, Patronis believes “this error equates to money being stolen directly out of the pockets of innocent consumers by no fault of their own,” he wrote in a letter to Equifax CEO Mark Begor on Thursday. Equifax representatives said they fixed the “technology coding issue” as they called it, but Patronis is still seeking further details.
“Democratic lawmakers call for Attorney General investigation into FPL” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Four Democratic lawmakers are calling on Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate FPL following repeated scandals involving the utility company, Florida’s largest. Reps. Anna V. Eskamani, Joy Goff-Marcil, Yvonne Hayes Hinson and Carlos Guillermo Smith said recent reports have exposed ample evidence of malfeasance at FPL. The scandals began after the 2020 election with three spoiler candidates. But according to reports, FPL agents have attempted to bribe a Jacksonville City Council member, directed campaign contributions from dark-money nonprofits, bankrolled a right-wing news organization and operated a secret bar in Tallahassee.
“Transgender sexual assault of girl in middle school bathroom never happened, BPS says” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — Reports echoed by State Rep. Randy Fine that a girl was sexually assaulted by a transgender student in a bathroom at Johnson Middle School are false. Reports of the alleged incident began circulating. On Thursday, Fine in a letter to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz referenced reports that an unnamed transgender student granted access to the girl’s bathroom at the school had allegedly assaulted a female student sometime over the summer. The letter, provided to media around the state, asked Diaz to investigate the case.
—@CHeathWFTV: No victims, students, or parents have come forward to support @VoteRandyFine’s assertion; Fine said today, “if nothing happened, then there is nothing to fear”
“Marijuana treatment centers have 60 days to comply with emergency rule on website purchasing” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Medical marijuana treatment centers have 60 days to ensure their website and website purchasing services comply with a new emergency rule issued by the administration of DeSantis. It comes after the state lost a legal battle last year to ban licensed dispensaries from contracting with third-party websites that offer “website purchasing” services to 740,213 qualified patients and their caregivers. The emergency rule says medical marijuana treatment centers can only support one department-approved website and it makes clear that centers cannot offer website purchasing services without first obtaining approval from the state.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Joe Biden administration announces new projects from bipartisan infrastructure law” via Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call — The Biden administration announced 166 new federal grants Thursday for transportation projects from the bipartisan infrastructure law. The 166 awards, totaling more than $2.2 billion, are the first from funding in the 2021 law for what is called RAISE grants, for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity. RAISE grants, which may include a 20% matching fund requirement, can go to a wide variety of entities, including states, territories and Washington, D.C., as well as tribes, cities and regional transportation entities.
“Clock is ticking for Biden to make key decisions on student loans” via Maegan Vazquez and Katie Lobosco of CNN — With less than three weeks to go until the federal student loan repayment pause expires, millions of borrowers are still in the dark about whether Biden will extend the current payment moratorium or possibly forgive any of their debts. Borrower balances have effectively been frozen for more than two years. Now, as borrowers’ fates hang in the balance, the President is set to spend several days on a long-awaited vacation. And the Biden administration has not sent any signals to suggest they’ll announce a student loan decision while he’s away.
“Rubio blasts academics who met with Biden as ‘snobs’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Biden met with a handful of academics, including Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz, University of Virginia historian Allida Black, journalist Anne Applebaum and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. Rubio told viewers of Fox News: “Mr. President, there’s millions and millions of everyday Americans out there, and they’re good meaning but they’re uneducated, they’re backward they don’t know what’s good for them and they’re falling into the trap of really evil people convincing them of things like real democracy, rule of law, enforcing borders … all these things are terrible, and Mr. President, it’s important for us not to let these people — translation, it’s important for us not to let the American people, working everyday people and their common sense — play a role in our decision making.’”
“Rubio defends vote against CHIPS bill in room full of microchip execs” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Two weeks after voting against a bill to provide $52.7 billion in subsidies for U.S. semiconductor production and research, U.S. Sen. Rubio defended his vote in a room full of semiconductor corporate executives. After touring the SkyWater chip plant in Kissimmee, Rubio laid out his objections to the bill. “I think they were very strongly supportive of what I am very strongly supportive of, which is government investment in this field,” Rubio said later. “What I can’t support … the law, the way it was written, was watered down by some of the big chip companies for purposes of benefiting their business model.”
