Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.27.21 – Florida Politics

Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

Blaise Ingoglia’s WPT run ends with $17K payout — Part-time lawmaker and full-time card shark Ingoglia spent the weekend competing in the World Poker Tour’s main event at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Oklahoma. Nearly 1,000 hopefuls entered the tourney, and the Spring Hill Republican outlasted most of them and peppered out mini-updates on his success to his social media followers on Saturday and Sunday. He was one of 35 contestants to make the third day, but he busted on Monday, finishing 27th. “It was a great run,” Ingoglia said on Facebook. “Thank you to everyone following the updates and for the words of encouragement.” He won’t be walking away with the $559K grand prize, but he isn’t going home empty-handed. The No. 27 payout is a cool $16,950.

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Blaise Ingoglia makes a good showing at the 2021 WPT Championship. Congrats!


Outstanding — A top-of-Sunburn congratulations also to Peyton Johnson — daughter of our good friends Robert and Alia Faraj Johnson — whose golf skills (with a crazy good score of 131, too) helped her advance in the Drive, Chip and Putt 12-13-year-old girls’ division. Founded in 2013 by a partnership of the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America, Drive, Chip and Putt is a nationwide junior development competition that focuses on the three fundamental golf skills. Next up for Peyton, the subregional qualifier at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra on Aug. 14. Keep swinging! 

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Another outstanding performance from Peyton Johnson!


Michael Rubin is the new president and CEO at the Florida Ports Council.

Rubin has spent the past 20 years working as FPC’s vice president and has served as interim president and CEO since earlier this year.

“Throughout the years, Mike Rubin has demonstrated the leadership needed in today’s commercial environment to enhance prosperity of Florida’s seaports,” said Manuel Almira, FPC board chair and Port of Palm Beach Executive Director.

In the new role, Rubin will draw on his two decades of experience creating and developing economic development and international trade policy, including the creation of Enterprise Florida, international export promotion programs and seaport development financing legislation.

“Florida’s 15 public seaports have a long and rich history as a leading economic driver. Despite the economic challenges our seaports experienced during COVID-19, Florida continues to be a top maritime trade state and continues to be the cruising capital of the world. I look forward to leading the Florida Ports Council as we seize upon opportunities that ensure Florida’s ports are the global leaders of tomorrow,” Rubin said.

Before joining the Florida Ports Council in 1998, Rubin was a Florida House Commerce and Economic Development Committees staffer.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Rollins College and his law degree with honors from Florida State University.


One of Jacksonville’s best young lobbyists is moving on to his next challenge.

Matt Brockelman, formerly of The Southern Group, is taking his talents to the banking and financial sector. Monday is his first day with VyStar Credit Union, which serves Northeast Florida and is expanding throughout the state.

Brockelman will enter VyStar already familiar with how to navigate the C-suite.

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Matt Brockelman takes his expertise to VyStar.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” the new executive posted to Facebook. “Along those lines, I have an exciting life update to share: today, I start a new chapter in my professional career as I join VyStar Credit Union as its VP of Government Affairs.”

“I’ll be responsible for developing and implementing local, state, and federal lobbying efforts for the major credit union, which is already a household name regionally and soon will be nationally. I’m grateful to Brian Wolfburg and the leadership team for entrusting me to establish this new department for VyStar and its members, and I can’t wait to meet all my new co-workers and build an effective, top tier advocacy team for the financial institution,” Brockelman noted, before acknowledging the transition.

The Southern Group founder Paul Bradshaw extolled Brockelman in a statement.

“Matt’s been a great partner and friend, and he will be sorely missed. VyStar is lucky to get him, and I’m sure he’ll succeed there as he continues a career arc that is promising and almost limitless,” Bradshaw told Florida Politics.

This latest move continues a sterling career trajectory for the former University of North Florida student body president. He served in the Jacksonville Mayor’s Office as a staffer, then as a lobbyist for UNF, before beginning a strong run at The Southern Group.


Jake Farmer is leaving the Florida Retail Federation to become Walgreens’ new regional director of state and local government relations for the Southeast.

Farmer has spent the past four years at FRF, first as the trade group’s legislative and communications director and then as their director of government affairs.

“If you know me, you know that I love my job, the people I work with, and the members I’ve represented at the Florida Retail Federation … it has been an honor to be a part of the FRF team for the past four years,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

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Jake Farmer snags a top job as Walgreens’ lobbyist.

“I look forward to continuing to be a part of #TeamRetail in Florida as well as in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina & North Carolina. Onward & Upward!”

Before joining the Florida Retail Federation in 2017, Farmer worked as a legislative aide to then-Rep. Jay Fant, a Jacksonville area Republican. He has also served as an executive assistant to the director of the Republican Party of Florida.

Farmer is a graduate of Florida State University, where he earned a degree in political science. During his senior year at FSU, he interned in the office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Outside of work, Farmer volunteers at Young Life, a Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school, high school, and college students across the country and world.


Correction — In yesterday’s Sunburn, we said Steve Bousquet worked at the Tallahassee Democrat. That was incorrect. We regret the error.


@WHCOS: Vaccinations picking back up — about 790k in past 24 hours per @CDCgov report. Might be the biggest 24-hour period since early July. Thanks to everyone involved.

@FrankLuntz: The most common reason people don’t get vaccinated is “we don’t know the long-term side effects.” All doctors should repeat @BrianCCastrucci‘s answer: Severe vaccine reactions happen within days, they don’t take years We’ve been vaccinating people for several months. It’s safe.

@rwesthead: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in early May blocked cities and counties from requiring people to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID. The state accounts for 1 in 5 new infections in the U.S.

@AnnaForFlorida: We are now living through a pandemic of the unvaccinated, but no one is safe. More people will die if we don’t take this seriously. GET VACCINATED.

@ShevrinJones: With #COVID numbers spiraling out of control in Florida, today would be a good day for @GovRonDeSantis to issue a Public Health Emergency so we can get the necessary resources needed to hospitals and communities who are being gravely affected.

@ALorenzoTV: [email protected]: has 946 COVID-19 patients in their hospitals across Central Florida. This exceeds the peak of about 900 they recorded in January.

