Good Friday morning.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we ask our loyal Sunburn fans — particularly those in The Process — to let us know what you’re grateful for this year. We will publish the comments in our Tuesday edition — the last one for the holiday week. Please send your emails to [email protected].
DeSanta Claus is back.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is stuffing a few days off into state employees’ stockings this year, and they won’t have to wait long to enjoy the first one.
He announced that state offices will close their doors on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — Nov. 23 — as well as Dec. 23 and Dec. 30, giving workers a little extra time to spend with loved ones. These days are in addition to the days off employees will receive on Thanksgiving proper, the Friday after it, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s.
“Our state employees have worked hard throughout the year, especially over the past few months responding to Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole,” DeSantis said.
“Closing state offices on Nov. 23, Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 will provide state employees with some much-deserved time with their families to enjoy the holiday season. The First Lady and I are thankful for the dedication our state employees have demonstrated to helping the people of Florida.”
Giving state workers extra days off became somewhat of a tradition during former Gov. Rick Scott’s first years in office. DeSantis has maintained the tradition since he took office in 2019, granting state employees two additional days off each December.
The state’s biggest lobbying firms may be scooping up well over $2 million a quarter, but there’s still plenty of work to go around for the rest of the lobby corps.
In fact, many of the firms lingering just outside the Top 5 are putting up numbers that could go toe-to-toe with the bluebloods if team size is considered.
Here’s a brief rundown of how the rest of the firms in the Top 15 fared in legislative lobbying revenues last quarter.
—No. 6: Rubin Turnbull & Associates earned $2.06 million
—No. 7: Greenberg Traurig earned $1.79 million
—No. 8: Corcoran Partners earned $1.61 million
—No. 9: The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners earned $1.53 million
—No. 10: Metz Husband & Daughton earned $1.44 million
—No. 11: Smith Bryan & Myers earned $1.34 million
—No. 12: Johnson & Blanton earned $1.21 million
—No. 13: Floridian Partners earned $1.03 million
—No. 14: PooleMcKinley earned $1 million
—No. 15: The Legis Group earned $860,000
Small businesses across the country are pooling their collective might to encourage the next Congress to modernize the Small Business Administration.
An example of SBA’s archaism: It still uses fax machines. It has also struggled during times of great need, such as when it was processing COVID-19 relief loans for businesses.
This week, thousands of small-business owners from all 50 states are launching a campaign called “10,000 Small Business Voices” to emphasize the need for an SBA “built for today’s economy.” The coalition includes nearly 200 small-business owners from Florida.
The group, led by Goldman Sachs, says that modernizing and reauthorizing the SBA can ensure small businesses can access proper capital programs that meet their needs and expand federal procurement opportunities.
They are also clamoring for more responsive support from the agency and a better overall communications strategy so that small businesses know about the resources available to them.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@SpeakerRyan: I tip my cap as I welcome @speakerpelosi: to the former Speaker’s club and congratulate her on a historic career in the House.
Thank you, Madam Speaker @SpeakerPelosi for being an unwavering source of hope and leadership.
Your career in public service inspires generations. Although I am physically taller than you, I look up to you as a friend, colleague, and fighter for democracy. pic.twitter.com/pENDI1HBIK
— U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, Jr. (@RepAlLawsonJr) November 17, 2022
Consultant: Senator, it’s official. We’ve failed to take the senate despite such an easy map.
Rick Scott: I guess our plan to challenge Mitch is laughable now. What do we do?
— Eric Hartmane (@erichartmane) November 15, 2022
—@Paul_Renner: @RepMikeGrant’s skill in moving bills through the legislative process and management of floor debate positions our 85-member supermajority for success.
—@jacobogles: Assistant Speaker @RepKClark could ascend. If we see a complete leadership shake-up, it could mean more dominoes fall. If there’s any Florida angle here (and there always is) it could mean openings for ranking member on bigger committees. Seniority plays a role there.
—@MaryEllenKlas: Judge (Mark) Walker blocks Florida’s Stop WOKE law from taking effect in state universities. “This is positively dystopian,” he wrote and quoted Orwell: It should go without saying that “[i]f liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
—@Mdixon55: Every time he releases an opinion, I eagerly read it hoping it will FINALLY be the one that drops an “Ernest Goes to Camp” reference
—@Jason_Garcia: Imagine a Governor who, in a meeting with top aides, would ask, unprompted, “Hey are there any giant corporations dodging taxes?”
One of the last views from inside my office at the old Tallahassee Democrat building, which is now being retrofitted into a self storage facility. pic.twitter.com/igI51mPyTk
— Jim Rosica (@JimRosicaFL) November 17, 2022
— DAYS UNTIL —
The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 4; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 7; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 16; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 16; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 18; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 18; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 19; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 29; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 45; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 68; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 75; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 91; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 92; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 109; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 126; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 146; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 151; 2023 Session Sine Die — 168; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 168; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 196; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 245; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 252; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 350; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 497; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 553; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 616; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 616; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 658; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 721; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 819; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 896. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,085.
— TOP STORY —
“Ron DeSantis’ congressional map helped Republicans to U.S. House majority, but how much?” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Miami Herald — DeSantis has touted what he called the “greatest Republican victory in the history of the state of Florida” up and down the ballot, including the congressional victories. DeSantis’ office also played a significant role in how the congressional districts were crafted.
