Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.29.21 – Florida Politics

Good morning: Here’s your first look at the issues behind today’s Florida politics.

Good Friday morning, and welcome to a special Halloween-themed edition of Sunburn.

Here is our Halloween decorations and lights display for 2021. That’s how much we love Halloween!

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Ella Joyce’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Lights Display for 2021.

Here are some Halloween reads to get in the spirit:

🏚Florida’s creepiest haunted house is in Ybor City: Made-for-Halloween haunted houses are fun, but Ybor City’s The Cuban Club is the real deal. It made the Orlando Sentinel’s list of each state’s creepiest haunted digs. There have been more than a few deaths at the historic building, and people claim the spirits of those who died, including an actor who reportedly killed himself onstage and an 8-year-old boy who drowned in a pool where the cantina now sits, never left.

🎸Rock out with your ghoul out: Want to get into the Halloween spirit with some good tunes? WaPo’s got you covered. Their list of the Top 50 Halloween songs of all time includes classics like the ominous melody from Phantom of the Opera and Jack Hylton’s 1929 song Bogey Wail. The 90s make a cameo with none other than the Cranberries’ smash hit Zombie. Venturing into a more modern territory, queue up Imagine Dragons’ Monster or Kanye West’s song by the same name. Scroll all the way down for the No. 1 spot. No spoilers here.

👻Best Halloween TV episodes this century: Every series has ‘em — the episodes that will air as viewers prepare to celebrate one of the nation’s most beloved, and scariest, holidays. From animated spooks with a laugh on BoJack Horseman to superhero drama on WandaVision, AVClub rounds up the best binge-worthy Halloween episodes to catch after the porch lights go off. Pro-tip: Don’t miss Community’s take on the classic zombie apocalypse thriller, repurposed for the community college crowd.

🎃Get your pumpkin spice on: Nothing screams Halloween like pumpkins, and they’re not just for carving. The Washington Post compiled a list of scrumptious pumpkin-themed eats for every course. From sides to main entrees, the list has it all. Start with a hot cup of creamy tomato pumpkin soup or some roasted pumpkin hummus. Or jump straight to the main dish with a pumpkin, walnut and sage crostata or biryani stuffed pumpkins. Grab some menu ideas here.

👻Non-haunted Jax sites that probably should be: The site of a massive fire. A nearly 200-year-old cemetery. A shopping center that used to be a hospital that treated smallpox and yellow fever. These are a few of the sites in Jacksonville that are ripe for campfire horror stories but somehow aren’t. The Jax-based Florida Times-Union documents several sites in Florida’s largest city where ghost stories would be believable, even if none have surfaced.

🌳Saunter down Sir Henry’s Trail for a Florida spook: Nestled between two moss-covered oak trees is a path that opens into a clearing. It takes you to Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail, a fear park complete with spooky wooded trails, laser tag and an escape room, perfect for a pre-Halloween adventure. Now, the trail includes a three-story haunted house facade and a fishing village packed with broken-down boats of all varieties. Read more about the Pasco County attraction here.

🤡Get your jump scare on at “Mag Halloween” in Tampa Heights: Beware of Granny. She’ll pop out for a jump scare. And those afraid of clowns might want to brace themselves for Sketchy the Clown, a homemade clown welcoming trick-or-treaters on the front porch. Step up for a turn at the “wheel of death.” Those are some of the offerings at 205 E. Park Ave. in Tampa, where homeowner Scott South and his wife will welcome people of all ages on Halloween for the typical trick-or-treat and a fun porch party.

👻Real (maybe) ghost stories for Tampa natives: Like the Cuban Club, Ybor City as a whole is a Mecca for ghost stories, including tales of ghost soldiers roaming the city after perishing in the great fire of 1908. And don’t forget the drunken Cuban ghost at the Florida Brewing Company, now a law office on E. 5th Ave. But Ybor City isn’t the only site for spooky tales. The Old Tampa Book Company on North Tampa Street, a former tailor’s storefront, where chairs from the old shop move on their own. Staff at Tampa Theater in downtown report doors slamming and unexplained power outages. Students at the nearby University of Tampa have reported an apparition from the windows outside Plant Hall. Read all about these and other local ghost stories on WFLA’s list.

💎Fashion doesn’t have to take a back seat to spooky: A Sulphur Springs jewelry maker loves Halloween time. Leah Garand of Sulphur Springs Silver uses the holiday as an excuse to hone her craft into holiday-appropriate bling, most using natural stones. Her pieces create coffins from stones, and spiders and pumpkins carved into metal.

🩸Everything’s bigger in Texas, even Halloween: A Dallas man decided to go full-gore for Halloween over the years with a yard display so brutal, passersby have called the cops … several times. The problem: It was so gory, people thought it might actually be the scene of a heinous crime. Instead of toning it down, Steven Novak upped his game, adding this year a wood chipper blood fountain and 55-gallon drums filled with shredded-up party guests spilling out of them.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

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New — WH releases framework proposal, detailing what’s in the $1.75T plan. https://t.co/gGah4JkVsE pic.twitter.com/x584XFdUZH

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 28, 2021

@LaurenBookFL: The strength of any democracy is the ability for voters to be represented & heard. Sadly, the Governor has chosen to deny voters in Senate District 33 & House Districts 88 & 94 their constitutional right to be represented in Tallahassee during the 2022 Legislative Session.

@TheBlondRN: ER was the last place on earth I wanted to bring 3 kids with me. All are too young for the COVID vaccine, hopefully soon. Our flu shots are scheduled next week. I don’t have a fairy godmother that magically appears when I need to bring one kid to the ER. They’re OK.

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“The name of the company is Meta. It’s a cutting edge high-tech Web 3.0 company with no data and consumer exploitation issues whatsoever currently trading at a deep discount to fair value” pic.twitter.com/4cEvkgzyCl

— Dr. Parik Patel, BA, CFA, ACCA Esq. 💸 (@ParikPatelCFA) October 28, 2021

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If you believe in yourself, and have clear eyes and full hearts—you can’t lose. pic.twitter.com/CpkmFKo49i

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 28, 2021

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We’re ready 👐🏿 pic.twitter.com/hpjhGgrwoq

— Congressman Jamaal Bowman (@RepBowman) October 27, 2021

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Want to curl up with a frightful read this Halloween? Check out @StateLibraryFL collection of Florida ghost stories: https://t.co/TDybR7k06f pic.twitter.com/21wA1K7wgB

— Laurel M. Lee (@FLSecofState) October 23, 2021

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As Halloween quickly approaches, FDOT reminds you that driving under the influence inhibits your ability to operate a vehicle safely. Drive sober and be on the lookout for children crossing the road.https://t.co/fGuZNwnLV7 #DontDriveImpaired

— FLORIDA DOT (@MyFDOT) October 25, 2021

— DAYS UNTIL —

Georgia at UF — 1; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 4; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 4; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 7; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 7; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 9; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 10; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 10; Miami at FSU — 13; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 16; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 20; FSU vs. UF — 29; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 33; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 39; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 42; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 49; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 54; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 61; CES 2022 begins — 68; NFL season ends — 72; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 74; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 74; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 74; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 75; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 77; NFL playoffs begin — 78; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 98; Super Bowl LVI — 107; Daytona 500 — 114; St. Pete Grand Prix — 121; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 127; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 190; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 210; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 216; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 252; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 264; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 343; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 371; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 378; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 413; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 476; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 630. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 721.

ad for sunburn if you dare— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis sues Joe Biden administration seeking to stop vaccine mandate for federal contract workers” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis said the state filed suit against the federal government over a mandate that federal contractors require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. “They’re transforming normal contracting into basically public health policy,” DeSantis said at an event in Lakeland. DeSantis said that the mandate, stemming from President Biden’s executive order earlier this year, exceeds federal authority. Biden’s actions were based on federal law, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, giving him the power over federal government property. The lawsuit argues Biden overstepped his authority under that law.

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Ron DeSantis gets litigious with Joe Biden. Image via AP.

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— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis megadonor, UF Board of Trustees chair supplied Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s resume, fast-tracking Surgeon General’s hire” via Jeffrey Schweers of the USA Today Network — Board of Trustees Chair Mori Hosseini, a millionaire developer, GOP megadonor and adviser to DeSantis, sent current Surgeon General Dr. Ladapo‘s resume to the president of UF Health, newly disclosed emails reveal. Dr. David Nelson, in turn, forwarded the Sept. 1 email with Ladapo’s resume attached to the dean of the College of Medicine and the associate vice president for research affairs, kicking off a fast-track hiring process for Ladapo.

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Ron DeSantis megadonor Mori Hosseini had a hand in Joseph Ladapo’s fast-tracked UF application.

