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

Good Tuesday morning.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum continues today with a packed lineup of speakers outlining strategies to grow Florida into a Top 10 economy globally.

The Tuesday agenda delves into the second half of the Chamber’s “six pillars” framework: Business Climate and Competitiveness, Civic and Governance Systems, and Innovation and Economic Development.

Florida Chamber’s 2023 Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum is packed with forward thinking guests.

Standout segments include a keynote from Matt Higgins, a serial entrepreneur and repeat “Guest Shark” on the Emmy award-winning TV show “Shark Tank,” who will speak about how Florida’s business community can embrace risk-taking for 2030 success.

A few government officials will also be on hand: Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky will headline a segment titled “Insuring Florida the Right Way,” while Rep. Mike Giallombardo will discuss “The Role of Policy in Making Florida an International Tech & Innovation Hub.”

Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson will wrap up the two-day event with a closing address that boils down the dozens of panels held during the two-day event and outlines the steps forward for the Sunshine State on the road to 2030.

Programming runs 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort, 1 Grand Cypress Blvd., in Orlando. The full agenda is available on the Florida Chamber’s website.

—“Chamber Forum: Wilson outlines the ‘State of Florida Business’” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—“Chamber Forum: Businesses can lead the way in tackling ‘child care crisis’” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—“Chamber Forum: Business-state college partnerships are building Florida’s talent pipeline” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—”Colleen Burton talks ‘Live Healthy’ initiative at Chamber Forum” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics


Tweet, tweet:

@RepFranklin: I am supporting my friend from Florida, @RepDonaldsPress for Speaker. He understands the issues facing our state and can unite our party to get Congress back to work.

@BDomenech: Elon is ruining this stupid app.

Tweet, tweet:


Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ released — 3; the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit — 4; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 15; 2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 16; ‘The Marvels′ premieres — 18; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 24; ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ premieres — 30; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 29; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 29; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 36; Florida TaxWatch’s 2023 Government Productivity Awards Ceremony — 43; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 51; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 59; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 62; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. (Ron) DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 77; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 77; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 77; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 83; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 84; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 102; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 105; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 123; Michigan Democratic Primary — 125; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 132; Super Tuesday — 133; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 137; 2024 Oscars — 139; Georgia Democratic Primary — 140; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 144; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 199; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 208; Republican National Convention begins — 262; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 266; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 275; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 276; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 306; Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 350; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 362; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 423; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 479; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 558; ‘Moana’ premieres — 614; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 788; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 919; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 942; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,155; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,294; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,250; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,613.


Nikki Haley threatens to overtake Ron DeSantis as Donald Trump alternative, sending sparks flying” via Maeve Reston, Hannah Knowles and Dylan Wells of The Washington Post — While DeSantis held an advantage over other non-Trump candidates for much of the year, his support has eroded and Haley’s has climbed, according to interviews with voters, strategists and a review of early state polling, putting them in a contentious battle for a distant second place.

Their teams circled one another at a recent private donor summit in Dallas, where they charted their respective paths before potential financial backers — many of whom have been skeptical about the ability of either to beat the former President.

The battle between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley is getting even hotter.

DeSantis courted voters Thursday in Haley’s home state of South Carolina, where she is leading him in the polls before they crossed paths Friday in Iowa, where the Florida Governor is anchoring his candidacy and has built a much larger footprint.

The intensifying competition was evident in Iowa, where some voters said they had moved to Haley from DeSantis and the two appeared at a multicandidate event. Both focused on foreign policy, avoiding direct shots at each other in their remarks. Haley’s campaign Friday released a video labeling him “desperate” for attacking her, and when asked by a voter about her stance on accepting refugees from the Middle East at a town hall in Pella on Saturday, she used the opportunity to criticize DeSantis.

“God bless Ron DeSantis because he continues to try and bring up this refugee situation. He has said that I want to take Gazan refugees; I have never said that” Haley said. “He can keep doing it, but that’s what happens when a campaign starts to spiral out.”

Haley surges, nearly ties DeSantis as the alternative to Trump” via Susan Page of USA Today — Haley’s support has risen to 11% of registered voters who plan to vote in GOP Primaries or Caucuses, up from 4% in the USA TODAY/Suffolk poll taken in June and just one percentage point below DeSantis. His 12% standing was a steep fall from his 23% support four months ago. Trump continues to dominate the field, backed by 58%, up 10 points. The survey of 309 Republican and Republican-leaning voters, taken Tuesday through Friday by landline and cellphone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points. Haley already has edged narrowly ahead of DeSantis In New Hampshire and South Carolina, which hold early contests on the Primary calendar.


