Good Monday morning.
Today marks 22 years since the heinous acts of terror conducted on American soil on Sept. 11, 2001. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost, including first responders, military personnel and civilians in attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon and on a plane where brave passengers thwarted yet another attack.
It is one of those historic moments in time that leaves a scar so painful, Americans alive at the time of the attacks old enough to process the gravity can all answer the question: Where were you when the first tower fell?
In remembrance of this somber day, in honor of the lives lost and in recognition of the healing that has occurred in the decades since, Gov. Ron DeSantis has directed American and Florida state flags to be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations and grounds from midnight to midnight.
Additionally, events are planned across the state in remembrance of that fateful day.
In Pinellas County, beach communities are hosting several events, including a 9/11 Memorial Walk at 8 a.m. from the Belleair Beach Community Center, a ceremony at the American Legion Post 273 in Madeira Beach, and a commemoration at the Gulfport Casino at 8:30 a.m. Curlew Hills Memorial Garden, home to the largest 9/11 memorial in Florida, is hosting a memorial service at 10 a.m. while St. Petersburg College will host a Patriot Day Memorial at 9:15 a.m. at its Seminole campus.
Likewise in Tampa, events are being held at the 9/11 Fallen Heroes Memorial at 1900 N. 20th St. all day.
In the Orlando area, a 9/11 Memorial Service is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Town Square Park in Windermere and a 9/11 Hero Day is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Downtown Orlando YMCA.
In South Florida, a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at Dr. Lester Brown Park in Miami Gardens.
Many other local events are scheduled. Check local listings for an opportunity to pay respects to those who lost their lives in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil in American history.
Adams and Reese LLP is adding longtime procurement and contract expert Patrick Gillespie to strengthen its government relations practice in Tallahassee.
Gillespie is a former Florida Department of Management Services Deputy Secretary of Business Operations and has worked in the Florida Capitol for the last seven years — with more than 12 years in various roles in The Process.
“Patrick understands how business gets done in Tallahassee, particularly with a focus on procurement and contracts,” said Herschel Vinyard, counsel for Adams and Reese in Jacksonville. “He will draw on his experience to help business partners achieve their goals with government. We are excited for him to help bring winning strategies and guidance to a variety of our clients.”
As Deputy Secretary, Gillespie oversaw more than 400 employees in the areas of real estate development and management, telecommunications and private prison management, among others. He helped secure funding for and assisted design of the State Emergency Operations Center; architectural, structural, systems, and access modernizations to the Capitol; as well as other major projects in the state. Beyond the $900 million in active construction throughout the state, Gillespie managed reforms to the state’s procurement strategy and upgrades to the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System.
“I am excited to lead this practice area and provide clients with guidance and strategy in the often difficult-to-navigate world of public procurement, contracting and account management,” Gillespie said.
The country is celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week Sept. 10-16. It’s a reminder of the importance of the 3.5 million hardworking men and women and the sacrifices they make every day to keep America moving. Florida Trucking Association is known as one of the “big three,” due to the Association’s size, power, and wield on both the state and the country’s economy, with more than 130,000 trucking companies calling Florida home.
“It’s easy to take professional truck drivers for granted on any given day,” said FTA President and CEO Alix Miller. “But as our drivers continue to deliver emergency supplies in the wake of Hurricane Idalia and stay focused as some of the last-ones-in, first-ones-back on the road during hurricane season, this week is an opportunity to recognize the hard work these men and women do, leaving their own homes and families to serve the people of our state. Whether it’s fuel for evacuations, medicine, water or food … or just a regular package arriving at your door — truck drivers deliver.”
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida GOP 2023 Statesman’s Dinner — 3; Florida House Fall 2023 Interim Committee Meetings begin — 7; Loki Season Two premieres — 25; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 39; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 42; Britney Spears memoir ‘The Woman in Me’ drops — 43; NBA 2023-24 season tipoff — 43; Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ released — 46; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 53; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 56; 2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 59; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 60; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 67; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 73; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 79; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 81; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 93; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 102; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 120; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In — 120; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 120; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 126; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 125; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 142; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 153; Georgia Democratic Primary — 153; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 165; Michigan Democratic Primary — 171; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 175; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 181; 2024 Oscars — 183; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 232; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 241; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 252; the Republican National Convention begins — 308; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 310; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 319; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 319; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 348; Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 403; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 406; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 466; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 522; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 599; ‘Moana’ premieres — 656; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 830; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 963; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 985; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,198; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,337; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,293; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,656.
— TOP STORY —
“Ron DeSantis’ affordable housing director placed on leave — again” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis’ affordable housing director was placed on administrative leave for a second time after an investigation determined he created a hostile work environment and violated other policies.
During a Friday meeting, the board of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation voted to place its executive director, Mike DiNapoli, on paid leave for the second time in two months. The decision was made to appease Board member Meredith Ivey, a former DeSantis representative who is now a deputy secretary of the Department of Commerce.
Ivey said she needed more time to read the report but blasted its contents and voiced support for DiNapoli. The board also voted Friday to prohibit employees who spoke to the inspector general from being fired without cause. Ivey voted against it.
On Thursday, the corporation’s inspector general revealed the contents of a two-month investigation into DiNapoli, whose appointment by DeSantis in February has roiled the close-knit organization.
Employees of the corporation told investigators that DiNapoli screamed at staff, made sexist comments, talked about their weight and threatened their jobs.
“The conduct is severe and pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive,” said the inspector general, Chris Hirst, on Thursday.
Since DiNapoli was appointed by DeSantis in February, 15 people — 10% of the corporation’s workforce — have quit or been fired by DiNapoli. Board members said they were concerned with so many people leaving, especially after the Legislature this year assigned a record $711 million to address the state’s affordable housing crisis.
“DeSantis invited to meet with 9/11 families in NYC to commemorate 22nd anniversary of terror attacks” via Selim Algar of The New York Post — DeSantis will meet with the families of 9/11 victims in New York City to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the terror attacks Monday. Seven families invited the Republican Governor and first lady Casey DeSantis to meet with them at the site of the attacks to mark this year’s anniversary, a DeSantis spokesperson said. The details of their Manhattan itinerary next week have not yet been released.
“DeSantis says he’s ready for next GOP debate and wasn’t a target at first one because of ‘record of success’” via Rashad Simmons of The Hill — “I’ve done the things that people are talking about that we need to do for this country … So, I’m armed to say that I’ve done it,” DeSantis said. DeSantis was asked about Trump not attending the first debate, saying, “He [Trump] owes it to the public” and “being entitled to the nomination is absurd.” The Governor said he is ready for the next GOP debate as he believes it will be on a smaller stage due to some candidates not qualifying: “(F)ar be it from me to tell anyone who to run or not run, but you either have a path or you don’t. And if you don’t have a path, then we should focus on the candidates that have a conceivable shot at this.”
“DeSantis voiced complaints about top super PAC strategist, people familiar with comments say” via Hannah Knowles of The Washington Post — DeSantis has expressed regrets over Jeff Roe’s hiring as a lead strategist at the super PAC Never Back Down, two of the people said. One, a DeSantis donor, heard the comments directly from the Governor. DeSantis has also voiced anger over a pre-debate strategy memo from Never Back Down, which was publicly posted last month on the website of Roe’s firm, Axiom, these people said. One of them, the donor, said the Governor was “apoplectic.” Private sniping between officials at the campaign and super PAC erupted publicly in news reports over the Summer as DeSantis lost ground in polling to Trump. But the accounts of DeSantis’ private concerns with Roe have not been previously reported.
