Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.29.22

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Good morning.

Florida voters made a lot of decisions Tuesday night in races up and down the Primary ballot.

Incumbents were ousted, upsets were made and, like always, there were players who stood out and players who took a nose-dive.

In our Winners and Losers list, we look at the people behind the scenes making calls that could make or break races.

Read the list here.

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Florida Realtors endorse Ron DeSantis, Jimmy Patronis — During a town hall event last week at the Florida Realtors Annual Convention and Trade Expo, the Florida Realtors PAC endorsed DeSantis and Patronis for re-election. “Gov. DeSantis is a true champion of the real estate industry and the professionals who work within it … the Governor clearly recognizes the importance of Realtors and the critical services they provide Floridians,” said Margy Grant, CEO of Florida Realtors. She added, “CFO Patronis knows just how critical of a role the real estate industry plays in the health of Florida’s economy and he’s not afraid to take action to ensure that connection remains strong.”

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The Florida Leadership Council, an organization made up of several current and former elected officials, is endorsing 19 candidates running for state legislative seats across the state this November.

The list features a half-dozen candidates for Senate, including incumbent Democrats Loranne Ausley and Janet Cruz, as well as Reps. Joy Goff-Marcil and Tracie Davis and non-electeds Raquel Pacheco in SD 36 and Janelle Perez in SD 38.

The remaining endorsements were for House candidates, including incumbent Democrats Carlos Guillermo Smith and Andrew Learned as well as 11 others, most running for seats in Central or South Florida.

That list: Tiffany Hughes for HD 39, Allie Braswell for HD 45, Lindsey Cross for HD 60, Jen McDonald for HD 65, Andy Thompson for HD 91, Linda Thompson Gonzalez for HD 100, Sienna Osta for HD 87, Christie Cantin for HD 115, A.J. D’Amico for HD 113, Katherine Waldron for HD 93 and Sarah Henry for HD 38.

“The guardrails for Democracy are dangerously close to being torn down by radicalized Republicans who have put culture wars and corporations above the needs of everyday people,” said former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who Chairs the FLC Political Committee.

“While conservatively-stacked courts allow Floridians’ rights and freedoms to be eroded, families across our state are facing an affordability crisis, teacher shortages, and stagnant wages — but it doesn’t have to be this way. Our group of Democratic, independent, and former Republican leaders is proud to endorse these strong Democratic candidates for election to the Florida Legislature to fight for communities across the state and deny Republicans a supermajority in both houses. None of us can afford to sit on the sidelines, the future of our great state is too important, and it absolutely hangs in the balance over the next several election cycles.”

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Full-service consulting firm LSN Partners has promoted Nicole Gomez to Partner.

Gomez joined the firm in 2018 and has served as Director of Client Relations since 2020. LSN said she plays a crucial role in the firm’s local and national practices, often serving as the bridge between LSN’s clients and a vast network of Mayors and key municipal decision-makers across the country.

Congrats to Nicole Gomez for a major boost at LSN Partners.

“Nicole is a tireless advocate for our clients before local and state governments across the country and has an innate ability to work extraordinarily well with our institutional and startup clients,” said Gabriel Groisman, a Partner at LSN Partners. “It is only fitting to promote her to Partner at this time.”

Managing Partner Alexander Heckler added, “It’s an honor and privilege to recognize Nicole on this important and well-deserved promotion. Nicole is an invaluable member of our firm, consistently leading our clients on complex endeavors and delivering exceptional value.”

As Partner, Nicole will continue to lead the firm in its ability to keep pace with the rapidly changing cultures to address issues for clients in many industries, including health care, transportation, infrastructure, aviation, information technology, telecommunications, and emergency management.

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Here are a few other items:

⚠️ — Is the red wave going to crash into a blue sea wall? It’s looking more like it will by the day, with some Democrats even envisioning a narrow path to holding onto a House majority. But veterans of the 2010 and 2018 waves have some cautionary tales to share about counting chickens before they hatch.

➡️ — Florida has been trending Republican, but DeSantis is turning toward the hard-right faster than the electorate. The New York Times’ Patricia Mazzei puts the strategy in context in this smart interview with colleague German Lopez.

😎 — The Maxwell Frost hype train is still rolling following his big win in the Democratic Primary for Florida’s 10th Congressional District. The latest stop: Axios. The Gen Z candidate recently sat down with Andrew Solender to talk about what the win means and how his generation’s approach to politics and political scandal differs from its predecessors.

🧠 — If you want a glimpse into how one of the most successful investors in the biz approaches nine-figure stock buys, head over to Puck News, where Dan Loeb explains why he dumped $750 million into Disney and the strings he put on the deal.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@HillaryClinton: As Ann Richards said, “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” Here’s me in Cartagena while I was there for a meeting as Secretary of State. Keep dancing, @marinsanna.

@MDixon55: DGA did $7m for Gillum in 2018 and $6m for @CharlieCrist in 2014 A few polls and maybe some in-kind help coming this cycle. If DGA investing elsewhere, what does that say about Florida’s Governor’s race?

@NikkiFried: I may have lost my Primary, but at least I’ve never put on a fighter pilot costume to pretend I was Tom Cruise without the looks, charm, or skills.

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 2; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 4; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 10; 2022 Emmys — 13; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 17; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 17; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 23; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 38; deadline to register for General Election — 42; 22-23 NHL season begins — 43; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 50; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 52; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 57; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 57; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 58; Early voting begins for General Election — 62; 2022 General Election — 71; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 74; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 74; FITCon 2022 begins — 80; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 80; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 84; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 84; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 85; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 93; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 93; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 109; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 172; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 190; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 207; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 232; 2023 Session Sine Die — 249; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 249; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 277; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 326; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 431; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 445; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 578; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 697; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 697; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 802; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 977.

— TOP STORY —

Charlie Crist chooses Miami-Dade teachers’ union chief as running mate” via John Kennedy of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Crist introduced the head of the largest teacher’s union in the Southeast as his Lieutenant Governor candidate Saturday morning during a rally at the Hialeah school where she taught for a decade. Karla Hernández-Mats, President of United Teachers of Dade, joined her running mate at the rally at Hialeah Middle School where he described her as “empathetic and compassionate,” qualities, Crist added, that “we don’t have in the Governor’s office now.” Hernández acknowledged the cheers in Spanish from “mi gente,” “my people,” in taking the stage and quickly trained her focus on the Republican Governor.