Haley PAC blasts ‘poor’ DeSantis over Gaza refugee remarks” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — SFA Fund, the super PAC supporting Haley’s presidential campaign, is out with a new ad in Iowa and New Hampshire blasting DeSantis for “throwing mud” at the former U.N. Ambassador and mischaracterizing her stance on admitting Gaza refugees into the United States. “Poor Ron DeSantis — he’s losing, he’s lying. So now he’s throwing mud at Nikki Haley,” the ad begins with a narrator’s voice heard over footage of DeSantis looking angry. The narrator then asks for “the truth” before pivoting to footage of Sean Hannity. “Nikki Haley has been clear that other Arab countries in the Middle East should be the one taking in Palestinians,” Hannity says in the clip.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

DeSantis in Iowa calls for repeal on restrictions on bump stocks, pistol braces” via Phillip Sitter of the Des Moines Register — Responding to an audience member’s question at an event in Clinton, the Governor said he would like to see a repeal of restrictions on bump stocks instituted during the Trump administration and on pistol braces by the Joe Biden administration. Yet, DeSantis has made no move to rescind Florida’s ban on bump stocks, which was signed into law under then-Gov. Rick Scott after the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Last May, a Florida judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming the law was unconstitutional. DeSantis said Saturday in Clinton that the pistol brace rule in particular “can make a lot of people felons overnight.”

DeSantis returns to New Hampshire. Can he stop his decline in polls?” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is headed back to the Granite State Tuesday to kick-start his presidential campaign in the first-in-the-nation Primary state. DeSantis, as is often the case, will be attending events hosted by the supportive Never Back Down super PAC. The main event of Tuesday’s trip will be a co-appearance with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. Sununu hasn’t endorsed and has appeared with DeSantis over the Summer and with other candidates this cycle. On Tuesday, he will appear alongside DeSantis at a town hall event in the evocatively named Seacoast, directly north of Boston.

DeSantis says country ‘on the skids’ and ‘in state of decline’” via Paula Ebben of CBS News — DeSantis was in Boston on Monday, officially filing his paperwork to appear on the Massachusetts Primary scheduled for March 5. DeSantis spoke about his message for Massachusetts voters, the protests on college campuses, and the battle for House Speaker. “I think the country is on the skids,” DeSantis said. “We’re in a state of decline. We need to reverse that decline economically, militarily, culturally, (and) get us on a pathway to success. I’m the guy that can get that done.” DeSantis, who graduated from Yale and Harvard Law School spoke about recent pro-Palestinian rallies on campuses over recent weeks. He was asked what his message would be to the students involved. “It’s one thing to have political opinions, everyone’s got them that’s fine. But to celebrate the death and destruction of over 1,200 Jews in Israel, that was deplorable,” DeSantis said.

—“As his campaign runs low on cash, DeSantis turns to big Florida businesses for help” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents

—“DeSantis no longer trailing Michelle Obama in 2024 betting odds” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

DeSantis makes the ‘very, very important’ Massachusetts Primary ballot” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida’s Governor is now officially on the ballot in the state of Massachusetts. DeSantis said that while running in the state is “tough sledding” in the General Election, it is nonetheless “very, very important” in the race for the nomination. “We’re going to put in the work and going to get it done,” DeSantis vowed. If polls are any indication, Team DeSantis has plenty of work ahead if the Governor hopes to win the Primary and take all 40 Bay State delegates on March 5. The Race to the White House polling average shows DeSantis at 19%, with Trump at 53%.

DeSantis makes it official — DeSantis has officially entered the Massachusetts Republican Primary. In a video on social media, he said: “Well, it’s official. I just signed the paperwork. We are now on the ballot for the Massachusetts Primary in March. We’re excited to have been able to meet with some folks from the local party. This is a little bit (of) tough sledding in a General Election and we’re going to get it done. Thanks, everyone for coming out — on to New Hampshire.” DeSantis was joined by Janet Fogarty, a National Committee member of the Massachusetts Republican Party, and Amy Carnevale, Chair of the Massachusetts GOP.

DeSantis makes it officially official in Massachusetts.

— MORE 2024 —

How is the Republican presidential nominating fight not over?” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — If we use the Iowa Caucuses in each contested Republican nominating fight since 1980 as our point of reference, we see that Trump’s current national lead was exceeded only once: by George W. Bush in the 2000 Primaries. As you might be aware, Bush easily won his party’s nomination. The next biggest lead in the average was by Bob Dole in 1996. He also won the nomination. This is important because DeSantis’ strategy for winning the election appears to center on victory in Iowa. He shifted campaign staff there earlier this month, with various reports suggesting it will serve as his make-or-break point. His Alamo, perhaps.

Why is there still a race for the GOP nomination?

Trump predicts ‘third or fourth place’ finish for DeSantis in New Hampshire” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “I think that ‘DeSanctus’ is really going down,” Trump told reporters, noting he’d seen polls where DeSantis was anywhere between third and fifth place in the state. “So bad things are happening, but we keep going up, and I looked at one where we’re at 64 and the second person is at 8. So, between him and a few others, I guess a few others, but New Hampshire seems to be a little bit different in that regard. But he’s looking like he’s going to be in third place, maybe even fourth place,” Trump added. Polls have run the gamut in the state, and while we haven’t seen a New Hampshire poll where the former President is at 64%, the trend is toward a commanding lead over DeSantis that keeps growing.


