Good Wednesday morning.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has raised more than $150 million this election cycle, and more than a third of it was raised this year.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the committee, announced the fundraising milestone Tuesday.
“While the Democrats are focused on late-term abortion, playing the blame game with the skyrocketing inflation, and ignoring the raging crisis at our Southern Border,” Scott said, “voters are getting behind the Republican agenda and supporting our efforts to take back the Senate.”
“They are rejecting the Democrats’ radical agenda and ready for a change in Washington. This is clearly evident in our fundraising numbers for this month — raising nearly $156 million this cycle and $51.1 million so far in 2022, with $8.1 million raised in April. The NRSC is ready to help deliver a Republican majority in the Senate in November.”
Ledgers appear to support Scott’s claim that everyday voters are lining up behind the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, with the average contribution weighing in at about $48. NRSC also highlighted that for 10 months in a row, 99% of contributions received by NRSC had been $100 or less.
All told, NRSC has more than $45 million in the bank, which the committee notes is the highest on-hand total in the history of the committee as well as its across-the-aisle equivalent, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The fundraising numbers dropped as Scott and President Joe Biden continued to feud over Scott’s 11-point plan to rescue America, which Biden criticized for raising taxes on lower-income Americans and potentially jeopardizing programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
Earlier, Scott had called for Biden to resign, saying it was the “most effective thing Joe Biden can do to solve the inflation crisis he created.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
The U.S. will soon reach a once unthinkable milestone: 1 million confirmed COVID deaths.
At this grim moment, we sought to refocus on the scale of loss suffered.
— Axios (@axios) May 9, 2022
This new visual representation of 1 million Covid deaths by @jaspar is a somber way to reflect on the sheer scale of loss the U.S. has seen so far, and the remarkable importance of the tools we have to stop needless deathshttps://t.co/UA6vpylndj pic.twitter.com/6uxRJ424tE
— Rachel Cohrs (@rachelcohrs) May 10, 2022
—@PressSec: [email protected] strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest. But that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.
—@Nancook: Spotted on the White House driveway: Paris Hilton
—@Jack (re: Trump Twitter ban): it was a business decision; it shouldn’t have been. And we should always revisit our decisions and evolve, as necessary. I stated in that thread and still believe that permanent bans of individuals are directionally wrong.
A striking graph of the percentage of New York Times headlines containing each president’s name, by @brgrbrglr. Trump and the Times had a symbiotic relationship: he used them to get attention, and they used him to get subscribers. pic.twitter.com/Viwx6XaB3I
— Paul Graham (@paulg) May 4, 2022
—@LtGovNunez: I applaud @GovRonDeSantis for signing Senate Bill 160, which makes 26 road designations across Florida, including three brave Cubans who fought against the Castro regime. These street designations represent all those who fought for freedom in their native homeland.
—@ChristinaPushaw: Very interesting that @washingtonpost obsessively reports on Tallahassee politics when they can elevate whatever Democrat is trashing our Governor on any given day. But when a negative story breaks about the same Democrat, The Washington Post is silent.
—@VoteRandyFine: A day after two Fla newspapers won @ and a third was a finalist, @ signs bill pushed by @ that lets govts. publish legal notices on county websites, NOT in newspapers anymore. It will cost papers $$.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Property insurance Special Session begins — 12; 2022 Florida Chamber Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit — 14; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 14; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 16; Hyundai Air and Sea Show National Salute to America’s Heroes, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association — 17; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 22; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 27; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 30; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 37; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 48; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 58; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 69; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 71; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 90; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 98; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 102; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 112; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 114; 2022 Emmys — 124; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 148; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 166; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 167; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 167; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 184; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 190; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 194; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 194; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 195; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 219; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 281; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 299; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 317; 2023 Session Sine Die — 359; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 359; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 387; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 443; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 527; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 688; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 807.
Gov. DeSantis signed five bills on Tuesday, ranging from an edit of the state’s rules for publishing legal notices to training requirements for certain health care workers.
The legal notices bill is the most controversial one in the grab bag. Sponsored by Rep. Fine, HB 7049 changes requirements for Florida governments to notice meetings in local newspapers, essentially undoing a compromise deal between lawmakers and the newspaper industry forged last year. Of note, the legislation still allows governments to put notices in papers, but they would no longer be required to do so.
Another bill getting DeSantis’ approval, SB 542, aims to protect businesses if employees sue them during a state of emergency. The measure comes after some companies held back on providing helpful supplies, such as hand sanitizer, to gig workers due to fear of legal consequences.
SB 634, sponsored by Sen. Audrey Gibson, also got a signature. It requires some employees of nursing homes, home health care providers, hospices, assisted living facilities, and adult day care facilities to complete at least one hour of Department of Elder Affairs-approved dementia-related training within 30 days of starting employment.
Another signed bill, SB 7020, staves off the sunset date for public records exemptions under the purview of the Office of Financial Regulation. The first shields the personal information of the customers and shareholders of international trusts and qualified limited-service affiliates. The second applies to certain information collected or used by OFR investigators.
DeSantis also signed SB 1502, which makes a handful of changes to the laws governing estates and trusts — you’ll need to call a probate attorney for a decent explanation on this one.
— 2022 —
“Democrats launch ‘historic’ seven-figure media effort targeting Latinos” via Suzanne Gamboa of NBC News — Democrats are making a seven-figure investment to reach Latino voters ahead of the midterm elections, which they are touting as a “historic” early expenditure. The Democratic National Committee is launching a paid media campaign of radio and print advertisements in English and Spanish in Latino-rich states. The ads are part of a Latino initiative the committee dubbed Adelante, which translates to “forward.” The ads are to run in Texas, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Parties rarely divulge exact spending for competitive reasons.
