Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.14.22

Good Friday morning.

As the 2022 Midterms loom large — a new episode of Hunkering Down with Peter Schorsch takes a deep dive into the state of play in many Florida races, both at the top of the ticket and down ballot.

Peter chats with four of the state’s top political operatives — Anthony Pedicini, Steve Vancore, Michael Worley and Brad Herold — to give listeners an inside look at who is running an effective race, what issues are working (or not), accurate polling, the value of yard signs and how Hurricane Ian shook Florida politics to its core.

Please, take a few minutes to check out this must-listen episode — available now — wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen up, please.

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Here are some other thoughts this morning:

🧑‍⚖️ Is your Congressional Representative doing their job?: There’s a lot more to congressional work than you learned in Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill.” Thanks to this nifty guide from ProPublica, even the most novice watcher can learn what really happens on Capitol Hill and figure out whether their Representative is getting it done. The guide suggests things like checking out which bills their Representative has sponsored, what the bill seeks to accomplish, how far it got, and who else is supporting it. They also suggest paying attention to what Representatives say, paying careful attention to how those topics and priorities align with your values.

🙅🏽‍♂️ — How bad can a lawyer be? A young Black man accused in a shooting suffered a horrendous lack of legal representation that led to his conviction. C.J. Rice, himself shot just weeks before the shooting he was convicted of, could barely walk. He still had staples closing a massive incision the length of his torso. Family members had alibis to provide, but none were taken. Medical records weren’t sought. The Jake Tapper piece published in The Atlantic lays out the details in painstaking detail, from Rice’s injury to the shooting he was accused of, to the investigation, and on to the wholly inadequate public defense. The entire narrative paints not just a horrifying reality for Rice and others like him but demonstrates how kids growing up in crime-ridden areas are subjected to near-constant challenges.

❓ — Everything you ever wanted to know about Florida, but were afraid to ask: Steve Schale is voluntarily, and very happily, sitting this Midterm election cycle out, but that didn’t stop him from weighing in on Florida’s complexity in the voting sphere. In this case, the main takeaway is Florida’s unique population and enormous size (The distance from Florida’s north-westernmost spot is roughly the same distance from its southernmost spot as it is to Chicago!). So, to evaluate if Democrats will pull off wins in the two statewide elections is at the same time easy to predict (both history and polls give Republicans a significant advantage) and difficult to gauge. He dives into various demographics, including the state’s own geography, and takes an interesting look at how Florida’s voting patterns, by virtue of the state being home to so many transplants, is a decent predictor of other states’ outcomes at the ballot box. It’s a long one, and if you don’t enjoy football references, you might roll your eyes a time or seven, but it’s worth a read.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@fineout: Governor said the Parkland massacre merited the death penalty. “I don’t think anything else is appropriate,” he said. Also said he was frustrated that it took several years to reach this point. Said there was once a time when someone would have been “executed in 6 months.”

@aronberg: It’s rare to get a death penalty verdict in South Florida. I respect the jury’s decision in the Nikolas Cruz case, but if the death penalty doesn’t apply to the slaughter of 17 innocents — nearly all children — then when?

@PollackHunter: I am shocked by today’s verdict. The death penalty is for humanity’s worst crimes, and what this monster did falls in that category. Our justice system is broken. (1/2)

@PollackHunter: But I hear that the prisoners in general population aren’t sympathetic to mass murderers. The ultimate punishment is in their hands, and although I am incredibly disappointed in the verdict, I believe justice will one day be served. (2/2)

@aedwardslevy: won’t stop until I get everybody to refer to this election as the “mids-term”

@NilesGApol: So far this month we have had at least one independent poll of every battleground Senate race … except for #PASen

Tweet, tweet:

@alivitali: SCOOP: J6 Cmte currently plans to vote to subpoena fmr Pres (Donald) Trump during today’s hearing, sources familiar w/ their plans tell @NBCNews. Members want to put the move in the public record despite acknowledging how unlikely it’d be for him to comply — w/ @haleytalbotnbc

Tweet, tweet:

@Jim_Jordan: Real America can’t afford gas, groceries, or rent. When will the January 6th Committee address those issues?

— DAYS UNTIL —

NBA season tips off — 4; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 7; the Gubernatorial General Election debate — 10; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 101; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 11; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 11; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 13; Early voting begins for General Election — 15; 2022 General Election — 25; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 28; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 28; FITCon 2022 begins — 34; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 34; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 38; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 41; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 50; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 50; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 53; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 63; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 79; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 110; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 126; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 127; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 144; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 161; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 186; 2023 Session Sine Die — 203; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 203; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 231; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 280; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 385; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 532; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 588; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 651; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 651; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 693; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 756; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 854; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 931. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,120.

— TOP STORY —

Jury rejects death sentence for Parkland school shooter in all 17 murders” via Rafael Olmeda, Brittany Wallman, Angie DiMichele, Susannah Bryan, Lisa J. Huriash, Anthony Man and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward jury showed mercy Thursday to a heartless killer who didn’t know the meaning of the word as he stalked the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School more than four years ago, ending the lives of 17 innocent people.

Cruz, 24, deserves to be punished for those murders, the jury of five women and seven men decided after deliberating for a mere seven hours. Maybe he deserves to be villainized, have his name go down in infamy. But he doesn’t deserve to die, they decided in a split decision that took the judge a suspenseful hour to read.

No jurors looked at Cruz as they entered the courtroom, the heavy burden of their jobs finally lifting. One man on the jury held his hand to his head, as if the decision took a toll.

Few were pleased with the verdict. Image via AP.

Jury foreman Benjamin Thomas said he didn’t vote to sentence Cruz to life in prison. The jury vote was not announced Thursday.

“We went through all the evidence and some of the jurors just felt that was the appropriate sentence,” he told a Ch. 10 reporter. “I’m not happy with how it worked out. Some of the jurors just felt that way. Like I said, it did not go the way I would have liked.”

Cruz’s guilt was not in question, and most of the families of his victims found his pleas for mercy insulting.

The legal case of Florida v. Nikolas Cruz should close when Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer sentences the defendant on Nov. 1 to spend the rest of his natural life in prison for each of the people he killed. The quest for closure now belongs to the families of the victims, and no one else. Some of them will speak at the Nov. 1 hearing, prosecutors said, giving their opinions about a fair sentence.

White House says Parkland verdict ‘brought a measure of justice and accountability’” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — A Broward County jury’s decision to recommend life in prison for the shooter who killed 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drew strong reaction from the families who lost sons, daughters, and spouses in the attack. Now, the White House is weighing in, offering condolences to the families while saying that Thursday brought a “measure of justice and accountability” for the families affected. “President (Joe) Biden is thinking today of the families in Florida who lost loved ones in the Parkland shooting, all of the survivors whose lives are forever changed, and all Americans who have lost loved ones to gun violence,” Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton told McClatchy and the Miami Herald.

Florida politicos react

Gov. Ron DeSantis: “The only appropriate sentence for the massacre of 17 innocent people is the death penalty. That the jury had a single holdout refuse to authorize a capital sentence represents a miscarriage of justice. My prayers are with the Parkland families.”

Rep. Charlie Crist: “There are crimes for which the only just penalty is death. The Parkland families and community deserved that degree of justice. I will continue to pray for healing for the families and every person impacted by this tragedy.”

Sen. Rick Scott:

Rep. Val Demings: “I am disappointed at today’s verdict. Now, we must focus on the families who lost sons, daughters, and loved ones. We will continue our fight to keep innocent people from being gunned down in innocent places. The Senate needs to find the courage and compassion to do the bare minimum and keep our children safe by getting guns out of the hands of criminals, mass murderers, and terrorists.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson: “As a parent and a grandparent, I cannot fathom the depth of despair they must feel, and I am certain their pain and agony has been amplified as they relived that horrible day over and over again in the courtroom during these last several months.”