@MajEbola: We’re up to 174 COVID patients admitted this AM. ~20% increase from Friday. City says we’d help if we could, but lack manpower and no public health emergency declared. So, Jax hospitals are bursting at the seams with COVID pts, short-staffed, and State says: you’re on your own.

@JamesPindell: In personal news: I am now in quarantine because my six-year-old came in direct contact with another either 5 or 6-year-old at camp who tested positive for COVID over the weekend. Yes, that young.

@Emilylgoodin: House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy told me “we’ll see” when asked if (Liz) Cheney and (Adam) Kinzinger will be punished for serving on Jan 6 committee. I asked him the last time he talked to either of them: “Couldn’t tell you.” He called them “(Nancy) Pelosi Republicans.”

Tweet, tweet:

Latest data from HHS shows which hospitals have seen the largest increase in Covid-19 patients in the last week. Florida and California continue to heat up, as well as the Atlanta area and Northern Texas. Missouri has no signs of cooling down yet.

— Benjy Renton (@bhrenton) July 26, 2021

Tweet, tweet:

A basketball robot. For your pleasure.

— Ann Killion (@annkillion) July 25, 2021

Tweet, tweet:

Discovery of that feature has saved me countless hours of irritation, pain and waste of time in last year-plus.

— David Johnson (@DJGroup) July 26, 2021


The NBA Draft — 1; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 3; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 10; Canada will open its border to fully vaccinated Americans — 13; ‘Marvel’s What If …?’ premieres on Disney+ — 15; Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 22; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 28; Boise vs. UCF — 37; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 38; Notre Dame at FSU — 40; NFL regular season begins — 44; Bucs home opener — 44; California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election — 49; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 49; Alabama at UF — 53; Dolphins home opener — 54; Jaguars home opener — 54; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 55; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 59; ‘Dune’ premieres — 66; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 66; MLB regular season ends — 68; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 73; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 91; World Series Game 1 — 92; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 92; Georgia at UF — 95; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 98; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 98; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 102; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 104; Miami at FSU — 109; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 115; FSU vs. UF — 123; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 136; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 143; NFL season ends — 166; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 168; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 168; NFL playoffs begin — 172; Super Bowl LVI — 201; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 241; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 283; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 310; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 346; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 358; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 437; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 472.

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Cuba protesters in Washington want Joe Biden to do more to pressure the regime” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Thousands of Cuban American protesters took over downtown Washington and Lafayette Park outside the White House on Sunday evening and Monday. After a midday rally with Republicans in Congress, the crowd marched to the Cuban Embassy. Many of the protesters were born in Cuba and still have family there. And while there was disagreement on what the U.S. can or should do to bring democracy to Cuba, there was widespread agreement among the demonstrators that the U.S. embargo should remain in place and that food and vaccines are not spurring demonstrations in Cuba. Instead, they said the July 11 protests were a call for freedom that can’t be ignored.

Cuban American protesters demand more action from the Joe Biden administration. Image via AP.

GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden” via Mychael Schnell of The Hill — A group of 19 Republican lawmakers penned a letter to Biden requesting a meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Cuba, which has escalated in recent weeks following protests against the government. The coalition of GOP lawmakers, including House Minority Leader McCarthy and Sen. Rubio, specifically requested the meeting to discuss how Congress and the administration “can work together to bring an end to the oppressive communist regime in Havana and liberate the Cuban people.” “Now is the time to act,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Calls for freedom in Cuba grow, as demonstrations in Tampa go into third week” via Niko Clemmons of WFLA — In Tampa, demonstrations continued, as thousands of people marched to the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. Zoila Lahera and several other women planned a protest on Bayshore Boulevard after learning that Cuban Americans were marching in D.C. “It’s very important the world come together to say this isn’t enough, this isn’t right and can’t happen in our own backyard,” Lahera said. “We’re not stopping until Cuban people are free.” Monday’s march falls on National Rebellion Day in Cuba, July 26. In 1953, the Fidel Castro-led group attacked an army barracks in Santiago De Cuba, marking the beginning of the Cuban revolutionary movement. “This is our day to pronounce we’re taking the day back,” Lahera said.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci says U.S. headed in ‘wrong direction’ on coronavirus” via The Associated Press — The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans, and the virulent delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert said Sunday. “We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated.” He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials. Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, Fauci said.

U.S. will not lift travel restrictions, citing delta variant -official” via David Shepardson of Reuters — The United States will not lift any existing travel restrictions “at this point” due to concerns over the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant and the rising number of U.S. coronavirus cases, a White House official said. The decision, which comes after a senior-level White House meeting, means the long-running travel restrictions that have barred much of the world’s population from the United States since 2020 will not be lifted in the short term. “Given where we are today with the delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” the official said, citing the spread of the delta variant in the United States and abroad.

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U.S. travel restrictions are staying in place, thanks to the delta variant. Image via Reuters.

At the FDA’s urging, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are expanding their studies of children 5 to 11.” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland of The New York Times — At the urging of federal regulators, two coronavirus vaccine makers are expanding the size of their studies in children ages five to 11, a precautionary measure designed to detect rare side effects including heart inflammation problems that turned up in vaccinated people younger than 30. Appearing at a televised town-hall-style meeting in Ohio last week, Biden said that emergency clearance for pediatric vaccines would come “soon.” The White House has declined to be more specific on the timeline, and it was unclear whether expanding the studies will have any impact on when vaccines could be authorized for children.

Biden admin says ‘long COVID-19’ could qualify as a disability” via Morgan Chalfant of The Hill — The Biden administration on Monday released new guidance on how to support those experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 as part of a broader effort to recognize the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Justice rolled out guidance making clear that symptoms of “long COVID-19” could qualify as a disability under the federal civil rights law. The guidance makes clear that long COVID-19 is not automatically a disability and that an “individualized assessment” is necessary to determine whether a person’s long-term symptoms or condition “substantially limits a major life activity.” 