Jimmy Patronis challenges Biden to save Christmas” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Patronis urged Biden to “flex some muscles” regarding finding a solution to the stalled cargo … or else Christmas could be ruined. “I don’t know why the President doesn’t just flex some muscles, offer up some other ports to do the jobs, and not take a chance of ruining Christmas,” Patronis said during an appearance on Fox and Friends First. When asked why more ships aren’t leaving the ports where they wait to offload cargo at Florida ports, all of which have capacity, Patronis blamed the President. “The President, his only solution is, we’ll make the crews work 24 hours a day. That’s not going to cut it,” Patronis said, suggesting that truckers are balking at mandatory COVID-19 vaccine shots.

Patronis pushes back on IRS scheme to feed the big government beast” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It’s no secret why Biden’s administration wants to monitor cash flow on accounts above $10,000, Patronis says. “This is nothing more than a new way to harvest dollars,” he said. “I don’t like to feed the beast more money.” His concerns found a like-minded audience at Florida Tax Watch’s annual meeting, held at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota this year. Patronis served as the keynote speaker at a closing luncheon. For Patronis, his efforts, whether it’s against IRS monitoring or economic recruitment, are all in service of maintaining a pro-business atmosphere in the state of Florida.

Patronis shares Halloween fire safety tips — According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), decorations catch fire first in approximately 800 reported home fires each year, and more than one-third of these fires are started by candles. Florida Fire Marshal Patronis says: “This weekend is Halloween, and you know what that means — kids, families and costumes. However, festivities can suddenly become tragic due to fire-related accidents. Displaying decorations away from open flames and buying safe costumes are important precautions to prevent potential mishaps. I want everyone to have a fun and safe Halloween, so think like a firefighter and ensure you have taken the proper fire safety precautions to avoid a truly frightening holiday. From my family to yours, have a Happy Halloween!”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Florida education chairman’s dirty dredging case represents a failure to communicate” via Craig Pittman of the Florida Phoenix — Tom Grady is chairman of the Florida Board of Education. Grady was charged by the feds with illegal dredging at a property he owned in the Keys. According to the Miami Herald, he turned himself in on Oct. 8 and was released on a $50,000 bond. It’s easy to understand why some people might get a fit of the giggles about Grady being charged with a crime. It’s not just that he’s the one who’s been telling local school boards things like, “Every school board member and every school superintendent has a duty to comply with the law, whether they agree with it or not.”

Discrepancies in dark-money groups’ reports to IRS could reveal tactics to cover tracks, experts say” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — In 2019, a dark-money nonprofit called the “Center for Popular Progressive Values and Democracy” transferred nearly $10.3 million to another nonprofit: “Keep Our Constitution Clean.” On its tax return, the Center told the Internal Revenue Service that it had hired Keep Our Constitution Clean as a contractor and paid it for “consulting” services. But Keep Our Constitution Clean, the group behind an effort to make it harder for Floridians to amend the state constitution apparently didn’t do any consulting for that money. On its tax return, Keep Our Constitution Clean told the IRS that virtually all its funding came from contributions and grants.

Florida pari-mutuels sign marketing agreement with Seminole Tribe to promote new sports betting app” via Tampa Bay 10 — Five Florida pari-mutuels have signed a marketing agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to promote the launch of a new mobile sports betting app. The Hard Rock Sportsbook app is part of a gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Indian Tribe. The agreement, signed in May and approved by the Legislature in August, allows the Tribe to exclusively offer online sports betting in Florida. On top of allowing sports betting, the compact also allows the Tribe to open three additional facilities on its Hollywood Reservation. In exchange for the compact, the state gets a guarantee of $2.5 billion over the next five years and $6 billion by the year 2030.

Waiting for word on relatives leaves Florida’s Haitian Americans in limbo” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics+ — Somewhere in a South Texas federal ICE detention center, a nephew of Dr. Eden’s Valentin awaits what, for all Haitians seeking asylum in the United States — and for their American relatives — must seem like impenetrable uncertainty for their fates. And yet, Valentin, an Oviedo internal medicine specialist, thinks his nephew, John Wesbert Alexandre, a 34-year-old construction worker who fled anarchy and despair in Haiti, is a lucky one, for now. Since Alexandre was detained, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has flown thousands of Haitian refugees back to Haiti. Many of them were like Alexandre, trying to get to relatives in the United States. ICE allowed Alexandre to stay, albeit in what his uncle calls a prison.

— FUTURE OF FL —

DeSantis says Florida is ‘the freest state’ — and businesses are noticing” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — “It was mentioned on the jobs in September that we had (added) 84,500 jobs and the nation reported about 194,000, so we’re clearly way, way punching above our weight class,” DeSantis said of recent employment numbers. “And that discrepancy is not something that would just happen by accident. I mean, it’s happening, because there was a much sounder approach that was done here in the state of Florida. Think about our service industry. When COVID-19 hit, everyone thought that Florida — Florida and Hawaii — would probably be the worst because people wouldn’t be traveling, and we’d have all these folks that wouldn’t be able to work.” But DeSantis said Florida’s cornerstone industry is beating the national average on the rebound.

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.@GovRonDeSantis complains of “woke” companies, tells FL Chamber “most people hate corporations.”

Says Republicans in D.C. won’t even meet with U. S. Chamber any more.

Here are some of the FL Chamber event sponsors: pic.twitter.com/Mj2i7WUrq1

— Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) October 28, 2021

Chris Sprowls: Legislature’s job is to let freedom ring” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Sprowls said the 2021 Legislative Session may have been the most productive in the last 20 years, but he noted there is plenty left to be done. Speaking at the Florida Chamber of Commerce Future of Florida Forum, Sprowls said the work that needs to be accomplished will be done, in part, by the business community. “In the weeks, months and years to come, we are going to need every one of you to go and do what you do, to innovate, to make Floridians’ lives better, whether that’s in the energy sector, whether it’s in the education sector, in the health care business,” Sprowls told the crowd. “And what our job to do in the Legislature is to allow you the freedom to do that.”

Nemours CEO: Improving children’s health ‘inextricably linked’ to growing Florida economy” via Beth Reese Cravey of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville-based Nemours Children’s Health has partnered with the Florida Chamber of Commerce to help build the state economy by building a healthy future workforce. Florida currently has the 15th largest economy in the world. To meet the Chamber goal of improving to 10th by 2030 requires improving the lives of today’s children, particularly those who live in poverty and have limited access to health care, Nemours President and CEO R. Lawrence Moss said. Children and the economy “are inextricably linked,” he said Wednesday at Nemours’ “The Future of Children’s Health in Florida” event, a kickoff to the chamber’s Future of Florida Summit in Orlando.

— DATELINE TALLY —

Paul Renner: No one will leave upcoming Legislative Special Session happy” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Renner predicts no one will leave satisfied from a soon-to-be-announced Special Session on vaccine mandates. “Probably nobody’s happy at the end,” he said. “The people on the side of vaccinate-or-terminate are unhappy. And the people that are on the side of, ‘I can tell my employer what the terms of my employment are and if I get sick, they have to pay for it,’ they’re probably not going to be happy either.” Renner’s comments came at the 2021 annual meeting for Florida TaxWatch, and the same day DeSantis was expected to announce details of a Session. The lawmaker stressed he doesn’t speak for the full Legislature and is not yet the presiding officer over the House.

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Paul Renner says no one will be satisfied with a Special Session. Image via Colin Hackley.

Jim Boyd promises to revisit homeowners insurance reform this Session” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Boyd feels confident insurance reforms passed this year will eventually result in lower homeowner rates in Florida. But the work is not done. The Bradenton Republican will file legislation seeking further reforms, including changes to roofing insurance that stalled in House negotiations. He’d also like to revisit solicitation restrictions tossed out by the courts. The legal problems that blocked parts of Boyd’s legislation this year related to contractors and adjusters who offer gifts and other perks to people for free inspections, then try and convince homeowners to conduct repairs on homes on the promise everything will be billed to insurance, only for the matters to end up in litigation involving policyholders and insurers.

Proposal would let cameras ticket school zone speeders” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida communities could gain a new tool to curb dangerous driving in school safety zones through bipartisan legislation now moving through both chambers of the Florida Legislature. Republican Sen. Ana Marie Rodriguez and Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran recently filed twin bills to allow radar detection devices for school speed zone enforcement. The devices would target speeders traveling 10 miles per hour or more over the posted limit, capturing photos or videos of vehicles at the time of the violation. Per the legislation, the speed detection system would operate on school days, beginning one hour before, during the entirety of, and one hour after regularly scheduled school sessions.

‘People are allowed to shout at elected officials’: Tempers flare at delegation meeting” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Tempers flared from the audience at the 2021 Santa Rosa County legislative delegation meeting Tuesday, culminating in Sen. Doug Broxson rushing out of the boardroom as the meeting ended with a handful of people following after him in an attempt to voice their complaints. Shortly after, a police officer arrived to observe the meeting as Reps. Alex Andrade and Jayer Williamson stayed to continue the discussion with constituents. The legislative delegation meeting is an annual meeting that allows county officials and citizens to voice concerns ahead of the next state Legislative Session. Much of the meeting centered on public complaints about COVID-19 vaccine mandates for U.S. military personnel and the private sector.