Florida’s Fair Districts constitutional amendment prohibits the Legislature from drawing districts that reduce minority voting strength. But the districts proposed by DeSantis were accused of diluting that power.
After a back-and-forth with the Legislature, the final districts for North Florida were similar to the initial draft from DeSantis’ office. Al Lawson ran in the new Congressional District 2, where he lost to his Republican opponent by 20 points.
Matt Isbell, a Democratic redistricting expert, said that had the district been kept intact, Florida Republicans would almost certainly have one less member of their delegation. Even a different configuration of the district, passed by the House, would have likely given Democrats a competitive chance and kept Black communities in Jacksonville together, Isbell said.
The one district that likely would have gone for Democrats even in a difficult year would be the North Florida district that was eroded, Isbell said. Other districts that previously leaned in favor of Democrats or were competitive were adjusted during redistricting in a way that gave Republicans a voting advantage, Isbell said, including districts in Tampa Bay and Central Florida. But he said even those seats would have likely gone for Republicans in the statewide sweep.
“GOP to DeSantis: Thanks for helping us flip the House” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — DeSantis was heavily criticized last spring when he pushed Republican lawmakers to adopt congressional maps that were much more friendly to the GOP. Republican lawmakers were initially reluctant to go along with the governor and GOP legislative leaders even punished rank-and-file members for siding with DeSantis. But Republicans in Florida and nationally are now praising the governor for strong-arming his own party to approve his congressional maps, which netted Florida Republicans four more congressional seats.
“‘Positively dystopian’: Florida judge blocks DeSantis’ anti-woke law for colleges” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — A federal judge on Thursday halted a key piece of the “Stop-WOKE” Act touted by DeSantis, blocking state officials from enforcing what he called a “positively dystopian” policy restricting how lessons on race and gender can be taught in colleges and universities. The 138-page order from Chief U.S. District Judge Walker is being heralded as a major win for campus free speech by the groups who challenged the state — but the decision is likely to be appealed by the DeSantis administration and university leaders. The temporary injunction granted by Walker over the anti-woke law has significant implications for policies in Florida, including a pending university tenure review rule that requires professors to abide by it.
“DeSantis administration spent months investigating prosecutors before Andrew Warren suspension” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — DeSantis’ controversial decision to suspend a Democratic prosecutor came after a more than six-month probe by administration public safety czar Larry Keefe to try and find state attorneys he believed were “not enforcing the law,” records show. Court documents released this month outline that Warren’s ouster was part of a larger effort by DeSantis to root out prosecutors who publicly said they wouldn’t follow state laws. The records are part of a federal lawsuit Warren filed against DeSantis over his suspension.
“DeSantis may be Republicans’ best chance to prevent Donald Trump’s return” via The Economist — At just 44, DeSantis represents a new generation of populist conservatism, mirroring Trump but without all the broken glass. Some like to compare him to another Ronald Reagan for his conservative stances on social issues, but in his public appearances and recent victory speech, DeSantis is trying to portray himself as a Republican version of John F. Kennedy, with a glamorous wife and young family. The presidential comparisons are still premature. There are questions about what DeSantis stands for rather than against. But he is worth watching, because of the attention he is receiving and what he shows about how the Republican Party may eventually look after Trump, whenever that day comes. One way to think of DeSantis is as a halfway house for Republicans who want to escape Trumpworld but see that the boundaries of the old territory have moved.
“Trump’s chances of beating DeSantis as polls paint worrying picture” via Gerrard Kaonga of Newsweek — The latest polling data has suggested voters would prefer DeSantis over Trump to represent the Republican Party in the 2024 Presidential Election. Trump may also find that some of his previous donors are now eyeing the possibility of supporting DeSantis instead. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ronald Lauder, who owns half the Estée Lauder fortune, told CNBC the billionaire won’t help finance Trump’s latest presidential campaign. Other billionaires who have publicly stated they won’t back Trump for 2024 include Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Citadel founder Ken Griffin and businessman Andy Sabin. Thomas Peterffy, the founder of the Interactive Brokers Group Inc., said while he’d back Trump if the former President received the GOP nomination, he would do everything he could to make sure another Republican gets the coveted spot. The Guardian also reported that media mogul Rupert Murdoch had “made it clear … we cannot back another run for the White House.”
“Cord Byrd says there’s ‘plenty of time’ for possible DeSantis run in 2024” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Byrd says the “Nation’s Governor” has “plenty of time” before any such run would have to begin. “When I travel around the country and the state, people call him the Nation’s Governor. He’s going to continue to do great things for Florida and be an example to the nation,” Byrd told Fox News’ Harris Faulkner on Thursday. “There’s still plenty of time for 2024 and we’re getting ready for the Legislative Session here in Florida and he’s going to continue to be a great Governor.”
— STATEWIDE —
“DeSantis claims ‘freedom first’ policies drive Florida’s tourism boom” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Tourists continue to stream to the Sunshine State — and Gov. DeSantis credits “freedom first” policies for the out-of-state surge. “Our freedom first policies continue to bring visitors to Florida from across the country and around the world,” DeSantis said. “This increase in tourism will support our entire economy, especially small businesses that have been built from the ground up by hardworking Floridians.” DeSantis’ affirmation of the Sunshine State’s appeal to tourists is backed up by numbers, via VISIT FLORIDA. The state tourism agency estimates 35.1 million people visited Florida between July and September this year, good for a 6.9% uptick over the same period last year. Of those visitors, 32.6 million were domestic.