Congressional candidate Jared Moskowitz: “He should die 17 times! Even death is not enough. This is (a) travesty of justice. Mass shooters get to live but their victims don’t, f**king unacceptable. He should be removed from ever existing. The 17 can never return and neither should he. I always stand with the Parkland families.”

Sen. Shevrin Jones: “I am heartbroken for the families and all of those impacted by the senseless tragedy four years ago in Parkland. Now more than ever, we owe it to them to DO SOMETHING about the epidemic of gun violence and ensure no other families have to endure the same pain.”

— IAN AFTERMATH —

Most of Hurricane Ian’s 100-plus victims died by drowning, data shows” via Aaron Barker of Fox Weather — The deaths of more than 100 people in Florida have been attributed to Hurricane Ian, and most of those fatalities were the result of drowning. Those terrible winds pushed ashore feet of water from the Gulf of Mexico that tore across barrier islands and gutted buildings along the coast. Most of the fatalities happened in Lee County, where more than 50 deaths were reported. That was followed by Monroe and Sarasota counties with seven fatalities each.

It could take 6 months to identify people killed by Hurricane Ian” via Jordan Bowen of Fox 13 — It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Ian slammed into Southwest Florida and officials are still trying to get in contact with hundreds of missing people. The sheer level of destruction is making finding people much more difficult. Searching for loved ones among a mangled mess of boats, cars, homes and debris is unlike any recovery mission crews in Southwest Florida have ever faced. “The cable guys are finding bodies in the woods. The electrical power line guys are finding bodies and the bodies are just everywhere,” explained Florida Gulf Coast University Professor of Forensic Studies Dr. David Thomas said.

The heartbreaking job of identifying the victims could extend into 2023.

Hurricane Ian contaminated well water in eastern Manatee County” via Melissa Pérez-Carrillo of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Tests done by the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County found a “substantial number” of wells were contaminated by Hurricane Ian’s floodwaters. Although floodwaters have mostly receded, residents in the eastern part of Manatee County are encouraged to test their drinking water to ensure its safety, county officials said in a report. A water distribution point will be opened at the Myakka City Community Center at 10060 Wauchula Road. Pallets of bottled water will be distributed beginning on Thursday until the water is safe to drink. County leaders are working with contractors to provide disinfection services to residents with contaminated wells.

Development on barrier islands made Ian evacuation virtually impossible” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix — Florida developers have been building houses, condos, and a lot of other stuff on our sandy barrier islands for more than a century. A good example of what I am talking about is found in the recent case of Joanne and Bill Semmer vs. Lee County and Southern Comfort Storage. The hurricane evacuation time for that area was already bad, and the occupants of Bay Harbour’s 100-foot-tall tower would make it worse. The County Commissioners gave the comp plan change their blessing anyway. According to Lee County Attorney Amanda Swindle, the current evacuation time for Lee County in case of a Category 5 hurricane isn’t the legally required 16 hours but 96 hours.

— THE RESPONSE —

Ron DeSantis gives $2M to police, firefighter groups to aid officers victimized by Hurricane Ian” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Four police and firefighter groups helping officers and members affected by Hurricane Ian recover from the storm will receive $2 million from the Florida Disaster Fund to aid those efforts, DeSantis said. The Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, the Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Florida Professional Firefighters will each receive $500,000 from the fund, the state’s private charitable organization. DeSantis has touted it as a way for the state to work with other nonprofits to help victims of Ian, since state and federal efforts can sometimes get tied up in red tape.

Two million dollars can cut a lot of red tape.

Lee County to open dozens of schools next week as Hurricane Ian recovery continues” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — At least 60 Lee County public schools will reopen next week, nearly three weeks after Hurricane Ian slammed into the area as a Category 4 storm, bringing storm surges and damaging winds that devastated many schools. Lee County Schools Superintendent Christopher Bernier said 13 schools will open Monday, 11 schools will open Tuesday and another 36 will open Wednesday. DeSantis was also on hand to announce that all school districts in the area hit by Ian will have schools operating again by Tuesday. Getting schools back online is a priority for DeSantis as part of recovery efforts.

Mobile unit brings medical help to Englewood” via Chris Porter of Sun Newspapers — People with cuts and bruises, sprains and strains can get some immediate free help in an Englewood parking lot. The International Medical Corps mobile medical unit is set up in front of the Ann & Chuck Dever Park Recreation Center, 6961 San Casa Drive, Englewood, this week. A team of six nurses, three doctors and support staff are there from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. They have tents for shade and rain cover, and offer a range of medical help, including wound care, tetanus shots, and other care, explained Sue Mangicaro, the team leader. The idea is to serve people with less-urgent conditions who may not have the means to find a doctor.

SW Florida organizations partner to raise more than $3M following Hurricane Ian” via Erica Van Buren of the Fort Myers News-Press — Three Southwest Florida organizations — the Collier Community Foundation, the Collaboratory and the Charlotte Community Foundation — have partnered to raise more than $3 million to aid local nonprofits that are helping people impacted by Hurricane Ian. “Collier is an expert in their community, Charlotte is an expert in their community and Collaboratory is a regional foundation, and we’re working hand in hand to get as many resources out into the community as we possibly can,” said Sarah Owen, president of the Collaboratory. Owen said 1,800 individual donations have been received so far. “We like counting the dollars, but we also count the number of individual donors.”

Byron Donalds holds town hall to discuss property restoration efforts in Cape Coral” via Luis Zambrano of the Fort Myers News-Press — U.S. Rep. Donalds hosted a town hall Wednesday night at Cape Christian Church to discuss property restoration efforts and assist residents in obtaining resources. He was joined by Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter; Republican state Rep. Mike Giallombardo of Cape Coral; representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration; Kyle DeCicco, president of Sanibel Captiva Community Bank; and Michael Dobson, General Counsel for the Florida Department of Financial Services. Cape Coral resident Patrician Barley had issues with her Allstate insurance as she didn’t purchase flood insurance. “The insurance won’t even pay for my contents,” Barley said. “They won’t even pay for a place to stay because I didn’t take their flood insurance.”

Byron Donalds leads a town hall on property restorations.

FEMA not ready to deploy trailers for temporary housing yet in Collier County” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers aren’t heading this way to house local residents displaced by Hurricane Ian. At least, not yet. That’s because the state must order it, which hasn’t happened, said Sam Harvey, an individual assistance group supervisor for FEMA. He explained the sticky situation at a town hall hosted by Collier County on Wednesday night focused on critical housing concerns. The state, he said, is still formulating a longer-term plan to deal with the need for temporary housing. “An answer hasn’t been landed on yet,” Harvey said. The goal, he said, is to “move forward in a holistic and equitable way.”

“‘Cost for living in paradise.’ After Hurricane Ian, will Florida residents build back better?” via Clayton Park and Dave Berman of the Fort Myers News-Press — In Lee County alone where Ian made landfall, more than 5,000 homes were destroyed, while nearly 42,500 others were damaged or affected in some way. A preliminary damage assessment used stark language to describe the loss: “only foundation remains” and “house is gone, some of it across the street.” And yet the word on everyone’s lips from Biden to DeSantis: Rebuild. It’s a response driven by emotions, economics and habit. And it’s part of a costly, and potentially dangerous cycle that shows no signs of ending. Sunshine State residents know it’s when, not if, the next one will strike. Can this cycle of misery ever be broken?

— HURRICANE STORYLINES —

What did Ian do to Sanibel’s water, wildlife? Conservation foundation aims to find out” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — Even if you manage to tune out the constant media coverage of Hurricane Ian’s toll on human lives and property on Sanibel, the sensory reminders are everywhere: chain saw whine, shattered homes, boarded stores, muck stink on the breeze. But what about nature? When a storm of that magnitude roars through a region, what becomes of beach-nesting birds and sea turtles? Of gopher tortoises sheltering in burrows? And what happened to the water flowing from the Caloosahatchee and surrounding Lee County’s barrier islands? Scientists will likely be answering these questions for years to come, but the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation got a jump on things right away.