“Rick Scott argues Dems don’t ‘give a damn’ about inflation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “The only way things will get better is if we stop the reckless government spending, balance the budget and put folks who have common sense and give a damn back in charge. Biden and the other so-called ‘leaders’ in Washington right now haven’t got a clue and it’s time they put our country first and step aside,” Scott said, responding to the July Producer Price Index, which reflects a 9.8% year-over-year increase. “Washington is broken and backward. Democrats in Washington have responded to a 40-year high in prices by greenlighting another nearly $1 TRILLION in deficit spending in just the last two weeks … You can’t fight inflation with a nonstop spending spree, but that’s all we can expect from Joe Biden and the radical socialist Democrats here in Washington.”
“Charlie Crist, Maria Salazar rely heavily on remote voting while campaigning” via Tristan Wood of City & State Florida — Originally meant to stem the spread of COVID-19 before vaccines were available, lawmakers have relied on other lawmakers to vote for them for various reasons and it has been used by members of both political parties, although somewhat more by Democrats on average. Crist cast the highest number of votes by proxy, with 190 of his 278 votes, or more than two-thirds, tallied without him having to physically be in Washington. U.S. Rep. Salazar cast 120 votes by proxy in the same time frame, or about 43% of her votes cast. She is in a swing district that is one of the most vulnerable to be flipped in 2022.
“UM professor and renowned Cuban American criminologist tapped for Biden’s administration” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — Biden appointed University of Miami professor Alex Piquero, a highly regarded criminology expert, to head the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington. Piquero joined UM in August 2020 as a professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology. He will start his new post on Monday, Aug. 15. “This is an honor of a lifetime,” said Piquero. The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects, analyzes and shares information about crime, crime victims, and those who engage in criminal activity. Piquero said he looks forward to producing timely, accurate, and objective data on crime and justice.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Subpoena preceded search warrant in push to retrieve material from Trump” via Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — Trump received a subpoena this spring in search of documents that federal investigators believed he had failed to turn over earlier in the year when he returned boxes of material he had improperly taken with him upon moving out of the White House. The existence of the subpoena helps to flesh out the sequence of events that led to the search of Trump’s Florida home even after efforts by the National Archives and the Justice Department to ensure that it had been returned. The subpoena suggests that the Justice Department tried methods short of a search warrant to account for the material.
“Merrick Garland says he “personally approved” search warrant at Trump’s residence” via Erin Doherty of Axios — Garland said that the Department of Justice is filing a motion to unseal parts of the search warrant for former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Garland also said that he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter.” “The department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” Garland said.
“Trump hires attorney Drew Findling to represent him in grand jury probe” via Bill Rankin of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Trump has retained noted Atlanta lawyer Findling to represent him in the ongoing criminal investigation by the Fulton County special purpose grand jury examining what happened in Georgia after the 2020 Presidential Election.
“Banner flying over Mar-a-Lago estate reminds everyone that this is actually funny” via Colin Wolf of Creative Loafing — A flag-waving crowd of Trump supporters have congregated at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The MAGA caravan formed just days after a Trump-nominated FBI director allowed agents to search for missing classified documents at Trump’s property, and also after recently surfaced photos suggest the President used a toilet as a presidential library. In an effort to remind Trump supporters that this is all extremely funny, a plane flew around the “Winter White House” Wednesday afternoon towing a large “HA HA HA HA HA” banner.
“Biden faces October deadline to decide whether to help Trump avoid questions in Peter Strzok lawsuit” via Tierney Sneed of CNN — Biden’s White House has until mid-October to decide if he wants to assert executive privilege and hinder an effort to obtain testimony from Trump about Trump’s pressure campaign to get a then-top FBI agent fired. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson set the Oct. 14 deadline at a hearing Wednesday in the lawsuit brought by former top FBI counterintelligence official Strzok, who was terminated by the FBI in 2018 after the revelation of anti-Trump texts which Strzok exchanged with a top FBI lawyer that he was having an extramarital affair with at the time.
