Good Tuesday morning.
Let’s start the day with news about one of my best friends.
Suskey Consulting is one of the top lobbying firms in the Tampa Bay area and represents a diverse set of clients ranging from major corporations such as AT&T to local governments such as the City of Gulfport.
The merger, announced Tuesday, will see Alan Suskey become Shumaker Advisors’ managing principal of state affairs and lead its Tallahassee practice. Suskey Consulting lobbyists RJ Myers and Donovan Brown are making the jump to Shumaker Advisors as well.
“When you see what Alan, Donovan and RJ have built with Suskey consulting, and the growth and results they have delivered — you can’t help but admire them,” Shumaker Advisors Florida President and CEO Ron Christaldi said. “By joining together, we will significantly expand our presence in Tallahassee and continue to grow key relationships we have already established.”
An eighth-generation Floridian, Suskey has built an advocacy career representing world-renowned research institutes, technology companies, small businesses, and other clients at the local, state, and federal levels.
“The opportunity to work with Ron and the team of professionals at Shumaker was an opportunity I couldn’t pass,” Suskey said. “Combining our teams, resources, and talents will enable us to deliver even more positive results for our clients while working with a group of individuals I admire and respect.”
The merger follows a string of major hires at Shumaker Advisors, which already boasts an impressive team that includes Christaldi, former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, Amy Maguire, Mike Hamby, Joel Freedman, Melanie Griffin, former Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, Andrew Mayts and JD White.
Veteran public affairs and government relations professional Sharon Smoley is launching her own firm next month.
The new venture, Central Florida Public Affairs, officially opens for businesses Nov. 1.
“This has been a long-term goal of mine. My passion lies in finding that perfect spot where business objectives and community priorities align. It’s not about pushing an agenda,” Smoley said.
“It is about creating a path forward. There is so much opportunity in Central Florida. I realized the time was right to pursue my goal of helping companies connect with the right people to achieve their business objectives.”
Smoley has more than two decades of experience in government affairs and has a thorough understanding of Central Florida’s economic drivers and rich history.
“For the past 20 years, Sharon Smoley has led game-changing initiatives for Orlando,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “From her time at Walt Disney World, where she was critical in negotiating the world-class sports and entertainment venues we have today, to most recently, she has helped create micro-mobility options for our residents. These initiatives have truly made the City of Orlando a better place.”
Smoley is currently the vice president of Advocacy & Public Policy for the Orlando Economic Partnership and will continue working with the organization as a consultant focusing on policy initiatives at the state and local levels.
“Sharon has served as a knowledgeable, strategic, and dedicated leader for the Partnership over the past four years. Her ability to navigate politics on the local, state and federal level has led to policy successes that make our region a better place to do business,” Partnership CEO Tim Guiliani said.
One Eighty Consulting on Tuesday announced it had expanded its team with the addition of Beth Labasky and Kevin Brown.
“Team 180 is Florida’s top IT and Health and Human Services government consulting firm and I’m proud to say we just keep getting stronger by growing our team in smart, strategic ways,” said One Eighty Consulting President Victoria Vangalis Zepp. “Both Beth Labasky and Kevin Brown bring unique experiences and expertise that add depth to our ability to achieve innovative client solutions resulting in greater success for Florida citizens and our economy.”
Labasky joins the team as a Senior Policy Consultant in One Eighty’s Tallahassee office. She brings more than four decades of consulting experience from the local to international levels. She has worked with elected officials, government agencies, Congress and state legislatures, including serving as legislative staff for the Florida Senate Committee on Health and Rehabilitative Services.
“Team 180 has an unmatched reputation for delivering great strategy and results,” Labasky said. “I’m excited to join this extraordinary team and leverage my diverse government experience for the client partners we serve.”
Brown joins the firm as a Business Development Associate in Pensacola, where he will use his in-depth knowledge of state government to further policy efforts such as a bipartisan fix of FCC child welfare and addressing national broadband access opportunities for Florida.
He has worked in Florida government and politics for more than 10 years, most recently serving as Chief of Staff to Sen. Doug Broxson. Brown has also served on the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@WHCOS: 7m vax doses in a week — the first time in three months.
—@RSchooley: Has (Donald) Trump ever even acknowledged the 140 officers injured on 1/6 other than to paint a target on the one that shot Ashli Babbitt?
—@GlennKirschner2: One thing seems clear: If DOJ declines to hold Trump accountable for his election crimes, his sedition, rebellion & insurrection, if they continue to allow him to lie about and undermine election results, we will never again hear a concession speech from a Republican politician.
—@BenjySarlin: It’s a near-universal assumption in every corner of politics that the 2024 nomination is now his if he wants it, and yet everything he’s saying as presumed nominee is treated as noise to be ignored in most of those corners. At some point, balance can’t hold.
—@CharlieCrist: Florida wouldn’t be what it is today without the Tribal Nations that prospered here long before us. This Indigenous Peoples Day, we recognize and honor the invaluable contributions that these communities have gifted our state and nation.
