Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.27.21 – Florida Politics

Who’s up, down, in and out — your morning tipsheet on Florida politics.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist rolled out a bundle of endorsements Monday in the Democratic Primary race for Governor.

The bulk endorsement features 50 state and community leaders who hail from all corners of the state. Among them are U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Al Lawson, former state Rep. Sean Shaw, state Sen. Audrey Gibson, and a dozen current state Representatives.

“Charlie is and always will be a champion for everyday Floridians, and now more than ever, we need his leadership back in Tallahassee. Charlie is a man with dignity, decency, and an unmatched commitment to our communities and our Florida. His years of experience, selfless service, and proven track record will restore transparency and a common sense back into our state,” the backers said in a joint statement.

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More endorsements are lining up behind Charlie Crist.

“A trusted and respected man and public servant, Charlie is the candidate Floridians from across the state and across party lines will entrust to lead us back on the right path. He is the only person in this race who can and will defeat Gov. (Ron) DeSantis and take back Florida for the good of the people. We proudly endorse Charlie Crist to be our next Governor.”

The new round of endorsements landed shortly after Crist reported raising more than $700,000 for his gubernatorial campaign in August and in the wake of polls showing him out in front of incumbent DeSantis in a hypothetical head-to-head.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have received the support of such a vast and impressive group of Florida leaders from all across the state,” Crist said. “These endorsements reflect the diversity and grassroots coalition of support our campaign is successfully fighting to build in Florida each and every day.

“Our message is resonating with folks from all walks of life, and I could not be more thrilled to watch our movement build to take back the Governor’s Mansion in 2022. We’re on a mission to change the course of our state and build a Florida for all, where the people are back in charge. We won’t stop fighting for Florida.”


Tweet, tweet:

The vastness of the Covid-19 memorial on the National Mall is breathtaking.

Flags span from the National Museum of African American History and Culture to the World War II Memorial.

More than 2,000 people have died per day over the past week, according to the NYT’s tracker.

— David Lim (@davidalim) September 26, 2021

@Rschooley: It’s just crazy that (Donald) Trump and his sycophants keep treating individual states like flipping one would have made him the winner. I’m convinced he was prepared for a Florida 2000 scenario and in his mind, has never let go of the plan they had for that.

@BurgessEv: More from our (Mitch) McConnell interview He’s still hopeful (Doug) Ducey runs in Arizona and (Chris) Sununu runs in New Hampshire. And he’s going to assist (Lisa) Murkowski. “We’re all in for Lisa. In every way. Senate Leadership Fund, NRSC, we’re all in for Lisa.”

Tweet, tweet:

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz enjoying a packed, zero social-distancing #GoGators game along with the freedom to jettison @SpeakerPelosi’s indoor masking requirement. @DWStweets #florida

— Stephen Moore (@StephenMoore) September 26, 2021

Tweet, tweet:

“Perhaps you remember your first edible.”

— Brian Williams on @11thHour coming out of our video and closing the show.

— The Recount (@therecount) September 23, 2021

@pcola_eddiet: Good morning … and a question to my Nole friends — who gets the first win this fall? FSU Football or FSU Basketball?


The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 3; Disability Employment Awareness Month begins — 4; ’The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres — 4; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 4; MLB regular season ends — 6; ’No Time to Die’ premieres — 11; ’Succession’ returns — 20; ’Dune’ premieres — 25; World Series Game 1 — 29; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 30; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 30; Georgia at UF — 33; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 36; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 36; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 39; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 39; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 41; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 42; Miami at FSU — 47; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 48; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 52; FSU vs. UF — 61; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 65; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 71; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 74; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 81; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 86; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 89; CES 2022 begins — 100; NFL season ends — 104; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 106; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 106; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 109; NFL playoffs begin — 110; Super Bowl LVI — 139; Daytona 500 — 146; St. Pete Grand Prix — 153; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 179; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 223; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 242; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 248; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 284; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 296; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 375; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 410.

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Controversial pandemic food payments to start Nov. 15” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — More than $1 billion in federal pandemic food aid will start hitting needy families’ electronic benefits transfer cards beginning Nov. 15. The state has 2.7 million children who qualify for the food aid payment, which will amount to $375 per child. Three payments that add up to the full payment will be issued over 30 days beginning in mid-November. “Florida is working to expedite the timeline as quickly as possible,” said Mallory McManus, DCF spokeswoman. However, Florida was one of the last to apply for the aid that comes with no strings attached and became available in April.

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Pandemic food aid is finally on its way. Image via AP.


Some Florida teachers see $1,000 bonus checks bounce. State blames ‘banking error.’” via Ana Ceballos and Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — When dozens of Florida teachers tried to cash their state-issued $1,000 bonus checks this week, they got a startling response: “insufficient funds.” No, the State of Florida hasn’t run out of money. Instead, the bad checks are being blamed on a “banking error” by JPMorgan Chase. Florida Department of Education spokesman Jared Ochs said that checks issued to at least 50 teachers in 22 different counties bounced because of the error. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and are working to correct it, including refunding any fees incurred by the recipients as a result,” Allison Tobin Reed, the bank’s vice president of communications, said in a statement to the Herald/Times.

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Ron DeSantis promised $1,000 checks to teachers. He didn’t expect the checks to bounce.

Federal approval of additional $1.1B in Medicaid funds ‘imminent,’ top health officials say” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida’s request for an additional $1.1 billion in federal Medicaid funding for the delivery of home and community-based services to the poor, elderly and disabled is “imminent.” But that doesn’t mean the beneficiaries in the program, or the providers caring for them, will be seeing the benefits soon because the agencies don’t have the authority yet to spend the new funding. Agency for Persons with Disabilities Chief of Staff David Dobbs told members of the Developmental Disabilities Council Florida on Friday that the Joe Biden administration’s approval of Florida’s proposal, initially submitted July 12, was about to come through. Kimberly Quinn, with AHCA’s Bureau of Medicaid Policy, agreed with Dobbs though she did note that the approval could be “partial or conditional.”

Venezuelans live mostly in Florida and they top Hispanic population growth” via Juan Carlos Chavez of the Tampa Bay Times — People of Hispanic heritage are growing in total number and as a share of the U.S. population. The bigger numbers, nearly one in five people in the United States are Hispanic, Hispanics accounted for more than half the U.S. population growth in the past 10 years, add urgency to the smaller ones in helping Florida and the U.S. understand its identity and serve a changing population. From 2010 to 2019, the Venezuelan population in the U.S. increased 126% to 540,000, more by far than people with roots in any other nation. The top three nations are Latin American, but Guatemala is a distant No. 2 at 49% growth followed by No. 3 Honduras at 47%.