“House Speaker-designate Paul Renner names two to leadership team” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Ahead of the Organizational Session next week, House Speaker-designate Renner has named Reps. Chuck Clemons and Michael Grant to his leadership team. Clemons will be Speaker Pro Tempore, and Grant will be Majority Leader. Grant, a Port Charlotte Republican, has served two different stints in the House, the first from 2004 to 2008, and the current one since 2016. He’ll now be responsible for corralling the GOP’s 85 members — the most for Republicans since Reconstruction. “The best leaders in our process excel at guiding members through the challenges and opportunities they face during their time of service in Tallahassee,” Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, said of Grant’s appointment.
“The Legislature will have more Black GOP lawmakers in both chambers” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Now the Legislative Black Caucus has increased to four GOP members overall for the 2022-24 term. Three African Americans who are Republicans in the House. And in the Senate, Corey Simon is the only Black Republican lawmaker. In addition to Rep. Webster Barnaby, the other two new Republican members in the Black Caucus from the Florida House are Berny Jacques and Kiyan Michael. Overall, the Black Caucus is made up of 29 members from both major political parties; most of the Black members are from the Democratic Party. The Senate has seven Black lawmakers; the House has 22. Sen. Shevrin Jones told the Phoenix that “for the first time in a long time, in both chambers, Black legislators make up the majority of the Democratic caucus.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Nancy Pelosi to step down from House leadership, stay in Congress” via Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press — House Speaker Pelosi said Thursday that she will not seek a leadership position in the new Congress, ending a historic run as the first woman with the gavel. In a spirited speech on the House floor, Pelosi announced that she will step aside after leading Democrats for nearly 20 years and in the aftermath of the brutal attack on her husband, Paul, last month in their San Francisco home — and after having done “the people’s work.” The California Democrat, a pivotal figure in U.S. history and perhaps the most powerful Speaker in modern times, said she would remain in Congress as the representative from San Francisco, a position she has held for 35 years, when the new Congress convenes in January.
“Plaudits pour in” via Axios — “History will note she is the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history,” Joe Biden declared in his tribute to Pelosi. “With her leading the way, you never worry about whether a bill will pass. If she says she has the votes, she has the votes. Every time.” “We wouldn’t have survived Trump except for the fact that Nancy was the bulwark,” California liberal John Burton told Axios. “She’s the savior of the goddamn country.” Sen. Chris Murphy’s unforgettable Pelosi moment came at a caucus meeting in 2010 when panicked Democrats “lined up at the microphone to tell Pelosi that it was time for us to give up on the Affordable Care Act.” “I watched her single-handedly WILL the caucus to act. I watched her mettle change the entire mood of the room,” Murphy tweeted. “I had never seen any person do what Pelosi did that night. I’ve never seen it since. There hasn’t been, and will not be, anyone like her.”
—”Florida’s congressional delegation reacts to news Pelosi will step away from leadership” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
“The two biggest challenges facing Pelosi’s successor” via Li Zhou of Vox — One of the challenges of leadership is uniting a wide-ranging Democratic caucus that includes both staunch progressives like the Squad and more moderate members like Rep. Josh Gottheimer, one of the heads of the bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus. Pelosi managed to build trust and influence across the different factions in the caucus and keep people united on tough votes. The new leader will have to prove that they’re able to stand their ground against the GOP, which is set to mount an aggressive and chaotic series of investigations against the Biden administration in the next two years. That’s likely to include outspoken pushback against these inquiries, and a focus on criticizing bad-faith efforts to investigate and even impeach administration officials.
“Hakeem Jeffries, poised to succeed Pelosi, would make history.” via Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times — U.S. Rep. Jeffries, the New Yorker poised to succeed Pelosi as the leader of House Democrats, is a political liberal, a former corporate lawyer and an exceedingly careful tactician who rose to the pinnacle of power representing some of the nation’s most iconic Black neighborhoods. If he secures his ascent in the coming weeks, he will become the first new House Democratic leader in two decades and make history: No Black politician has ever led a House or Senate caucus for either party. His elevation would also further consolidate power in his home borough of Brooklyn, where he represents a plurality Black district and lives less than a mile from the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer.
“Border policy questions loom as Senate works on funding, ‘Dreamers’” via Caroline Coudriet of Roll Call — A federal judge in Washington struck down a pandemic-related border directive known as Title 42 on Tuesday, ordering the Biden administration to stop expelling migrants at the border without hearing their asylum claims. The government requested a delay, and now has until Dec. 21 to wind down the controversial policy, which Republicans already latched onto to block legislative action earlier this year. That ruling comes as Congress faces a Dec. 16 deadline to fund the government. Senate Democrats also announced they would prioritize legislation to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during the lame-duck session. “If you think things are bad now, they’re about to get worse,” GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said on the Senate floor Thursday.
“Republicans lay out Joe Biden investigations, but Democrat-aligned groups promise counteroffensive” via Kenneth P. Vogel, Katie Rogers and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — On Capitol Hill, the incoming Republican Chair of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, said the panel would focus on trying to link Biden to the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden. The Hunter Biden investigation is only one element of a broader planned effort by House Republicans to use their new oversight powers to examine a wide range of Biden administration figures and policies. The White House, which is building its own defense team, has quietly signaled support for some of the efforts by nonprofit groups with ties to some of the biggest donors in Democratic politics. The efforts appear intended to take pressure off the administration by pushing back in a more adversarial manner than Biden’s team on sensitive subjects.