Happening today — The Duval County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sens. Aaron Bean, Audrey Gibson; Reps. Cord Byrd, Tracie Davis, Wyman Duggan, Jason Fischer, Angie Nixon and Clay Yarborough, 1 p.m., Jacksonville City Council Chamber, 117 West Duval St., Jacksonville.

State panel rescinds support for fired company president’s antisemitism claim” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The ousted president of a Hollywood company has lost a key state panel’s support for his claim that he was fired because of his age and religion. In September, David Kronrad, former president of a German-owned medical equipment maker, sued the company, claiming that other executives openly praised Nazis and disliked Jewish people. On Aug. 23, the Florida Commission on Human Relations found that Kronrad, who headed the North American division of Beurer Germany, met his “initial burden of proof” toward establishing that Beurer executives fired him because of his age and because he is Jewish.

— JUST OFF EMBARGO —

A new report by the Foundation for Excellence in Education shows Florida is poised to provide students with high-quality pathways to career, college, and workforce opportunities due to legislation passed earlier this year.

The ExcelinEd report focuses on the effects of HB 1507, which aims to promote workforce training programs that make Floridians eligible for higher-paying jobs.

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A new report says Chris Sprowls, Wilton Simpson and Ron DeSantis are taking a ‘life-changing’ approach to workforce development.

To help meet that objective, the legislation requires online posting of information showing where jobs are in demand and the requirements to fill those positions. ExcelinEd said that provision sets Florida apart by providing learners with detailed information to make better decisions with more significant potential for success.

ExcelinEd said the legislation shows DeSantis, House Speaker Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson have “crafted a life-changing approach to preparing learners for successful careers.”

“Florida’s students are more likely to reach their personal goals when they have a clear understanding between education and the pathways that can lead to their life and career aspirations,” said ExcelinEd CEO Patricia Levesque. “The new legislation allows businesses, educators, and students to make better-informed decisions that will strengthen Florida’s economy and help individuals find meaningful careers.”

ExcelinEd has a few recommendations to further improve the state education programs, including the creation of an online tool to provide Floridians information on high-quality paths toward middle- or high-wage career opportunities; ensuring underserved learners are guided to learning opportunities that prepare them for jobs, and promoting programs such as a “money-back guarantee” that refunds costs for learners who successfully earn credentials and credit but are still unable to find a matching job.

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— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida COVID-19 update: 562 deaths added to state tally along with 2,021 new cases” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida on Thursday reported 562 more deaths and 2,021 additional COVID-19 cases to the CDC. According to the Herald analysis, all but 219 of the newly reported deaths, about 61%, occurred since Sept. 30. About 33% of the newly reported have died in the past two weeks, the analysis showed. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,645,212 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 59,495 deaths. In the past seven days, the state has added, on average, 127 deaths and 1,731 cases per day. There were 2,209 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida.

Florida now has the lowest rate of daily COVID-19 cases per capita of any other state” via David Schutz of the south Florida Sun-Sentinel — An average of eight new coronavirus cases are reported for every 100,000 people in Florida, the data shows. Alaska continues to lead the nation in the rate of new cases with 94 per 100,000, followed by Montana with 75. Florida has also dropped in its ranking of average daily deaths per capita after soaring in the top three for several weeks late in the summer. As of Wednesday, the state’s 0.53 deaths per 100,000 population was 17th in the U.S. Montana leads with 1.53, followed by Idaho with 1.2.

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FWIW – @GovRonDeSantis and his administration gave details about the lawsuit to Fox News first.

So it goes

— Gary Fineout (@fineout) October 28, 2021

What is Florida’s plan for coronavirus vaccine boosters?” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis got the single-dose coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson in April. Nearly seven months later, the protection offered by that single dose is fading. DeSantis is one of more than 15 million Americans who should get a booster shot. Millions more Floridians who received other vaccines can get a booster because they are elderly or immunocompromised. But DeSantis isn’t saying whether he will get an extra dose, as the CDC recommends. On Monday, at a news conference, the Governor said he would “take a look” at the federal government guidance. Although other public officials, such as Biden, have publicly gotten booster shots, DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw said in an email last week she was “unable to share details about DeSantis’ private medical decisions.”

U.S. files cease and desist action against state over funding for Broward Schools” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — A day after the Florida Department of Education withheld funds from two school districts amid an ongoing mask mandate fight, the Biden administration on Thursday filed a complaint asking an administrative judge to block the action. The U.S. Department of Education filed the complaint three days after warning Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran that there would be repercussions if the state moved forward with financial sanctions against two districts that have imposed strict mask mandates. Specifically, federal officials said it would be unlawful for the state to withhold funds in an amount equal to federal grant awards that two districts, Broward and Alachua, received to offset financial penalties the state had already imposed in August.

What will make Miami-Dade Schools consider relaxing its mask mandate? There are metrics” via Michelle Marchante and David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Now that Broward’s School Board has voted to make masks optional for high school students beginning Monday, you might be wondering when Miami-Dade’s public school district will start to loosen its mandatory mask mandate. Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has said that a decision could be made soon, possibly by early November. But it all depends on whether a list of key metrics is met. Here’s a look at the metrics the district and its medical task force are relying on. All of them need to be met for the district to consider relaxing the mask mandate.

Miami-Dade Mayor’s vaccine plan hitting a wall in labor talks as county unions say no” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — In August, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced COVID-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated county workers and said the requirements would start with nonunion employees. Two months later, it appears the test-or-vaccinate plan will stop with nonunion employees as well. No county union has accepted Levine Cava’s request to add the testing rules to new three-year contracts being negotiated by her administration, leaving about 90% of Miami-Dade’s 29,000 county workers untouched by the initiative. Se’Adoria Brown, president of the AFSCME Local 199 union, said the union is reluctant to agree to a COVID-19 testing rule that would trigger termination if an employee refused to comply.

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Daniella Levine Cava’s vaccine plan gets pushback from unions. Image via Facebook

Tampa doctors on keeping kids safe from COVID-19 this Halloween” via Rose Wong of the Tampa Bay Times — As kids look forward to showing off their costumes and collecting a pillowcase full of candy, parents should keep in mind the spookiest threat this Halloween: a “twindemic,” a severe flu season unfolding alongside an ongoing pandemic, overwhelming the health care system. Contracting one virus could leave someone vulnerable to getting the other. But children 11 and under are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and it takes weeks for the flu shot to kick in. That’s why it’s important for adults and older kids, especially if they’re unvaccinated, to practice pandemic safety around younger kids this Halloween.

🦠Happy COVID-19 Halloween, but stay safe: Bobbing apples is probably not the best Halloween activity this year, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But celebrate on little ghouls and goblins with these tips from health safety experts Nanda and Michelle Sterling. Trick-or-treating is a-go, thanks to it being an outdoor activity where social distancing is made easy; just avoid crowds. Halloween parties are a maybe, but those with participants fully vaccinated are OK. Bar crawls for the grown-ups are best avoided, experts say, because they tend to get crowded. But the safest bet, as it has been throughout the pandemic, is to celebrate at home with family. Read more suggestions on having fun without the risk here.

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— CD 20 SPECIAL —

Alcee Hastings II weighs in on the race to succeed his dad” via Matthew Kassel of Jewish Insider — Hastings II, the son of the late Democratic Rep. Hastings, said in an interview on Tuesday that his father would be “highly disappointed at several of the candidates” now vying to succeed the former longtime dean of Florida’s congressional delegation in next week’s crowded special House primary. But he singled out only one candidate by name. “Most importantly, the young man Omari Hardy, absolutely,” Hastings II told Jewish Insider, referring to the 31-year-old state representative from Palm Beach County, who is one of 11 candidates in the crowded field. Hastings took particular issue with Hardy’s critical stance on Israel, which includes his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state.

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Alcee Hastings II prefers one candidate to succeed his father.

Newly created super PAC starts running TV ads in final stage of South Florida congressional race” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A newly created super political action committee, called Florida Democratic Action, began cable TV advertising Wednesday on behalf of congressional candidate Hardy. It’s the first time Hardy has been on TV in paid advertising in a contest in which several of his opponents — Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Barbara Sharief and Perry Thurston — have been on the air for months. A media buying firm reported the political action committee is spending $102,010 for a total of 810 spots. The advertising is coming late in the campaign — after mail voting has been taking place for weeks and in-person early voting started Saturday.

