Sunday, May 28Welcome

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.11.22

Good Tuesday morning.

Ballard Partners is opening its first office on the West Coast office in Los Angeles.

The new office will be led by Wendy Bruget, who is joining the firm as a partner and will lead the opening of the Los Angeles office. Jason Ziven will serve as senior adviser and firm partner Tola Thompson and strategic partner Tom Cerra will also offer client services from the new office.

“Opening an office in Los Angeles will allow our firm’s exceptional partners to better serve the firm’s 500-plus clients,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president and founder. “We are proud to enter the California market with our first office in Los Angeles. Wendy, Jason, Tola and Tom are the dream team for us to establish our initial presence in California.”

Bruget has been a government relations professional and union organizer in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. For the past seven years, she has served as the Director of Government Affairs at the largest independently owned waste and recycling company in Los Angeles County.

Ballard Partners goes Hollywood.

“The firm’s national reputation and unwavering commitment to exceptional client service was incredibly attractive to me,” Bruget said. “I am delighted to be joining Ballard Partners and look forward to serving the firm’s clients in California.”

Ziven is an attorney at Sanders Roberts. His practice focuses on all aspects of business litigation, and his clients include Fortune 100 companies, high-profile entertainers and public figures. He also advises musicians, writers, actors and directors on entertainment transactions.

Before joining Sanders Roberts, he served as Director of Business Development at Mills Entertainment, a division of Creative Artists Agency. While at Mills, Ziven negotiated multiple licensing and touring agreements with the largest entertainment companies and was globally recognized.


This is a BFD — Global public strategy firm Mercury announced the addition of top political strategist and government relations expert Eric Johnson as Managing Director in its Florida office.

Johnson brings more than 30 years of political and government experience in Washington, D.C. and Florida at the local, state and federal levels.

Eric Johnson is making a major move to Mercury.

“Eric is a pro at what he does and a fixture in Florida and D.C. politics. Over the years, he’s addressed major public affairs challenges and led key strategic communications efforts for national political leaders, corporations and nonprofits,” said Mercury Partner Ashley Walker. “We are thrilled to have Eric join the Mercury team and deliver exceptional work to our clients.”

Before joining Mercury, Johnson founded Johnson Strategies, where he served as a political adviser and media consultant for candidates seeking public office at all levels. Johnson has also served as Chief of Staff to Democratic former U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler and Patrick Murphy as well as running winning campaigns for U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Murphy, who defeated Republican former U.S. Rep. Allen West in what was at the time the nation’s most expensive congressional election in history.

Most recently, he served as the strategist for former Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz’s congressional campaign.

“I am honored to be joining the team of experts at Mercury,” Johnson said. “I look forward to continuing my commitment of lifting up the next generation of leaders and organizations while providing successful outcomes for our clients at Mercury.”


Tampa Bay-based lobbying firm RSA Consulting is promoting Kaitlyn Bailey to Director of Client Experience and Strategy.

Bailey, who joined RSA in 2016, will oversee client services at the boutique firm known for its team-centered and client-tailored approach. In her new role and as a member of the executive leadership team, Bailey will focus on company-wide growth, strategic oversight of client relations, and implementing innovative solutions to further enhance the client experience.

“Kaitlyn’s dedication to client experience and attention to detail is truly something special,” said RSA Consulting president and CEO Ron Pierce. “In her years with RSA, she’s driven some of our most innovative client projects with resounding success. Her work continues to elevate our suite of services and ensures that as we grow, every client still feels like they are our only client.”

Congrats to Kaitlyn Bailey for a big boost at RSA.

RSA Consulting’s client roster includes some of the Tampa Bay region’s most notable names — the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Straz Center for Performing Arts, Tampa Theatre and United Way Suncoast.

“Kaitlyn advances RSA to be a true customer experience organization. She has a brilliant sensitivity for clients’ unique needs and the strategic insight and talent to bring her creative ideas to life,” said RSA Consulting vice president and COO Natalie King.

Over the last five years as a lobbyist at the firm, Bailey has secured many legislative and appropriation wins for clients across a variety of industries, including transportation, economic development, education and mental health. In 2021, she was named one of Florida Politics’ 30 under 30 Rising Stars.


A couple of other thoughts:

?Casey DeSantis’ gut-wrenching testimonial about her cancer battle is undeniable gold for Team DeSantis: An ad featuring the First Lady issuing an emotional endorsement of her husband, not just as Governor of the great state of Florida, but as a devoted husband and father, is sure to bring anyone to gentle tears. “If you want to know who Ron DeSantis really is, when I was diagnosed with cancer, and I was facing the battle for my life, he was the dad who took care of my children when I couldn’t. He was there to pick me off the ground when I literally could not stand,” Mrs. DeSantis says through her own choked-back tears. There is literally no substantive way to criticize this ad. It is artistically brilliant. And it definitely won’t hurt the DeSantis camp.

?‍? — 2022 is not another ‘Year of the Woman’: Four years ago, Democrats elected a record number of women to congressional seats. In 2020, the GOP reciprocated with its own “Year of the Woman.” This year is not shaping up to be the same. A FiveThirtyEight analysis of major party candidates for U.S. House and Senate and Governors’ races found the number of women running this November is lower than two years ago. Women are 51% of the voting-age population in the U.S., but just 27% of candidates in Primary races for any of the evaluated races. Still, the analysis found Democrats have provided more opportunities for women in politics than Republicans. More here.

? — New outlet seeks to identify trends in state legislatures: Veteran Beltway journalist Reid Wilson launched a startup news outlet called Pluribus News, which is tackling state legislature coverage with a new lens: Cover all 50 at the same time. The premise is brilliant, if not obvious. “What happens in Sacramento or Albany or Austin today happens in 25 states next year and then federally after that,” Wilson told The New York Times. The new outlet aims to not only fill a void created as newspapers become increasingly strapped for reporters but add a new angle that focuses on broader policy trends from one state to the next.

? — If you’re looking for a second opinion on who are the most powerful lobbyists in the state, The Florida Standard has you covered. The first entry of its Top 25 list, which includes Nos. 21-25, went live Monday. Five more will be revealed today.


@FLSurgeonGen: I love the discussion that we’ve stimulated. Isn’t it great when we discuss science transparently instead of trying to cancel one another? I’m going to respond to the more substantive critiques.

@EricTopol: An isolation period of 5 days after COVID is totally inadequate for most people. New report from >63,000 people. Negative rapid tests are an essential guide

@JimmyPatronis: Every day, I’m proud to meet with more of the heroes dedicated to Hurricane #Ian response. Thank you to Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for your support of Southwest Florida residents and their recovery efforts. We are in this together and together we will come back stronger.