The ticket is set — Charlie Crist and Karla Hernández-Mats.

—”Florida GOP calls Crist’s running mate choice, Karla Hernández-Mats, a slap to parents’ faces” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—”National Education Association lauds Crist’s Hernandez-Mats pick” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—“Florida Education Association applauds Crist’s running mate pick” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—”Ruth’s List illuminates new angle to Crist’s running mate, Hernández-Mats” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—”Running mates have lots of history, not much else” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat

— DESANTIS V. CRIST —

Is Florida still a swing state? The next 11 weeks will determine the answer” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — In a state where campaigns are famously hypercompetitive, GOP candidates enter the General Election — led by incumbents DeSantis and Marco Rubio — at a clear advantage, bolstered by a surge in Republican voter registration and recent electoral trends that have pushed the state to the right. Veteran pols caution that DeSantis and Rubio are far from sure things to win, particularly after the Supreme Court earlier this year revoked the constitutional right to an abortion, incensing the Democrats’ base and troubling many moderate voters. And they add that Florida, even if it’s becoming more Republican, is still more purple than red, thanks to a heterodox electorate that holds a diverse array of political views.

Is Florida taking a hard right?

—”Where do DeSantis and Crist stand on abortion, education and other key issues?” via Mary Ellen Klas and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald

When it comes to geography, the gubernatorial teams are now very similar: Pinellas and Miami-Dade” via Danielle Brown and Diane Rado of the Florida Phoenix — Crist said “We’ve got to make sure to touch all our people. This is a campaign for a Florida for all.” That would mean blossoming from Pinellas and Miami-Dade to reach millions of residents in Florida. Miami-Dade is the largest county by population in Florida and Democrats makeup nearly 40% of voters in that county. “Are you tired of the culture wars and the extremists that are dictating what we can say and do?” Hernández-Mats asked the crowd. “Are you sick of politicians who act like authoritarians trying to tear apart our democracy? That’s why we are here today — to defeat Ron DeSantis and bring decency and respect back to the state of Florida.”

Will there be a ‘return to decency?’

DeSantis cements his ‘maverick’ image” via John Fund of National Review — The combination of the removal of the Broward school-board miscreants and the voter revolt against incumbents in Tuesday’s elections means that a third of Florida’s 22 million people have seen their local School Boards switch from liberal to conservative control overnight. That could potentially impact policy decisions on everything from school choice to a tougher stance against teachers’ unions. It also gives DeSantis a highly visible playing card in his re-election race this fall. Political analysts also believe he might run for president in 2024, speculation that has been fueled after his campaign released a new video this week called “Top Gov.” The new movie “Top Gun: Maverick” has become a cultural icon as over 50 million Americans have made it the sixth highest-grossing movie in U.S. history.

Email insights: DeSantis doubles down on Gavin Newsom attacks” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In an email with a call to action urging his list to “rush in a donation,” the Governor’s re-election campaign invoked Newsom in his pitch. Newsom and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, DeSantis contended, flouted the COVID-19 precautions they advocated. “While these draconian rules were ruining people’s lives, Nancy Pelosi was getting her hair done in a salon she made sure was shut down for everyone else. Gavin Newsom was dining indoors at restaurants that were otherwise closed to the rest of the population,” DeSantis fumed. The email bemoaned the “left” and its “woke ideologies” and desire to “move the goal post down the field” in its zeal to “command complete and total control over the American people.”

—“Email insights: DeSantis campaign blasts Newsom ‘obsession with Florida’ after donation pledge” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

DeSantis pulls out of $25K-a-plate Lee Zeldin fundraiser over ‘unforeseen tragedy’” via Bernadette Hogan and Selim Algar of the New York Post — Gov. DeSantis had to pull out of a big-bucks fundraiser for New York gubernatorial candidate Zeldin on Long Island because of an “unforeseen tragedy,” the candidate’s rep told The Post. The Sunshine State Republican was slated to appear at a $25,000-a-plate gathering in Oyster Bay. “An unforeseen tragedy forced Governor DeSantis to reschedule his trip to New York,” Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz said, declining to elaborate. “While we’re rescheduling with Governor DeSantis for a later date, tonight’s fundraiser will proceed and is expected to raise almost a million dollars.”

Crist urges Democratic donors to help stop DeSantis before he becomes too powerful. But Florida is a tough sell” via Steve Contorno of CNN — Fresh off winning his party’s nomination, Crist had a sobering message for Democrats across the country: Send money to Florida or you may end up with President DeSantis someday. “It is the Democrats’ last chance to stop him and it’s going to be a lot cheaper to do it in Florida than it would be in 50 states,” Crist said. “If you want to help (President) Joe Biden get a second term, we need to shut Ron DeSantis down in Florida.” Crist’s plea for cash was perhaps as creative as it was nakedly desperate. Crist started the 11-week sprint to the general election nearly from scratch. Meanwhile, DeSantis has been waiting for Crist with $132 million on hand, a record sum for a Governor’s race.

Crist must seize abortion issue for Democrats, without sidestepping past views” via the Miami Herald editorial board — For Crist to have any chance at prying Florida from the iron grip of DeSantis in the November gubernatorial election, he’ll have to hammer on the issue of abortion. Certainly, there are other critically important topics for the state’s leading Democrat to talk with voters about, too; affordability, for one, something Republicans have had no real impact on, despite desultory efforts in areas like homeowners’ insurance. Voters would likely leap at anyone from either side who had a solution that gives them concrete and substantial relief on the cost of living right now. But abortion isn’t just about what Floridians want. It’s about what Floridians are losing. And that’s likely to be highly motivating when it comes to voter turnout.

— 2022 —

Epilogue — “Nikki Fried’s Campaign Finance Chair couldn’t vote for her. ‘I’m mortified.’” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Mitchell Berger, the prominent Fort Lauderdale lawyer who served as Campaign Finance Chair for Fried’s gubernatorial campaign, wasn’t able to vote for her in Tuesday’s Primary. When Berger went to vote Tuesday, he was listed as a no-party-affiliation voter. Florida has closed primaries, which means only voters registered in a political party can vote in its Primary contests. “I’m mortified,” he said Friday. Berger has been a registered Democrat since 1974, and he’s been heavily involved in political campaigns, candidate fundraising, and government for decades.

