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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.4.24

Good Tuesday morning.

President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign just beefed up its Sunshine State team of political operatives. In a joint announcement with the Florida Democratic Party, the campaign announced 10 Florida hires, all of whom will be familiar to politicos in the state.

“We’re thrilled to have a strong, Florida-grown team focused on helping re-elect President Biden and Vice President (Kamala) Harris and Democrats up and down the ballot across our state,” said Biden-Harris Florida state director Jasmine Burney-Clark, who was hired in April.

“We’re going to continue to work every day to earn the vote of every Floridian and make clear the threat (Donald) Trump and MAGA Republicans pose to our health care, reproductive rights, fundamental freedoms and our democracy.”

Joe Biden staffs up in Florida. Image via AP.

Cramer Verde, a veteran of both Charlie Crist’s and Nikki Fried’s gubernatorial campaigns, comes on as Florida’s Political Director. The Sarasota consultant served as Southwest Florida political director for Biden’s 2020 campaign. Kyle Alexander, owner of 4 Eleven Political Consulting, will be the deputy political director.

Brittany Geathers, meanwhile, will serve as the Coalitions Director for Florida. She worked on Biden’s 2020 campaign as African American Vote Director in Florida in 2020. Milton Vázquez, Hispanic Coalitions Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, will be Deputy Coalitions Director.

Tiffany Hughes, owner of Brite Hire and a former state House candidate, will serve as the Chief Operating Officer for Biden’s Florida campaign, while Quentin Simmons will serve as Deputy Operations Director.

Karol Molinares, a former Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, will serve as the Biden team’s Florida communications manager.

Meanwhile, Travis Brooks, a veteran of Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and Florida Data Director for NextGen Climate, will serve as the Data Director in Florida. Adam Ginsburg, a former Florida Democratic Party Deputy Voter Protection Director, will fill the role of Voter Protection Director. Finally, the campaign named Laurence Khan, most recently a senior adviser for We Are Más, as Content and Mobilization Director.

All join Burner-Clark and Florida senior advisers Phillip Jerez and Jackie Lee in managing the President’s Florida campaign team.

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Breaking overnight — “Ethics complaint alleges Orlando-area Rep. Bruce Antone doesn’t live in his district” via Silas Morgan of the Orlando Sentinel — The only Primary challenger to longtime Central Florida lawmaker Antone has filed an ethics complaint alleging Antone doesn’t reside in the district he was elected to represent — and that he has not for years. Janét Buford-Johnson based her complaint on a report in the Orlando Sentinel examining Antone’s use of multiple addresses outside of the district on official documents, including voter registration forms, property tax records and campaign financial disclosure forms. “I am requesting that he is prosecuted and held responsible for his lack of care for the constituents of District 41,” Buford-Johnson said in a May letter to the Florida Commission on Ethics. “He has no ties to us. He doesn’t live in the district. He should’ve never been elected in our district.” It is not clear whether the Ethics Commission will take on the residency complaint, based on its past practice.

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How will Trump’s convictions impact the election? You can peruse a score of analyses from political insiders here, read a deep dive from a stats guru there, and listen to the guy who played Travis Bickle yell-tell his thoughts from the courthouse steps.

So many “experts” are weighing in that the term has lost most of its meaning. And more than a few of their takes strain credulity. Or at least they would if the average voter didn’t exist.

Experts are trying to read the tea leaves in Donald Trump’s guilty verdict.

FAU’s PolCom Lab is releasing a new poll today that, in part, asks swing state voters (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, not Florida) whether they think Trump should do time for his crimes.

For the most part, the respondents said the expected: Voters planning to support Biden said “yes,” 75%-12%, while voters who say Trump is getting their vote in mostly said no — emphasis on mostly.

According to FAU’s preview of the poll, about 8% of voters backing Trump think he should go to prison and another 10% said they weren’t sure (sure, it isn’t a “yes,” but it’s definitely not a “no”).