Humans weren’t the only ones displaced by Hurricane Ian.

12 seasonal flights start soon at Sarasota Bradenton airport. Here’s where can you go” via Ryan Ballogg of the Bradenton Herald — As snowbird season and the holidays near, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is bringing back seasonal flights to some top-notch destinations around the U.S. and Canada. “With 1 new route and 11 returning routes starting next month, we expect to continue to break passenger records as we begin the peak season,” airport president and CEO Rick Piccolo said in a news release. Piccolo also said that despite 90 canceled flights due to Hurricane Ian, the airport saw an increase in travel in September compared to last year, with over 190,000 passengers traveling through SRQ. Airport traffic is up 26% so far in 2022 compared to year-to-date numbers from 2021.

Living without internet: Library is hot spot after hurricane disconnected parts of Florida” via Fresh Take Florida — At the library, cars are bumper to bumper beside debris from fallen trees stacked over 5 feet. Vehicles temporarily sit in the fire lane while library staff try to track down their owners. Locals are outside with laptops, camping chairs and patio tables from home. The entry hallway is lined with eight folding tables and 20 metal chairs for overflow seating. The crowd isn’t here only for the books. Many have come to get back online. The Punta Gorda Charlotte Library is one of the few places in the area that offers public access to the internet, and it is the only library open in Charlotte County.

Hurricane Ian is about to change Florida oranges — and not in a good way” via CBS Miami — Consumers can expect the price of Florida citrus to increase, partly because of Hurricane Ian. A 2022-23 crop forecast the U.S. Department of Agriculture includes a decrease in production of Florida orange, grapefruit and specialty crops, mostly tangerines and tangelos. The survey was taken before the hurricane. According to the Department of Agriculture forecast, 28 million boxes, that’s 1.26 million tons, are down 32% from last season’s final tally. Navel varieties were forecast down 40% from last season and the Valencia orange forecast was down 25%.

Boats, traps for stone crabs survive hurricane, but business infrastructure takes a blow” via Mauricio La Plante of the Fort Myers News-Press — Water soaked the ground leading to the traps that survived the storm. Dallas Ryan, the manager of Island Crab Company in St. James City said most of the company’s 4,000 stone crab traps remained intact after Hurricane Ian tore through Southwest Florida. Ryan was optimistic about the stone crab season, which starts Saturday and lasts for seven months. “We pray that it’ll be good because there’s a lot of people that depend on that as their employment,” Ryan said. “We are the fishing industry. And if you can’t get your gear in the water, you can’t make money.” The hurricane cut power to the coolers and freezers of Island Crab Company and spoiled boxes of blue crab.

— 2022 —

After Hurricane Ian, DeSantis issues executive order on 2022 election” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis is issuing an executive order waiving some election laws in three counties hit hard by Hurricane Ian to ensure ballot access for voters. The order, issued Thursday, applies to Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties and comes two weeks after Southwest Florida was hammered by Hurricane Ian, a devastating Category 4 storm. Among the changes, DeSantis is allowing early voting to run from Oct. 24 up to Election Day and creating flexibility for establishing “super sites.” The order comes at the recommendation of Secretary of State Cord Byrd, who has been working with local Supervisors of Elections since before Ian made landfall.

How Hurricane Ian changed the Governor’s race” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Biden was supposed to be standing next to Crist. The two Democrats planned a rally for late September, a political risk with an unpopular President that Crist’s team was willing to take because he needed a shot of momentum against DeSantis. Instead, eight days after the date of the nixed event, Biden was on TV with DeSantis, thanking him for the state’s cooperation with the federal government to help make Floridians’ lives whole. Biden said DeSantis had done a “good job” responding to the disaster. Asked about Biden’s praise of DeSantis at a hurricane donation drive event, Crist downplayed its significance.

DeSantis neglected insurance market while campaigning, trolling, says Lincoln Project ad” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — With Floridians beginning to face the realities of a worsening property insurance market after Hurricane Ian, a new Lincoln Project ad is blasting DeSantis over rising rates. “Florida homeowners are paying more for storm insurance every year. What has Ron DeSantis done to help us? Nothing,” according to the ad. Overlaid with hurricane footage and news reports, the ad blusters against DeSantis for “running for President,” “cruel campaign stunts” and more, including attacking companies like Disney. Clips of the Governor “bragging” and “trolling” during his news conferences are also peppered throughout the minutelong ad.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Progressive groups launch six-figure digital campaign attacking DeSantis” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Democratic groups behind the “Florida for All” campaign are announcing a six-figure buy for digital ads attacking DeSantis. A digital campaign will target persuadable voters online “who have been hurt by Ron DeSantis.” The ad buy costs more than $100,000 and will target DeSantis on three topics. One video spot hits DeSantis on a 15-week abortion ban, another accuses the Governor of catering to the far right for his presidential ambitions, and a third slams him for the state’s property insurance crisis. “Ron DeSantis is attacking Floridians’ freedoms in the service of his ambition to be President,” one ad begins.

Charlie Crist rallies pro-choice voting at campaign stop in West Palm Beach” via Stephany Matat of the Palm Beach Post — With four weeks to go before votes are counted, Crist championed an abortion rights pledge on Tuesday evening in Democratic vote-rich Palm Beach County. At the Mangonia Park Community Center, Crist implored a room full of Democrats waving pro-choice signage to mobilize their friends, family and neighbors to go out and vote as part of his campaign’s first statewide Choice Day of Action. The daylong slate of events, including other stops in Florida, focused on reproductive rights, an issue Democrats believe will galvanize their base and draw pro-choice non-Democrats. In addition, Crist’s campaign unveiled new television and digital ads that featured medical professionals criticizing DeSantis’ position on the issue.

Crist, Florida Democrats hail Social Security boost” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “Today’s announcement is important news for the 7 million Floridians who receive the Social Security benefits they’ve earned. This is how Social Security is supposed to work — with cost-of-living adjustments so benefits keep up with inflation,” Crist contended, before setting up a contrast with DeSantis. “It’s a shame that we have a Governor who voted to cut cost-of-living adjustments three separate times,” Crist said, echoing a previous condemnation of DeSantis for being “quiet on his party’s plans to cut Social Security.” Regarding the votes to cut cost-of-living adjustments, Crist seems to be referring to votes DeSantis made in Congress between 2013 and 2015, in favor of Republican proposals to slow spending increases in the entitlement program.

Assignment editorsKarla Hernández, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, will take part in the following events: 11 a.m., GOTV rally, Kissimmee; 3:30 p.m., Rollins College, Winter Park; 6:30 p.m., Alianza for Progress gala, Kissimmee. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected].

New Ashley Moody ad explains why Attorney General is Florida’s ‘top cop’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Moody often refers to herself as the state’s “top cop,” and a new ad buy with that title delineates some of what that title means. The Moody re-election campaign rolled out the spot, which it described as a “significant advertising buy across a majority of the state’s 10 media markets.” The ad relies on third-person testimonials extolling Moody as “our Attorney General, our top cop.” “I needed a protector,” contends a mother identified as Becca. Deputy Sheriff Anthony needed a “prosecutor,” meanwhile. And Grandmother Hedy needed a “fighter.” Moody fills those roles, and more, per the ad.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Incumbent Bill Posey squares off against Democrat Joanne Terry” via Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — Political veteran U.S. Rep. Posey, a Rockledge Republican, will seek to fend off a challenge from Democrat Terry in the Nov. 8 General Election for his seat in Florida’s 8th Congressional District. Posey is vying for an eighth two-year term as the Representative for his district, which includes all of Brevard and Indian River counties, as well as part of eastern Orange County. Members of Congress have a salary of $174,000 a year. Standing in Posey’s way is Satellite Beach resident Terry, a retired satellite systems engineer and electoral novice who first cut her political teeth volunteering for the campaign of Democrat Jim Kennedy, who unsuccessfully challenged Posey two years ago.