@HeadBoatWasher: Folks, I’ve heard stay safe so many times in the last two weeks, and I appreciate But I think it’s time we switch it up. How about we say Be well! What do you think?

@FlaSqueeze: Monday thought: Obviously @AlLawsonJr endorsed Nick Maddox as a favor to Sean Pittman. But I wish both of them hadn’t wasted the favor on something so unworthy.

Tweet, tweet:

@Stfn42: Well, it took 29 years, but I finally watched the original Jurassic Park, a cautionary tale about understaffing your engineering department and letting people push code directly to prod.


‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 7; NBA season tips off — 7; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 10; the Gubernatorial General Election debate — 13; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 13; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 14; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 14; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 16; Early voting begins for General Election — 18; 2022 General Election — 28; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 31; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 31; FITCon 2022 begins — 37; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 37; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 41; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 44; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 53; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 53; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 56; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 66; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 82; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 113; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 129; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 130; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 147; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 164; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 189; 2023 Session Sine Die — 206; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 206; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 234; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 283; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 388; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 402; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 535; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 654; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 654; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 759; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 937.


Marco Rubio campaign asked for donations as Florida dealt with deadly Hurricane Ian” via Josh Israel of The American Independent — As the storm hit, Rubio’s campaign was still sending out fundraising text messages to prospective donors, including in Florida.

“You must not be a morning person,” the campaign scolded in a message sent at 12:41 p.m. on Sept. 28, the same day the hurricane hit Florida. “Marco texted you earlier and you didn’t respond. Trying 1 more time — please chip in $36.99 right now.”

At 2:30 p.m. the same day, Rubio’s campaign sent a joint fundraising text with the campaign of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin that said: “Ron Johnson & Marco Rubio here, the MOST vulnerable Senators. We have a HUGE deadline in 2 DAYS & hoped if we both texted, you’d see it’s critical.”

Hurricane Ian didn’t slow down Marco Rubio’s calls for cash.


Similar messages from the Rubio campaign followed over the next few days, decreasing the amount supposedly needed to meet a goal and increasing his contribution match offer.

Rubio’s campaign continued to air campaign ads statewide throughout the storm. The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Rep. Val Demings, stopped showing spots in the areas that were the hardest hit and canceled a planned Monday campaign event.

The temporary spending bill Rubio did not vote on passed and was quickly signed by President Joe Biden. It averted a government shutdown and included funds for emergency management efforts and the federal flood insurance program.


Hurricane Ian leaves emotional toll behind” via The Associated Press — For those who lost everything to a natural disaster and even those spared, the anguish can be crushing to return home to find so much gone. Grief can run the gamut from frequent tears to utter despair. Two men in their 70s even took their own lives after viewing their losses, said the medical examiner in Lee County, where Ian first made landfall in southwestern Florida. The emotional toll in the days, weeks and months after a hurricane, flood or wildfire can be crippling. More pressing needs for food, shelter and clothing often take priority to seeking counseling, which is in short supply even in good times.

Not all hurricane damages are visible.

These 3 factors created a ‘worst-case scenario’ with Hurricane Ian that proved deadly” via Kimberly Miller and Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — A confluence of three major factors played a large part in the severity of the disaster. There was an underestimation of the deadly storm surge in Lee County, both in early forecasts and by residents likely unaware of the extreme damage that can be wrought by water. A challenging forecast at one point painted the bull’s-eye on Tampa and Clearwater, a worst-case scenario for the area of more than 3 million people. And finally, people, whose past experiences, or a lack of experience with hurricanes, may have influenced their actions.

Hurricane Ian memorial wall grows in downtown Fort Myers as mourners add tributes” via Mariah Timms of the Fort Myers News-Press — Cassaundra Arrington pulled flowers one by one from the bouquets she carried. She wove each stem methodically through rings in the chain link fence. The blooms — bright sunflowers and carnations — joined a curtain of others wilting a little after days in the Florida sun. Other mourners moved around her. Over the course of an hour, dozens visited the tribute to honor those killed when Hurricane Ian brutalized the Southwest Florida coast more than 10 days before. They were largely quiet and subdued, some staying for a few moments, others walking slowly down the fence line.

Devastated by yet another hurricane, the forgotten town of Arcadia rebuilds after Ian” via Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Road washouts aren’t always marked with orange pylons in Arcadia. In some spots, Purina feed buckets are used instead. During river rescues, they airboat people from their homes and then return for their goats, and what a shame that the old opera house on Oak Street suffered such serious damage this time around. Where are folks supposed to learn how to ballroom dance in their cowboy boots now? Arcadia, a mended-fence of a town located in DeSoto County, 49 miles east of Sarasota, is known for farming and fishing, agriculture and antiquing, not to mention the Victorian homes that seem to serve as giant paperweights that hold everything down.

Sanibel residents return to hurricane-ravaged island by boat, await bridge repair” via Fresh Take Florida — Utility trucks kicked up freshly settled dust while dodging pedestrians and bicyclists who trekked through Sanibel’s streets to visit their damaged homes over the weekend, their first time on the island since Hurricane Ian. The barrier island of about 6,000 is still severed from the mainland after 150 mph winds drove a storm surge that collapsed Sanibel’s causeway bridge nearly two weeks ago. But more than 500 workers arrived on the island this weekend, reaching as far as the causeway’s third spoil island, more than 2 miles from the mainland.

Sanibel Island residents return to find heartbreaking devastation.

How one computer forecast model botched Ian” via Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press — As Hurricane Ian bore down on Florida, normally reliable computer forecast models couldn’t agree on where the killer storm would land. But government meteorologists are now figuring out what went wrong — and right. Much of the forecasting variation seems to be rooted in cool Canadian air that had weakened a batch of sunny weather over the East Coast. That weakening would allow Ian to turn eastward to Southwest Florida instead of north and west to the Panhandle hundreds of miles away. The major American computer forecast model — one of several used by forecasters — missed that and the error was “critical,” a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration post-mortem of computer forecast models determined Thursday.


Medical examiner identifies Collier County deaths caused by Hurricane Ian” via Dan Glaun of the Naples Daily News — The 20th District Medical Examiner’s Office released Monday the identities of five people believed to have died because of Hurricane Ian in Collier County. The list includes all the deaths in Collier that medical examiners concluded were storm-related as of Oct. 7.