Who are these people who want Trump to occupy the Oval Office and a six-by-eight concrete-block room simultaneously? Are they more informed than the 1% of voters who claim to not know who Trump or Biden are? Do they wear Velcro shoes?

Hopefully, the memo has an answer to the first question. We’ll know soon enough — FAU PolCom said it will release the full results this morning.

___

Americans for Prosperity Action Florida announced a third wave of state legislative endorsements, bringing the total number of endorsed candidates this cycle to 29.

New to the list: Yvette Benarroch in HD 81, Richard Gentry in HD 27, Sam Greco in HD 19, JJ Grow in HD 23, Jennifer Kincart Jonsson in HD 49, Rep. Randy Maggard in HD 54, Sen. Debbie Mayfield in HD 32, Danny Nix in HD 75, Vanessa Oliver in HD 76, Rep. Susan Plasencia in HD 37 and Rep. Keith Truenow in SD 13.

“Allowing Florida businesses, students, and families to thrive is possible through principled policy work in our legislature — that’s why we need these leaders in office. AFP Action FL will work with our grassroots activists to educate voters leading up to the election on how their voices will be represented through these candidates,” said Skylar Zander, Senior Adviser to AFP Action Florida.

Sam Greco is one of the wave of endorsements from AFP-FL.

AFP Action Florida — the campaigning arm of Americans for Prosperity-Florida — is promising to put the full weight of its “grassroots army” behind the candidates it’s supporting this Fall. Their army has proven to be a formidable force in the past, with its volunteers making more than 600,000 voter contacts in the 2022 cycle.

The group is also pledging to support its slate of endorsements with direct mail and digital ad campaigns.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@LoganDobson: search interest isn’t a perfect 1-1, but seems likely that last week was the best online fundraising moment by any candidate in American political history

@AmieParnes: A new episode of The Undecideds features a small focus group highlighting undecided voters from North Carolina and Georgia And one thing in particular stands out: *None* of the participants thought Trump’s conviction would impact their vote either way.

@Scott_Maxwell: Many of the same Florida Republicans outraged by a *unanimous* jury verdicts last week helped pass the law to allow the death penalty by split juries. So, they have no confidence in a 12-0 ruling for business/financial crimes — but think 8-4 is good enough for an execution.

Tweet, tweet:

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— DAYS UNTIL —

DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 10; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 12; CNN Presidential Debate — 23; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 25; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 26; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 29; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 30; Trump sentencing — 37; Republican National Convention begins — 40; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 49; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 52; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 53; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 56; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 74; Florida Primary Election — 75; Democratic National Convention begins — 78; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon, begins — 78; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 82; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 82; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 90; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 95; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 95; Vice Presidential Debate — 114; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 137; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 144; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 153; 2024 Presidential Election — 154; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 168; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 168; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 185; MLS Cup 2024 — 186; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 254; the 2025 Oscars — 272; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 274; 2025 Session ends — 334; ‘Moana’ premieres — 384; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 415; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 415; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 522; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 564; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 700; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 717; FIFA World Cup 26™ final — 737; FIFA World Cup 26™ final match — 775; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 928; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,068; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,027; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,749.

— TOP STORIES —

Floridians continue to see property insurance increases: ‘We’re heading for a train wreck’” via Amber Jo Cooper of Florida’s Voice — As the property insurance crisis continues to affect Floridians, some business owners have reported skyrocketing insurance costs along with the shutdown of some assisted living facilities. Filicia Porter, CEO of the House of Cares, an assisted living facility with two locations in Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach, recently faced the difficult decision to shut down her business. Porter told Florida’s Voice the soaring property insurance premiums were a “huge factor” in her decision. Recent reports from the state suggest signs of stabilization in the insurance market, however, Porter stated that she had yet to see any improvements. “I’ve been living here for 20 years … and I’ve been hearing that for 20 years,” she said. She described the additional hurdles imposed by insurers, including what she calls “stringent” requirements and increased paperwork, which made securing “reasonable” insurance coverage increasingly challenging.