DeSantis hikes Surgeon General salary by 72%, as other agency heads get increases, too” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s new Surgeon General received a pay raise of 72% compared with his predecessor, as leaders of several state agencies under DeSantis saw their paychecks grow this week under a hike approved by the Legislature this year. The biggest increase was for Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the new Surgeon General who also runs the Department of Health. Scott Rivkees, the last person in the job, received $145,000 a year, but Ladapo will earn $250,000. Other large increases include Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault, whose pay rose 36%, from $146,823 to $200,000, and Simone Marstiller, Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, whose salary went up to $200,000 for a 21% increase.

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Joseph Ladapo gets a big pay bump. Image via Colin Hackley.

After firestorm, Manny Diaz won’t review school vaccine mandates” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Sen. Diaz insisted Friday there will be no changes to the current list of vaccines required in schools, a move intended to tap down the backlash that flared up after the Hialeah Republican said he was open to reviewing them. Diaz, chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee, suggested it was time to look at school vaccine mandates during a Florida Politics interview discussing his plans for the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session beginning in January. But in a statement to Florida Politics on Friday, Diaz said: “I in no way, shape, or form intend to change the existing vaccination statutes for Florida schoolchildren.”

Michael Grieco, Lauren Book bills call for study of magic mushroom, MDMA, ketamine therapies” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Grieco is again trying to clear the way for therapy using psilocybin for mental health benefits in Florida. This time, he also wants the state to look at ketamine, known colloquially as “special K;” and a substance known as MDMA, “Ecstasy” and “molly,” among other names. On Friday, Grieco and Book filed twin bills, HB 193 and SB 348, for consideration during the 2022 Legislative Session. The bills, if enacted and approved by DeSantis, would direct the Florida Department of Health to collaborate with the Board of Medicine to study the “alternative” therapeutic uses of the hallucinogens in treating depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, chronic pain and migraines.

Grieco bill would give cities, counties full control over vacation rentals” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — After a decade of legislative battles over how much cities and counties should be allowed to regulate vacation rentals, Rep. Grieco is proposing to just let the locals decide it all. Grieco filed a bill that would wipe out state preemptions on local ordinances concerning vacation rentals and let cities and counties determine on their own how to regulate the vibrant 21st-century lodging business that is variously seen as an economic boon or social menace in various neighborhoods. House Bill 6033 declares “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of rental of vacation rentals.” It essentially would terminate a 2011 state law that forbids any new local vacation rental ordinances from that point forward.

David Smith files modified juvenile expunction bill” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Rep. Smith is rejoining Sen. Keith Perry’s effort next Session to broaden a juvenile’s ability to expunge their arrest record in Florida. Smith filed the House legislation (HB 195) marking the Republican pairs second consecutive effort to pass the bill. If successful, it would birth the state’s most expansive criminal justice reform initiative in decades. Currently, state law limits expungement to minors who complete a diversion program after a first-time misdemeanor offense. Under the measure, juvenile expunction laws would broaden to include felonies — save for forcible felonies — and arrests beyond a minor’s first offense. Forcible felonies include murder, rape and kidnapping, among others.

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David Smith hopes to wipe the records clean for some juvenile offenders. Image via Colin Hackley.

Tina Polsky, Dan Daley again push ‘Jaime’s Law’ to vet the sale and transfer of ammo” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Daley is trying for the third straight Session to push forward legislation requiring background checks for ammunition purchases. The measure (HB 181) is titled “Jaime’s Law,” named after Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 people killed during the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting the measure would subject those buying ammo to the same background checks that exist for individuals purchasing a gun. Like the current law on background checks, law enforcement officers and those with concealed weapons permits would not face mandatory background checks for ammunition purchases. Under the proposed legislation, ammunition could still be freely transferred at shooting ranges, or hunting and fishing sites just as before.

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Florida’s COVID-19 hospitalizations drop under 7,000. Full vaccinations rise by 30,813” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Sunday report showed 6,914 COVID-19 patients reported from 262 Florida hospitals. That’s 271 fewer patients than Saturday’s report from 262 hospitals. In Sunday’s report, COVID-19 patients occupied 11.8% of inpatient beds in those hospitals compared with 12.26% in the previous day’s reporting hospitals. The percentage number is based on 262 hospitals reporting 6,914 inpatient beds in use for COVID-19 patients and 58,573 total inpatient beds.

Florida purchases GlaxoSmithKline monoclonal antibody as federal reduction continues” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The DeSantis administration has purchased 3,000 doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s monoclonal antibody treatment after the Biden administration reduced the federal supply of Regeneron’s version of the coronavirus-fighting drug by more than half. DeSantis told reporters the state would soon receive that shipment and could use it to offset the declining federal distributions. The news comes eight days after DeSantis met with leadership from GlaxoSmithKline. Because the federal government purchased the Regeneron and Eli Lilly treatments, those have been free for states and individual health care facilities to draw down. Purchasing GSK’s cocktail currently is coming out of Florida’s pocketbook.

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Florida is picking up the slack with GlaxoSmithKline monoclonal antibody treatments.

For every 4 New Yorkers who died of COVID-19 by the first peak, three have died in Florida during this one” Philip Bump of The Washington Post — We can say, at the very least, that the number of deaths from COVID-19 that have resulted from the emergence of the delta variant in the United States appears to be slowing down. Two weeks ago, the country was seeing 1,524 deaths per day: one week ago, 1,943. On Wednesday, it was 2,085 higher, but not much higher than the days preceding. It’s possible that the fourth wave of death the coronavirus has inflicted on the country is at last cresting. Since the low in daily deaths on July 7, more than 77,500 more people have died. Of that total, more than 14,000 have died in Florida, nearly one out of every eight who have succumbed to the disease.

Florida’s new school quarantine rules create division and worry” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s new, relaxed school quarantine rule was quickly adopted in Central Florida’s public schools this week, delighting those who worried that under the old guidelines, healthy children were missing school but frustrating those who fear COVID-19 will now spread more easily on campuses. Florida’s new Surgeon General Wednesday signed an emergency rule doing away with required quarantines for students exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. Parents can now decide if their children are asymptomatic and if they quarantine or go to school, it said.

