Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 10.4.21 – Florida Politics
Good Monday morning.
The media gets a lot of flak for the way it has covered the pandemic. They’re quick to jump on the case whenever there’s a spike in infections, hospitalizations or deaths, yet they’re skeptical when data show the pandemic is easing.
That’s for good reason. We’ve all heard about the light at the end of the tunnel a million times over the past 18 months, but we still haven’t seen it.
Still, there are a handful of good reasons to be hopeful. Here are five of them:
— First things first, the latest surge is winding down. After a string of record-setting weeks, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday that U.S. case numbers are down 15% week-over-week. We’ve already started seeing the surge subside in Florida, too.
— Another positive sign: Vaccination numbers are still ticking up. As of Oct. 1, 77% of U.S. adults had received at least one dose of vaccine and just over two-thirds were fully vaccinated. Even better, 94% of Americans over 65 have received the shot.
— Of course, the vaccine is still not available to children under 12 years old, which has caused a lot of heartache for parents, teachers and kids, too. But it’s looking like that could soon change — a Food and Drug Administration committee will begin meeting in less than two weeks to discuss authorizing the Pfizer vaccine for children over age 5. That means there’s still a chance for a very merry, very vaxxed Christmas.
— But what about the vaccine holdouts? It’d be nice if they caved, but we’re not holding our breath. Luckily, Merck’s long-awaited treatment is showing promising results — compared to a placebo, patients who received the pill were half as likely to end up in the hospital or dead.
— Finally, it looks like the U.S. is finally getting its act together on testing. The White House said Friday that it expects double the number of available rapid tests to double over the next two months.
Tweet, tweet:
We’ve reported on this every day. https://t.co/XrSQrztjtT
— Jay O'Brien (@jayobtv) October 1, 2021

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First on #FlaPol — Shevrin Jones nominated for DNC leadership post — President Joe Biden and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison announced the nomination of Jones as a DNC at-large member, to ensure that the Democratic Party reflects the people it intends to serve. Party charter and bylaws provide for the nomination of 75 at-large members of the DNC and 11 of the Executive Committee. The election will be this week.
“I am grateful for this exciting nomination and potential opportunity to work alongside President Biden, DNC Chair Harrison, and Democrats from across the country,” Jones said. “As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, it’s critically important that our Party continue to uplift diverse perspectives and voices, especially those who are too often overlooked or unheard.”
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Victoria Price is now the government relations manager for Chesapeake Utilities Corporation.
In her new role, Price will report directly to regulatory and government affairs director Steve Baccino. She will also implement Florida regulatory and governmental affairs strategies under the leadership of Mike Cassel, the company’s AVP of regulatory and governmental affairs.
The job will see her develop, grow and preserve key government relationships to further policies and initiatives that impact the Tallahassee-based energy company.
“We are thrilled to have Victoria on board and look forward to taking the Chesapeake Utilities government relations team to the next level with her robust network, relationships and knowledge of Florida politics,” Baccino said.
Cassel added, “Victoria is a great fit to represent CPK to state and local government entities, and she is certainly going to help engage our energy partners in Florida while fostering relationships with those in other states.”
Price comes to CPK from the University Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where she held positions on the government affairs team and worked as the communications coordinator for UF/IFAS Global on a USAID project in Haiti.
“Victoria has been a huge contributor to UF/IFAS’s successes and an integral part of our advocacy efforts in the state and federal capital,” said Mary Ann Hooks, director of UF/IFAS governmental affairs. “While we are sorry to see her go, we know that she will be an invaluable asset to wherever she goes. We wish her the very best in her next step with CPK.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
@DineshDSouza: I wonder if history will view Jan. 6, in retrospect, as America’s Tiananmen Square. Desperate protesters seeking to have their voices heard. Vicious government crackdown and prosecution. No dissent policy enforced across society via mass censorship and one-party media
@ScottForFlorida: The Biden Administration wants to cancel Christmas! Americans are smart enough to make their own decisions. They don’t want or need the federal government to decide how or when they spend time with their own families.
@IllhanMN: In Congress, we don’t make predictions like this until we know we have the votes. Some of us get this, others bluff & fall on their face. Hopefully, @JoshGottheimer and the other 4% of Democrats will not obstruct but negotiate and help us get @POTUS’s agenda done for the people.
@CHunschofsky: Never did I think we would have to defend a woman’s right choose in my lifetime. I grew up believing that this issue was decided. Proud to stand with so many women and men today to #MarchForChoice. Thank you @collum_emma and @JasmenRogers for organizing such a meaningful event!
Tweet, tweet:
Yesterday I showed up as my authentic self. A Black Mother that believes in a woman’s right to choose. It’s not my business, nor should it be any other person’s business, what a woman decides to do with her body. #BansOffOurBodies
📸: @khathaway1 pic.twitter.com/UQrQl33NG6
— Rep. Angie Nixon (@AngieNixon) October 3, 2021

@Rpetty: Block traffic = media approved “good” protest. But go to a local school board meeting to discuss curriculum or mask mandates = anti-democratic & a threat to democracy.
Tweet, tweet:
🎸 ⁦@SenatorAMR⁩ ⁦@gunsnroses⁩ ☝️$! Back Tour” 🤟🤛🏼💪🏽💋 pic.twitter.com/Q1nR118Gwo
— Ileana Garcia (@IleanaGarciaUSA) October 3, 2021

— DAYS UNTIL —
’No Time to Die’ premieres — 4; ’Succession’ returns — 13; ’Dune’ premieres — 18; ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ returns — 20; World Series Game 1 — 22; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 23; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 23; Georgia at UF — 26; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 29; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 29; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 32; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 32; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 34; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 35; Miami at FSU — 40; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 41; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 45; FSU vs. UF — 54; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 58; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 64; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 67; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 74; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 79; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 86; CES 2022 begins — 93; NFL season ends — 97; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 99; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 99; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 102; NFL playoffs begin — 103; Super Bowl LVI — 132; Daytona 500 — 139; St. Pete Grand Prix — 146; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 172; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 216; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 235; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 241; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 277; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 289; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 368; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 403.