Skyrocketing property insurance is leading to assisted living facility closing.

Floridians victim to insurance fraud say state isn’t moving fast enough to fix it” via Greg Fox of WESH — When independent field adjusters told Florida lawmakers in December 2022 that they suspected insurance carriers were cheating their policyholders — predominantly homeowners — by underpaying them on Hurricane Ian claims, lawmakers and the state’s chief financial officer promised action. As the 2024 hurricane season begins in Florida, nearly 200,000 property owner claims have been closed without payment just from that single storm. And while some insurance carriers have been fined for their claims resolution practices, not one insurance company executive has been arrested and charged with criminal fraud. “I don’t want to see it get swept under the rug,” said Jordan Lee, an independent adjuster who is licensed in Florida and lives in Texas.

—2024 — FLORIDA —

Amendment 1 could make Florida School Board races a new partisan battleground” via Alyssa Johnson of the Miami Herald — For over 20 years, School Board races have been nonpartisan, but voters will have a chance this election season to once again place party labels on School Board candidates. Placed on the November ballot by state lawmakers, Amendment 1 aims to make School Board races across the state partisan, specifically at a time when schools have become a political battleground in Florida. Rep. Spencer Roach, a Republican from North Fort Myers, sponsored the resolution that pushed the proposed constitutional amendment onto this year’s ballot. He said the proposal aims to provide more information about School Board candidates to voters.

An amendment from Spencer Roach could create partisan School Board battlefields.

Rick Scott unveils ‘Ecuadorians for Scott’ coalition, receives endorsements from Ecuadorian leaders” via Michelle Vecerina of Florida’s Voice — Scott received endorsements from the Ecuadorian community and business leaders across Florida as he announced the formation of the “Ecuadorians for Rick Scott” coalition. Scott unveiled the new coalition Monday at La Pata Gorda, a new Ecuadorian restaurant in Coral Gables. Leaders who voiced their support for Scott’s bid for re-election cited his efforts in fostering stronger economic ties with Ecuador and his advocacy for liberty in Latin America as key reasons for their endorsement. “I’m proud to announce the ‘Ecuadorians for Rick Scott’ coalition and honored to receive the endorsement of so many Ecuadorian leaders,” Scott said.

— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

A Republican pollster asked Florida voters about energy. The results surprised him” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Floridians of both political parties are overwhelmingly concerned about the cost of energy in the state and Florida’s heavy reliance on natural gas as a source of electricity, according to a poll by a Republican strategy firm. It also found that environmental issues will factor into voters’ decisions in the 2024 Election. The poll was commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund, which advocates for environmental causes including renewable energy. To conduct the poll, the group hired Spry Strategies, a Tennessee firm whose clients have included Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna and the Republican Party of Florida, according to the company’s website.

Ron DeSantis endorses Tom Leek’s Senate campaign” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Rep. Leek’s campaign to move to the upper chamber got a boost with DeSantis endorsing his campaign. “I’m happy to endorse Tom Leek, a proven conservative, for the Florida Senate,” DeSantis said in a statement released by Leek’s campaign. “In the Florida House, he has fought alongside us on the countless initiatives that have made Florida the freest state in the union. I look forward to continuing to work with him as District 7’s next Senator.” Leek has served in the House since 2016, including the last two years as House Appropriations Committee Chair, and is term-limited. He’s running for the Senate District 7 seat to replace Sen. Travis Hutson, who is also term-limited.

Ron DeSantis gives his stamp of approval for Tom Leek’s Senate bid.

James St. George nears $1M in funding for HD 19 bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican St. George is approaching $1 million in overall fundraising in his bid to succeed House Speaker Paul Renner in House District 19. Through the end of May, the candidate has collected and self-contributed a total of $899,055 through his official campaign account, with another $44,000 flowing in through his affiliated political committee. While the total includes $750,000 of St. George’s own money, $500,000 of which was deposited during the April-through-May reporting period, past evidence indicates his personal stake isn’t a bluff to scare off competitors. In 2020, the physician was one of 10 candidates who sought the Republican nomination in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, and he proved willing to spend more than $1 million of his own money to fund a campaign operation that could compete.

