We hope you had an astronomical weekend, though if you did, your name is probably Richard Branson and good weekends are the norm. But his weekend was better than average since he was able to spend part of it in zero-g.
His review: “Going to space was more magical than I ever imagined.”
If Virgin Galactic keeps hitting checkpoints, the rest of us might be able to spend a few minutes floating around one day.
Back on terra firma, this weekend saw some normalcy return to the Capitol. For the first time since the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt, tourists were able to visit the landmark without having their pictures ruined by an ugly fence.
Another barrier that came down: the one between Pope Francis and the public. The world has been wondering how the 84-year-old has been doing since he underwent major intestinal surgery a week ago. It appears he’s doing A-OK, or at least well enough to pray from a hospital balcony.
Saturday was a historic moment in Charlottesville that all but a certain state Representative can celebrate. The divisive statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was carted away from its prominent location in the city’s downtown and tossed into a storage room somewhere. Here’s hoping it’s a Raiders of the Lost Ark-type situation, and it’s never seen again.
A year ago, sports fans worldwide were, as the Governor put it, “starved for content.” Not this weekend.
Argentina, due in no small part to Lionel Messi, defeated Brazil to win the Copa América. It was a major moment for the all-star player, who has been within striking distance of several trophies with the national team but struggled to seal the deal.
The win was especially significant for Djokovic — he’s now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam wins in his career. He could claim the No. 1 spot in career title wins next month at the U.S. Open. If he does, he’ll also complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969.
MMA got UFC 264, which was exciting … although Conor McGregor appeared to break a bone in his leg. So, a good weekend for the fans, a bad weekend for the fighter.
If you had a bad weekend, don’t fret. July 12 marks the start of Shark Week, which means you (and McGregor, probably) will at least have something fun to zone out to for the next few days. Shark Week is also a boon for UF — home to the International Shark Attack File — the only scientifically documented, comprehensive database of all known shark attacks.
Fun fact: Volusia County is the shark attack capital of the world, with 320 confirmed attacks since 1882. For context, that’s more than South Africa has reported over the past five centuries. Happy swimming!
Spotted this weekend in Las Vegas for a six-figure fundraiser for Rep. Blaise Ingoglia: Doug Bell, Kevin Comerer, Cameron Cooper, Diana Ferguson, Corey Guzzo, Natalie Kato, Kelly Mallette, BG Murphy, Ron Pierce, Jonathan Rees, Teye Reeves, Scott Ross, Andrew Rutledge, Stephanie Smith, and Derek Whitis.
Americans for Prosperity-Florida has released its annual report cards grading lawmakers on their votes during the Legislative Session.
The free-market advocacy group had some wins in the 2021 Legislative Session. Its priorities included COVID-19 liability protections for businesses, higher production caps for craft brewers, expanding the state’s school choice programs, and permanently so-called cocktails to-go.
There were also some losses, including changes to the state employee pension program, numerous criminal justice reform bills, and a handful of bills that would have ended what AFP-FL believes are “corporate welfare” programs.
But AFP-FL state director Skylar Zander said the Session was a net positive.
“This year, policymakers led Florida forward by making significant reforms to ensure educational opportunity for more students and their families, improving access to quality, affordable health care, and making strides to help our economy rebuild stronger,” he wrote in the report.
The 2021 Legislative Scorecard examines how lawmakers voted on each of AFP-FL’s priority bills — there’s an extensive spreadsheet of votes for those who want to read some fine print.
The report shows more than half the state’s 40 Senators earned either an A+ or an A. Seven flunked. The top scorers were primarily Republicans. Democrats, for the most part, were lucky to scrape by with a C.
The story was the same in the House, where 75 of 120 members earned an A+ or an A. Meanwhile, a dozen or so Democrats received an F.
The organization awarded lawmakers a point “for each vote cast in support of an issue that removes barriers for society or against an issue that creates new barriers.” Committee votes counted with equal weight.
Ashley Bauman is joining communications firm Mercury as a senior vice president in its Florida office, the firm announced Monday.
Bauman most recently served as communications director for the city of Tampa under former Mayor Bob Buckhorn and current Mayor Jane Castor. She takes over for former Tampa Bay Times Political Editor Adam Smith, who left the firm to fill Bauman’s position.
“We are delighted to have a communications professional of Ashley’s caliber join our team,” said Mercury Partner Ashley Walker. “Her deep-rooted relationships with media and consummate skills as a public relations expert are well-known in Tampa Bay and across Florida. She will be an incredible addition to our team.”
Bauman brings with her to the bipartisan firm a robust resume and a recent track record of high-profile communications challenges with the city of Tampa. There, she led crisis communications on hurricane response through several threatening storms, a 52-day search for the Seminole Heights serial killer and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mercury comes with a reputation for providing exceptional services around the globe,” Bauman said. “I look forward to working alongside this top-tier team to bring a unique perspective and expertise that helps take our clients to the next level of success.”
Bauman left Castor’s administration in early May after an extended medical leave. But now she’s ready to get back at it.
Among her first tasks, Bauman will join Mercury in its work with St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Ken Welch, who is leading polls in the crowded race appearing on city ballots this August.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@Deggans: We are learning the hard way that, in the last few years, the biggest threat America has faced isn’t from outside the country, but from misinformation and fear spread by those with power and influence who should know better.
—@Will_Bunch: So … In Missouri, people who falsely call their enemies “Communists” and are dying in rising numbers are threatening to shoot anyone who comes to their door pushing vaccines. In Cuba, people are rising up against actual Communists to demand … vaccines What a world.