Dept. of Veterans Affairs mandates vaccine” via Cindy Smith of ABC News — Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Monday that COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for the department’s health care personnel. Four VA employees, all of whom were unvaccinated, died in recent weeks, the department said. At least three of those cases were linked to the delta variant. VA employees will have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated. McDonough said this mandate is “the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country.”

Medical groups call for mandatory vaccination of U.S. health care workers.” via Emily Anthes of The New York Times — “Health care organizations rarely agree on anything, but this is one thing where they are speaking with one voice and unanimity,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who organized the joint statement. “I think that attests to the wide recognition that this is the right thing to do for this country.” Although many health care workers have been eligible for vaccination since December, when the first shots were authorized, a significant number remain unvaccinated. Nationwide, just 58.7% of nursing home employees have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Mandatory vaccinations are becoming more widespread. Image via AP.

Mayo Clinic calls for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for staff: ‘Our patients expect to be safe’” via Beth Reese Cravey of The Florida Times-Union — The Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic is requiring all of its employees, including those at its Jacksonville campus, to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 17. Staff who decline must complete “education modules,” which are training videos, and will be required to wear masks and socially distance when on campus.” Staff who do not comply — by getting a vaccination or completing the training videos, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing when on campus “can be placed on unpaid leave,” Kevin Punsky, communications manager at the Jacksonville campus, said.

Chris Christie gets the Republican vaccine-hesitancy story almost right” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Christie offered words of advice for increasing vaccination rates among hesitant Republicans. “What they don’t want is to be indoctrinated. They’re willing to be vaccinated. They don’t want to be indoctrinated,” Christie said. “So let’s be smart about this. I think that one of the places where our leaders have fallen down is they’re not explaining it. They’re just saying, get vaccinated. And these, these folks do not respond to being ordered to do those things.” There’s an element of truth to what Christie is saying; to wit, much of the hesitation among Republicans stems from a lack of confidence in government. In other words, if Christie’s hypothesis that Republican objections are a function of overbearing government actors, one would assume that those objections increased after Jan. 20 of this year. But they didn’t. 

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Jerry Demings: ‘We are now in crisis mode’ with 4th COVID-19 surge” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County is now seeing COVID-19 infection numbers rivaling the county’s worst ever, and at least one major hospital system has gone into alarm mode, leading Mayor Demings to plead again for people to get vaccinated. “We are now in crisis mode,” Deming said at his weekly news conference Monday morning. Demings and Central Florida health officials gathered to point out that the latest surge in new COVID-19 cases being seen now is filling hospitals, almost entirely with unvaccinated people. And they projected it will get worse. Caseloads of new COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly, with more than 1,000 new cases confirmed just on Friday in Orange County. 

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Jerry Demings has a full-blown COVID-19 crisis in Orange County.

Orange County COVID-19 cases reach 1,000 a day; AdventHealth says ICU is full” via Caroline Catherman and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in Orange County this weekend, overwhelmed the county’s testing site, filled AdventHealth’s ICU, and raised the hospital system’s inpatient totals to near January’s record. As cases rise in Orange County, officials tout vaccinations to combat the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant. AdventHealth had 862 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Monday across the Central Florida division, near the peak of about 900 patients the health system saw in January. Over 90% of AdventHealth’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, said Dr. Victor Herrera, chief medical officer of AdventHealth Orlando.

Orange County Tax Collector orders staff to get vaccinated; other governments consider measures to rein in COVID-19 infections” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph directed his employees Monday to get vaccinated by the end of August or find a new job. He said he had been pondering the policy change for weeks but was pushed into action by spiking COVID-19 infections, which health officials blame on a highly contagious strain known as the delta variant. Randolph’s 316 employees help about 800,000 customers a year at its six county locations. The Orange County Tax Collector’s Office is the second in the state to require vaccination as a condition of employment. The tax collector in Palm Beach County was the first, imposing a rule in April. “We’ve run it through the lawyers,” Randolph said. “We’re very much on solid ground.”

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Orange County Tax Collector to workers: Get your shot or find a new job.

—“‘You’re on your own’: UF Health says state isn’t helping with COVID-19 surge” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics 

—“COVID-19 hospitalizations near-record high at Lakeland Regional Health, AdventHealth” via Sara-Megan Walsh of The Lakeland Ledger 

No mask, no service: Broward County city jumps back to face mask requirement” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Coral Springs is going to require all people entering city buildings to wear masks. The new policy, spurred on by the emergence of the delta variant, starts Tuesday — just 75 days since the CDC decreed masks were optional for vaccinated people indoors or outdoors. Most businesses have adopted the CDC’s guidance that allows the vaccinated to enter without face coverings, without a protocol for proving one’s vaccination status. The city doesn’t have the right to fine people who don’t comply with wearing a face covering. DeSantis issued an order on May 3 lifting all mask ordinances that were in effect. But that order does not preclude the city from denying people entry into city buildings without a face mask, city spokesperson Lynne Martzall said.

—“As COVID-19 cases surge, Palm Beach imposes new mask mandate and social distancing measures” via Jodie Wagner of The Palm Beach Post 

Cruises set sail in Palm Beach County for first time in 16 months with enhanced COVID-19 requirements.” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After a lengthy hiatus, cruise lines are finally setting sail once again in South Florida. But with COVID-19 still on everyone’s mind, passengers are facing a much more rigorous set of safety precautions. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Lines has resumed operations at Riviera Beach’s Port of Palm Beach, making it the first cruise line to launch out of Palm Beach County since the pandemic restrictions began. 

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Judge seeks answers in domestic violence agency cases” via Dara Kam of News Service of Florida — Attorney General Ashley Moody and DCF in March 2020 began litigation against the nonprofit Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The coalition’s compensation of former CEO Tiffany Carr and other directors focuses on at least a half-dozen lawsuits. Last fall, Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey ordered mediation and set a Feb. 28 deadline for negotiations to conclude. Receiver Mark Healy’s attorney, James Timko, three months ago asked Dempsey to extend other deadlines in the lawsuits. Dempsey, in early April, agreed to extend the deadlines, but on Thursday gave Moody’s office, DCF, FCADV, and Healy until Aug. 19 to “file a written case status report updating the court on the status of the mediation and the cases generally.”