Sheriff arrests Texas roofer for attempting to work on homes damaged by Hurricane Ian” via Justin Garcia of Creative Loafing — According to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, the owner of Duque Roofing, Terence Duque, was arrested last Friday for contracting without a Florida license, which is a felony crime. CCSO said that the Charlotte County Economic Crimes Unit received a call from an investigator at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 1:30 p.m. last Friday. CCSO said that Duque had read the Governor’s State of Emergency order on contractors, and that he understood it to mean that contractors from out of state were allowed to work in Florida.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Salvation Army answers call for Ian relief” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Salvation Army has deployed multiple teams of disaster workers to support the Hurricane Ian relief effort in Southwest Florida despite the destruction of its service center in North Port and significant damage to a facility in Cape Coral. The social services and disaster relief organization has so far sent nearly 200 disaster workers into the region, including 40 mobile feeding vehicles. Response team command centers have been set up in Venice, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers and Naples. “Just like everyone else in southwest Florida we’ve been deeply impacted by Hurricane Ian,” said Lt. Colonel Michele Matthews, who is leading The Salvation Army’s recovery effort in Florida.

PrivateSky Aviation Services becomes temporary military base in Hurricane Ian’s wake” via Dustin Levy of the Fort Myers News-Press — The devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ian has pressed the community into new roles — from schools being used as shelters to the Minnesota Twins spring training facility opening as an emergency staging area. PrivateSky Aviation Services, Inc., a family-owned business servicing private jets, has transformed its base near Southwest Florida International Airport to serve the military’s needs as they venture out on crucial rescue missions to the most damaged parts of Southwest Florida. “The hard work that these ladies and gentlemen are performing is incredible,” PrivateSky CEO Victoria J. Wolanin said. “Our business and our family is proud to be a small part of such a heroic mission to assist these teams so they can help save our amazing community.”


On docks in Fort Myers, tough choices ahead for houseboat dwellers” via Xander Peters of The Christian Science Monitor — The “Wild One” was tamed by Hurricane Ian. That’s how Victor Coletta summarizes his experience — and that of his boat — as the massive storm churned through Southwest Florida. Southwest Florida’s houseboat culture is distinct in its charm, but the increasing volatility of storms is putting this lifestyle — and its role in the local economy and community — at new risk. Houseboat owners here are reeling emotionally and financially. Many intend to stay; some may not. Under Florida law, fully insuring houseboats isn’t mandatory. Many houseboat occupants across the region decline to obtain full coverage. Coletta is among the exceptions. But even for those like him who already have full coverage of their homes, a catastrophic event like Ian gives pause.

Hurricanes and boats don’t play well together.

Hurricane Ian shows that coastal hospitals aren’t ready for climate change” via Daniel Chang and Lauren Sausser of Health News Florida — As rapidly intensifying storms and rising sea levels threaten coastal cities from Texas to the tip of Maine, Hurricane Ian has just demonstrated what researchers have warned: Hundreds of hospitals in the U.S. are not ready for climate change. Hurricane Ian forced at least 16 hospitals from central to Southwest Florida to evacuate patients after it made landfall near Fort Myers on Sept. 28 as a deadly Category 4 storm. Some moved patients before the storm while others ordered full or partial evacuations after the hurricane damaged their buildings or knocked out power and running water, said Mary Mayhew, president of the Florida Hospital Association, which coordinates needs and resources among hospitals statewide during a hurricane.

Rebuild or relocate? Hurricane Ian survivors lean toward staying” via David Lyons of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As residents and business owners assess the devastation and reach for insurance policies that may or may not cover all of their losses, there appears to be an emerging consensus for rebuilding, and not relocating to areas perceived to be less vulnerable to catastrophic storms. It is a mindset, analysts say, driven by a long-standing affinity for Gulf Coast living, a strong resolve among public and private sector interests, and a growing tolerance of devastating hurricanes as life disruptors.

Could Tampa Bay homes survive a category 5 storm? Building codes may provide an answer” via Rebecca Liebson of the Tampa Bay Times — After Hurricane Andrew ripped through the state that year causing an estimated $26 billion in damage, building codes were overhauled to include stricter storm safety measures. The first statewide building code went into effect in 2002 and is updated every three years. Rather than trying to address the problem on an individual basis, Jason Jensen, principal of Wannemacher Jensen Architects and incoming chair for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, said local governments need to explore community-wide solutions. This could include large infrastructural projects like installing sea walls or raising roads. It could also mean providing incentives for owners to redevelop.

Water-damaged vehicles may flood used-car market. Here’s how to spot them before you buy” via C.A. Bridges of the Fort Myers News-Press — An awful lot of cars, trucks and SUVs were destroyed or damaged when Hurricane Ian flooded large parts of Florida as it rampaged across the state. Many were undoubtedly totaled. But some of those cars you saw floating in videos — or in your own neighborhood — may end up on used car lots, at auto auctions, and in classified and social media ads in the coming months. “We are seeing these flooded cars show up all around the country, putting unsuspecting buyers at risk,” said Emilie Voss, Carfax spokesperson, in a release. “Cosmetically these cars might look great, but if you don’t know what to look for, it’s nearly impossible to tell they are literally rotting from the inside out.”

Buyer beware.

What happened to the mangoes, tomatoes and other crops after Hurricane Ian?” via Katie Delk of Fresh Take Florida — Watching from an elevated window at home as Hurricane Ian struck their farm in Fort Myers, the McMahon family saw the storm blow the market roof into the pond. Torrential wind and rain whipped across 2 acres of hydroponic vegetables. By last week, the fourth-generation farm family had lost every crop. The lettuce they would have harvested a week later and the prized sunflowers, all shredded. The fall festival, planned for this week, is now off. No more waving marigolds, hayrides or pumpkins. Profits will take a hit for their business, Southern Fresh Farms Inc.

— 2022 —

If you want to vote in the General Election, Tuesday is the deadline to register” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Floridians looking to vote in the Nov. 8 General Election have until midnight Tuesday evening to register. Secretary of State Cord Byrd, who oversees the state’s elections, reminded potential voters last week about the registration deadline. “If you are not registered to vote and are eligible to do so, I encourage you to register by the Oct. 11 deadline that is fast approaching,” Byrd said in a released statement.

DeSantis-Charlie Crist debate rescheduled for later this month after Hurricane Ian postponement” via Steve Contorno of CNN — The Florida gubernatorial debate, postponed due to Hurricane Ian, has been rescheduled for Oct. 24, the host station announced Monday. DeSantis and his Democratic rival, former U.S. Rep. Crist, were originally scheduled to debate in Fort Pierce on Wednesday. However, the event hosted by WPEC CBS 12 was delayed as DeSantis and the state focused on the aftermath of Ian. Crist confirmed his participation in the rescheduled debate in a statement Monday. “This debate is important,” said Crist.