—@ScottGottliebMD: 18 months into the pandemic, and after many pleadings and prodding’s, including from Congress, CDC still doesn’t have a robust system for comprehensive, near-real-time surveillance of new variants. Data on their website is at least 3 weeks old, even as new variants move fast.
—@Meg_Cunn: 2024 alert SD Gov. Kristi Noem at CPAC with quiet shots fired at [Ron] DeSantis “Let’s talk about rewriting history. We’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states, that they didn’t close their beaches …”
—@WaltSchaub: It’s absolutely bone-chilling to think of a law making it illegal to teach anything but a state’s official version of history. Do we want to be like China, making sure people don’t know about the Tiananmen Square massacre? When forgetting is mandatory, remembering is essential.
—@Arrington4FL: This week, working families will begin to see monthly payments for the Child Tax Credit approved under the #AmericanRescuePlan Find out more at: http://www.ChildTaxCredit.gov. Thank you, President [Joe] Biden and our Democratic Members of Congress.
My eyes ain’t lying. Who else spotted the @orlandoribbons on @richardbranson’s space suit worn during his historic trip?? Remembering the 49 angels from space is just outta to this world! 🏳️🌈 #ForThe49 🚀💫 pic.twitter.com/aK02PIBIFZ
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) July 11, 2021
—@Mike_Greico: I just saw 60+ of my homeless constituents lined up for food, but congrats to Richard Branson for spending 4 seconds in space, and also kudos to @CNN for spending 4 hours covering it.
—@Jblumgart: I have never been to Florida in the summer, and now that I have experienced warm ocean water, I see the appeal of this state/the dark side
—@zeitchikWaPo: So an average of 55,000 people bought Black Widow in countries where Disney Plus is available this weekend. That’s nice, but am not sure it’s upending the theatrical model.
— DAYS UNTIL —
MLB All-Star Game — 1; Jeff Bezos travels into space on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight — 8; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 11; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 11; the NBA Draft — 16; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 18; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 25; Marvel’s What If …? premieres on Disney+ — 30; Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 37; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 43; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 53; NFL regular season begins — 59; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 64; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 70; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 74; ‘Dune’ premieres — 81; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 81; MLB regular season ends — 83; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 88; World Series Game 1 — 107; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 107; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 113; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 113; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 117; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 130; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 137; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 151; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 158; NFL season ends — 181; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 183; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 183; NFL playoffs begin — 187; Super Bowl LVI — 216; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 256; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 298; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 325; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 361; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 452; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 487.
— LATEST FROM SURFSIDE —
“Ron DeSantis parts with Donald Trump in response to Surfside tragedy” via The Associated Press — When the coronavirus ravaged Florida, DeSantis defiantly bucked mask mandates. He later cracked down on protesters advocating racial justice, blasted Biden on immigration, jumped into the fight over transgender athletes, and signed sweeping legislation to toughen voting rules. But after a deadly building collapse, the Republican governor is largely hitting pause on the culture wars. DeSantis has stood somberly with local officials, including Democrats, as they assessed the damage. And he even skipped a rally in Sarasota headlined by former President Trump, whose early endorsement was crucial in helping DeSantis win the Governor’s race in 2018. But unlike the former President, DeSantis shows that he can tone down some of his most extreme partisan rhetoric during a disaster.
“DeSantis suspends property tax payments for residents of collapsed Surfside condo” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis issued an Executive Order suspending laws that would require residents of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside to pay property taxes. On the day of the collapse, DeSantis declared a state of emergency. The newest order, Executive Order 21-160, follows up by suspending several statutes “and their associated deadlines or requirements, for all taxpayers whose property was destroyed or rendered uninhabitable during the collapse … to the extent necessary to ease their tax obligations.” Residents of the tower were set to receive letters in August notifying them of their estimated tax obligations. But with the site now uninhabitable, DeSantis is waiving laws regarding those notices and any associated deadlines those residents may have been facing.
—“Awaiting news, families of condo victims bond together” via The Associated Press
“Hired engineer: Still ‘no inkling’ to why Surfside building collapsed” via David Goodhue of The Miami Herald — A renowned structural engineer hired by the city of Surfside to study the Champlain Towers South collapse that has killed at least 86 people said he is nowhere near being able to answer how the tragedy happened. “We don’t know enough yet. This is in the infancy of this particular thing. And, all these armchair quarterbacks — both engineers and non-engineers — out there that have all these ideas about why this has happened, they don’t have any basis of fact for it,” Allyn Kilsheimer, founder and chief executive officer of KCE Structural Engineers, said. Kilsheimer has more than 60 years of experience investigating building disasters.
“For years, Florida collected millions for condo owner education. Lawmakers diverted the money instead.” via Clayton Park and Jeffrey Schweers of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The state of Florida collected $13.7 million in fees in 2020 from condominium owners associations, vacation timeshares and mobile home parks. But instead of using that money for its intended purpose, the Florida Legislature swept $5 million of it into the state’s general fund. It’s a pattern that’s been going on for years. In the wake of the collapse of the Surfside condominium in South Florida, some legislators believe it’s a practice that needs to stop. The state’s Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes Trust Fund is supposed to investigate complaints lodged by condo owners and educate condo association board members on their responsibilities as stewards of their buildings.
“Officials across Florida rethink condo inspection policies” via The Associated Press — Across Florida, people living in the thousands of condominiums rising above the state’s 1,350 miles of coastline wonder if the building collapse in Surfside could happen to their home as state and local officials discuss what they can do to make sure it doesn’t. Although building collapses are rare, local governments are looking at whether they need to adopt new inspection policies; the vast majority of counties don’t require re-inspection of a building once completed. “We inspect bridges every two years, and yet a high-rise can go up right on the coast, and it’s inspected at the time it’s built and never again,” said Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower, who said residents had sent photos of damaged buildings.