—“NYC politician pulls funding from Jewish museum over alleged Ron DeSantis snub” via Lawrence Richard of Fox News
“DeSantis sets a new monthly fundraising record” via Paul Steinhauser and Andrew Murray of Fox News — DeSantis set a new monthly fundraising record in April, as he runs for a second four-year term steering Florida. DeSantis hauled in nearly $10.5 million in April. The total included $2.297 million raised by his reelection campaign and $8.156 million brought in by Friends of Ron DeSantis, his political committee. That’s DeSantis’ best combined monthly fundraising since forming the campaign committee in November of last year.
“Influential South Carolina GOP donors to hold fundraiser for DeSantis” via Caitlin Byrd of The State — A small group of influential South Carolina Republican donors who want to see DeSantis get re-elected this year are planning to host a fundraiser for the popular national GOP figure in Charleston later this week, according to a source close to the Governor. The source, who spoke Monday to The State on the condition of anonymity so that they could speak freely about the exclusive event, confirmed the fundraiser will be Thursday evening at a private residence in the Charleston area. The impending visit will put DeSantis in an early Presidential Primary voting state with a rich history of picking GOP presidential nominees.
“DeSantis’ Press Secretary dismisses criticism of comment on ‘fake Nazi’ tweet” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Accused of promoting a Twitter post that had charged that an apparent Nazi rally was faked by Jewish Democratic Attorney General candidate Daniel Uhlfelder, DeSantis‘ Press Secretary said Tuesday she was only commenting on the masks worn by the demonstrators. This year, it is the second time that DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw has spurred controversy regarding tweets suggesting apparent Nazi rallies in Orlando might be fake. “I just commented ‘masks?’ Because I found it odd that the demonstrators were wearing masks outdoors in the Orlando heat,” Pushaw said in an email.
“Nikki Fried, Michele Rayner warn overturning Roe could erode other SCOTUS rulings on equality” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — State Rep. Rayner took her abortion rally tour through Florida’s 13th Congressional District to Dunedin’s City Hall Monday, as she competes for that seat this cycle. About 50 reproductive rights advocates came to support the tour, including Fried. Rayner embarked on her rally tour last week in St. Petersburg, less than 24 hours after Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s draft opinion leak. Reproductive rights advocates and medical professionals have warned overturning those cases would set medicine and women’s autonomy over their own bodies back 50 years. But Fried and Rayner warned the decision’s language could have greater implications for other court decisions relating to privacy and equality.
—”Ashley Moody eclipses $5M cash on hand for re-election campaign” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“Minority groups say elections can’t proceed in North Florida under DeSantis map” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Plaintiffs challenging Florida’s new congressional map fear running the Midterms under the new lines will cause irreversible harm to Black voters. Attorneys will make the case to a judge in Leon County Circuit Court on Wednesday that, at least in North Florida, different cartography must be put in place. Olivia Mendoza, deputy director of litigation and policy at the National Redistricting Foundation, said there should be plenty of time for a judge to issue an injunction and consider alternative political boundaries that don’t diminish the voting power of Black voters from Tallahassee to Jacksonville.
“Tony Hill attempts political comeback in CD 4” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Former state Sen. Hill announced Tuesday his candidacy in the new Florida’s 4th Congressional District, signaling that Democrats are serious about competing in the new seat that includes northern and western Duval County. “I’m running for Congress,” Hill said. “I’m running to win.” Hill announced his run at Jacksonville’s Eastside in the Longshoremen’s Union Hall in front of dozens of supporters from throughout the new district, vowing to “connect the dots” and focus on constituent services, especially relative to veterans. Hill, a former Army veteran, used military talk in his pitch, urging supporters to “join this tour of duty with me for the next six months.”
—”Redington Shores Mayor Marybeth Henderson backs Amanda Makki in CD 13” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics
“Dennis Ross’ zombie campaign spent heavily on travel, dining between his runs for Congress” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former U.S. Rep. Ross announced in March he wanted to return to Congress after four years away. Living in a newly drawn Florida’s 15th Congressional District with no incumbent and much of his old constituency, he’s decided it’s time to run again. But that’s drawn fresh scrutiny on the use of his federal campaign account since he first retired. The Plant City Republican initially won election to the U.S. House in 2010 but announced in April 2018 that he was done on the Hill. “It’s time,” he told Florida Politics then. Between April 11, 2018, the date Ross announced his retirement, and Oct. 1, 2019, the committee spent $398,978 on various uses. Much of that went toward other candidates running for Congress.
“Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick launches congressional re-election campaign — with support from former opponent” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Congresswoman Cherfilus-McCormick, who faces a primary rematch with the candidate she defeated last year by five votes, kicked off her re-election campaign with a call for — and a show of — Democratic unity. She launched her campaign with a notable new supporter: Barbara Sharief, who finished third in the fiercely fought 2021 Special Democratic Primary that sent Cherfilus-McCormick to Congress. Also supporting the new Congresswoman’s re-election: Maisha Williams, the late Congressman Alcee Hastings’ stepdaughter — who Cherfilus-McCormick ran against twice, in 2018 and 2020. Cherfilus-McCormick has been in the office for about 110 days. One of the central themes in remarks to supporters was that Democrats should be unified and not devote time and energy to a divisive party Primary.