Anna Paulina Luna donors hold ties to Pablo Escobar’s family, Lev Parnas” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — What do a businessman preserving the image of a notorious drug lord, a fundraiser tied to the first Trump impeachment, and a former local official who once faced conflict-of-interest accusations have in common? They were the top donors to a super PAC supporting congressional candidate Luna. The APL Victory Fund, a PAC established to help Luna’s ambitions and raise money for the National Republican Congressional Committee, reported raising more than $323,000 since last May. That came from a variety of sources, but three individuals gave the maximum allowable donation of $15,800, and each has seen their own activities come under outside scrutiny.

Election 2022: Florida Senate race features New Smyrna Republican and Titusville Democrat” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Despite being a four-year incumbent, state Sen. Tom Wright, a New Smyrna Beach Republican, will be seeing his name on the ballot for the first time. In 2018, he was chosen by GOP leaders as the replacement for Dorothy Hukill, who died only weeks before that year’s election. Her passing came too late for election officials to replace her name on the ballot, and votes for her were tallied as votes for Wright. With Hukill receiving 59%, Wright won the seat, which covers southern Volusia and northern Brevard counties. Wright faces a new challenger in Democrat Andrea Williams of Titusville. Wright, 70, is the owner of two manufacturing companies in Minnesota, his home state.

SD 30: Incumbent Tina Polsky faces Parkland local and political newcomer for reconfigured seat” Jasmine Fernández of the Palm Beach Post — It’s the veteran against the rookie in the reconfigured Senate District 30 that has shifted to the southern part of Palm Beach County. Democratic Sen. Polsky will face Republican candidate William “Bill” Reicherter, who is a political newcomer, in November for the seat. Polsky has represented Senate District 29 since she was elected as a Senator in 2020. But redistricting put her in the same district as Democrat Lori Berman — a Senator from Delray Beach and a close Polsky ally. So Polsky moved to SD 30, where she is vying to represent less Palm Beach County territory and more of northwest Broward County. Polsky, 54, has been a state representative since 2018.

HD 36: Deborah Poulalion, Rachel Plakon vie for Seminole seat” via Amanda Rabines of the Orlando Sentinel — Republican Plakon and Democrat Poulalion are running for the closely divided House District 36 seat in Seminole County on Nov. 8 with strong opposing views and little that they agree upon. Poulalion is a self-described moderate who previously ran for Seminole County Supervisor of Elections in 2020 and lost to incumbent Chris Anderson; while Plakon’s campaign touts her conservative values and has a clear advantage in terms of money and endorsements. Either candidate would be a first-time legislator. The winner will serve a two-year term with a limit of four consecutive terms. The open HD 36 seat was redrawn to cover Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood, Geneva and a portion of both Winter Springs and Altamonte Springs.

HD 39: Candidates back small business, differ on gun laws” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — In Florida’s House District 39 race, which centers on Apopka and northwest Orange County, Apopka City Commissioner and Republican Doug Bankson is running against Democrat and former NAACP Orange County President Tiffany Hughes. Both candidates run their own businesses and say they support small business growth within their district, which after redistricting this year now runs along the western Orange and Lake County border and includes Apopka and most of the neighborhoods around Lake Apopka, Lake Brantley and Bear Lake. Under the old House district lines, HD 39 was represented by Republican state Rep. Josie Tomkow, of Polk City, who this year ran in a different district and won the seat outright in the Republican Primary.

Florida firefighters back Allie Braswell in HD 45” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Florida Professional Firefighters organization is endorsing Braswell, a Democrat running for a swing seat in Central Florida. “We believe that you will honorably serve the citizens of Florida, and the interests of the men and women employed in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services, who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work,” reads a letter from Wayne ‘Bernie’ Bernoska, president and CEO of the Florida Professional Firefighters. The organization also said it will contribute to Braswell’s campaign, noting a request from Adam Seithel, vice president for the firefighters’ union 3rd district. That district has 3,162 members.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava backs ‘strong advocate’ A.J. D’Amico for HD 113” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — D’Amico’s bid to represent House District 113 in Miami-Dade now has support from the county’s top elected official. D’Amico’s campaign is announcing an endorsement from Levine Cava. In an accompanying statement, Levine Cava said D’Amico has the necessary “bipartisan credentials and government experience” to serve the county well. “A.J. understands the journey toward freedom and opportunity shared by so many in our community. And as part of our county’s new generation of leaders, I know he will be a strong advocate for solutions to Florida’s toughest challenges, such as keeping housing affordable, building more resilient communities and affirming women’s reproductive rights,” she said.

Sarasota County tax campaign touts police support in TV ad” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An effort to renew Sarasota County’s sales tax is making an appeal to those eager to back the blue. A television ad now on the airwaves stresses the critical role the 1-cent sales tax plays in providing equipment and support for law enforcement. “Hurricane Ian has renewed our appreciation for our law enforcement,” said Justin Taylor, Chair of Common Cents for Sarasota County, the political committee backing renewal. An independent study released by the political committee estimates that 20% of the tax is paid by tourists. The ad includes personal testimonials from Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman, who encourages voters to vote “yes.”

Incumbent Heather Lindsay faces two challengers in race for Milton Mayor” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Milton Mayor Lindsay will face two challengers for her seat in the Nov. 8 general election. Lindsay, the first woman to serve as the Mayor of Milton, has helmed the city during a four-year period that included the coronavirus pandemic, contentious debates surrounding the Department of Transportation’s plans to widen U.S. 90 through downtown and increasingly complex plans for building a wastewater treatment plant. During Lindsay’s time in office, she voiced her support for the splash pad at Carpenter’s Park and the introduction of the first Native American Historical marker in the city. She was also one of numerous Mayors across the state to pen a letter to DeSantis earlier this year in opposition to the Local Business Protection Act.

A pair of candidates are trying to knock Heather Lindsay off her seat.

Lisa Martin, David McKenna vie for City Commission Zone 2 seat in New Smyrna Beach” via Brenno Carillo of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — With Fred Cleveland as their new Mayor-elect, New Smyrna Beach residents now have some City Commission spots to fill. One of those is the Zone 2 race between Martin and McKenna. The two candidates received the most votes in the August Primary. In the Zone 1 race, incumbent Michael Kolody and Valli Perrine vie for the seat. Both races are scheduled for Nov. 8.

Poll: Most in U.S. say misinformation spurs extremism, hate” via David Klepper of The Associated Press — Americans from across the political spectrum say misinformation is increasing political extremism and hate crimes, according to a new poll that reflects broad and significant concerns about false and misleading claims ahead of next month’s Midterm Elections. About three-quarters of U.S. adults say misinformation is leading to more extreme political views and behaviors such as instances of violence based on race, religion or gender. That’s according to the poll from the Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. “We’re at a point now where the misinformation is so bad you can trust very little of what you read in the media or social media,” said 49-year-old Republican Brett Reffeitt of Indianapolis.

— STATEWIDE —

Transported migrants may be on a path to citizenship because of DeSantis flights” via Jésus A. Rodriguez of POLITICO — When nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants were left stranded in Martha’s Vineyard last month after DeSantis flew them to the island from Texas, they had no employment, housing or a clear pathway to citizenship. But this week, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the San Antonio area and previously opened an investigation into the flights, agreed to certify that the migrants had sufficiently cooperated with its investigation and are now eligible to apply for “U” visas, a kind of immigration status for victims of certain crimes that occur on U.S. soil. The visas require that a law enforcement officer sign the application before it can be sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The plan to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard may have backfired on Ron DeSantis.