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Florida’s new school quarantine rules leave parents confused, angry.

After delay, Florida applies for pandemic food aid for low-income children” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — After initial resistance, Florida applied this week for pandemic-related federal aid that would provide food stamp benefits to low-income families with children, the state Department of Children and Families said Friday. In a statement, DCF said it applied Thursday for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) that would provide a one-time benefit of $375 per child to eligible families. Florida applied for federal aid to cover the last school year but didn’t seek benefits for the summer months this year when the program was extended. The funds are expected to help an estimated 2.7 million children, the agency said.

Demand for unapproved COVID-19 drug ivermectin in Florida creates conflicts and waiting lists” via David Fleshler and Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As the delta variant of COVID-19 burns through Florida, demand has soared for the controversial drug ivermectin. Driven by suspicion of mainstream medicine, particularly among political conservatives, COVID-19 patients are competing for scarce supplies of this once-obscure remedy for head lice and parasitic worms. Large chain pharmacies are refusing to fill prescriptions for a drug that the FDA says hasn’t been shown to be effective against COVID-19. Mail-order suppliers are running out of pills and setting up waiting lists. Even feed stores, where the veterinary version of the drug had been a risky choice of last resort, are exhausting their inventories.

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COVID-19 cases rising in Miami-Dade County, but mostly due to increased testing” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — COVID-19 cases rose week-to-week in Miami-Dade County according to new data from the Department of Health. That’s the first time that’s happened since early August. The increase is largely a result of a testing increase, however. The share of tests that came back positive actually fell week-to-week in Miami-Dade. That number sat at 5.3% over the previous seven days, dropping from 5.8%. Though cases were up week-to-week, this week marks the fifth straight that the case positivity rate has fallen in Miami-Dade. Broward and Palm Beach counties saw more clear good news in the week-to-week trends.

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With COVID-19, more testing means more cases. Image via AP.

‘Come see us’: Inside local Regeneron site, commander implores COVID-19 patients to seek treatment” via Tori Lynn Schneider of the Tallahassee Democrat — Traffic has slowed at Tallahassee’s largest monoclonal antibody therapy distribution site, which is stocked with an abundance of doses and imploring patients to visit. The woman overseeing the operation is trying to get the word out to people about the treatment. “A fear of mine is that there are people that are in Tallahassee suffering with symptoms when we are sitting here with Regeneron,” Incident Commander Jill McElwee said. The treatment, purchased in bulk by the federal government, has thus far been distributed based on an ordering system with Florida and six other states receiving 70% of the supply.

Central Florida hospitals champion COVID-19 shot, but even some health care workers resist” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando Health estimates nearly one-in-three of its employees are unvaccinated more than nine months after the shot first became available to health care workers. About half of staff members at Florida nursing homes haven’t gotten a shot. That puts patients at risk because unvaccinated people are more likely to catch COVID-19 and spread it to others, said Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami cardiologist and Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care. “I strongly believe if you are working around vulnerable patients, you should do whatever it takes to protect them,” he said. “If you’re unwilling to do that, you shouldn’t be a health care worker.”

Sarasota County Schools makes face masks optional as of Monday” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sarasota County schools will no longer require face masks to be worn by students and staff starting Monday because the COVID-19 positivity level has dropped, the school district said Sunday. Under the emergency policy the School Board previously adopted, the mask requirements are automatically suspended when test positivity in the county drops below 8% for three consecutive days. In the statement released Sunday, the district said it still hopes people will wear face masks. “We strongly encourage everyone to continue to wear a face mask when indoors to help keep the positivity rate below 8%,” the district said.

Change of heart on COVID-19 vaccination comes too late for David Kelsey of Winter Haven” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — When Luisa Moore went to get a COVID-19 vaccination in April, she wished that her longtime partner, Kelsey, had joined her. But Kelsey, she said, adamantly refused to seek vaccination. Four months later, as Kelsey lay on a bed in the intensive care unit at Winter Haven Hospital, struggling to breathe after a diagnosis of COVID-19, he texted Moore to share his regrets. He died Sept. 13 at age 50. Kelsey spent 22 years as an employee with the Florida Department of Corrections in its probation services division. He worked as a correctional probation senior supervisor at the Winter Haven office.

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Regret and death for Luisa Moore and David Kelsey. Image via Lakeland Ledger/Lusia Moore.

—“West Palm Beach police officer, 36, is the second in department to die of COVID-19” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post

—”Hernando County firefighter dies following battle with COVID-19” via WFLA

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— 2022 —

DeSantis pulls ahead of 2024 GOP pack as Florida’s COVID-19 cases fall” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Pro — In a theoretical primary without Trump on the ballot, DeSantis leads Mike Pence by 22-15%, with all other possible contenders relegated to the single digits, the new national survey of Republicans by Echelon Insights, a GOP polling firm. DeSantis’s seven percentage-point lead over Pence has grown from two in Echelon’s last poll in August, which was conducted at the height of the coronavirus Delta wave swamping Florida, killing and sickening tens of thousands as the Governor fought mask requirements for schools, a federal vaccination mandate and vaccine passports. In Echelon’s July poll, DeSantis led Pence by 15 points.

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Ron DeSantis pulls ahead in a head-to-head with Mike Pence. Image via AP.

Charlie Crist wants new Surgeon General fired over new COVID-19 rules” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — It’s only Ladapo’s second day as Florida’s Surgeon General and Crist already wants him removed for what he calls a “reckless” order that leaves it up to parents whether their COVID-19-exposed child should stay home from school. Crist hosted an online event Thursday with school officials, parents, and a teacher to decry the action, which he says is going to remove a layer of protection for the most vulnerable children, many of them who are too young to get vaccinated against COVID-19. He pointed out that Ladapo’s emergency rule is written so that even students who test positive for COVID-19 can go to school, as long as they have a doctor’s note. Overall, the order strips schools of the ability to tell students to stay home.

Nikki Fried helped elect Republicans leading Florida’s vaccine fight” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — State Sen. Manny Diaz and Attorney General Ashley Moody have come under fire lately from Democrats for leading the charge against vaccine mandates in Florida. Diaz, the top Republican on the Florida Senate health care committee, wants to review all vaccine requirements for children to attend schools, like those for measles and mumps, the website Florida Politics reported. Moody, meanwhile, announced this month she is suing Biden’s administration over its new requirement for workers to get vaccinated. For those two Republicans to get to where they are, they had the help of one prominent Democrat: Fried, one of the party’s leading contenders for Governor in 2022.