“What GOP control of the House means for inflation, taxes, health care” via The Wall Street Journal —The end of a unified Democratic government will prevent Biden from following through on key 2020 campaign goals, including raising tax rates on corporations and high-income households. Some GOP lawmakers have signaled a willingness to use negotiations over raising or suspending the nation’s debt limit as a way to demand spending cuts. Once the debt limit of roughly $31.4 trillion is reached and the Treasury Department exhausts emergency measures, lawmakers would need to raise the limit, or else the government would be forced to delay or suspend payments on its obligations, potentially causing a default on bond payments. Such a scenario would likely rattle financial markets and the U.S. economy, which faces a heightened risk of recession.
“GOP plans to punish ‘woke’ Wall Street” via Zachary Warmbrodt and Sam Sutton of POLITICO — Wall Street loves Republican tax cuts and deregulation. It’s going to hate the GOP’s plans for 2023. Republican lawmakers, who will be in the House majority come January, are pressing party leaders to send a message to big financial firms: Stop appeasing the left with “woke” business practices, keep financing fossil fuels and cut ties with China. Republicans will have committee gavels and subpoena powers to back that up.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Jan. 6 committee interviews former Trump Secret Service agent Bobby Engel” via Rebecca Shabad, Ali Vitali and Ryan Nobles of NBC News — The Jan. 6 committee on Thursday interviewed Engel, who was the lead Secret Service agent for then-President Trump when the insurrection took place, three sources familiar told NBC News. Engel could provide key testimony related to information shared by Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She delivered bombshell testimony before the committee during a public hearing this summer. Hutchinson testified that she was told Trump tried to grab the steering wheel inside an armored SUV and lunged toward his security detail when he learned that he would not be taken to the Capitol following his rally on Jan. 6.
“Trump Is trying to intimidate Republicans into backing his 2024 bid. It’s not working” via Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone — In the days running up to the election, Trump made a series of phone calls to GOP lawmakers and other elected officials, demanding that they endorse him before he announced he’s running — or at least right after, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations. The president said he was tracking who endorsed him early, adding that “those who waited too long” were “not gonna like” what happens when he wins. Trump also said he was keeping tabs on who jumped ship for Florida DeSantis or other potential 2024 Primary challengers, the sources say. But Trump’s efforts to extort Republicans into supporting his third presidential campaign are not going well. He’s secured endorsements from die-hard loyalists, but the party’s heavy hitters — even some who have previously been quick to stand behind him — have been hesitant to hop on board. When Trump announced his candidacy from Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, Madison Cawthorn, the scandal-ridden outgoing representative from North Carolina, was the only member of Congress who bothered to attend.
“Trump’s running for President again. Does that get him off the legal hook?” Via Tierney Sneed of CNN — Regardless of whether Trump’s criminal exposure politically undermines his campaign or rallies his supporters, the investigations that could implicate him — which also include federal and state-level probes into 2020 election subversion gambits — won’t likely pose any legal barrier to his candidacy. It is unlikely that even a conviction would disqualify him from the ballot, according to legal experts. On the flip side, Trump’s candidacy for President doesn’t, by itself, give him any added legal protections in the probes. But it does create a more complicated political and practical environment for investigators to navigate.
“Trump Org. cleaned up illegal practices when Trump became president, ex-CFO testifies” via Erin Durkin of POLITICO — The Trump Organization engaged to clean up its act and stop fraudulent tax practices to avoid scrutiny when Trump became President, the company’s former chief financial officer told a jury Thursday. Allen Weisselberg, a longtime top executive at the Trump Organization, took the stand for his second day of testimony at the company’s criminal tax fraud trial in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan. The company is accused of giving Weisselberg and other executives off-the-books perks including apartments, luxury cars and private school tuition, a scheme Weisselberg detailed on the stand. He said that he and other executives knew their practices were illegal — and brought them to an end after Trump took office.
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“Pompano Vice Mayor Beverly Perkins accused of misusing leftover campaign funds in 2020 election” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Pompano Beach Vice Mayor Perkins, under investigation by Broward’s top government watchdog, is accused of misusing thousands of dollars in leftover campaign funds following her successful campaign to be re-elected in 2020. The Broward Office of the Inspector General says it found that Perkins and her treasurer made 22 post-election expenditures totaling $7,381.92, including J. Mark’s Restaurant and Bar, Costco and Dollar Tree. She told investigators that one expense, to The Lion Press, was for car magnets to promote voting for her in the election. But she did not comment when asked why the magnets would include “Vice Mayor” on them when she was not named the Vice Mayor until after the election.