“What a third White House campaign might mean for Trump and his vast political war chest” via Fredreka Schouten of CNN — Trump controls a well-funded political operation that includes a super PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited sums, along with several traditional political action committees. At the heart of Trump’s political operation is Save America. Although Trump’s fundraising pace has slowed some in 2022, Save America ended June with more than $103 million remaining in its cash reserves, according to its latest filing with the FEC. That’s an unprecedented stockpile of political money for a former President and amounts to nearly three times the cash that the RNC had remaining in its coffers at June’s end.
Wiles watch — “The most powerful Republican you don’t know” via Myra Adams of The Hill
— JAN. 6 —
“Man suspected of trying to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office may have Jan. 6 ties.” via Allen Fleur of The New York Times — Investigators are looking into whether the man who tried to breach the FBI’s field office in Cincinnati had ties to extremist groups, including one that participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The suspect, identified by the officials as Ricky Shiffer, 42, seems to have appeared in a video posted on Facebook on Jan. 5, 2021, showing him attending a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington the night before the Capitol was stormed. In May, a Twitter user named Ricky Shiffer replied to a photograph of rioters scaling the walls of the Capitol on Jan. 6 with a message that claimed he was present at the building and seemed to place the blame for the attack on people other than supporters of Trump.
“Elaine Chao, Trump’s former Transportation Secretary, met with Jan. 6 committee as other Cabinet members engage with panel” via Zachary Cohen, Jamie Gangel, Sara Murray and Pamela Brown of CNN — The House select committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021, has recently interviewed former Transportation Secretary Chao and is in talks with former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as well as former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. Chao and DeVos, both members of Trump’s Cabinet, resigned a day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol and discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power.
“Riverview man pleads guilty to pushing police in Capitol riot” via The Associated Press — Matthew Council pleaded guilty in District of Columbia federal court to one felony count of assaulting, resisting or impeding law enforcement officers, one felony count of interfering with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder and four misdemeanor offenses, according to court records. He faces up to 16 years in prison at a scheduled Nov. 1 sentencing hearing. Council was arrested at the Capitol during the riot. Council joined with others objecting to Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“A new plan for Miami’s downtown as county reveals $10 billion redevelopment effort” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County is offering up 17 acres of downtown Miami real estate to developers to transform a collection of garages, government buildings, parking lots and the library complex into an eight-block neighborhood with shops, high-rise apartments and restaurants built around the Stephen P. Clark Government Center. “It’s very exciting,” said Eileen Higgins, the County Commissioner whose district includes the proposed development parcels. She said developers would be asked to create their own visions for how the 17 acres of county land should be used to create housing, park space, entertainment spots and a more convenient transit center out of a downtown area that’s mostly desolate at night.
“The progressive cubanos behind Cubanos Pa’lante” via Reina Perez of the Miami New Times — Cuban flags filled Calle Ocho in July 2021 as Miamians protested in solidarity with those back on the island who were marching over food shortages, blackouts, and lack of access to medicine, among other issues. Amid a sea of Trump hats and conservative political messaging common at Cuban American protests, Daniela Ferrera stood out. She wore a shirt bearing the logo of Cubanos Pa’lante, a Miami-based group she co-founded to promote progressive ideals and combat political misinformation in the Hispanic community. “I was seeing the patterns, even as a Republican,” Ferrera says of Trump’s rise to power. “This was someone who did not respect democracy.”
“‘We will only be as strong as our weakest link’: Broward deputies stage drills to respond to school shootings” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As the Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy opened the classroom door at Deerfield Beach High School on Thursday morning, he was careful to do it the right way, careful to be very precise and calculated with his steps and his actions. Armed with a rifle for this segment of an active assailant training drill, deputies went through a series of maneuvers as the instructor called out the specific actions designed to protect the deputies, protect the students and teachers inside the classroom, and, if necessary, eliminate the threat. “We will only be as strong as our weakest link,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Ken Welch: As St. Petersburg moves forward, new Tropicana Field must honor the past” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — A disparity study found minority-owned businesses were enjoying few of the perks of St. Petersburg’s renaissance even as the city elected its first Black Mayor. To Mayor Welch, that called for a do-over. The new Tropicana Field property needs to have something that benefits everyone, including the descendants of those displaced, Welch said. Minority-owned businesses not just for construction but for ongoing operations. Places for Black residents to live and play, not just work. Welch scrapped the prior bid process in June that had been initiated by his predecessor. He announced plans for a new one that is expected this month.