“After the Florida building collapse, condos struggle to fund big repairs” via Kathy Orton, Teo Armus and Tim Craig of The Washington Post — Across the country, residents and board members are discovering that they haven’t set aside enough money to pay for major repairs, like aging roofs. This funding crunch is rattling developers and property owners and could increase housing costs for millions of Americans, who often view condominiums as a low-stress, lower-cost alternative to single-family homes. Though industry officials can’t put a price tag on how much maintenance is needed nationwide, Robert Nordlund, the CEO of Association Reserves, said the figure is “staggering.” Of Nordlund’s 30,000 clients, he estimates that 30% of properties are significantly behind in their reserve funding, meaning they hold 30% or less than the total funding they need for planned and unexpected future projects.
“Fall of Surfside condo unleashes frenzy of enforcement action by building departments” via Rene Rodriguez, Ana Claudia Chacin, and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — The collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside introduced a new term to the non-condo dweller’s lexicon: 40-year recertification. Now, after the disaster in Surfside, everyone’s heard of them. And cities throughout Miami-Dade are in a frenzied rush to see which condo buildings within their boundaries are in line for the critical 40-year structural checkup. For condos, the process normally begins with municipalities sending a letter to the condo board saying: You are coming due. Records show that some cities and towns have neglected to send those notices, and in cases where they were sent, some boards did not respond or even accept receipt of the certified letter.
“After days roaming the rubble, Surfside survivor Binx the cat was reunited with his family” via Caroline Anders of The Washington Post — A black cat crossed paths with rescuers and Surfside rejoiced. The Gonzalez family, one of the many devastated by the collapse of Champlain Towers South, was missing its black cat. Angela Gonzalez and her 16-year-old daughter had fallen several stories when the building collapsed, and Angela broke her pelvis but still managed to drag her child from the rubble. The mother and teenager are recovering from serious injuries. The family’s older daughter was not in the condo at the time of the collapse. The family friend said Edgar Gonzalez, the father, was among the missing as of Saturday morning. Sixteen days after the collapse, Binx the cat was reunited with his family. A small army of animal lovers made the reunion possible.
“Review prompted by building collapse closes Miami courthouse” via The Associated Press — The Miami-Dade County Courthouse will begin undergoing repairs immediately after a review, prompted by the deadly collapse of a nearby condominium building, found that safety concerns exist within the courthouse. A joint statement from multiple leaders released late Friday said an engineer’s report recommended floors 16 and above be closed to staff at the courthouse. The leaders decided all courthouse employees would go back to working from home. The courthouse, a historic building completed in 1928, is where most civil cases are heard and contains some administrative offices. Separate courthouses for criminal, children’s and family cases are not affected. The statement said workers only recently returned to the building after working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Court operations will go back to a remote format until the safety concerns are addressed.
— 2022 —
“The big question of the 2022 midterms: How will the suburbs swing?” via Trip Gabriel of The New York Times — Biden is trying to persuade the nation that Democrats are the party that gets things done. His message is aimed at holding on to a set of voters in next year’s midterms who could determine the fate of his agenda: suburbanites who abandoned Trump in droves. More than any other group, those independent-minded voters put Biden in the White House. But Republicans are also going to war for suburban votes. The Party is painting the six-month-old Biden administration as a failure, one that has lost control of the Southwestern border, presides over soaring crime rates and rising prices, and is on the wrong side of a culture clash over how schools teach the history of racism in America.
Personnel note: Jeremy Gold joins Nikki Fried campaign as finance adviser — Agriculture Commissioner Fried announced Gold will be national finance adviser to her gubernatorial campaign. Gold is president of The Gold Standard, a full-service political development and advocacy firm, and has over fifteen years of fundraising experience. He’s served as an adviser and fundraiser for Secretary Julian Castro, U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin, Bill Nelson, Joe Manchin, Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd and Byron Dorgan, U.S. Reps. Ed Towns, Bruce Braley and Ed Case, and Gov. Chet Culver. Fried is seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2022. She entered the race in June and reported about $813,000 raised between her campaign and committee. She has roughly $2.18 million on hand
“Amanda Makki tours border, prepares another run for Congress” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Makki, who ran in the 2020 Republican Primary against Anna Paulina Luna for St. Petersburg’s U.S. House seat, has been prepping to announce that she’ll run again this year by visiting the southern border in New Mexico on what she said is a fact-finding tour on illegal immigration. Makki’s candidacy could add serious competition to an already-weird GOP primary. So far, the contest has featured another candidate, William Braddock, secretly recorded appearing to describe a Ukrainian-Russian “hit squad” and suggesting Luna might be “taken out,” and Luna obtaining a stalking injunction against Braddock. Makki spent three days in southern New Mexico — ironically, Luna County — where construction of Trump’s wall was halted. She was accompanied by the county sheriff, she said.
“Judge grants another delay in case over alleged threats to Anna Paulina Luna” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — A judge on Friday granted congressional candidate William Braddock another extension in the hearing for a stalking injunction filed against him by Luna. The new hearing is set for Sept. 14. Braddock, Florida’s 13th Congressional District candidate, was served with two temporary stalking injunctions in early June from political rival Luna and conservative activist Erin Olszewski. The injunctions will remain in full effect ahead of the hearing.