“Dale Holness’ former campaign consultant sentenced to 15 months in prison for COVID-19 relief fraud” via Shira Moolten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A campaign consultant for former Broward Mayor Holness was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in prison for lying on a loan application for COVID-19 relief funds and fraudulently receiving over $200,000 from the federal government. “I am satisfied with the judge’s ruling,” Omar Smith, 42, of Royal Palm Beach, said in a text message Wednesday night. Smith pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. He faced a maximum sentence of 30 years and a $1 million fine. After his 15 months in prison, he will serve two years of supervised release.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“Orange County Commissioners vote to continue legal fight for rent control” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Commissioners decided by a 5-2 vote to continue the legal fight for rent control. The public vote followed a 90-minute executive session between the board and Orange County’s legal advisers. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Commissioner Emily Bonilla, who introduced the measure intended to cap rent hikes for a year. After the so-called “shade” meeting, allowed by law for a public body to discuss litigation strategy in private, Commissioners reconvened in open session to hear public comment — and all 10 speakers who took the microphone advocated for the board to keep fighting. All cited the overwhelming voter support for the issue, which won nearly 60% of the ballots Nov. 8.
“UCF gets $10M donation for its new nursing school” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — UCF is $10 million closer in its fight to stop the state’s nursing shortage. The school announced a new donation Thursday that will be used toward constructing a new, larger nursing school in Lake Nona to churn out more graduates. Dr. Philips Charities gave the money, the largest donation in the UCF College of Nursing’s history. “Our mission is to give with purpose, and the purpose could not be more clear here — nurses save lives, and our community has a great need for more talented nurses. Their hands, minds and hearts impact us all in some way,” said Ken Robinson, president and CEO of Dr. Phillips, Inc., and the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation.
“Melbourne City Manager Shannon Lewis resigning in January to take private-sector job” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — Melbourne City Manager Lewis is stepping down from her post in January to take an undisclosed private-sector job. “I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have served the City of Melbourne for the past eight years. The last four as City Manager have been particularly rewarding,” Lewis wrote in her resignation letter, dated Thursday. “I appreciate your steady leadership and support and believe we have accomplished significant beneficial projects and programs for our citizens,” Lewis wrote. “The city staff care about the community and are remarkably professional, capable and caring. I am proud to have worked alongside them,” she wrote.
“Local nonprofit is developing a building model to help stem Brevard homelessness” via Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — As the affordable housing crisis continues with no clear end in sight, one local nonprofit is proposing an approach that will hopefully address the issue or, at the very least, mitigate it. Community of Hope is developing a land trust model to help Brevard residents pay less to rent or buy a home. It does this by removing the cost of the land from the bill of sale, leaving only the expenses of building homes as the main hurdle for people needing an affordable place to live. “Community of Hope has been toying with the idea for the last three to four years,” said Drew Warren, the nonprofit’s executive director.
“Daytona Beach residents fed up with persistent flooding” via Eileen Zaffiro-Kean of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A week ago, the nation’s attention was zeroed in on Tropical Storm Nicole which sent pools, hot tubs, patios and even houses tumbling into the Atlantic Ocean in Wilbur-by-the-Sea and Daytona Beach Shores. Daytona Beach suffered from beach erosion as well, but at a packed City Commission meeting Wednesday night, residents had another issue on their minds. They stepped up to the lectern one after another for two hours to talk about the flooding during both Tropical Storm Ian at the end of September and Nicole last week that overtook their houses, apartments and businesses. “Everything I had, everything I owned, is on the curb,” said Stephanie Jones, a Russell Drive resident.
“The Amazon Effect: How much money do new facilities generate from property taxes? (Hint: millions)” via Mike Diamond of the Palm Beach Post — For local tax collectors, Amazon is the gift that keeps on giving. Nowhere is that more evident in Florida than in Daytona Beach, where the taxable value on a 211-acre parcel soared from $49,168 to $11,599,157 once Amazon took possession of the property where it is building a 2.8 million-square-foot distribution center. And once the facility is built, the taxable value is expected to again soar to more than $100 million, generating property taxes well in excess of $1 million. The Daytona Beach example is unusual because it had been granted a “greenbelt exemption” because of its agricultural use. In 2021, NASCAR, the owner then, paid just $7,100 in property taxes, records show.
“A four-wheeled feast: Top 5 things to know about Daytona’s 49th Annual Fall Turkey Run” via Jim Abbott of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Forget football and holiday parades. For classic-car lovers, the highlight of Thanksgiving weekend is always the mammoth buffet of chrome, carburetors and custom cars at the annual Fall Turkey Run at Daytona International Speedway. This year’s edition, the 49th annual, unfolds Nov. 24-27 in the Speedway’s massive infield. Despite the impact of back-to-back tropical storms, interest in this year’s automotive feast is as passionate as ever, said James Richards, the event’s director of marketing and public relations. “Interest is super-strong,” he said. “If you go on Facebook, on our event page, you’ll see thousands of people per day on there. There were 5,000 people looking at the post I did this morning.”
— LOCAL: TB —
“Dozens show up to oppose sex education curriculum for Hillsborough schools” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Incensed by the Hillsborough County School Board’s choice of sex education curriculum in September, more than 3,000 parents and other residents petitioned the district in hopes of forcing a change. On Thursday, dozens of the objectors urged an independent hearing officer to recommend that the board drop its choice and start over. They told retired judge Claudia Isom that the curriculum did not encourage abstinence-based lessons, as state law requires if sex education is taught, and that many of the materials are inappropriate for students in seventh through ninth grades. Several specifically objected to links to websites such as amaze.org, which they said provided questionable information about gender identity and sexual orientation.