— TOP STORY —

Thousands gather at Women’s March rallies in D.C., across U.S. to protect Roe v. Wade” via Caroline Kitchener, Meagan Flynn, Lola Fadulu, Donovan J. Thomas and Paul Schwartzman of The Washington Post — Thousands of protesters marched at rallies in Washington and cities across the country Saturday, decrying Texas’s recent ban on most abortions and warning that the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority could impose further restrictions in the coming months. The day of demonstrations was the first that Women’s March has organized since former President Donald Trump left office in January. In addition to the protest in Washington, organizers said they planned more than 600 demonstrations across the country.
Women’s Marches in Florida: In cities across the state, demonstrators push for reproductive rights” via USA Today Network — Overall, tens of thousands of people were expected to have demonstrated in 50 Florida cities throughout the day, in gatherings that appeared to spark another wave of activism. Certainly, they hearkened back to Jan. 2017, when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets nationwide to advocate for health care and contraceptive rights in the earliest days of the Trump administration. Saturday’s demonstrations came a day after the Biden administration urged a federal judge to block the Texas law, which has banned most abortions in the state since early September. A similar proposal was filed in the Florida Legislature on Sept. 22.
Protesters demand ‘don’t Texas my Florida’” via Annabelle Timsit of The Washington Post — Florida is emerging as a hot spot for abortion activism, as thousands rallied across the state Saturday to protest a Republican proposal seeking to ban most abortions in the state. The rallies show how the abortion debate in the swing state of Florida is becoming even more heated in the wake of legislation that went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1 outlawing abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Protesters in Tallahassee marched with signs saying, “Don’t Texas my Florida,” referring to a similar bill filed by state Rep. Webster Barnaby making its way through the Republican-controlled Florida legislature that would also outlaw abortions when a heartbeat is detected, normally around six to eight weeks, before many people know they are pregnant.
More than a thousand shut down Downtown Orlando streets in Women’s March against anti-abortion bills” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — More than a thousand people, mostly women, shut down several streets in Downtown Orlando on Saturday … the crowd flooded the courtyard at Orlando City Hall, chanting pro-choice slogans in support of abortion access and carrying signs such as, “The hardest decision women can make isn’t yours.”
—”Gender justice and women’s rights march attracts hundreds to Florida Capitol” via Alicia Devine of the Tallahassee Democrat
—”Abortion rights demonstrators take to the streets during Pensacola Rally for Choice” via John Blackie of the Pensacola News Journal
—”Over 1,000 demonstrators fill Bradenton Riverwalk in Women’s March for reproductive rights” via Samantha Gholar Weires of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

— STATEWIDE —
Ron DeSantis says Australians, Canadians ‘looking to Florida for leadership’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis said people from as far away as Australia are looking to him for hope when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, with Florida “not just inspiring people from around the country, but around the world.” “How do I know that? Because I have people writing to me from Australia and Canada and some of these places, saying that they’re looking to Florida for leadership, and they appreciate that we’re actually standing and defending people’s rights and liberties,” DeSantis said. DeSantis made the remarks at the Latin Builders Association’s 40th Annual Awards Ceremony, marking the second trade show in which he decided, for reasons unclear, to wade into unsolicited critiques of Australia’s aggressive approach to COVID-19 mitigation.
DeSantis blasts congressional Democrats for road funds delay, says Florida taxpayers could pay more” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Congress’ failure to authorize funding for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) won’t halt Florida Department of Transportation projects, but those projects could now cost taxpayers more, DeSantis said. DeSantis blasted Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders in Washington for delaying a vote on Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday night. The delay stalled $100 billion for roads, bridges and other federal highway projects and furloughed 3,700 U.S. Department of Transportation workers. Many of those workers are from Florida.
DeSantis gives ‘Investigate Facebook’ order to election official who claimed she can’t investigate things” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis ordered his secretary of state, Laurel Lee, to launch an investigation into Facebook. What’s fascinating is that the Governor ordered his secretary of state to investigate anything; because her office has repeatedly claimed it can’t do so. State statute says that one of the “duties” of the elections division is to conduct “audits and field investigations.” I’m going to offer a hypothesis for why Lee didn’t take action: Because she didn’t care. Because that dark money spending was meant to help Jason Brodeur, one of DeSantis’ and Lee’s political allies.
First on #FlaPol — “Jamal Sowell gets call for Navy Reserve training, will step down as Enterprise Florida leader” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Enterprise Florida President and CEO Sowell will leave the DeSantis administration this month for official military duties. Sowell, who DeSantis named to lead Enterprise Florida on his way into the Governor’s Mansion, is an officer in the Navy Reserve. In a letter, Sowell said he had received official military orders to attend specialized training. The specialized training will prepare Sowell to support operational assignments. DeSantis also served in the Navy as a judge advocate and was a legal adviser to a SEAL team in Iraq. But Sowell, who wrote that he recalled his family’s service and sacrifice during his interview for the position, said his connection with the Governor went beyond “military brotherhood.”
Happening todaySowell will take part in “Economic Governance for the Decade Ahead,” a symposium for the first day of the two-day World Strategic Forum; forum starts at 9 a.m., Sowell’s discussion begins at 11 a.m., The Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.
A moral cost to Larry Keefe’s deal with DeSantis” via Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal — For the bargain price of only $125,000 a year, DeSantis hired Keefe for a newly-created role called “Public Safety Czar” that’s tasked with cracking down on undocumented immigrants in Florida. During the news conference, Keefe spoke on a wide range of topics, including immigration and sanctuary cities. It’s worth pausing on the peculiarity of men who shriek “America First” reveling in “czarist” job titles with linguistic roots to Russian royalty. Keefe’s ties to the scandal-slimed Matt Gaetz reportedly got him in trouble with his former boss, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr. Barr threatened to fire Keefe after learning he secretly spoke to Gaetz about potential voter fraud investigations.