— 2022 —

DeSantis PAC selling ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ T-shirts in fundraising email filled with Donald-Trumpian random capitalization” via Sarah Rumpf of Mediaite — DeSantis’ PAC, “Make America Florida,” is now hawking T-shirts that say “Let’s Go, Brandon,” the euphemism embraced by trolling conservatives as a stand-in for “F*ck you, Biden.” The PAC doesn’t just draw inspiration from Trump for its name, clearly an homage to “Make America Great Again”; the merchandising idea was already used by Trump, in a text message to supporters from his campaign earlier this month that offered “Let’s Go Brandon” shirts for a $45 donation. DeSantis is up for reelection as Governor in 2022. Make America Florida also followed the former President’s aversion to literacy and standard English grammar rules, peppering the email message with bizarre and nonstandard capitalized words.

—“Rick Scott lauds Herschel Walker: ‘Everybody would say he’s going to win.’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Happening tonight:

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Appreciate the ‘compliment’, Charlie, but Floridians were jailed under the marijuana crime bills you fought for. They deserve an apology. pic.twitter.com/zZEFgjag7W

— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) October 28, 2021

After string of victories, progressives may not get any amendments on 2022 Florida ballot” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The steady flow of progressive priorities bypassing Florida’s GOP-controlled Legislature and becoming law through voter-approved constitutional amendments may finally dry up in 2022, after a remarkable series of victories for left-leaning activists. Each of the last four election cycles has seen a progressive policy change in Florida thanks to ballot initiatives that hiked the minimum wage, restored felons’ voting rights, approved medical marijuana, and promoted land and water conservation. But for the first time in a decade, a similar proposal that emanates from grassroots efforts on the left and has significant crossover appeal may not be on the Florida ballot next year. If that happens, it’s at least partly due to hurdles put up by Republicans in the Legislature, according to those leading amendment campaigns.

Anthony Sabatini promises Halloween ‘Nightmare on RINO Street’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Sabatini, currently running in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, will feature at a so-called “Nightmare on RINO Street” event Oct. 31 in Orlando. “RINO Speaker of the House in Florida, beta Chris Sprowls (the guy who kills the Pro-Life, Pro-2A and E-Verify Bills each year) moved my legislative office because he’s BIG mad I call him out,” Sabatini tweeted after his office was relocated earlier this year. “This year, I’m filing a mental health and wellness Bill to help fragile people like Sprowls.” Meanwhile, if a Sabatini rant at a recent Brevard County event is any indication, “RINO Street” attendees can expect even more unvarnished rhetoric when Sabatini is unconstrained by 280-character limits.

Ruth’s List Florida endorses Hillary Cassel in HD 99 Democratic Primary” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ruth’s List Florida, a group that supports Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights, will back Cassel in the House District 99 contest. Cassel is one of three Democratic candidates competing to succeed House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne in the seat. No Republicans have filed in the contest. “Hillary Cassel is a tireless advocate for disadvantaged communities, and we’re proud to support her campaign for state House,” said Lucy Sedgwick, president and CEO of Ruth’s List Florida. “She will continue the tradition of bringing strong Democratic pro-choice leadership to Tallahassee on behalf of Broward County, and she is the candidate who will fight to protect the rights of all Floridians.”

After a term of crisis management, Jerry Demings seeks reelection” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Instead of spending all of his first term preparing Florida’s fastest-growing urban county for a new era as he had envisioned, Demings found himself running a crisis management operation for 20 long months. His strong suit, the former Police Chief, Sheriff, and Orange County Public Safety Director offered Thursday, as he kicked off his reelection campaign. “The last three years, I’ve spent at least half of it focusing on our response and recovery related to the pandemic,” Demings said at a rally in downtown Orlando. Thursday, he vowed to bring back the one-cent sales tax proposal and push to get it before Orange County voters on the General Election ballot in 2022 to create a long-term, dedicated funding source for buses, trains, roads and highways.

Clearwater candidate appeared on show known for antisemitic, racist content” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — A Scientology defector who is running for City Council in the March 15 election, Aaron Smith-Levin said he believes in educating anybody who will listen about alleged fraud, exploitation and forced estrangement in the church, which has its spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater. Recently, that audience included far-right conspiracy theorist and end-times pastor Rick Wiles. In November 2019, Wiles called the first impeachment of Trump “a Jew coup” orchestrated by Jewish “deceivers” who “do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda.” Smith-Levin said he had never heard of Wiles before agreeing to go on his show. And when he accepted the invitation, he was unaware the pastor is “a purveyor of wild conspiracy theories and antisemitism.”

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Aaron Smith-Levin says he had never heard of Rick Wiles.

Florida’s elections supervisors remain the voice of reason combating the ‘Big Lie’” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Florida’s 67 county elections supervisors released an open letter Monday, lamenting that “public trust in our elections is being systematically undermined to the detriment of all Americans.” Ashley Moody, by contrast, has made the opposite contribution to the state of American democracy. When Texas’ attorney general announced he was suing four swing states in a last-ditch attempt to overturn the 2020 election, lawyers in Moody’s office scoffed, as the Tampa Bay Times reported last week. One lawyer called it “bats–t insane.” Another called it “weird.” Despite the criticisms, Moody came out in support of Texas’ lawsuit the next day, co-signing a brief with 16 other Republican attorneys general urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Texas’ case.

Personnel note: Clay Barker joins September Group — Republican Party of Florida political director Barker has accepted a job with the September Group. The Arizona-based firm has been working with RPOF on voter registration to help shave down Democrats’ voter advantage, which now stands at around 12,000. Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reported that Barker will help September Group continue whittling away at the registration gap and will also be involved in DeSantis’ campaign. News of Clay Barker’s move came on the same day that Florida Politics reported that top DeSantis fundraiser Heather Barker is being elevated to a senior adviser role within the soon-to-launch DeSantis reelection campaign.

— CORONA NATION —

COVID-19 cases fall by 20%” via Sam Baker and Kavya Beheraj of Axios — The U.S. is now averaging roughly 70,000 new cases per day, a 20% drop over the past two weeks. Deaths fell 15% over the same period, to an average of 1,400 per day. That’s still a lot, equivalent to a 9/11 roughly every two days. But that number has been steadily coming down throughout the fall, and likely will continue to drop. Although localized outbreaks will crop up throughout the fall and winter, the pace of new infections has fallen over the past two weeks in 45 states. The areas most at risk for another severe flare-up are concentrated mainly in the West.

More U.S. first responders are dying of COVID-19” via The Associated Press — The resurgence of COVID-19 this summer and the national debate over vaccine requirements have created a fraught situation for the United States’ first responders, who are dying in larger numbers but pushing back against mandates. It’s a stark contrast from the beginning of the vaccine rollout when first responders were prioritized for shots. The mandates affect tens of thousands of police officers, firefighters and others on the front lines across the country, many of whom are spurning the vaccine. That is happening despite mandates’ consequences ranging from weekly testing to suspension to termination, even though the virus is now the leading cause of U.S. law enforcement line-of-duty deaths.

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COVID-19 hits first responders particularly hard. Image via AP.

The CDC adds mental health conditions to its high-risk COVID-19 list” via Dani Blum of The New York Times — The CDC has amended its website to add mental health illnesses, including depression and schizophrenia, to its list of health conditions that make people of any age more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19. The change, which the agency’s website registered as having occurred on Oct. 14, makes about 85% of the adult U.S. population eligible for booster shots, said Dr. Paul Offit, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory panel. Preliminary research has shown an association between mental health disorders and hospitalization and severe sickness from COVID-19. “Not only would it increase the risk of COVID-19,” said Maxime Taquet, the lead author of the study and a psychiatry researcher at Oxford University, “it would increase the severity of COVID-19 once you have it.”

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

U.S. economy slowed in third quarter on delta surge, supply crunch” via Sarah Chaney Cambon of The Wall Street Journal — The U.S. economy grew at the slowest pace of the recovery in the third quarter, but economists expect strong consumer demand and an easing pandemic to boost growth in the coming months despite lingering supply constraints. Gross domestic product grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.0% from July to September, the Commerce Department said, marking the weakest quarter of growth since the recovery began in mid-2020. Growth was hit by two big factors: a surge in virus cases due to the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 and deepening supply bottlenecks affecting goods from autos to food.

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U.S. economic growth has been bottlenecked by supply chain problems. Image via Bloomberg.

The pandemic forced 3 million of America’s baby boomers into unexpected retirement” via Nathan DiCamillo of Quartz — Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 5 million people have dropped out of the U.S. labor force. Most of them were baby boomers who took early retirement. In the past, older workers who retired during recessions retook jobs when conditions improved. But it’s not as easy as flipping a switch; it takes time for employers to hire people with more skills and experience.