Ray Rodrigues says new law governing higher ed searches working well” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — After two searches to fill the top jobs in the state’s university system ended with one finalist, Sen. Rodrigues said the legislation he co-sponsored that closed these presidential searches to public scrutiny is working exactly as it should. The statement issued late Thursday evening was a sharp counterpoint to the one the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Jeff Brandes, gave the Tampa Bay Times. In that Wednesday article, Brandes said the intent of the legislation was violated in the University of Florida’s presidential search that concluded last week. In that search, the presidential committee offered one finalist to become UF’s president: Nebraska’s U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse. Rodrigues did not specifically address Brandes’ public statements but made it clear he disagrees.

$100 million gift anchors University of Florida ‘s 10-year, $1 billion campaign for UF Scripps Biomedical Research” via Florida Politics — The University of Florida received a $100 million gift to help seed a 10-year public-private campaign with a goal of raising $1 billion for UF Scripps Biomedical Research in Jupiter. The money was donated by the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation; it is the largest gift from an individual donor the university has received to date. The university hopes the $100 million will help attract investments from other philanthropic partners for the development of a 100-acre-plus campus, including a 30-acre campus situated within Palm Beach County’s innovation corridor.

Medicaid health plans hit with $23.1M in liquidated damages, sanctions for 208 complaints last year” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida regulators who oversee the state’s massive Medicaid program issued 208 final actions against Medicaid managed care plans that breached or violated the terms of their contracts during the past fiscal year. The consequences? More than $23.1 million in liquidated damages and/or sanctions were levied against the plans. The total is one of the larger amounts of liquidated damages and or sanctions in a 12-month period the state has levied against the plans for violating terms of their contracts. The $23.1 million comes as enrollment in the Medicaid managed care plans reaches an all-time high.

28 have been arrested in Ian looting. DeSantis highlights 3 in the U.S. illegally” via Ana Ceballos of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau — Twenty-eight people have been arrested on charges related to looting in Lee County, the county hit hardest by Hurricane Ian — three of whom were singled out by DeSantis in news conferences. The three individuals have one thing in common: They are in the country illegally. DeSantis was quick to underscore the immigration status of three suspects during a news conference on Oct. 4 in Fort Myers, where he provided updates on the hurricane recovery process. DeSantis said that four people had been arrested at that point on charges related to looting, but subsequent records show at least eight arrests had been made by then.

VISIT FLORIDA’s new $2.7M campaign showcases locations Ian left untouched” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Forget the destroyed piers and buildings reduced to rubble. VISIT FLORIDA has plans to highlight how the sun’s shining in the state, and is ready to welcome visitors to 14 areas that Hurricane Ian left untouched. Moving in the wake of one of the state’s deadliest storms that has dominated national news, the state’s tourism marketing agency announced the launch of a $2.7 million campaign, so travelers know there are plenty of places on the peninsula to sip a margarita and watch the sun rise or set. The campaign, called “Sun’s Shining in Florida,” will run in major U.S. markets on digital and social platforms through Oct. 31.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Social Security benefits to surge 8.7% next year” via The Associated Press — Millions of Social Security recipients will get an 8.7% boost in their benefits in 2023, a historic increase but a gain that will be eaten up in part by the higher cost of everyday living. The cost-of-living adjustment, the largest in more than 40 years, means the average recipient will receive more than $140 extra a month beginning in January, the Social Security Administration said Thursday. While Social Security recipients welcomed the benefit increase, many said it wasn’t enough to cover the impact of inflation.

Prices rose again in September, ensuring tough interest rates to come” via Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post — Inflation sped up in September compared with the month before, rising 0.4%, despite policymakers’ work to bring down higher prices that have weighed on American families and businesses. Financial markets tumbled on the news, as investors worried the report will ensure tougher interest rates to come from Federal Reserve policymakers. The major indexes pared those losses. For example, the Nasdaq dropped almost 3% at the opening bell, but had eased to be down just 1.5% around midmorning. September prices rose at a pace of 8.2% compared with a year ago.

White House aims to speed up pace of building infrastructure” via Josh Boak of The Associated Press — The White House hosted a summit Thursday to help speed up construction projects tied to the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure law — an effort to improve coordination with the Mayors and Governors who directly account for 90% of the spending. “This is the first time we’ve tried this in 50 years on this level,” said Mitch Landrieu, the White House’s infrastructure coordinator and the former Mayor of New Orleans. “We’re going to really push hard to make it go faster and try to do it better, and try to get at least all the federal agencies focused on accelerating the pace of design, construction, permitting.”

Joe Biden wants to build back better — and faster.

New export rules are a welcome escalation in Washington’s tech competition with China.” via Klon Kitchen of The Dispatch — The Biden administration is aggressively limiting China’s access to American technologies that are critical for semiconductor development, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced computing. These new actions show the United States is not simply trying to slow China’s technological advancement, but to arrest and contain it. Policymakers will need to enforce these provisions consistently while also getting foreign allies to adopt similar measures.

The Senate majority may depend on a November surprise” via E.J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post — Cheri Beasley, the first Black woman to serve as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, has gone about the business of running for U.S. Senate without clamor. The nation might find control of the Senate hangs on whether Beasley’s, well, judicious but systematic campaign pushed her past Rep. Ted Budd, the Trump favorite nominated by the Republicans. A poll found Beasley just one point behind Budd.

Snakes, plants in Everglades and Keys nominated for new federal protections” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Four species of plants in the Everglades and the Florida Keys, and two kinds of our slithery snake friends in the Keys, are up for enhanced federal protections. The two snake species, the Key ringneck snake and the rim rock-crowned snake, would become listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and would have specific habitats delineated for them in law. “These snakes need our help, as they face the threat of extinction throughout their range,” USFWS Regional Director Leopoldo Miranda-Castro said in a statement. “Listing these species under the ESA will inspire partnerships to protect them and the rare ecosystems in the Keys where they dwell.”

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Supreme Court rebuffs Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago docs fight” via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down Trump’s request to step into the legal fight over documents the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump was seeking an order to return about 100 documents with classification markings to a review process a “special master” is conducting of more than 10,000 documents the FBI took during the Aug. 8 search of Trump’s home. But no member of the court publicly signaled a willingness to grant emergency relief for Trump. The court also offered no explanation or rationale for declining Trump’s request.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Trump for testimony on Capitol attack” via Lisa Mascaro, Farnoush Amiri and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — The House Jan. 6 committee voted Thursday to subpoena Trump for testimony before the panel over the 2021 attack at the Capitol. The panel voted unanimously to compel the former President to appear. “We must seek the testimony under oath of Jan. 6’s central player,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the committee’s Vice Chair. The Jan. 6 panel showed previously unseen footage of congressional leaders phoning officials for help during the Capitol siege. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer can be seen talking to Governors in neighboring Virginia and Maryland. Later, the footage showed Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders as the group asks the acting Attorney General for help.

It wasn’t a good day for Donald Trump.

Trump angrily lashes out after his deposition is ordered” via Larry Neumeister and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — Trump angrily lashed out Wednesday, calling the nation’s legal system a “broken disgrace” after a judge ruled he must answer questions under oath next week in a defamation lawsuit lodged by a writer who says he raped her in the mid-1990s. He also called the 2019 lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, “a hoax and a lie.” The outburst late in the day came hours after U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan rejected a request by his lawyers to delay a deposition scheduled for Oct. 19.

Jan. 6 panel seeks to preserve its work as time runs out” via Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press — Working at an urgent pace, the House committee investigating Jan. 6 has managed in 15 months to collect a staggering trove of material that includes transcripts of more than 1,000 interviews and millions of other documents. Soon, the panel’s evidence about an unprecedented attack on democracy — most of which the public has never seen — will need a safe home. The seven Democrats and two Republicans on the panel have said that their probe of the 2021 insurrection is for history, not only for current concern, and to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again. But Republicans allied with Trump who are hostile to the investigation could take the congressional majority in the November elections.