Legislators from Brevard hear from constituents on what they want in 2022” via Dave Berman and Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — No COVID-19 vaccine requirements. More authority to make local decisions, such as banning smoking in city parks and regulating short-term rentals. Better roads. Help for people in need. Those were some of the issues that the five legislators heard: Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield, Sen. Tom Wright, and Reps. Thad Altman, Randy Fine and Tyler Sirois. Many at the meeting represented the Florida Freedom Keepers group, “a grassroots civil liberties state organization, honoring and defending the Constitution.” Fine received approval from the other four members in attendance for a bill to require political party designation of all candidates in Brevard County, except judicial candidates, to appear on election ballots. Fine termed it “an elections information bill.”
Legislature’s new demand on citizens is too intrusive” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s too difficult for everyday people to get to the state Capitol, where decisions affect their kids’ education, how they vote, and whether women can control their bodies. It’s too far to drive and too expensive to fly. Despite those obstacles, many citizens travel to Tallahassee every session to express their views, even if it’s for a fleeting 30 seconds or one minute at the end of a three-hour committee meeting as it was for too many people last session. Sometimes, people get a hand up from third-party groups with a stake in the outcome of legislation. In the Senate, anyone who travels to Tallahassee now must disclose who’s paying their way and whether they got anything of value, even a lousy T-shirt or a granola bar, as some interpret it.
Happening today — House Speaker Chris Sprowls will attend the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations dinner event, 6 p.m., The Westshore Grand, 4860 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
Florida’s process of compensating people for years of wrongful incarceration is opaque” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — The state process for compensating wrongfully incarcerated people or ignoring their special claims indefinitely is opaque to the public and even to some lawmakers, who wonder how decisions get made behind the scenes. Those in criminal justice circles describe a largely subjective process, controlled by legislative leaders and their influencers, including state attorney offices involved in the underlying cases. Florida has a statutory process for compensating the wrongly convicted, but it requires that they meet strict deadlines and have “clean hands,” meaning no other felony convictions. The statutory criteria exclude many claims, but members of the Legislature can file special legislation seeking compensation.
Flags at half-staff in Tallahassee to honor lawyer Chet Smith” via Jim Rosica of USA Today Network — DeSantis directed flags to half-staff in Tallahassee to honor Smith, Associate Deputy Attorney General. Smith, who went by Chet, was killed when struck by an SUV while biking on Shadeville Road in Crawfordville. He was 69. “He faithfully served a 31-year tenure at Florida’s Office of the Attorney General, working for five attorneys general and seven governors,” DeSantis said in a statement.

— CORONA FLORIDA —
Florida COVID-19 vaccinations plummet as delta variant toll wanes” via Ian Hodgson and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s delta surge is waning as deaths and infections continue falling, but any relief is tempered by a troubling trend: Vaccinations have taken a nose-dive. There were 278,891 vaccinations administered in the past week. But more than 108,000 of those were either Pfizer booster shots or third doses given to those already vaccinated. Only 63,803 people rolled up their sleeves for their first COVID-19 shot in the past week. That’s a 62% fall from the 168,000 people who finally decided to get vaccinated four weeks ago when the delta-fueled wave was at its peak.
State records another 1,719 COVID-19 fatalities” via Scott Power of Florida Politics — The grim toll of Florida’s summer surge of COVID-19 continues to mount as state officials on Friday reported another 1,719 deaths attributed to the virus. … Before this summer, Florida had never reported as many as 1,300 new COVID-19 deaths in a single week. Florida exceeded that level for seven consecutive weekly reports. The latest release shows that Florida reached 16,220 deaths since the end of July.
4,446 more cases added to tally Saturday, number in hospital is down again” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida on Saturday reported 4,446 more COVID-19 cases and no new deaths to the CDC. The Florida Department of Health will most likely add more deaths to Friday’s total, increasing it from zero. The state has done this in the past, adding cases and deaths to previous days during the pandemic. The last time the state saw no increase, consistently without backlogged deaths added later, was in early March of last year during the nascent days of the pandemic. Florida has recorded at least 3,581,027 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 55,011 deaths since the pandemic began.
How a doctor who questioned vaccine safety became DeSantis’ Surgeon General pick” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — Joseph Ladapo, DeSantis’ pick to be Florida’s next Surgeon General, looks great on paper. He has medical and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and has held professorships at prestigious schools like New York University and UCLA. Ladapo has written at least 12 columns for The Wall Street Journal since the pandemic began in early 2020, many probing the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as well as whether COVID-19-related restrictions like face masks and lockdowns are needed. He was also among 20 doctors who signed a citizen petition on June 1 urging the FDA not to grant full approval of any COVID-19 vaccines until they’ve gone through two years of testing.
Fight over COVID-19 vaccines may keep some kids from traditional back-to-school shots” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — With COVID-19 vaccinations a political battleground, fallout from the fight could be filtering down to Florida schools: In some counties, not enough kids are getting their routine back-to-school shots. And public health officials worry when even a small number of schoolchildren aren’t immunized for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and more. They fear the combative divide over COVID-19 vaccinations, driven by so much misinformation, is creating a new threat in Florida classrooms. Florida has a goal of vaccinating 95% of schoolchildren, but it’s a target a majority of counties rarely reach. Now, even fewer counties are hitting the mark, with the state’s latest figures showing that 38 counties failed to reach 95% among kindergartners during the last school year.