Ryan Chamberlin backs Steve Shives for HD 27 — Rep. Chamberlin wants fellow Republican Shives to serve alongside him in the Legislature. “Steve will be a great asset to House District 27 in the Florida Legislature,” Chamberlin said in a news release. “He’s an experienced businessman and trusted community leader who is a strong believer in common sense and the American Dream. I have complete faith in his ability to get things done for Floridians. He will be a solid force for the conservative principles that make our state and nation great, and I’m happy to endorse him in this race.” Shives is one of three Republicans competing to succeed term-limited Rep. Stan McClain.

DeSantis endorses James Buchanan for re-election — “James Buchanan has been a tireless conservative fighter and I’m happy to endorse his campaign for the Florida House. We’ve been able to achieve unprecedented success in Florida as a result of common-sense legislation fueled by leaders like James. I look forward to having him back in Tallahassee serving District 74,” DeSantis said. “Gov. DeSantis is truly America’s Governor. He is the heart and soul of the conservative movement in Florida, and it has been the honor of my legislative career to work with him to keep Florida free. Alongside the Governor, I plan to keep Florida an example to the nation of what conservative, fiscally responsible governance can do to provide freedom and prosperity to its people,” Buchanan said.

Happening today:

— 2024 — PRESIDENTIAL —

‘Lock him up’? Americans say Donald Trump is guilty but lean against prison.” via Aaron Blake of the Tampa Bay Times — One big question remains in convicted Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial: What is the sentence, and could he go to prison? We’ll find out July 11. Polls conducted since Thursday’s verdict reinforce how politically pivotal the answer could be in the 2024 Election. But Americans have nuanced views on the subject that suggest a prison sentence could cut both ways On the one hand, Americans lean against sending Trump to prison for these crimes — even many who sign off on the guilty verdict. Two surveys since the verdict show that slightly more Americans say Trump shouldn’t go to prison than say he should: A Reuters-Ipsos poll shows Americans oppose a prison sentence 51% to 46%. A CBS News-YouGov poll shows Americans oppose it 45 to 38%. Americans said that the trial was fair, 56 to 44%, and that the verdict was correct, 57-43.

Donald Trump is guilty, Americans say. But jail time? Not so much. Image via AP.

Multiple Trump witnesses have received significant financial benefits from his businesses, campaign” via Robert Faturechi, Justin Elliott and Alex Mierjeski of ProPublica — Nine witnesses in the criminal cases against Trump have received significant financial benefits, including large raises from his campaign, severance packages, new jobs, and a grant of shares and cash from Trump’s media company. One campaign aide had his average monthly pay double, from $26,000 to $53,500. Another employee got a $2 million severance package barring him from voluntarily cooperating with law enforcement. And one of the campaign’s top officials had her daughter hired onto the campaign staff, where she is now the fourth highest-paid employee. These pay increases and other benefits often came at delicate moments in the legal proceedings against Trump. One aide who was given a plum position on the Board of Trump’s social media company, for example, got the seat after he was subpoenaed but before he testified.

— STATEWIDE —

Governor’s Office appoints new Deputy Communications Director, Dept. of Ed. Communications Director” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice News — DeSantis’ office appointed Kayla McLaughlin as a new deputy communications director on Monday. Sydney Booker, who previously held a deputy communications director position for the Governor’s Office, was moved to the Florida Department of Education to fill their communications director role. The office reported that McLaughlin most recently served as director of communications at the Florida Department of Corrections. Before that, she was the deputy director of communications at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the strategic communications manager at the Florida Department of Transportation. She also served as the new media manager for the Florida House of Representatives.