During #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth we honor survivors, pray for those going through treatment, remember those we lost, and renew our commitment to finding a cure. We continue to stand with @FLCaseyDeSantis in prayer and expectant hope that God will heal her and give her strength. pic.twitter.com/ET8MYDIhKS
— Jeanette Nunez (@LtGovNunez) October 11, 2021
—@Fineout: The more you know: Dana Young, president & CEO of @VISITFLORIDA told legislators today that the most visited portion of their website is the page that talks about “clothing-optional,” aka nude beaches
—@AugustJPollak: I love Columbus Day discourse because it’s entirely on autopilot and it’s hilarious. No one cares about Columbus. No one “celebrates” today. There are mattress sales. But every year, Team Own the Libs has to put on a pageant about how this means so much to them
—@Timodc: Superman deciding to come out after decades in the closet is a rather dreary tale for a comic book. I wonder if it will address how he navigated the AIDS crisis.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that young queer kids used to do the Wonder Woman spin when they were closeted. Whether you’re out and proud now or you’re still living with a secret identity, you are a superhero in my eyes. Happy National Coming Out Day 🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/5Pp4PMrIQa
— Lynda Carter 🎃 (@RealLyndaCarter) October 11, 2021
— DAYS UNTIL —
’Succession’ returns — 5; ’Dune’ premieres — 10; ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ returns — 12; World Series Game 1 — 14; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 15; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 15; Georgia at UF — 18; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 21; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 21; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 24; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 24; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 26; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 27; Miami at FSU — 30; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 33; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 37; FSU vs. UF — 46; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 50; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 56; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 60; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 66; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 71; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 78; CES 2022 begins — 85; NFL season ends — 89; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 91; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 91; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 92; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 94; NFL playoffs begin — 95; Super Bowl LVI — 124; Daytona 500 — 131; St. Pete Grand Prix — 138; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 164; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 208; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 227; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 233; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 269; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 281; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 360; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 395.
“Republicans’ biggest redistricting weapon: Florida” via David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report — The Sunshine State has recently looked more like a dark wasteland for Democrats. But the worst for Democrats may be yet to come: Florida, set to gain a 28th seat next year, could be Republicans’ biggest redistricting weapon of the 2022 cycle. In fact, the GOP could erase most of Democrats’ thin House majority in Florida alone. Florida’s process isn’t expected to begin in earnest until January, when the Legislature convenes in Regular Session. But already, Republicans are buzzing that they could convert their current 16R-11D advantage in the delegation to as lopsided as 19R-9D — potentially their biggest haul of the cycle. The main reason? Unlike other large states Republican’s control, the current map isn’t already a strong GOP gerrymander. It was enacted in 2016 as a remedial plan after the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 to overturn the 2011 GOP-drawn map for violating the state’s “Fair Districts” constitutional amendment. But here’s what has Democrats panicked: since 2015, the Florida Supreme Court has undergone a total conservative makeover — and a lack of a judicial check could allow Republican legislators to define “fair districts” however they want. NRCC redistricting chair U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and GOP state legislators are hoping to lean into Trump‘s surge among Cuban and other Hispanic voters to shore up their own South Florida seats, all while drawing a friendly new 28th CD and seizing the districts currently held by Democratic U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist in Central Florida.
— STATEWIDE —
“Ron DeSantis policy moves often followed by fundraising pitch” via John Kennedy of the USA TODAY Network — When Gov. DeSantis ordered Florida’s Secretary of State to investigate Facebook, alleging it may have manipulated 2020 elections in the state, he made sure his donors didn’t miss the news. Forty-eight hours after the Republican Governor dispatched Laurel Lee to search for evidence of what he labeled “Big Tech interference,” an email blast went out from DeSantis’ fundraising team to potential contributors. With more than $53 million in cash on hand, DeSantis’ reelection campaign is steadily fishing for more money, increasingly using his recent policy actions as bait.
“DeSantis earmarks $9 million for Winter Haven industrial park” via The News Service of Florida — More than $9 million in state funding will go to improving access to the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center in Winter Haven, DeSantis said Monday. “By making these road improvements, it’s really going to provide important linkages. We’re going to be improving access to more than 1,200 acres of an industrial area that will attract new businesses and generate new jobs for the community,” DeSantis said during an appearance at Winter Haven City Hall. The center has long been envisioned as a key distribution point in the middle of the state. The state Department of Transportation is putting up $3 million for the improvements, and another $6.4 million is coming from the state’s Job Growth Grant Fund, which DeSantis has the discretion to allocate for infrastructure and workforce projects.
—”DeSantis nominates seven to serve on Florida Citrus Commission” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
“VISIT FLORIDA vs. move to Florida? Lawmakers inquire about ad agency’s residency efforts” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — In a presentation before the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Young highlighted the state’s recovery in tourism. Lawmakers from both parties inquired about the agency’s efforts to encourage people to move to Florida permanently. Young said that’s not in its mission following a question from Sen. Jason Pizzo asking whether the agency tries to convert visitors to permanent residents or homebuyers. Sen. Tom Wright asked if promoting the space industry as a place for jobs could make it into future ads.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“While 17 states near the finish line, Florida redistricting in public eye has barely begun” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix — Indiana, Maine, Nebraska and Oregon have finished drawing their new maps, and 13 more states have published proposed maps. Maps for Ohio, Texas and a handful of other states are complete enough to have drawn lawsuits challenging their allegedly partisan motives. Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature is still educating its redistricting committees about how the monumental task is supposed to be accomplished. The committees met for the first time last month and reconvene this week.
“Packing or cracking? Senators navigate legal restrictions on racial redistricting” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A presentation to members of the Senate Reapportionment Committee carefully explained how federal and state law, particularly guidance in the federal Voting Rights Act and the Fair Districts amendment to Florida’s constitution, will guide the process. The Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1964, prohibits discrimination against minority communities in harmful ways. According to attorney Daniel Nordby of Shutts & Bowen, who briefed lawmakers, this governs racial gerrymandering. Section 2 of the federal law prohibits states from enacting any type of redistricting that creates “less opportunity” for racial minorities to “elect representatives of their choice.” And that’s where cracking and packing come into the picture.