Trial: Trump tweet about ‘wild’ protest energized extremists” via The Associated Press — Members of the far-right Oath Keepers were ecstatic when Trump invited supporters to a “wild” protest in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress would be certifying the results of the 2020 election, according to messages shown Thursday during the seditious conspiracy trial for the militia group’s founder and four associates. During an FBI agent’s testimony, jurors saw a string of online posts that Oath Keepers members in Florida exchanged after Trump’s tweet on Dec. 19, 2020, about a “big protest” at the upcoming joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. “Be there, will be wild!” Trump said.

Jan. 6 takeaways: Ahead of election, warnings on democracy” via Mary Clare Jalonick and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — The House Jan. 6 committee is issuing a stark warning in its final public hearing before the Midterm Election: The future of the nation’s democracy is at stake. The panel returned Thursday for an October hearing, weeks ahead of the election, with new details about Trump’s state of mind on Jan. 6, 2021, as he egged on his supporters with false claims of election fraud, pushed to accompany them to the Capitol while lawmakers were counting the votes and then did nothing for hours as they violently broke into the building. Similar to its eight hearings over the summer, lawmakers on the panel focused on Trump.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Student with loaded gun at high school in St. Lucie County arrested” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — A 17-year-old student at Fort Pierce Westwood Academy was arrested Wednesday after St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies reported finding a loaded 9 mm handgun in his backpack, the agency stated. The gun was discovered following an investigation into the student regarding allegations of stolen property. The school is at 1801 Panther Lane in Fort Pierce. “The investigation prompted a search of the student’s backpack where the deputies recovered the alleged stolen items along with the loaded firearm,” the agency stated. “No threats against students or staff were made or reported.” According to an arrest affidavit released Thursday, investigators went to a guidance counselor’s office “in reference to an ongoing investigation.” The counselor had the teen’s backpack in her office.

Miami Commission takes over Virginia Key Beach board, reducing number of Black members” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Miami Commissioners have taken over the agency that manages Virginia Key Beach, the city’s historically Black beach, by naming themselves trustees and ousting the current majority-Black board. After a Commission vote Thursday, one Black person, Commission Chair Christine King, sits on the board for the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust. Thursday’s vote allows her to appoint two more members to complete a seven-person board of trustees where a majority of members will not be Black. “It’s ridiculous,” said N. Patrick Range II, the outgoing chair and grandson of Miami’s first Black Commissioner, Athalie Range. “I don’t know what reasoning they could have for making this move.”

A shake-up in Virginia Key Beach leaves Christine King the only Black person on the Commission.

He resigned as president amid allegations. He’s returning to FIU with a slight pay cut” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — After abruptly resigning when a woman who worked in his office accused him of misconduct, former President Mark Rosenberg will return to Florida International University in the spring semester, earning about $377,000 to teach one class per semester. Rosenberg has been on a one-year paid sabbatical since resigning at the end of January, continuing to collect his $502,578 salary. When he starts teaching his class in January, his pay will drop to $376,933, or more than twice the $153,142 average annual salary for a tenured professor in FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, where Rosenberg will teach.

Rock out, party for great cause during Bark Back Benefit music festival in Lake Worth Beach” via Eddie Ritz of the Palm Beach Post — If you’re the person who took the band KISS seriously when they sang “I wanna rock ’n’ roll all night and party every day,” well then, you, my friend, are in luck. Well, maybe not all night — but for part of the night and a good portion of the day there will be plenty of rocking with a dozen bands playing the seventh annual Bark Back Benefit. This music festival on Saturday at Bryant Park Amphitheater in Lake Worth Beach will run from noon to 11 p.m. and benefit the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League and Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary. Organizing and headlining the event will be hometown heroes (and ultimate fun band) Spred the Dub.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

DeSantis’ suspending tolls for Hurricane Ian takes fiscal toll on Central Florida road agency” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Gov. DeSantis’ continued suspension of Florida highway tolls due to Hurricane Ian more than two weeks ago is beginning to exact a toll of financial distress at the Central Florida Expressway Authority. “I think all of us are a little concerned,” said Lee Constantine, a Seminole County Commissioner and member of the authority board. The locally governed authority is independent from the state’s Department of Transportation toll roads, including Florida’s Turnpike, but must comply with the Governor’s suspensions on Sept. 27 of highway tolls along Ian’s path. Not charging tolls is costing the Central Florida Expressway Authority $1.7 million daily in lost revenue, which portends future cutbacks in road construction and degraded financial ratings.

A cut in tolls is taking a toll on Central Florida.

Disney v. DeSantis: What’s next for Reedy Creek district?” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — The Walt Disney Co.’s future in Florida is being shaped in secret as Gov. DeSantis’ culture war battle with the entertainment giant fades from the national headlines. One key question has emerged: Who will control a new special district that is expected to replace the Reedy Creek Improvement District? Disney uses Reedy Creek to essentially self-govern its theme park properties in Florida. The details will likely be hammered out in the next state Legislative Session that starts in March. Reedy Creek is set to be abolished on June 1, but state leaders say a new district will be created to take its place.

Transcript details ‘ghost’ candidate’s aid in probe of spoiler scheme” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — After Jestine Iannotti filed to run for a Central Florida Senate seat in 2020, she went to great lengths to avoid addressing her candidacy, asking for “privacy” in a news release and leaving the country during campaign season. But in recent months, Iannotti has broken her silence — taking the witness stand in August to testify that Seminole County GOP Chair Ben Paris asked her to run for office and helping prosecutors convict him of a misdemeanor election law violation. Earlier that month, Iannotti sat for an interview with state investigators, divulging new details of the origins of her campaign as she seeks to secure a plea agreement in the criminal case against her.

Landlords want their lawyer fees paid by taxpayers in Orange County rent-control fight” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Lawyers for landlords fighting to get a proposed Orange County rent-cap ordinance kicked off the Nov. 8 ballot want taxpayers to foot the bill for the appeal. Florida Realtors and the Florida Apartment Association, whose Circuit Court challenge was rejected by Judge Jeff Ashton, asked for reimbursement of legal fees in Court of Appeal filings, arguing they shouldn’t have to pay to fight a measure they claim is “expressly prohibited” by state law. Cast as a one-year, rent-stabilization ordinance, the measure, proposed by Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla, would impose a 9.8% cap on rent hikes for potentially 104,000 of the estimated 230,000 multifamily residential rental units in Orange County.

Questions linger about Tyre Sampson’s death on Orlando Free Fall” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Even as Orlando Slingshot’s decision to dismantle the Free Fall drop tower that 14-year-old Sampson fell from in March addresses one big issue surrounding the accident, much about Tyre’s death is still unknown six months later. The state’s investigation, which must conclude before the Free Fall can be taken down, continues with no end in sight as a new Agriculture Commissioner prepares to take office. It could last another six months, one ride expert said, as he has seen similar investigations take a year.

Satellite Beach City Council race focuses on growth issues” via Jim Wayner of Florida Today — Are you OK with an 85-foot-tall hotel and some more condo neighbors? How about higher taxes, if such developments don’t happen? What of endangered sea turtles on your undeveloped beaches? Or are there bigger fish to fry for this beach city of about 11,000 residents? What’s the best balance for all the above? In a hurricane, how many people are safe to live here? That and more are at stake for Satellite Beach voters at the Nov. 8 polls, as two City Council seats are contested. Three candidates are seeking those seats — Mark Boyd, Jodi Gaudy Rozycki and Stephen Sams. The top two vote-getters will win the election.