A judge tries to straighten out Tiffany Carr’s mess.

Happening today — The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet meets, 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room.

—“South Florida Mayors join nationwide call to pass immigration reform” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Florida is buying $300 million in land. It’s for the environment — and developers.” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the rare bipartisan highlights of Florida’s legislative session this year was the decision to spend $300 million buying up land for conservation. Republicans, Democrats, and environmentalists called it a boon for the environment, helping save thousands of acres of land in Florida’s delicate wildlife corridors from development. The result could be a boon to landowners and developers as well. The fine print in this year’s budget includes a stipulation that some environmentalists fear could spur development in the state’s wetlands.

Boys & Girls Clubs release 2021 Impact Report — The Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs released a report this week showing the positive impact the clubs have on Florida youth. The report states that club members have fewer days absent from school are more likely to be promoted to the next grade level, are less likely to drop out of school, and are more likely to graduate, among other things. “Florida’s Boys & Girls Clubs are dedicated to enabling all young people to reach their full potential as responsible and caring citizens, especially those who need us most,” executive director Joe Davis said. The alliance also touted the economic benefits it brings to Florida, including millions in cost avoidance from lower grade retention, lower juvenile detention intake rates and higher graduation rates.

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— 2022 —

First look: Donald Trump Jr., Ron DeSantis dominate poll of GOP front-runners” via Mike Allen of Axios — Trump Jr. is the Donald Trump child with the strongest connection to the base, and the most political promise should he ever decide to run. And the results reaffirm DeSantis’ rise as an early 2024 front-runner should Trump decide not to run.

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The two leading contenders, so far.

Personnel note: Kevin Cabrera joins Erika Benfield campaign — Republican Benfield announced a slate of hires for her campaign in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, including Cabrera as Senior Adviser. Cabrera is a veteran campaign staffer, most recently serving as the Florida State Director for Trump’s reelection campaign. In January, he took a job as a senior vice president in the Florida office of Mercury, a bipartisan public strategy firm. Previously, the Florida native represented local governments and corporate clients before the legislative, executive, and local branches of government. Benfield also announced that the Ascent Strategic team will serve as general consultants, Brabender Cox will lead the campaign’s TV media team, WPAi will handle data and polling, and Arena will take the lead on mail fundraising.

Congressional candidate chronically late with required reports. He says ADHD, diagnosed as adult, is the reason.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Omari Hardy, one of the leading candidates running to fill a vacant South Florida congressional seat, has been repeatedly cited by Florida election officials for missing filing deadlines for the campaign committees connected to his current job, state representative. Hardy said he takes responsibility for the late reports during the past 16 months. The reason, he said, is that he has ADHD, diagnosed about 10 years ago. He said, however, it wouldn’t interfere with his ability to run for Congress or serve if elected.

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Omari Hardy blames his tardy reporting on ADHD.

Police unions turn on Clay Yarborough as Senate bid heats up” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Did Yarborough take a “defund the police” position while on the Jacksonville City Council? During budget tightening in the wake of the economic crash of 2008, one that saw property values plummet in a way that took ad valorem taxes years to recover, the City passed budgets that reduced the number of police positions. Thirty were cut in FY 10-11, 41 in FY 11-12, and 76 the following year. The head of the local Fraternal Order of Police, Steve Zona, said the concerns about Yarborough have bubbled up from the rank and file, specifically including worries that Yarborough has a history of “defunding” and not defending the police.

Democrat Joseph Saportas files to run for Chris Latvala House seat” via The News Service of Florida — The race to replace Latvala has drawn its first Democrat. Joseph Saportas opened a campaign account last week in what is now Pinellas County’s House District 67, according to the state Division of Elections website. Latvala cannot run again in 2022 because of term limits. The race also has drawn former Rep. Kim Berfield and Jason Holloway, both Clearwater Republicans. The district’s boundaries and potentially its number could change before the 2022 elections because of the once-a-decade reapportionment process.

‘We’re f—ed’: Dems fear turnout catastrophe from GOP voting laws” via Maya King, David Siders, and Daniel Lippman of POLITICO — After Georgia Republicans passed a restrictive voting law in March, Democrats here began doing the math. The state’s new voter I.D. requirement for mail-in ballots could affect the more than 270,000 Georgians lacking identification. The provision cutting the number of ballot drop boxes could affect hundreds of thousands of voters who cast absentee ballots that way in 2020 — and that’s just in the populous Atlanta suburbs alone. It didn’t take long before the implications became clear to party officials and voting rights activists. In a state that Biden carried by fewer than 12,000 votes last year, the new law stood to wipe out many of the party’s hard-fought gains — and put them at a decisive disadvantage.

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Biden officials closely monitor delta variant in U.K. as their anxieties mount over impact to U.S. economy” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — Senior Biden officials are carefully monitoring the impact of the delta variant on Britain, as concerns intensify within the administration about the potential economic damage of the virus to the United States, according to three people familiar with the discussions. With close to 70% of the United Kingdom at least partially vaccinated, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pushed toward a full economic reopening even as new cases rose above 50,000-per-day for the first time since mid-January. Johnson’s government has ended most COVID-19-related restrictions in England, despite objections from many public health officials.

The U.S. keeps an eye on Boris Johnson, to see how the delta variant will affect the U.K. economy. Image via AP.

New York City and California will require workers to be vaccinated or face testing.” via Emma Fitzsimmons, Sharon Otterman, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Shawn Hubler, Daniel E. Slotnik and Dan Levin of The New York Times — The drive to get Americans vaccinated accelerated on Monday when the most populous state and largest city in the United States announced that they would require their employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, or face frequent tests. All municipal employees in New York City, including police officers and teachers, and all state employees and on-site public and private health care workers in California will have to be vaccinated or face at least weekly testing.

U.S. issues ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories for Spain, Portugal over COVID-19 cases” via David Shepardson of Reuters — The CDC and State Department on Monday both warned against travel to Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Kyrgyzstan because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in those countries. The CDC raised its travel advisory to “Level Four: Very High” for those countries telling Americans they should avoid travel there, while the State Department issued “Do Not Travel” advisories. Spain reopened its borders to U.S. tourists in June and has been a popular destination for Americans since then. The CDC on Monday also raised its rating to “Level Four” for Cuba, while the State Department already had Cuba at the highest “Do Not Travel” rating. The CDC also raised concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, lifting its travel health notice by two levels to “Level 3: High.”