“Orlando Commissioners to consider more safety measures amid downtown violence” via Ryan Gillespie and Abigail Hasebroock of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando is planning to double down on enforcing its noise ordinance and require private parking lots downtown to hire security and new late-night bars to craft and submit safety plans. The plans coming before the city council on Monday predate the latest shooting that wounded seven on July 31 near Wall Street Plaza, and again brought the safety of downtown after dark into the spotlight. Following that shooting, the city implemented security checkpoints and put more police officers on the street. At least four shootings downtown have been reported since last April.
“Inflation, higher rents to blame for crowding at Orange County animal shelter” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — A surge of surrendered dogs, many given up by families unable to afford them, prompted Orange County Animal Services to waive adoption fees Wednesday, hoping the move will ease crowding. “We have very limited available kennel space at the moment,” said Diane Summers, Animal Services manager. She said the agency took in about 70 animals Tuesday, pushing the shelter population to 350. Another 200 animals were in foster care. Sixteen of the 80 dog pens were tripled up. “Ideally, we wouldn’t have to pair or triple-up dogs,” she said, saying staff had to break up four big-dog fights.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Community park in Manatee County to be named after DeSantis” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Manatee County intends to name its new $3 million park north of Kinnan Elementary School after DeSantis. Intentions of naming the park after DeSantis have soured the news for some local residents who are otherwise excited about the investment. County Commissioners will vote on a resolution to officially name the park after the Governor at a future meeting. Commissioners voted 6 to 1 on May 24 to direct the county attorney to prepare a resolution to officially name the new park after DeSantis. Democrat Commissioner Reggie Bellamy was the lone nay vote.
— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —
“FBI: Company led by former Florida House speaker bilked ‘millions of dollars’ for hurricane cleanup” via Tom McLaughlin of The News Herald — GAC Contractors, a local company whose top executives include former House Speaker Allan Bense, bilked “millions of dollars” from local governments in 2018 when it was contracted to clean up debris caused by Hurricane Michael, newly released court documents from an ongoing federal investigation show. The company’s top executives, including Bense and its late CEO Derwin White, commanded its crews to visit work sites with equipment but not perform any work, and then billed Bay County, the school district and other government municipalities, federal investigators allege in an affidavit filed with a search warrant carried out last year at the company’s headquarters.
“Escambia school district refutes teacher’s account of removal of Black leaders’ photos” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County Public Schools system has concluded an investigation into allegations made by a former exceptional student education teacher that a district employee removed pictures of historic Black American heroes from his classroom walls. In a statement released Thursday, school district officials refuted the allegations made by the teacher, Michael James, and claimed there were “inaccuracies” in his account of the incident.
“Santa Rosa officials look to prohibit abortion clinics through Land Development Code” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — The Santa Rosa County Commission did not adopt a proposed “trigger ban” ordinance prohibiting an abortion clinic from operating in the county at its Thursday meeting. Instead, the Commission opted to move forward on exploring a way to attach the prohibition to the county’s Land Development Code. There are currently no abortion clinics in Santa Rosa County. The Commission tasked county staff with working through that process and bringing a Land Development Code amendment back to the Commission at a later date.
“District’s tentative budget gets go-ahead” via Nick Blank of Clay Today — Every governmental agency in the county has a budget that’s malleable for a fiscal year generally overseeing every dollar earned, spent and saved. The Clay County School District board unanimously voted last week to set a tentative budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year at a public hearing last week. District Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs Susan Legutko broke down levying the 6.419 millage rate, which consisted of the required local effort, the basic discretionary millage, and additional voted millage and for capital outlay. She said property values skyrocketed and raised challenges for taxing agencies. “This is not just for Clay County,” Legutko said. “This is for the state of Florida.”