Mitchell Berger, Nikki Fried’s Finance Chair, got a shock when he went to vote.

Marco Rubio explains his secret to paying off student loans” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rubio, on “One Nation with Brian Kilmeade,” expressed opposition to Biden‘s write-off of student loan debt, explaining that he too dealt with those issues, until he found a side hustle from his day job while making ends meet as a newcomer to Washington. “I owed over $100,000 in student loans. The day I got elected to the Senate, I had over $100,000 still in student loans that I was able to pay off because I wrote a book, and with that money, I was able to pay it. If not, I’d still be paying it, OK?” As far back as 2016, Rubio was well into the seven figures of aggregate book royalties, so authorship is one way to tackle their obligations.

Assignment editors — Former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Rep. Anna Eskamani will hold a virtual news conference with Florida doctors to call out Rubio for doubling down on his extreme attacks on Floridians’ reproductive freedom: 2 p.m., Zoom link here.

Despite losing Primary, Laura Loomer claims to be new CD 11 Congresswoman, demands Dan Webster resign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Failed congressional candidate Loomer won’t concede defeat in Tuesday’s Republican Primary. In a new Telegram post, the internet provocateur baselessly alleged fraud determined the outcome of an election she lost by nearly 7 percentage points. “I actually am the Congresswoman in Florida’s 11th District, and everyone knows it,” she wrote. She lost to U.S. Rep. Webster, a Clermont Republican who has represented part of the region since serving in the Legislature. He won election to the U.S. House in 2010, defeating Democrat Alan Grayson, and has won re-election each cycle since. Webster is largely ignoring the complaining.

Eric Lynn ad hits Anna Paulina Luna as abortion ‘extremist,’ 2020 denier” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Democrat Lynn is laying into Republican Luna for her views on abortion and her commitment to former President Donald Trump in his first digital ad of the General Election. In his new ad, the campaign uses Luna’s own voice to highlight “her extremism and devotion to Trump over Pinellas families.” The first sound bite features Luna describing herself as a “pro-life extremist.” In the second clip, Luna says she would have voted against the PACT Act, a measure to expand health care for veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals at a cost of $280 billion over a decade. The measure passed the U.S. House 342-88 with unanimous support from Democrats while a minority of Republicans, including six members of Florida’s delegation, voted against it. Two final clips show Luna saying she believes Trump won the 2020 election, that voter fraud occurred in the race and that the election was stolen.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

Dan Franzese will face Lois Frankel in 22nd District race for Congress, after 130-vote win in recount” via Katherine Kokal and Stephany Matat of The Palm Beach Post — A machine recount of the votes began at 1 p.m. Friday and concluded just before 2 a.m. Saturday. Original vote tallies showed just 132 votes separated the candidates. Franzese earned 11,972 votes or 34.6% of the vote, while Deborah Adeimy won 11,842 or 34.2% of the vote. Franzese will now take on incumbent Frankel on Nov. 8 — a seat Republicans want to try to flip. “This has been a long, hard-fought campaign,” Franzese wrote in a statement sent to The Palm Beach Post. “I want to thank the people of District 22 for believing in me. I have listened to them, and they have been heard at the ballot box.”

Webster Barnaby beats Elizabeth Fetterhoff by 30 votes after HD 29 Primary recount” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Barnaby’s lead held firm in the House District 29 Republican Primary after multiple recounts scrutinized his victory over his House colleague, Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff. Election officials named Barnaby the GOP nominee Friday after recounts showed the final margin in the Volusia County district settle at 30 votes, the closest legislative race in the state. The result capped a prolonged ending to the only contest in Florida pitting two sitting state legislators against one another. Barnaby will face Rick Karl in the Nov. 8 General Election.

Janelle Perez raises $69K in first half of August, grows commanding cash lead in SD 38” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — After months of falling second to her Republican opponent in fundraising and spending, Democrat Janelle Perez spent the first half of August stacking $69,000 toward her Senate bid. She also spent more than $31,000 so far this month to outpace Republican Alexis Calatayud in campaign activity, not including nearly $4,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Florida Democratic Party for campaign staff costs. Perez and Calatayud are competing for the open seat representing Senate District 38. Since filing for state office in September, Perez has raised $624,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Democracy and Freedom. Of that, she had $521,000 left by Aug. 18.

— STATEWIDE —

Board of Governors search committee recommends Ray Rodrigues for Chancellor” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A search committee is recommending Sen. Rodrigues to serve as the next Chancellor of the Florida State University System. In a unanimous recommendation, the search committee made its recommendation known after interviewing Rodrigues and Dr. Lori Cromwell, Chief Business Officer for Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. A final decision on who will succeed Marshall Criser in the role of Chancellor will be made by the Board of Governors for the state system at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 14 at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.

Ray Rodrigues is one step closer to becoming the next Chancellor of the Florida State University System

Back to school in DeSantis’ Florida, as teachers look over their shoulders” via Sarah Mervosh of The New York Times — Across Florida, educators struggle to navigate teaching under new laws that restrict instruction on gender identity, sexual orientation and race, as well as expanding censorship of books. Many such educators are fearful of misstepping under the new laws championed by DeSantis, who argues that public schools should focus on teaching core academics, not on pushing “woke” ideology. Within the first few weeks of school, teachers in some parts of the state have been asked to take down stickers showing support for LBGTQ students, to review every book on their classroom shelves, and, in at least one case, to remove rainbow-colored paper from a classroom door after the decorations prompted a complaint from a parent.

Defendants targeted in DeSantis’ voter fraud crackdown were told they could vote” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — Several individuals arrested last week in a show of DeSantis’ crackdown on voter fraud were told by government entities that they were eligible to vote. In some cases, they were baffled by their arrests because counties had actively sent them voter registration cards and approved them to vote. The 20 defendants, whose arrest became a public spectacle for the Republican Governor to show off his new election security office, told authorities they had no intention of committing voter fraud. Those arrested allegedly cast votes in the 2020 election when they weren’t eligible to because of their prior convictions.