“Byron Donalds raises eye-popping $1.1M in a single quarter” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Donalds had a productive fundraising quarter, raking in $1.1 million over three months. That comes from donors in all 50 states, as Donalds’ national profile has enjoyed a significant boost this spring. “I’m humbled by the amazing outpouring of support from conservatives who support my efforts to fight for our shared values in Congress,” Donalds said. Donalds’ team said while final calculations are not in, the Naples Republican raised around $1,102,000 between the start of April and the close of June. “As far as I can tell, that’s the second-best quarter that any Florida Congressperson in an odd year ever had,” said Mark Harris, a spokesman for Donalds’ reelection campaign.
“Communications Workers of America endorses Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in CD 20” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Cherfilus-McCormick is picking up a union endorsement in her bid for Florida’s 20th Congressional District. Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3104 is backing the progressive Cherfilus-McCormick. The news comes a few weeks after Brand New Congress, an organization that supports left-leaning candidates, also endorsed Cherfilus-McCormick. Cherfilus-McCormick is one of several candidates running in the Special Election to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died in early April after battling cancer. “Our union was a strong supporter of Alcee Hastings, and we mourn his loss,” said CWA Local 3104 President Mike Devane.
Happening today — Rep. Paul Renner, chair of the House Republican Campaign Committee, will hold an online news conference on 2022 campaigns, 10 a.m. Zoom link here.
“David Borrero adds $20K in June to defend HD 105 seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Borrero pulled in $20,000 in June as he seeks a second term representing House District 105. Borrero, a former Sweetwater City Commissioner, won the HD 105 seat last November. He succeeded Republican Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez, who ran for and won an open Senate seat. Borrero added $17,000 through his campaign account in June. He collected another $3,000 through his political committee, Floridians for Prosperity. The Broward County Police Benevolent Association and Dade County Police Benevolent Association each gave $1,000 donations to Borrero in June. That’s unsurprising for a candidate who made his support for the police a top issue during his 2020 run. “Democrats, right now, they’re not on the side of police and law enforcement,” Borrero told Florida Politics during his campaign.
—“Daniel Sotelo adds $77K in June, with help from a $50K self-loan for HD 118 bid” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
— DATELINE TALLY —
“DeSantis re-ups call for Joe Biden administration to approve Florida’s drug import plan” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis is reigniting his request that the Biden administration approve the state’s plan to import prescription drugs from Canada. Biden on Friday directed the FDA to work with states to import prescription drugs from Canada safely. That was part of a broader executive order the President signed targeting anti-competitive practices in health care, tech, and the economy at large. In a press release, DeSantis took partial credit for the FDA’s prescription drug importation regulations for Medicare. The Governor has been working on a Canadian drug importation program since the first months of his term. And Florida was at the forefront of states submitting plans after then-President Trump cleared a path nearly a year ago.
“DeSantis’ first veto favored local control; his overruling Key West voters indicates otherwise” via Gray Rohrer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The first time DeSantis used his veto power, it was to nix a bill that would have prevented cities and counties from banning single-use plastic straws. The move gave local government leaders, and advocates of local control hope he would reverse a trend of the GOP-led Legislature overturning local ordinances they didn’t like. Those hopes now appear dashed. DeSantis signed SB 1194 last week, essentially overturning three referendums passed by Key West voters, limiting the size of cruise ships and the number of passengers who can visit the city per day.
“Jimmy Patronis deploys task force to assist with Tropical Storm Elsa recovery” via Jordan Kirkland — Patronis announced Friday he is deploying the Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force 6 to assist with Tropical Storm Elsa recovery efforts. In a press release, the CFO signaled the move, adding that the task force will be activated today with swiftwater assets to support North Port Fire Department for a three-day mission to perform evacuations in North Port due to rising water from the storm. Most recently, the unit was deployed to assist with rescue operations following the collapse of Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside. “We are still continuing to see the effects of Tropical Storm Elsa along Florida’s Gulf Coast, and I am very appreciative of US&R Task Force 6 for stepping up and assisting with recovery efforts,” said Patronis.
Happening today — The Economic Estimating Conference meets to discuss the national economy, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building.
“Supreme Court draws fire over lawyer education rule” via Dara Kam of News Service of Florida — Attorneys, professional organizations and legal experts are lashing out at the Florida Supreme Court for a rule that is shaking up lawyers’ ability to receive credit for continuing education courses required to keep practicing. The controversial rule prohibits The Florida Bar from approving continuing-education courses offered by any sponsor “that uses quotas based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability or sexual orientation in the selection of faculty or participants.” The Bar section’s policy “imposes quotas” by requiring a minimum number of “diverse” faculty, defining diversity in similar terms. The section’s diversity requirement was similar to one endorsed by the American Bar Association in 2016, which means the Supreme Court’s order has also jeopardized Florida lawyers’ participation in ABA continuing-education courses.
“Construction company challenges new property-insurance law” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A case challenging a new Florida property insurance law brought by a Hillsborough County construction company has made its way to federal court. In the case, heard by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, Gale Force Roofing and Restoration, LLC, argues that the new measure violates the First Amendment. As of Saturday morning, Judge Walker has not posted a ruling to the court docket. In June, the company filed the suit to challenge a part of the law to prevent contractors from advertising to encourage property owners to file roof-damage claims, arguing that this violates free speech protections. Lawmakers passed the measure at the end of April in an attempt, supporters argue, to address increasing property insurance rates.