“Recruits at Florida-Georgia? Multiple reports say rule on neutral-site hosting will change” via Garry Smits of The Florida Times-Union — Perhaps University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart will finally warm to the annual game against Florida in Jacksonville, now that he can invite a few more guests, if reports are accurate. On3, a recruiting website, first reported Wednesday that the Bulldogs and Gators will be allowed to host recruits at TIAA Bank Field for the game, beginning this year on Oct. 29 at TIAA Bank Field. Smart has criticized the game for being played in Jacksonville since he took over at Georgia, since NCAA rules did not allow teams to host recruits at neutral-site games.
— TOP OPINION —
“Florida helps, then gets out of the way” via Casey DeSantis for the Wall Street Journal — To learn how to maximize community collaboration outside government, I traveled our state and held roundtables with our faith-based communities, nonprofits, businesses and state and local government partners. I saw the passion of Floridians spending their time and treasure helping others. But unfortunately, many were working in silos.
To eliminate these silos, I’ve spearheaded “Hope Florida, a Pathway to Prosperity.” This innovative initiative seeks to maximize collaboration among our public and private sectors to help families. We want all hands on deck.
Additionally, for the first time in Florida, we identified a scalable way to activate the state’s faith and community-based organizations to meet the immediate needs of citizens who might otherwise rely on government. Through our CarePortal technology, Hope Navigators identify the needs of struggling Floridians and enter that information into a computer-based network. This allows nongovernment organizations, especially our communities of faith, to respond quickly.
In Florida, instead of over-relying on government, we’re organizing the generosity and goodness of neighbors to help one another. Our state government extends a helping hand, connects parents and their children with local community resources, and then stays out of the way. Based on our success so far, I’m confident that Hope Florida can be a model for America.
— OPINIONS —
“Why Trump has to sell a fantasy of collective persecution” via Paul Waldman of The Washington Post — When you watch the collection of nincompoops whose professional lives are organized around defending Trump — the Fox News hosts, the backbench members of Congress, the far-right social media personalities — they’ve homed in on a vital message: This isn’t about Trump. It’s about you. It’s ludicrous; after all, what could be less about you than whether Trump illegally retained classified documents or lied about the value of his properties to mislead tax authorities? But the claim is absolutely vital to maintaining the Republican base’s support and passion for him. A sense of oppression has become central to motivating conservative voters, a way of keeping them engaged, angry and feeling that they have a personal stake in the outcome of every political event, no matter how remote it might seem.
“DeSantis’ missed opportunity on the Mar-a-Lago raid” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Name-checking Hunter Biden and then just letting him drop is a missed opportunity. Name more names, and hint at the obvious conspiracy. It’s not hard. Show your concern about the weaponization of the FBI by demonstrating just how widespread and unfair it is. Just a few days ago, the FBI raided the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, apparently looking for … wait for it … Russian collusion. You haven’t said a word publicly about that raid, but you’re surely just as outraged. We’re sure the tweet about Uhuru injustice is coming any minute now. Go ahead and vent.
“DeSantis’ action against state attorney Andrew Warren has its precedent” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis could not tolerate any insubordination on one of his signature issues. So, with a stroke of his pen, the Governor fired the disobedient local officer and proudly proclaimed he was standing up for common sense and the will of the people. Gov. Claude Kirk had made school busing for racial integration a big part of his 1970 bid for a second term. When the Manatee County School Board obeyed a federal court edict, Kirk suspended not only the entire board but the county superintendent and flew down to Bradenton to take command of the schools himself.
“DeSantis’ recent hissy fit is the latest in a growing list” via Daniel Ruth for the Tampa Bay Times — Are you beginning to get the sneaking suspicion DeSantis has thinner skin than Aunt Bee stumbling into a Dave Chappelle stand-up routine? It certainly doesn’t take much to get the Beaver of the Fox News green room all flummoxed and pouty before he starts to stomp and whine and clutch his pearls unless he gets his way, whichever way that may be. DeSantis disingenuously tut-tutted that politics played no role in the removal of Warren. And if you believe that you also probably believe Gov. Hissy-Fit doesn’t wake up every morning humming “Hail to the Chief.”