North Florida is the latest front in DeSantis’ war on voter fraud” via Tristan Wood of City & State Florida — The head of Gov. DeSantis’ new statewide elections police is opening a new front in the war on voter fraud.  Pete Antonacci, head of the Office of Election Crimes and Security, recently sent State Attorney Jack Campbell – the Tallahassee region’s top prosecutor – a list of 22 convicted sex offenders, saying all of them voted illegally in the November 2020 general election.  The Aug. 15 email and list – shared with City & State by anti-fraud activist Mark Glaeser – suggest they reside in the counties of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties.

Legal notables urge judge to rule against DeSantis over ousted State Attorney” via Sue Carlton of The Tampa Bay Times — A coalition of more than 60 legal figures, both local and national, have signed on to a legal brief supporting Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was suspended by DeSantis earlier this month. The group, which includes retired Florida Supreme Court justices to a former Solicitor General of the United States, filed the brief Friday in Warren’s federal lawsuit against DeSantis. The Republican Governor removed the state attorney, a progressive Democrat, because he signed joint statements indicating he would not pursue certain cases involving abortion-related prosecution and gender-affirming surgeries.

DeSantis re-ups Glen Gilzean, adds Ed Moore to Ethics Commission” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis has named Central Florida Urban League President and CEO Gilzean and former Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) President and CEO Moore to the Florida Commission on Ethics. The Florida Commission on Ethics is a panel tasked with investigating and issuing reports on claims of “breach of the public trust” by public officials and employees. The nine-person panel also recommends penalties for those officials and employees when it finds its subjects committed ethics violations. Commissioners serve two-year terms and cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.

Happening today — The Statewide Council on Human Trafficking meets, 11 a.m. Call-in: 1-571-317-3116. Meeting code: 356230565

Private school that bans LGBTQ students gets $1.6 million in tax dollars” via Leslie Postal and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — A Florida private school that made national headlines last week for telling parents that gay or transgender students “will be asked to leave the school immediately” accepted more than $1.6 million in state scholarships last school year. Grace Christian School near Tampa, with about 470 students enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, received state scholarships, often called vouchers, to cover tuition for more than 250 of those youngsters during the 2021-22 school year. Like the Hillsborough County school, more than 100 other private schools in Florida that accept publicly funded scholarships also maintain policies that exclude or criticize LGBTQ students.

Grace Christian School discriminates against LGBTQ students while being rewarded by taxpayers.

Homeowner’s insurance crisis hits The Villages” via Christopher Heath of WFTV — For the last two decades, Steve and Alice Smith have enjoyed their quiet retiree life in “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown,” better known as The Villages. “We received our renewal policy maybe a month or more ago, and since then, we were shocked when we got the bill,” says Alice holding up her homeowner’s insurance renewal notice to show a price increase of 69%. “The insurance companies, they can kind of threaten Florida that they won’t offer policies, so what can we do?” Steve and Alice are like more than 500 homeowners in The Villages and millions more statewide, now facing one of two options: higher prices or coverage sent off to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance. Meanwhile, for residents like the Smiths, there are few options.

Installing rooftop solar panels can get your home insurance canceled” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As electric bills surge and the federal government offers generous tax incentives for renewable energy investments, more and more Florida homeowners are seriously considering rooftop solar systems. But in calculating system costs vs. electric bill savings, many would-be solar owners are neglecting to consider how a solar system will affect their home insurance bill or how difficult it might be to find a company that will insure them at all. And with insurance premiums skyrocketing for all Florida homeowners, solar customers who can obtain coverage might also find that the price increase will wipe out any energy-cost savings they expected from going solar.

Happening today — The Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council meets to interview applicants for the Commission, 1 p.m., Hillsborough Community College, Brandon Campus, 10451 Nancy Watkins Dr., Tampa.

Proposed new nursing home rule raises some industry concerns” via Christine Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida nursing homes saw Medicaid rates increase by hundreds of millions this year, but the money came with a catch. Lawmakers passed a bill in 2022 that requires, for the first time, nursing homes to provide the state with year-end audited financial data. The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) held a rule development workshop Thursday to discuss proposed new regulations that must pass for the state to start collecting the data. The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) has concerns with the proposal related to timing, worried that the homes will have to scramble to comply.

State sets dose caps on MMJ products — The Office of Medical Marijuana Use posted new rules capping THC content in medical cannabis. As reported by Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida, the new rules go into effect today and limit patients to purchasing 24,500 milligrams of THC over a 70-day period. The rules would also cap the amount of smokable cannabis patients may purchase to 2.5 ounces every 35 days. The caps have been expected for months, but Florida medical marijuana companies blasted out alerts to their customers Friday noting that the new rules will go into effect today.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Joe Biden’s big dreams meet the limits of ‘imperfect’ tools” via Jim Tankersley of The New York Times — Biden’s move this week to cancel student loan debt for tens of millions of borrowers and reduce future loan payments for millions more comes with a huge catch, economists warn: It does almost nothing to limit the skyrocketing cost of college and could very well fuel even faster tuition increases in the future. That downside is a direct consequence of Biden’s decision to use executive action to erase some or all student debt for individuals earning $125,000 a year or less, after failing to push debt forgiveness through Congress. Experts warn that schools could easily game the new structure Biden has created for higher education financing, cranking up prices and encouraging students to load up on debt with the expectation that it will never need to be paid in full.

Joe Biden’s student loan plan could hit a brick wall.

Biden’s student debt plan is a Democratic version of ‘trickle-down’ economics” via Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post — Many Americans have struggled with the burden of student debt. They include people defrauded by fly-by-night “colleges;” people who acquired debt but didn’t graduate; and people who got degrees, but ones not particularly valued by employers. These people need our help. But they’re not the only people effectively getting cut a check — or rather, “debt relief.” Biden’s plan, announced Wednesday, has been framed as extending a lifeline to the bootstrapped, cash-strapped serf. Forgiveness will go to lots of Americans with high expected future incomes, something progressives have been reluctant to acknowledge.