In a new ad, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis attempts to share a softer, rarely-seen side of DeSantis, skipping any mention of Donald Trump, a potential 2024 rival” via Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider — On Monday, Casey DeSantis took to the airwaves in a new campaign ad to re-introduce her husband as a different kind of fighter, a man who fought for their family when she was receiving treatment for breast cancer. “When I was diagnosed with cancer and I was facing the battle for my life, he was the dad who took care of my children when I couldn’t,” she said in the ad. “He was there to pick me off of the ground when I literally could not stand. He was there to fight for me when I didn’t have the strength to fight for myself.”

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


Florida GOP drops $2.2M on Governor, Cabinet ads — The Republican Party of Florida 3 PAC supporting DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis spent $2.18 million on broadcast ads that will air today through Oct. 24 in six Florida media markets. More than a third of the spend — $813,195 — is directed to the Orlando market while another $700,350 is heading to the Miami media market. The campaign also includes ad time in the West Palm Beach, Tampa, Jacksonville and Panama City markets.

Assignment editors — Crist will take part in the following events in South Florida as part of his campaign’s “Choice Day of Action”: 11 a.m., news conference, Fort Lauderdale; 5 p.m., event with Planned Parenthood, West Palm Beach; 7:30 p.m., ‘Latinas for Choice’ rally, Miami. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected].

Daniel Webster heavily favored in race” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — GOP U.S. Rep. Webster is expected to retain his seat in Florida’s heavily Republican 11th Congressional District after fending off a closer-than-expected Primary challenge from far-right activist Laura Loomer. Webster, 73, will face Democrat Shante Munns and independent Kevin Porter in the Nov. 8 General Election. Florida’s 11th Congressional District includes The Villages, most of Lake County, Winter Garden and parts of Apopka. Webster is promising to reduce government spending and strengthen border security, echoing key talking points for Republicans hoping to take control of Congress. He has served in the U.S. House since 2011. His political resume also includes a stint as speaker of the Florida House and as a member of the Florida Senate.

Anna Paulina Luna spends $21K on broadcast — Republican Luna has booked a $20,640 broadcast flight in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the booking covers ads that will begin Wednesday and run through Oct. 18. Luna is running against Democrat Eric Lynn in what is expected to be a competitive race for the seat currently held by Crist. Though reapportionment tilted the district toward Republicans, recent polling suggests Luna and Lynn are tied one month out from Election Day.

VoteVets endorses Eric Lynn in CD 13” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — VoteVets is backing Democrat Lynn as he runs for the seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The organization is supported by more than 1.5 million veterans, military family members and their supporters. VoteVets advocates for veterans on matters of national security, medical care and issues that affect the lives of those who served, their families and the country. CD 13 is home to roughly 70,000 veteran families. “Eric’s commitment to Veterans, our military, and the safety and security of the United States is crucially needed in Congress right now,” the organization wrote in a statement.

Leon County Sheriff endorses Loranne Ausley’s re-election bid in SD 3” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — In a new radio ad, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil calls Ausley a strong champion for law enforcement as he endorses her for re-election. McNeil says Ausley is the right choice for North Florida and Senate District 3 in the 30-second ad highlighting the fellow Democrat’s achievements on law enforcement and public safety. “I don’t usually endorse candidates, but this election is too important for any of us to sit on the sidelines,” McNeil says. “Loranne Ausley deserves our support because Loranne makes a difference.” While McNeil claims he doesn’t usually endorse candidates, he is also endorsing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Crist and crossed the aisle to join 61 other Florida Sheriffs in endorsing Republican Attorney General Moody.

Lori Berman airing ad highlighting support for abortion rights” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Abortion, specifically the limits the state recently passed on it and the possibility it could be banned completely, is front and center in Sen. Berman’s advertisement for re-election. Monday Berman’s campaign to continue representing Palm Beach County’s Senate District 26 started running a 30-second ad appealing to what polls show is a popular sentiment: Abortion should be legal. She is facing Republican Steve Byers, a beekeeper, in her bid for a second, full term. “Our rights are under attack,” says Berman, who identifies as “a mother by choice.” Rousing symphony music plays as she introduces herself and says, “I’m fighting for your freedoms and your right to choose.”

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

Campaign battle for Disney district involves Donald Trump Jr., tax and residency questions” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Many Florida legislative races are dull as dirt. But this year, the two big parties are waging an intense war over one little district in southwest Orange County with a particularly valuable prize — Disney World. Florida Republicans tried to tip the battlefield in their favor by redrawing the district, which had traditionally leaned Democratic, into one with more Republicans. The problem: The Republicans did all that work but didn’t line up a candidate with much of a track record. Instead, they got a 27-year-old who still lives with her parents going up against a 60-year-old Democratic banking exec who served 12 years in the Marines.

New ad buy highlights Andy Thomson as coach, Councilman, ‘Dad’” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Boca Raton City Council member Thomson is taking his bid to represent south Palm Beach County in Tallahassee to the airwaves. His campaign for the open seat representing House District 91 as a Democrat has announced a “six-figure ad buy” for a 30-second spot that has Thomson playing all his roles: coach, Councilman and “Dad.” It’s going to air on network and cable TV. Thomson and his rival, Highland Beach Town Commissioner Peggy Gossett-Seidman, are collectively drawing in more than $650,000 in donations and loans, by far the most of any other House race to represent a Palm Beach County House district. Republicans are fighting hard to flip this district red.

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

Fernandina Beach candidates sound off against high-density housing on Amelia Island” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — A quirk of the Fernandina Beach charter is that the Mayor can’t seek re-election as Mayor this year, as he’s instead scheduled to defend his City Commission seat. Mike Lednovich is running for re-election to Seat 4, drawing opposition from Dr. James John Antun, Chelsey Lemire and Chris Nickoloff. The candidates were invited to a Nassau County Chamber of Commerce forum, in which all but Lemire appeared. She had a scheduling conflict. While Antun had the most money raised as of the forum, the candidates have yet to file their disclosure reports covering September. A lot of water, literally and figuratively, passed since the last reports posted.


Voter intimidation? Black voters overrepresented among those arrested so far for election crimes” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — The vast majority of Florida residents who have been arrested by DeSantis’ new election crimes unit are Black, a review by The Palm Beach Post has found. That 15 of the 19 arrested so far are Black confirms for DeSantis’ political opponents and for voting rights advocates that the new unit is functioning precisely as intended — not as a bulwark against nearly nonexistent election fraud but as a means of suppressing and intimidating Black voters who are unlikely to support DeSantis or other Florida Republican Party office-seekers. “It was always obvious that this would be used to target and strike fear in Black voters, and this is coming to fruition,” said state Sen. Bobby Powell.