No stalking order for rival in GOP candidate murder plot” via The Associated Press — A judge denied a Florida Republican congressional candidate’s petition for a permanent restraining order against a former rival she accused of stalking and plotting to have her murdered by a purported foreign hit squad. Pinellas County Circuit Judge Doneene Loar said incidents involving GOP candidate Anna Paulina Luna did not meet the legal definition needed to prove repeated harassment by William Braddock, even if his actions were reprehensible. “I have to follow the law,” Loar said during a remote hearing Friday. “Mr. Braddock, do not come back here.” Braddock was a candidate against Luna in 2020 and planned to run again but dropped out amid the stalking claims by Luna and a friend, GOP activist Erin Olszewski. Loar denied a permanent restraining order sought by Olszewski as well.

Happening Tuesday:

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Happening Wednesday:

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For your radarGOP tries to bring in Puerto Rican voters” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Every two years Florida Democrats and independent progressive groups have talked about how they’re going all-out to register Hispanic voters, especially Puerto Ricans, and get them to the polls. And every two years, they look back on the disappointing results and promise to do better the next time around. Republicans made gains with the Puerto Rican community in 2018 and especially in 2020. Now, a year out from the Governor, U.S. Senate and congressional elections in 2022, Democrats are on the verge of losing their long-held registration advantage over Republicans in Florida. Many Democrats had assumed that the influx of Puerto Ricans to Florida following the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017 would help the party in the upcoming elections.

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U.S. COVID-19 deaths appear to have peaked, hospital data shows” via Jonathan Levin of Bloomberg — The number of people dying with COVID-19 in U.S. hospitals appears to have peaked, the latest sign of reprieve after the delta variant fueled record spikes in infections in some states. The seven-day average of U.S. hospital deaths with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 is down 8.9% from the recent peak on Sept. 16. Over the course of the pandemic, hospital deaths have accounted for about 70% of all COVID-19 deaths, and the proportion has been even higher in recent months. The HHS data have proved a reliable leading indicator of the direction in COVID-19 deaths, which are reported with a comparatively significant time lag.

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The COVID-19 fever may be breaking.

Is the worst over? Models predict a steady decline in COVID-19 cases through March” via Rob Stein and Carmel Wroth of NPR — Americans may be able to breathe a tentative sigh of relief soon, according to researchers studying the trajectory of the pandemic. The delta surge appears to be peaking nationally. The modelers developed four potential scenarios, taking into account whether or not childhood vaccinations take off and whether a more infectious new variant should emerge. The most likely scenario is that children do get vaccinated, and no super-spreading variant emerges. In that case, the combo model forecasts that new infections would slowly, but fairly continuously, drop from about 140,000 today now to about 9,000 a day by March. Deaths from COVID-19 would fall from about 1,500 a day now to fewer than 100 a day by March 2022.

Winter could usher in some normalcy if delta surge projections are correct” via Rob Stein of NPR — Schools will mostly stay open. More people will start working from the office. The holidays will feel more like 2019. Those are the implications of a new projection from a consortium of researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the trajectory of the pandemic.

CDC chief had nurses in mind with surprise booster pivot” via Josh Wingrove and Shira Stein of Bloomberg — It was up to CDC director Rochelle Walensky to sort out a crucial question: which Americans should be the first to get COVID-19 booster shots. And there was little consensus. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice on Thursday voted narrowly to restrict eligibility for boosters of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE shot authorized by the FDA. Walensky had a choice: side with the advisers, citing the paucity of data on whether younger, vaccinated adults are truly at risk of severe breakthrough cases of COVID-19. Or overrule them and err on the side of boosters for front-line health workers and others.

U.S. has enough COVID-19 vaccines for boosters, kids’ shots” via The Associated Press — With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident there will be enough for both qualified older Americans seeking booster shots and the young children for whom initial vaccines are expected to be approved in the not-too-distant future. The spike in demand would be the first significant jump in months. More than 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated despite the enticement of lottery prizes, free food or gifts and pleas from exhausted health care workers as the average number of deaths per day climbed to more than 1,900 in recent weeks.


What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Cargo piles up as California ports jostle over how to resolve delays” via Costas Paris and Jennifer Smith of The Wall Street Journal — The American supply chain has so far failed to adapt to the crush of imports as businesses rush to restock pandemic-depleted inventories. Tens of thousands of containers are stuck at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, the two West Coast gateways that move more than a quarter of all American imports. More than 60 ships are lined up to dock, with waiting times stretching to three weeks. A labor shortage is also causing significant delays in loading up freight trains, which move up to 30% of all containers to big distribution hubs like Chicago.

Cargo keeps backing up, making supply chain problems even worse. Image via Reuters.


A daily pill to treat COVID-19 could be just months away, scientists say” via JoNel Aleccia of KHN — Antivirals are already essential treatments for other viral infections, including hepatitis C and HIV. At least three promising antivirals for COVID-19 are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter, said Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is overseeing antiviral development. The top contender is a medication from Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics called molnupiravir. Two others include a candidate from Pfizer and an antiviral produced by Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals. They work by interfering with the virus’s ability to replicate in human cells.

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On the horizon: A daily pill to treat COVID-19.

COVID-19’s hidden toll: 1 million children who lost parents” via Ryan Dube and Luciana Magalhaes of The Wall Street Journal — A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, contagious variants have been killing many in the prime of parenthood, a group that remains mostly unvaccinated in many parts of the world. From March 2020 to April 2021, an estimated 1.1 million children lost a primary caregiver to the virus. Many of the most affected countries are in Latin America, which accounts for about one-third of coronavirus deaths despite having just 8% of the global population. On a per capita basis, Peru has been the hardest hit, with an estimated 10.2 children per 1,000 losing a primary caregiver. Mexico, Brazil and Colombia also are in the top five.

Why this stage of the pandemic makes us so anxious” via Amy Cuddy and Jill-Ellyn Riley of The Washington Post — With the threat from the delta variant bearing down across the United States, it’s almost hard to remember the heady days earlier this summer when many of us were experiencing relief, joy, even euphoria as we began to resurface from the pandemic. Many people are experiencing a starkly different set of feelings, blunted emotions, spikes in anxiety and depression, and a desire to drastically change something about their lives. If this sounds familiar, you might be one of the many people experiencing what we’ve begun to refer to as “pandemic flux syndrome.” It’s admittedly not a clinical term, but it seems to capture something about the moment we’re living through.