“DeSantis’ 2024 team is coming apart at the seams” via Gabriel Sherman of The Atlantic — Embarrassing leaks are signs of a campaign in serious trouble. But in many ways, DeSantis’ travails shouldn’t be surprising. The case for his campaign hinged on the theory that the Republican base was abandoning Trump and looking for an alternative. But that didn’t happen. Trump’s enduring support, even amid four criminal indictments, has effectively put DeSantis in a box. He can’t attack Trump because that would alienate his supporters, but he can’t ignore him either. Furthermore, many former DeSantis staffers said the robotic and famously thin-skinned candidate would crash on the national stage. “DeSantis is a distressed stock,” a second GOP operative recently told me. “Reality is hitting. He is a bad candidate,” added a third operative.
“Former House Republican says Joe Biden, Donald Trump polls should ‘send off alarm bells’ to GOP” via Lauren Sforza of The Hill — Former GOP Rep. John Katko said that the polls showing a hypothetical matchup between Biden and Trump should “send off alarm bells” to the Republican Party. Katko said on ABC’s “This Week” that despite “how bad” Biden’s numbers are, Trump is still not beating him. “Trump is not beating him. Trump’s even with him,” he said on the panel. “And so that should send off alarm bells in my opinion in the Republican Party. And if you look at it, you have a group of people that they put Biden against, and the only one that’s got a significant lead would be Nikki Haley.”
“Democrats start to panic about Biden” via The Wall Street Journal — This is the season of Democratic discontent, as the party and its media friends fret about Biden’s low standing in the polls. The questions to ask are what took them so long, and what are they going to do about it? The latest panic comes amid polls showing that Biden’s job approval is 42% or so. Despite White House cheerleading about Bidenomics, voters give Biden little credit. He’s tied with Trump in a 2024 matchup, which shows how weak Biden is for an incumbent with a growing economy.
—”New national polls find DeSantis with single-digit support in GOP Primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
—”Why Republican voters are just not that into DeSantis” via Katie Phang of NBC News
—”Gavin Newsom says DeSantis is ‘fundamentally authoritarian’” via Richard Luscombe of The Guardian
Happening today — DeSantis will join Laura Ingraham on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle”: 7 p.m. Eastern.
“DeSantis tells Iowans: ‘I’m with farmers’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A new op-ed in the Des Moines Register argues a “robust agriculture sector is a key part of a stronger America, especially when it comes to the vitality of family farms and ranches,” and blames Washington for making farmers’ jobs tougher than they should be. “In traveling across Iowa, I have spoken with farmers, ranchers, and others involved in the state’s agriculture industry about the challenges they face. Iowa farmers exemplify the values — faith in God, belief in family, and love of country — that serve as the foundation of America and do a great job feeding the world. Yet, the federal government insists on making it more difficult to farm,” the Governor writes.
“Trump and DeSantis play offense during Iowa football rivalry” via Jack McCordick of Vanity Fair — The Iowa-Iowa State college football game wasn’t the only hotly contested rivalry on display in the Hawkeye state Saturday, as Trump and DeSantis made some defensive moves ahead of the first GOP Primary in January 2024. Trump “drew far more eager and excited onlookers who appeared unbothered that he faces criminal charges in four separate cases.” But the former President’s reception wasn’t universally positive and met with audible boos and obscene gestures. DeSantis indirectly addressed Trump’s sprawling criminal indictments during the game. “Iowans don’t want the campaign to be about the past or to be about the candidates’ issues,” he said. “They want it to be about their future and the future of this country. And that’s what I represent.”
“‘Where’s Melania?’ banner flies above Iowa football game as Trump met with cheers, jeers and middle fingers” via Alex Woodward of The Independent — In one of his first public appearances after he was formally booked on racketeering charges in Georgia, Trump arrived at the closely watched football matchup between the University of Iowa and Iowa State University on Saturday to a wave of cheers, audible booing and a banner asking “Where’s Melania?” Trump’s campaign stops also marked the first time that he was at the same place as one of his closest rivals, DeSantis, since their appearances at the Iowa State Fair last month, as the Republican candidates vying for the GOP’s 2024 nomination prepare for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses early next year.
“COVID hero or ‘lockdown Ron’? DeSantis and Trump renew pandemic politics” via Nicholas Nehamas of The New York Times — The virus could be an important wedge issue for DeSantis, who at times has struggled to provide voters with a clear case for why he would be a better President than Trump. But there are questions about whether a pandemic that many Americans see as long over will resonate with the electorate in 2024. A recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases is giving DeSantis a chance to press the argument. In response to the uptick, a small number of schools, universities and hospitals have told students, patients and employees to wear masks again. DeSantis and other Republicans have seized on that as evidence that the COVID-19 debate, which they frame as a civil rights battle, is far from over.
“DeSantis snipes at New Mexico Governor’s gun restrictions” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. Yet Florida’s Governor is notably disenchanted with the Southwestern state after its Democratic Governor took a stand against guns. “Just a few months after ending the COVID ‘public health emergency,’ the Governor of New Mexico has declared a new ‘public health emergency’: Guns. She is now asserting the power to infringe on Second Amendment rights by executive fiat. This assertion is not surprising — since 2020, ‘public health’ has become a pretext for depriving citizens of civil liberties and trampling on our Constitutional rights,” DeSantis tweeted Saturday.
— MORE 2024 —
“Biden and Trump are tied in the polls. Democrats have mixed feelings about it.” via Sahil Kapur of NBC News — Trump is polling even with Biden in a likely 2024 rematch, sparking mixed feelings among Democrats 14 months from Election Day. Some are alarmed by the neck-and-neck race, while Biden campaign officials and other allies downplay the recent polls as meaningless this early in the cycle. “Despite awaiting trial on 91 felony counts, Trump is a coin flip away from the presidency,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former adviser to Barack Obama, wrote.
“Brian Kemp, DeSantis campaigns reject Trump’s ‘COVID Tyrant’ claims” via Lauren Sforza of The Hill — The campaigns for Georgia Gov. Kemp and DeSantis are both pushing back on Trump’s “COVID Tyrant” claims. Kemp responded to a video of Trump where the former President said that “COIVD Tyrant[s]” want to take away Americans’ freedoms and called on people to “not comply.” Kemp appeared to take the video as an attack on how he handled COVID-19 and blasted Trump for not supporting his decision to roll back pandemic restrictions in 2020.
“Biden ads target Florida women, slam DeSantis and Trump abortion policies” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Biden’s campaign has bought ads in Florida slamming DeSantis’ abortion ban and Trump for making it possible. Entitled “These Guys,” the one-minute spot starts with images of young women visiting with physicians. “Reproductive health care decisions are among the most personal a woman will ever make,” a narrator said. “They are choices that should be made by you and your doctor, and the last people who should be involved are these guys.” The video quickly cuts to Republican presidential contenders discussing abortion. It starts with images.
To watch the ad, please click on the image below:
“Kamala Harris pushes back against Republican attacks on her ability to serve as President” via Summer Concepcion of NBC News — Harris on Sunday pushed back against GOP attacks on both her ability to serve as commander in chief if needed and Biden’s age in the early race for the White House. Republican candidates have homed in on the possibility of Harris’ serving as President while raising concerns about Biden’s age. If he wins a second term, Biden would be 86 years old at the end of it. Harris said the Republicans’ attacks against her abilities to serve in office are “not new.”
“Nikki Haley slams ’embarrassing’ Biden admin trips to China, says adversary has killed more Americans than 3 wars” via Emma Colton of Fox News — Haley slammed Biden for recently sending a handful of cabinet members to China, arguing it was “embarrassing” for the U.S. “China has been practically preparing for war with us for years,” Haley said. “They have killed more Americans than the Iraq … Afghanistan and Vietnam wars combined with their sending fentanyl over. I mean, how much more has to happen for Biden to realize you don’t send Cabinet members over to China to appease them? “You start getting serious with China and say, ‘We’re not going to put up with it.’”