— MORE 2022 —
Broward County police back Lauren Book for re-election — Senate Democratic Leader Book earned an endorsement from the Broward County Police Benevolent Association on Tuesday in her bid for the new Senate District 35. “Law enforcement relies on public officials, and we strive to endorse the very best candidates. We believe that Sen. Lauren Book is one, and we wish her the best in her election,” said Rod Skirvin, president of the Broward PBA. The Broward PBA joins several current and former elected leaders in supporting Book, who faces a Primary challenge in former Broward Commissioner Barbara Sharief, her sole opponent so far in the newly mapped district.
“Shawn Harrison raises $30K in opening month in SD 14 campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — New candidate Harrison had a strong opening month after launching his campaign for Senate District 14 in mid-April, collecting nearly $31,000 with hefty GOP-backing as he faces Democratic incumbent state Sen. Janet Cruz. Harrison, who launched his campaign on April 18, collected $30,850 since entering the race. Cruz outraised Harrison, amassing $32,093 in April between her campaign and affiliated political committee, Building the Bay. Despite a significant opening month for Harrison, Cruz still leads the fundraising field by miles, accumulating $494,529 in this election cycle alone.
—“Joel Rudman leads HD 3 April fundraising with almost $23K” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics
Dean Black crosses $400K raised for HD 15 run — Republican Black announced he raised more than $400,000 between his campaign and political committee, True Conservatives, since entering the race for House District 15. His most recent finance reports include contributions from Duval Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell, Jacksonville Beach Councilmember Cory Nichols, Mike Grubbs, and political committees affiliated with RPOF Chair Joe Gruters and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford. The new HD 15 includes portions of Nassau and Duval counties and is expected to perform Republican in the General Election.
—”Shane Abbott maintains HD 5 fundraising lead with $10K raised in April” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics
—”Chase Tramont picks up two endorsements in HD 30” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
“Jordan Leonard adds to sizable list of supporters in HD 106 campaign” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Former Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Leonard’s bid to take the HD 106 seat hit 39 endorsements Tuesday with a handful more people and organizations backing his campaign. The new roundup of supporters included Miami Sen. Jason Pizzo and Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco, whose nods mean Leonard now has the support of every state legislator currently representing the district. He also received endorsements from North Bay Village Mayor Brent Latham, North Bay Village Commissioner Rachel Streitfeld, and Metro-Dade Fire Fighters IAFF Local 1403, the union representing firefighters who service nine of the 10 municipalities within HD 106. “The combined leadership of these individuals and the bravery of our firefighters is impressive,” Leonard’s campaign said in a statement.
—”Daniel Perez soars past $3M raised, remains unopposed in HD 116” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
“Perez, Sam Garrison endorse Jim Mooney for re-election” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Reps. Perez and Garrison on Tuesday endorsed Rep. Mooney’s 2022 re-election bid. “Jim Mooney is an invaluable member of the South Florida delegation and a rock-solid advocate for addressing the most critical issues facing our state,” Perez said. Perez and Garrison are both in line to become House Speaker — Perez following the 2024 election and Garrison following the 2026 election.
“Federal judge dismisses first lawsuit against DeSantis over Disney World’s Reedy Creek district” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — On Tuesday, a federal judge quickly dismissed a lawsuit against DeSantis over the dissolution of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. The suit, filed last week by William Sanchez, a Miami lawyer and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, was on behalf of three residents of Orange and Osceola counties. In her order, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that the suit was dismissed for several reasons, including the federal court’s lack of standing over state issues and because the law does not go into effect until July 2023.
“DeSantis’ math textbook hoax” via Judd Legum of Popular Information — Attempting to use math textbooks to indoctrinate elementary school students with “race essentialism,” which is how right-wing activists characterize CRT, would be bizarre. DeSantis did not provide any proof for his claim that elementary school students were targeted with CRT, but it nevertheless generated a slew of credulous headlines. There was one problem with DeSantis’ claim: It was completely and unequivocally false. No reviewer of Florida math textbooks for elementary school students found any instances of CRT. The truth is that each of the reviewers explicitly stated that they did not find any instances of CRT.
“Panhandle’s anger over FPL may have helped spur DeSantis veto of anti-solar bill” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — DeSantis surprised many in Florida’s environmental community when he vetoed Florida Power & Light’s priority bill that was intended to reduce rooftop solar expansion in Florida. Solar advocates said it was a signal the Governor had put “energy freedom ahead of monopoly utility profit margins.” But in conservative Northwest Florida, residents say they deserve some of the credit, as their outrage at FPL and its handling of winter price hikes became a catalyst in the bill’s demise. “We were very happy that the Governor was supportive of our request to veto the net metering (bill),” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.
“‘Recklessness’: Rep. Ramon Alexander apologizes amid sexting, harassment allegations” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — State Rep. Alexander, in line to become the top Democratic leader of the Florida House, is facing accusations of sexually harassing a former athletic official at Florida A&M University, including groping him and sending explicit photos and video of himself. In January, Michael Johnson Jr., who lost his job as an associate athletic director amid an ugly staff shake-up, filed complaints in February with the Florida Commission on Human Relations alleging harassment and retaliation by high-ranking FAMU employees. Included in the complaints were allegations that Alexander harassed and intimidated him over personnel issues involving a family member of the representative.