Ethics panel finds ‘probable cause’ that Miami Commissioner abused power with city car” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade’s Ethics Commission has found probable cause that Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla abused his power by allowing a friend to use a city-owned car to run personal errands for him. On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics & Public Trust unanimously agreed to charge Díaz de la Portilla, elected to represent District 1 on the City Commission in 2019, with violating county ethics law and exploiting his official position after a friend who did not work for the city used a city car to pick up alcohol for the Commissioner, drop off his dry cleaning, and drive him to a property his family owns in Southwest Miami-Dade.

‘This is hard history.’ New exhibit details Black people’s fight for American citizenship” via C. Isaiah Smalls II of the Miami Herald — Lonnie Lawrence feels a bit surreal as he watches a video of himself at HistoryMiami Museum. On the screen, he tells the following story: Miami police picked up the then-teenager on suspicion he had sexually assaulted a white woman the previous evening. Lawrence had been in his room since last night, yet Miami police took him from his house, brought him to the station, and held him for a few hours. Nearly half a century later, Lawrence links that moment to him pursuing a career in law enforcement. “I said, ‘There’s something fundamentally wrong with what happened to me,’” he recalled.

$100 million: UF receives largest gift in school’s history for Scripps Research Institute” via Lianna Norman of the Palm Beach Post — The largest gift recorded from an individual donor in University of Florida (UF) history will total $100 million, earmarked to help the school’s new biomedical research institute expand its discovery of ways to prevent neurological diseases, create new medicines for cancer and make health care more inclusive. The Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation made the grant to the UF Scripps Biomedical Research Institute in Jupiter. The school renamed the institute for Herbert Wertheim, for whom the university’s engineering school is already named. The gift is part of a $1 billion public-private partnership between the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation and the state’s flagship public university, based in Gainesville.

St. Pete City Council appoints Brother John Muhammad to fill District 7 seat” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Members of the St. Petersburg City Council have selected Muhammad to fill in the vacant District 7 seat left empty by the resignation of former Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman. The Council picked Muhammad in a 4-3 vote, with District 1 Council member Copley Gerdes being the tiebreaker. Although there was a slate of seven candidates, Muhammad ultimately faced former Rep. Wengay Newton for the seat after a runoff vote. His appointment is not without controversy, though. While discussing the candidates, several Council members brought up concerns about Muhammad’s support of Louis Farrakhan, who leads the Nation of Islam.

Brother John Muhammad takes the seat formerly held by Lisa Wheeler-Bowman.

Deltona Commission picks former Daytona Beach Manager Chisholm as city’s interim Manager” via Katie Kustura of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Former longtime Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm is stepping out of retirement to serve as the interim Manager of Volusia County’s largest city. The City Commission voted 4-2 Wednesday night in favor of Chisholm, who spent nearly 17 years managing Daytona Beach before retiring in June 2021. The motion to choose Chisholm came from Vice Mayor Maritza Avila-Vazquez, who received supporting votes from Mayor Heidi Herzberg and Commissioners Victor Ramos and Anita Bradford. Commissioners Loren King and Dana McCool cast the dissenting votes. Commissioner David Sosa had to leave the meeting early and wasn’t present during the vote. Bradford pointed out how long Chisholm, 77, worked in Daytona Beach.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office asks public to suggest names for new bomb-sniffing K-9” via Frank Fernandez of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Lucky, Highway and Nitro. Those are among the names suggested so far after the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office asked the public to help name its newest K-9 deputy, a black Labrador retriever. The lab, who will celebrate his first birthday Nov. 19, will be trained to detect bombs. The dog is scheduled to start patrolling in February. The Sheriff’s Office is asking people to post suggestions on its social media accounts. The Sheriff’s Office will accept suggestions through Tuesday before announcing the name on social media. The Sheriff’s Office has received more than 1,000 responses on its Facebook page, such as Nitro — for nitroglycerin, a potent explosive substance.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Survey: Population growth, affordable housing among most important issues facing Sarasota County” via Anne Snabes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — For the third year in a row, an annual county survey ranked population growth and new development as the most important issue facing Sarasota County. In a survey of 1,250 Sarasota County residents, 31.4% of respondents said it was the most important issue. That percentage is up from last year, when 23.2% of surveyed county residents said “population growth/new development.” This year, the second most popular answer was “there are no serious problems” (13% of respondents) and “affordable housing” was the third (5.8%). The University of South Florida and marketing consulting firm HCP Associates conducted the Sarasota County Citizen Opinion Survey, and the margin of error for the county at large was +/- 2.77 percentage points.

Housing market in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian likely to remain heated” via Dave Berman of the Fort Myers News-Press — Hurricane Ian was devastatingly destructive. But there’s one thing it couldn’t do: cool Florida’s red-hot real estate market. At least not for long. Worse, it will likely lead to even higher home prices and rents. Even Southwest Florida’s housing market is likely to stay overheated — even with the devastation that Category 4 Hurricane Ian caused in parts of the region. Housing industry expert Ken Johnson expects a temporary downturn in the home purchase and rental markets as the region begins to recover from the hurricane damage. But soon the markets will return to their previous heights. The reason? Pre-hurricane, the Fort Myers area was facing “a severe housing shortage.”

Even a hurricane can’t cool down a hot housing market.

Naples City Council: What’s taking Comcast so long to restore internet?” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — The city of Naples is looking into temporary housing for people displaced by Hurricane Ian and will not cite residents for living on their boats while they rebuild homes. The city expects to have a list available soon of damage to residences and other buildings and the type of damage, City Manager Jay Boodheshwar said Thursday. The Council renewed its local emergency declaration at a special meeting and received updates on debris collection, power restoration, internet service and elevator issues in high-rise buildings. Ian caused a staggering storm surge of at least 6 feet above the tide level in the city on Sept. 28 that extended into unincorporated Collier County, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

‘Some call it hardball’: Meet the man who transformed Manatee County politics” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Anthony Pedicini got his start in Manatee County politics in 2002, living in the spare room of a future state Senate President, campaigning with megaphones on the side of Manatee Avenue, and responding to voicemails from frantic voters. Today, Pedicini is regarded as one of the most influential political consultants in Florida, and over the past two years, he has brought significant change to the Manatee County Commission, where he has steered six of his clients to political victories since 2020 and will go for a clean sweep this November. Since 2009, Pedicini and his political consulting firm, Strategic Image Management, also known as SIMWINS, spearheaded political campaigns for hundreds of politicians.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Escambia County Schools reverse decision to restrict access to Bibles in school libraries” via Brittany Misencik of the Pensacola News Journal — As Escambia County Public Schools continues to work its way out of a tug-of-war match in determining which books are appropriate for school libraries and which ones are not — the Bible has now found its way on the list of books in question. The district is reviewing 127 books that have been challenged, over 100 of which were put on the list by a veteran language arts teacher over her concerns that the books contained what she described as sexual messaging, bestiality and rape. The Bible was challenged on Oct. 7 over similar concerns in a request form submitted by Pensacola resident Sarah Holland.

The Bible lands on the banned books list — temporarily.

‘Bring the experts in’: Here’s how Tallahassee is divvying up $1 million to stop shootings” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — City Commissioners are committing $300,000 to out-of-town gun violence interruption specialists in the hopes of finally staunching the bloodshed from shootings that have plagued Florida’s capital city for years. The rest of a $1 million investment — the first of $5 million over five years — was divvied up at a City Hall workshop Wednesday after a unanimous vote to move forward. At the end of the hearing, some organizations left without receiving a penny, while another that didn’t publicly ask for it, got a boost to their annual budget.

Nonprofit run by council member applied for grant during unprecedented grace period” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville City Council made a controversial decision last month forcing a city grants program to reopen its application process for nonprofits that missed the deadline, providing a rare opportunity for tardy organizations to get a cut of a $6 million pool of taxpayer funding. One nonprofit that took advantage of the unprecedented seven-day grace period, the Total Beauty Institute, is run by one of the City Council members who voted to extend the deadline, according to tax and business records.