No, vaccinated people are not ‘just as likely’ to spread the coronavirus as unvaccinated people” via Craig Spencer of The Atlantic — This misunderstanding, born out of confusing statements from public-health authorities and misleading media headlines, is a shame. It is resulting in unnecessary fear among vaccinated people, all the while undermining the public’s understanding of the importance — and effectiveness — of getting vaccinated. So let me make one thing clear: Vaccinated people are not as likely to spread the coronavirus as the unvaccinated. Even in the United States, where more than half of the population is fully vaccinated, the unvaccinated are responsible for the overwhelming majority of transmission. Despite concern about waning immunity, vaccines provide the best protection against infection. And if someone isn’t infected, they can’t spread the coronavirus.

Changing recommendations for boosters lead to confusion for the vaccinated and their doctors” via Carissa Wolf, Frances Stead Sellers, Ashley Cusick and Kim Mueller of The Washington Post — Confusion over boosters, which has been brewing for months, heightened over the past week as government regulators and advisers met to hash out the pros and cons of administering third doses. “It’s a communications crisis,” said Robert Murphy, executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Doctors say confusion clouds patients’ willingness to receive boosters. In Idaho, the problem coincides with the primary health care system’s struggle to meet the demands of the latest COVID-19 crush, which earlier this month plunged the state into crisis standards of care, essentially the rationing of health care as demand overwhelms resources.

Vaccine mandate temporarily halted in New York City schools, nation’s largest school system” via Donna St. George and Perry Stein of The Washington Post — A coronavirus vaccine mandate for teachers and other employees in New York City schools, the nation’s largest school district, has been temporarily halted by a federal appeals court just days before the deadline. The injunction, granted Friday by a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, comes as many school districts nationally are adopting vaccine rules in an effort to keep schools open for in-person learning amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. In New York City, 18% of the system’s nearly 150,000 employees had not yet shown proof of vaccination but had until midnight on Monday to do so.

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A vaccine mandate for NYC schools is put on hold. Image via AP.

—”Idaho morgues are running out of space for bodies as COVID-19 deaths mount” via Derek Hawkins of The Washington Post

Salad dressing, high testosterone: New variants in COVID-19 vaccine disinformation” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — It takes a lot to make the upper echelon of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. This week we may have experienced a couple of new variants of vaccine misinformation that deserve spots on the leader board. Mike Flynn took time out from his “ReAwaken America” tour with the pillow guy to sound the alarm about a plan to vaccinate unwitting Americans secretly. “Somebody sent me a thing this morning where they’re talking about putting the vaccine in salad dressing,” Flynn said on a podcast. Tucker Carlson has been saying that the decision by the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to require vaccines for all military personnel is a plot to identify “free thinkers, sincere Christians and men with high testosterone levels” in the ranks.

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Facing Black leaders’ anger, Biden condemns treatment of Haitians” via Sean Sullivan and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Biden’s relationship with Black leaders and activists has rapidly deteriorated, as many have condemned his treatment of Haitian migrants and grown angry with his failure to overhaul policing and enact sweeping laws protecting voting rights. Partly as a response, Biden, in his first detailed public comments on the treatment of Haitians at the border in Texas, sought Friday to take some responsibility. White House officials are scrambling to repair the damaged relationships with Black leaders, holding private meetings with them that they hope will smooth relations. But the Biden administration has given no indication it is preparing to stop invoking the health order to expel many migrants arriving at the border during the pandemic.

The treatment of Haitians at the Southern border is raising the ire of Black lawmakers, with Joe Biden on defense.

Biden risks losing support from Democrats amid DC gridlock” via Steve Peoples of The Associated Press — Biden is losing support among critical groups in his political base as some of his core campaign promises falter, raising concerns among Democrats that the voters who put him in office may feel less enthusiastic about returning to the polls in next year’s midterm elections. In just the past week, the push to change the nation’s immigration laws and create a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children faced a serious setback on Capitol Hill. There’s a sense of urgency to broker some type of agreement between the party’s progressive and moderate wings to move forward with a $3.5 trillion package that would fundamentally reshape the nation’s social programs.

White House tells U.S. agencies to get ready for first government shutdown of pandemic” via Tony Romm, Jeff Stein and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — The White House budget office notified federal agencies to begin preparations for the first shutdown of the U.S. government since the coronavirus pandemic began, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill struggle to reach a funding agreement. Administration officials stress the request is in line with traditional procedures seven days ahead of a shutdown and not a commentary on the likelihood of a congressional deal. Democrats have started discussing the mechanics of how to sidestep Republicans as soon as next week as they maintain they will not allow the government to shut down in a pandemic or the country to default for the first time in history.

Kamala Harris, assigned to tackle volatile issues, quietly builds a network” via Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of The Washington Post — In March, Biden asked Harris to address the root causes of irregular migration from Central American countries. She was dogged by questions about why she had not gone to the southern U.S. border, and Republicans tried to label her Biden’s “border czar” amid a historic surge in migrant crossings northward. For many activists, long-term alliances are almost as valuable as short-term actions. In many cases, an audience with Harris represents a seat at the table and could make activists more open to working one day to bring about a Harris administration.


Arizona ballot review commissioned by Republicans reaffirms Biden’s victory” via Rosalind S. Helderman of The Washington Post — A Republican-commissioned review of nearly 2.1 million ballots cast last year in Arizona confirmed the accuracy of the official results and Biden’s win in Maricopa County, according to a final report released Friday, striking a blow to Trump’s efforts to undermine confidence in the 2020 election. The report, which was prepared by private contractors and submitted to Republican leaders of the state Senate, went even further than an earlier draft that confirmed Biden’s victory. In a letter describing the findings, Senate President Karen Fann, who commissioned the process, stressed the importance of the ballot count showing Biden’s winning margin and noted that it “matches Maricopa County’s official machine count.”

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Arizona ‘audit’ confirms what everyone else already knew.

‘The No. 1 issue’: Donald Trump whips up election falsehoods after flawed Arizona report” via Zach Montellaro and Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — Friday’s flawed report from the Republicans investigating Arizona’s 2020 election isn’t changing minds or dampening enthusiasm among election conspiracy theorists. Instead, the movement keeps gaining traction in the Republican Party. Inexperienced reviewers hired by the Arizona state Senate have been trawling through the results in Maricopa County for months, with the county’s Republican elected officials debunking their claims as they went along. But as draft copies of the report surfaced Thursday night, with a vote count aligning with the official results showing Biden won, GOP-controlled Texas became the latest state to launch a copycat investigation of 2020 results in four large counties.