DeSantis staffers continue to leave Florida government for 2024 campaign” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — The changes come as DeSantis has been jetting outside the state in an effort to win over early Primary voters, but top leaders in the Florida House and Senate say that their working relationship with the Governor’s Office has remained strong, even with staff shake-ups. “We have an open line of communication with the Governor, his team and our partners in the Senate,” said Andres Malave, a House Speaker Paul Renner spokesperson. Richard Briffault, a Columbia Law School professor, said employees moving from politics to government or vice versa is common. “It is actually fairly common, I think, for senior people in government to go work on a campaign, and if a campaign is successful, to come back,” Briffault said. “That is typically where the people are staffed.”

The DeSantis campaign keeps poaching staffers from the Governor’s Office.

News that DeSantis can (and did) use — Step aside Silicon Valley, a recent report put Florida at the top of the list of states when it comes to entrepreneurship. That’s something that fits the message for DeSantis, who sent out a news release touting the ranking. “Florida’s pro-business, freedom first policies make Florida the best state in the nation to do business,” DeSantis said. “I appreciate those Floridians who have taken a risk to start their own ventures.” Part of what earned Florida the top spot is the high small business-to-people ratio. Currently there are more than 13,000 small businesses per 100,000 people, significantly higher than the next-best state ratio. New startup businesses in Florida also had the highest number of jobs created in the first year with 6.53 new jobs per 1,000 Floridians, according to the report. Expect this news to materialize in messaging on the campaign trail in the coming weeks.


Byron Donalds back in the running for Speaker of the House” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — Donalds is back in the race for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Announcing on X Friday night, the Naples Republican wrote he hopes to “become the first African American Speaker, the first Speaker from the great state of Florida and the next Speaker of the 118th Congress,” focusing on “securing our border, funding our government responsibly, advancing a conservative vision for the House of Representatives and the American people, and expanding our Republican majority.” Donalds had backed Jim Jordan in each of three recent votes. After Jordan failed each time, the GOP pulled his nomination and Donalds entered the running for the post — for the second time.

Byron Donalds takes another shot at House Speaker.

Marco Rubio hits the Israel-Palestine high notes on Sean Hannity Show — Florida’s Senior Senator, who has long focused on foreign policy, recently discussed all things Israel on the Hannity show. During the interview, Rubio touched on a range of subjects related to the ongoing conflict, from condemning student protests on college campuses to speaking about potential superpower conflicts at large. “[China, Russia and Iran] are primarily united by a desire to redo the world so that it’s less friendly to America and more friendly to their worldview,” Rubio said at one point. “I think they’re also incentivized by the belief that we have an administration that’s trying to play nice with China and not confront them too much on trade.” He also didn’t mince words regarding Iran’s involvement in the recent affairs and called for retaliation if Hamas, Hezbollah or other Iranian “agents” step on America’s toes. “Iran needs to know that if these guys attack America, America is going to hit Iran,” Rubio said. “We don’t want that to happen. But they believe there is a threshold of Americans they can injure and potentially even kill and not have it come back on them.”

Rubio taps TikTok as driver of youthful ‘pro-Hamas’ sentiment” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rubio contended that TikTok was to blame for the “pro-Hamas” position taken by young people on college campuses and beyond in the wake of terror attacks on Israel and the country’s subsequent retaliation. Rubio contended “places like TikTok have become cesspools of this kind of misinformation and indoctrination.” “It’s actually brainwashing,” he added. “It’s reflected in the polling, you know, where Americans under a certain age — under 35, I think, or what have you are — amazingly pro-Palestinian (and) pro-Hamas. And their views of what’s happening in the region and these things don’t happen in a vacuum. It’s a constant, you know, bombardment of information, anti-colonial messaging and all this other ridiculousness that sort of made its way.”

Spotted — Ballard Partners as No. 18 on the Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue rankings for Q3 2023. Revenue for the quarter was listed as $4.2 million (versus $4.6 million in Q2 2023 and $4.5 million in Q3 2022)


Happening today — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will appear at the Capital Tiger Bay Club: Noon, Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.

Lauren Book proposes crackdowns on ‘fake’ reproductive health clinics, harassment at real ones” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Senate Democratic Leader Book filed a pair of related bills (SB 254, SB 256) aimed at safeguarding women seeking reproductive health care services. One would ban protests 150 feet from a reproductive health clinic and prohibit interfering with the people working at or going to them. The other would regulate crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that present themselves as reproductive health clinics but are in fact nonmedical facilities working to dissuade people from accessing abortion care and contraceptives, among other health options. Florida now provides $25 million yearly to them. If approved, the measure would require the Department of Health to annually audit every site overseen by the nonprofit Pregnancy Care Network and prohibit CPCs from sharing medically inaccurate information.

Lauren Book is cracking down on bogus reproductive health clinics. Image via Nova Southeastern University.

Happening today — The Broward County legislative delegation will workshop with the Broward County Commission: 12:30 p.m., followed by a 2:30 p.m. workshop with the Broward League of Cities, Broward Governmental Center, 115 South Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. The Volusia County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: 3 p.m., DeLand City Hall, 120 South Florida Ave., DeLand. The Santa Rosa County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: 5:30 p.m., 6464 Gulf Breeze Blvd., Gulf Breeze.