“Democrats, voting groups question access during Florida political redistricting process” via Jeffrey Schweers of USA Today Network — As the Florida Legislature begins its second week of hearings on state and congressional redistricting, voting rights advocates want to make sure that the public has every opportunity to be heard. “Our main concern right now is that you’d only be able to speak to representatives by driving all the way to Tallahassee,” said Cecile Scoon, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. “But in these days of Zoom meetings, why can’t you do that?” The Republican-controlled Legislature probably won’t be taking the redistricting show on the road, with maps and staff going from city to city to explain the process and take public input. All eyes are on Tallahassee after the disaster of Florida’s last attempt at redrawing those boundaries, which saw lawsuits and a court decision.
”House Democratic Co-Leader fears limited public input on redistricting” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne is concerned there will be limited opportunities for the public to review the district maps that will define Florida’s political landscape for the next decade. Lawmakers are meeting for the second week ahead of the 2022 Session, when the Legislature will approve maps for 28 U.S. House districts, 40 State Senate districts, and 120 State House districts. However, lawmakers are receiving a second round of overviews, with this week’s information focused on the Florida Redistricting website that went live last month. Jenne called this year’s mapmaking process dangerous because of a lack of communication with the public.
Assignment editors — Rep. Anna Eskamani and Susan Fatutta of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk host a virtual discussion related to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 10 a.m., Facebook Live at facebook.com/AnnaForFlorida. RSVP at [email protected]
“Agency wants $2.3M for legal, actuarial help with upcoming managed care contract negotiations” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The statewide Medicaid managed care program won’t be renegotiated until 2023, but the Agency for Health Care Administration already is expecting legal challenges and wants lawmakers to earmark $2 million, so it can hire attorneys to defend the state against any potential challenges when the time comes. They’re also requesting $300,000 to hire actuaries during procurement negotiations for real-time financial analyses and subject matter expertise. AHCA Secretary Simone Marstiller presented the agency’s legislative budget request. Marstiller told members of the appropriations subcommittee the state is expecting more of the same when it begins a new round of contract negotiations with managed care plans in 2023.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Cynthia Henderson, Cynergy Consulting: Genesis Air Mobility
Geoffrey Sluggett, Mary McNicholas, Geoffrey B. Sluggett & Associates: Town of Loxahatchee Groves
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida COVID-19 update on Monday: 4,797 cases and zero deaths added” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Florida on Monday reported to the CDC 4,797 more COVID-19 cases and zero deaths. It’s possible that the CDC website has not updated to show new deaths because of the holiday weekend. The Florida Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past seven days, the state has added, on average, 113 deaths and 3,263 cases per day. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,609,643 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 56,413 deaths.
“Florida ‘vaccine passport’ probes target Harry Styles concert, library, counterterrorism squad” via Austin Fuller, Steven Lemongello, and Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida is investigating potential violators of its COVID-19 “vaccine passport” law that include a Harry Styles concert in Orlando, a Major League Baseball team, businesses and government agencies, among them a public library and an FDLE counterterrorism unit. In Central Florida, the list includes the Orange County government, Orange County Convention Center, AdventHealth, Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando Lowndes Shakespeare Center, the House of Blues and Plaza Live.
“Joe Ladapo, Florida’s new Surgeon General, receives 52% raise over his predecessor” via Jeffrey Schweers of USA Today Network — Dr. Ladapo, will make $362,000 a year, his combined pay from the Department of Health and the University of Florida, where he is a professor of general internal medicine. Ladapo’s salary marks a $123,000 bump over that of his more experienced predecessor, Scott Rivkees, during his tenure. The position also holds the titles of Surgeon General and state health officer. It’s also about $50,000 more than the $319,000 a year Ladapo made as a research professor at the University of California Los Angeles. The UF College of Medicine announced it would pay Ladapo $262,000 a year, expecting that the state would contribute a large portion of that salary as compensation for his time at the DOH.
“Dr. Raul Pino on improving Orange County COVID-19 health data: ‘We’re almost there’” via Stephen Hudak and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Citing a rebound in health data in the wake of Orange County’s deadliest month of the pandemic, Dr. Pino, the state health officer in the county, said new infections will continue to fall as vaccinations rise and the community protects itself from COVID-19 variants. “We’re almost there,” Pino said. The virus and its mutations are blamed for nearly 2,100 deaths since March 2020, including 410 in August and another 231 in September. Other health data show a “sustained decrease” of new infections and hospitalizations, said Pino, who credited safety protocols and vaccinations for the improvement.
“Brevard County’s COVID-19 cases fall 33.6%; Florida cases down 32.5%” via Mike Stucka of Florida Today — Florida reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Oct. 10, adding 25,184 new cases. That’s down 32.5% from the previous week’s tally of 37,299 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.
—”Collier County’s COVID-19 cases fall nearly 44%” via Mike Stucka of USA Today Network
—”Leon County COVID-19 cases fall 25.8%” via Mike Stucka of USA Today Network
“Leon superintendent preps changes to mask mandate as school board reacts to state threats” via Ana Goña-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — As of Monday morning, Leon County Schools’ mandatory mask rule stands, but changes could be coming as soon as Tuesday evening at the next school board meeting. It’s been four days since the State Board of Education meeting, when Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told Leon and other school districts they had 48 business hours to comply with the Department of Health’s emergency rule about masks or else salaries and federal money would be withheld. While other districts like Indian River, Sarasota and Hillsborough gave in before the meeting and implemented parental authority on masks, Leon County continues to hold steady and is one of six counties in a lawsuit that challenges the state’s emergency rule.