“Bayfront expansion moving ahead under new owners” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — When it purchased Bayfront Health St. Petersburg in 2020, Orlando Health pledged that it would revive St. Petersburg’s marque hospital. The health giant provided evidence of that this week with the unveiling of plans for a new four-story medical pavilion on the hospital campus. It’s the second new addition planned. The company in September announced plans for a three-story women’s health pavilion. The Bayfront Health Medical Pavilion — Institute Square will house specialists in oncology, orthopedics and women’s care through new partnerships with Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute, All Florida Orthopedic Associates and Women’s Care. That will include treatment for colorectal, thoracic, lung, head and neck, breast and skin cancer treatments.
“Tampa, St. Petersburg continue to earn perfect scores on LGBTQ+ equality rating” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Despite Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law, many of its cities have made their laws, policies and services inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, according to the latest yearly review by the Human Rights Campaign. The campaign’s Municipal Equality Index evaluates 506 cities nationwide. St. Petersburg and Tampa are at the top of that list, earning perfect scores for the ninth and fifth years in a row, respectively. In Florida, they’re joined by Orlando, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Wilton Manors and Hollywood. Wellington, Miami Beach and West Palm Beach self-submitted and earned perfect scores, too.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Sarasota judge awards $3M to Gabby Petito’s family in wrongful death lawsuit” via Gabriela Szymanowska of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A Sarasota County judge Thursday awarded Petito’s family $3 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the estate of Brian Laundrie. The wrongful death lawsuit is separate from the negligence lawsuit Petito’s parents, Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt filed against Laundrie’s parents. That case is expected to go to trial next August. As a result of the judge ruling in favor of Petito’s family, a trial that was scheduled for this December will not be held. “The Petito family lost their daughter, and they were also denied the opportunity to confront her killer,” Patrick Reilly, the Petito family’s attorney, said in a statement.
“Sarasota Bradenton airport likely to file more lawsuits against city over apartment plans” via Anne Snabes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sarasota City Commissioners have given final approval to a developer’s plan for apartments on the site of the former Sarasota Kennel Club — a move that the City Attorney said will likely spur two lawsuits by the local airport authority. North Carolina-based developer Aventon Companies is planning to build 372 apartment homes on the vacant dog track property, which is near the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. The airport’s governing board has raised strong objections to the plan. The airport’s president and CEO predicts that apartment residents will complain about the airplane noise and says that a stormwater retention pond at the development could attract birds, posing a risk to aircraft.
“New Council member wants to hold City Attorney accountable” via Elaine Allen-Emrich of the Punta Gorda Sun — Bill Dryburgh was welcomed onto the Punta Gorda City Council on Wednesday by fellow Council members, wished a happy birthday and given his board assignments. After the niceties ended, he wanted to discuss the City Attorney’s contract. Dryburgh said he sat in the audience during the sign ordinance discussions and believes City Attorney David Levin may not have given sound advice. “I want to discuss that at the next meeting,” Dryburgh told fellow Council members, including newly installed Donna Peterman. “I just want what’s best for the citizens of Punta Gorda.” Dryburgh was referring to the recent changes the City Council made to the sign ordinance after being sued by Andrew Sheets.
“FEMA help for homeowners, renters and business owners” via Steve Reilly of the Englewood Sun — Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives have gone house-to-house, knocking on doors to ensure those battered by Hurricane Ian or Nicole learn of the grants or low-interest loans for which they can qualify. Charles Hershey, FEMA crew leader, and Grethna Canterbury, FEMA disaster survivor assistance specialist, met with Englewood Community Redevelopment Agency staff Wednesday to discuss how to inform residents, renters and business owners of the availability of grants or low-interest loans to help grapple with the rubble in the wake of hurricanes. Hershey encouraged hurricane survivors to visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362. Hurricane survivors needing aid can apply online. For those who qualify, the grants can offset the costs of home damage, personal property losses and rental assistance.
“Sanibel city officials issue boil-water for a part of the island after water main damage” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Fort Myers News-Press — Days after a Sanibel bridge closed temporarily for repairs, similar to those the Caloosahatchee Bridge needed, city officials issued a precautionary boil-water notice. The Island Water Association said a large-diameter water main on Periwinkle Way sustained major damage during a bridge repair project near Limpet Drive. The damage resulted in a loss of water pressure from Tarpon Bay Road east to Lighthouse Beach. On Sunday, city officials announced a periodic closure of the East Periwinkle Bridge Canal at Limpet Drive to repair the bridge abutments and replace washed-out materials in the bridge canal to protect the bridge from potential scouring.
“Getting back to ‘normal’: Naples to wind down debris cleanup, wind up code enforcement” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — In Naples, city leaders are eager to get back to normal. Or, at least, back to as normal as possible, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. In that vein, the city is taking steps to wind down debris cleanup and wind-up code enforcement. At a Council meeting Wednesday, City Manager Jay Boodheshwar said the absence of his beard signaled that debris is “substantially gone” in the city. He said he grew it in solidarity with the community, as it looked more than a little gruff after Ian. The “known debris,” he said, is 80% to 90% gone, and the first pass of all properties is completed in Naples, with more to follow.