The Biden White House gets feisty on Twitter” via Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — Sure, there are still the tweets touting Biden’s policies and how they’ll help people. But the White House account this week decided to hit back in uncharacteristically feisty, and personal, fashion after a number of Republicans hammered Biden’s decision to wipe out up to $20,000 in student debt for many borrowers. When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene criticized the loan forgiveness, the White House tweeted a clip of Greene slamming the decision and added, “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven,” referring to the COVID-19-era Paycheck Protection Program, which made loans to businesses.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Trump family dunks on DeSantis: You’re ‘stealing’ our bit!” via Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone — Donald Trump repeatedly ridiculed the Governor for ripping off the ex-President’s style. “There was this time, maybe a year ago that I remember him making fun of [DeSantis] for doing similar hand gestures and motions,” one individuals said. “He called it ‘stealing’ from him and described it as a lame impression.” The alleged rip-offs raised eyebrows with other members of “America First” royalty. Donald Trump Jr. has noticed an uncanny pattern: Often he will tweet something — a culture-war grievance or a burgeoning trend among the online right — and soon see those specific topics incorporated into the Florida Governor’s talking points.

Donald Trump is turning the midterms from a referendum into a choice” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post — From one Midterm Election to another, turnout rarely went up or down by more than a few percentage points. Then came 2018, when overall turnout was the biggest in roughly a century, registering an 11-point increase over 2014. Democrats gained 23 million more votes than in 2014 and Republicans added about 11 million. Trump wasn’t on the ballot, but he was the biggest motivating force. Though no one can predict whether turnout this fall will even come close to what happened in 2018, there are signs all around that this will be another SDT (Since Donald Trump) election and not necessarily one that conforms to what was the norm previously.

Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot, but the Midterms are all about him. Image via Reuters.

Intel officials to assess national security fallout from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents” via Andrew Desiderio and Nicholas Wu of POLITICO — The U.S. intelligence community will evaluate the potential national security risks stemming from Trump’s possession of top-secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told top lawmakers. Haines told House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff that her office will lead an “assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of the relevant documents.”

Judge signals support for special master to review some Trump records FBI seized” via Marc Caputo of NBC News — A Florida federal judge Saturday indicated she was inclined to appoint a special master to review some of the documents the FBI seized earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, did not issue a blanket order for the special master but instead said she had a “preliminary intent” to do so after hearing arguments she scheduled for Thursday in her West Palm Beach courtroom. If Cannon grants Trump’s request, the special master would be in charge of reviewing documents for issues of privilege, not the highly sensitive records at the heart of the government’s investigation.

Reading between the redacted lines: What affidavit tells us about DOJ’s Trump intentions” via Andrew C. McCarthy of The New York Post — To what should be the surprise of no one, the Justice Department so thoroughly redacted the affidavit supporting the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago estate that the exercise was pointless. DOJ has given us nothing about the monumental decision to execute a search warrant at the home of a former President, unprecedented in US history. In the absence of information, we are left with speculation. Interestingly, one of DOJ’s principal arguments against disclosing the FBI’s warrant affidavit, an argument that plainly persuaded Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, was the need to avoid unfair prejudice to uncharged persons. Of course, the uncharged person at issue here is Trump.

Surprising institution under attack” via Axios — After the Mar-a-Lago search, Attorney General Merrick Garland faced online assassination threats, and he decried the rising “unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents.” Now, it’s the National Archives — keeper of the Declaration of Independence and romanticized in 2004 by the film “National Treasure.” The agency “has become the target of a rash of threats and vitriol” because of the records fight with Trump, rattling civil servants tasked with preserving the nation’s records.

Truth Social faces financial peril as worry about Trump’s future grows” via Drew Harwell of The Washington Post — Trump’s Truth Social website is facing financial challenges as its traffic remains puny and the company that is scheduled to acquire it expresses fear that his legal troubles could lead to a decline in his popularity. Six months after its high-profile launch, the site, a clone of Twitter, which banned Trump after Jan. 6, 2021, still has no guaranteed source of revenue and a questionable path to growth.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Who are DeSantis’ new Broward School Board appointments? 4 Republicans, 2 with insider School Board experience.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In remaking the Broward School Board on Friday, DeSantis turned to four Republicans, two of whom have School Board experience and the kind of insider knowledge that could help them effect change in the problem-plagued School District. DeSantis has now appointed five of the nine School Board members in the overwhelmingly Democratic county. “They’re all excellent picks,” said state Rep. Chip LaMarca said about Friday’s appointments.

Ron DeSantis remakes a Republican School Board in an overwhelmingly Democratic Broward County.

DeSantis looking to oust Sheriff Gregory Tony? He gets to replace him if he waits til after Sept. 5” via Florida Bulldog — There’s an interesting date on next month’s calendar that’s making the rounds in Broward and Tallahassee. Sept 5 is supposedly the big day. It marks the date when Broward Sheriff Tony will have exactly 28 months remaining in his four-year term. Why is that interesting or even noteworthy? Because of the confluence of speculation that Gov. Ron DeSantis, lately in a “remove and replace” mode, wants to oust the embattled Tony from office and is waiting until after that date to use his executive authority to do it.

—“Are DeSantis’ suspensions of elected officials who didn’t commit crimes unusual?” via Ana Ceballos of the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Street parties on Sistrunk cost $45,000 a pop on taxpayer dime. Turns out they weren’t legal.” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Over the past several months, taxpayer-funded street parties have cost the Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency a whopping $272,100, or $45,350 for each gathering. The cost exceeded the $30,000 that was budgeted for each event, the city auditor found. Critics also pointed out Commissioner Robert McKinzie seemed to use the taxpayer-funded festivity as a campaign event where he handed out scholarships from a nonprofit.

Miami-Dade Commissioner preparing for charge. DeSantis could name replacement” via Douglas Hanks and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Commissioner Joe Martinez, a retired police lieutenant and potential sheriff candidate in 2024, is telling confidants he expects to face at least one criminal charge in a matter of days. If Martinez faces a criminal charge, DeSantis could name a temporary replacement on the county board. Martinez is expected to surrender to authorities early in the week and faces a charge related to a financial issue, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Will the 2 DeSantis-backed Miami School Board members be independent? Some are asking” via Sommer Brugal of the Miami Herald — Around this time last year, the Miami-Dade School Board, under then-Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, defied DeSantis and his ban on school mask mandates, requiring students and staff to wear facial coverings for the start of the 2021-22 school year as the delta variant surged in the state, fueling more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases a day. At the time, Vice Chair Steve Gallon III said the public depended on the School Board “to vote in a manner that does not capitulate to political pressures but relies on the empirical, scientific evidence.” The board voted 7-1 in favor of the mask mandate, with board member Lubby Navarro dissenting and Christi Fraga absent.