“With COVID-19 quarantine now optional, few parents keep students home from Brevard schools” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — After the Florida Department of Health released a new rule leaving it up to parents to choose whether to isolate asymptomatic students who have been exposed to COVID-19, quarantines dropped steeply at Brevard Public Schools. Some hope this is a win for students whose learning was greatly interrupted by sometimes weekslong quarantines, while others worry it could provide an opportunity for the virus to spread once again unchecked through the schools to teachers, other kids and their families. In recent days, school-reported quarantines have roughly equaled the number of positive cases.
“Escambia County schools relax COVID-19 restrictions, bring back visitors and field trips” via the Pensacola News Journal — The Escambia County School District is allowing visitors to return to school campuses and resuming field trips as the number of new COVID-19 infections has continued to decrease. District officials announced that the relaxed procedures will start Tuesday. On-campus visitors, including volunteers, mentors and college recruiters, will be allowed back on campus. Field trips also will resume on a limited basis, though they will be contingent on district approval. Large student gatherings will still be limited during the school day on campus, and other precautionary protocols issued by the state will remain in place.
“At least 16 Polk County Public Schools teachers, staff have died of COVID-19 since the start of school” via Kimberly C. Moore of The Lakeland Ledger — Seven more Polk County Public Schools employees have died in the past month from COVID-19, bringing the total to at least 16 known deaths from the virus since school began Aug. 10, union officials said. “The pandemic continues to severely impact our community, and many public servants — including educators, health care staff, rescue workers and law enforcement officers — are experiencing tragic losses,” said Polk County Public Schools spokesman Jason Geary. Polk Education Association teachers’ union representative Anita Carson said people don’t realize how many are dying because the names are not kept in one place.
— 2022 —
“Is it Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day? DeSantis and Democratic Governor candidates disagree.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The polarization that defines American politics was on display Monday in Florida, as DeSantis touted Columbus Day and the Democrats seeking to defeat him next year commemorated Indigenous Peoples Day. The always simmering culture war divide came late in the afternoon, after most people had already observed, or not, their day of choice. It began when Congressman Crist tweeted. Twenty minutes later, Nikki Fried took to Twitter to offer her thoughts. “Christopher Columbus displayed courage, determination, and perseverance when he sailed the ocean blue more than 500 years ago. Happy Columbus Day!” DeSantis tweeted.
— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) October 11, 2021
“Charlie Crist unveils ‘Justice For All’ reform agenda” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Crist unveiled plans to reform criminal justice should he return to the Governor’s mansion. He will focus on the broader restoration of voting rights and cutting down gun violence in a state plagued by mass shootings. Early Monday, he released the first portions of his “Justice for All” agenda at a Tampa news conference. Crist said the agenda would serve as a chief pillar of his campaign for Governor, and promised further reform plans will be announced as he continues his tour of the state this week. Restoration of voting rights serves as the top point in Crist’s agenda.
“Crist nabs latest endorsement from Chris King” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — King is backing Crist in his 2022 run for Florida Governor. The Central Florida business leader and progressive activist was 2018 gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum’s running mate in 2018. He credited his endorsement to Crist’s inclusive platforms. “This is a breach-the-wall election. I have run against the forces of DeSantis and Trump, and I believe Charlie is the candidate that has all the skills, gift, and name identification across the state that can take a message of hope and healing, and take Florida in another direction,” King said. “Charlie cannot only win but be transformational. He knows what it takes to win a state as big as Florida. We need to be building a winning campaign and vision now, and that’s why I’m proud to join Charlie now.”
“Big bucks: Lauren Book brings in more than $245K in September” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Book raised more than $245,000 in September alone, marking another monster fundraising month in her Senate District 32 reelection bid. Her September haul is Book’s second-best this cycle, slightly trailing her February total of $250,000 as she considered a run for Chief Financial Officer. Book ultimately declined to pursue the CFO seat as she ascended to the Senate Democratic Leader position in a leadership shuffle earlier this year. Republican candidate Diana Bivona Belviso is challenging Book for the seat. She has yet to report any money raised since filing paperwork for the contest in March 2020.
—”Gayle Harrell nets $18,500 for unopposed reelection bid” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics
“Reggie Gaffney raises $44K more for SD 6 bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Gaffney, who is running to succeed term-limited Sen. Audrey Gibson in Senate District 6, has roughly $330,000 raised after just under three months as an active candidate. The bulk of the September money went to the political committee, which brought in $31,225. Rep. 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 Gaffney, who works across the aisle routinely.
“Manny Diaz Jr. has nearly $520K for unopposed SD 36 reelection” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Diaz now has nearly $520,000 to defend his seat representing Senate District 36. And he remains so far unopposed, with just over a year to go before the 2022 General Election. Last month, the Miami-Dade County Republican added $61,000 through his campaign and political committee, Better Florida Education. He also spent about $17,000, leaving him with a net September gain of about $44,000. The vast majority of the donations Diaz received, $47,000, came from the medical, health insurance and pharmaceutical sector.
Wyman Duggan, Jason Fischer back Jessica Baker in HD 12 — Republican Reps. Duggan and Fischer on Monday endorsed Baker in what’s shaping up to be a hotly contested GOP Primary for Northeast Florida-based House District 12. Baker, an Assistant State Attorney, filed to run for the seat at the beginning of the month and has already tallied endorsements from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams and U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Michael Waltz. She faces Republican former Rep. Lake Ray, who has banked endorsements from Sen. Aaron Bean and state Reps. Chuck Brannan, Cord Byrd and Chris Latvala, as well as Clay Yarborough, the HD 12 incumbent who is vacating the seat to run for state Senate.