DeSantis fired him over abortion. Now he’s firing back.” via Jose Pagliary of The Daily Beast — When Florida’s Republican Governor fired the Tampa area’s top prosecutor for defying the state’s transgender and abortion crackdown, DeSantis made it clear that he believes his power as Governor supersedes the power of voters. But now that prosecutor, Andrew Warren, is suing to get his job back and the twice-elected State Attorney tells The Daily Beast this is more than a fight over his employment; it’s about whether a strongman Governor can single-handedly toss a democratically elected local official out of office. “Can a Governor just overturn elections in the state of Florida? If the Governor has the power to do so, then what’s left of democracy?” Warren said in an interview Friday.

Andrew Warren hits back.

Florida Supreme Court sends challenge of DeSantis’ migrant removal program to lower court” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — A Miami resident’s attempt to challenge DeSantis’ program removing undocumented immigrants from another state to a different state must first be heard in the lower courts, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a unanimous decision, the court rejected Hector Roos’ plea to skip the lower courts and have oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court, sending the case to the Second Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee. The court did not give a reason for the decision.

Watchdog group sues DeSantis, claims public records law was violated over migrant flights” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — A nonprofit government watchdog group has filed a lawsuit alleging DeSantis and his staff violated the state public records law for failing to produce documents and other material it requested related to two flights relocating migrants from Texas to Massachusetts. It comes days after the Governor’s Office released a handful of records related to the Martha’s Vineyard flights. But they don’t come close to the full scope of records requested by the Florida Center for Government Accountability, said Michael Barfield, director of public access for the FGCA. “They are releasing the records piecemeal,” Barfield said.

Florida’s power companies want to raise rates again. DeSantis’ appointees are going to wait until after the election to decide whether they can.” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric Co. have all asked for permission to increase their monthly electricity rates in 2023 — to charge customers more in order to cover higher-than-expected costs — particularly for natural gas. And they would also stack on top of another series of record-setting rate increases that all three power companies won just last year from Florida’s Public Service Commission. The PSC had originally scheduled hearings to consider these added rate-hike requests for Nov. 1, 2 and 3. That’s the week before Florida’s Nov. 8 election. But the PSC will postpone those hearings until Nov. 17 and 18 — after the election is over. A spokesperson said the hearings were moved to accommodate people working on recovery from Hurricane Ian.

Florida utilities
Your power bill may be going up, but not until after the election.

Nikki Fried adds to call for simple marijuana possession pardons” via Caden DeLisa of The Capitolist — Fried held a news conference requesting that the Florida Clemency Board meeting later this year include pardons for those convicted of simple marijuana possession. Fried’s call to action follows last week’s announcement made by Biden that his administration is taking action by pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession of marijuana at the federal level. Following Biden’s announcement, he urged Governors to take similar action at the state level. After the news conference, Fried publicized a letter sent to DeSantis where she formally requested the addition of pardons to the Clemency Board’s agenda.

Florida gas prices spike 16 cents, the highest jump since June” via Florida Politics — Florida gas prices shot up 16 cents last week, after reaching a 2022 low of $3.17 per gallon on Wednesday. It’s the largest weekly increase since June, according to AAA — The Auto Club Group. “The jump at the pump came as a surprise, as this time a week ago, it appeared that the state’s gas tax holiday would pressure prices lower,” AAA Spokesman Mark Jenkins said. “However, things changed quickly after OPEC and its allies announced plans to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day. This sent oil and gasoline futures prices back to five-week highs.”

Assignment editors — Sen. Lauren Book, Rep. Anna Eskamani and Lacey Gero, the policy and coalition coordinator of the National Diaper Bank Network, will take part in a virtual news conference celebrating the passage of a one-year tax exemption for children’s diapers: 11 a.m. Facebook Live link here. RSVP at

Happening today — Rep. Michele Rayner will host a town-hall event about a new law about teaching gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools — the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, 6 p.m., Wharton High School, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa.


Joe Biden’s pardons for marijuana possession inject issue into midterms final stretch” via Azi Paybarah of The Washington Post — Biden has injected a long-held policy dream of fellow Democrats into the final stretch of the midterm elections, announcing pardons for anyone convicted of a federal crime for possessing marijuana, and urging Governors to do the same. The pardons would affect about 6,500 people, and thousands more in the District of Columbia. Biden also directed his administration to expedite a review of whether marijuana should continue to be listed in the same legal category reserved for the most dangerous drugs, including heroin, LSD and Ecstasy.

Up in smoke: Joe Biden tackles the legalization question — a long time coming.

Two Fed officials make case for caution with future interest rate raises” via Nick Timiraos of The Wall Street Journal — Two Federal Reserve officials began laying out a case for exercising caution in raising interest rates after policymakers last month telegraphed plans to continue lifting rates at their fastest pace in decades to reduce inflation that has reached 40-year highs. Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard noted how previous rate increases, together with anticipated further rate increases, will slow the economy in ways that can’t be observed yet during a speech Monday at a conference of business economists in Chicago. Earlier Monday, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said under his current outlook for the economy, it would be appropriate for the central bank to pause rate increases at slightly more than 4.5% by next March and then to assess how the economy was reacting.

Third-largest rail union rejects deal, renewing possibility of strike” via Olafimihan Oshin of The Hill — The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, the third-largest railroad union in the U.S., has rejected a tentative deal with its employers, reviving the possibility of a strike in the vital railroad sector. Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued. They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness,” BMWED President Tony D. Cardwell said in a statement. Cardwell also said that union members are concerned with the direction of Class I freight railroads, arguing that mismanagement and greed from their companies have created the ongoing issues.

Feds file answering brief in sports betting compact appeal” via John Holden of Legal Sports Report — The federal government, in representing the Department of Interior, filed its answering brief in the appeal over the 2021 gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and DeSantis. This brief might be a little awkward on the surface; after the Seminole Tribe filed an appeal over the District Court’s denial of their motion to intervene, the Tribe also filed an amicus brief supporting the federal government’s appeal. Here, the feds break off from that alliance and argue that the Tribe is not an indispensable party to the litigation.


Kevin McCarthy told 2 officers in private meeting that Trump had no idea his supporters were attacking Capitol on Jan. 6, newly obtained audio shows” via Zachary Cohen of CNN — During a private meeting last summer, McCarthy told two police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the mother of a third who died after the riot, that Trump had no idea his supporters were carrying out the attack. Testimony to the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 revealed that Trump watched television for hours as the rioters engaged in a brutal fight with law enforcement. But McCarthy maintained Trump was unaware of the violence inside the Capitol when he spoke with Trump by phone that afternoon.