Happening today — Sen. Shevrin Jones will hold a news conference for the Miami Carol City Senior High School, where a group of 10 students, accompanied by two chaperones, will embark on a historic trip to the White House this week. The group will visit Washington, D.C. and participate in the official State Arrival Ceremony of the Prime Minister of Australia alongside President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden: 9 a.m., Miami Carol City Senior High School Principal’s Conference Room, 3301 Miami Gardens Dr., Miami Gardens.

Happening today — Rep. Michele Rayner is hosting a pre-Session workshop joined by special guests Ellen Anderson of the Moffitt Cancer Center and LaToya Sheals of Becker & Poliakoff: 6 p.m., Emanuel P. Johnson Recreation Center, 5855 S 78th St., Tampa. For more info, call (727)-900-2741 or [email protected].

Conservation Florida launches ‘Protect Our Paradise’ docuseries” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Conservation Florida, a leading nonprofit that works to preserve and protect Florida’s natural resources and environment, is launching a new docuseries, Protect Our Paradise, along with Crawford Entertainment and the Discover Florida Channel. The six-episode series will stream globally on the Discover Florida Channel. It explores Florida’s wild and unique destinations and spotlights the more than 100,000 acres of land that are lost each year to development, critical lands local endangered species, such as the Florida panther, rely on for survival. “I’ve been exploring Florida’s beauty my whole life, so seeing the environmental challenges we face was difficult,” said Chad Crawford, Protect Our Paradise host and founder of Crawford Entertainment. “The land that we love is being threatened like never before — and let’s face it, we’re all part of the problem.”

To watch the trailer, please click the image below:


John Rutherford draws Primary challenger” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — It appears that Jacksonville’s U.S. Rep. Rutherford will face a Primary challenge after all. Mara Macie has filed in the Primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Duval and part of St. Johns County. This is a repeat matchup. Macie was one of two Primary challengers to Rutherford in 2022. She was unsuccessful, getting 18% of the vote and finishing in a distant second place, with Rutherford taking 66% in that election. When asked about how she might improve on her finish last year, she said it was a matter of resources rather than candidate quality, arguing the finish “has a lot more to do with money and I think you know that.”

Mara Macie steps up to Primary John Rutherford.

Dan Webster outraises money-burning Anthony Sabatini 3-to-1” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Webster outraised GOP Primary opponent Sabatini more than 3-to-1 in the third quarter. Moreover, Sabatini burned through every dollar he raised and then some. Webster collected close to $143,000 from July through September. By comparison, Sabatini raised just over $46,000. But Sabatini narrowly outspent Webster, pumping almost $51,000 into his race while the incumbent spent under $49,000.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami City Commission candidate facing gun charge after argument over campaign signs” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Frank Pichel, a longtime Miami political figure and former cop running for a Miami City Commission seat in November, was taken into custody this weekend and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm for allegedly pulling a gun against the campaign worker of an opponent. Pichel’s main opponent for Miami’s District 1 Commission seat: Alex Díaz de la Portilla, the incumbent Commissioner who was suspended from office just last month by DeSantis after being arrested on public corruption charges. The alleged incident took place at or near the Pearl Apartment complex on Northwest 17th Avenue and 33rd Street and involved an argument over an election sign.

What’s up with Miami? Commission candidate Frank Pichel gets nailed for aggregated assault with a firearm.

Gregory Tony has $628K for Broward County Sheriff re-election bid” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Broward County Sheriff Tony’s bid to get re-elected promises high drama and beaucoup bucks with the first reports showing cash donations on the level of a congressional race. Less than a month since announcing his bid, Tony has $628,000 in cash-on-hand, counting both his personal campaign donations and those to the political committee supporting him, Broward First. About $465,000 of it came in during the last quarterly reporting period that ended Sept. 30. Tony is currently facing three rivals running as Democrats, as well as an independent candidate. They are all vying to lead the largest, fully accredited Sheriff’s Office in the country, with 5,800 employees and an annual operating budget of nearly $1 billion.

Rachelle Litt picks up School Board support in HD 94 bid — Ahead of an election year that’s sure to feature Democratic Party criticism of Republicans’ recent education measures, a great bulk (75%) of the Palm Beach County School Board is supporting Litt’s bid for state House. Litt, a Democratic candidate, unveiled the six School Board endorsements this week saying the members are choosing to back her because of her “commitment to advancing progressive values within the education system.” With Republicans recently targeting traditional classroom education and expanding non-traditional schooling options, School Board endorsements may play a greater role in the 2024 elections than years prior. One of Litt’s new supporters suggested as much by saying Litt will “stand up against the MAGA takeover of our public education system and ensure that Palm Beach County’s public schools receive the funding and support they need to provide students with an outstanding education.” Litt is the former Mayor of Palm Beach Gardens. She’s raised $50,000 so far in her race, which features five Republican candidates and zero Democratic challengers to Litt. The incumbent, Republican Rep. Rick Roth, is term-limited in 2024.