—”Adam Brandon expands fundraising lead over Lori Hershey in HD 16” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
—”Alen Tomczak surpasses $100K raised in HD 66 campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics
—”Dana Trabulsy adds $13K in September to defend HD 84 seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
—“Unchallenged Juan Fernandez-Barquin raises $38,500 in September for HD 119 reelection” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics
—“Jim Mooney adds $10K in September for now-unopposed HD 120 defense” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
— CORONA NATION —
“As COVID-19 trends down, Anthony Fauci warns not to ‘declare victory’” via Hannah Farrow of POLITICO — COVID-19 cases are trending in the “right direction,” but people should be careful to not “declare victory,” the President’s top medical adviser, Fauci, said Sunday. The seven-day average shows cases below 100,000, hospitalizations below 10,000 and deaths below 2,000, he noted. “If you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in cases over a period of time, they can bounce back,” Fauci said. With the downward trends and upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Fauci cautioned not to “just throw your hands up and say it’s all over.” Fauci said vaccine mandates remain on the table for air travel, but he doesn’t see any immediate implementation.
“As Joe Biden’s vaccinate-or-test mandate approaches, questions arise over enforcement” via Heidi Przybyla and Laura Strickler of NBC News — Biden says his sweeping COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandate will boost the economy and save lives, but as businesses prepare for the new requirement, they’re wondering not only what will be in the regulation, but how it will be enforced. The mandate, which will apply to organizations with at least 100 employees and cover an estimated 80 million workers, has already drawn threats of lawsuits. But a greater challenge for the administration could lie within the agency tasked with ensuring compliance. Experts say OSHA’s small size relative to its responsibilities means it can’t enforce the rule by deploying a large number of inspectors.
“Boosters are complicating efforts to persuade the unvaccinated to get shots” via Jan Hoffman of The New York Times — Almost all the eligible adults who remain unvaccinated in the United States are hard-core refusers, and the arrival of boosters is making efforts to coax them as well as those who are still hesitating even more difficult. In the September vaccine monitor survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 71% of unvaccinated respondents said the need for boosters indicated that the vaccines were not working. Millions of holdouts have decided to get vaccinated over the past couple of months, many prodded at the last minute by mandates or anxiety over the highly transmissible Delta variant. The decline of new cases recently in many states is another marker of the success of the vaccine campaigns.
“Vaccine hesitancy, an issue among police officers, is also evident among firefighters.” via Eduardo Medina of The New York Times — Vaccine hesitancy among police officers in the United States has been one of the themes of pandemic news this year, but in some places, firefighters are joining the resistance. This week, hundreds of firefighters in Los Angeles filed a notice of intent to sue the city over its vaccine mandate, saying an Oct. 20 deadline to get vaccinated is “extreme and outrageous.” The notice, filed on Thursday, said each of the 871 firefighters would seek $2.5 million each if the lawsuit is filed, for a projected total of over $2.1 billion. A lawyer representing the group said that the city would have 45 days to evaluate the notice and that he expected to file the suit immediately after that period.
“U.S. travel restriction plans will highlight vaccination disparities in the Americas” via Nora Gámez Torres and Jaqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — New Biden administration travel restrictions aimed at preventing the unvaccinated from coming to the United States will be felt particularly hard in Latin America and the Caribbean. The new rules could also prohibit some vaccinated travelers from entering the country if they have received shots from vaccine makers that are not recognized by the WHO. The White House said last month that it was considering banning travelers who received COVID-19 vaccines that have not received emergency authorization from the WHO, including Russia’s Sputnik V and Cuba’s Soberana, which some countries in the region have used to augment their vaccine supplies.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Oil price jumps above $80 and natural gas races higher, turbocharged by supply shortages” via Amrith Ramkumar of The Wall Street Journal — The extended climb in oil prices is leaving some other industrial commodities behind, a divergence that reflects bets that energy supply shortages will offset any slowdown in the global economy. U.S. crude rose 1.5% to $80.52 a barrel on Monday, closing above $80 for the first time since late in 2014 and bringing its climb since the end of last October to 125%. Oil is now on track to outpace copper this year by the largest amount since 2002 and is topping an index of raw materials by the biggest margin in more than a decade, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Like oil, natural gas is also far outpacing other commodities.
“Goldman, JPMorgan say buy the dip as inflation is transitory” via Nikos Chrysoloras of Bloomberg — A Deutsche Bank AG survey of market professionals suggested that the majority of them see at least another 5% pullback in equities by the end of the year. There’s “a fairly strong consensus” that some kind of stagflation is more likely than not, according to the survey results published Monday. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase resoundingly disagree. “We believe this dip will prove a good buying opportunity, as 5% pullbacks usually have in the past,” Goldman strategists said. “We finally got some weakness after 330 days of no greater than 5%+ pullback, but we don’t expect it to last, and advise to buy into the dip,” JPMorgan strategists wrote.
“U.S. earnings seen strong, but supply chains and costs worry investors” via Caroline Valetkevitch of Reuters — Analysts see a 29.6% year-over-year increase in earnings for S&P 500 companies in the third quarter, according to IBES data from Refinitiv as of Friday, down from 96.3% growth in the second quarter. The third quarter forecast is down a touch from several weeks ago, a reversal of the recent trend for estimates. U.S. companies have so far this year kept profit margins at record levels because they have cut costs and passed along high prices to customers. Some investors are anxious to see how long that can go on. Also, while supply chain issues have grabbed investor attention, wage inflation is “just as big of a headwind (if not bigger,” BofA strategists wrote in a note Monday. Guidance from companies “could be ugly,” they added.