Kayla McLaughlin and Sydney Booker are appointed to new comms roles.

Florida wants all school doors, gates locked. It could get costly” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The days of unlocked doors, gates and other access points at Florida’s schools are coming to an end. New state law, which takes effect July 1, says schools must keep all classroom, building and campus entrances and exits closed and locked when students are present, “regardless of whether it is during normal school hours” — unless it’s time for changing classes or a staff member is monitoring the spot. School district officials said they applaud the effort. But putting the mandate into effect could be problematic, they added. Some worry that the cost of securing doors while still allowing students and staff to move freely could run into millions of dollars.

As TECO and Duke seek energy rate hikes, Florida AARP wants resident opposition” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — While Duke Energy and Tampa Electric Co. (TECO) are seeking rate increases and approval from the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), one of the biggest organizations for senior citizens is pushing back. Duke is seeking a rate hike over three years for its nearly 2 million customers in Florida. That hike would amount to $818 million in base rates for Duke if approved. The company does say, however, that it expects customers’ bills to decrease due to other cost reductions. Meanwhile, TECO also wants a three-year base rate increase amounting to more than $460 million for its 840,000 customers on Florida’s West Coast starting in 2025, if the state gives the green light. That may result in higher bills, though TECO says rates “would remain one of the lowest in Florida and lower than 2023 bills.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Happening today — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will visit Pridelines — Miami’s only LGBTQI+ Community Center: 2:25 p.m., 5525 NW 7th Ave., Miami.

Xavier Becerra is visiting Miami. Image via AP.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Alex Díaz de la Portilla under investigation for alleged witness tampering in bribery case” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — Law enforcement is investigating possible witness tampering by former Miami City Commissioner Díaz de la Portilla in a bribery and money laundering case against him after his former Chief of Staff reported that he had sent her text messages about her witness testimony. The former City Hall staffer, Karla Fortuny, alleged in a May 20 petition that Díaz de la Portilla’s messages were “intimidating and obviously meant to tamper with my presentation of complete and truthful testimony regarding my time as an employee of the City of Miami.” Díaz de la Portilla was released from jail hours after his Sept. 14 arrest on a host of corruption charges. Díaz de la Portilla and his co-defendant, lobbyist William “Bill” Riley Jr., are accused of conspiring to launder $245,000 in political contributions in exchange for the Commissioner’s support of a plan to build a sports complex on city land. The two men have pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

Alex Díaz de la Portilla is under investigation — again.

Veteran pol charged in public corruption scheme expected to enter Miami-Dade sheriff’s race” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Defiant despite a humiliating suspension from public office by the Governor after being charged in a public corruption scheme that allegedly netted him thousands of dollars, former Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez is expected to announce Tuesday that he’s running for Miami-Dade County sheriff. In a move that appears to mirror the playbook of Trump, Martinez brushed aside his upcoming criminal trial on felony charges of unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit the crime on Monday night in a news release hinting at his expected entry into the countywide race. Martinez said he will speak from the steps of the Miami-Dade Criminal Courthouse at 11 a.m. Tuesday after a scheduled status hearing for his upcoming trial, which, as of now, does not have a set date.

New federal lawsuit filed over police’s actions in chaotic Fort Lauderdale protest” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It was a Sunday, six days after George Floyd died on a street in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Outraged Americans took to the streets in protest nationwide. In Fort Lauderdale, tear gas permeated the air on May 31, 2020, burning the eyes of a crowd gathered to protest the police brutality that caused Floyd’s death. Police, who later said protesters became violent, fired rubber bullets into the dispersing crowd. Now, four years later, attorneys have filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against the city of Fort Lauderdale and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

A half-century later, a $62M plan to finally clean up hazardous waste dump in Broward” via Lisa J. Huriash of the Palm Beach Post — A half-century later, officials are taking significant steps toward a $62 million cleanup of one of the nation’s worst hazardous waste dumps, a sludge-like mess that’s lurked underground around a Pembroke Park property. The federally supported cleanup could begin within months at the Petroleum Products Corporation Superfund site in Pembroke Park, off Carolina Street. There, toxins seeped into the ground where a used oil processing and refining facility operated from 1957 until operations ceased at the site in 1971. Although the former dumping pit was about 2 acres, the pollutants eventually spread out by 7 acres, Pembroke Park officials said.