— STATEWIDE —
“Disney copyrights targeted in bill proposed by Sen. Josh Hawley” via Winston Cho of The Hollywood Reporter — Disney, under siege by Republican lawmakers, may immediately lose its copyright for Mickey Mouse if a law passes that slashes the duration of ownership. Sen. Hawley on Tuesday proposed legislation that limits copyright protection to 56 years. According to the Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022, the law would retroactively apply to existing copyrights. Several Republican lawmakers have said that they won’t support an extension of copyright protections for Disney if a bill is introduced.
“Florida campus surveys under scrutiny in lawsuit. ‘A political tool.’” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — The “intellectual freedom” surveys distributed at Florida’s public colleges and universities have drawn harsh criticism for trying to gauge whether politics seeps into classrooms. But the questions asked of roughly 1 million students, faculty and other employees were on the way to being even more controversial. According to an early draft, state officials proposed a series of pointed, personal, and politically charged questions. They initially wanted respondents to say how strongly they agreed with statements like “through hard work, everyone can succeed in American society,” “racial discrimination is no longer a problem in America,” and “undocumented immigrants should be denied access to public education.”
Good read — “Martin County School Board member Tony Anderson is leaving teaching behind” via Blake Fontenay of Treasure Coast Newspapers — When Anderson was growing up in Port Salerno, his father offered a bit of advice to him and his siblings: Stick with this community — it’s off the beaten path now, but it’s got a lot of potential. He has shown resolve in his work on the school board, too, speaking out on controversial issues even when he knew he didn’t have the support of the board’s majority. So why is Anderson leaving teaching behind? He’s tired of dealing with unruly students who have no respect for their teachers or the learning process. Anderson didn’t close the door on returning to the classroom.
“Auto insurance costs Floridians more than nearly everywhere else in the U.S., study finds” via Ron Hurtibise of the Orlando Sentinel — Floridians on average pay the second-highest share of their incomes on auto insurance premiums. Based on the website’s 2022 True Cost of Auto Insurance annual report, the tally compared the amount 40-year-old drivers with clean driving records and good credit pay across all 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. In Florida, the average driver spends 4.42% of their income on auto insurance. That’s behind only Louisiana, where drivers must spend 5.26% of their incomes. In a dollar-for-dollar comparison, Florida drivers pay an average of $2,762 a year for full coverage. The most expensive state was New York, where the same driver pays $2,996 a year.
“Florida’s permit plan would speed up wetlands destruction, critics say” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida lawmakers have created a fast-track for wetland destruction that will speed up an already streamlined process that has drawn warnings from federal regulators and a lawsuit from environmentalists. The new pay-to-play arrangement is tucked into SB 2508, Senate President Wilton Simpson’s signature water-quality bill approved by the Legislature earlier this year. If signed into law, environmentalists say, it would further hasten the demise of Florida’s wetlands, which have been disappearing at an alarming rate over the past several decades despite a wetlands restoration program and a federal edict that development should result in “no net loss.” Florida has lost the most acreage of wetlands in any state since 1845, over 9 million acres.
“Florida bird flu is killing bald eagles. See how many have died from the HPAI virus” via Max Chesnes of Treasure Coast Newspapers — At least 23 bald eagles have died from a highly infectious new bird flu strain spreading through Florida’s wild bird populations. Brevard County leads the state with eight eagle deaths. At least one eagle died in Indian River County since the virus was first detected in Florida in January. Eagles make up just a fraction of the “several thousand” estimated cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) among Florida’s wild ducks, vultures, owls, pelicans and several other species, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute spokesperson Carly Jones.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Joe Biden stresses contrast with GOP economic agenda as midterm challenges grow” via Ken Thomas and Catherine Lucey of The Wall Street Journal — President Biden argued Tuesday that congressional Republicans would worsen inflation and raise taxes on American families, part of a growing effort to cast the GOP as obstructing his agenda and fixated on culture wars instead of governing. With midterm elections looming, Biden remains weighed down by low approval ratings and rising public frustration with soaring prices fueled by the pandemic, government spending, and the war in Ukraine. Now he is eager to take the offensive and pressure Republicans to defend their own plans. Framing the election as a choice between the White House and congressional Republicans may prove challenging for Democrats, as midterms tend to be a referendum on the party in the White House.
“Rejecting Rick Scott’s call to resign, Biden says the Senator ‘has a problem’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The war of words continued Tuesday between Democratic President Biden and Republican Sen. Scott about Scott’s 11-point plan to rescue America. Ahead of a speech Tuesday, Scott called for Biden to resign from office over an inability to quell inflation. The President dismissed the suggestion in a Q&A with White House reporters Tuesday after his remarks. “Resign? That’s a good idea,” a smiling Biden quipped Tuesday when confronted with Scott’s call to leave office over the inflation crisis. When asked a follow-up, Biden said: “I think the man has a problem.”
“Surging mortgage rates add to Biden’s economic woes” via Katy O’Donnell of POLITICO — Mortgage rates are surging at the fastest pace in 40 years, threatening to push homeownership out of reach for many Americans and to deprive consumers of potentially billions of dollars in spending power as the home-refinancing wave fades. While a softening market may help tamp down skyrocketing housing prices, the rising rates mean fewer Americans will be able to build wealth through homeownership. For Biden, the risk of a housing slowdown heading into the midterms comes as the spike in inflation has already turned Americans pessimistic about the economy, even amid months of exceptional job gains and rapid wage increases.
“Low-wage earners to get high-speed internet for $30 in Biden program” via Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post — Twenty internet providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, have agreed to provide high-speed service at a steep discount to low-income consumers, significantly expanding broadband access for millions of Americans. The plan, a feature of the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year, would cost qualifying households no more than $30 per month. The discounts plus existing federal internet subsidies mean the government will cover the total cost of connectivity if consumers sign on with one of the 20 participating companies. The White House estimates the program will cover 48 million households, or 40% of the country. More than 11.5 million households have already signed up to claim government subsidies.