Kevin McCarthy makes a claim that’s pretty hard to believe. Image via AP.

Trump lawyer told to certify Mar-a-Lago document search she did not conduct” via Hugo Lowell of The Guardian — Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb was instructed to certify to the Justice Department that all sensitive government documents stored at his Mar-a-Lago resort subpoenaed by a grand jury had been returned, though she had not herself conducted the search for the records. The certification of subpoena compliance appears to be at the center of a criminal investigation into obstruction of justice surrounding the former President after the assurance was proved to be untrue when the FBI’s search of the property turned up more than 100 more documents marked classified. Bobb signed the certification as the “custodian of records” at the direction of another Trump lawyer, Evan Corcoran, and only later added caveats to make the declaration less ironclad since she had not conducted the search herself, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Trump slams Mitch McConnell over lack of funding for Blake Masters in Arizona” via Chloe Folmar of The Hill — Trump criticized Senate Minority Leader McConnell on Monday for supporting funds for GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s re-election bid against a fellow Republican rather than directing that money to Arizona Senate candidate Masters’ race against a Democrat. “The Old Broken Crow, Mitchell McConnell, is authorizing $9 Million Dollars to be spent in order to beat a great Republican, Kelly (Tshibaka), instead of $9 Million Dollars that could be used for Blake Masters, and other Republicans, that with this money would beat their Democrat opponent,” wrote Trump in a statement. Trump has endorsed both Masters and Tshibaka and called Murkowski, one of only seven GOP senators who voted to convict him in his second impeachment, “horrendously bad” and “barely” a Republican in his statement.

Key shareholder vote on Truth Social delayed, while Trump Media exec gets suspended” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — The merger between a Miami-based investment company and Trump’s media firm remained uncertain Monday when a critical shareholder vote on a deadline extension was put on hold. Patrick Orlando, CEO and chair of Digital World Acquisition Corp., said he delayed the vote until Nov. 3 so stockholders in the publicly traded company have more time to consider a yearlong extension that would allow more time for federal regulators to review the merger with Trump Media & Technology Group. The regulatory extension is considered crucial to Trump’s goal to create a Florida-based social media platform as a conservative alternative to Twitter.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Delray Beach cuts property tax rate, but spending to rise $11.5M under city’s new budget” via Jasmine Fernández of the Palm Beach Post — Spending will increase by 7% in Delray Beach in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 under the city’s approved budget of $281.4 million. The City Commission voted 3-2 to adopt the budget Sept. 19, with Commissioners Ryan Boylston and Shirley Johnson voting against it. Compared to the last fiscal year, the city has budgeted an increase in general fund revenues of $11.5 million. Most of that money comes from city property taxes. Much of the spending increase stems from rising personnel costs under the city’s collective bargaining agreements. Police received the largest increase in departmental expenditures, compared to the previous fiscal year — $3.1 million more, an increase of 7.6%.

Delray Beach Police will get the biggest bump in the latest city budget.

Delray Beach police officer charged in assault of Sheriff’s deputy” via Mike Diamond of the Palm Beach Post — A veteran Delray Beach Police officer has been charged with aggravated assault of a Sheriff’s deputy and obstructing efforts to extinguish a residential fire west of Lake Worth Beach. Peter Sosa, 42, a 12-year member of the Delray Beach Police Department, interfered with the work of firefighters who were battling a fire near his home on Barberton Road in an unincorporated area of Palm Beach County, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report. When a Sheriff’s deputy followed him to make an arrest, he used his car to attempt to cause a collision, the report said. Sosa is also charged with failure to obey a law enforcement officer and criminal mischief, deputies said.

Port St. Lucie police detective resigns amid investigation into sex, other allegations” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — A police detective quit as an internal investigation was underway into an alleged unwanted sexual act in Martin County, and improperly having information from law enforcement databases on his personal cellphone, according to records recently obtained by TCPalm. Detective John Morgan resigned in February following a case that appeared to begin in August 2021 when a Martin County Sheriff’s detective began investigating Morgan after an alleged sexual battery. Morgan was placed on administrative leave with pay after Martin Sheriff’s officials told police he was being investigated in the sexual battery case. In that incident, Morgan and another man were drinking at Ocean Republic Brewing in Stuart when a woman approached them.

Former Palm Beach County substitute teacher sentenced for obtaining, sharing child porn” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — A former substitute teacher for Palm Beach County schools was sentenced to nine years in federal prison last week after pleading guilty to possessing and distributing child pornography. Kemal Yaslowitz, who worked as a substitute teacher for the school district from 2009 until this year, was arrested in April after he offered to send photos and videos of children being sexually abused to a person he met online. The person was an FBI agent. Agents said the 50-year-old Yaslowitz stored hundreds of pornographic photos and videos on electronic devices at his apartment off Lake Worth Road near Florida’s Turnpike. In court filings, they said he shared 189 sexually explicit videos on social media, showing children being forced to have sex.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Court rejects Hillsborough County transportation tax referendum” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County’s second attempt at a transportation surtax hit a roadblock Monday when a circuit court judge invalidated the November ballot question. “It misleads the public,” said Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe. Moe’s ruling agreed with the arguments from attorney Samuel Salario. He represents Karen Jaroch, a Northdale resident and conservative activist who contended the County Commission-approved ballot language was ambiguous and would confuse voters.

Deltona’s Deputy City Manager suspended with pay; interim Manager role reels in 15 applications” via Katie Kustura of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Deltona’s Deputy City Manager was suspended with pay last week, officials said. Stacey Kifolo’s status was confirmed Friday afternoon by Rocco Anastasio, the city’s spokesperson, but additional information wasn’t immediately available. Kifolo, who was hired in August 2021 with a starting salary of $135,000, didn’t respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon. Mayor Heidi Herzberg also confirmed the suspension Friday afternoon but said she didn’t have additional information. Kifolo’s suspension comes less than a month after the City Commission voted 4-3 to accept a modified version of the proposed resignation put forth by John Peters III. Peters, a licensed engineer, offered to stay on as acting City Manager until Nov. 17.

Stacey Kifolo gets suspended; no one can say why.

Three in running for two contested Melbourne Beach Town Commission seats” via Christina LaFortune of Florida Today — Three candidates will be running for two available seats on the Melbourne Beach Town Commission in the Nov. 8 election. They are incumbents Joyce Barton and Corey Runte, as well as Steve Walters, a former Town Commissioner and Police Chief. The top two vote-getters will win three-year terms. Another incumbent Commissioner, Marivi Walker, is unopposed for her seat, which has two years remaining on her term, following her appointment to the seat. The two other members of the Town Commission — Mayor Wyatt Hoover and Commissioner Sherri Quarrie — are not up for re-election this year. Town Commissioners are paid $3,100 a year.