— MORE CORONA —
“Merck seeks first U.S. authorization for COVID-19 pill” via Reuters — Merck said it has applied for U.S. emergency use authorization for its drug to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19, putting it on course to become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease. An authorization from the FDA could help change the clinical management of COVID-19 as the pill can be taken at home. The treatment, molnupiravir, cut the rate of hospitalization and death by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease. The drugmaker has a U.S. government contract to supply 1.7 million courses at a price of $700 per course. Merck expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021.
“In search for COVID-19 origins, Hubei caves and wildlife farms draw new scrutiny” via Michael Standaert and Eva Dou of The Washington Post — Hundreds of caves are spread throughout the mountains of Enshi prefecture, an agricultural corner of China’s Hubei province. The most majestic, Tenglong, or “flying dragon,” is one of China’s largest karst cave systems, spanning 37 miles of passages that contain numerous bats. Nearby are small farms that collectively housed hundreds of thousands of wild mammals such as civets, ferret badgers and raccoon dogs before the pandemic, farm licenses show, The World Health Organization has requested access to China’s wildlife farming areas such as Enshi, calling it a key step in the search for the origins of the coronavirus. Beijing has denied the requests.
“COVID-19 and cancer: A dangerous combination, especially for people of color” via Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post — COVID-19 and cancer are a menacing mix for everyone, but especially for people of color from low-income communities. African Americans and Hispanics are about twice as likely as White people to die of COVID-19. Black cancer patients are at particularly high risk for complications and hospitalizations. As the pandemic unfolded, millions of cancer screening and diagnostic tests were canceled and postponed thousands of surgical procedures. COVID-19 and cancer share risk factors that disproportionately affect people of color: higher rates of underlying conditions such as diabetes or hypertension; a lack of health insurance or access to a primary-care physician; and jobs that can cause health problems.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“‘Frustration is at an all-time high’: Behind Biden’s falling poll numbers” via Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of The Washington Post — After an initial burst of support, Biden has seen his approval ratings fall significantly in recent months. A Washington Post average of polls since the start of September shows 44% of Americans approve of Biden’s job approval, while 49% disapprove. And polls suggest support for Biden has sunk notably among key Democratic constituencies: Blacks, Latinos, women and young people. Pew Research Center polls found Biden’s approval rating among Black Americans fell from 85% in July to 67% in September, while also falling 16 points among Hispanics and 14 points among Asians.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“White tiger and cheetah furs: A mess of Donald Trump gift exchanges” via Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times — The State Department’s inspector general is investigating allegations that Trump’s political appointees walked off with gift bags worth thousands of dollars that were meant for foreign leaders at the Group of 7 summit planned for Camp David in 2020, which was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The bags contained dozens of items purchased with government funds, including leather portfolios, pewter trays and marble trinket boxes emblazoned with the presidential seal or the signatures of Trump and his wife, Melania Trump. The inspector general continues to pursue the whereabouts of a $5,800 bottle of Japanese whiskey given to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo said he never received it.
“Trump wishes happy birthday to fatally shot Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt, calls for Justice Department to reopen investigation” via John Wagner of The Washington Post — “On that horrible day of January 6, Ashli arrived at the United States Capitol,” Trump said in a video to mark the birthday of Babbitt. “She was shot and tragically killed. Today would’ve been her birthday. Happy birthday, Ashli.” The video was reportedly played at an event Sunday in Freeport, Texas., where family and friends of Babbitt commemorated what would have been her 36th birthday. In the video, Trump called Babbitt a “truly incredible person” and made no mention of his own role on a day when thousands of his supporters violently stormed the Capitol, disrupting Congress’s count of the Electoral College votes in the November 2020 presidential election. The violent siege ultimately resulted in five deaths.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
“Palm Beach police ball will enrich Trump, whose Jan. 6 mob attacked officers” via S.V. Date and Ryan J. Reilly of HuffPost — The Palm Beach Police and Fire Foundation is planning a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago this winter that will likely put some quarter-million dollars into Trump’s cash registers, despite the former President’s incitement of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol that led to the deaths of five police officers and injuries to 140 more. The charity would not disclose how much it will be paying Trump’s for-profit South Florida club to host the Jan. 22, 2022, “Policemen’s and Fire Fighters’ Ball.” However, tax filings with the IRS show that it paid $235,012 in 2020, $214,760 in 2019, and $262,261 in 2018 in facility rental costs for the same event in those years were also held at Mar-a-Lago.
“Rudy Giuliani associate from South Florida faces trial in campaign finance scheme” via Tom Hays and Larry Neumeister of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Lev Parnas is going on trial in a federal case that makes him out to be more of an ordinary grifter than a whistleblower who would bring down Trump and Giuliani. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in a trial in which Parnas and a co-defendant, Ukraine-born investor Andrey Kukushkin, are accused of making illegal campaign contributions to U.S. politicians to further their business interests.
— CRISIS —
“U.S. Capitol Police’s failure to share intelligence internally crippled its response to Jan. 6 attack, former official says” via Mariana Alfaro of The Washington Post — A former senior official in the U.S. Capitol Police accused two of the department’s top officials of failing to properly share vital intelligence in the days ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, crippling the response to the attack. In a blistering letter to Congress, the former official claims that Assistant Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman and acting assistant chief Sean Gallagher received an intelligence report on Dec. 21 that had specific warnings. In the 16-page letter, dated Sept. 28, the former official claims that Pittman and Gallagher deliberately never shared this December intelligence report with other department officials or used it to update security assessments provided to Capitol Police officers.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Dems thought giving voters cash was the key to success. So what happened?” via Sam Stein of POLITICO — When they took power this past winter, Democrats committed not to repeat what many viewed as a critical misstep of the Obama years. The legislation they passed would do two things well: make sure that the benefits were frontloaded and that the impact was tangible. The result was a COVID-19 relief package that included direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, $300 per week in unemployment insurance supplements, and an expansion of the child tax credit for a year. Nine months later, whatever political benefits were supposed to accrue from that package have seemingly faded. The public’s support for direct payments has been overtaken by its concerns about the lingering pandemic.