FIU will pay $575K after gender paycheck discrimination against 163 women, feds say” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — After a federal salary review, Florida International University (FIU) has been accused of gender pay discrimination against 163 women. While the Miami-based public university said it disagreed with the findings, it will pay $575,000 in back pay and interest to settle the allegation. That works out to $3,527.61 for each woman that the U.S. Department of Labor said was shorted on pay. Each woman worked in what the federal department called “mid-level executive” positions at FIU. The review found they were paid less than men in similar jobs at the university. The alleged discrimination happened from Aug. 1, 2017, through Aug. 1, 2018. The Department of Labor released details of the case this month.

International boat show expected to draw 100,000 to spectacle of superyachts, with possible $1.79B boost to region” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The 64th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the ultimate mix of business and pleasure marine style, will take over the southern end of the city’s waterways next week with an expected 100,000 visitors and a return to a full complement of venues on both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway. Some 15,000 credentialed workers toiled this past week setting up what its promoters bill as the world’s largest boat show, which will run between Oct. 25-29 at sites including the Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Pier Sixty-Six and the Broward County Convention Center, among others.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is a celebration of high-end marine style for business and pleasure.

Riding the bus will soon be free in Miami-Dade County. What to know about the changes” via Grethel Aguila and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — If you take the bus to commute around Miami-Dade, you’re in luck. You can soon ride for free. Miami-Dade’s Department of Transportation and Public Works confirmed that fares will be suspended for both bus service and the Metrorail system from Nov. 13 through the rest of 2023. Fares for both are usually $2.25 per trip. The county did not release a cost estimate for the transit system not collecting fares for roughly six weeks. The 2024 budget forecast estimates $76 million in fares this year, meaning an average of roughly $1.5 million a week. For six weeks, the average fare revenue would be roughly $9 million.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Seminole Elections Supervisor calls for Republican Party investigation into discrimination claims” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — Nearly two months after sharing on social media allegations of racial discrimination he has faced as Seminole County’s first Black Supervisor of Elections, Chris Anderson has called on Christian Ziegler, Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, to open an investigation into the claims. The eight-page letter was emailed to Ziegler and other prominent Republicans including DeSantis, Sen. Jason Brodeur, Rep. David Smith and Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the Republican National Committee. “As the (Chair) of our party, you have the authority, duty, and humane obligation to address these racial discrimination and retaliation concerns swiftly,” Anderson wrote to Ziegler.

Chris Anderson is calling on the Florida GOP to investigate charges of discrimination.

200,000 people showed up for Orlando Pride in defiant middle finger to DeSantis” via Bil Browning of LBGTQ Nation — Over 200,000 people showed up for Orlando Pride over the weekend, as an 11-year-old transgender girl led the parade as Grand Marshal. The event was seen as a way to push back against DeSantis’ ongoing campaign of discrimination and persecution of the LGBTQ+ community. Dubbed the “Come Out with Pride” celebration, the revelers crowded around Lake Eola. Local news reports that “a sea of people” filled the streets around the lake to watch “the Most Colorful Parade” in the state.

Questions and concerns linger as Pulse property deal heads to vote” via Amanda Rabines of the Orlando Sentinel — A deal for the city of Orlando to purchase the Pulse nightclub property may have averted the construction of a memorial at a different location — a potential reality many survivors and family members of victims lamented. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer revealed the city plans to purchase the Pulse site for $2 million. But the bluster that led the city to intervene has ignited questions and concerns from the public and the people closest to the tragedy. It’s unclear whether the city intends to involve the onePulse Foundation, which originally spearheaded plans for a memorial. After the pandemic, the foundation’s original plans fell apart when the costs to collectively build a Pulse Museum, memorial and Survivors Walk skyrocketed.

3 candidates seek 2 seats on Barefoot Bay Recreation District’s Board of Trustees” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — Two seats on the Barefoot Bay Recreation District’s Board of Trustees are contested this year, with three candidates running. That is the governing body that oversees municipal management for the South Brevard County community. The Board is made up of five members, who are elected to two-year terms, without term limits, to govern the unincorporated, deed-restricted manufactured home community and recreation district. Board members are volunteers and don’t receive a salary. Barefoot Bay Board members are elected at large, meaning all constituents can vote for all Trustees across the community rather than voting by district for the five-member Board, which includes a Chair, a First Vice Chair, a Second Vice Chair, a Treasurer and a Secretary.

FDLE arrests 3 on election fraud charges including fraudulent use of a dead person’s ID” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — A Daytona Beach woman was among three paid circulators of elections petitions arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on allegations of fraud. Arterria Bernay McCutcheon, 31, was arrested and booked into the Volusia County Jail, where she is listed as having been arrested on nine counts of violating probation. An FDLE news release states she will face nine felony charges of fraudulent use of the identification of a deceased person. The investigation of McCutcheon and another arrestee, Nelson Judah Stone, 26, of Apopka, began in February after the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Wendy Sartory Link, provided FDLE with copies of suspected fraudulent petitions.