— STATEWIDE —
“Ashley Moody joins new lawsuit against Google” via Karen Murphy of The Capitolist — Moody is suing Google for illegally and unfairly maintaining a monopoly on the app store for Android devices. Google allegedly uses exclusionary conduct relating to the Google Play Store for Android mobile devices and Google Billing. The suit accuses Google of using its dominance to unfairly restrict competition with the Google Play Store, harming consumers by limiting choice and driving up app prices. Moody joins a coalition of 37 attorneys general in filing the lawsuit. Google also requires app developers, who offer apps through the Google Play Store, to use Google Billing as a middleman. This arrangement ties a payment processing system to an app distribution channel and forces app consumers to pay Google’s commission on in-app purchases distributed via the Google Play Store.
Happening today — The 11th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission will hold interviews for judgeships in two circuit courts and Miami-Dade County. Candidates include Christine Bandin, Gilberto Barreto, Karl Brown, Woody Clermont, Heloiza Correa, Ritamaria Cuervo, Madelin D’Arce, Miesha Darrough, Maribel Diaz, David Echavarria, Javier Enriquez, Ariana Fajardo Orshan, Gabriel Garay, Ivy Ginsberg, Marcia Giordano Hansen, Laura Gonzalez, Christopher Green, Blanca Greenwood, Kevin Hellerman, Kimberly Hillery, Scott Janowitz, Ramon Javier, Jeffrey Kolokoff, Natalie Moore, Luis Perez-Medina, Christopher Pracitto, Ariel Rodriguez, Patricia Salman, Stephanie Silver, Paola Usquelis, Diana Vizcaino and Craig Weissberg, 7:45 a.m., Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 West Flagler St., Miami.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida added 23,697 coronavirus cases, 172 deaths in the past week” via Ian Hodgson of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida officials reported 23,697 coronavirus cases over the seven days from July 2 to 9. That’s a 48% increase in weekly cases from the last reporting period and almost double the number of weekly cases seen last month. That brings the total number of cases up to 2,361,360 since the pandemic’s first two cases in Florida were reported on March 1, 2020, more than 16 months ago. The state added 172 deaths since the previous week’s report, bringing the total statewide number of pandemic deaths to 38,157. It can take officials up to two weeks to confirm and report a coronavirus-related death.
—“Central Florida COVID-19 infections rates skyrocket” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
—“South Florida COVID-19 numbers surge, pushing positivity rates above 5%” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics
“Canadians ready to return to South Florida as COVID-19 restrictions ease” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida businesses that traditionally serve Canadian snowbirds and short-term tourists can hardly wait. Heartened by the move, some are starting marketing campaigns to woo back their old customers. When the pandemic locked down the economy in March 2020, Canadians flocked home on flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Now, many businesses, from local restaurants to airlines, are looking toward the early fall for a substantial increase in business. A Canadian discount airline called Flair announced this week that it will start service Oct. 31 to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport from several major Canadian cities. Many Canadian households are flush with cash, as many people have been avid savers.
“After COVID-19 hiatus, events and offerings return in Central Florida” via Kathleen Christiansen of the Orlando Sentinel — A few local events and offerings are returning after taking a hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic. Writer’s Block Bookstore now offers live, in-person book signings for the first time in more than a year, starting with an event featuring Orlando author Kristin Harmel on July 8. After more than 15 months of coronavirus restrictions, nightlife returns to Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar Orlando with “Tropical Fridays” and “Bailamos Saturdays” beginning July 9 and 10, respectively. Lastly, Sea Life Aquarium Orlando has reintroduced a behind-the-scenes tour that allows visitors to learn about the care and feeding of its sharks and the thousands of other creatures living at the International Drive attraction.
— CORONA NATION —
“Poll: Americans sharply divided over vaccine mandates” via Dan Goldberg of POLITICO — Americans are almost evenly divided over whether schools or most private employers should require COVID-19 vaccinations as part of reopening, according to a survey that shows how politically fraught any kind of mandate would be. Most Democrats support forcing employees and students to be vaccinated before returning to work or the classroom and approve of government-issued documents certifying their status. Republicans oppose the government or most employers infringing on their individual choice. The survey lands as Biden administration officials are barnstorming the country, pleading with people to take the shot. But even as the more transmissible Delta variant raises alarms, the administration has resisted a more aggressive approach.
“Pfizer expected to brief U.S. officials in coming days on the need for a booster shot” via Yasmeen Abutaleb, Tyler Pager, Laurie McGinley and Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post — Pfizer is expected to brief top U.S. government health officials in the coming days about the need for a coronavirus vaccine booster shot after an unusually public spat between the pharmaceutical giant and federal officials over whether a third shot will be necessary, according to the company and six people familiar with the plans. Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech announced that they planned to seek regulatory approval for a booster within weeks because they anticipated that people would need a third dose six to 12 months after receiving the companies’ two-shot regimen. But top U.S. health officials have not decided whether boosters will be necessary.
“Young Americans aren’t getting vaccinated, jeopardizing COVID-19 fight” via Laura Cooper and Sabrina Siddiqui of The Wall Street Journal — Millions of Americans have rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but one group is well behind: young adults. Their reluctance is a significant part of why the U.S. missed the Biden administration’s goal of getting 70% of the adult population the first dose by July 4, and it is impeding efforts to develop the communitywide immunity sought to move past the pandemic and fend off Delta and other variants. Now government health authorities are dialing up efforts encouraging 18- to 29-year-olds to get vaccinated. Some 38% of people ages 18 to 29 years received at least one vaccine dose, the lowest rate among any age group eligible to get immunized.