Demand cools for Miami-Dade’s coastal condos, a year after deadly high-rise collapse” via Rebecca San Juan of the Miami Herald — Total condo sales fell by 1% in coastal communities, when comparing data from January through June 2022 to the same period of 2021. Median condo sales prices also dipped 1% in the same coastal areas, to $520,000 from $525,000 the prior year. However, condo closings along the coast during the first half of this year remained higher than Miami-Dade County’s median condo price of $410,000 in June. Among the coastal communities, condo buyers showed great hesitancy about buying in Surfside, where the condo tower fell.

Surfside cools the Miami-Dade condo market.

Miami-Dade Homeless Trust census estimates an increase in people living on the street” via Natalia Galicza and Joey Flechas — Estimates from Miami-Dade’s homeless agency show that the number of people experiencing homelessness within the county could be on the rise. The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust reported a 23% increase in the number of people living on the street outside of shelters during its biannual census performed last week. The numbers offer a snapshot of the state of homelessness in the county. The Trust estimated that 1,140 people are currently living outside of homeless shelters, hotels and other temporary housing. About 2,598 are sheltered, marking a 7% increase since last year’s summer count.

Breaks for developers: County caved repeatedly on housing for workers. Now it’s a crisis.” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County’s dwindling supply of moderately priced homes has been a concern for years, but since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has grown into a full-blown crisis. Nearly a third of the county’s renters spend more than half of their income on housing, a 2020 study found, while another found average rents in the county jumped 31% in a year, to more than $2,800 in May. The dearth of affordable housing for middle-class workers has left businesses struggling to hire employees and pushed more longtime residents to flee north to Port St. Lucie and other less costly areas. Some businesses have delayed or canceled plans to locate here, business recruiters say, citing the lack of affordable housing for employees.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Partisan-tinged Polk County School Board elections yield mixed outcome, with runoff coming” via Gary White of The Ledger — The effort to remake the Polk County School Board will continue into the General Election with a runoff. The Primary saw the election of incumbent Kay Fields, the defeat of another incumbent and a third who will go to the runoff. While Fields managed to edge out her conservative challenger, DeSantis-endorsed Rick Nolte ousted District 3 incumbent Sarah Fortney. Finally, incumbent Lisa Miller will be on the November ballot after she led in a three-person race but didn’t reach the majority threshold.

Recount: Mike Scott to face Lawanna Gelzer for Orange County District 6 Commission seat” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — The final, unofficial results posted on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website had Gelzer first with 3,455 votes or 19.37% of the ballots followed by Scott with 3,150 or 17.66% and Cynthia Harris with 3,144 or 17.63%. In multiple-candidate Primary races, if no one gets more than 50% of the ballots cast, Orange County election rules require a runoff between the two who got the most. Turnout was low in the all-Democrat, nonpartisan race with less than 16% of the district’s 112,000 eligible voters participating. Ballot counts showed that 1,419 of those who voted did not pick a candidate in the Commission race.

The recount settled it: Lawanna Gelzer versus Mike Scott in Orange County District 6.

Candidate spending per vote ranged significantly for Brevard Commission, School Board races” via Dave Berman and Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — Candidates typically spend money they receive from campaign contributors on roadside signs, billboards, mailers, brochures, flyers, media advertising, and social media to improve their name recognition and get their message to voters. “Money is what I like to call the mother’s milk of politics,” said Christopher Muro, an associate professor in political science at Eastern Florida State College. Generally, “the people who win the elections are the ones who have outraised their opponents significantly,” said Muro, who was a Republican Primary candidate for Florida House in 2000, finishing fourth among six candidates. “It’s very expensive to run for office. To send out mailers, to run television and advertising campaigns, to have billboards, effective road signs all over the county — it takes a lot of money to do that.”

It’s going to be a zoo’: Brevard braces for Artemis I crowds for historic moon launch” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — For example, Dogs R Us in Titusville will open its parking lot at 2 a.m. for an Artemis launch party and start serving breakfast at 7 a.m. In Cocoa, Old Florida Grill & Oyster House will open its riverside tiki hut for mimosas and bloody marys at 7:30 a.m. Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik said his town’s officials are bracing for record crowds. “We’re advising all our residents to stay put — just avoid A1A. Because it’s going to be gridlock,” Malik said. “It’ll be a mess. I mean, there’s just no other way around it,” he said. “Our little town is going to be quite busy. It’ll be certainly a windfall for all the hoteliers and the restaurants and the merchants.”

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Sarasota’s School Board flipped to a conservative majority: What happens next?” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Three newly elected Sarasota School Board members have flipped the board to a 4-1 hard-right majority. Bridget Ziegler, Tim Enos and Robyn Marinelli won their respective races in the Primary on Tuesday, campaigning and appearing on news hits together. Now, the new board plans to reflect recent conservative ideologies, expressed at Sarasota School Board meetings by individuals with ties to the Proud Boys. Concerns flared after Ziegler and Marinelli were shown in pictures celebrating their election night victory with individuals who are believed to be Proud Boys. DeSantis hosted an event with Ziegler, Enos and Marinelli right before the Primary election.

Bridget Ziegler leads the hard right turn for the Sarasota School Board.

Former Bradenton Police staff disputes allegations made by officers against command staff, chief” via Melissa Pérez-Carrillo of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Former assistant chief Paul McWade and former reserve officer Chris Herron have called allegations made by some current and former officers with the Bradenton Police Department “completely untrue.” Their defense comes after the Bradenton City Council moved to have an independent investigation on Wednesday to explore a slew of allegations made against Chief Melanie Bevan and other command staff. Affidavits from the four officers said that the command staff encouraged unlawful arrests and stealing from an officer.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Former Sheriff Mike Williams expected to take charge of FDLE’s Jacksonville regional office” via Nate Monroe and Anne Schindler of The Florida Times-Union — Former Jacksonville Sheriff Williams is expected to be appointed to lead the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Jacksonville operations center. The news comes two months after he resigned from his post as Sheriff for moving outside Duval County. The Republican former Sheriff has also been eyed as a potential running mate for DeSantis, and more recently, the potential FDLE Commissioner. The pair have a mutual influential donor and friend in Kent Stermon, president of Total Military Management and a member of the Board of Governors.