— “All eyes turn to Pennsylvania after Arizona’s ‘audit’ affirmed Biden’s presidential victory” via Andrew Seidman and Jonathan Lai of The Philadelphia Inquirer

— “GOP to massively step up 2022 poll-watching efforts in Michigan and across U.S.” via Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press

Tweet, tweet:

Ahead of tonight’s Trump rally in Perry, GA – organizers have created a makeshift memorial for the 13 service members killed in Kabul in August. Each chair contains an American flag and flower in honor of their memory.

— Mark Meredith (@markpmeredith) September 25, 2021

The White House might give up the goods on what Trump did Jan. 6. What would that mean?” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Biden’s White House is leaning toward taking a somewhat extraordinary step: handing over information about what Trump and his White House were up to on Jan. 6, which so far remains something of a black box in the Capitol attack investigations. However little regard Biden’s White House might have for Trump’s, even White Houses of opposing parties generally avoid this kind of thing. No White House wants to potentially undermine its claims to executive privilege or to set a precedent that its inner workings could one day be disclosed by its successors. Given how little we know about what Trump did that day, pretty much anything would seem likely to shed some light.

Who’s taking the wheel of Trumpism?” via Pedro Gonzalez of The Spectator — Ballard Partners is a monument to everything Trump claimed to stand against as an outsider. And yet its members now occupy high posts in his vast political domain. So much of Trump’s political infrastructure, ostensibly populist in its orientation, resembles the old GOP establishment from which it has drawn not only its rank and file but its leaders. The mandate has become mere window dressing for a moneymaking machine. Both America First Policy Institute and Trump’s Save America PAC are illustrative. But this could only be the natural course of a movement without any ideological grounding. Though it began by shouldering the earnest hopes of millions, the official Trump movement is well into the racket phase of its evolution.


South Florida affected as fallout begins for far-right trolls who trusted Epik to keep their identities secret” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Washington Post reported on Saturday afternoon that a massive hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far-right, had revealed a trove of information about a multitude of people, including Joshua Alayon, who worked as a real estate agent in Pompano Beach. Alayon’s name and personal details were found on invoices suggesting he had once paid for websites with names such as,, and After Alayon’s name appeared in the breached data, his brokerage, Travers Miran Realty, dropped him as an agent, as first reported by the real estate news site Inman. The brokerage’s owner, Rick Rapp, said he didn’t “want to be involved with anyone with thoughts or motives like that.”

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The Epik hack has become the far-right’s worst nightmare.

‘You’ve disgraced this country’: Judge rips Capitol riot defendant” via Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — A federal judge tore into a low-level defendant in the Capitol Riot Friday, moments after the man entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the Jan. 6 unrest. “You’ve disgraced this country in the eyes of the world, and my inclination would be to lock you up, but since the government isn’t asking me to do that … I won’t,” U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton shouted at Fort Pierce, Florida, resident Anthony Mariotto during a video hearing. Most of Mariotto’s half-hour-long plea hearing was routine in nature, as the judge led the defendant through a fairly standard series of questions about his competence to enter a plea and about the consequences of doing so.


Budget panel OKs Democrats’ $3.5T bill, crunchtime for Biden agenda” via The Associated Press — Democrats pushed a $3.5 trillion, 10-year bill strengthening social safety net and climate programs through the House Budget Committee, but one Democrat voted “no,” illustrating the challenges party leaders face in winning the near unanimity they’ll need to push the sprawling package through Congress. The Democratic-dominated panel, meeting virtually Saturday, approved the measure on a near party-line vote, 20-17. Passage marked a necessary but minor checking of a procedural box for Democrats by edging it a step closer to debate by the full House. Under budget rules, the committee wasn’t allowed to significantly amend the 2,465-page measure, the product of 13 other House committees.

Joe Biden’s $3.5T infrastructure agenda inches forward.

Democrats outside D.C. worry party will blow its chance of enacting historic agenda — a failure with grave political consequences” via Sean Sullivan and Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — As Democrats in Washington struggle through contentious negotiations over a sweeping domestic policy proposal, many party activists and officials across the country are watching with a collective head-shake and mounting anxiety. They see Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, yet so far unable to resolve their differences over a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and social safety net package. They see in Biden a candidate who ran on unity but is now plagued by intraparty divisions. The consequences of failure would be devastating, Democratic officials and activists said, with a recognition that overhauling policing practices and the immigration system have become all but impossible, and enacting a far-reaching voting rights bill is a long shot at best.

Democrats’ spending fight carries high stakes for their candidates” via Jonathan Martin of The New York Times — With Biden’s approval ratings falling below 50% after the most trying stretch of his young administration, pushing through his ambitious legislative agenda has taken on a new urgency for Democratic lawmakers. Recognizing that a President’s popularity is the best indicator for how his party will fare in the midterm elections, Democrats are confronting a stark prospect: If Biden doesn’t succeed in the halls of Congress this fall, it could doom his party’s majorities at the polls next fall. The only way Biden can rebound politically, and the party can retain its tenuous grip on power in the Capitol is if he and they are able to hold up tangible achievements to voters.

The LCV’s $4M ad buy” via Axios — The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in the budget reconciliation package. Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week. “Here in Florida, we are on the front lines of climate change,” the narrator says in an ad meant to bolster Rep. Stephanie Murphy. “And we have the chance to take the challenge head-on with the Build Back Better Act.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Attorney General Moody will hold a news conference with Congressman Vern Buchanan and local leaders to urge the passage of the Thin Blue Line Act, 9:45 a.m. Eastern time, Bradenton Police Department, 100 10th St. W., Bradenton.

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Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers dies after being shot twice during traffic stop” via First Coast News — Moyers has died after being shot twice during a traffic stop Friday morning. According to the sheriff’s office, Moyers, 29, died at UF Health in Jacksonville, where he was being treated after being shot in the face and back. The shooting happened following a traffic stop around 2:30 a.m. near Micker Street in the Callahan area of US 301. Authorities believe 35-year-old Patrick McDowell, a former Marine from Jacksonville, is responsible for shooting Moyers. He is still on the run and is considered to be armed and dangerous. During the manhunt for McDowell, which is now on its second day, a K-9 officer was also shot. The K-9 was taken to a veterinarian and is expected to be OK.