“Mike Pence-Haley-Vivek Ramaswamy fight intensifies race for second place, leaving Trump unscathed” via Tal Axelrod of ABC News — The intensifying fight among Pence, Haley and Ramaswamy is underscoring what strategists say is the prevailing theme of the GOP Presidential Primary: Everyone’s running for second place. “They’re not losing to Ramaswamy, they’re losing to Trump,” Alex Conant, a GOP strategist. “I think tactically, they all have a lot to gain from engaging each other at this stage of the race. It’s good to show their supporters that they can fight, it generates media attention, which is the lifeblood of any campaign, and there’s no political cost to it,” Conant said.
“Haley and Pence rise in the polls without spending too much” via Hadriana Lowenkron and Laura Davison of Bloomberg — Pence drives his Ford pickup truck to meet donors near his hometown in Indiana. For the first Republican debate in Milwaukee, Haley stayed at a hotel that typically charges about $100 a day. These Republican presidential candidates running low-budget campaigns are climbing in the polls, while DeSantis, the candidate whose operation started with the most money, is seeing his support fade away.
“Chris Christie vows to ‘follow’ Trump if he skips the next GOP debates: ‘Wherever he goes, I’ll go’” via Marina Pitofsky of USA Today — Christie vowed that if Trump does not participate in future Republican debates, he’ll change his campaign schedule to set up his own faceoff with Trump. “I’m sure he’s not coming to the Reagan debate. We’ll give him another chance in Alabama,” Christie said, referencing the yet-to-be-scheduled third GOP debate expected later this year. “But if he doesn’t come there, then I’m going to follow him around the country,” Christie said. “Wherever he goes, I’ll go. And we’ll wind up talking to each other one way or another.”
“Christie spars with Fox News host over GOP support of Trump” via Thomas Kika of Newsweek — On Sunday, Christie made an appearance on Fox News for an interview with Howard Kurtz. During the discussion, Kurtz cited a POLITICO article claiming that the former Governor’s criticisms were only reaching those who have already been persuaded against Trump, to which Christie took issue. “Yeah, how did those people get persuaded in the first place?” Christie countered. “I mean, let’s face it, Howie, this is a guy who’s going to be sitting in a courtroom for all of March and most of April defending himself for trying to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power rather than making the case against Joe Biden.”
“Christie slams Ramaswamy as ‘a guy who lives in his own world’” via Julia Johnson of the Washington Examiner — Christie said Sunday that Ramaswamy “is not a serious candidate for President of the United States.” Appearing on Fox’s MediaBuzz, Christie said, “What he’s become is someone who likes to get interviewed on TV.” Ramaswamy has recently faced several controversies for appearing to change his positions on various policies. “I don’t think he’s a serious contender,” Christie added.
“Will Hurd says Ramaswamy’s 9/11 remark ‘spits in the face’ of the victims” via Alex Tabet of NBC News — Former Texas Rep. Hurd lambasted Ramaswamy Saturday for his recent remarks about 9/11 that suggested federal agents may have been aboard the planes that crashed that day. The criticism comes as Ramaswamy is slated to visit Ground Zero on Monday. “It spits in the face of the thousands of lives that we lost on that day and subsequently,” Hurd said of Ramaswamy’s comments at a campaign stop here. Ramaswamy initially came under fire for a comment he made during an interview with The Atlantic in August.
“I don’t write about polls. You shouldn’t bother with them, either.” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — You might have noticed that I studiously have avoided dissecting the avalanche of 2024 polls. I don’t plan on deviating from this approach, at least not until mid-2024. And you should consider ignoring the nonstop flood of polling and the rickety analysis dependent on it. Polls didn’t come within shouting distance of the right result in either 2016 or 2020. And they misled voters about the fictitious red wave in 2022. Whatever the reasons — call blocking, excessive hang-ups, incorrect modeling of likely voters — even polls taken much closer to elections have consistently turned out to be far off base.
“AI deepfakes in campaigns may be detectable, but will it matter?” via Jim Saksa of CQ-Roll Call — At some point in the months leading up to the 2024 Election, a tape will leak that will confirm voters’ worst fears about Biden. The audio, a bit grainy and muffled as if it was recorded from a phone in someone’s pocket, will have the 80-year-old sounding confused, perhaps seeming to forget that he’s President, before turning murderously angry. It may arrive in journalists’ inboxes from an anonymous whistleblower, or just go viral on social media. Or maybe the uproar will be over audio of former Trump saying something that his supporters find disqualifying.
“AI that alters voice and imagery in political ads will require disclosure on Google and YouTube” via The Associated Press — Google will soon require that political ads using artificial intelligence be accompanied by a prominent disclosure if imagery or sounds have been synthetically altered. AI-generated election ads on YouTube and other Google platforms that alter people or events must include a clear disclaimer found somewhere that users are likely to notice, the company said in an update this week to its political content policy. The new rule starts in mid-November, just under a year before the U.S. presidential election.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump greeted with cheers and chants in Ames at Iowa vs. Iowa State football game” via Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register — A large group of excited Cyclone and Hawkeye fans crowded onto a terrace at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, briefly united in chanting the same name. “Trump! Trump! Trump!” they cheered — waiting for the former President to appear from a private suite where he watched the annual in-state rivalry game that pits the University of Iowa and Iowa State University against each other. The political gamesmanship briefly overshadowed the football game playing out on the field below as a mob of supporters peered around the glass windows, shouting for Trump’s attention and erupting into applause when they caught sight of him.
“Trump stops at a fraternity house on his way to Iowa-Iowa State football game, outdrawing his rivals” via Thomas Beaumont and Hannah Fingerhut of The Associated Press — Trump stepped out of a fraternity house to the cheers of hundreds of Iowa State University students and tossed autographed footballs into the crowd. “I guess the youth likes Trump,” he said over the cheers of the students, speaking to the Right Side Broadcasting Network, which supports his candidacy. Then, the former President entered a motorcade to head to a private stadium suite where he watched the school’s annual football grudge match Saturday with the University of Iowa.
“Trump, the ultimate attention seeker, wages a campaign largely out of public view” via Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — Shortly after Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced he was dropping his presidential bid, he found himself on the phone with someone who had paid him little attention up to that point: Trump. Those familiar with the call declined to reveal the specifics of what was discussed. But the fact that the runaway Republican front-runner felt compelled to touch base with the also-ran offered a window into how Trump and his team view the race. Trump is on what seems like a glide path to the nomination. He has largely eschewed traditional day-to-day campaigning.
“Trump says DeSantis ‘sided with the communists in China’ over U.S. farmers” via Tara Suter of The Hill — “He strongly opposed my protection for our farmers,” Trump said of DeSantis. “I protected our farmers, very simply, and by the way those farmers got big checks.” When DeSantis was running for Governor in 2018, he said he didn’t like farm subsidies that would try and offset retaliatory tariffs from the trade war between the U.S. and China. “I’m not a fan of farm subsidies … to throw billions of dollars in farm subsidies, I want to get away from doing that,” DeSantis said on Fox Business at the time. DeSantis signed bills earlier this year trying to prevent Chinese citizens from buying land in Florida. In a statement at the time, he called the Chinese Communist Party “the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat.”
“Kristi Noem endorses Trump” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In South Dakota Friday night, Gov. Noem formalized her endorsement of Trump. “It is my honor to present to you the man in the arena. He is a man of significance. He is the leader, the fighter our country needs,” Noem said. “He has my full and complete endorsement for President of the United States of America. I will do everything I can to help him win and save this country. Ladies and gentlemen, the 45th and 47th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.”
“South Dakota Governor in ‘tryout’ to be Trump’s next running mate for presidential bid 2024” via The News — Noem has emerged as a prominent figure in the race to be Trump’s running mate in the 2024 Presidential Election. Trump, currently the front-runner for the GOP, is reportedly considering potential vice-presidential candidates, with Noem capturing his attention. Not too long ago, it appeared that Noem’s political fortunes were on the decline, following a turbulent first term as South Dakota’s Governor. She had chosen not to run for President, and media attention had shifted elsewhere.