Europe’s summer tourism outlook dimmed by variants, rules” via Kelvin Chan of The Associated Press — Chaos and confusion over travel rules and measures to contain new virus outbreaks are contributing to another cruel summer for Europe’s battered tourism industry. Popular destination countries are grappling with surging COVID-19 variants, but the patchwork and last-minute nature of the efforts as the peak season gets underway threatens to derail another summer. In France, the world’s most visited country, visitors to cultural and tourist sites were confronted this week with a new requirement for a special COVID-19 pass. To get the pass, which comes in paper or digital form, people must prove they’re either fully vaccinated or recently recovered from an infection, or produce a negative virus test. Use of the pass could extend next month to restaurants and cafes.

COVID-19 immunity wanes, but third shot still rarely needed, BioNTech CEO says” via Bojan Pancevski of The Wall Street Journal — Immunity against the coronavirus is waning in people who were fully vaccinated with the shot made by BioNTech and Pfizer in January because of the rapidly spreading delta variant, BioNTech’s chief executive said, confirming data that emerged from Israel last week. But even as antibody levels are dropping seven months after immunization among some vaccine recipients, most of them will remain protected against severe disease and might not yet need a third dose, according to Ugur Sahin, CEO of the German company that invented the vaccine. “The antibody titers are going down,” Dr. Sahin said, referring to the unit of measurement for antibodies against the virus. “The vaccine protection against the new variant is considerably lower.”

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Vaccine protection may wane, but no booster shot is needed — yet.

Some adolescents aren’t getting vaccinated, as wary parents weigh risks” via Felicia Schwartz of The Wall Street Journal — The vaccination drive among adolescents, a critical part of the wider effort to build society-wide immunity to COVID-19, has slowed, as many parents harbor safety concerns. Many parents rushed to get their children inoculated in May after regulators widened the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot to children as young as age 12. Yet vaccinations have lagged since. Other parents have held off because of concerns about the shot’s speedy development and a rare side effect, an inflammatory heart condition called myocarditis. They are struggling with weighing these risks against research indicating that COVID-19 isn’t a significant risk for children. Some reluctant parents are vaccinated themselves, a new challenge for public-health officials trying to overcome more general hesitancy about vaccines.


The feds earmarked $15B for Florida schools to help kids in the pandemic, but it’s largely an unused stockpile” via Danielle Brown of Florida Phoenix — On May 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education under the Trump administration released $770 million to Florida schools. More than a year later, the amount has spiked to some $15 billion — a largely unused stockpile of federal relief funds designated to pull Florida schools out of the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its effects for this school year as well as the next few school years. Most of the dollars have yet to be disbursed to school districts. “Every minute these funds sit in Tallahassee is time that the funds are not being used to help Florida’s students,” wrote Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, in a letter to DeSantis on July 21.

‘Avalanche’: Miami renters brace for mass evictions as moratorium ends” via Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — As the clock ticks down on the end of the national eviction moratorium, housing advocates are gearing up for evictions throughout Miami-Dade, especially low-income renters without the means to pay the back rent they owe. The moratorium, which went into effect on Sept. 4 and has been extended several times since but expires on Saturday, was intended to protect renters earning $99,000 or less per year from being evicted due to loss of income or other COVID-19-related hardships. But when the CDC program dies, barring a last-minute extension due to the new surge in COVID-19 cases around the U.S., 188,000 “severely distressed” renters in Miami-Dade already paying more than half their income on rent will be particularly vulnerable to eviction.

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Renters are bracing for a wave of evictions.

U.S. population growth, an economic driver, grinds to a halt” via Janet Adamy and Anthony DeBarros of The Wall Street Journal — America’s weak population growth, already held back by a decadelong fertility slump, is dropping closer to zero because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In half all states last year, more people died than were born, up from five states in 2019. Early estimates show the total U.S. population grew 0.35% for the year ended July 1, 2020, the lowest ever documented, and growth is expected to remain near flat this year. Some demographers cite an outside chance the population could shrink for the first time on record. Population growth is an important influence on the size of the labor market and a country’s fiscal and economic strength.


Your vaccinated immune system is ready for breakthroughs” Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic — To understand the anatomy of a breakthrough case, it’s helpful to think of the human body as a castle. Without vaccination, the castle’s defenders have no idea an attack is coming. They might have stationed a few aggressive guard dogs outside, but these mutts aren’t terribly discerning: They’re the system’s innate defenders, fast-acting and brutal, but short-lived and woefully imprecise. Other fighters, who operate with more precision and punch — the body’s adaptive cells — will eventually be roused. Without prior warning, though, they’ll come out in full force only after a weekslong delay. Vaccination completely rewrites the beginning, middle, and end of this story. COVID-19 shots act as confidential informants, who pass around intel on the pathogen within the castle walls.

What history tells us about the delta variant — and the variants that will follow” via John M. Barry of The Washington Post — As a general rule, viruses do eventually become less dangerous as they adapt to new hosts and as immune systems respond better. That should happen here eventually. But whether or not delta has increased in virulence, another still more dangerous variant may surface. That makes the next question even more important: Will COVID-19, in some form, escape immune protection? The answer is: probably. Unless its opportunity to mutate is cut off by stopping its spread — an impossibility with billions worldwide unprotected by the vaccine — eventually, a variant will likely emerge that evades current vaccines and natural infection. Studies of coronaviruses that cause the common cold demonstrate that mutations over time cause the ability of antibodies to neutralize those viruses to decline.

—“Unvaccinated snow leopard tests positive for coronavirus as San Diego Zoo vaccinates animals” via The Associated Press

An unvaccinated snow leopard tests positive for COVID-19. Image via San Diego Zoo.