Fernandina Port officials reticent to oppose right whale vessel speed rule” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Harbor pilots aren’t happy with new speed restrictions in NOAA Fisheries’ proposed North Atlantic right whale rule package, but Port of Fernandina officials aren’t ready to publicly oppose a measure meant to enhance the survival of a species on the brink of extinction. A 10-knot vessel speed rule was in effect for areas where right whales transit, but it was for vessels 65 feet or longer. The new rule drops the length to 35 feet. County Manager Taco Pope brought up the issue with the Port this week, along with Fernandina City Manager Dale Martin and the city marina manager, to see if any local governments or agencies were going to take a position on the rule.

— TOP OPINION —

A jury that acted without fear or favor” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The crucial question at the Parkland killer’s sentencing trial wasn’t expressed in so many words on the elaborate verdict forms that took more than an hour to read in court Thursday.

Rather, it was how Chief Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill phrased it to the jury.

“In a civilized society, do we kill brain-damaged, mentally ill, broken people?” she asked.

Seventeen times, the jury answered “No.”

Painful as it is, it was the right answer.

It surely does not seem so to the families of Cruz’s 17 victims, whose grief is without end. Their suffering deserves our sympathy and respect.

But a death sentence for Cruz would only have prolonged their search for closure. The four-plus years it took to get the Parkland massacre to trial would have been a prelude to many more years, if not decades, of appeals, with an uncertain outcome.

One question above all lingers after this act of pure evil: If this killer doesn’t deserve death, who does?

None of America’s death penalty jurisdictions can get it right. The only solution is to abolish it.

Some jurors apparently agreed with a former neighbor’s testimony that Cruz was never right mentally and suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, which helped to expose the vast deficiencies in Florida’s mental health system.

Those wide gaps through which Cruz maliciously stepped are the ultimate lesson of this horrific tragedy.

— OPINIONS —

Joe Henderson: As Election Day nears, where’s the drama?” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — We’re in the home stretch of the Florida Midterm Elections, and this is where we’re supposed to hyperventilate anytime a poll shows a 1-point swing. If we’re honest, though, at this point, the election seems to have as much drama as a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and a high school team. A quick tour through the FiveThirtyEight political prognostication site backs up that assertion. In 14 of the races, the GOP candidate received a 99% chance of winning, and no Republican was less than 90%.

Hurricane Ian proved why DeSantis’ version of climate resilience is a disaster” via Craig Pittman for The New York Times — When DeSantis appeared in Arcadia on Oct. 2 to view the damage, the shiny white boots he wore immediately made him the object of social media amusement. But by donning those wading boots, usually worn by fishermen on the coasts, DeSantis exposed a truth he has avoided for the last four years: Climate change isn’t just happening along Florida’s edge. Resilience, Florida style, turned out to mean something different from what climate advocates might have imagined. If DeSantis ever gets serious about a changing climate, the place to start is with the emissions that are also driving Florida’s other dangerous impacts: the intensifying heat waves that put outdoor workers at risk of dehydration and death, the warmer ocean waters causing rapid intensification of storms like Ian and the toxic algae blooms, which are also exacerbated by pollution. Should he win re-election on Nov. 8, he is widely expected to launch a run for President midway through his second term, most likely with strong support from the fossil fuel industry. He may choose to brag about how he’s battled rising sea levels — along with fighting woke theme parks and critical race theory.

Ben Sasse is nothing if not thoughtful. Right?” via Carlos Lozada of The New York Times — Among the hundreds of books I read during my years as a critic for The Washington Post, only three proved so paralyzingly pointless that, upon reaching the last page, I found I had nothing to say. One was an unnecessary memoir, another a dispiriting manifesto. The third book was “Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal” by U.S. Sen. Sasse. It’s not that “Them” is a terrible book; I have read and reviewed worse. Bad books can be valuable, even delightful, to read and critique, as long as their shortcomings lead to worthwhile questions or send readers down unexpected paths. But “Them,” which came out in 2018, offers few such consolations.

Florida Surgeon General’s COVID-19 vaccine ‘study’ is politics dressed up as science” via the Miami Herald editorial board — This far into the pandemic, tens of millions of Americans have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, following vast medical trials. The CDC and the FDA continue to review the safety of the vaccines, part of what the CDC calls “the most intense safety monitoring efforts in U.S. history.” But somehow, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo knows best. Armed only with a skimpy “analysis” done by the state Department of Health, an analysis that is not peer-reviewed, has no named authors and has been blasted by the medical community, he warned last week that men ages 18-39 shouldn’t get the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 shots.

DeSantis isn’t the future of the GOP. Brett Favre is.” via Rick Reilly of The Washington Post — Republicans, I know you’re looking for the next Trump. Somebody younger. Somebody known to millions. Somebody with more personality than DeSantis or, say, a bag of doorknobs. Your worries are over: Favre. Maybe his sneakiest quarterback sneak: trying in 2017 to get a college volleyball stadium built at the University of Southern Mississippi with more than $5 million from a fund meant for Mississippi’s poorest families. Favre said he had no idea where the money was coming from. That’s odd, since there’s a phone full of texts showing he obviously cottoned that something sheisty was going on.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— WEEKEND TV —

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Rep. Daniel Perez, USF Institute on Russia Director Dr. Golfo Alexopoulos, and Wendi Lane, an ABC Action News reporter who just returned from Ukraine.

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 of Hurricane Ian recovery for rural communities and the agricultural industry. Joining Walker are U.S. Rep. Greg Steube; Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Collier Community Foundation; Tiffany Garling, president and CEO of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at the future of the Hillsborough County transportation tax referendum on the November ballot.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A recap and analysis of Florida’s 10th Congressional District debate between Calvin Wimbish and Maxwell Alejandro Frost.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and Tallahassee Democrat columnist Bill Cotterell.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Sen. Scott, former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and Redwire COO Andrew Rush.

— ALOE —

Did you know? Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette helped boost a young Florida territory” via Greg Baker of Florida Politics — Most Floridians, except those with extensive knowledge of Tallahassee, have no idea about the intermingling of fates between Lafayette and the young territory of Florida. Although he never laid eyes on Florida, Lafayette’s name endures throughout Tallahassee. At the time, the area surrounding Tallahassee was some of the finest growing lands in Florida, a fact that raised the cache and potential value of his plot. Despite many encouragements throughout this land-gifting process, Lafayette never intended to expatriate himself to the U.S. and viewed the land as something to sell rather than settle, the same as he’d done in Louisiana.

Was Marquis de Lafayette the first Florida Man?

Coast Guard report reveals process to get the Disney Wish ready to set sail” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — The Disney Wish, the first addition to Disney Cruise Line’s fleet in a decade, set sail on her maiden voyage with paying customers in July. The ship, by all accounts, is a massive beauty, weighing 144,000 gross tons. Some called it a castle on the sea. But the process of getting the ship sea-ready to hold up to 4,000 passengers faced delays and forced Disney Cruise Line to push the Wish’s maiden voyage back from June 9 to July 14. A newly released U.S. Coast Guard inspection report gives details into the behind-the-scenes efforts before the maiden voyage.

Miami health care company wins state’s top startup company prize” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A Miami health care company Wednesday won the state’s $40,000 innovation award aimed at providing startup companies with some rocket fuel to help get ideas off the ground. EVQLV, which also has a New York City base, aims to use data tools to speed up the pace at which medical research becomes medicine and they’ll be getting a boost from Space Florida’s Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award that was announced at the 2022 Florida Early-Stage Capital Conference in Tampa. EVQLV’s award was given after a panel of venture capital investors considered presentations from 19 companies that had been selected from a pool of 150 applicants.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are former gubernatorial Chief of Staff Shane Strum, as well as Slater Bayliss‘ better half, Sara, Stephanie Rosendorf Diaz, and Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward.

___

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


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