“Newsom: Trump’s thirst for ‘vengeance’ scarier than ‘authoritarian’ DeSantis” via Justin Baragona of The Daily Beast — Newsom declared that while he believes that DeSantis is “functionally authoritarian,” he feels that “the vengeance in Trump’s heart right now is more of a threat” to democracy in the United States. Addressing speculation that he is considering a 2024 White House run if Biden decides to step aside, the Democratic Governor said that “we need to move past this notion that he’s not going to run.” He also added that he could not imagine ever running against Vice President Harris for President.
“Megyn Kelly to interview Trump for first time since epic debate exchange” via Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times — The big event is scheduled for Thursday at noon. “It will be my first interview with the former President in seven years. There is so much to get to, and I’m really looking forward to this. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be spicy; it’s going to be tough but it’s going to be good. And hopefully, we’re both going to enjoy it,” Kelly said in a personal video posted to X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. She expects that Trump is up for the interview.
“Colorado Secretary of State calls Trump a ‘liar’ amid lawsuit to bar ex-President from ballot” via John Bowden of The Independent — Colorado’s Secretary of State has responded after Trump accused her of working to prevent him from taking the presidency once again. The ex-President has fumed over the last few days in response to a lawsuit filed by a top Washington D.C. ethics group aimed at preventing Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot. The lawsuit and CREW’s argument are simple: Trump should not be allowed to run, given his support for the armed mob of his own supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol and tried at his urging to thwart Congress from certifying the 2020 Election’s results.
“Trump disses 14th Amendment talk as ‘another trick’ but efforts to disqualify him continue” via Antonio Fins of The Palm Beach Post — Trump this week derided talk of invoking the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment to disqualify his surging 2024 presidential candidacy. In a social media post Monday evening, Trump said calls to invoke the 14th Amendment amount to “just another ‘trick’ being used” by his political opponents to interfere in next year’s election. The missive was Trump’s first direct comment on the growing chatter about the Amendment’s implications since the topic swelled in recent weeks. Trump wrote in the post that “almost all legal scholars” claim the amendment “has no legal basis or standing relative” to next year’s election.
“Judge dismisses 14th Amendment lawsuit against Trump, rules plaintiffs lack standing.” via Antonio Fins of The Palm Beach Post — A federal court judge in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s 2024 presidential candidacy under the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit, filed a week ago, questioned Trump’s ability to appear on the Florida Presidential Primary ballot next year, owing to his alleged role in the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol. In her swift dismissal of the case, Judge Robin Rosenberg, who was appointed to the bench by Barack Obama, did not determine the 14th Amendment’s applicability in Trump’s case. Instead, Rosenberg ruled that the plaintiffs, Boynton Beach attorney Lawrence Caplan and two others, lacked “standing” to bring the challenge.
“The political perils of using the 14th Amendment on Trump” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — The legal case to disqualify Trump from holding office under the 14th Amendment might have some merit. The political case for going down that road leaves plenty to be desired. Efforts to disqualify Trump for violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars from office anyone who has “engaged in insurrection” or “given aid or comfort” to the United States’ enemies, have suddenly picked up. The idea is that Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 Election, particularly about the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, meets that standard.
“Trump’s post-presidential office is hiding in plain sight” via Jonathan Allen, Katherine Doyle, Lisa Rubin, Ken Dilanian and Jake Traylor of NBC News — Trump likes to put his name on everything — except his taxpayer-funded, post-presidential office here on North Flagler Drive. Trump’s website doesn’t list the address, which is about a 10-minute drive from his Mar-a-Lago club. The nameplate on the hallway wall is blank. There is no seal, official or unofficial, on the frosted-glass door. And the name Trump is nowhere to be found. It’s so hush-hush that his representative, Steven Cheung, claimed no knowledge of its existence. “I’ve never heard of a North Flagler office,” Cheung said.
“A look at the team Jack Smith built to try to convict Trump” via Perry Stein of The Washington Post — One prosecuted White supremacists. Another won a high-profile case against Reality Winner, the government worker found guilty in 2018 of leaking sensitive intelligence information to the media. They’ve gone after alleged corruption by elected officials, with some victories and some resounding defeats. And they’ve helped put notorious drug cartel leaders behind bars. The attorneys special counsel Smith has recruited to prosecute Trump come from several divisions of the Justice Department, joining to work full time on two of the most highly scrutinized cases in the nation.
“Sheriff describes Trump’s demeanor while getting mug shot” via Erin Burnett of CNN — Fulton County, Georgia Sheriff Patrick Labat was in his county’s jail the whole time with Trump during his arrest. He told Erin Burnett about Trump’s demeanor and what he hopes for looking back at Trump’s mug shot.
“Trump’s Truth Social challenge now is to get a deal done” via Amrith Ramkumar and Keach Hagey of The Wall Street Journal — Trump’s media company is pushing to complete a lucrative deal to go public, but it faces pressure from a slowdown in growth and the former President’s return to mainstream social media. Truth Social’s parent company is trying to go public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company. The transaction could value Trump Media & Technology Group at more than $1 billion and generate a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. Trump would own about half the public company as its Chair. Without a deal, Truth Social would likely have a tougher time raising cash as a private company while facing an increasingly competitive social media landscape.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Democratic candidate’s alleged connections to corrupt Ukrainian oligarch renews outrage after reported arrest” via Jamie Joseph of Fox News — Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s alleged connections to Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky are resurfacing after the tycoon’s arrest last week, raising concern and scrutiny in GOP circles. During her last unsuccessful bid for Congress, her campaign was dogged by criticism about her husband’s work for a company that worked with businesses tied to Kolomoisky, one of the wealthiest oligarchs in Ukraine who has been accused of fraud, bribery and hiring hit men. “Of course, it’s concerning,” Priscilla Ivasco, spokesperson for Sen. Rick Scott’s campaign, said. “And it’s one of the many reasons that the voters of South Florida voted her out of office. Floridians rejected DMP once, and they’ll do it again.”
“Chad Johnson jumps into race for open HD 22 seat” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A former Levy County Commissioner just entered the race to succeed Rep. Chuck Clemons. Johnson, a professional auctioneer, filed for the House District 22 contest. “As a lifelong resident of the district and businessman, I understand the values and issues important to the working families of House District 22,” Johnson said. “My experience, as well as my commitment to take a stand against the radical agenda of the Left, have compelled me to put my name on the ballot. In the state Legislature, I will work tirelessly for more jobs, better schools, conservation of our natural resources, and to protect the values of the Free State of Florida.”
Save the date:
“Wes Hodge enters Orange Co. Supervisor of Elections race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An Orlando political party leader now wants to run Orange County’s elections. Hodge, former Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, launched a campaign Friday for Orange County Supervisor of Elections. He entered a crowded race to succeed retiring Supervisor or Elections Bill Cowles. “I’ve always been defending your right to vote and that will continue as your next Supervisor of Elections,” Hodge said in a launch video. The Democrat shot his announcement in Ocoee in front of a land marker honoring those killed in the Ocoee Massacre, prompted in 1920 when a Black man showed up to vote despite not paying a poll tax.
To watch the video, please click on the image below:
— DESANTISY LAND —
“A DeSantis speech too dangerous to teach in Florida” via Adam Serwer of The Atlantic — DeSantis does not often find himself attempting to deliver a unifying message, but in the aftermath of the killing of three Black Floridians by an alleged White supremacist in Jacksonville last week, he tried. “What he did is totally unacceptable in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said last Sunday. “We are not going to let people be targeted based on their race.” That’s a welcome message, but it didn’t go over well. Among the potential reasons is that DeSantis has spent much of his time in office cracking down on “wokeness.” One of those laws is the Stop WOKE Act, which prohibits any instruction that “could prompt students to feel discomfort about a historical event because of their race, ethnicity, sex or national origin.” In fact, one could argue that Florida law now prohibits DeSantis’ speech itself from being discussed in Florida schools.