Stores to customers: You’re already behind on your Christmas shopping” via Sarah Nassauer of The Wall Street Journal — Retailers want you to know how hard they have it this holiday shopping season. Along with usual deals on blenders, toys and fluffy slippers, chains this year are offering crash courses about the supply chain, staffing shortages and inventory challenges they face in the final months of 2021. The anxiety had trickled down to shoppers, with many shopping for Christmas before Halloween or worried they should be. “Best time to order? Right now!” reads a banner near the top of the Land’s End homepage. Its website also outlines reasons a product might not be available or delayed, including a global shipping and airfreight shortage, rail congestion, and high consumer demand.

DMS Secretary unsure about spending all of Florida’s American Rescue Plan money” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Department of Management Services Secretary Todd Inman said he’s not convinced Florida should spend all of its American Rescue Plan money. “We can create inflation,” he said. During a question-and-answer session at the Florida TaxWatch Chairman’s Dinner in Sarasota, Inman said he’s not anxious to burn through every dollar budgeted by the federal government in economic stimulus on top of what the state already spends. “Give us the money that we can spend the most efficiently and effectively,” he said.

Florida retailers expect a treat for Halloween season with national sales surpassing $10B” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — This year’s Halloween season is expected to be a treat for Florida retailers. Halloween is the second biggest retail event of the year, and data anticipate this year will be a comeback from the slowdown from the pandemic. Florida shoppers are getting an early start on their shopping for ghoulish goods. This year, 45% of consumers started shopping in September, and 39% plan to purchase their spooky supplies during the first two weeks of October. Sixty-five percent of Americans intend to celebrate Halloween or participate in festivities, close to pre-pandemic levels. For 2021, those who plan on celebrating look forward to handing out candy (66%), decorating the home or yard (52%), and hosting or attending a Halloween party (25%).

Tampa Bay retailers outpacing the nation in COVID-19 recovery, report says” via Bernadette Berdychowski of the Tampa Bay Times — It’s been more than a year and a half since the coronavirus was first detected in Florida, and stores had to adjust to stay in business amid the global public health crisis. But the stressors of the pandemic are seemingly in the rearview for several Tampa Bay businesses, as many are performing as well as they did before COVID-19, if not better, according to a report from Franklin Street, a Tampa-based commercial real estate firm. The report also found that Tampa Bay’s retail industry is outpacing the nation in coronavirus recovery. Part of that has to do with Florida policies, which kept businesses open through much of the pandemic and spurred people to move into the state.

— MORE CORONA —

Is it OK to go trick-or-treating during the pandemic?” via Emma H. Tobin of The Associated Press — It depends on the situation and your comfort level, but there are ways to minimize the risk of infection this Halloween. Whether you feel comfortable with your children trick-or-treating could depend on factors including how high the COVID-19 transmission rate is in your area and if the people your kids will be exposed to are vaccinated. But trick-or-treating is an outdoor activity that makes it easy to maintain a physical distance. To prevent kids crowding in front of doors, she suggests neighbors coordinating to spread out trick-or-treating. The CDC says outdoor activities are safer for the holidays and avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces. If you attend a party inside, the agency says people who aren’t vaccinated should wear a well-fitting mask, not just a Halloween costume mask.

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So, is trick-or-treating OK this year? Image via UT Health.

🍫Forget parents checking candy for razor blades, do this instead: Who has ever actually found a razor blade in Halloween candy? And who would waste their stash on spiking candy with drugs just for a practical joke? Yet Halloween tips to stay safe often border on the absurd. News4Jax has some more practical advice, including kids not eating glow sticks (OK, maybe that one is kind of silly), checking for skin irritation before applying cosmetics and face paint and watching for edibles that look like candy that may have accidentally gotten mixed in with the Halloween candy stash from your stoner neighbor’s house.

Some parents were eager to get the coronavirus vaccine. Now they are wavering on vaccinating their kids.” via Lindsey Bever and Marisa Iati of The Washington Post — Some parents, even those who have been vaccinated themselves, are struggling to decide whether to immunize their children. They wonder whether their kids really need it and worry that it may be risker than the disease, which is typically much less severe for children, though not always. They said they have a hard time finding reliable information to make an informed decision. About 27% of parents of children ages 5 to 11 said they planned to get their kids vaccinated immediately once the shots were authorized. Another 33% said they would wait and see how the rollout goes for other children.

Antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduces COVID-19 hospitalization” via Sarah Toy of The Wall Street Journal — A widely available antidepressant holds promise as a treatment for COVID-19, according to a new study. COVID-19 patients who received fluvoxamine were significantly less likely to require hospitalization than those who didn’t, in the largest clinical trial evaluating the antidepressant’s effect on COVID-19 to date. Fluvoxamine belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. It is commonly used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and is also prescribed for depression. In use for decades, fluvoxamine has been shown to be safe and costs about $4 for a 10-day course, said Edward Mills, one of the study’s lead researchers and a professor of health sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

ERs are now swamped with seriously ill patients — but many don’t even have COVID-19” via Kate Wells of NPR — Except for initial hot spots like New York City, many ERs across the U.S. were often eerily empty in the spring of 2020. Visits to emergency departments dropped to half their normal levels and didn’t fully rebound until the summer of 2021. But now, they’re too full. Even in parts of the country where COVID-19 isn’t overwhelming the health system, patients are showing up to the ER sicker than they were before the pandemic, their diseases more advanced, and in need of more complicated care. Months of treatment delays have exacerbated chronic conditions and worsened symptoms. Doctors and nurses say the severity of illness ranges widely and includes abdominal pain, respiratory problems, blood clots, heart conditions, and suicide attempts, among others.

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Emergency rooms are filling up, and it’s not just COVID-19. Image via AP.

More travelers are heading to Europe in 2022 after the pandemic sank vacation plans” via Allison Pohle of The Wall Street Journal — More travelers are starting to think big about vacations again. According to data from hotels and travel industry analysts, after a long stretch of mainly short-term travel planning, inquiries are picking up for trips well into 2022. The booking rates are starting to trend closer to pre-pandemic levels, analysts say. Shawna Huffman Owen, president and chief executive officer of Huffman Travel in Chicago, has increased longer-term bookings in recent weeks. Even customers’ tone of voice has changed from earlier in the pandemic, she says: “It was a sense of anxiety in people’s voices, and I’m not hearing that.”

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— PRESIDENTIAL —

Biden turns to taxes on corporations, millionaires to pay for agenda” via Richard Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — Biden outlined $1.85 trillion in proposed tax increases and other revenue generators on Thursday to pay for his social and climate agenda, offering a hodgepodge of strategies designed to navigate red lines set by the administration and congressional Democrats. The plan relies on a 15% corporate minimum tax, surtaxes on the very highest earners, tougher tax enforcement, and higher taxes on U.S. companies’ foreign earnings. Meanwhile, ideas that once seemed like a clear consensus within the party were set aside. Progressives had hoped that unified Democratic control of the government could change how the very wealthiest Americans’ capital gains are taxed.

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Joe Biden turns his eye to corporations to help pay for his agenda. Image via The Washington Post.

In the Biden bill, the billionaires beat the working rich” via Neil Irwin of The New York Times — The most striking thing about the tax provisions that made it into the framework Biden announced is how they preserve the ability of business owners to accumulate vast fortunes with minimal taxation while extracting more money from the highest-paid people those owners employ. It is these “working rich,” as the investor Clifford Asness has called them, who would pay much of the bill for an expanded social welfare system. Jeff Bezos, worth nearly $200 billion, would see little change in his highly favorable tax situation. The deal includes a new surtax of five percentage points on income above $10 million and an additional three percentage points on income above $25 million. So, a CEO who makes $30 million would owe an additional $1.15 million in federal income tax over current law.

Vulnerable House Democrats are worried about what is being left out of Biden’s economic package” via Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post — The House Democrats most at risk of losing their seats in the 2022 midterm elections are urging their colleagues not to jettison a set of popular programs from Biden’s economic and social spending package, warning that failing to deliver on these promises to voters could pave the way for Republicans to regain control of Congress. These vulnerable Democrats argue that expanding Medicaid into certain states, allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices, expanding Medicare coverage, and providing for paid family leave are key to both motivating Democrats to vote in the midterm elections and to win over the small but key group of independent voters. All four policies are at risk of being left out of the final bill.

Not a trick: No White House treats for Halloween this year” via The Associated Press — Biden and first lady Jill Biden will be in Europe on Halloween and won’t be at the White House to help hand out candy and other treats. Instead, the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House will be lit up in orange light to celebrate the spooky holiday, said the first lady’s spokesperson, Michael LaRosa. It’s the Bidens’ first Halloween at the White House. “The President and First Lady will be traveling internationally during the last days of October and will not be hosting a specific event at the White House,” LaRosa said in a statement. The Bidens will be in Rome, where the President will attend the annual Group of 20 Summit of the world’s leading rich and developing nations from Oct. 30-31.