Ben Sasse’s anti-LGBTQ past recalls deep-rooted history of campus prejudice” via Alan Halaly of The Independent Florida Alligator — In 2015, the U.S. Senator who’s likely to become the University of Florida’s next president called the Supreme Court’s decision to federally protect the right to same-sex marriage “a disappointment.” Seven years later, many UF students now share a similar sentiment about the UF presidential search committee’s unanimous choice to make him the lone finalist for the university’s presidency. The committee announced its recommendation of Sen. Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, on Thursday to the outrage of many in the UF community. As members of the university community geared up for his first campus appearance as finalist on Monday, some worry his potential appointment could foreshadow a bleak future for UF’s inclusivity toward LGBTQ students and faculty.

Protesters disrupt first visit to UF for school’s presumptive new president” via Elena Barrera of Fresh Take Florida — Hundreds of boisterous student protesters drove Sasse from a stage Monday afternoon at UF, where he has been selected as the sole finalist to become the school’s next president. Before he was interrupted, Sasse — a conservative Republican — defended his remarks opposing forgiveness of student loans, endorsed tenure reviews for faculty and praised hybrid college classes that include online components as especially effective. He did not offer a clear answer responding to concerns that his appointment would further politicize UF. Sasse noted that he would be resigning from the Senate to take the job and said the prospect of stepping back from politics is appealing.

UF presidential finalist Sasse faces questions about political positions, loud protest” via Gershon Harrell, Javon L. Harris and Nathan Crabbe of The Gainesville Sun — In his first visit to campus as the sole finalist to be University of Florida president, Sasse faced questions Monday on his conservative political positions — along with a protest that disrupted a question-and-answer session. The Nebraska Republican spoke Monday to faculty, staff and students in separate events, answering questions on such issues as same-sex marriage, tenure protections for faculty and climate change. “I’ve had political positions and policy positions that represent the views of Nebraskans. It’s a completely different job to have the job of president of UF,” Sasse said. “The president of UF’s job is to celebrate all of what’s going on in this community, and to be a storyteller and resource getter and salesman for it.”

Despite Ian, Biketoberfest rolls into Daytona Beach on Oct. 13” via Jim Abbott of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Amid ongoing cleanup, damage repairs and disruption in the wake of Tropical Storm Ian, a familiar rumble of tailpipes will signal a return to at least some sense of normalcy when the annual four-day Biketoberfest officially opens on Thursday at the World’s Most Famous Beach. “Will Biketoberfest happen? Yes, it will,” said Bob Davis, president and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County. “The bikers will come.” And, despite Ian’s impact, the destination will be prepared to host the influx of motorcycles and the people who love them at traditional hubs including Main Street in Daytona Beach, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach and Daytona International Speedway, according to the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Biketoberfest rolls on, Ian be damned.

MSC to bring larger cruise ship, the Seashore, to Port Canaveral in 2023” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — MSC Cruises will be bringing one of its largest and newest ships — the Seashore — to Port Canaveral late next year. MSC Cruises currently sails the MSC Meraviglia out of Port Canaveral. That ship will be replaced by the MSC Seaside in April 2023, then by the Seashore in November 2023. MSC said the move is part of a larger expansion that will include having a record five MSC ships sailing from U.S. ports in the winter 2023-24 sailing season. Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said the announcement “further demonstrates that Port Canaveral has earned the confidence and trust to deliver a world-class experience for their cruise guests.”


Students returned to class in Collier County in big numbers after Hurricane Ian” via Nikki Ross of the Naples Daily News — Students and staff went back to school in Collier County on Thursday, and according to the district it went well. “Schools are working on identifying displaced students via guidance counselors/staff and, in turn, coordinate with our McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program district staff to arrange transportation and other supports, if necessary,” the district said. “For families that have been displaced and have not yet made contact with their child’s school, they should reach out directly as soon as possible to receive assistance.” The percent of the enrolled student body who showed up for the first day back to class was 93.33%, or 45,051 students, according to the district. That left 3,267 students absent.

HCA Fawcett Hospital reopens emergency services” via the Port Charlotte Sun — HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte reopened its emergency services Monday following repairs at the 238-bed hospital due to damage from Hurricane Ian. The hospital’s remaining services will open in the coming weeks, HCA spokesperson Debra Burbridge said. “Supporting our communities with disaster preparedness, response and recovery is vital,” HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital Chief Executive Officer Michael Ehrat said in the news release. “We are extremely grateful for the restoration team that repaired the damage to our facility caused by Hurricane Ian. Opening with a phased approach will allow us to concentrate on those patients with emergent needs first.”

HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital is back in business.

USF expands Alzheimer’s research to Sarasota, seeks participants” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The University of South Florida (USF) is bringing its largest Alzheimer’s study to Sarasota-Manatee. The university’s Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, uses digital brain training exercises to see if they can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. Now, the study is seeking more than 1,200 participants in the Sarasota area to join, USF announced in a news release Thursday. The expansions would increase the study from about 2,300 participants to about 3,500, according to the release. Study participants must be 65 or older with no previous signs of cognitive decline.

Five City Council candidates debate Bradenton’s future before election. Here’s what they said” via Ryan Callihan of the Bradenton Herald — Civility, corruption and the return of the curbside recycling program were key issues during a recent debate between the candidates running for two seats on the Bradenton City Council. Council member Marianne Barnebey and Councilman Bill Sanders are fighting to keep their seats on the board, but there are three challengers hoping to replace them on Nov. 8. Barnebey is facing David Levin. Sanders is challenged by Kurt Landefeld and Lisa Gonzalez Moore. On Sept. 22, the Manatee Tiger Bay Club hosted all five candidates, giving each an opportunity to share their campaign platform and why they believe voters should choose them in November.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Coroner completes autopsy for Navarre woman Cassie Carli. What we know and what we don’t.” via Benjamin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal — More than six months after authorities found Navarre woman Carli’s body in an Alabama barn, a St. Clair County, Alabama, coroner ruled the circumstances around her death as “undetermined.” County Coroner Dennis Russell told the News Journal Monday afternoon that he could not determine Carli’s cause or manner of death. “Undetermined means undetermined,” he told the News Journal. Carli was reported missing after she failed to return from a March 27 custody exchange with Marcus Spanevelo, an ex-boyfriend with whom she shared a 4-year-old daughter. Carli’s vehicle was found abandoned at the meeting point with her purse still inside.