“Florida students can use little-known Classic Learning Test to apply to Florida universities” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida students seeking a spot in the state’s public universities can now use scores from the little-known Classic Learning Test to apply to those 12 schools. The Board of Governors voted Friday to approve the Classic Learning Test as an admissions option. A new law also means they can use the CLT to try to qualify for Florida’s Bright Futures scholarships. The CLT markets itself as a test that focuses on “the greatest and most enduring texts that have informed and shaped society.” It tests grammar, English and math and says two-thirds of its reading and writing passages come from its “author bank,” focused heavily on ancient, medieval, and “early modern” (from the mid-1400s to early 1800s) writers.
“As Florida Board of Governors restricts tenure, survey says faculty are looking elsewhere” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — During a Friday meeting, the Florida Board of Governors advanced DeSantis’ pledge to undermine tenure, which he has disparaged as granting “lifetime appointments” to teachers who engage in “indoctrinating students.” The final decision on the issue further codifies the state’s new law Senate Bill 266 — signed May 15 — that requires tenured faculty members in Florida’s public universities to go through a comprehensive post-tenure review every five years. In addition, the law assigns university presidents with final authority for hiring, and it also outlines the way that the reviews will be assessed, monitored and reported moving forward.
“Prosecutor Monique Worrell blasts back at DeSantis’ suspension — and scores” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Worrell has fired back with a lawsuit that exposes the many factual inconsistencies in the Governor’s suspension order. She takes devastating aim at the central assumptions DeSantis uses to buttress his wobbly argument. And she elbows aside the weak reasoning the Florida Supreme Court used as it shuffled Warren’s complaint aside. When DeSantis first suspended Worrell, we said she was well capable of defending herself. She’s proven that beyond the shadow of a doubt.
“Florida Christians rebel against DeSantis” via Nick Mordowanec of Newsweek — DeSantis received direct criticism after the Florida Department of Education (DOE) implemented changes to the educational curriculum for K-12 students in July. In January, the DOE rejected an AP African American Studies course introduced as part of a pilot program at 60 schools across the country that Jeremy Redfern said at the time lacks “historical accuracy” and “educational value.” A line within the newly applied guidelines that has arguably drawn the most attention states: “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” Some of Florida’s more than 200 churches and congregations run by Black pastors have taken the issue into their own hands, offering what they deem not to be sermons, but Black history as it actually occurred.
“DeSantis appoints civil rights lawyer, critical race theory critic Kimberly Richey to Education Commission of the States” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Richey, a civil rights lawyer and high-ranking education administrator whose opposition to critical race theory (CRT) matches that of DeSantis, is the newest member of the Education Commission of the States. On Thursday, DeSantis appointed Richey to the Commission, an interstate agency that translates research, advises states, and acts as an idea-sharing platform for education leaders.
— STATEWIDE —
“Hurricane Lee drops to Category 3; forecasters predict no impact on South Florida” via Dan Rorabaugh of the Tallahassee Democrat — Hurricane Lee has lost some strength but remains a dangerous hurricane in the central Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday. South Florida is not expected to be impacted by the storm, which was churning about 350 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands on Saturday morning as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. It had been as strong as Category 5 with winds over 157 mph a little more than a day ago.
“Kathleen Passidomo makes small tweaks to Committees ahead of 2024 Session” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Senate President Passidomo left unchanged positions with significant influence. There are no new names at Chair or Vice Chair for any Committee, nor to Committee blocks, for example. And like last year, every Senator will serve on at least one budget Committee. Passidomo also did not change the membership of the last-stop Committees for legislation (Rules, Appropriations and Fiscal Policy). Thus, if a bill died in one of those Committees last year and is replicated this year, chances are it will meet the same fate. She added: “Half of the Senate will continue to serve on each of these Committees, ensuring a large number of Senators have the chance to vet bills prior to the Floor.”
“Florida House names Select Committee on hurricane recovery, resiliency” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A major hurricane hit Florida in August, just like it did last August. Now, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner says it’s time for a Special Committee to address hurricane relief and storm resilience. The Palm Coast Republican named a Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency and Recovery. State Rep. Michael Grant, a Port Charlotte Republican, will Chair the panel, which will stand only through the end of 2024. Grant serves as the Majority Leader of the House. His Charlotte County district saw enormous flooding last year from Hurricane Ian. Of note, this is Grant’s second stint in the Florida House. He also represented Charlotte County in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley, which destroyed much of downtown Punta Gorda in 2004.
—“Miami-Dade lawmakers to chair 4 House Committees in 2024 Legislative Session” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
Lawmakers talk Florida’s long-term care crisis at Tampa forum — At a legislative forum at the Tampa Theater on Sept. 6, Sens. Darryl Rouson, Ed Hooper and Rep. Randall “Randy” Maggard exchanged ideas with professionals from Florida’s assisted living and senior care industries. The event was put on by the Florida Assisted Living Association (FALA). Applauding the importance of the event, Maggard advised attendees that “Communication is the best way to make a difference. You need to communicate because legislators can’t help if they don’t know.” Rouson stressed that “this is not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem, but a human problem,” and “one that any legislator would be proud to support.” He ended on a high note filled with optimism, saying that he was “fired up!” and ready to get to work on the issues.
—“DeSantis appoints four to Florida Defense Support Task Force” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
Happening today — Collier County’s Legislative Delegation holds a public hearing for local bills and budget requests: 9 a.m., Government Center Commission Chambers, Building F, 3rd Floor of Building F, 3299 Tamiami Trail, Naples. The Delegation will take a 15-minute break at noon, if necessary, and reconvene at 12:15 p.m. and continue until completion of the agenda and public comments.
“60% of Floridians back legalizing recreational marijuana. Poll finds youngest people aren’t the biggest supporters.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Three out of five Florida residents support the legalization of recreational marijuana for recreational use. The 60% support was found in a public opinion survey of state residents conducted last month by researchers at the University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University. The poll found 29% opposed legalization and 11% were unsure. The poll found significant differences based on political affiliation and age and notable, but smaller, differences between men and women. Passage requires support from 60% of those voting.
— D. C. MATTERS —
“22 years later, justice and information remain elusive for thousands of 9/11 victims and their families” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — Twenty-two years ago tomorrow, the unthinkable happened. Al-Qaida terrorists hijacked and crashed four passenger jets on U.S. soil in a coordinated suicide attack that killed 2,976 men, women and children in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in a Pennsylvania field. In all that time Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the lead defendant and alleged 9/11 mastermind, and his capital case co-defendants have never been brought to trial. Proposed plea bargains that could take the death penalty off the table in exchange for pleading guilty budded publicly this Spring but have reached an impasse.
“Biden allies say President’s ‘inability to say no’ to Hunter Biden caused ‘avoidable political distractions’” via Hanna Panreck of Fox News — Allies of the President reportedly told The New York Times that Biden’s “inability to say no” to his son, Hunter Biden, with regard to his business dealings has caused “avoidable political distractions.” The report says that his allies “have privately criticized Biden’s apparent inability to say no when Hunter sought to pull him into his business dealings.” “Some allies of the President say his loyalty to his son — inviting him to state dinners, flying with him aboard Marine One, and standing on the White House balcony with him — has resulted in wholly avoidable political distractions,” the report continued. The outlet reported that Biden was “stunned” when Hunter’s plea deal fell apart in July.