Requests for U.S. college aid are down, with experts blaming the pandemic.” via Stephanie Saul of The New York Times — U.S. high school seniors completed fewer federal financial aid applications for college this year, as compared with last year, which saw an even steeper drop, signals that the number of low-income students attending college is falling again. The National College Attainment Network, a nonprofit organization that promotes college attendance and completion by low-income students, links the drop to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. “Students have had to go out into the workforce to support their families,” said Bill DeBaun, the organization’s director of data and evaluation.

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Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act” via Alex Gangitano of The Hill — Biden on Monday celebrated the 31st anniversary of the ADA, a sweeping civil rights law, and announced a new program to help Americans experiencing long-term COVID-19 symptoms and conditions. “For our nation, the ADA is more than a law as well; it’s a testament to our character as a people, our character as Americans,” Biden said in the Rose Garden. He announced on Monday a new effort for Americans with long-term COVID-19 impacts, so symptoms of “long COVID-19” could qualify as a disability under the ADA. The guidance does not automatically qualify long COVID-19 as a disability, but people experiencing long-term symptoms or conditions can get an “individualized assessment” to determine the condition “substantially limits a major life activity.”

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Joe Biden celebrates the 31st anniversary of the ADA by promising help for those with ‘long COVID-19.’

Biden administration to curb toxic wastewater from coal plants with new rule” via Dino Grandoni of The Washington Post — The EPA announced it will set stricter requirements for how coal-fired power plants dispose of wastewater full of arsenic, lead and mercury, a major source of toxic water pollution for rivers, lakes and streams near electric generators across the country, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania. Biden’s team aims to undo one of the Trump administration’s major regulatory rollbacks in a new rule-making process. Last year, the Trump EPA weakened rules forcing many coal plants to treat wastewater with modern filtration methods and other technology before it reached waterways that provide drinking water for thousands of Americans.


Donald Trump ally Thomas Barrack pleads not guilty in UAE lobbying case” via Jody Godoy of Reuters — Former President Trump‘s billionaire ally Barrack pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of illegal lobbying for the United Arab Emirates, putting the case on course for a possible trial. Barrack entered his plea to seven criminal counts before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara in Brooklyn. The charges against Barrack, 74, included secretly lobbying the Trump administration for the UAE between 2016 and 2018 and lying to investigators about dealings with the Middle Eastern country. Barrack, who chaired Trump’s 2017 inaugural fund and was a frequent guest at the White House, was released last week on a $250 million bond, secured by $5 million in cash as well as several properties and stock valued at $150 million.

Things went south pretty quickly for Donald Trump’s billionaire friend Thomas Barrack. Image via Bloomberg.

A key Trump witness is being muzzled over her custody battle” via Jose Pagliery of The Daily Beast — Jennifer Weisselberg, the ex-wife of Trump employee Barry Weisselberg — and former daughter-in-law of one of Trump’s closest business confidants, Allen Weisselberg — has told investigators that executives at the Trump Organization were rewarded with untaxed perks. Her documents and grand jury testimony were crucial to last month’s indictment of her former father-in-law, the corporation’s chief financial officer. And she has repeatedly explained to journalists how the tuition for her children’s private school was an untaxed corporate gift paid in place of salary. But all the while, she’s said these things at great personal risk; since March 19, Jennifer Weisselberg has been under a judge’s gag order to shut her up.


Matt Gaetz among House members rushing to aid alleged insurrectionists” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Complaints about poor prison conditions. Demands for police to release bodycam footage. Anger suspected terrorists have yet to receive due process. U.S. Rep. Gaetz and three other GOP House members outlined these concerns in a letter to the Justice Department demanding better treatment of suspected insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Gaetz on Tuesday will participate in a news conference with U.S. Reps. Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Call them the original 4 Gs. The members of Congress demanded an in-person meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland explaining the alleged mistreatment of the Trump supporters arrested in the wake of the riot.

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Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are going to bat for insurrectionists. Image via AP.

Sarasota chiropractor stormed Capitol, and there was no turning back” via Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — There’s no question, a hard day of rioting can do quite the number on even the strongest insurrectionist’s back. But Joseph Hackett, a Sarasota chiropractor, was not at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to perform lumbar adjustments. He was there to “stop, delay and hinder the certification of the Electoral College vote,” according to charges filed by the U.S. government, and his wife still does not understand why he remains in jail. Deena Hackett appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast to complain of the injustices thrust upon her husband, such as being in jail with “murderers and gang members.”

Facebook and tech giants to target attacker manifestos, far-right militias in database” via Elizabeth Culliford of Reuters — A counterterrorism organization formed by some of the biggest U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft is significantly expanding the types of extremist content shared between firms in a key database, aiming to crack down on material from White supremacists and far-right militias. Until now, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism’s (GIFCT) database has focused on videos and images from terrorist groups on a United Nations list and so has largely consisted of content from Islamist extremist organizations such as Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Taliban.

I’m a Parkland shooting survivor. QAnon convinced my dad it was all a hoax.” via David Gilbert of Vice — Bill was part of the final graduating class of survivors of the 2018 shooting. But Bill also had to deal with his father’s daily accusations that the shooting was a hoax and that the shooter, Bill, and all his classmates were paid pawns in a grand conspiracy orchestrated by some shadowy force. Bill had worked hard to get over his survivor’s guilt after the shooting, but for the past five months, his own father has been triggering it all over again. “He’ll say stuff like this straight to my face whenever he’s drinking: ‘You’re a real piece of work to be able to sit here and act like nothing ever happened if it wasn’t a hoax,” Bill said in an anonymous post on Reddit last week.


Senate infrastructure talks in political jeopardy as infighting spills out into the open” via Tony Romm, Seung Min Kim and Ian Duncan of The Washington Post — Negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans over a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package appeared to be in political jeopardy. The impasse arrives after lawmakers toiled away into the weekend over their proposal to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. Republicans initially hoped to finalize a more robust blueprint so that the long-stalled debate could finally start, but the prospect now seems unlikely given the sheer scope of policy obstacles that negotiators must resolve. Lawmakers must still sort through lingering disputes over how to spend billions of dollars on upgrading the country’s railways along with thorny policy issues around broadband spending.