— FOREIGN AFFAIRS —
“Biden signs Ukraine lend-lease act into law, expediting military aid” via Amy B. Wang of The Washington Post — Biden signed into law on Monday afternoon a bill that will speed up sending military aid to Ukraine, as the Eastern European country presses into its third month of fighting off a Russian invasion. Flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, Biden vowed the United States will continue to support Ukraine “in their fight to defend their country and their democracy” against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. “Every day, Ukrainians fight for their lives,” Biden said. The House passed the lend-lease bill last month on a 417-to-10 vote. A few weeks before, the Senate had passed it unanimously, a rare and overwhelming show of bipartisanship in today’s bitterly divided Congress.
“U.S. intel questioned for misjudging Afghanistan, Ukraine” via Nomaan Merchant of The Associated Press — Top U.S. intelligence officials were questioned Tuesday about why they misjudged the durability of governments in both Afghanistan and Ukraine, and whether they need to reform how intelligence agencies assess a foreign military’s will to fight. U.S. intelligence believed the U.S.-backed Kabul government would hold out for months against the Taliban and thought Russian forces would overrun Ukraine in a few weeks. Both assessments were wrong. The U.S. and Western allies are now rushing to aid Ukraine’s resistance against Russia in what has turned into a grinding, violent stalemate.
“Donald Trump kept asking if China was shooting us with a ‘Hurricane Gun’” via Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley of Rolling Stone — Near the beginning of Trump’s time in office, the then-President had a pressing question for his national-security aides and administration officials: Does China have the secret technology — a weapon, even — to create large, man-made hurricanes and then launch them at the United States? And if so, would this constitute an act of war by a foreign power, and could the U.S. retaliate militarily? Trump repeatedly asked about this. “It was almost too stupid for words,” said a former Trump official intimately familiar with the then-sitting president’s inquiry. “I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”
“Mark Esper: Trump’s White House discussed blockade of Cuba and military action in Venezuela” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — Former Secretary of Defense Esper said he prevented “dangerous things” from happening during the time Trump was in office, including military intervention in Venezuela and a blockade of Cuba. “At various times, certainly during the last year of the administration, folks in the White House were proposing to take military action against Venezuela, to strike Iran,” Esper said in an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday about his forthcoming memoir “A Sacred Oath.” At some point, he said, “somebody proposed we blockade Cuba.” He did not provide more details about who proposed such ideas, but he said such suggestions “would come up every few weeks, and we had to swat them down.”
“Nicolás Maduro tries a new PR campaign: Going woke” via Tony Frangie Mawad of POLITICO — Last summer, a delegation of eight Americans sat down in the grandiose hall of Miraflores Palace in Caracas for a formal meeting with Venezuelan President Maduro. The gathering, which was broadcast on Venezuelan state television and shared through the government’s social media networks, was something of a public-relations triumph for Maduro. Today, when the Venezuelan government shares messages on social media and Maduro speaks in public, Venezuelan observers have noted that he increasingly relies on progressive language familiar to young Western leftists.
“Cartel shuts down much of Colombia over leader’s extradition to U.S.” via Samantha Schmidt and Diana Durán of The Washington Post — For more than four days, Colombia’s largest drug cartel terrorized cities across more than 100 municipalities in 10 departments, confining residents in their homes, blocking roads and paralyzing businesses. The paramilitary group known as the Clan del Golfo unleashed the so-called armed strike in retaliation for the extradition to the United States of its leader. Dairo Antonio Úsuga, known more commonly as Otoniel, was arraigned in federal court last week on drug trafficking charges.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter’s ban of Trump” via Matt O’Brien, Kelvin Chan and Tom Krisher of The Associated Press — Speaking virtually at an auto conference, Musk said Tuesday that Twitter’s ban of Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a “morally bad decision” and “foolish in the extreme.” “I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” said Musk, adding that he preferred temporary suspensions and other narrowly tailored punishments for content that is illegal or otherwise “destructive to the world.” Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey voiced his agreement in a Tuesday tweet in which he said, “generally permanent bans are a failure of ours and don’t work.”
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Investigation into Tallahassee Chabad fire underway, likely to be lengthy” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The investigation into the total loss of the Chabad of Tallahassee and FSU in a fire Sunday will rely heavily on a forensic analysis into what led to the blaze. Such an investigation, spearheaded by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, could take months as officials investigate the fire’s origin and determine if a crime was committed. Investigators have not released any preliminary information about the blaze. Tallahassee firefighters were dispatched to the Chapel Drive Jewish worship center at about 3 a.m. Sunday. Fire crews found flames coming from the roof and, by the time they were put out, determined the building was a total loss.
“LeAnna Cumber makes up ground on Daniel Davis in Jacksonville mayoral fundraising race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — April was another active month of Republican fundraising in the 2023 Jacksonville mayoral race, with the leading official candidate outraising the political committee of an undeclared candidate widely expected to run. City Council member Cumber raised over $200,000 last month between her campaign account and her JAX First political committee. Cumber has raised more than $2.5 million between the two accounts. Despite still not being a filed candidate, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Davis shepherded his Building a Better Economy to another credible fundraising haul in April, raising over $150,000 and approaching $4 million cash on hand after last month’s accounting. Cumber and Davis continue to command the lion’s share of fundraising in the race, with other candidates struggling to match.