— CORONA LOCAL —
—“COVID-19 cases, vaccinations fall across Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
—”COVID-19 summer surge slowing in Jacksonville area: ‘We are not there yet, but on our way’” via Beth Reese Cravey of The Florida Times-Union
—”COVID-19 cases down a sixth week in a row in Brevard, but officials urge continued vigilance” via Amira Sweilem of Florida Today
After DOH threat and termination of 14 employees, Leon County vows to defend vaccine mandate” via William L. Hatfield of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Administrator Vince Long is vowing to defend the capital county’s vaccine mandate at the same time that 14 employees were terminated for noncompliance. All told, 700 county employees chose to be vaccinated, 30 received accommodation, and 14 did not submit proof of their vaccination status and were terminated at the end of the day Friday. DeSantis announced last month a $5,000 fine per employee, which could mean more than $3.5 million for Leon County if the Governor tries to enforce the rule.
Orange firefighters sue county over COVID-19 vaccine mandate” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Nearly four dozen Orange County Fire Rescue employees sued the county Friday over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, calling it “unlawful, unconstitutional and highly invasive.” The lawsuit was filed a day after a Sept. 30 deadline imposed by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings requiring all county employees to prove they have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first dose of the double-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31 unless they request a religious or medical accommodation.
Santa Rosa school data another small example of local leadership on COVID-19” via the Pensacola News Journal editorial board — Sometimes, when we zoom into the local level of government handling the COVID-19 crisis, we see examples of public officials who are trying to do things right. One local example is the Santa Rosa County School District who has taken the proactive measure of providing detailed, real-time data about COVID-19 infection and exposure rates in all the county’s public schools. Parents are provided all the same numbers that school officials have access to, and the data is updated multiple times throughout the day, every day so that Santa Rosa parents are empowered to make decisions for their children based on the exact same numbers that county officials are using to craft public policy.
Influence, not need, determined where City Council sent millions in COVID-19 relief money” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — By mid-October, Jacksonville City Hall will have distributed more than $6.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to outside organizations to help them recover financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A review of those grant recipients, city legislation, interviews and other documents suggests the process city officials used to distribute that money guaranteed influence rather than need played an outsized and often decisive role in determining who got a piece of that money and why. In many cases, that process still benefited good causes that are well-known and well-regarded. But it also meant scores of Jacksonville’s less well-connected nonprofits with genuine need received little or no slice of that money.

— 2022 —
DeSantis visits Ocala” via Andy Fillmore of the Ocala Star-Banner — DeSantis took a jab at the President Biden’s administration as he opened his keynote address at the Marion County Republican Executive Committee’s inaugural Sequins and Saddles Gala held at the World Equestrian Center Friday night. ‘If President Joe Biden would spend less time attacking Florida and more time doing his job as commander-in-chief, we may have 13 service members that would still be alive today,’ DeSantis said, referring to those who died as the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan in August.”
Candidates exploit their ties to late congressman Alcee Hastings” via Anthony Man of the Orlando Sentinel — Candidates hoping to replace Hastings in Congress are trumpeting their connections with the venerable congressman, all angling for an edge in a tight race. The most notable might be Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, who claims — without proof — that Hastings endorsed him. But “everyone is trying to figure out a tangential connection to Congressman Hastings,” said Mitch Ceasar, former Broward Democratic Party chair. Elvin Dowling emphasizes a tie to Hastings that goes back decades, to his work as a young constituent service aide early in Hastings’ time in Congress. More recently, Hastings wrote the forward to Dowling’s 2020 book “Still Invisible? Examining America’s Black Male Crisis.”
Happening today — The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 2 Special Primary elections for Florida’s 20th Congressional District. The General Election is Jan. 11.
Happening today — Republican Anna Paulina Luna, running for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, will hold a meet-and-greet, 5:30 p.m., Joe’s New York Style Pizzeria and Restaurant, 2745 East Bay Dr., Largo.
First on #FlaPol — “‘Real Democrat’ Tracie Davis launches bid for Florida Senate” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Democratic primary in Senate District 6 intensified Friday, with Rep. Davis entering the race to succeed term-limited Sen. Audrey Gibson. Davis, who has represented House District 13 since 2016, is positioning herself as a “real Democrat,” ready and willing to stand up to DeSantis, a not-so-subtle dig at her primary opponent, Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Gaffney, who enjoys considerable Republican financial backing already. Davis’s initial argument centers around her record in the Florida House. She specifically spotlighted her focus on economic development legislation in her news release, a seeming nod to her main opponent, Gaffney, backed by much of the business community.
Save the date:

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As Democratic voter registration advantage dwindles, organizer gets moving” via Troy Kinsey of Spectrum News — Once the dominant force in Florida’s politics and governance, Democrats are now on the cusp of being outnumbered by Republicans for the first time in state history. The party that boasted a 700,000-registered voter advantage on the eve of Barack Obama‘s historic election in 2008 has seen its lead narrow to just 23,000 voters as of the end of August 2021. The development can be traced to several factors, including a surge in new Republicans during Trump‘s time on the national stage and GOP successes in registering newly-arrived immigrants from countries like Venezuela.
Happening today — Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz will attend a virtual meeting of the Democratic Club of Greater Boynton, 6:30 p.m. Zoom link here.

— CORONA NATION —
COVID-19 deaths eclipse 700,000 in U.S. as delta variant rages” via Tammy Webber and Heather Hollingsworth of The Associated Press — The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 700,000 late Friday, a number greater than the population of Boston. The last 100,000 deaths occurred when vaccines, which overwhelmingly prevent deaths, hospitalizations and serious illness, were available to any American over the age of 12. The milestone is deeply frustrating to doctors, public health officials, and the American public, who watched a pandemic that had been easing earlier in the summer take a dark turn. Florida suffered by far the most death of any state during that period, with the virus killing about 17,000 residents since the middle of June.