Halifax reports ‘record number’ of trauma patients admitted during Biketoberfest” via the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Halifax Health is reporting a “record number” of trauma patients over the Biketoberfest weekend, with 39 admitted over a four-day period, according to a news release. Of the 39, 19 were wearing helmets, according to the hospital. It was a six-patient increase in patients with trauma admissions over last year’s event. Of those, 14 were wearing helmets. “The beautiful weather we experienced over the weekend most likely contributed to a slightly larger crowd for Biketoberfest,” said Director of Emergency and Trauma Services Lindsay Duffy. Of the 39 patients with Trauma injuries, nine were Volusia County residents and 17 patients were from out of state.

Biketober in Daytona can be a bit traumatic.


Nadia Combs, one of DeSantis’ 2024 School Board targets, faces well-funded Senator’s wife” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County School Board Chair Combs may have a tough fight on her hands this election cycle as she faces a well-funded conservative candidate. Combs, seeking re-election to the District 1 seat, is being challenged by Layla Collins, wife of first-term Sen. Jay Collins. Recently filed quarterly financial reports show Collins has heavy buy-in from conservative donors and interests. She brought in nearly $37,000 in the third quarter, which covers July 1 through Sept. 30. Combs, meanwhile, posted just $100, a loan from herself to the re-election campaign. Combs has said she expects her challenger to raise big funds, “an obscene amount of money,” she said.

Nadia Combs gets a well-financed challenger.

City Council allocates $3.5 million in housing assistance” via Mark Parker of the St. Pete Catalyst — St. Petersburg residents struggling to afford rent, pay utility bills and avoid homelessness will benefit from city officials dedicating over $3.5 million in federal funding to housing initiatives. The city received its third and final reallocation of pandemic-era Emergency Rental Assistance funding (ERA2) in April. At their Oct. 19 meeting, Council members unanimously approved adding the $956,924 to a previously unspent $2.55 million installment. The Council also agreed on how to obligate the money, which previously came with stringent federal stipulations. However, Avery Slyker, assistant director for housing and community development, said the U.S. Department of Treasury has eased requirements for administrators and applicants. “In ERA2, all residents can self-attest to their COVID impact,” Slyker said. “We found that inflation is definitely the No. 1 cause, and the Treasury Department said we can absolutely use that. Everything is literally a check of a box this time.”

Forum addresses health, wellness issues with Black women” via Trevor Pettiford of Bay News 9 — Over the weekend, women of color in St. Petersburg shared their experiences with breast cancer, domestic violence and mental health. The program, called “Living Beyond Our Scars,” had speakers who had lived through some of the most challenging issues anyone could face and prevail. “This event was designed to create a safe space so that we can talk about the things that impact us the most especially during this time of year,” said event host Sharlene Emmanuel Edwards. “Breast cancer, domestic violence and mental wellness impact Black women at a disproportionate rate than others in the community and we really wanted to create an afternoon of just healing, talking and sharing stories that can help us move forward and learn.” According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, it’s estimated that 43,000 women will die from breast cancer this year in the United States. Black women are 40% more likely to die than white women and 30% more likely than Hispanic women.

New season, new Pinellas docking spot for Cross Bay Ferry” via Spectrum News — Now operating in its seventh season, the Cross Bay Ferry continues to shuttle more passengers across Tampa Bay between St. Pete and Tampa. But there are some changes this season. The St. Pete ferry stop is no longer in the Central Yacht Basin near Straub Park. Instead, the ferry is docking at the Port of St. Pete, located a few blocks south on 8th Avenue Southeast. The city is also adding additional free parking in the lot adjacent to the port building. Also, officials said the city will add more corrals for more e-bikes and scooters, in addition to a new trolley stop. The ferry, which makes four round trips each day, can move up to 149 passengers per trip. One-way adult tickets begin at $12.

New season, new drop-off for the Cross Bay Ferry.

Requiring smaller parking lots may be too urban for Pasco, Board says” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Shrinking the size of parking areas in future development provides a variety of benefits to a community, consultant Catherine Hartley told the Pasco County Planning Commission last week. Fewer and smaller parking spaces mean larger buildings can be located on a property, the community can collect more tax revenue from that, and it can enhance the walkability for residents and customers on a site. But the Planning Commission wasn’t buying it. While staff recommended that the county replace minimum parking requirements with maximums on several types of development, such as multifamily housing and commercial projects, the Board soundly rejected the idea after a contentious discussion. Planning Commissioner Jon Moody, an engineer, said he knew he would have potential clients who would want to build a bigger business on a lot without parking if given that option. That could send customers looking for parking in other lots or roadsides. He suggested that dropping the number of minimum spaces might be a better option. He also said another portion of the proposal to make a greater portion of spaces for compact cars made no sense when the most popular vehicles being sold today are larger vehicles, including full-size trucks.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

How will Mayor Donna Deegan divide $25 million to meet first-year priorities?” via Hanna Holthaus of the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union — Deegan’s first 100 days took her around the city, listening to the concerns of the community and responding to their questions. Her next steps are to address the problems she heard. “If you go and you have those community meetings and they say ‘Hey, nobody’s fixed my pothole in six years’ and then you still don’t fix their pothole, they’re probably more mad than ever,” Deegan said. “So that’s the follow-up.” She promoted her boosts to the city’s resilience plan and the passing of her first budget.

Jacksonville is waiting for Donna Deegan’s spending plans.