“‘We’re going to lose this house’: Duval homeowners struggle to keep up with property insurance hikes” via Jake Stofan of Yahoo News — More than 820,000 Floridians are now getting home insurance through Citizens, the state’s insurer of last resort. The company is expected to top 1 million policies by the end of this year. Even in Duval County, the number of residents priced out of the private market and forced to turn to Citizens has doubled in the past year, with more than 8,000 homeowners now holding policies with the state-backed insurer. “People are opening up their bill and seeing 40 and 70% rate increases,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes.
“Four Seasons Hotel Jacksonville groundbreaking slated for this year at Shipyards” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — The construction of a riverfront development anchored by Four Seasons Hotel Jacksonville will break ground later this year under the direction of luxury hotel builder PCL Construction, the Jaguars and team owner Shad Khan’s Iguana Investments announced Friday. The addition of PCL to the development team marks a “major milestone,” said Drew Frick, Jaguars’ senior vice president of real estate and development. “With a full team now in place, we’ve fully transitioned from concept to execution,” he said. “The partners we’ve assembled are world-renowned and have extensive experience. Our Northbank riverfront is in good hands.” In a unanimous vote last October, the Jacksonville City Council approved $114 million in taxpayer support for the deal.
“U.S. 17 redevelopment could be next for Nassau County” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — In addition to upgrading a couple of north-south roads to handle increased traffic and development, Nassau County planning staff asked Commissioners to look into a study of the key U.S. 17 thoroughfare. Commissioners did not commit to doing the study yet. “This corridor has some unique identifiable areas,” County Assistant Planning Director Holly Coyle said at the last Nassau County Board of County Commissioners meeting. “Parts of it are included in the William Burgess District … but we’d like to expand that, so we can plan in a comprehensive manner. Take it from the Duval County line to Georgia.”
“Buddy Dyer to pursue another term as Orlando’s Mayor. Could it be his last?” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Mayor Dyer said he plans to seek re-election next year to pursue a sixth full term at City Hall. Dyer, who won a fifth term in 2019 with 72% of the vote and the widest margin of his career, oversaw the city’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, massive protests downtown following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis and has thrown his political might behind Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings’ 1% sales tax increase campaign to fund expansions to the transportation system. Still, Dyer acknowledged it might be his last campaign as Mayor.
“Tourism and economic agencies join forces to market Orlando” via Micke Schneider of The Associated Press — It’s an idea that almost seems as compatible as Mickey and Minnie. Take the tens of millions of tourists thinking about visiting Central Florida’s theme parks each year and sell them on the virtues of moving their companies or businesses to the region. In the half-century that Orlando has been a tourism hub, it had not been done, until now. The quasi-public agencies that usually promote tourism and economic development separately in Orlando on Monday announced they are joining forces to market the region together under a single brand. With a tagline of “Unbelievably Real,” the branding plan will be aimed at tourists, meeting planners, conventioneers, business relocation specialists, site selectors, business owners, and company CEOs. Around $23 million will be spent on it this year.
“Split Oak Forest could get $13M from toll road authority to care for land” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — A Central Florida Expressway Authority member is calling on the agency to provide an estimated $13 million for 30 years of environmental care of a 1,550-acre tract offered to offset harm from a proposed toll road cutting through Split Oak Forest. A former state senator and now a Seminole County commissioner, Lee Constantine also wants the toll-road authority to consider several other safeguards for the environmental health of Split Oak Forest, which straddles Orange and Osceola counties 5 miles east of Orlando International Airport.
“Environmental groups sue to get EPA to reassess Indian River Lagoon impacts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Three environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reassess how Florida’s clean water standards may be impacting the Indian River Lagoon and the manatees there. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Orlando, cites the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit alleges the EPA has failed to consider how federally accepted state water standards may be causing or contributing to the massive die-off of manatees in the blighted Indian River Lagoon over the past couple of years. The suit comes from the Center for Biological Diversity, Save the Manatee Club, and Defenders of Wildlife, supported in court by Earthjustice.
“Seminole County School Board reverses decision to censor ‘don’t say gay’ protest yearbook photos” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — The Seminole County School Board scrapped a plan Tuesday to put stickers over yearbook photos of students protesting against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, responding to a public backlash against the move. The school board voted 5-0 not to obscure the photos and captions of a walkout protest featured in Lyman High School’s yearbook. Instead, an alternative sticker will be placed on the page that explains the protest was student led and not sponsored by the school. Amy Pennock, the school board chair, and other board members said they would purchase the new stickers that wouldn’t cover the yearbook staff’s work.
“Another lost Black cemetery in Tampa?” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Tampa Bay’s lost black cemeteries are hallowed grounds of history. That’s why officials in Tampa need to explore what happened to the ST. Joseph Aid Society Cemetery. Hundreds of Black residents may have been abandoned at the burial ground. The Times can’t say with complete certainty that the cemetery is still there, but numerous clues indicate it is likely in the 3400 block of Genesee Street in East Tampa. The community owes these souls a reckoning, and doing right is hardly a monumental task. The county and state should arrange for deploying radar at the site; what ultimately happens is a separate question. Researchers first need to confirm the presence of graves. There’s no reason to wade deeper into this sensitive matter until any graves are actually found.