“CDC: Vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks indoors” via Jacob Knutson of Axios — Vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings when classes resume this fall, the CDC said in updated guidance. The CDC urged schools to remain open and teachers and students to safely return to in-person learning. It recommended keeping prevention strategies in place to prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks in school settings, but stressed that in-person learning is a priority. The CDC said all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated should still wear masks indoors. According to the new guidance, students of all ages should continue to learn 3 feet apart, and schools should implement screening testing and promote hand-washing, respiratory etiquette, and staying home when sick.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Thousands in South Florida could face foreclosure with federal protection coming to an end” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Time is running out for thousands of South Florida families who are facing foreclosure on their homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, the nightmare started more than a year ago but was stalled by the willingness of government officials to prevent banks from forcing people out during an unprecedented public health crisis. The Trump administration and most states stopped foreclosure and eviction proceedings on federally backed loans back in April 2020. Now the moratorium, which applies to federally backed, single-family homes, is set to expire at the end of this month. Some experts warn of a deluge of pent-up foreclosure cases they believe will flood the courts and possibly depress the local real estate market.
— MORE CORONA —
“As worries about the pandemic ebb, summer potlucks start up again” via Karina Elwood of The Washington Post — More churches, clubs, organizations and friends are returning to their typical summer celebration styles. That means more potlucks, barbecues and block parties, although with some pandemic touches, like individual drinks instead of pitchers, or a volunteer to serve the food. Experts say the risk of coronavirus at potlucks isn’t in the meal. But the thing people say they’re looking forward to even more than potato salad and fresh watermelon is seeing the friends they haven’t seen in more than a year.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Vacancies remain in key Biden administration positions” via Tyler Pager, Ann E. Marimow and Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post — The Biden administration is working to move past the pandemic without a permanent leader for the agency that authorizes drugs and vaccines. Democrats are decrying Republican-led efforts to restrict the right to vote, but Biden has yet to nominate a solicitor general to represent the government on voting rights. And the Office of Management and Budget has only an acting director, even as Biden seeks a sweeping budget resolution in Congress to enable his “human infrastructure” plan to pass. As the President approaches six months in office, some of those positions directly address the crises Biden promised to prioritize at the start of his administration: the pandemic, the economy, climate change and racial inequity.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump attacks Biden for ‘bringing the country to the brink of ruin’ with border crisis and slams Big Tech’s ‘assault on liberty’ in fiery CPAC speech” via Katelyn Caralle of The Daily Mail — The former President opened his 90-minute address to the conference in Dallas: ‘We are the majority.” “Never forget that the radical left is not the Majority in this country — we are the Majority, and it’s not even close,” Trump told the friendly crowd. He warned, ‘You are in big trouble, Republicans,’ as he pushed for the Party to focus on regaining a majority in Congress in 2022. “Like socialist and communist movements throughout history, today’s leftists do not believe in freedom, they do not believe in fairness, and they do not believe in democracy,” Trump said. “They believe in Marxist morality — anything is justified as long as it hurts their political opponents and advances the radical agenda of their party.”
“Trump dominates CPAC 2024 GOP presidential straw poll with 70%” via Christina Zhao of Newsweek — Trump’s win marked an improvement from the 55% he drew in the Orlando CPAC straw poll in February. DeSantis easily won the Republican primary ballot straw poll without Trump, capturing 68% of ballots cast. Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state under the Trump administration, came in second with 5%, followed by Donald Trump Jr. at 4%. Most Republican voters are supportive of him seeking the White House again, according to polls. In May, 66% of Republicans said they’d like to see Trump run in a Quinnipiac University survey. Only 30% said they opposed the idea.
“Trump’s fantasy legal world” via David A. Graham of The Atlantic — Just like you, Trump has some big summer plans, though his are probably more grandiose: He’s going to be reinstated to the presidency by August, and he’s going to sue Facebook, Twitter, Google’s YouTube, and their respective CEOs for violating his First Amendment rights. The first of these is impossible. The second is only marginally more likely to succeed. The defendants are private companies not bound by the First Amendment. Trump’s legal argument hinges on the claim that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law passed by Congress in 1996, effectively makes the tech companies government actors. One could try to explain this argument in more detail, but it wouldn’t make any more sense.
— CRISIS —
“Police testimony will lead off panel’s first Jan. 6 hearing” via Mary Clare Jalonick and Padmananda Rama of The Associated Press — A new House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is expected to hold its first public hearing this month with police officers who responded to the attack and custodial staff who cleaned up afterward, chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said. Thompson said the committee hopes to “set the tone” of the investigation by hearing from those first responders, many of whom were brutally beaten and verbally abused by Trump supporters as they pushed past law enforcement and broke into the Capitol to interrupt the certification of Biden’s victory. Referring to the police officers, Thompson said, “We need to hear how they felt, we need to hear what people who broke into the Capitol said to them.”
“Far-right groups rally at Florida Capitol for release of Jan. 6 insurrectionists” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — Dozens of people gathered on the steps of Florida’s old Capitol building Saturday afternoon to call for the release of people arrested for the Jan. 6 insurrection. Florida has the distinction of being the state with the most individuals charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those milling about Florida’s Capitol grounds Saturday included members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, two far-right groups labeled by the FBI as extremists. Attendees chanted “let them go” and held signs calling for the release of “political prisoners.” The ‘Free Our Patriots Rally in Tally‘ was announced in a tweet by Luis Miguel, a far-right Republican who is looking to primary Sen. Marco Rubio.