“FGCU restarts presidential search after candidates withdraw” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — Florida Gulf Coast University is relaunching its search for a new president after two of the school’s three finalists dropped out of the running. With only one candidate left to consider, FGCU trustees on Thursday unanimously voted to restart the search and again bring three potential hires to campus for interviews. Trustees were clearly frustrated by the turn of events, which was fueled at least partly by the state university system Board of Governors directing them to refrain from naming a president on Nov. 2, the day it was slated to happen. FGCU trustees were set to pick a new president among three finalists on Nov. 2.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“A veteran JSO chief was demoted on Election Day. Was it retaliation for supporting the wrong Sheriff’s candidate?” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Acting Jacksonville Sheriff Pat Ivey busted a well-known and veteran chief down to lieutenant on Election Day last week, a demotion of two ranks that cost the officer tens of thousands in pay and prompted internal concerns the move was made because of the officer’s support for Democrat Lakesha Burton, who lost the high-profile Special Election for Sheriff to Republican T.K. Waters. Waters said he knew nothing about the abrupt demotion of veteran chief Andre Ayoub, who oversaw JSO’s patrol support division. Ivey had made the decision around noon on Election Day when it was clear unusually strong Republican turnout was likely to deliver Waters a win. Ayoub was one of Burton’s prominent supporters within the department.
“Jacksonville Sheriff Ivey announces retirement as Waters prepares to take over agency on Sunday” via News4Jax — Ivey is set to step down as Sheriff-elect Waters prepares to take over the agency on Sunday. On Thursday, Ivey announced he will retire from the Sheriff’s Office. DeSantis appointed Ivey as interim sheriff from undersheriff back in June after Sheriff Mike Williams resigned amid controversy surrounding his residency. Waters, a Republican, was elected last week after clinching victory over his opponent, Democrat Burton, with 55% of the vote. “It’s time to get to work,” Waters told his supporters. “We’re going to take care of the people in our city because it’s absolutely the best city in the entire world.”
“APD cancels contract with nonprofit Arc over payment issue” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO — The Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities has decided to sever its $3 million yearly dental services contract with The Arc of Florida after the state said the nonprofit failed to justify more than $439,000 in payments it received last year. In the letter, Francis Carbone, general counsel for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, told Arc of Florida Chief Executive Officer Alan Abramowitz that the Tallahassee nonprofit didn’t turn in completed invoices for 260 clients during the last state fiscal year. Arc, the letter stated, also failed to reconcile the billing issue since the agency suspended the contract in August. “The invoices were defective by failing to include satisfactory supporting documentation necessary to allow APD to verify the provision of dental services,” Carbone wrote. Arc of Florida has had a dental services contract with APD for 10 years, and during that time there have been no changes to the contract or ways that Arc uses the money to serve clients, Abramowitz said.
“Could San Marco flooding be fixed by 2024? $20 million boost from state will help.” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — San Marco is known for its historic homes, eclectic shopping and dining, riverfront views and street flooding. The part about flooding is something residents and business owners would like to put behind them. The city has been working for years on a big-ticket project that will build a new pump station on LaSalle Street and overhaul the surrounding drainage system. The state Department of Environmental Protection recently awarded a $20 million grant for the project, bringing the total cost of the work to $64 million. Construction is slated to start in 2023 and city officials expect that by summer 2024, a pump station that pushes floodwater more quickly to the St. Johns River will be up and running. The rest of the project involves overhauling the surrounding drainage system and is slated for completion in December 2025. Until then, heavy rains will continue to cause flooding along LaSalle Street.
“Dan Markel murder: Katherine Magbanua turns state witness as Charlie Adelson nears trial” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Convicted Markel murderer Magbanua is being brought to Tallahassee from prison to give a statement to prosecutors who are seeking a conviction against Markel’s ex-brother-in-law next year. An order signed by Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler says Magbanua is to be transported on or before Nov. 28-30 to the State Attorney’s Office for a proffer. The order indicates Magbanua, who’s serving a life sentence in Marion County, will be housed as a state witness in the Leon County Jail.
“More people turning to Northwest Florida nonprofit groups this holiday season” via Olivia Iverson of WEAR-TV — Northwest Florida nonprofit groups say more people are leaning on them for help this holiday season. Those organizations say families are struggling to put food on the table every day — Thanksgiving included. As these organizations explain, you may not see the need, but we all see the factors that put people in a tough financial situation. That includes gas prices, rent, utilities and inflation, which affects everything you buy, including food. Manna Food Pantries helps both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. They see that need firsthand daily.
— TOP OPINION —
“Have Republicans learned anything from their dance with The Donald?” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — Trump is done. I keep hearing and reading that, and I have no reason to disbelieve it: Announcing his 2024 candidacy at Mar-a-Loco on Tuesday night, he was less a phoenix rising than a balloon deflating. I could almost hear the helium seeping out of him.
But while that should have been music to my ears, it wasn’t. The prompt for his sudden abandonment by many Republicans is all wrong. They’re rejecting him not because of the countless ways in which he inflamed and imperiled this country, not because he’s an offense to decency and an enemy of democracy, not because he degrades almost anything and anyone he brushes up against.
They’re just peeved at his losing streak.
It’s about math, not morals, and for that reason, there will quite possibly be a next Trump and a Trump after that. I don’t mean Ivanka, his fair-weather fair-haired daughter, whose self-absorption is self-evident in the studied distance she now keeps from dotty old Dad. I don’t mean Don Jr., who has her gift for grift but not her guile.
I mean someone whose case to Republicans is about the attainment of power, not the exercise of principle, which the party torched in its dance with the Donald. As best as I can tell, it hasn’t learned any lesson from that. It’s just trying to plot a path out of the ashes.