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All tricks, no treats. Image via AP.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Marco Rubio hopes Pope chides Biden on right not to hire ‘anti-Catholic’ and ‘transsexual’ teachers” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — He hopes the leader of the Roman Catholic Church tells Biden that faith-based schools are being “targeted” in a “federal takeover of pre-K and child care.” “If someone shows up and they’re anti-Catholic and you’re a Catholic school, they can’t discriminate on the basis of that. Not to mention if they’re transsexual or lives a lifestyle that goes contrary to the teachings of the church,” Rubio said. “Religious liberties in the United States are an issue that he raises.” Rubio asserted that those schools shouldn’t be cut out of the funding models based on subjective criteria dealing with faith and the right to “apply the teachings” of faith to hiring practices.

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Marco Rubio hopes Pope Francis gives Joe Biden a hard time. Image via AP.

‘I’m so proud of the Governor.’ Florida Republicans back DeSantis’ anti-vaccine mandate push” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Eight of Florida’s 16 Republicans in the House of Representatives gathered at the U.S. Capitol to protest federal vaccine mandates and praise DeSantis, who simultaneously announced a lawsuit against a U.S. government rule that requires federal contractors to show proof of vaccination or be subject to weekly COVID-19 tests. The lawmakers on hand at a news conference organized by U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack railed against Biden and upcoming vaccine mandates for federal employees, federal contractors, and private businesses that employ more than 100 people. “I’m not anti-vaccine; I’m pro-choice,” said U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, after emphasizing that he decided to get vaccinated.

Senate confirms Elizabeth Prelogar as government’s top Supreme Court lawyer” via John Fritze of USA Today — The Senate confirmed Prelogar on Thursday to be solicitor general, the top lawyer representing the federal government before the Supreme Court. An Idaho native who is the second woman confirmed to the job, Prelogar was backed by predecessors from both parties and largely cruised through her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September. She faced some GOP pushback because Biden has switched a number of the Trump administration’s legal positions at the high court. The vote was 53-36. “She very well may be the best young attorney I’ve ever worked with in my life,” tweeted Neal Katyal, a veteran appellate attorney and former acting solicitor general.

A Big Tech critic moves closer to leading the Justice Department’s antitrust division.” via David McCabe of The New York Times — A Senate committee approved a critic of the tech giants to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, sending his nomination to the full Senate for a final vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted for Jonathan Kanter’s nomination to lead the division without counting how each lawmaker voted. But one Republican Senator, John Cornyn of Texas, asked to be marked down as voting against the nomination. Kanter said during his confirmation hearing that he supported “vigorous antitrust enforcement in the technology area.” If confirmed by the full Senate, as is widely expected, he will join other critics of Silicon Valley in key antitrust positions.

— CRISIS —

Former DOJ official splits with lawyer before Jan. 6 testimony” via Betsy Woodruff Swan of POLITICO — Jeffrey Clark is scheduled to field questions from Jan. 6 committee investigators on Friday. But he and Robert Driscoll, the Washington attorney who has been representing him, have recently parted ways, according to two people with knowledge of the matter on Wednesday. It is unclear if the departure will impact Clark’s interview. Clark has drawn notoriety for his role in the final days of the Trump administration. He pushed for other senior DOJ officials to greenlight a letter falsely claiming the FBI found serious evidence of voter fraud in multiple states. Congressional investigators have long sought Clark‘s testimony.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Life-size cutouts and MAGA signs: A Trump endorsement shakes up Hialeah elections” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — In Hialeah’s mayoral election, Trump is everywhere. He’s on life-size cutouts hanging on the backs of trucks. His name is plastered all over campaign posters. And his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is printed on U.S. flags and yard signs; some, with a slight variation, read “Make Hialeah Great.” In a competitive primary election with a lagging turnout, several mayoral candidates are banking on Trump’s name to give them an edge in the deeply conservative, majority Cuban American city that largely led Miami-Dade County’s rightward shift in the 2020 presidential election.

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Donald Trump cutouts are shaking things up in Hialeah. Image via Party City.

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— LOCAL ELEX —

Miami workers campaigned on taxpayer dime for Christine King, City Manager says” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Days before Miami’s City Elections, allegations of unethical campaigning by public employees are stirring up the District 5 race and Miami City Hall. Miami City Manager Art Noriega said in a letter sent this month to a union leader that at least two city workers used a city-issued car to campaign for District 5 candidate King, a violation of rules that prevent public employees from working for political campaigns on the taxpayer’s dime. The City Hall controversy comes as King, seen as a top contender, faces six opponents. King said she did not coordinate campaign activity with city employees.

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Some Miami workers say they were on the clock when campaigning for Christine King. Image via Facebook.

Hotels, nightclubs, real estate fund much of Miami Beach Commission Group 3 race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Four candidates for the Miami Beach Commission seat representing Group 3 have reached the end of their fundraising pushes, though it remains to be seen if money muscle translates to a victory on Election Day. If fundraising power ends up being the difference, real estate investor Stephen Cohen will be the one to succeed term-limited Commissioner Michael Góngora with a win Tuesday. The 43-year-old Democrat has amassed more than $311,000 since entering the race in February. Almost all of it is his own money. And he has spent most of it, too. By Oct. 15, the most recent reporting date available for Miami Beach candidates, Cohen reported having just $17,000.

Must religious schools admit LGBTQ students? Questionnaire shakes up Miami Beach election” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — The endorsement of several Miami Beach City Commission candidates by a political influencer in South Florida’s Jewish community has become the latest flashpoint in the Nov. 2 elections, with a questionnaire whether religious schools that receive state funding should be required to admit LGBTQ students. The questionnaire, sent by school-choice proponent Allan Jacob, alarmed one openly gay City Commissioner, who called on the candidates endorsed by Jacob to release their responses ahead of the Nov. 2 election. Commissioner David Richardson, who has opposed Jacob’s political goals, posted screenshots of the questionnaire and an email purportedly showing Jacob’s endorsements last week, making public allegations that had been festering for weeks among the campaigns.

Poll: Ken Welch holds 16-point lead over Robert Blackmon heading into Election Day” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — In a St. Pete Polls survey, Welch leads Blackmon with 55% support to Blackmon’s 39%. Only 6% of voters indicated they were either still unsure or wouldn’t say who they supported. Welch’s 16-point lead in the poll is a slight drop from a previous St. Pete Polls survey, taken in September, in which he led Blackmon by 17 points. But it’s a difficult margin to overcome. The 6% of respondents who indicated they were undecided or refused to indicate their support are not enough to bridge the gap. Further, Democrats had the largest share of undecided voters, the political demographic for which Welch overwhelmingly leads with 78% support to Blackmon’s 15.5%. And Black voters, a demographic for which Welch also enjoys overwhelming support, are 13% undecided.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Post-Surfside, Florida engineers say all large buildings need to be inspected” via Lawrence Mower of Florida Politics — Florida should require nearly all large buildings be inspected for structural problems within their first 30 years, with follow-ups every 10 years, according to recommendations by the state’s engineering associations made in the wake of the Surfside condominium collapse. For buildings within 3 miles of saltwater, such as the beachside Champlain Towers South that suddenly collapsed in June, inspections should be done within the first 20 years of occupancy, with follow-ups every seven years. The inspections would apply to a wide range of buildings besides condominiums. They would include office buildings and other structures that exceed 10 occupants and are greater than 2,000 square feet covered by the state’s building code.

Amid claims of racism, misconduct, Miami Shores to investigate police department” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Miami Shores has asked the state to review allegations made by a former employee who says the village’s police department fostered an atmosphere where officers were not held accountable for racial insensitivity or other misconduct. In a statement, Village Manager Esmond Scott wrote that the village has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into allegations made in a letter this week “by a former employee about the working environment in our police department.” He said Miami Shores is also “beginning an investigative inquiry, using outside parties” of its policies and procedures.

Miami City Commission moves to ban gambling, with a few exceptions” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — A majority of Commissioners voted to tweak Miami’s zoning code to ban any gambling facilities that aren’t already planned or in operation. Two Commissioners, Manolo Reyes and Alex Díaz de la Portilla, voted no. A final Commission vote is required at a future meeting to make the proposal city law. The ban would not shut down existing gaming facilities. Casino Miami, Magic City Casino and a planned gaming establishment to be operated by Magic City’s owners, West Flagler Associates, would still be allowed to operate.

Is this the most Miami Halloween costume ever? Check out Larsa Pippen’s ‘Scarface’ look” via Madeleine Marr of the Miami Herald — For Drake’s party over the weekend in L.A., Pippen donned a blonde wig, white satin dress and a fierce pout to transform herself into an iconic film character we know well. That would be Elvira Hancock, played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1983 cult classic “Scarface.” At the tender age of 25, the “Grease” star played Miami drugpin Tony Montana‘s lover. In a series of Instagram posts, Pippen showed off her awesome flashback look. In the caption section, the “Real Housewives of Miami” cast member only put the character’s name, and anyone from the 305 immediately likely knew to whom she was referring.