‘Where is Biden?’: Mario Díaz-Balart, Rick Scott, other Florida GOP pols slam President on Cuba” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Cuban expatriates, their children and those supporting a free Cuba continue to take to United States streets in solidarity against human rights violations on the island. “We are not here to ask for crumbs. We are not here to ask for aspirin for the Cuban people. We’re not here to ask for remittances. We’re here to ask for one thing: Freedom,” U.S. Rep. Díaz-Balart told the fervid crowd. Sen. Scott called to remove the Cuban embassy in Washington and the delivery of internet access to Cuba. The President announced new sanctions targeting “elements of the Cuban regime responsible” for suppressing protesters.

Scott says all options must remain on table in latest Cuba-focused ad” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Scott launched a new digital ad promising eternal support for pro-democracy protesters in Cuba. Wearing his signature Navy cap and a button-up shirt with no jacket, the Senator in Spanish and English promised to back the drive for “Libertad.” Scott’s words are interspliced with images of protesters in the streets of Havana and other Cuban cities since July 11. “I will not rest until that day of freedom arrives for Cuba,” Scott says. The video appears on the YouTube page for Scott’s Senate campaign, and a disclosure statement clarifies it was paid for by Scott’s official campaign account. It will begin broadcasting Monday in the Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Washington media markets.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

As Jan. 6 probe begins, Dem vows: ‘We have to get it right’” via Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press — As the longtime chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson is accustomed to dealing with grave matters of national security. But his stewardship of the Jan. 6 panel will be a test unlike any other, as he tries to untangle the events of a violent insurrection that many House Republicans increasingly play down and deny. “We have to get it right,” Thompson said. Thompson is a liberal fixture in Congress and longtime champion of civil rights, the only Democrat in the Mississippi delegation, hailing from a majority-black district in the state’s western half.

Democrats move to elevate Liz Cheney’s role on Jan. 6 commission, giving her prime speaking slot Tuesday” via Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post — Democrats are seeking to elevate the role of Rep. Cheney on the committee examining the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, scheduling her to deliver one of the two opening statements at the panel’s first public hearing Tuesday. The move is intended to present the committee as a bipartisan effort following Republican leadership’s decision not to participate in the panel after SpeakerPelosi last week rejected two of Minority Leader McCarthy’s picks for the panel. Rep. Adam Schiff proposed to Pelosi and Cheney that having the Wyoming congresswoman speak after Chairman Thompson would present a “strong visual” for the committee’s goals and intentions as it embarks on a months-long process to investigate the insurrection.

Growing group of GOP members wants Kevin McCarthy to punish Adam Kinzinger and Cheney for joining Jan. 6 committee” via Ryan Nobles and Melanie Zanona of CNN — A growing group of rank-and-file House Republicans wants McCarthy and GOP leadership to punish Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger for accepting a position from House Speaker Pelosi to serve on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. The push to seek punishment rose to a new level on Sunday, after Pelosi announced that Kinzinger had accepted her invitation to join the committee. Initially, most rank-and-file Republicans were content to let Cheney serve without much of a fight, but Kinzinger’s addition has changed the conversation and has put a new level of pressure on McCarthy.

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Republicans are pressuring Kevin McCarthy to punish Adam Kinzinger for his role in the Jan. 6 investigation. Image via AP.

$22 million added to federal spending bill for Surfside condo collapse investigation” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she’d secured $22 million in federal funding for an investigation into the cause of the June 24 Surfside condominium collapse in which 98 people were killed. Wasserman Schultz, a Broward/Miami-Dade County Democrat whose district includes 15 miles of communities along the coast, including Surfside, said the money would go to pay for the National Institute of Standards and Technology probe into the collapse of the Champlain Towers South. Her office said the money would allow the agency to investigate the sources of failure, suggest fixes to existing building standards, and make recommendations for future building codes for similar structures.

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Final Surfside condo collapse victim identified” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — All 242 people reported missing after the Champlain Towers South building fell in the early hours of June 24 are now accounted for, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Monday. Neither she nor any other officials who spoke at the 5 p.m. news conference said the name of the last victim, 54-year-old Estelle Hedaya. Her brother confirmed her identity to The Associated Press earlier Monday. Recovery crews, many of them volunteers, continue to sift through millions of pounds of rubble for personal belongings in the area, which includes a secondary site where a state-hired demolition team razed a still-standing portion of the tower early this month.

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Estelle Hedaya is the final Surfside collapse victim identified. Image via Hedaya family.

Darden Rice apologizes for imagery on Ken Welch mailers, responds to criticism” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Rice is responding to recent scrutiny over mailers sent by her affiliated political committee that link Welch to Trump supporters. After distributing the mailers, Rice was quickly criticized by Welch supporters for hypocrisy, as well for the use of stock images of Black individuals, an aspect that Rice apologized for in her statement. However, Rice still stands strong by the claims, saying in her statement that Welch touted an endorsement from conservative Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who, she says, “has stood with Trump and DeSantis and has carried out regressive policies that hurt our community.” 

Bill Moore files to challenge Jim Gray in Orlando city election” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Gray has filed to seek reelection, and retired Orlando police officer Moore has filed to challenge him. Both candidacy declarations were filed last week for the District 1 seat on Orlando City Council, representing the fast-growing region of Orlando’s southeast side, an area of varied communities including the booming, health tech-powered Lake Nona. Gray, Orlando managing director for CBRE, the largest commercial real estate services and investment firm globally, seeks a third term as City Commissioner. He easily won a second term, strongly defeating challenger Tom Keen in District 1, 53% to 40%. Last week, Gray became the third of three Orlando City Council members to file for reelection in the Nov. 2 election. 

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Now it’s a race: Incumbent Jim Gray will face Bill Moore for Orlando City Council District 1.

Ybor City development plan unveiled: Park, condo towers lead 50-acre proposal” via Jay Cridlin and Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Apartment complexes and condo towers with as many as 5,000 homes. A community park in place of a roundabout off Channelside Drive. A 70-year-old warehouse that could house an industrial-chic food hall. Welcome to Gas Worx, the future of Ybor City as envisioned by Darryl Shaw. More than 30 years after buying his first Ybor property, Shaw and his development partners on Monday said they filed with the city their long-awaited initial master plan for the historic district. Gas Worx — a “working name,” Shaw said, that nods to the site’s history as an old Peoples Gas storage facility — could include 500,000 square feet of office space and 150,000 square feet of retail to go with that cluster of condos and apartments.