“Biden finds himself on the defensive after G-20 leaders fail to rally around Ukraine” via Francesca Chambers of USA Today — Biden failed at a weekend summit in India to unite world leaders around a condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine, drawing a rebuke from Kyiv and putting him on the defensive as he wrapped up a trip abroad. Neither Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the New Delhi gathering, but even in their absence, Russia and China notched a win against the U.S. when it came to rallying the international community against the war that began more than a year and a half ago. The Group of 20 nations declined to explicitly chide Russia for the invasion, saying instead that countries “must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition” and lamented “the human suffering and negative added impacts of the war.”
“Congress embarks on spending battle as shutdown looms at end of September” via Carl Hulse of The New York Times — With less than three weeks remaining before government funding runs out Sept. 30, Congress has not cleared any of its 12 annual appropriations bills, though there has been more progress than in the recent past. Given the rapidly approaching deadline, leaders of both the House and the Senate agree that a temporary stopgap funding measure will be needed to avert a government shutdown beginning Oct. 1. But that usually routine legislation is facing major obstacles in the Republican-led House, making its path to Biden’s desk unusually fraught.
“Rick Scott takes Mitch McConnell ‘at his word’ amid questions about Minority Leader’s health” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Scott is taking Sen. McConnell “at his word” when it comes to claims that the GOP Leader is competent to lead the caucus. Scott was asked about whether he thought the Kentucky Republican was up to completing his term as Minority Leader. “We were out for about a month, so he came back, and on Tuesday or Wednesday, I guess at lunch, he said he was completely healthy. So, you know, you have to take him at his word,” Scott said.
“Nancy Pelosi says she’ll seek House re-election in 2024, dismissing talk of retirement at age 83” via The Associated Press — Pelosi said she will seek re-election to Congress in 2024 as Democrats try to win back the majority. Pelosi made the announcement before volunteers and labor allies in the San Francisco area district she has represented for more than 35 years. “Now more than ever our City needs us to advance San Francisco values and further our recovery,” Pelosi said in a tweet. “Our country needs America to show the world that our flag is still there, with liberty and justice for ALL. That is why I am running for re-election — and respectfully ask for your vote.”
“Congress has stalled on autonomous vehicles, and that’s hurting the U.S.” via Adam Kovacevich of The Hill — In the last 10 years, Congress has held over 20 hearings on autonomous vehicles (AVs), a third of which took place in just one Committee: House Energy & Commerce (E&C). Lawmakers have heard from tech experts, safety advocates, and disabled Americans who’ve urged action to expand mobility access through AV deployment. They’ve held AV hearings on insurance implications, trucking, and competition with China. But after over 55 hours of hearings, an AV bill has yet to reach the President’s desk. Meanwhile, human driving on U.S. roads has become increasingly fatal, and AV developers in China have crept up on American competitors.
“Congress takes on California’s car ban” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The U.S. House this week plans to vote on a bill that would stop California and other states from banning internal-combustion engines and making Americans in the rest of the country pay for their climate follies. Let’s hope it passes. The Clean Air Act lets the Environmental Protection Agency grant California a waiver to impose more stringent standards for tailpipe pollutants such as NOx for vehicles sold within its borders. This was because of California’s historically smoggy air, which has greatly improved over the past few decades. The law allows other states to piggyback on California’s standards.
“Congressional honor eyed for Bobby Bowden” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Former Florida State Seminoles head coach Bowden is gone but not forgotten, with Sunshine State Republicans pushing for a posthumous Congressional recognition. Scott and Rep. Neal Dunn are seeking to grant the perennial winner on the field and conservative stalwart off it a Congressional gold medal. “While Coach Bobby Bowden was a legend on the football field, it is the generations of students, athletes and countless others he led and served off the field, that will forever define his greatness as an extraordinary leader, Floridian and American. Coach Bowden will be forever a Seminole, forever a Floridian, and with this legislation forever honored and recognized by the United States Congress for his lifetime of service and leadership,” Scott said.
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“Miami Commissioner asks judge to wait until after election to hear ‘shake down’ lawsuit” via Joey Flechas, Tess Riski and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla has asked a judge to postpone proceedings in a lawsuit alleging that he attempted to “shake down” the operator of a city marina, arguing that the case ought to be paused until after voters decide this November whether to give him four more years in office. The Commissioner, who is running to retain his seat representing District 1, responded for the first time on Saturday to the lawsuit by lobbyist and former state lawmaker Manuel Prieguez, who says Díaz de la Portilla tried to squeeze his client during a contentious battle over a lucrative contract to operate and redevelop the city-owned Rickenbacker Marina. In a court filing, the Commissioner’s lawyer called the lawsuit politically motivated.
“Miami-Dade Commission ends impromptu ‘gas tax holiday,’ renews collections in 2024” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade motorists will again be paying 6 cents extra per gallon of gasoline in 2024 following a lapse in county collections this year caused by an administrative error. County Commissioners voted 6-3 to reinstate the tax through Dec. 31, 2053. It had expired Aug. 31 after Miami-Dade’s budget director, David Clodfelter, realized too late that the fuel levy was up for a 30-year renewal this year. Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald first reported on the oversight on July 13. By then, there was not enough time to renew the tax, and the county estimated a shortfall of about $18 million in its budget it said would be filled from a pool of remaining federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars.
“Palm Beach County Democrats’ advantage continues to shrink” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The Democrats’ edge has been reduced by more than 22,000 since last year’s election. That includes one former County Commissioner who’s gone to the other side. Robert Weinroth was among the Democrats upset in last November’s election, results which seemed to throw the county’s longtime position as a Democratic stronghold into question. There are still nearly 83,000 more Democrats living in Palm Beach County than Republicans, but the party has lost a little more than 9% of its membership in the last two years. Meanwhile, registered Republicans in Palm Beach County have increased their ranks, but only a smidgen: The red team has added 1% more Palm Beach County voters over the last two years.
“$167 million plan to redesign Las Olas is sparking outcry. Take away the trees and you take away the charm, critics say” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Picture, for a moment, Las Olas Boulevard without a median lined with the black olive trees that have been there for decades, shading all the cars that drive by. Under a long-planned redesign that will cost at least $167 million, the trees will be gone and so will the landscaped median in the shops section just east of Federal Highway. “What are we thinking here?” community activist Ted Inserra told Commissioners in a recent meeting. “There are parts of Fort Lauderdale that are being taken piece by piece by piece. That stretch with the trees in the middle; that represents Fort Lauderdale. Leave that part alone. People come here to see Las Olas. Why? Not because of the shops but because we have these cool trees right down the middle of the street and they’re lighted at night and they just look magical.”
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“Brevard leaders clash over legality of Council member’s ‘fake subpoena’ challenging Mayor’s residency” via Amber Jo Cooper of Florida’s Voice News — Brevard leaders are clashing over the legality of a subpoena sent by West Melbourne Council member John Dittmore to confirm West Melbourne Mayor Hal Rose’s residency. Rep. Randy Fine said Dittmore issued a “fake subpoena,” and that “nowhere in the City Charter is an individual Councilman vested with this power.” “The charter is specific that the seven-member Council is vested with all authority, requiring four votes, for all acts of policy,” Fine said in the letter. Dittmore told Florida’s Voice that Fine was not correct, saying the City Attorney sent the subpoena.
“Facing setbacks and survivors’ frustrations, Pulse foundation leaders boosted pay with tax credit” via Amanda Rabines of the Orlando Sentinel — Facing scrutiny from survivors of the Pulse massacre over high salaries and a lack of progress in their mission to build a permanent memorial, executives at the onePULSE Foundation last year used a federal aid program to significantly boost their pay. The foundation used a federal tax refund program, known as the Employee Retention Tax Credit, enacted as part of the CARES Act, to pay staff members tens of thousands of dollars last year. One of its biggest beneficiaries, Barbara Poma, the nightclub’s owner who launched the foundation after 49 people were killed there in 2016, received $95,080 on top of her $150,000 salary. Poma parted ways with the foundation in April.