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The most Miami costume ever?

Special Jacksonville election will be city’s first under Florida’s new voting rules” via Jim Piggott of News 4 Jax — Mail ballots will go out Thursday in Duval County over the next few days for a Dec. 7 special election for the Jacksonville City Council seat left vacant when Tommy Hazouri died last month. In-person voting begins the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Even though it’s only one council seat, it’s an at-large seat so voters in Duval County can cast a ballot. Four people are running: Republicans Nick Howland and Howland “Howdy” Russell and Democrats Coach James Jacobs and Tracye Polson. But since city elections are unitary — all voters cast ballots in all elections for any candidate on the ballot.

Seminole schools bracing for possible bus driver ‘sickout’ Friday” via Grace Toohey of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County Public Schools officials are bracing for a possible shortage of school bus drivers Friday, as rumors swirl about a “sickout” planned among drivers over wages. SCPS spokesperson Michael Lawrence warned families Thursday evening that such a protest by bus drivers, coupled with the district’s ongoing driver shortage, could cause “major delays.” He said district leaders remain hopeful that bus operations won’t be affected tomorrow but said if issues arrive early Friday, officials will alert families. Lawrence said the protest is not an action planned by the union for county school bus drivers, something the Seminole County School Bus Drivers’ Association’s executive director reiterated to WESH-TV.

‘Great and mighty things’: Tallahassee Police Chief doubles down on controversial evangelical retreat” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell faced questions from City Commissioners about his paid attendance and comments during a law enforcement retreat last month. Revell was paid to attend the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Event (BGEA) retreat from Sept. 28-30. His attendance has led to criticism from city officials and local community organizations. The BGEA has openly opposed same-sex marriage and employment protections from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The organization also backed a Supreme Court brief arguing that the Supreme Court should exclude gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes when deciding Bostock v. Clayton County.

A third South Florida town wants ability to limit private use of fireworks on holidays” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Matt Willhite says the town of Loxahatchee Groves should earn an exemption to state law allowing them to limit private fireworks displays on major holidays. Willhite secured a similar exemption last year for the village of Wellington, which, like Loxahatchee Groves, is in Palm Beach County. In 2020, lawmakers made it easier for private individuals to shoot off fireworks during major holidays such as the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. That caused a problem in Wellington, which is home to a large equestrian community. Fireworks can scare horses, possibly causing injury. The delegation considered an exemption for Loxahatchee from the 2020 state law increasing private individuals’ ability to shoot off fireworks.

Everything you need to know about SpaceX’s Crew-3 Halloween launch” via Jillian Olsen of WTSP — Halloween will involve more than just tricks and treats this year. SpaceX and NASA are targeting the spooky holiday for the latest Commercial Crew launch. In the wee hours of All Hallows’ Eve, Crew-3 will embark on their journey to the International Space Station for a six-month science expedition. A Flight Readiness Review has been completed and the four-person crew is “Go” for launch at 2:21 a.m. from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will allow NASA to “restore and maintain” American leadership in human spaceflight while continuing needed research at the orbiting laboratory. Crew-3 will also continue the agency’s push to launch astronauts from American soil and on American rockets.

Trick or treat on a Sunday? When should the Panama City area celebrate Halloween?” via Ebony Burrell of the Panama City News-Herald — Everyone knows Halloween is celebrated on Oct. 31 each year, but this year it will fall on Sunday for the first time since 2010. However, some have debated whether trick-or-treaters should go out on Saturday night instead, given that Sunday is the day before a new school week and is a time when many people attend church services. While Halloween is Oct. 31, it’s not an official public holiday, meaning that when residents can recognize it and the trick-or-treating that goes along with it is up for grabs. Recently, several cities in Alabama, including Orange Beach, encouraged their residents to celebrate Halloween on Saturday this year.

Meet the dancing Witches of Dunedin” via Hannah Critchfield of the Tampa Bay Times — Throughout last October, Autumn Soderlund would scour the bars and breweries of Dunedin, looking for the magical women. The chill of Florida winter had yet to set in, but the air was abuzz each Friday and Saturday with its kind of crisp electricity as if the seaside town could sense they were coming. Appearing unannounced at businesses every weekend, the Witches use their powers for good; the dances raise money for local charities. Arriving on golf carts, the witches attract massive fanfare around town. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s great!” a man holding a frosty IPA yells to his date over the music as the women begin their dance at Rosie’s Tavern one recent Friday.

The ghosts of the Suntan Art Center in St. Pete Beach” via Maggie Duffy of the Tampa Bay Times — The Don Vista sits across from the Don CeSar Hotel and was built in the 1920s. In 2011, an art center employee told Suntan member artist and ghost hunter Brandy Stark that she felt as if she was being watched and heard rustling in the hallway when she arrived for work alone early in the morning. A particularly chilling male voice was picked up on the ghost hunters’ equipment during their initial visit, saying, “don’t do it.” On a return investigation in September as part of the World’s Largest Ghost Hunt, a third entity was detected, to Stark’s surprise. He’s a military figure that moves in a marching pattern, but he’s a mild presence.

May-Stringer House owns its ‘Florida’s most haunted’ title” via The Associated Press — The May-Stringer House looks like a gingerbread-trimmed Victorian home overlooking the city of Brooksville. It’s reportedly one of Florida’s most haunted spots. The back story, as in most ghost stories, lies in tragedy. With more than 160 years of history in the house, at least 11 different ghosts have been identified by dozens of searchers of the paranormal. In 1855, John L. May built what was then a four-room home. The house was owned later by Sheldon Stringer, whose family lived there for three generations and expanded it to 14 rooms across four stories. In recent years, researchers have tried to find out if more than 50 enslaved people who worked the plantation might be buried on the museum grounds in Brooksville.

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The most haunted house in Florida. And that’s saying something.

UCF rings in Halloween with ode to bats” via Jenna Marina Lee of UCF — Ever since Bram Stoker’s Dracula depicted vampires shapeshifting into bats, the flying mammals haven’t been able to shake their creepy reputation and association with Halloween. But do humans need to be afraid of them? Definitely not, says professor Patrick Bohlen, who serves as director of the UCF Arboretum. Bats are primarily insect eaters in this part of the world. Some of those insects are pests, so people have calculated there’s a value to that in terms of the insects they eat.

—”Not too late to get your scare on in Jacksonville” via Tom Szaroleta of The Florida Times-Union

—”How scary do you want Halloween to be? Here are events in Miami for kids and horror fans” via Connie Ogle of Miami.com

—”Top Halloween events in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs for 2021” via Charles Runnells of the Fort Myers News-Press

—”Amid a ‘new normalcy,’ scaled-back Beard Street Halloween is back” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat

—”Orlando haunted house roundup: Tours and haunts open this season” via Patrick Connolly of the Orlando Sentinel

—“Best things to do for Halloween in Palm Beach County, including Fright Nights, Peach-O-Ween” via Eddie Ritz of The Palm Beach Post

—”Palafox Market’s annual ‘Halloween Market’ kicks off spooky fun weekend” via Kamal Morgan of the Pensacola News-Journal

—”Where to find spooky events, trick or treating around Tallahassee” via Martha Gruender of the Tallahassee Democrat

How to know if sex offenders are on your trick or treat route” via Robert Pandolfino of WFLA — Halloween is a fun night for kids, but there’s a way to find out which houses and neighborhoods to avoid. Florida law requires sexual predators and sex offenders to register their address to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and while they’re encouraged not to decorate their home for Halloween, parents can stay informed by searching the FDLE website on where sex offenders and predators live. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement sex offender database allows parents to see a list of all registered sex offenders living within a five-mile radius. The FDLE also has an app to help families track when sex offenders move into a neighborhood.

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— TOP OPINION —

When did this time of year become “spooky season”?” via Heather Schwedel of Slate — Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what spooky season was. I would have thought it was the sort of unremarkable alliterative phrase a bunch of people might have arrived at independently, perhaps because they were decorating a bulletin board in an elementary school or needed an Instagram caption. There isn’t a broad consensus about when spooky season begins. Architectural Digest described the so-called season as a sort of rebrand of Halloween that both extended the holiday and harks back to “the Halloweens of our childhoods”: a time when millennials can watch “Hocus Pocus” and decorate their homes with fake spiderwebs. As “Disney adult” sounds to my ears, people simply get a kick out of saying spooky season. And that’s what baffles me most of all.

— OPINIONS —

Should we ‘cancel’ Halloween to save the planet?” via Trees.com — In recent years, as warnings about climate change have grown more dire, environmentalists are taking a closer look at how this time-honored tradition may contribute to our increasingly hot planet. The majority of pumpkin purchasers, 59%, plan on buying 2-5 pumpkins. Sixteen percent will buy 6-10, while 10% will buy more than 10. To meet demand, billions of pounds of pumpkins must be grown each year in the U.S. alone. As water becomes an increasingly unstable resource due to climate change, it raises questions about where and how it should be used, particularly for crops that are largely ornamental. Twenty-five percent of Americans who are buying pumpkins intend to throw them in the trash once they have fulfilled their aesthetic purposes.