COVID-19 is killing rural Americans at twice the rate of urbanites” via Lauren Weber of Kaiser Health News — Rural Americans are dying of COVID-19 at more than twice the rate of their urban counterparts, a divide that health experts say is likely to widen as access to medical care shrinks for a population that tends to be older, sicker, heavier, poorer and less vaccinated. While the initial surge of COVID-19 deaths skipped over much of rural America, where roughly 15% of Americans live, nonmetropolitan mortality rates quickly started to outpace metropolitan areas. Since the pandemic began, about 1 in 434 rural Americans have died of COVID-19, compared with roughly 1 in 513 urban Americans. Part of the problem is that COVID-19 incidence rates in September were approximately 54% higher in rural areas than elsewhere.
Two studies suggest that newer variants of the coronavirus are better at traveling through the air.” via Apoorva Mandavilli of The New York Times — Newer variants of the coronavirus like Alpha and Delta are highly contagious, infecting far more people than the original virus. Two new studies offer a possible explanation: The virus evolves to spread more efficiently through the air. The realization that the coronavirus is airborne indoors transformed efforts to contain the pandemic last year, igniting fiery debates about masks, social distancing, and ventilation in public spaces. The findings signal the need for better masks in some situations and indicate that the virus is changing to make it more formidable.
As coronavirus cases mount and vaccine mandates spread, holdouts plague police and fire departments” via Mark Berman of The Washington Post — When the coronavirus vaccines were first rolled out, the national Fraternal Order of Police went to the federal government, pleading for law enforcement officers to have “expedited access” to the shots. Police, the group wrote, needed the vaccine “to keep them, and the public with whom they interact, safe from infection.” But to the group’s surprise, officers did not rush to get the shot. And months later, with the vaccine widely available across the country, scores remain unvaccinated. Nearly a quarter of Americans aged 18 and older remain unvaccinated, frustrating officials and fueling bitter debates. Yet the continued resistance among the first responders included in those tens of millions is particularly troubling and creates a different kind of threat, experts say.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
Restaurants’ fragile recovery is fizzling in the U.S.” via Kate Krader, Leslie Patton, and Alexandre Tanzi of Bloomberg — After a brief glimpse of normalcy this summer, the fragile recovery in the U.S. restaurant industry is sputtering. Data and interviews with restaurateurs point to financial deterioration due to surging costs for everything from salmon to uniforms and labor shortages. A survey found that 51% of small restaurants in the country couldn’t pay their rent in September, up from 40% in July. Unlike during most of 2020, today’s struggles aren’t visible with the naked eye: Customers are still flocking to eateries, for the most part, despite rising prices and lingering fears of the delta coronavirus variant.
PwC offers U.S. employees full-time remote work” via Jessica DiNapoli of Reuters — Accounting and consulting firm PwC told Reuters it will allow all its 40,000 U.S. client services employees to work virtually and live anywhere they want in perpetuity, making it one of the biggest employers to embrace permanent remote work. The policy is a departure from the accounting industry’s rigid attitudes, known for encouraging people to put in late nights at the office. Other major accounting firms, such as Deloitte and KPMG, have also been giving employees more choice to work remotely in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Historic increase in food stamp benefits starts in October” via Tami Luhby of CNN — Food stamp recipients will see their monthly payments go up in October thanks to a major update to the program, even though a special pandemic boost has now expired. Benefits will jump 27% above pre-pandemic levels, on average — the largest increase in its history. The change stems from a revision of the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines the benefit amounts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps. The update comes as part of a US Department of Agriculture review of the food stamp program required under the 2018 Farm Bill.
— MORE CORONA —
How wellness influencers are fueling the anti-vaccine movement” via Ashley Fetters Maloy and Gerrit De Vynck of The Washington Post — For many, the term “misinformation” conjures up images of conspiracy-theory chat forums and Russian bots. But an alarming amount of it is reaching audiences in the health and wellness realms. Many social media influencers who focus on natural remedies, holistic health, and new age spirituality have been sharing posts and videos questioning the wisdom of vaccinating against the coronavirus. Tight links have developed between groups focused on anti-vaccine messages and those dedicated to parenting, alternative health practices and concerns over genetically modified food.
Student-athletes become the latest target for school vaccine mandates” via Juan Perez Jr. of POLITICO — The battle to curb the spread of COVID-19 in schools is quickly moving to football fields and basketball courts. While much of the pandemic-fueled culture war has centered on classroom mask-wearing requirements, major U.S. school systems are beginning to require teen athletes, band members, and even after-school program participants to get vaccinated. School administrators say they’ve already seen scores of students held out of in-person classes after exposure to infected teammates. These worries underscore warnings from national health officials about close unmasked contact between the unvaccinated in high-risk sports such as football and wrestling, plus activities that involve heavy breathing, singing, shouting, playing instruments, or exercising indoors.

— PRESIDENTIAL —
White House confronts grueling choices as it debates major cuts to Joe Biden economic plan” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — Under pressure from centrist lawmakers, White House officials are debating whether to drop many cherished priorities from Biden’s sprawling economic package or keep a fuller range of initiatives in dramatically reduced form. While many senior Democrats urge Biden to choose a handful of programs and execute them well, this option is complicated by a lack of consensus about which priorities should prevail. Meanwhile, no lawmaker wants to see his or her favored program cut entirely from the legislation. On Friday, the President said, “even a smaller bill can make historic investments,” though he did not indicate whether he prefers a broader array of temporary programs or a smaller number of programs with permanent funding.
Is it fair to call Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan another New Deal?” via Andrew Van Dam of The Washington Post — Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation package would expand Medicare, combat climate change and offer free public prekindergarten and community college while boosting federal safety-net programs. At first glance, its price dwarfs era-defining social programs like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which cost around $324 billion in today’s dollars. In fact, the Biden administration’s reconciliation proposal amounts to a step down from the truly massive rush of social spending experienced in 2020, under the Cares Act passed by large congressional majorities and signed by Trump.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
Donald Trump on a 2024 GOP primary vs. DeSantis: ‘I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else’” via Ben Wurschel of MSN — Trump told Yahoo Finance that he was noncommittal on the subject of a hypothetical 2024 rematch with his successor, but made a bold prediction about his ability to prevail in a Republican primary that may include DeSantis. “If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump declared, even as he said he doesn’t actually expect a showdown. “I don’t think I will face him,” he predicted about what DeSantis and other Republicans would do if he got into the race. “I think most people would drop out; I think he would drop out.”