“White professor says USF dean’s racist and sexist remarks pushed him out of job; now he wants $100K+” via Daniel Figueroa IV of Florida Politics — Andrew Bugajski is suing the school for more than $100,000 in damages, according to documents filed in Hillsborough County Court. The Ph.D. nurse said he lost wages and suffered damage to his professional and personal reputations, along with experiencing mental anguish because of the treatment he received during nearly three years with the university. According to the suit, Bugajski was on track to be a tenured professor but said he resigned because of discrimination and harassment he faced at the hands of Usha Menon, Dean and Senior Associate Vice President for USF Health. Bugajski said Menon “openly held a deeply rooted disdain for Caucasian men,” and he immediately picked up on it. He also claimed he was treated differently than his female colleagues.
“Judge sets trial dates for Polk’s Jan. 6 defendants” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — A judge has set trial dates for four local defendants charged in the U.S. Capitol attack. Joshua Doolin of Polk City will be the first to face a jury. U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols set a date of Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C., for Doolin’s trial during a video status hearing Thursday. Doolin is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. Nichols also scheduled a trial date for Jan. 30 for fellow defendants Olivia Pollock of Lakeland; Joseph Hutchinson III, formerly of Lakeland and now living in Georgia; and Michael Perkins of Plant City.
“Citrus County airports facing need for corporate jet hangars” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County’s two public airports, historically home to single-engine aircraft owned by a smattering of residents, are taking off. During a workshop Tuesday, County Commissioners said they wanted future hangars at both Crystal River and Inverness airports to accommodate larger corporate-sized jets, a need they say is starting to show now. “We’ve got folks here who would rent those larger hangars,” Commissioner Jeff Kinnard said. The Inverness Airport runway is 5,000 feet, and the county has plans in 2024 to extend the runway at Crystal River Airport from 4,355 feet to 5,000 feet to handle the larger planes.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Amy Patterson named acting Collier County Manager after Mark Isackson quits” via Rachel Heimann Mercader of Naples Daily News — Collier County commissioners voted Tuesday unanimously to appoint Patterson as acting County Manager a day after County Manager Isackson quit amid disputes over his request to cash out his leave pay. Commissioner Burt Saunders nominated Patterson after Commissioner Penny Taylor‘s nomination of County Attorney Jeff Klatzkow for the job went unsupported.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Broward Sheriff, Commissioner have heated back and forth while discussing county’s 911 problems” via Ian Margol of WPLG Local 10 News — Tuesday was supposed to be just a presentation by Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony, who was speaking about the issues BSO is currently having with staffing at the 911 call centers. At one point, things got a bit heated between the Sheriff and one of the Commissioners. Tony started by presenting to the Commissioners, explaining that about 20% of their communications staff positions are unfilled. He suggested salary increases across the board, hiring incentives, and even a new 911 call center inside BSO headquarters to fill the gap. The changes would cost millions of dollars, and, at one point, Commissioner Mark Bogen suggested that throwing more money at the problem wouldn’t solve anything.
“Broward will put school tax question on August ballot” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward schools tax increase request will stay on the Aug. 23 Primary Election ballot, County Commissioners decided Tuesday, even though most preferred for voters to consider it during the higher turnout November election. The school district argued that it was not the county’s decision to make and threatened legal action if the county refused to allow voters to consider the question in August. “If we were the governing body on this issue, I personally would put it on the November ballot. I think that makes sense,” County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz said. “I just think we’re not the governing body on that issue.”
“Feds say Royal Palm political consultant defrauded Paycheck Protection Program of more than $200K” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — A 42-year-old Royal Palm Beach man, who served as a political consultant to a Broward County powerhouse who ran for Congress last year, was charged Monday with bilking a federal program created to help businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Omar Smith is accused of obtaining a $212,500 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, claiming his company employed 30 workers. Federal prosecutors said Smith’s company, A Star for I, had no employees. Once Smith received the money in July 2020, prosecutors said he spent months trying to cover his tracks. He wrote checks to people who did little or no work for the company, prosecutors said in court papers.
“Woman announces plans to sue Delray-area pain doctor, claiming he sexually assaulted her” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — Suffering chronic pain after undergoing seven back surgeries, Jodi Mottola said she was initially willing to overlook strange questions posed by a Delray Beach-area pain management doctor. Focused solely on feeling better, the 59-year-old Boynton Beach area woman said she assured herself that there must be some legitimate reason Dr. Jack Miletic was so curious about her sex life. But, she said, when he grabbed her breasts during a follow-up visit and later exposed himself to her, she realized she had to act. On Monday, she announced she was suing the 50-year-old Miletic in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. “He promised he would help me,” said Mottola, flanked by her husband and her attorneys.
“Miami locals are steamed over relocating New Yorkers driving up apartment rents” via Deborah Acosta of The Wall Street Journal — Miami-area apartment rents have soared 58% over the past two years through March, the fastest rate of any U.S. metro area. That compares with a 19% average national rental increase over that period. But in some of Miami’s most desirable neighborhoods, like Brickell, Edgewater and Downtown, rents have surged much more than that. According to real estate agents and tenants, for at least a dozen high-end buildings in these hot spots, individual condo owners leasing their apartments have asked for rents double last year’s price.
— TOP OPINION —
“One million died. It didn’t have to happen — and it must not again.” via The Washington Post editorial board — The death toll is just one part of a truly catastrophic chapter in American history. The pandemic also tore at the nation’s social fabric, sent shock waves through the economy, and caused widespread disruption in schooling and careers. It brought unimaginable sadness: families and loved ones suddenly bereft; the deaths of so many people all alone, without a warm hand to hold; the bewildering arbitrariness of infection. The costs were heavy, the wounds deep and lasting.