End of watch: A traffic stop turns deadly for Deputy Joshua Moyers.

Florida Forever: How the state conserves vital ecosystems even as the money dwindles” via Karl Schneider of the Naples Daily News — To date, Florida Forever has purchased about 850,000 acres of land with approximately $3.2 billion. FDEP collects money from real estate transactions, called document stamps, to fund its acquisitions. The state has already bought large tracts, but nearly 40,000 acres remain on the priority list. The list, updated most recently in May, contains 37 Critical Natural Lands and a plethora of other potential buys.

We’re flirting with disaster’: Lake O fishing suffering with high water levels, 12,000-acre loss of plants” via Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post — As much as 75% of the ecological lifeblood of Lake Okeechobee died in the past year, drowned by high water and choked by sediment. The collapse of 12,000 acres of submerged vegetation, including eelgrass, pondweed, and coontail, is a plant apocalypse not seen in the lake since 2006 when it was recovering from hurricanes followed by extreme drought. A summer survey by the district found less than 5,000 acres of submerged meadows left.

Last-minute request for COVID-19 cash from nonprofit run by City Council member needs scrutiny” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville City Council is set to consider providing $500,000 in federal COVID-19 relief money to a nonprofit run by one of its own members, City Councilman Reginald Gaffney, purportedly to help the organization recover from pandemic-related economic harm. In one respect, the city says the potential grant to Gaffney’s nonprofit, Community Rehabilitation Center Inc., is unremarkable: Every nonprofit that has asked for federal relief money has received a grant, provided those groups were able to navigate the paperwork process. But most nonprofits that approach the city don’t claim a well-connected City Council member as its leader, and there are few organizations and public officials in Jacksonville viewed as closely tied to one another as Gaffney and CRC.

Rodents at Hilltop Village Apartments in Jacksonville have to go or management company out” via Katherine Lewin of The Florida Times-Union — Until the rodents in Hilltop Village Apartments in Northwest Jacksonville are gone, and other issues addressed, the property management company can’t lease any more units for Southport Development Services Inc.’s upcoming projects. On Friday afternoon, DeSantis‘ office said the Florida Housing Finance Corporation is placing “conditions” on future transactions involving the property’s management company, Washington-based Cambridge Management, Inc., after “a recent unsatisfactory site inspection.” Southport Development Services was notified that all outstanding noncompliance issues, including the rodent infestation, must be fixed before upcoming closings on future developments.

Miami police chief compares actions of some commissioners to Cuba’s Communist regime” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — On the eve of an emergency commission meeting that threatens to shorten his already brief tenure in Miami, Police Chief Art Acevedo broke a brief silence and penned a scathing eight-page memo that is likely to play a big part in Monday’s showdown. The chief, sworn in only last April, wrote that the majority of Commissioners were interfering with an internal investigation into a well-liked Sergeant-At-Arms he relieved of duty. He also said that a second-in-command post he filled with a former co-worker from Houston was eliminated by Commissioners out of spite and that he had contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to review the city’s internal affairs process and some questionable use-of-force by officers.

Broward schools looking to get about 10,000 students back into the classroom” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Between 300 and 400 educators fanned out across neighborhoods in Broward County on Saturday, going door to door trying to reach thousands of students who have either not shown up for school or have attended class sporadically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to get as many of them as possible back into the classroom because experience through the pandemic has shown that children learn better when they’re in front of a teacher. The task is monumental, however, given that the list of students they’re trying to reach includes about 10,000 children, schools officials say.

Holly Raschein appointed to replace late Monroe Commissioner Mike Forster” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Monroe County Commission has a new member: Raschein, who will succeed late Commissioner Forster on the dais representing District 5. DeSantis appointed Raschein, a Republican and former state Representative from Key Largo, to complete Forster’s term. Earlier this month, Forster died of pneumonia linked to COVID-19. He was 61. Raschein last week sent DeSantis an application to serve in Forster’s seat, which represents Key Largo and Tavernier, through 2022. Others followed, including former state Representative candidate Rhonda Rebman Lopez and Tony Allen, a funeral home owner and chairman of the Key Largo Fire and EMS District.

Citrus-Hernando transportation lobbyist Robert Esposito tapped to lead regional MPO” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — A former aide to state Sen. Jeff Brandes, lauded for his connections to upper levels of state government, was the unanimous choice Thursday to become executive director of the Hernando-Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization. Robert Esposito, government affairs liaison for Florida Department of Transportation District 7, succeeds Steven Diaz, who was to retire Oct. 31 but died of cancer Aug. 31. Seven years ago, Esposito served as an aide to Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, when he became FDOT District 7 government liaison. During a meeting in Lecanto, MPO members said their relationships as elected officials with FDOT over the years are stronger because of Esposito’s help.

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Robert Esposito gets a top job for Citrus-Hernando.

Tampa General Hospital to invest $550 million in major upgrades and ‘largest’ master facility plan” via Ram huff of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Tampa General Hospital announced it will embark on its “largest master facility plan” in the hospital’s history, signifying a $550 million investment. TGH will add to its geographic footprint, improve facilities and add structures, the hospital said. The master facility plan will help the hospital serve the region’s increasing health care needs and have an economic impact of over $967 million, and create more than 5,952 jobs. “Our vision at Tampa General is to become the safest and most innovative academic health system in America,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, in the release.

J.T. Burnette in hot water over unpermitted dock project on Lake Hall” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Burnette, fresh off his conviction on federal public corruption charges, is in hot water again, this time for unauthorized development activity on Lake Hall behind his unoccupied home off Thomasville Road. His new legal problems stem from a dock he wants to build on the lake, pale in comparison to his old ones. Burnette and Rivers bought the property, including a portion of the lake bottom behind their house, last year for $1.3 million. The county’s notice of violation says that the site work may have violated several provisions of its land development code, including engaging in development activity without a permit and failing to protect vegetation around a wetland.

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Dear unvaccinated: Bye! And don’t let the door hit you in the … well, you know” via Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald — This is for those of you who’ve chosen to quit your jobs rather than submit to a vaccine mandate. Well, on behalf of the rest of us, the ones who miss concerts, restaurants and other people’s faces, the ones who are sick and tired of living in pandemic times, here’s a word of response to you quitters: Goodbye. Whenever faced with some mandate imposed in the interest of the common good, some of us act like they just woke up on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall.