Pensacola’s new Mayor D.C. Reeves is a rare reason for hope in Florida politics” via Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal — After an often drama-filled Primary for Florida voters, Marlette breathes a sigh of relief in response to the election of D.C. Reeves as Pensacola’s new Mayor. A friend and colleague of Marlette for years, Reeves ran a no-nonsense campaign, void of attack ads and culture wars that riddled so many races this year. He built his campaign on a central premise: Love for his hometown. Reeves brings decency and honesty to politics in a time when they are in short supply.

D.C. Reeves won on a platform of decency. Image via Facebook.

Reeves names Capt. Tim Kinsella to lead his transition team” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Reeves took his first step to begin the transition process Thursday, naming retired Navy captain and former Naval Air Station Pensacola commander Kinsella as Chair of his transition team. Reeves was elected Mayor Tuesday with 51.1% of the vote and a 31-point lead over the next highest candidate, former Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn. The margin of victory was enough to avoid a runoff race and gave Reeves an 11-week head start on preparing his administration.

Kerry Smith clinches Santa Rosa District 2 Commission seat after recount in Milton” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Smith has won the Republican Primary for the District 2 Commissioner seat in Santa Rosa County. Without a Democratic challenger, the seat is set to be his in November. The win comes off the back of a tight race between Smith and Jeff Ates IV in Tuesday’s election, leading to Saturday’s machine recount. The machine recount was required because there was less than half a percent separating Smith and Ates after votes were tallied Tuesday. The recount started at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections Office in Milton.

Walton Commission told controversial ‘audit’ was not an audit, but a fraud investigation” via Tom McLaughlin of Northwest Florida Daily News — The Walton County Commission and the Walton Clerk of Court’s Office can’t seem to agree on what to label a report that detailed thousands of dollars of potential spending abuses by Commission members. Was it an audit or a fraud investigation? The report was made public in June, which was followed by criticism from the Commissioners and their attorney that it did not follow audit procedures. But the clerk’s office informed officials the investigation was not an audit, including a review from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Nassau County putting $77.5K to work removing derelict vessels” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Removing boats from American waterways is a priority for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and it’s a priority for the FWC here in the Sunshine State. Nassau County Commissioners, at its latest meeting, approved an agreement with FWC for $77,500 to deal with four derelict and abandoned vessels lining the county’s otherwise picturesque waterways. “When a vessel is abandoned, the county notifies the FWC to investigate the vessel(s) to determine if it meets the criteria outlined in Florida (law),” according to a Nassau County government statement.

Florida State AD Michael Alford talks new senior administrators, 3-5-5 format and more” via Carter Karels of the Tallahassee Democrat — Alford had a busy first eight months as Florida State’s athletic director. Three coaching searches, facility updates across multiple sports, the ACC changing its football scheduling model, and the conference realignment madness dominated the conversation and were among the responsibilities Alford needed to handle. Alford insists that the under-the-radar hires of two new senior administrators, though, have been one of the more impactful recent developments within FSU’s athletic department.

— TOP OPINION —

Is there a Christian case for Biden’s debt relief plan?” via David French of The Dispatch — The concept of debt forgiveness — including the forgiveness of monetary debt — is all over the Bible. Indeed, debt forgiveness is built into Mosaic law.

Deuteronomy 15 declares, unambiguously: At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. This is how to cancel debt: Every creditor is to cancel what he has lent his neighbor. He is not to collect anything from his neighbor or brother, because the Lord’s release of debts has been proclaimed.

While I think Christians can disagree in good faith, I see something out of alignment with the biblical precedents for debt forgiveness. The biblical precedents point to debt forgiveness as relief for profound oppression. Tim Keller highlights the biblical necessity of both “radical generosity” and “life-changing advocacy for the poor” as both individual and corporate responsibilities of Christians. I agree. Yet Biden’s program doesn’t meet those requirements. It’s radically generous, yes, but the generosity is backward. It’s taking from those who have less and giving to those who have more.

The total cost is estimated at roughly $500 billion. Moreover, that $500 billion is being spent in a time of terrible inflation, which hits poor families harder than those who have the resources to absorb cost increases.

Jason Furman, a former Chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, put it like this: One group is getting $500 billion. And they’re going to spend more. They’re going to buy more housing. They’re going to be better off. The problem is that the economy is already producing the most it possibly can. If anything, the Fed wants it to produce less, not more. What will happen is that they will spend more, and it will drive up the price of houses and everything else. Due to that inflation, every household will end up spending $200 more a year on what they need.

— OPINIONS —

Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal: We need a serious investigation on what happened and why” via Michael Waltz for Fox News — Why did our intelligence get it so wrong? Why did the Biden administration provide minimal air support to the Afghan forces as the Taliban advanced? Why did we abandon Bagram Air Base and leave behind dangerous terrorist prisoners? Why was no one held accountable for the terrorist attack that left behind 13 dead Americans and many other Afghan civilians or for the botched drone strike that killed innocent civilians? These are the questions that need to be answered now. Should Republicans win back control of the House, the new Speaker must prioritize thorough investigative hearings on the botched and bloody withdrawal. These need to be public and not through closed-door sessions we’ve had over the last year.

Who will pay for Biden’s student-debt relief? Hardworking Americans who didn’t go to college” via Nicole Russell of the Miami Herald — Democrats often say they’re the party of the working class, but Biden’s Student Debt Relief Program shows they’re implementing policies that actually hurt the working class and benefit the elite. The Biden administration recently unveiled a plan to offer up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness for individual borrowers who make less than $125,000; for households, the limit is $250,000. This plan is flawed on many levels, starting with the false notion that it helps the middle class. For starters, this “relief” or “forgiveness” has to come from somewhere, there’s no tree in Washington growing debt-relief money, so it will cost taxpayers about $373 billion. It is a transfer of wealth. People with lower incomes or who never went to college and incurred debt will wind up subsidizing this debt.

DeSantis and toll roads — the end of the romance shows, performance art > governing for him” via Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Florida Squeeze — DeSantis claims the six-month program, essentially a toll rebate for frequent Sun Pass users, will save commuters an estimated $38 million. Ironically, most toll roads in Orange County are NOT covered by the program as it only applies to roads that are part of the Turnpike System or FDOT-owned. The Governor’s flip on this issue is clear as populism is his motivator. He was a governing conservative trying to appeal to a broad constituency before COVID-19, but the ensuing Orbánesque turn made the Governor into autocratic performative artist. Playing populist and divider-in-chief, DeSantis pits neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend and Floridian against Floridian. It’s further proof that DeSantis has completely changed for the worse while in office.