— OPINIONS —
“DeSantis’ winning formula: Smart, substantial ‘culture war’ stands plus nuts-and-bolts competence” via Christopher Rufo for the New York Post — First, he is a master at picking and choosing his fights. Though the media excoriated him for the K-3 gender theory ban, the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, and his fight with Disney, in all three cases, he knew that he would emerge with two-to-one public support on these issues. He skillfully engaged in the media scrum and, to the surprise of his opponents, surfaced from those conflicts more popular than before. He doesn’t engage in controversy for the sake of controversy; his strategy is calculated, and he has the self-discipline to proceed only when he can accomplish his goals. Second, DeSantis has a keen mind for public policy. Third, DeSantis backstops his culture-war agenda with capable governance. In short, DeSantis has shown conservatives how to fight — and win.
“The new majority” via Russell Berman of The Atlantic — The Republican margin in the House could be so small as to make it nearly impossible for Kevin McCarthy, who is likely — but not guaranteed — to become Speaker, to govern. Democrats, meanwhile, will have one last opportunity in the next six weeks to pass legislation. After that, Biden’s progressive agenda is dead — at least for the next two years. Republicans will have to strike deals with Biden and the Democrats just to keep the government running, let alone to make their mark on policy. Few lawmakers have much hope for a grand bargain. McCarthy is more of a campaigner than a legislator, with little record of bipartisan deal making. He’ll have to corral a caucus that includes many Republicans who are far more loyal to Trump than to him.
“Traci Deen: Florida’s green wave” via Florida Politics — The recent Election spurred a lot of talk about red waves and blue waves, but a perhaps unnoticed wave that swept the polls in Florida this November was bright green. Once again, Floridians — red, blue and independent — voted for conservation. Voters turned out during a surprise November hurricane to cast a vote for wild Florida. Why do Florida voters elect to pay for conservation? The reasons are as varied as the personalities of Florida’s voters, but the fact is the majority of Floridians support conservation. And we vote for it every time. Floridians don’t always agree, but we do find common ground in the land and water we share. It’s a great love of place. It’s part of our ethos, our Floridian ethic, our heritage, and our legacy.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— WEEKEND TV —
ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus, ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan and USF professor Golfo Alexopoulos, who is an expert on Russia.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.
In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion on the medical marijuana industry and the opportunities and roadblocks that exist for Black farmers who are trying to get into the business. Joining Allison are Sen. Darryl Rouson; Brandon Wyatt, co-founder, Black Cannabusiness Mastermind; and Zach Fleming, president of the Surterra Wellness Florida Market.
Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at Trump’s candidacy announcement; a recap of DeSantis’ response to verbal attacks by the former President; and a sit-down interview with Christian Ziegler, co-chair of the Florida Republican Party to discuss the potential battle between Trump and DeSantis.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Rep. Kristen Arrington will discuss her re-election and agendas for the upcoming Legislative Session; and a look at Trump’s announcement to run again.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and Dr. Ed Moore.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Speaker-Designate Renner, Jacksonville Sheriff-Elect Waters and Rick Mullaney, founder and director of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.
— ALOE —
“NASA’s Artemis I Orion capsule set to break records on monthlong journey around the moon” via Jamie Groh of Florida Today — NASA’s Orion capsule is amid an uncrewed journey to the moon and back that is expected to last the better part of a month. In that time Orion is set to achieve some truly impressive feats including breaking records and setting some new ones. Orion will fly incredibly close to the moon’s surface for a gravitational assist and fling itself into a new lunar orbit called a Distant Retrograde Orbit setting it up to become the furthest distance from Earth any human-rated spacecraft has ever achieved. Orion will also travel faster and return to Earth hotter than any other spacecraft humans have ever traveled in.
“Webb telescope spots earliest galaxies yet, and they are cosmic oddballs” via Mark Johnson of The Washington Post — From its perch a million miles from Earth, the James Webb Space Telescope has sighted two of the most distant galaxies ever — and delivered a brilliant surprise. These galaxies are far brighter than anyone expected, challenging our view of how the cosmos took shape in the aftermath of the big bang 13.8 billion years ago. Scientists had hoped that the world’s most advanced space telescope would deliver the unexpected, and “the universe did not let us down,” said Tommaso Treu, principal investigator for the GLASS-JWST Early Release Science Program and a professor at UCLA. “We discovered there are many more distant galaxies than we had been expecting,” Treu said. “Somehow the universe has managed to form galaxies faster and earlier than we thought.”
“Marvel fans showing franchise fatigue, while DC fans more likely to prefer single superhero over universe, says new fandom study” via Adam B. Vary of Variety — Over one-third of Marvel fans feel fatigued from the constant stream of content served in theaters and on Disney+ this year, according to a new study released on Thursday by the fan platform Fandom. But the study also shows that Marvel fans are also far more inclined to watch any Marvel project in comparison to DC fans, who in turn are more likely to consume film and TV about a specific superhero rather than the entire DC catalogue. Those are a few of the extensive findings in the study, which drew from a survey of 5,000 entertainment and gaming fans between 13 and 54 years old, as well as what Fandom terms “proprietary insights” from its platform of over 300 million monthly users across 250,000 different wikis.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Rep. Geraldine Thompson, former Leon Co. Commissioner Bryan Desloge, Madeline Holzmann, as well as former state Senate candidate Dean Asher, and Gerald Wester of Capital City Consulting.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.
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