That tainted Halloween candy myth just won’t go away” via Daniel Victor and Aimee Ortiz of The New York Times — As children go trick-or-treating, it is exceedingly unlikely that your neighbor will put a razor blade in an apple, poison a wrapped Snickers bar, or, in this year’s version of the same old story, swap THC-laced gummies for regular candy, tricking innocent youngsters into accidentally getting high. Typically, the warnings come before Halloween, instructing parents to inspect their children’s hauls for any signs of foul play. In recent years, with marijuana becoming legal in more states, the concern has shifted to children accidentally ingesting edible weed candies, laced with THC and designed to look like traditional snacks.

Vaccine policy should consider the power of ‘hybrid immunity’” via Charlotte Thålin of The New York Times — As a physician in a COVID-19 care unit, I celebrate the vaccines as one of medicine’s greatest triumphs. As a scientist and lead investigator for a study on COVID-19 immunity, I have also come to appreciate the significance of so-called natural immunity acquired by those who have had COVID-19 and the power of “hybrid immunity.” Research, including my team’s study of the immune responses of nearly 2,150 health care workers in Sweden after infection with SARS-CoV-2 and vaccination, suggests that the protection gained from infection is long-lasting and that it can be significantly bolstered by a single COVID-19 vaccine dose. Infection, like vaccination, trains the immune system to fight off disease. In both cases, antibodies are produced by what are known as memory B cells, which help prevent infection.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis is doubling down on his Surgeon General — for refusing to wear a mask when asked.

Also on today’s Sunrise:

— DeSantis and Attorney General Moody sue the Biden administration over vaccine mandates.

— Rubio is slamming Biden’s announced deal on his sweeping domestic policy package. Rubio claims the true cost of the plan will be trillions of dollars.

To listen, click on the image below:

— WEEKEND TV —

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Highlights of the St. Petersburg mayoral debate ahead of Tuesday’s Municipal Elections.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with Tampa Bay Times/ Miami Herald Capitol co-bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas; Sarasota Herald-Tribune political editor Zac Anderson; journalist and Gomes Media Strategies President Trimmel Gomes; and Canadian Taxpayers Federation Quebec Director and Interim Atlantic Director Renaud Brossard.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion on the end of statewide assessments and purging of Common Core from Florida classrooms. Joining Walker are Reps. Rene Plasencia and Susan Valdés, and Alliance for Public Schools Executive Director Melissa Erickson.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Gubernatorial candidate Crist will discuss his criminal justice reform plan; reaction from lawmakers on the Florida Surgeon General Ladapo encounter with Sen. Tina Polsky on masks; and a preview of Tuesday’s local elections.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Rep. Geraldine Thompson will discuss current legislation being discussed in Tallahassee, including changes to education funding that could cut down on student loan debt, redistricting, and abortion bills similar to what Texas passed.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Guest host Steve Vancore speaks with POLITICO Florida political reporter Dixon.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary candidates Elvin Dowling, Phil Jackson, Emmanuel Morel and Priscilla Taylor.

— ALOE —

Attendance sagged at Magic Kingdom but it’s still world’s most-visited theme park” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Almost 7 million people went to Magic Kingdom theme park in 2020. But that represents a 67% decrease from 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic curbed the visitor count for attractions across the board last year. Although Walt Disney World’s parks were closed to the public from mid-March to mid-July, Magic Kingdom again was the most-visited theme park on Earth. The newest report, however, does not rank the attractions using the 2020 figures. It instead reports the 2020 attendance of 2019′s Top 25 parks.

Universal Orlando sees most profitable quarter ever amid pandemic” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Universal Orlando’s last quarter was its most profitable ever, despite COVID-19-related travel restrictions limiting international visitors to the U.S., executives from parent company Comcast revealed on an earnings call Thursday. Because of the Orlando resort’s earnings, the theme park division also had its most profitable quarter since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Comcast Corp.’s third quarter started in July and ended Sept. 30. Universal Orlando’s revenue was not individually reported in the company’s earnings Thursday, but NBCUniversal’s total theme park revenue exceeded $1.4 billion last quarter, adding to the division’s more than $3.1 billion in revenue so far this year. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood’s recovery from the pandemic largely contributed to the company’s overall profit.

Google’s ‘FrightGeist’ lists the most popular 2021 Halloween costumes. Is yours one of them?” via Jordan Mendoza of USA Today — From the sexy-styled costumes, creative DIYs, last-minute put-together and pop-culture-inspired outfits, some costumes are bound to be the same ones you see while trick-or-treating or partying. Luckily, Google Trends has released its 2021 FrightGeist, which lists the top costumes nationally, as well as the most popular ones in cities across the country. FrightGeist lists the witch under the horror films category, and with characters from “WandaVision” taking over the first half of the year, as well as the everlasting impact of “Hocus Pocus,” there’s no magic trick behind this being one of the most popular costumes of the year.

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Does your Halloween costume make the cut? Image via AP.

Florida’s most popular Halloween candy is … ?” via Lisa Cilli of CBS 4 Miami — Halloween is the sweetest, or scariest time of year depending on how you look at it. For kids who are going door-to-door trick-or-treating for candy, it’s definitely sweet. And why not? Who doesn’t love a handful of M&M’s, Skittles or a Twizzler or two? But did you know each state has its favorite candy, and in Florida, it’s chocolate! Reese’s Cups, to be exact. Reese’s Cups has dethroned Skittles as the Sunshine State’s favorite Halloween candy. This year, Skittles came in second, followed by Starburst. Nationwide, Reese’s Cups are also the top Halloween candy for 2021, followed by Skittles, M&M’s, Starburst and Hot Tamales.

Reese’s Cups top list of favorite candies in Florida, nationally” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups top the list of preferred candies Florida residents want to nosh on, followed by Skittles and Starburst, according to a new online study from Candystore.com. Reese’s knocked Skittles from the top candy spot for Floridians in the 2021 analysis. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups also are the top candy in the United States, according to the analysis. Candystore.com is an online candy retailer specializing in bulk shipments. Candystore.com reviewed 14 years of sales data with a focus on candy sales in the months before Halloween. The online retailer also reviewed sales data from chocolate and candy manufacturers as well as distributors. Nationwide, the No. 2 and No. 3 preferred candies were Skittles and M&M’s.

Schools are banning ‘Squid Game’ Halloween costumes as kids mimic the chilling show at recess: ‘It is inappropriate’” via Gina Harkins of The Washington Post — Searches for retro tracksuits and white slip-on Vans are spiking as “Squid Game” fans hunt for Halloween costumes inspired by the wildly popular Netflix series — but the looks will not be welcome everywhere. Principals at three New York elementary schools outside Syracuse are cracking down on “Squid Game”-related talk and play after students were mimicking the violent series at recess. Now, they’re telling parents that Halloween ensembles paying homage to the show won’t be allowed on school grounds “due to the potential violent message aligned with the costume.” The New York schools aren’t the first to report students imitating the hit show. Officials at Bay District Schools in Florida have also warned parents about elementary-aged students mimicking “Squid Game.”

To celebrate 30 years, Halloween Horror Nights ups the terror game” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights are celebrating some dark milestones this year. On the event’s 30th anniversary, “We have more masks than we’ve ever had before,” said Charles Gray, the senior show director for Entertainment Creative Development at Universal Orlando Resort. Universal’s sculpting team worked from a backstage building and created 95 new masks from scratch, about 35% more from 2019. They turned the clay into something terrifying, like a creature with multiple sets of eyes and a set of jaws that would make an alligator jealous. The fearsome look is a full-body one, too. Universal’s sculptors devised a bodysuit with creepy claws and a torso with even more eyes and teeth.

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Halloween Horror Nights notch it up again. Image via Universal.

When ‘boo!’ is only the beginning” via Alexis Soloski of The New York Times — Haunts, the industry term for a variety of haunted attractions, became popular in the 1980s. Spencer Terry, the president of the Haunted Attractions Association, a trade group, estimates that there are about 1,800 professional haunts in the United States this year. Even as professional attractions move toward the more extreme effects, animatronic monsters, plummeting elevators, rippling walls, most still depend on the potential of the human body alone. Some performers specialize in jump scares, popping out from unexpected corners. Others prefer more psychological scares, sidling up to ticket holders, whispering in their ears.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to state Reps. Melony Bell and George Moraitis, Kristen Bridges of GrayRobinson, Rivers Buford III, Anthony Pardal, and Caroline Rowland. Belated happy birthday wishes to Tiffany Vause, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Agency for Health Care Administration.

___

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

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