Trump asks court to force Twitter to reinstate his account” via Adela Suliman of The Washington Post — Trump has asked a court to mandate that Twitter restore his social media account. In a filing late Friday, Trump asked a federal district judge for a preliminary injunction enabling his return to Twitter while his lawsuit against the social media giant continues. It argued that Twitter was “censoring” Trump by indefinitely banning him from the platform, adding that the company “exercises a degree of power and control over political discourse in this country that is immeasurable, historically unprecedented, and profoundly dangerous to open democratic debate.”
The lawyer behind the memo on how Trump could stay in office” via Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — John Eastman’s path from little-known academic to one of the most influential voices in Trump’s ear in the final days of his presidency began in mid-2019 on Trump’s favorite platform: television. Eastman’s rise within Trump’s inner circle in the chaotic final weeks of his administration also underscores the degree to which Trump not only relied on, but encouraged, a crew of players from the fringes of politics. Eastman said that Mike Pence, as Vice President, was “the ultimate arbiter” of the election, essentially saying he had the power to determine who won and that “we should take all of our actions with that in mind.”
Remember when Trump wanted to kill Obamacare? It’s growing like crazy now” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — What a difference five years makes. Trump failed to kill Obamacare, and now it’s growing by leaps and bounds. South Florida consumers who buy health insurance on the federal exchange created by the Affordable Care Act will find significantly expanded options when Open Enrollment for 2022 begins on Nov. 1. In Broward and Palm Beach counties, 11 health insurance companies are now offering plans eligible for federal subsidies. In Palm Beach County. Ten companies are now competing. The increased competition means consumers will be far more likely to find plans suited to their individual needs, such as networks that include their favorite physicians, specialists, and hospitals, health experts say.
— CRISIS —
Whistleblower to accuse Facebook of contributing to Jan. 6 riot, memo says” via Mike Issac of The New York Times — Facebook, which has been under fire from a former employee who has revealed that the social network knew of many of the harms it was causing, was bracing for new accusations over the weekend from the whistleblower and said in a memo that it was preparing to mount a vigorous defense. The whistleblower planned to accuse the company of relaxing its security safeguards for the 2020 election too soon after Election Day, which led it to be used in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Facebook has been in an uproar for weeks because of the whistleblower, who has shared thousands of pages of company documents.
Subpoenas could shed light on how Jan. 6 rally came together” via Michelle R. Smith and Richard Lardner of The Associated Press — The House committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, with its latest round of subpoenas, may uncover the degree to which Trump, his campaign and White House were involved in planning the rally that preceded the riot. The 11 subpoenas sent this week went to people who organized or worked at the rally. The committee’s demands included materials having to do with planning, funding, and participation in the event at the Ellipse, which was organized to protest the results of the November elections, as well as events that led up to it, including a bus tour and marches. The committee said it also asked for communications with Trump administration officials and lawmakers.
Former Special Forces soldier and one-time congressional candidate arrested in Capitol riot case” via Derek Hawkins of The Washington Post — Congress was days away from certifying the 2020 election results when Jeremy Brown, a retired Special Forces soldier and one-time Congressional candidate, offered others a ride to the U.S. Capitol in an RV he dubbed “GROUND FORCE ONE.” Brown, who showed up to the Capitol on Jan. 6 decked out in military gear, was arrested this week in Tampa in connection with the riot that sought to stop lawmakers from formally tallying Biden’s victory over Trump. Federal prosecutors charged Brown with knowingly entering restricted grounds and engaging in “disorderly or disruptive conduct.”
Steve Bannon fires up ‘shock troops’ for next GOP White House” via Jonathan Allen of NBC News — Scores of Trump political appointees gathered at a GOP social club Wednesday night to hear Bannon detail how they could help the next Republican President reconfigure government. “If you’re going to take over the administrative state and deconstruct it, then you have to have shock troops prepared to take it over immediately,” Bannon said in a telephone interview with NBC News. Bannon, who ran Trump’s first campaign and later worked as a top adviser in the White House, said that Trump’s agenda was delayed by the challenges of quickly filling roughly 4,000 slots for presidential appointees at federal agencies and the steep learning curve for political officials who were new to Washington.
The conservatives dreading — and preparing for — Civil War” via Emma Green of The Atlantic — “Let me start big. The mission of the Claremont Institute is to save Western civilization,” says Ryan Williams, the organization’s president. Williams and his cohort are on a mission to tear down and remake the right; they believe that America has been driven into two fundamentally different countries, not least because of the rise of secularism. Trump has left office, at least for now, but those he inspired are determined to recapture power in American politics.
— D.C. MATTERS —
Back on the bench, the Supreme Court faces a blockbuster term” via Adam Liptak of The New York Times — A transformed Supreme Court returns to the bench on Monday to start a momentous term in which it will consider eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, vastly expanding gun rights and further chipping away at the wall separating church and state. On Nov. 3, the court will consider the constitutionality of a New York law that imposes strict limits on carrying guns outside the home. On Dec. 1, the court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law that seeks to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court will hear Carson v. Makin, a dispute over whether Maine may exclude religious schools that offer sectarian education from a state tuition program.
Happening today — U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ted Deutch will host a virtual news conference on the proposed “School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act,” 10:30 a.m. Zoom link here.