We must act now to save our public schools” via Rocky Hanna for the Tallahassee Democrat — I have grown more and more concerned for the future of our public schools as a war is being waged against it on two fronts. On the first front, public school dollars are being siphoned away and used to expand wealth and power for select individuals and private interests. Over the past three years alone, legislation has been passed expanding private school vouchers across the state at an alarming rate. Florida’s voucher program is now the fifth largest school district in the entire state. On a second front, some elected leaders are waging a negative propaganda war against our public school system that is simply untrue.

Dictionaries, yes dictionaries, withheld for ‘indoctrination’ scrutiny in Florida school district” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post —I’m glad to see that a school district in Florida is making sure impressionable elementary school students won’t be exposed to an attempt to indoctrinate them with a dictionary. For more than a decade, a local Rotary club has donated hundreds of dictionaries every year to third graders in Sarasota County public schools. But thanks to a new law championed by DeSantis and passed by the Republican-led Florida Legislature, there’s a new emphasis on screening instructional and library materials, especially books, before impressionable young minds are allowed to see them. And it appears that those potentially subversive books include the dictionary. Of course.

Deterioration of property insurance market is a man-made catastrophe” via David A. Sampson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida has not experienced a direct hit from a hurricane since 2018, but the state has seen seven insurers go insolvent in the last two years. To avoid similar solvency risk, 14 companies have stopped writing new policies, leaving hundreds of thousands of policyholders seeking coverage with limited options in the marketplace. The blame for this man-made catastrophe goes to the vast abuse of Florida’s legal system and rampant fraudulent roof replacement schemes. Florida accounted for 79% of the nation’s homeowner’s insurance lawsuits over claims filed while making up only 9% of the nation’s homeowners insurance claims.

Food is essential, and we need a farm bill to protect it” via Jeb Smith and Kat Cammack for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Our nation’s farm bill operates and funds programs that keep Florida farms competitive and operational. It also helps control the cost of production, often in the face of unfairly subsidized global markets, and maintain a stable domestic food supply, which in turn helps limit rising grocery store prices. The farm bill provides funding to vital conservation programs to help protect wildlife habitat, soil, air and water, and it supports research programs to improve agricultural productivity and rural communities. The farm bill passed by Congress is set to expire at the end of this year, and there’s a lot at stake. If we don’t renew the programs under the farm bill, prices for everyday groceries will soar beyond the record-high prices families pay today.

The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board is hurting the Glades residents, not helping” via Rev. Dr. Robert Rease for The Palm Beach Post — What is most offensive to our people, is the way The Palm Beach Post wants to make the issue of sugar-cane pre-harvest burns about race. We grow weary of being defined by skin color. Lines like, “But when the humble Black and brown-skinned residents of The Glades call out for help? They get smoke and mirrors.” Insulting and in fact, racist. Our residents are not just Black, or Brown or White or any other condescending label the Post and other outsiders use to denigrate Glades residents. Our air is clean and meets government standards and we’re living proof of it. We community leaders are asking the media to do its homework just like we ask our kids to do.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

NASA faces its biggest test in decades” via Bryan Bender of POLITICO — The maiden launch of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion space capsule, designated the Artemis I mission, is a make-or-break trial for NASA’s goal of building a permanent presence on the lunar surface. It’s also NASA’s chance to show the world that it’s not just billionaire privateers who are charting the new Space Age and fueling public fascination. “The public still has great affection for NASA. There is not a better brand, certainly in government,” said Lori Garver, former deputy NASA administrator. The uncrewed mission will be the first and only rigorous test of the rocket and the space capsule before it takes astronauts around the moon in 2024 and then helps deliver them to the surface in 2025.

America takes the first steps back to the moon — and then to Mars.

NASA’s Artemis I a new era a long time coming” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Bhavya Lal, NASA associate administrator for technology, policy and strategy, said the program has a “politically resilient architecture” that can help see the missions through. “NASA is at a historic inflection point, poised to begin the most significant series of science and human exploration missions in over a generation.” That future relies on the success of the first Artemis flight when the Space Launch System rocket topped with the Orion spacecraft looks to lift off during a two-hour window that opens at 8:33 a.m. If it lights, the SLS will become the most powerful rocket ever to lift off from Earth, sending Orion into space with 8.8 million pounds of thrust, surpassing the strength generated during the Apollo launches of the 1960s and 70s.

NASA’s Artemis moon launch will be historic. And a group of blind veterans will get to witness it” via Olivia Lloyd of the Orlando Sentinel — The group will be “able to hear it and feel the ground shake as this new rocket, which is one of the largest rockets ever built, will lift off and take the payload,” said Benjamin Keeley, the co-founder of Wisdom 4 The Blind. “So, your other senses are going to take over and your brain is going to put that whole picture together.” The first ship in the Artemis mission series is scheduled to launch Monday morning as part of the new program to return humans to the moon. NASA says the unmanned mission around the moon, the first test of the Space Launch System ship, will be carried into space on the most powerful rocket ever built, boasting 8.8 million pounds of thrust.

Artemis I launch: How an Emmy-winning team is prepping a virtual reality livestream” via Carolyn Giardina of The Hollywood Reporter — Felix & Paul Studios — the studio behind Emmy-winning VR program Space Explorers: The ISS Experience — and partners including Meta Quest plan to present a one-hour program that will include live images of the launch, shot in 8K and in 360 degrees with virtual reality cameras. The program will also include prerecorded material and will be hosted by a pair of former NASA astronauts, Karen Nyberg and Doug Hurley. Plans include four live VR camera positions, including one that he believes is “going to really give audiences a sense of the actual gigantic scale of this spacecraft. And when it launches, the beauty of that is that it’s never gonna get out of frame, because you can just look up and see it go up to space.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to one of our favorite people, Nancy Watkins. Also celebrating today are John Holley, Jeff Ivey, Legislative Affairs Director at the Florida Lottery, and Travis Pillow. Belated happy birthday wishes to great guys Andy Gonzalez, Albie Kaminsky, and Alan Levine.

___

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

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