The United States suffered more deaths per capita than the other major Western democracies. It was not supposed to be this way. How could this have happened? A major unforeseen factor was not health care, but leadership and public confidence. Trump’s response during the first year was reckless and impetuous: championing drugs ineffective for COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine, encouraging Americans to throw off restrictions long before it was prudent, and sloughing off responsibility to the states.
Over the course of the pandemic, the debates over lifting restrictions, wearing masks, and taking vaccines were utterly politicized. Public confidence was also eroded by confusing and shifting communications from politicians and public health authorities. Trust is fragile and, once broken, hard to regain. To protect future generations, it would be wise to launch a multipronged effort to prepare for the next pandemic.
— OPINIONS —
“Overturning Roe will disrupt a lot more than abortion. I can live with that.” via Matthew Walther of The New York Times — For years, I have noticed a persistent inclination among my fellow opponents of abortion. Perhaps without meaning to do so, they downplay the possibility that the end of legal abortion will entail anything except the eradication of a great evil. Opponents of abortion should work for the most generous and humane provisions for mothers and children (paid family leave, generous child benefits, direct income subsidies for stay-at-home mothers, single-payer health care) without being Pollyannaish. No matter what we do, in a post-Roe world, many children who would not otherwise have been born will live lives of utter misery, and many of our fellow Americans will be indifferent to their plight.
“Mothers deserve the right to make their own decisions” via Sabrina Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel — Our country’s mothers deserve the resources, rights, and opportunities they need to stay healthy, take care of their families and ensure they can make decisions about their own destinies. Denying people access to abortion, delaying the procedure, and passing measures that turn abortion into a crime hurt women and their families. They result in worse health and economic outcomes not only for the individual who is denied the health care they need but for their children and household. The decision to have a baby or not have one is an intensely personal decision. Pregnant people, especially those who are already moms, must have the right to decide for themselves when to become mothers and have access to a full range of reproductive health care services.
“When NYC’s Jewish museum bans DeSantis, it sends a clear message to all Jews” via Karol Markowicz of The New York Post — History shows us that forced ideological conformity never ends well for Jews, but liberal Jewish institutions keep wanting to give it another go. Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen, respectively chairman and CEO of Tikvah and co-chairs of the Jewish Leadership Conference, reveal that Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage canceled a planned JLC event because DeSantis was an invited speaker. Write Abrams and Cohen: “We were working closely with the museum on the details for the June 12 event until, out of the blue, we were told by the museum staff that DeSantis didn’t ‘align with the museum’s values and its message of inclusivity.’ Either we disinvite the Governor, they said, or our event was unwelcome.”
“The sports-betting boom is a moral disaster” via Matthew Walther of The Atlantic — We generally tell ourselves one of two stories about the transformations our society has undergone in the last century or so. One is a story about deliverance: the struggle of a persecuted minority to secure its ancient liberties. The other story involves the ostensibly reluctant acknowledgment that various pervasive social evils (the use of drugs, for example) should be mitigated rather than proscribed. In which of these two categories — the enshrinement in law of a basic first-order good or the rueful acceptance of a seemingly ineradicable vice — does the legalization of online sports betting belong? I don’t see how being able to place a $30 prop bet from the comfort of one’s toilet seat is a civil right, much less how the sordid legislative process that has given rise to legalized gambling is comparable to the generation-spanning struggle to end segregation.
— ALOE —
“End of an era: Apple discontinues its last iPod model” via Mark Burman of Bloomberg — Apple Inc.’s iPod, a groundbreaking device that upended the music and electronics industries more than two decades ago, is no more. The company announced Tuesday that it would discontinue the iPod Touch, the last remnant of a product line that first went on sale in October 2001. The touch-screen model, launched in 2007, will remain on sale until supplies run out. Apple released dozens of versions of the iPod over the years, but the product was gradually eclipsed by its other devices, especially the iPhone. That led the company to begin phasing out models in 2014.
“Tom Brady to join Fox Sports as lead NFL analyst once playing career ends” via Alex Weprin of The Hollywood Reporter — In a stunning and unexpected move, Brady has agreed to join Fox Sports as its lead NFL analyst, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said on the company’s quarterly earnings call Tuesday. Brady will join Fox Sports when he decides to retire from the NFL. In his new role, Brady will join Fox’s lead NFL announcer Kevin Burkhardt in the NFL booth and be a staple of Fox’s NFL coverage.
You’re ruining boating, part 7896 — “‘Mayhem at Lake George’: Fights break out at large Florida boat party” via Athina Morris of WFLA — A video shows multiple brawls break out at a large boat party in Volusia County on Saturday. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said at least one person was hurt, and several others were arrested or cited after the event, dubbed “Mayhem at Lake George 2022.” Four or five men in swimming trunks are seen exchanging blows in the video. It’s unclear what led to them trading punches. “People are just out there to have a good time, but like anything else, when you have a huge concentration of people like this and you have alcohol involved, you do have some incidents,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said.
“‘A lot of screaming going on’: Ocala farm cheered as horse it broke won the Kentucky Derby” via Danielle Johnson of the Ocala Star-Banner — At 80-1 odds heading into Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, last-minute addition Rich Strike was the longest shot in the field at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Sporting No. 21 in a field of 20, the chestnut colt only entered the race after Ethereal Road was scratched on Friday morning. For those watching at home, the horse was in the back of the pack for most of the race, even off the screen at times, until passing several horses in the home stretch to finish first. After the 148th Run for the Roses, owner Rick Dawson said, “We’ve never entered a race we didn’t think we could ever win.”
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
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Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.
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