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The rise of DeSantis” via The Economist — The political annals are replete with moments when a significant new talent announced itself. Could it be that in February, DeSantis produced another? The scene was a news conference in Tallahassee. The subject under discussion was the Republican Governor’s view that conservatives are discriminated against by social and mainstream media companies. “You can whiz on my leg, but don’t tell me it’s raining.” DeSantis’s phrase expressed the dominant Republican view of big tech and the media: both knowing and dismissive. And he was able to utter it with rare authority. DeSantis owes his rise not only to his record of sticking it to the liberal media but also to his knack of being vindicated almost whenever he has done so.


Florida’s voters should give themselves the power to protect our water” via Joseph Bonasia of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — When I moved to Florida from New York in 2016, I quickly recognized two things. First, Floridians believe deeply in the virtue that is most characteristically American: self-reliance. Like our pioneer forefathers, like Gary Cooper in “High Noon,” we look to and rely on ourselves, not primarily government, to get things done. It is evident in the robust spirit of entrepreneurship here, and in the faith in charitable individuals and community organizations, more than in government programs, to help neighbors in need. Second, the lack of environmental stewardship and the systemic abuse of Florida’s greatest asset, its natural treasures, is shocking.

The future of Orlando is not paved in asphalt” via Austin Valle for the Orlando Sentinel — The awkward truth is that the only thing in Orlando that may have a lower favorability rating than Congress is Interstate 4. As if it wasn’t tragic enough that so much of our valuable urban space is already being ceded to monstrous highways, it is supposed to be a reassurance that even more lanes are coming our way. Our development sprawls outward, which some use as justification to build new lanes and new highways. The way that we build now is unsustainable. The growth cannot keep sprawling outward, especially as we continue to butt up against precious conservation lands and rural areas. The environmental damage caused by cars is immense.

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Joy and pain at the Olympic pool, measured in hundredths of seconds” via Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post — On the pool deck just 10 minutes after noon Monday, the four men hugged, then bent at the waist, dripping and heaving as they blew kisses into the camera. This is the ecstasy and exhaustion that the Olympics can produce, when four years of unrelenting work pay off in gold and somehow seem worth it. That’s what it was for Caeleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Bowen Becker and Zach Apple, worth it. That quartet produced a powerful, disciplined swim that won the men’s 4×100-meter relay at Tokyo Aquatics Centre, an expected result. Their time of 3 minutes 8.97 seconds left no room for over-analysis. They led after 100 meters, after 200, after 300, and at the finish, when Apple touched the wall. “I wasn’t ever scared,” Dressel said.

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The U.S. claims early gold in the men’s 400 free relay. Image via AP.

The Black women who forged new paths and set records at the Olympics” via Bria Felicien of FiveThirtyEight — Black women athletes often achieve despite their lack of resources. Globally, there remains a lack of investment for women and girls who want to participate in sports from the youth to the professional level. Still, Aída dos Santos, Formiga, Alice Coachman, and many other Black women have helped make the Olympics what they are today. And whether their achievements were downplayed or ignored, their names remain in the record books. These are just some of the Black women who have broken down sports barriers in front of them and some who’ve followed in their footsteps.

First openly transgender Olympians are competing in Tokyo” via Anne M. Peterson of The Associated Press — For Quinn, a midfielder for the Canadian women’s soccer team, the opening match of the Tokyo Games carried more emotional weight than their previous Olympic appearances. Quinn became the first openly transgender athlete to participate in the Olympics when they started on Wednesday night in Canada’s 1-1 draw with Japan in Sapporo. Quinn, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, posted their feelings on Instagram. “I feel proud seeing `Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of this world,” they wrote. “I feel optimistic for change. Change in legislature, Changes in rules, structures, and mindsets.”

— ALOE —

Howard the Duck’ turns 35: Stars revisit notorious bomb amid new fervor for Marvel character” via Ryan Parker of The Hollywood Reporter — Howard the Duck found a second life as a beloved cult classic (it just got reissued in 4K), and the wisecracking duck even made several appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe voiced by Seth Green. But, for years, the Universal Pictures bomb was a sharp pebble in the career shoe of most — if not all — who were involved. “It doesn’t work at all,” sneered the late Gene Siskel when he and Roger Ebert labeled Howard among the worst films of 1986. The movie holds a dismal 14% rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. But that was then. Lea Thompson and Broadway star Chip Zien now say the onetime dumpster fire has become a career highlight.

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In the age of Marvel, ‘Howard the Duck’ gets a second look.

Disney: D23 event to include 50th-anniversary sessions, exhibit from archives” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — D23, Disney’s official fan club, has released details about the Destination D23 event coming to Disney’s Contemporary Resort in November. It will include a special exhibition from the Walt Disney Archives called “50 Years of Bringing Home the Magic.” Also on the D23 program will be Orlando’s Michael James Scott, who played Genie in the Broadway version of “Aladdin” and a cappella group DCappella. The three-day event will include a “What’s New and What’s Next” session with Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, looking at worldwide developments, and a welcome presentation with CEO Bob Chapek. Destination D23 is Nov. 19-21. Tickets go on sale July 29 at 1 p.m.

Florida man washes ashore in bubble he intended to ride to New York” via Alex Galbraith of Orlando Weekly — A Florida man washed ashore in a homemade bubble float in Flagler County, bringing an end to his quest to walk on water to New York. According to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Reza Baluchi began his trip in St. Augustine on Friday and washed ashore in The Hammock area near Palm Coast, well south of his launch point. Authorities reported that Baluchi had come across “some complications that brought him back to shore.” They noted that they’d turned over the case to the Coast Guard, who will investigate whether the vessel is USCG compliant. Baluchi told Fox 35 that the trip was a fundraising effort, though he was notably broad about who the money would be for.


Happy birthday to Jose Ceballos and Ryan Reiter.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter SchorschPhil AmmannRenzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

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