“‘It’s a political move’: Relatives defend Lakeland siblings accused in U.S. Capitol riot” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — A day after his brother and sister were indicted on charges that could yield long prison sentences, Gabriel Pollock stood behind the counter at Rapture Guns and Knives in North Lakeland, relaxed and grinning. Pollock said he considers Olivia Pollock and Jonathan Pollock victims of politics after they were charged with assaulting law-enforcement offers during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, among other offenses. Olivia Pollock pleaded not guilty Thursday in a virtual court appearance, while authorities had not yet found and arrested Jonathan Pollock as of Friday afternoon. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has also charged three associates, Joshua Doolin, Joseph Hutchinson III, and Michael Perkins.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Senate GOP backs emergency Capitol Police funding as shortfall nears” via Burgess Everett Caitlin Emma of POLITICO — The Senate is adding another critical piece of business to its summer to-do list: funding the Capitol Police. Top appropriators on Friday pushed for bipartisan legislation that would ease a funding crunch facing the Capitol Police and the National Guard while a broader emergency security spending package languishes in the Senate. Republicans have offered a plan to primarily focus on just the beleaguered police unit and the National Guard though Senate Democratic leadership swiftly rejected it. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy, issued another warning on Friday afternoon. The Vermont Democrat said Capitol Police salaries will be depleted next month, and the National Guard will have to cut training absent congressional action.
“California event center drops plans to host Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘America First’ tour” via Celine Castronuovo of The Hill — A California event center has dropped plans to host GOP Reps. Gaetz and Greene for an event on their “America First” tour after finding out the lawmakers were the speakers. Javad Mirtavoosi, general manager of Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center, told The Orange County Register on Friday that when the July 17 event was first booked, the center expected it to be a “gathering.” “As soon as we found out who the speakers were, we immediately canceled it,” Mirtavoosi told the local news outlet. Mirtavoosi declined to say whether the event’s cancellation was because of political differences with the House lawmakers.
“Val Demings applies heat to Senate Republicans over possible police furloughs” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Demings blasted Senate Republicans, accusing them of putting Capitol Police officers at risk of being furloughed. Demings, of Orlando, responded to media reports that the Capitol Police is running out of money and might furlough officers by August or September if Congress doesn’t cough up some more money for the department that specializes in protecting its members and facilities. Ever since supporters of former President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, clashing with Capitol Police, causing the deaths of some and injuring others, the relationship has been strained between the police there and congressional Republicans unwilling to stand with the police. Now Demings is accusing Republicans of de facto defunding of police assigned to protect them.
“Pro-environment digital ad thanks María Elvira Salazar for supporting limits on methane pollution” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — EDF Action is launching a five-figure digital ad campaign thanking nine House members, including U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar, for backing a resolution reinstating federal limits on methane emissions from oil and gas producers that had originally begun during the Barack Obama administration. EDF Action is an offshoot from the Environmental Defense Fund, an organization that has backed bipartisan efforts on the environment in the past. “This is a major bipartisan win for our climate, economy, and the health of our communities,” said Dan Grossman, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs for EDF Action, regarding the resolution. Trump reversed those regulations.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“‘It looks really bad’: Scott Maddox texts point to deal-making outside the Sunshine” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Maddox played fast and loose with open government requirements during his years as a Tallahassee City Commissioner, routinely taking part in secretive conversations and backroom deal-making that violated the spirit if not the letter of the Sunshine Law. His text messages show he communicated directly with fellow commissioners about city business outside of public view and used politically connected third parties to get intelligence about where they stood on various issues. Florida’s Sunshine Law prohibits two or more members of the same board from discussing public business outside of noticed meetings. Board members also can’t use third-party liaisons as conduits to glean information.
“Joel Greenberg boasted of plan to ‘control’ Orange sheriff’s office through outsider candidate” via Jason Garcia Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Darryl Sheppard, who initially gave the elections office two bad checks, saved his candidacy on the third try when he lent himself just enough money to make the ballot. Sheppard had help from an unlikely ally: Joel Greenberg, then the Republican tax collector in Seminole County. Behind the scenes, Greenberg told others in local politics he was orchestrating Sheppard’s campaign. In an interview, Sheppard said Greenberg helped his campaign by providing advice and recommending others who could help.
“Tampa, St. Pete didn’t flood or spill sewage in Elsa like they used to during storms. Why?” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Three weeks of daily rain in 2015 and Tropical Storm Colin and Hurricane Hermine the following year ended up with Tampa and Boca Ciega bays, the Hillsborough River and city streets on both sides of the Bay being polluted with sewage and floodwaters. Five years later, weeks of heavy rain and Tropical Storm Elsa dumped prolonged gushing rain over the bay area, but the results were quite different. After the 2016 spills, former Mayor Buckhorn ordered his staff to find a way to fix the problem quickly. “It’s fixed the problem. We’ve had no issues,” Brad Baird, Tampa’s deputy administrator for infrastructure, offering by way of example a heavy rain on July 3 that resulted in nearly 1 million gallons of sewage being diverted.
“National Weather Service warns of Red Tide in Pinellas County” via Matthew Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — The National Weather Service issued a beach hazards statement Saturday evening for the southern coastal areas of the county that lasts through Monday evening. It cautions that Red Tide can cause coughing, sneezing, and tears in the eyes, and symptoms can be worse for people with asthma, emphysema, or other chronic lung diseases. People with allergies also can be affected, National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Close said. The Department of Health in Pinellas County also had issued a notification last month recommending that people with chronic respiratory problems consider staying away from areas with Red Tide. People should also not swim around dead fish and keep pets away from water, seafoam and dead marine life.