“I’m a senior at USF, and I still have hope for a culture of free speech. Here’s why.” via Sam Rechek of the Tampa Bay Times — I still hold out hope for a culture of free speech because I know from firsthand experience that it’s possible. At weekly meetings of First Amendment Forum (1AF), a student organization that I founded in 2019, students from all backgrounds and perspectives gather to discuss and disagree about contemporary issues. During an abortion discussion last fall, for example, one student opened with the claim “life begins at conception.” He was one of a few pro-life participants in the discussion, and I feared that a breakdown in civility was sure to come. I have hope for a culture of free speech in America. This hope is not naive; I recognize that free speech is an “eternally radical idea.”
“Who pays for insurance-based roofing hustle? Everyone in Florida” via Brian A. Hodgers of Florida Today — Every day, all Floridians who are homeowners are paying for these free roofs with increased premiums that, in some cases, are double last year’s premiums. This practice of knocking on doors and soliciting for claims, so that third parties can make money off you, the homeowner, has cost every person in this state. Even if you don’t own a home and you rent, the landlord is raising the price because their insurance has shot up. The shift in mentality is that you pay a premium that has gotten crazy expensive; therefore, you are owed a return on investment from that policy. This is crushing the purpose of insurance. It is meant to be there when you have a claim of what’s called a peril.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— WEEKEND TV —
Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Florida’s 13th Congressional District candidate Makki and Grimes, who is running in Florida’s 15th Congressional District.
ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: One-on-one interview with Warren.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.
In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion on school security four years after Parkland and just two months after Uvalde, and what changes and enhancements are in place to help keep students safe in school. Joining Walker are Rep. Dan Daley; Curtis Lavarello, Executive Director, School Safety Advocacy Council; and Nicole Benton, mental health counselor.
Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Rubio will discuss inflation, the search of Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, and his re-election campaign.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Reps. Kamia Brown and Geraldine Thompson will discuss their campaigns for Senate District 15 in West Orange County.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and Bob McClure from The James Madison Institute.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Florida Blue Market North Florida President Darnell Smith and Rick Mullaney, director, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.
— ALOE —
“Universal Orlando announces Christmas lineup at the parks” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — On a 90-degree humid summer day in Orlando, sometimes it helps to remember that cooler days will someday prevail again. With that spirit, Universal-goers have the winter holidays to look forward to as the theme park resort announced its Christmas holiday lineup. The festivities start Nov. 12 and run through Jan. 1. Getting the winter holiday treatment will be Hogwarts castle and the rest of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Themed decorations, garlands and lights are going up at Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley while at night, a projection of “holiday spirit and Christmas moments inspired by the beloved ‘Harry Potter’ stories” will be displayed on the castle.
“Burmese python hunters give crazy insight into Everglades challenge” via Jess Thomson of Newsweek — The 2022 Florida Python Challenge is underway and hundreds of participants re sharing their experiences online. The Python Challenge, which began on August 5 and will run until August 14, is a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-sanctioned competition based in the Everglades, where participants attempt to capture and kill as many Burmese pythons as they can. Burmese pythons are invasive in the Everglades, and have severely impacted the populations of other native animals in the region by outcompeting them for food.
“National Filet Mignon Day celebrates a cut above” via Amy Drew Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel — When Capa Chef Malyna Si hears the word, filet, she thinks of two things that might also come to mind in thinking of the Four Seasons Orlando itself. “Luxury and decadence.” And so, if any food deserves its own holiday, particularly a steak, the filet mignon is surely one to be celebrated. The filet mignon gets its special celebration on Aug. 13. And you could do worse than toasting its attributes by enjoying one at the newly Michelin-starred restaurant on the 17th floor of this illustrious resort-area property.
“The world’s cornhole elite, chasing that one perfect toss” via Ashley Fetters Maloy of The Washington Post — For the 1,800 players competing at “worlds” in the Rock Hill Sports & Event Center, a 170,000-square foot athletic complex built in 2019, ’hole is life. And almost everyone here shares the earnest belief that the game is poised for global domination. Though the tournament’s main court is just two boards set up on half a dramatically lit basketball gymnasium, under ESPN’s red-tinted TV lights it looks and feels like the Arthur Ashe Stadium of cornhole: its Colosseum, even, maybe. Competitors enter, prizefighter-like, through an inflatable tunnel sponsored by Johnsonville Sausage.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, former Rep. Matt Caldwell, Alex Blair, Robin Anne Miller, the CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, and Rebekah Stamps of Bascom Communications and Consulting.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.