Jose Javier Rodriguez U.S. Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for this week” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Rodriguez will undergo a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday to head a division within the U.S. Department of Labor. Biden tapped Rodriguez in July to serve as Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the U.S. Department of Labor. The confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7, at 10 a.m. The Employment and Training Administration oversees the nation’s federal unemployment assistance. Rodriguez, a union attorney, lost reelection in 2020 to Ileana Garcia by fewer than three dozen votes. Last year, Rodríguez appeared before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. He lambasted Florida’s unemployment system while testifying to lawmakers.

— LOCAL NOTES —
Kathleen King steps down as chair of Manatee GOP” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — But she still serves as the Florida’s GOP National Committeewoman and will remain on the executive committees of the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Florida. The move comes months after King survived a challenge to her leadership, fending off a run for chair by Lakewood Ranch Republican Club chair Steve Vernon. That battle was settled in December. Yet tensions have remained. King resigned her post and so did Vice Chair Ken Piper. That leaves Secretary Sandy Piper leading on an interim basis but a special meeting will be called to pick permanent leadership, according to Manatee County State Committeewoman Cindy Spray.
Four candidates to compete for Jacksonville City Council seat empty since Tommy Hazouri’s death” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Four candidates who’ve never held office are competing for the Jacksonville City Council seat left empty by the death of Hazouri, one of the most-elected figures in the city’s modern history. Tracye Polson and James “Coach” Jacobs filed as Democrats for the Dec. 7 special election, while Nick Howland and Howland “Howdy” Russell filed as Republicans before Friday’s entry deadline. The four are competing for the council’s At-Large Group 3 seat, elected by voters across Duval County from candidates who have to live in an area covering Mandarin and a lot of Jacksonville’s Southside.
David Bellamy, surgeon and cop, will challenge Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Bellamy signed campaign paperwork to run for Seat 3. A fifth-generation Tallahasseean and the son of a former City Commissioner, Bellamy said he would work to restore trust in City Hall through transparency, accountability and collegiality. “I want to make the city safer,” Bellamy said. “I want to improve the quality of life and what people can expect from the city on the south side of town. And I think that we need to work on smart growth because one of the best ways to fix the first two things is a healthy economy with good jobs for the citizens.” Without mentioning Matlow by name, Bellamy said he thought he could do a better job of “building bridges.”
ACLU, Broward Sheriff brawl in court over COVID-19 safeguards for inmates” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — The Broward Sheriff’s Office in South Florida has filed a sharply worded response to the ACLU’s complaint that it is violating a settlement agreement mandating COVID-19 protections for inmates at the Broward County Jail. In a 24-page pleading filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, attorneys for the office, or the BSO, argued that it is complying with the agreement and that the ACLU Foundation of Florida brought its complaint solely to attract publicity and raise money. “’No good deed goes unpunished’ is an overworn cliché. But it certainly is an apt one, here,” the office’s pleading says. The ACLU motion accuses Gregory Tony’s office of various infractions, including failure to test every new inmate upon arrival.
Police chief Art Acevedo’s job on the line as he clashes with Miami’s ‘Game of Thrones’ politics” via Paulina Villegas of The Washington Post — Acevedo has found himself far from home, his comfort zone, and his popularity. What started six months ago as a “journey of faith,” as he has described his decision to leave a cushy job as top cop in Houston to become chief of the Miami Police Department, could soon end abruptly as he finds himself at the center of a political drama laced with communist Cuba and Cold War references that has put his tenure in jeopardy. Miami’s city commission gathered Friday to discuss the progressive chief’s future as a trio of disgruntled local leaders push for his ouster, in an episode that analysts say underscores a long tradition of political wars and tribalism in a city trying to reshape its image as a burgeoning tech and culture capital.
Party crowds spark effort to turn down volume in South Beach” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — Miami Beach wants to turn down the volume in the city’s South Beach party neighborhood, citing increasingly raucous crowds, public drinking and growing violence, but efforts to curb the carousing have raised complaints about racism, classism and business practices along one of the nation’s most glamorous waterfronts. The situation worsened during the pandemic when city officials closed the main drag to vehicles and allowed restaurants to offer more outdoor seating, which invited a carnival atmosphere on the street. More than 1,000 people were arrested during this year’s spring break. Authorities sent military-style vehicles to disperse predominantly Black crowds with rubber bullets, prompting criticism from Black activists.
How Julio Iglesias used shell companies to build, cloak his real estate empire” via Antonio Maria Delgado, Kevin G. Hall, and Sean McGoey of the Miami Herald — A giant leak of secret offshore shell company documents shows Iglesias and his family are more anchored to South Florida than most knew, buying nearly a dozen high-priced properties that collectively are worth between $100 million and $120 million. Iglesias used offshore services provider Trident Trust to create a web of offshore shell companies in the British Virgin Islands that camouflage his ownership of the South Florida properties. Iglesias’ shell-company documents were found amid the 11.9 million documents from 14 offshore service providers that were leaked and collectively make up the Pandora Papers.
‘See you in court,’ Chris Dorworth vows, as Seminole rejects latest settlement pitch for River Cross” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Dorworth recently proposed scaling back the number of homes he would build in his controversial River Cross development and another property within Seminole’s rural boundary in his latest attempt to resolve his legal fight against Seminole County. If Commissioners agreed, Dorworth also would commit to never, “for the rest of my life,” make or support any more attempts to remove property from the county’s development-restricted rural boundary. Dorworth asked that Seminole Commissioners hear his proposal at their Oct. 26 meeting, but a county attorney said on Sept. 23 the offer would not be placed on the agenda “due to [the] pending litigation.”
National Flood Insurance is changing. Some homeowners face huge premium increases” via Arian Campo-Flores of The Wall Street Journal — The National Flood Insurance Program is rolling out an overhauled pricing method starting Friday to reflect more accurately the flood risk that individual properties face. Under the new system, dubbed “Risk Rating 2.0,” some policyholders in especially vulnerable areas will face significant premium increases while others in less-exposed spots will see smaller increases or even decreases. Homes in high-risk flood zones with mortgages from government-backed lenders must have flood insurance, and private carriers also provide coverage in some areas.