“Washington battle over Biden’s spending plans split Central Florida Democrats” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida’s three Democratic Congress members have been staunch allies since arriving in Washington in 2017. But when it comes to Biden and the Party’s biggest priorities, the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan and the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, they find themselves on quite different tracks. U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Darren Soto have both expressed full support for Build Back Better, which in its current form fights climate change, allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices, provides for free community college tuition and expands child tax credits and paid family medical leave. All would be paid for by increasing taxes on those who make more than $400,000 a year.
“Bethune’s statue unveiled; shows ‘the great diversity of this state’” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — When the 11-foot-tall marble statue of Mary McLeod Bethune is placed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. early next year, it will mark a milestone in Florida’s history and represent the state’s growing diversity, state Sen. Perry Thurston said. Just as important, Thurston said, is that the white statue bearing Bethune’s likeness will be the first statue commissioned by a state to represent a Black individual in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, where each state has two statues to represent prominent people. Thurston then joined hundreds of people to watch the unveiling of the 3-ton statue inside the News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“Answers to public questions about Broward trash disposal will have to wait as Ron Bergeron v. Waste Management trial is delayed” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — A blockbuster courtroom showdown over a $525-million acquisition made by Waste Management to reestablish its Broward trash disposal monopoly, set to begin today, has been postponed until next year. The trial directly pits defendant Waste Management against Bergeron Environmental and Recycling, owned by prominent Davie developer Bergeron. He sued five years ago, contending Waste Management destroyed his business when it quietly bought out his then-partner, Sun Recycling. That business was called Sun Bergeron, and it had siphoned away a significant portion of Waste Management’s municipal garbage customers. Sun Recycling, now known as LGL Recycling, is also a defendant along with principal owner and Palm Beach resident Anthony Lomangino and several other LGL executives.
“Miami decides to fire police chief Art Acevedo and end a tumultuous but short tenure” via Charles Rabin and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — City Manager Art Noriega moved to fire embattled Police Chief Acevedo Monday night, ending weeks of speculation and tumult at City Hall and after a pair of circuslike public hearings in which commissioners lashed out at the chief for everything from a misguided statement he made about the “Cuban Mafia,” to the tight jumpsuit he wore during a fundraiser in another city. Technically, the manager suspended Acevedo pending termination, giving him a choice to resign or have a hearing before the city’s five commissioners, the majority of whom have publicly questioned his brief six-month time at the helm.
“Judge rules that Opa-locka illegally fired whistleblower who helped FBI probe” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — A former Opa-locka employee who blew the whistle on corruption at City Hall was unlawfully fired in 2017 in retaliation for speaking out, a Miami-Dade circuit judge ruled Sunday. Delia Kennedy, a former grants administrator for the city, was terminated by then-city manager Yvette Harrell shortly after being outed as a grand jury witness in an FBI probe into major municipal corruption. In a 21-page ruling, Judge Vivianne Del Rio defended Kennedy’s whistleblower status and blasted the city for laying her off in apparent retaliation and for arguing in court that there were legitimate reasons for her firing.
“After tragedy, Surfside Mayor comforts families, stokes feuds and floats a conspiracy” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — This summer, the Surfside Mayor found an enticing conspiracy theory that sought to connect the June 23 death in a Spanish prison of antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee with the Surfside building collapse. At the heart of the theory, which assumes the building was deliberately brought down, is a screen shot of a (likely fake) tweet suggesting McAfee was storing data near the tower and an online post suggesting McAfee owned a unit in the building (which he didn’t). Burkett’s interest was piqued. So he texted Town Manager Andrew Hyatt in early August, suggesting Surfside police look into whether the tweet was real. “I think it’s as good a theory as any other,” Burkett told the Herald.
“Ken Welch says he has evolved since previous comments on LGBTQ, women’s rights” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — In 2008, Welch was in support of a Pinellas County ordinance to protect gays, lesbians and bisexuals, but was in favor of a “balance” that included exemptions for religious groups. In his bid to become the next mayor of St. Petersburg, Welch now has endorsements from groups he once opposed: the National Organization for Women, Equality Florida and Stonewall Democrats. Excerpts from his past letters to the editor and quotes as an elected official have circulated on social media. “Let’s just say I was more conservative at that time,” Welch said. “And life experience should teach you things and educate you. And I’ve been educated to some of those realities.”
What Kevin Sweeny is reading — “John Delaney tapped to become next permanent president of Flagler College” via Colleen Michele Jones of The Florida Times-Union — Delaney, former president of the University of North Florida, is poised to become the fifth president of Flagler College. Delaney was appointed in July to assume the post on an interim basis following Joseph Joyner‘s retirement. Joyner, previously the superintendent for the St. Johns County School District, led the four-year private institution in St. Augustine from 2017 through June. Delaney accepted the job on a one-year contract as the college board’s presidential search committee launched a national search for a permanent leader. But it appears that search has led the committee back to Delaney as its top choice.