Deegan, an FSU grad, adopts neutral stance during Florida-Georgia” via Garry Smits of the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union — Deegan is the first Florida State graduate to be elected Jacksonville Mayor — an office that has been held by a fair amount of University of Florida graduates such as Lenny Curry, John Delaney, Hans Tanzler and Lou Ritter. As a result, she’s finding it easy to be neutral in her first Florida-Georgia week as the Mayor and showed up for a news conference at City Hall on Monday in a navy blue and white outfit.

‘Can you be fair?’ Jury selection begins in Charlie Adelson murder trial” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of Adelson, the Fort Lauderdale periodontist charged as the mastermind in the 2014 murder-for-hire killing of Dan Markel. Leon Circuit Judge Stephen Everett, who is presiding, told the first batch of jurors Monday morning that jury selection could run through Thursday and that the entire trial could last for three weeks. He gave an overview of the allegations, telling them that on July 18, 2014, Markel, a Florida State University law professor, was shot while seated in his car in the driveway of his home in Betton Hills.

UF offers community service opportunities ahead of Ben Sasse inauguration” via Lillian Lawson of the Gainesville Sun — University of Florida President Sasse will have his official inauguration on Nov. 2 at the University Auditorium, nearly nine months after assuming the role. The inauguration, which UF is calling an investiture ceremony, will place an emphasis on Sasse’s community service spirit, according to a UF news release. The university will have multiple community service opportunities beginning Oct. 29 and continue through Inauguration Day. The Brown Center for Leadership and Service, Gators Volunteer, and other UF and community organizations will collaborate to offer multiple community service opportunities throughout the inauguration week. Some include assisting with food pantries and homeless shelters, organizing health fairs and working in gardens.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend receives major donation from Latter-day Saints” via Margie Menzel of WFSU — Second Harvest of the Big Bend received a donation of nearly $1 million on Monday. That will greatly speed up the food bank’s timetable for fighting hunger. Second Harvest CEO Monique Ellsworth says the gift will help the food bank build and operate a special kitchen. They’ll be able to cook food, seal it, flash-freeze it, and then distribute premade, highly nutritious meals. “On top of that, all that will come out with labels on it that educate families on why we eat zucchini or squash, what is the health benefit of peppers,” she said.

Pensacola’s IMPACT 100 women grant nearly $1.2 million to local organizations this year” via the Pensacola News Journal — IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area awarded 11 local organizations $108,364 each at its annual meeting on Sunday. In its 20-year history, IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area has awarded over 150 grants to over 100 organizations totaling more than $16 million. The 2023 grant money came from 1,192 members, each giving $1,000 annually.

Vote from state lawmakers to investigate Gainesville, Mayor voided due to Committee rule” via Nora O’Neill of the Gainesville Sun — A vote from the state’s Joint Legislative Auditing Committee to investigate the city of Gainesville and Mayor Harvey Ward is void after lawmakers failed to follow their own rules. Last week, the Committee voted 6-4 to investigate potential sunshine violations from Ward and other Commissioners after they decided not to issue bonds for the municipal utility, Gainesville Regional Utilities. The motion, which garnered a 4-2 affirmative vote from JLAC House members, failed to reach a majority from the Senate with a 2-2 tie. Although Co-Chair Rep. Mike Caruso stated the motion passed, it didn’t because the action required a majority vote from the House and the Senate, a JLAC coordinator confirmed in an email. Sen. Nick DiCeglie, a Republican who could have pushed the tied 2-2 Senate vote to a majority, was absent from the meeting.

Harvey Ward is off the hook — for now.

‘Return on investment’: City Commissioners join other local officials in D.C.” Via Arianna Otero of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee City Commission members joined other elected officials from Florida in Washington, D.C., as part of a Biden administration program, Communities in Action. The program brings local officials to the nation’s capital to discuss how they’ve used federal funding within their communities, such as money from the American Rescue Plan. Commissioners Jeremy Matlow, Jack Porter and Dianne Williams-Cox represented Tallahassee and discussed local projects they’ve been pushing for, such as Star Metro and their work toward creating more affordable housing opportunities. “One thing in particular we talked about was [the federal] investment into Star Metro, upward of $20 million in an investment into our electric fleet,” said Porter.


Clean campaign pledge emerges as defining topic of Venice City Council race” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Near the end of a League of Women Voters of Sarasota County-sponsored Venice City Council candidate forum, comments from the two candidates running for Seat 2 painted the defining topic of the 2023 race as the clean campaign pledge proffered by Venice Thrives at the start of the season. Ron Smith, in response to a question about what candidates could do about negative campaign flyers, said: “All I’d ask of candidates is to sign the pledge not to do it and condemn it when they see it.” “I certainly signed the pledge — it’s a very simple pledge — everybody should sign it,” he continued. “I was out challenging the League of Women Voters tonight to be the sponsors of that pledge.”

Ron Smith vows to run a ‘clean campaign’ for the Venice Council.