— TOP OPINION —
Endorsement: For Democrats in U.S. House District 20, progressive Omari Hardy” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For Democrats, the best choice in a very crowded field is Hardy, a first-term state representative from West Palm Beach. Hardy is truly a young man in a hurry, and that’s exactly what this downtrodden and often-neglected district needs. He’s an unapologetic progressive who’s unafraid to challenge deeply entrenched powerful interests such as the sugar industry. He does his homework, takes forceful positions, and is a positive symbol of the future of the Florida Democratic Party. At 31, Hardy is the youngest candidate in this race, but he often shows a stronger command of issues than his older and more experienced rivals.
— OPINIONS —
Don’t be afraid of the election audits — they may be our only ticket out of this mess” via Benjamin L. Ginsburg of The Washington Post — As a Republican election lawyer who has participated in more than 30 postelection recounts, contests and audits, I am extremely confident: They won’t find anything. The massive fraud that Trump claims tarnished the 2020 election has been and will remain illusory; because it didn’t exist. But audits, I believe, can be the friend of sanity, helping everyone in the political process, especially the Republicans who understand that convincing their voters that elections are hopelessly rigged is no way to win elections. If the audits that Trump himself has demanded keep coming up empty, maybe, just maybe, some true believers in Trump’s falsehood will recognize he’s been feeding them snake oil.
Government ‘negotiations’ on drugs amount to ruinous price controls” via Joe Gruters for the Orlando Sentinel — Policies are being considered in Washington, such as Pelosi’s H.R. 3 or Sen. Ron Wyden’s statement of principles, that attempt to artificially lower drug prices by allowing the government to “negotiate” pricing with biopharmaceutical manufacturers. Let me be clear, ensuring that Floridians have access to affordable prescription drugs is a top priority, and I’m glad to see Congress working toward a solution. But these proposals are not the right path forward. If implemented, these policies would restrict patients’ access to treatments and undermine the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry, which is responsible for producing more new medicines than the rest of the world combined.
Want voters to trust the redistricting process? Start with listening to them” via the Miami Herald editorial board — The once-a-decade process of drawing new boundaries for legislative and congressional seats has started in Tallahassee. The two Republicans leading the redistricting work have said they are not certain they will have public hearings to collect input on how communities want to see the maps modified. Virtual meetings can be accessed on computers, regardless of location. Even if the schedule is very tight, surely some virtual meetings could be arranged to ensure voters are heard. While we hear Florida Republicans loudly asserting they’ll follow strict guidelines for transparency, hard experience has made us highly skeptical.
What being ranked in the top 5 means for UF” via Mori Hosseini for the Tampa Bay Times — For starters, Florida is now the third most-populous state in the nation; as such, it deserves nothing less than a top-five public university. As President (W. Kent) Fuchs said, there has long been a perception that prestigious universities can be found only in the Northeast, the Midwest or on the West Coast — certainly not Florida. That notion has now been put to rest. Companies have shown time and again that they like to locate near top-ranked research universities so they can leverage the talent pipeline and the groundbreaking innovation they create. That means not only will our young people stay in Florida to get their degrees, they’ll also be more likely to find a great job in Florida after they graduate.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
This weekend, hundreds of people descended on Florida’s capital to protest reproductive rights in the Women’s March.
Also on today’s Sunrise:
— Several of Florida’s congressional members violate a federal law banning insider stock trading.
— Police confirm they’ve found the body of missing 19-year-old Miya Marcano near an Orlando condominium complex.
— On the Sunrise interview: Dave Levinthal, the deputy Washington Bureau chief for Business Insider who uncovered at least five of Florida’s congressional members violating the 2012 law designed to combat insider trading among elected officials.
To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —
Hard to imagine this is even possible — “Carnival cruise passengers are partying harder on board” via Jonathan Levin of Bloomberg — Passengers are spending proportionally more on alcohol, gambling, spa treatments and other onboard purchases, executives said on the company’s latest earnings call. That’s bolstered Carnival’s non-ticket revenue per guest even as voyages and capacity remain limited due to the coronavirus.
Gulfstream opens a synthetic course, joining turf and dirt” via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press — Emoji Guy was the first horse across Gulfstream Park’s newest finish line. Gulfstream’s new racing surface made its debut Thursday, and with that the South Florida track becomes the first in the U.S. to offer races on traditional dirt and turf courses as well as an all-weather synthetic option. The new track surface is called Tapeta, a blend of fine sand and wax-covered rubber fibers, designed to simulate the root structure of turf. It’s been proven to handle extreme heat and heavy rain and will give the track’s turf course needed breaks each year for repairs. “I’ll tell you, they did a really good job,” said jockey Edwin Gonzalez, who was aboard Emoji Guy for the first win on the new surface, speaking afterward with tiny flecks of the track stuck to his face, goggles and helmet.
Is Fantasy Fest still on in Key West? Yes, but it’ll be more of a ‘kinky’ private affair” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — This year’s Fantasy Fest in Key West won’t come with parades, a street fair, or other large-crowd traditions like the Goombay festival and the Zombie Bike Ride. This year, there won’t even be a king and queen competition because the nonprofit behind it concluded it couldn’t enforce masking or ensure people attending all fundraising events were vaccinated. Now, festival organizers, workers, and business owners are counting on more than 40 private parties. Some of the Fantasy Fest parties have been going on for years. The Toga Party at Sloppy Joe’s Bar on Duval Street is as old as the event itself, which began 42 years ago, said festival director Nadene Grossman Orr.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated birthday wishes to Golden Rotunda recipient, INFLUENCE 100’er, and TallyMadness champion Tracy Mayernick. Also celebrating yesterday was Derek Silver. Celebrating today are Bob Burleson, Amy Christian, and St. Petersburg City Councilmember Amy Foster.
___
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.
Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.
October 4, 2021 at 7:46 am
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