With his latest school rules, DeSantis is writing the book on COVID-19 quackery” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Welcome to Florida’s weekly show of COVID-19 quackery, with DeSantis taking center stage. We’ve got a lot to unpack since the ambitious DeSantis is completely out of the closet now, shamelessly peddling disinformation debunked by leading infectious-disease experts and those pesky know-it-all “disease detectives,” the epidemiologists. His latest, despicable COVID-19 order makes attending school even riskier for vulnerable, unvaccinated children. Yes, he went there again, then stooped even lower.

Be a hero, Sen. Joe Gruters, and stop the scourge of dark money in politics” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Gruters recognized the danger of dark money when he first ran for the state House of Representatives. “I was targeted in my 2016 campaign for the Florida House by about $100,000 in attack mailers from obscure political committees,” Gruters wrote. Gruters introduced bills that would have made it illegal for political committees to contribute money to other political committees or political parties. The ability to do that in Florida is central to the money laundering scheme that Gruters denounced after his election. It’s time to treat this idea as a much, much higher priority, something Gruters needs to spend more political capital on. Florida needs this reform now more than ever, especially now that we know the role dark money played in manipulating at least one state Senate seat last year, maybe others.

Jacqueline Azis: By not supplying justice data, Florida breaks the law” via Florida Politics — The Sarasota Herald-Tribune published a series about gross racial inequities in sentencing in Florida courts, with Black people often receiving radically longer sentences than white people for similar crimes. It added to the outcry for reform. The Legislature passed the Criminal Justice Data Transparency law — mandating records submitted monthly to include data about arrests, bail and bond determinations, convictions and sentencing, including race. When the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida requested pertinent data from both state and local agencies it was told no such records exist, that culling the records would be exorbitantly expensive, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) had no database mandated by the transparency law, despite being provided with millions in taxpayer dollars to do so.

Dixie Highway is now Harriet Tubman Highway in Miami-Dade — because symbols matter” via the Miami Herald editorial board — The right thing finally happened in South Florida last week. Dixie Highway is now Harriet Tubman Highway. A sign proclaiming the new name was unveiled on Saturday, the first in a series that will feature her name on roadside signs, a counterweight to the signs that have long tarnished our landscape. With cars whizzing by, state and local lawmakers and other assorted leaders applauded as the wrapping fell away from the new sign near the Vizcaya Metrorail station. Harriet Tubman’s name was there for all to see. Getting to this moment should have been a snap. It wasn’t. ad for sunburn duke energy october 2020


Florida’s redistricting website goes live, and House Redistricting Chair Tom Leek says the public will have more access than ever before.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— A Pinellas-Pasco Judge dismissed a temporary stalking injunction filed by Congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna against her former opponent William Braddock.

— And a long corruption probe in the City of Tallahassee sparks calls for ethics reform, but that debate is growing contentious between city leaders.

— The Sunrise interview is with Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter — who found herself being silenced at a commission meeting as she calls for a new way of doing city business, without corruption.

— And House Speaker-Designate Paul Renner talks about balancing individual freedom and looking out for the common good.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Why are ADs at FSU and UM eerily silent about their embattled football coaches?” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — Remember the good old days when the national championship race was annually affected by who won the annual Florida State-Miami rivalry game? This season, the only race the two programs are involved in is the race to see whose coach will be fired first. Florida State, under second-year head coach Mike Norvell, is 0-3 for the first time in nearly half a century. Meanwhile, it’s being reported by the Miami Herald that UM trustees are already discussing a possible replacement for coach Manny Diaz, who is a late field goal against Appalachian State from also being 0-3.

The only race in college football is to see if FSU will fire Mike Norvell first.

The cost of insuring expensive waterfront homes is about to skyrocket” via Christopher Flavelle of The New York Times — Florida’s version of the American dream, which holds that even people of relatively modest means can aspire to live near the water, depends on a few crucial components: sugar-white beaches, soft ocean breezes and federal flood insurance that is heavily subsidized. But starting Oct. 1, communities in Florida and elsewhere around the country will see those subsidies begin to disappear in a nationwide experiment in trying to adapt to climate change: Forcing Americans to pay something closer to the real cost of their flood risk, which is rising as the planet warms. Federal officials say the goal is fairness and also getting homeowners to understand the extent of the risk they face.

Disney World dresses up for birthday after pandemic’s party pooper threat” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — On Oct. 1, exactly 50 years after Magic Kingdom opened its gates, Disney World officially launches its 18-month campaign dubbed “the world’s most magical celebration.” On that day, three shows will debut: “Disney KiteTails” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, “Disney Enchantment” at Magic Kingdom and “Harmonious” at Epcot, where Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride will have its official opening day. Light shows are scheduled on and around four of the parks’ most symbolic structures, transforming them into what Disney calls “Beacons of Light.” “I think that a lot of people kind of want to see more because, in the past, the different anniversaries were such a big to-do,” said Michele Atwood, author of Disney-related books and owner of the Main Street Mouse.

Comcast CEO optimistic about Universal theme parks post-pandemic” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Last year was the biggest economic disaster the theme park industry has ever faced. Orlando theme parks shut down for months at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking a multibillion-dollar hit. But as Comcast CEO Brian Roberts spoke to investors Wednesday, his tone was undeniably optimistic as he answered questions about Universal parks’ future and the ongoing recovery. His enthusiasm comes during a week of particularly good news for Universal parks. The United States announced its loosening restrictions on international flights this fall. Even without international travelers, Universal theme parks posted profits in its second quarter earnings for the first time since the pandemic began, the company said in July.

Florida’s major theaters mount comebacks, but with COVID-19-era guest policies enforced” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — This week, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa’s Straz Center were two major theater venues in the Sunshine State to announce new COVID-19-era guest policies. Fellow performing arts theaters are following and finalizing plans to keep shows on, all the while noting the persistent dangers of the coronavirus, namely the highly contagious delta variant. At the Fort Lauderdale venue, which hosts touring Broadway series shows, concerts and other live events, there will be mandatory face coverings for performances and required guest documentation showing a recent negative COVID-19 test.


Best wishes to Sen. Joe Gruters’ better half, Sydney as well as Geoff Burgan and Monica Russo. Belated happy birthday wishes to Tanya Jackson, Cynthia Henderson, Darren Richards of Tucker/Hall, and Brittany Davis Wise.


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

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