“Four Seasons in 2 cities: Jacksonville and Nashville on different tracks for luxury hotel” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — In downtown Nashville, Tennessee, construction is in the final stretch for a 40-story tower that will be a Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences when it opens in early 2022 near the Cumberland River. The view from the top of the tower will overlook a bustling downtown where 15,000 people live in the heart of “Music City.” Jacksonville, which often compares itself to Nashville as a peer city, might also become a Four Seasons city. Unlike Nashville, where private financing is footing the entire bill, a Four Seasons Hotel and Residences in Jacksonville would require about $114 million in economic incentives and upgrades to public facilities.
— TOP OPINION —
“Sal Nuzzo: Policymakers, keep your foot on the gas …” via Florida Politics — Small businesses have sprouted in the wake of the pandemic as occupational licensing schemes have been reduced. Technology companies are looking to Miami as a new hub for their locations as regulatory systems get streamlined. And our educational achievement gains lead the nation as more and more parents leverage the advantages of school choice in their communities. It is against this backdrop that The James Madison Institute released our 2022 Policy Priorities, and our message for Florida’s policymakers as they return to the job of legislating is this — keep your foot on the gas. Continue to seek every opportunity to make the Sunshine State the best place to live, work and start a business.
— OPINIONS —
“Florida teachers are quitting their jobs in droves — and who can blame them?” via Lizette Alvarez of The Washington Post — Two months ago, DeSantis forbade school district administrators to require masks. Now, school boards that mandate them are being fined. They cannot force COVID-19-exposed students to quarantine. And Florida almost lost out on $2.3 billion in federal aid for schools this fall because it was the only state that chose not to apply for the third round of COVID-19 relief. After a swift and loud outcry, the DeSantis administration reversed course on Thursday. School boards, staff members and teachers across Florida say they feel their jobs put them in danger. Statewide, there were 5,000 teachers and 3,700 support-staff vacancies in early August. There is also a major substitute teacher crisis, not to mention an intense shortage of bus drivers.
“The leading GOP candidate for 2024 continues to rationalize political violence” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — There’s no mystery undergirding the death of Babbitt in the Capitol on Jan. 6. She was part of a large group of rioters who swept into the building with the aim of preventing the finalization of Biden’s presidential election victory. Trump is publicly defending and helping reframe the reputation of a woman who was part of an effort to engage in political violence on his behalf. By extension, he’s defending and reframing the violence itself.
“Steve Scalise’s election rhetoric is no less harmful than Trump’s” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Scalise is intentionally trying not to say that Biden won fairly because that position is anathema to the loudest part of his Party’s base. And to avoid saying that, he’s seizing not upon unproven claims of fraud but a similarly inflated assertion that states made it too easy to vote. He doesn’t allege that this led to more fraud or anything along those lines, though others have; he’s simply claiming that because states made it easier to vote, that was the equivalent of an illegitimate Biden win, or an election being stolen.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
The head of VISIT FLORIDA gives lawmakers the naked truth about the Sunshine State’s clothing-optional beaches.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— In his last cycle as a legislator, Democratic Rep Joseph Geller calls for reforms to Florida’s hate crime law.
— And some lawmakers express concerns with transparency throughout Florida’s redistricting process.
— On the Sunrise interview is Geller, joined by the Florida Hate Crimes Coalition this morning for a news conference to discuss expanding protections under the state’s hate-crime law.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“How the ultrarich are traveling during COVID-19, according to their travel advisers” via Natalie B. Compton of The Washington Post — Backlash hasn’t stopped the wealthy from returning to travel. After a year of being confined to their one, two, or three homes, they are spending more than ever on vacations to make up for lost time. So, what does a dream pandemic vacation look like when you’ve already been everywhere and bought everything? That’s the question travel advisers for ultra-high-net-worth individuals have to ask themselves on a regular basis. With the ultrarich spending more money on travel than ever, there is a growing shortage of high-end travel goods and services.
“Superman comes out as bisexual in DC Comics’ latest” via James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter — DC Comics’ current Superman, Jon Kent, son of Clark Kent, comes out as bisexual in the latest issue of Superman: Son of Kal-El. In the Nov. 9 issue, the son of Clark and Lois takes his life in a new direction. “I’ve always said everyone needs heroes, and everyone deserves to see themselves in their heroes, and I’m very grateful DC and Warner Bros. share this idea,” said writer Tom Taylor. “Superman’s symbol has always stood for hope, for truth, and for justice. Today, that symbol represents something more. Today, more people can see themselves in the most powerful superhero in comics.”
“Disney World reveals how much its new line-skipping system will cost.” via Brooks Barnes of The New York Times — Disney theme park fans, prepare to dig a little deeper. Walt Disney World released more information about its new paid line-skipping system, and complete access will add roughly $40 to the price of daily park entry, which already costs $109 to $159 for adults, depending on the day. The system will debut on Oct. 19. All ticket buyers will now have free access to a sophisticated new app, Disney Genie. It works much like the GPS in your car, creating an itinerary based on preferences and updating as conditions change.
“Twitter now allows you to ‘remove followers’” via Nexstar Wire Service — Twitter announced Monday that all users will have a new level of control when it comes to managing their followers. Last month, Twitter Support announced that they were testing the ability to remove followers manually without blocking them. Now anyone can trim unwanted followers by going to their profile, clicking “followers,” then clicking the three-dot icon and selecting “remove this follower.” Other social media apps, such as Instagram, have already offered the tool as a more surreptitious way of keeping one’s content out of the feeds of unwanted users. Previously, a blocked Twitter user would see that they had been barred from seeing someone’s tweets and interacting with them, which could give rise to angry retaliation on other platforms.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to our dear friend, Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Lauren Book, as well as Sen. Shevrin Jones, former Rep. Jimmie Smith, Allyce Heflin, Jimmy Midyette, and Doug Kaplan of Gravis Marketing.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.