“Disney Cruise Line drops name updates for new ship, Bahamas destination” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney Cruise Line revealed the names of what will be its seventh ship in the fleet as well as its new Bahamas destination opening next Summer during presentations at the Destination D23 events at Walt Disney World on Saturday. Disney Adventure is the new name for what had been the unfinished Global Dream cruise ship that DCL acquired this year from the Genting Hong Kong group that ran Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises, and Star Cruises before it filed for bankruptcy. The updated name for Disney’s second private Bahamas destination is Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point. Previously just referred to as Lighthouse Point, the 700-acre site on the southern end of Eleuthera will begin welcoming cruise line guests in June 2024.
“Disney World in ‘overdrive’ with Magic Kingdom updates” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Something big is coming to the world’s No. 1 theme park. What exactly? And when? Disney isn’t ready to say. But the company is “about to go into overdrive” on a Disney World’s Magic Kingdom expansion, parks Chair Josh D’Amaro announced Saturday, the second year in a row he’s teased at the D23 Fan Expo that updates are coming to the park. “This is similar in scale to things like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, or Pandora: The World of Avatar,” said Disney Imagineer Bruce Vaughn on stage next to D’Amaro during Saturday’s presentation in Orlando. “I actually think this could be the biggest thing we’ve done in the Magic Kingdom, probably even bigger than New Fantasyland.”
— LOCAL: TB —
“Florida Ethics Commission drops long-running case against ex-Sen. Jack Latvala” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — After more than five years of waiting to see if Florida’s Ethics Commission would hold former state Sen. Latvala accountable for allegations of sexual harassment, his accusers got their answer on Friday. The Florida Commission on Ethics voted to dismiss the case against Latvala, a former Clearwater Republican who resigned in 2018 at the pinnacle of his political power after allegations that he had sexually harassed a legislative aide and a former lobbyist.
“Hurricane Idalia caused widespread pollution in Florida’s waterways” via Justin Garcia and Max Chesnes of the Tampa Bay Times — While Hurricane Idalia ravaged Florida’s Big Bend region, rain and wind from the massive storm also caused wastewater leaks, chemical dumps and fuel spills in Tampa Bay and other storm-struck parts of the state. At least 26,000 gallons of wastewater spills, mostly raw sewage, were reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as of Friday. In each instance, the flooding was so severe that officials said it was not possible to tell exactly how much wastewater was released. Instead, estimates were provided.
“Bodycam shows Tampa federal prosecutor offering cops business card in DUI crash arrest” via The Associated Press — When police arrived at his house to investigate a hit-and-run, Joseph Ruddy, one of the nation’s most prolific federal narcotics prosecutors, looked so drunk he could barely stand up straight, leaning on the tailgate of his pickup to keep his balance. But he apparently was under control enough to be waiting with his U.S. Justice Department business card in hand. “What are you trying to hand me?” an officer asked. “You realize when they pull my body-worn camera footage and they see this, this is going to go really bad.”
“Pasco approves $260 million expansion of waste-to-energy plant” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Despite the expense, Pasco County officials didn’t hesitate this week to commit more than half a billion dollars to expanding and securing operations of the waste-to-energy plant in Spring Hill for another decade. The plant allows Pasco to further extend the life of its landfill space, a precious commodity, said Pasco Solid Waste Director Justin Roessler. Over the last couple of years, the county has been crafting a complex plan for the expansion and financing, which would add a fourth boiler to the plant and increase its capacity from 1,050 tons per day by another 515 tons. That extra boiler will convert waste to generate approximately 18 megawatts of electricity per day.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“Dollar General victim remembered as doting father, loyal friend and for his giving spirit” via Teresa Stepzinski of the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union — The life of a young, devoted father, gunned down along with two other Black victims two weeks ago in a racially motivated shooting at a Jacksonville Dollar General store, was celebrated Saturday by family, friends and strangers still stunned by the horrific slayings. Tears flowing down their cheeks and voices raw with emotion threatening to choke off their words, mourners came together in a homegoing celebration for Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion at St. Paul Church of Jacksonville. Mayor Donna Deegan and City Council member Ju’Coby Pittman were among the mourners packing the church.
“Experts: Hatred links Jacksonville shooting, antisemitic displays in Central Florida” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — When Ann Richter started the day last Sunday, her mind was on the college football game between Florida State and LSU. When Richter’s husband and 17-year-old daughter returned home from a trip to the mall, they found “vile” antisemitic flyers littering their and a neighbor’s lawn in their Gotha community. The messages printed on the flyers disparaged Jewish public health officials, made bizarre and sexually explicit claims about Judaism and implored readers to “protect the purity of the white Aryan woman.” The flyers also invited readers to learn more about Goyim Defense League, a loosely connected neo-Nazi group with thousands of online supporters that has been linked to multiple similar displays of hate across Central Florida.
“FSU trustees give President Richard McCullough a salary increase to $1M and a strong evaluation” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University trustees raised President McCullough’s base salary for next year to $1 million while also giving him a strong evaluation after his second year in the role. The trustees made the approvals Friday afternoon during a Board meeting, with the compensation changes proposed by Chair Peter Collins. “It’s not like we’re worried about losing President McCullough,” Collins said. “It’s us recognizing President McCullough and what he’s doing and recognizing his place amongst his peers. It’s doing the right thing.”
“Wakulla Springs property could soon be slated for environmental protection” via Adrian Andrews of WFSU — Local environmentalists are concerned that a gas station could pollute nearby Wakulla Springs. Wakulla County Commissioners are no strangers to Southwest Georgia Oil Company. Both groups have been caught in the crossfire of some heated debates of late. When Commissions met in August to decide on zoning changes and a comprehensive plan request from the company, a citizen-led protest erupted. The company wanted to build a 16-pump gas station on part of the property. But environmentalists and concerned residents condemned the request because the land is over part of Wakulla Springs.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“After conservative overhaul, New College of Florida faces federal civil rights investigation” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into New College of Florida’s trustees and administration following a civil rights complaint filed on Aug. 22. The DOE’s Office of Civil Rights said it plans to investigate New College based on disability discrimination to determine whether it “excluded qualified persons with disabilities from participation in, denied them the benefits of, or otherwise subjected them to discrimination in its programs, activities, aids, benefits, or services.” The federal agency also plans to investigate whether New College failed to ensure that its communications with individuals with disabilities were as effective as its communications with others.
“Vern Buchanan says oil spill at SeaPort Manatee likely intentional dumping” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Buchanan said more than 19,000 gallons of oil were likely dumped into waters near SeaPort Manatee. After touring the waters with the Coast Guard, the Longboat Key Republican said there’s no sign of a continued problem such as an oil leak. But that has left officials suspicious someone dumped oil into the water last week as Hurricane Idalia impacted the region. “Our local waterways, environment and marine life are incredibly important to area residents and Florida’s tourism-based economy,” Buchanan said.
“Authorities take to the lab after no one lays claim to SeaPort Manatee oil spill” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Authorities are awaiting lab results in an ongoing investigation to identify the source of thousands of gallons of oil spilled at SeaPort Manatee. An estimated 19,500 gallons of oil and water mix have been cleaned up over the past week. Authorities estimated about 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of that were crude oil. The source of the oil, however, remains a mystery as the investigation drags into its second weekend. The U.S. Coast Guard has taken oil samples from three vessels and two pipeline companies for analysis to search for a match to the spilled oil.
“Fort Myers’ carcinogenic air pollution may be fixed, but what about those exposed for years?” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Naples Daily News — Do residents, workers and hundreds of children at three Fort Myers schools have increased cancer risks after years of exposure to carcinogenic air pollution? One mom whose daughter had a rare blood disease worries it may have been caused by exposure to the potent chemical. Yet answers have proven hard to come by for those concerned about ethylene oxide released in a south Fort Myers neighborhood for more than a decade with no public notice. Worry surged about the gas, referred to as EtO, used to sterilize medical equipment at a plant on Adelmo Lane in Fort Myers after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began blitzing nearby mailboxes in late June.