FAMU student housing construction plan could add 1,000 new beds on campus by 2024” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida A&M University could add roughly 1,000 new beds in newly built residence halls through a two-year process that would demolish three older residence halls. An update on the proposed housing construction plan was made during a meeting of the Board of Trustees budget and finance committee Wednesday, with the proposal coming as a result of a higher demand for on-campus housing and an increase in first-year enrollment. The buildings that would be demolished are Gibbs Hall with 293 beds, which has been closed since 2019 due to maintenance issues, Palmetto South with 360 beds and Phase 3 Apartments with 360 beds, where a recent pest infestation led to students relocated off-campus for a week before moving back in early September.

FAMU has room to grow.

7 questions for UNF’s seventh president, Moez Limayem” via Emily Bloch of the Florida Times-Union — Limayem sits inside his new office, inside the University of North Florida’s J.J. Daniel Hall on a recent afternoon. He’s only been in the position for weeks. But he’s already thinking about the university’s last 50 years — and its next 50. “This is what I call the right moment for us to really build on the strong foundations and the great work done by all my predecessors and the current incredible team of faculty and staff,” Limayem says. “Now, we earned that right to dream and to actually be one of the best, if not the best.” Limayem was selected as UNF’s seventh president this summer after being recruited from the University of South Florida where he served as dean of the school’s business college.

Pups splash at Trousdell Aquatics Center to celebrate end of summer” via Chasity Maynard of the Tallahassee Democrat — Brandy leapt off the concrete into the pool Sunday afternoon, fellow swimmers splashing around her. She didn’t usually visit the pool, but today was special. Yellow tennis balls bobbed in the water around the Labrador and her other four-legged friends. Dogs splashed and swam in the activity pool at the Trousdell Aquatics Center during the city’s annual Puppies in the Pool event. Canines were welcomed to the facility for one last hurrah as the play area closed for the winter.


Sasse is a splash hire for UF’s President, but is he the right hire?” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — For the sake of argument, let’s assume Sasse gets the job. He would be a splash hire, but is he the right hire?

He’s an outsider and a conservative Republican taking over an orange and blue (mostly blue) university. But while he may look like an out-of-the-box choice, he really isn’t.

A university President must understand how to navigate the chambers of state power, and Sasse certainly knows how to work a political room. He’ll get up to speed soon enough on how things work in Tallahassee, and UF will benefit from that.

There’s a tightrope to walk politically, however. There is already some unrest because of a growing belief that UF is under the weight of Tallahassee’s increasingly heavy thumb. A series of edicts by DeSantis about what instructors can and can’t say in the classroom raised many concerns about the future of academic freedom.

Sasse must convince them through his actions that his priority is the university students and professors. Will he fight for them or become an unofficial campaign arm of DeSantis 2024? Right now, he would have a lot of explaining to do.

However, there were the same initial misgivings when veteran Tallahassee pol John Thrasher took over at Florida State. Many wondered if Thrasher would be just another tool of the Legislature, but he won them over. FSU’s academic standing increased significantly on Thrasher’s watch, and when he retired last year, he did so to widespread acclaim.


Biden knows how to use Trump” via Ezra Klein of The New York Times — Trump’s relentless presence in our politics comes from a few sources. One is, well, Trump. He never stops talking, insulting, complaining, cajoling, provoking. He’s publicly preparing for a 2024 campaign. Trump also bears responsibility for some of the lackluster candidates causing Republicans such problems. Biden gives startlingly few interviews and news conferences. It’s not obvious to me that the Biden team trusts him to turn one-on-one conversations and news conferences to his advantage. When he picks a fight, as he did in his speech on Trump, the MAGA movement and democracy in Philadelphia last month, the battle joins. He just doesn’t do it very often.

After Ian, spare no effort to protect every vote” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — For those coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s floodwaters, the statewide election on Nov. 8 may seem remote and unimportant. But it matters more than ever. Some are already handicapping the potential impact on the Nov. 8 election. The counties heaviest hit by the storm are dominated by Republicans. Inside those counties, the residents of the most flood-and-wind-damaged areas may well be lower-income residents who are more likely to wait until the last minute to register and might be more likely to vote Democratic. Partisanship should play no role in this debate. Elections officials have one mission. They must make sure that they do everything in their power to preserve the right of every Florida resident to vote.


— ALOE —

Florida Army vet walking 1,000 miles to Missouri for epilepsy awareness” via Patrick Connolly of the Orlando Sentinel — From his career in the Army to a life-changing medical diagnosis in his 30s, Ryan O’Connor doesn’t view life’s obstacles as roadblocks but rather as challenges he can overcome. O’Connor, whose nickname is “ROC,” spent time as a cook in the Army, helping to serve in the name of freedom before having his own taken away by seizures that started at the age of 36. More than a decade later, O’Connor’s epilepsy is an ongoing battle and a force to be reckoned with. “You might not see my medical condition on a daily basis, but it is there and it’s a hidden monster I have to deal with,” he said.

‘We’re a strong nation:’ Famous Ukrainian singer performs in South Florida for charity” via Grethel Aguila of the Miami Herald — Minutes before taking the stage, Tina Karol, sparkling in a blue-and-yellow ombré dress, was presented with a gift from a young admirer: a matching homemade bracelet with beads that spell out her name. She smiled, and hastily wrapped the bracelet around her wrist. She then rushed into a curtain, the crowd roaring as smoke filled the stage. Some even wiped away their tears as Karol began the show. Karol, a well-known Ukrainian singer, is an artist, actor and show presenter. She’s also a philanthropist and the founder of a nonprofit called The Pole of Attraction. She rose to prominence in 2006, when she represented Ukraine on the Eurovision talent show.

Ukrainian pop sensation Tina Karol heads to South Florida for a worthy cause.

A personal reckoning, and the truth comes out of the closet” via Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press — I crouched onto the damp grass and picked at the weeds sprouting around my dad’s headstone. I struggled for the words — and the courage — to tell him what I couldn’t in his living years. I had flown thousands of miles to Sacramento to visit my dead father and reveal the secret I have held close for most of my 57 years. I stammered as I spoke to his grave. It took a half-hour before I could utter a complete sentence as I continued pulling weeds and rearranging the flowers I brought him. “Daddy, I gotta tell you something. I wanted to tell you this for a long time.” In a halting and hushed voice, I broke the news to my father, dead 24 years: “Dad, I’m gay.”


Celebrating today are Joni Branch of the Florida Education Association, Tom Derzypolski, co-founder of BowStern Marketing Communications, Kim McKeel, the legendary Lucy Morgan, and Anissa Raiford.


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

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