‘Tis the season! Fort Myers Beach Chamber announces return of annual holiday boat parade” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — The annual Fort Myers Beach Boat Parade is coming back! Yes. It’s true. And it is definitely something to celebrate in a community and throughout a region that continues to recover from the devastating Hurricane Ian that hit on Sept. 28, 2022. Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jacki Liszak confirmed the good news with the News-Press. Liszak said the official announcement will come later this week. The chamber is the organizer of the parade. Liszak said the parade will be Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. This will be the 34th boat parade for Fort Myers Beach after it was postponed last December because of Hurricane Ian.

Sarasota circuit judge rules against One Park developers in ‘air rights’ case at The Quay” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A Sarasota County circuit judge has ruled that a luxury condo developer cannot buy the “air rights” in a Sarasota bay front development, which will send the long-planned high-rise project back to the drawing board, unless the ruling is overturned on appeal. Representatives for Quay 1 and 9 LLC, the development company behind One Park Sarasota, said they have been working on an alternative development plan that would result in two buildings on the property instead of the one that had been planned if the judge’s ruling did not favor them. “When revealed, these iconic communities will underscore our commitment to redefining luxury living on the west coast of Florida,” said Kevin Maloney of Property Markets Group.

New Cooper Street Board wants a chance to speak to City Council” via Elaine Allen-Emrich of the Port Charlotte Sun — Jaha Cummings is concerned the Punta Gorda City Council is bypassing the New Operation Cooper Street Board — which operates the Cooper Street Rec Center — without a real conversation about the lease or what happens at the community center. At a recent meeting, some Council members complained there’s no leadership at the Cooper Street Rec Center after the death of Dr. David Klein. Klein, who died in August, had been president of the New Cooper Street Rec Center Board. Klein sent financial statements to the city a month before he died. Punta Gorda City Manager Greg Murray said the city didn’t receive paperwork, including 990 forms, from the center.


How Matt Gaetz and Vern Buchanan might deliver Florida’s first-ever U.S. House Speaker” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Together, Gaetz and Buchanan may have collectively charted a path to deliver the first-ever Speaker of the House from Florida.

Florida’s outsized influence on the congressional map would give Gaetz and Buchanan the opening they desired to ensure Florida secured an outsized presence at the leadership table.

Gaetz did this by drawing procedural and legislative concessions from Kevin McCarthy while forcing him to endure 15 brutal rounds in his quest for Speaker.

Buchanan accomplished his part by running for Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful legislative panel in Congress.

But that’s when things went off the rails.

In one of the most transparent back-stabbings in recent memory, McCarthy turned on Buchanan, costing Florida the opportunity to claim its only Committee Chair. The blatant snub would be followed by a dust-up on the House floor where Buchanan laid into McCarthy, earning widespread cheers from MAGA influencers and the right flank.

It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Gaetz would make his move to remove McCarthy from his throne.

The first nominee to receive a vote for Speaker would be Jordan, an ultraconservative beloved by many in the GOP’s base.

Both Gaetz and Buchanan would support Jordan for Speaker on the first round of voting.

There was one problem though — Jordan lost 20 Republican votes — many of whom said they would never waver.

So that’s when the savvy Buchanan offered up an alternative to the Speaker conversation — Florida Congressman Donalds.


Trump’s lead and GOP decision-making” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — The Republican majority in the House, of course, is still trying to elect a Speaker. There are now at least nine candidates for the job, and public debate on the race is set to begin on Tuesday. Many critics are pointing out that seven of the nine voted to decertify the results of the 2020 Election from Arizona and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, 2021. That’s not likely to have a big effect on the Speaker contest. What Trump says about the contest will have more influence on GOP thinking. There have been many news reports that Trump has told allies he does not support Tom Emmer’s bid for Speaker. It is unclear exactly what Trump has against Emmer, but Trump often goes after those he feels have not supported him enthusiastically enough.

Legislators must protect high-tech job growth, national security concerns” via Edward Longe for the Tallahassee Democrat — In today’s interconnected and fast-paced environment, safeguarding our national interests necessitates a proactive and strategic approach to legislative action. As Florida moves into the 2024 Legislative Session, lawmakers must recognize the invaluable role tech companies and innovators play in driving prosperity, job creation, and our national security. Through fostering a legislative environment that encourages and nurtures our tech industry, we can ensure Florida remains an economic powerhouse and allow the nation to stay ahead in this fiercely competitive landscape.


— ALOE —

Disney+ series returns with behind the scenes at Epcot episode” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The second season of “Behind the Attraction” is headed to Disney+, and Epcot lovers will find more than one episode that hits home. The six-part series, which becomes available on the streaming service on Nov. 1, has an entire program devoted to the past, present and future of Epcot, plus episodes devoted to nighttime spectaculars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, theme-park food and Indiana Jones Adventure. The format is the same as season one, flooded with factoids, quippy interviews with Imagineers and other Disney experts and off-screen narrator Paget Brewster. The series gets a lot of mileage out of time with veteran Imagineers Bob Gurr and Tony Baxter. The result is history lesson meets trivia contest.

To watch a trailer for the show, please click the image below:


Celebrating today are the still awesome Kelly Cohen of The Southern Group, and Erin Rock, also of The Southern Group (and also still pretty awesome).


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

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