“See how five trapped manatees were rescued from a Fort Myers creek” via Mark H. Bickel and Amanda Inscore of the Fort Myers News-Press — Some serious wildlife drama unfolded on Wednesday in Fort Myers when five manatees were found trapped and needed to be rescued. It took a small army of experts to come to the aid of the manatees, which were stuck in the Whiskey Creek canal after storm surge from Hurricane Idalia had increased water levels there last week. Among the group of manatees rescued were a mother and her pup. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office worked alongside members of MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and the University of Florida to rescue and free five manatees who were stuck with the water levels having receded.
— TOP OPINIONS —
“Why is Biden so unpopular?” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — For Biden, there was a normal honeymoon, months of reasonably high approval ratings that ended only with the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The economy is better than in Obama’s first term, inflation is ebbing, and the feared recession hasn’t materialized. The woke wars and COVID battles that disadvantaged Democrats are no longer central, and the post-Roe culture wars seem like friendlier terrain.
This has created mystification among Democratic partisans as to why all this isn’t enough to give the President a decent polling lead. I don’t share that mystification. But I do think there’s real uncertainty about which of the forces dragging on Biden’s approval ratings matter most.
Start with the theory that Biden’s troubles are mostly still about inflation — that people just hate rising prices and he isn’t credited with avoiding a recession because wage increases have been eaten up by inflation until recently.
But maybe it’s not just the economy. Across multiple polls, Biden seems to be losing support from minority voters, continuing a Trump-era trend. This raises the possibility that there’s a social-issues undertow for Democrats, in which even when wokeness isn’t front and center, the fact that the party’s activist core is so far left gradually pushes culturally conservative African Americans and Hispanics toward the GOP — much as culturally conservative white Democrats drifted slowly into the Republican coalition between the 1960s and the 2000s.
Or maybe the big problem is just simmering anxiety about Biden’s age.
Biden got elected, in part, by casting himself as a transitional figure, a bridge to a more youthful and optimistic future. Now he needs some general belief in that brighter future to help carry him to re-election.
“It’s time for Biden to leave the stage” via Andrew Sullivan of The Weekly Dish — Every time you see Biden walk, he seems, well, in his eighties: he’s slow, careful, stilted. Every time you hear him speak, he’s also just a little off, eyes now barely visible in the ancient, Botoxed, fillered face, words often slurred, a ghostly white mane peeking over his collar in the back, occasionally rallying to the point, or strangely loud-whispering.
This is the man the Democratic Party says will be fully able to function as President for five more years through the age of 86. No one rooted in human reality believes it — or should believe it.
Yes, Trump is almost as old as Biden. But he has the energy and stamina and obsessiveness of the truly mentally ill. A new candidate would immediately shift the dynamic of the race. The Democrat would represent the future, and Trump the polarized past. A younger candidate would instantly reverse the age argument in the Democrats’ favor.
Trump’s political rebirth came with the first indictment — a trivial one about hush payments to Stormy Daniels, setting the stage for the Trump victim narrative. Alvin Bragg, take a bow. Trump now has the aura of the American outlaw, a victim of the Biden DOJ, a man on the run. Look at that mug shot. He’s trolling the Constitution.
The case for Biden is that he has some big achievements in infrastructure, climate change, the CHIPS Act, lowering inflation, and boosting wages in a surprisingly resilient economy. These fundamentals will sink in eventually, and the prospect of a Trump return will rally the troops.
Biden is not the only reason for declining non-White support for the Dems, but his presidency has done nothing but accentuate it.
There is no shame, Mr. President, in acknowledging human limits.
— OPINIONS —
“Hidin’ Biden” via Joe Klein of Sanity Clause — One of Biden’s great strengths as a politician was his ability to distill complicated policy into kitchen table folk wisdom. But he also was a sophisticated foreign policy thinker who was right about most of the big issues of his era (although he did vote for the war in Iraq). Biden had other significant strengths: his experience helped him navigate a near-impossible legislative situation as President, passing infrastructure, industrial policy, and climate change bills that will have a long-term impact (even if their political impact will be negligible in 2024). So, it’s sad to watch him now, past his sell-by date. His campaign seems creaky, contrived — this whole, lame Bidenomics pitch is an apt metaphor. Those who say only Biden can beat Trump don’t know politics.
“Lessons from Florida: DeSantis willfully exploits racial fears. Reject his dangerous vision” via the Miami Herald editorial board — In our “Lessons from Florida” editorial about “othering,” we decried DeSantis’ willingness to direct his political wrath at undocumented immigrants, Blacks and LGBTQ+ people. We called it “un-American.” Through words and deed, DeSantis is using a tried, true and divisive tool to instill in white Americans a fear of this country’s demographic changes and their loosening grip on power and supremacy in most every facet of American life. “They view this political power as a zero-sum game,” said Andrew Thompson, an assistant professor of Political Science, political behavior, and public opinion at George Washington University. The thinking is, he says: “They are going to usurp my power in my career, my neighborhood.”
“Making military service more appealing to American youth” via Jimmie T. Smith of Florida Politics — After retiring from the Army, I became involved in my community, particularly with young people. After becoming an elected official, I wanted to ensure they understood great military leaders like Joshua Chamberlain. The topic of whether young people should join the military often arose, and as a veteran, I recommended military service. Currently, only 1% of the population serves in the military, but 71% of youth do not qualify. However, there are still millions of eligible youths who may consider joining but aren’t. Their concerns about military service include media amplifying divisiveness, deployment worldwide without a clear purpose, and the U.S. government’s inadequate treatment of veterans, particularly in health care.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Novak Djokovic wins the U.S. Open and a 24th career major title” via Joshua Robinson of The Wall Street Journal — Djokovic rarely misses an opportunity to remind people that he’s 36 years old — that he can’t quite recover like he used to, that his body might someday let him down. Even on court, he must stretch more than he used to and occasionally pauses to catch his breath. But then, Djokovic finds his groove and gives a different impression entirely. Even at 36, and a step slower than he used to be, Djokovic could look inevitable. That’s exactly what happened in Sunday’s U.S. Open final, where he ground his way to a 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over world No. 3 Daniil Medvedev.
“Disney World to soon open new Moana attraction, Epcot fireworks” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — A splashy walk-through attraction called The Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, will officially open at Epcot on Oct. 16, and the park will also have a new fireworks show that will debut Dec. 5, Walt Disney World executives announced at the Destination D23 fan convention on Saturday. Also, there are big expansion plans for the Magic Kingdom — on par with the $1 billion Star Wars land, Disney parks chief Josh D’Amaro told the gathering of more than 2,000 super fans. And a new tropical rainforest land is in the works to replace DinoLand in Animal Kingdom.
“Florida man riding human-sized hamster wheel in Atlantic faces federal charges” via The Associated Press — A Florida man who was attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a man-made hamster wheel is facing federal charges after it took the U.S. Coast Guard five days to bring him ashore. The Coast Guard spotted Reza Ray Baluchi, 51, some 70 miles off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia, on Aug. 26, while making preparations for Hurricane Franklin, the complaint, filed in federal court, said. Baluchi was charged Tuesday with obstruction of boarding and violation of a captain of the port order. Baluchi told the Coast Guard crew that he was attempting to ride the “hydro-pod” vessel to England, and that he had a Florida registration, which he was unable to locate for them, onboard.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to former Gov. Bob Graham, as well as Molly Curry, Macy Harper, Tristan Wood of City & State, and Dana Young, CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. Belated best wishes to ace fundraiser Katie Ballard.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.
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