“Records reveal inside story on why West Palm scrambled to respond to water toxin issue” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — The Palm Beach Post had found that the city’s water management team scrambled to respond when they learned that tests from water samples showed cylindrospermopsin, a dangerous toxin caused by blue-green algae, had exceeded federal health advisory limits. Records and statements show water management officials worked without a predetermined response protocol from the state or federal government and couldn’t tell the public that its drinking water was contaminated until they received clearance from the state Department of Health, which in turn delayed public notification for several hours in advance of a holiday weekend.
“Broward cities that pay Sheriff for police/fire services consider heading for the exits amid unrest over costs, control” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — A rebellion is brewing among the 13 cities that pay tens of millions of dollars to the Broward Sheriff’s Office every year for police and fire services. The principal complaints: skyrocketing costs, a lack of fiscal transparency and accountability by Sheriff Gregory Tony’s administration, and little or no input or control over the BSO personnel assigned to protect their municipalities. At least nine Mayors of BSO contract cities have agreed to meet Wednesday to discuss what Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross, who called the meeting, says are “options” in dealing with an intransigent sheriff’s office. The meeting at Cooper City’s City Hall is to start at 1 p.m.
“Gulf Power gets OK to recoup $13.2 million in pandemic expenses from customers” via The News Service of Florida — The settlement approved by the Public Service Commission covers safety-related measures undertaken through last month and “bad debt” expenses incurred between March 17, 2020, and mid-November, when the company did not disconnect customers who were unable to pay bills. “These (safety) actions included monitoring the health and body temperatures of employees and contractors, testing employees for COVID-19 and antibodies, making modifications to company facilities, obtaining personal protective equipment such as masks (and) gloves, placing signage on buildings and trucks to ensure social distancing, and other safety-related COVID protocols,” said Joel Baker, an attorney representing Gulf Power.
“DIA approves $114 million deal for Jaguars’ Four Seasons-anchored project” via Mike Mendenhall of The Jacksonville Daily Record — The Downtown Investment Authority voted 8-0 on July 7 to approve terms for a $114 million incentive agreement with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan for his plan to build a Four Seasons hotel and office building at the former Kids Kampus along the Downtown riverfront. DIA CEO Lori Boyer said she expects to file legislation in August with City Council that, if approved, would finalize the deal with Khan’s development company, Iguana Investments Florida LLC, for the estimated $321 million development south of TIAA Bank Field. Board member Todd Froats said the five-star Four Seasons will “fill a void” in Jacksonville for a high-end hotel product aimed at business and event travelers.
— TOP OPINION —
“How can we avoid another collapse like Surfside? Florida can start with these reforms” via the Miami Herald editorial board — No family, no community, should go through another disaster like this one that might have been avoided. This unimaginable loss of life in the Champlain Towers South must trigger a reckoning on our condominium operation, and inspection rules just like Hurricane Andrew did for our building codes. A statewide inspection requirement is one of the solutions the Florida Bar will look at. Under current state law, condo associations are not required to send a notice to owners with the results of inspections. Requiring reserves won’t be popular with condo owners and associations because of the cost. The state and federal governments should consider low-cost, government-backed loans to help these homeowners so that lifesaving maintenance isn’t deferred.
— OPINIONS —
“Florida’s shame: We’re No. 1 for Jan. 6 insurrectionists, election denial” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The six-month anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection was an embarrassing milestone for Florida. Because we’re No. 1! — in the number of people arrested in connection with the insurrection. We shouldn’t be too surprised at the distinction. Florida has become a hotbed of right-wing radicalism and election denialism. Maybe more alarming than the arrests of radical-group misfits have been those of people who held positions of responsibility and influence in the community. The current political leadership in Florida offers little hope that reason will begin to assert itself. Both Rick Scott and Rubio voted against a bill establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack fully. In Tallahassee, Republicans passed election reforms that were premised on false allegations of voter fraud.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Florida’s latest COVID-19 stats are showing another surge is underway. The state Department of Health is reporting a 51% increase in new cases last week compared to the previous week and the delta variant is now the dominant strain in Florida.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Vaccinations are the key to beating the pandemic; 55% of Floridians are at least partially vaccinated. But you don’t hear much about it from the Governor anymore. Agriculture Commissioner Fried, who is running for Governor next year, says DeSantis should be doing everything he can to encourage people to get their shots.
— During a speech to the Democratic Club of The Villages, Fried also accused DeSantis of trying to rewrite the history of Florida’s COVID-19 response to make himself look better.
— It’s back to Zoom for employees at the Miami-Dade Courthouse. In the aftermath of the Champlain Tower condo collapse in Surfside, engineers recommended emergency repairs at the courthouse, so employees return to work at home.
— And finally, a Florida Man walks the beach with a loaded gun on his back just hoping to be stopped by police.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“‘Happy to have the boys home:’ Blue Angels dazzle thousands in pouring rain” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — As expected for the Blues’ first beach show in two years, the crowds descended on Pensacola Beach early Saturday, with the Casino Beach parking lot completely full by 5:30 a.m. Thousands of people had already set up their tents on Pensacola Beach before 6 a.m. Dave Greenwood, the water safety director for Pensacola Beach, told the News Journal on Saturday morning that he had 55 lifeguards manning the beach in anticipation of the record-setting crowd. “We’re expecting probably one of the biggest crowds ever,” Greenwood said early in the day.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to ace fundraiser Jon Adrabi, former Sen. John Grant, former AG Bill McCollum, and Bob Rackleff. Belated birthday wishes to Rep. Fred Hawkins, Brett Cyphers, James Harris, and Matt Leger.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.