How current Lake Okeechobee conditions could affect hurricanes, discharges, toxic algae” via Ed Killer of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Ready or not, we’re rolling headlong into Floridians’ favorite six months. Hurricane season is in full swing June 1 through Nov. 30, and hopefully, with any luck, no longer. If you’ve lived in the Sunshine State for more than a couple of years, you know the drill. Stock up now on the Vienna sausages and Spam, peanut butter, cheese crackers, booze, beer and wine, white bread and bottled water (for some dumb reason). Also, hoard your toilet paper. After all, this time of year, we’re all just survivalists. There’s a subset of neighbors living among us responsible for an extra level of preparations.

PrayersHeat icon Alonzo Mourning reveals his prostate cancer story, urges others to get checked” via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald — Former Miami Heat center and current Heat executive Mourning is encouraging men to get screened for prostate cancer after a routine exam recently revealed he had the disease. Mourning, 54, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he underwent surgery in mid-March to remove his prostate following a diagnosis of Stage 3 prostate cancer. He is now cancer-free. “What scares me about this disease is that there are so many men walking around feeling great and have that cancer in them and they don’t know it,” Mourning said. “The only way to find out is to get their blood tested and get their PSA checked. There are 3.3 million men living in the U.S. with prostate cancer, and many don’t even know it. I was one of those guys.” After a visit to his urologist in late 2022 revealed that Mourning’s PSA scores were rising, the doctor called for an MRI screening on his prostate. A rise in PSA (prostate-specific antigen) scores can be a sign of prostate cancer.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

OCPS leaders, remembering leaky roofs and peeling paint, urge voters to renew sales tax” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Before Orange County voters approved a halfpenny sales tax for school construction more than two decades ago, the county’s public schools relied heavily on portable classrooms to handle growing enrollment, and many older buildings suffered from leaky roofs, balky air conditioners, peeling paint and even rodents. One former principal said she used to bake cookies for maintenance workers, hoping to convince the overworked staff to make fixes on her campus. The sales tax, first approved by voters in 2002 and renewed in 2014, was a game changer for Orange County Public Schools, giving it money to overhaul 136 older campuses and build 65 new ones in fast-growing areas.

Orange County is considering renewing the tax that helps schools handle expansion with portable classrooms.

Will Orange County voters get to consider rural land protections? County Board will decide” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Commissioners will take on the rural boundary discussion Tuesday that a citizens’ panel studied for nearly a year with advocates hopeful the elected Board will put the hotly contested growth control issue on the November ballot for voters to decide. The Board will get the report of the county’s Charter Review Commission and its nearly unanimous recommendation for a referendum. “Is there an appetite on the Board of County Commission to place a rural boundary amendment on the ballot and let the people of our county decide? Absolutely,” said Eric Grimmer, a lawyer who headed the Charter Panel Subcommittee that worked on the proposal. But the Board probably won’t do that Tuesday, he said.

Former employee sues city of Deltona in discrimination claim, seeks $100K-plus” via Colleen Michele Jones of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — A former municipal employee is suing the city of Deltona for discrimination leading to the termination of her employment. Kimberly Castro, who served as a full-time project manager for Deltona from January 2023 to November 2023, filed the lawsuit on May 6 with the 7th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Volusia County. Castro is seeking at least $100,000 in lost wages and benefits, in addition to reimbursement of court costs. According to the complaint, former City Manager Jim Chisholm hired Castro to seek grant funding for infrastructure upgrades in Deltona related to emergency preparedness following hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

— LOCAL: TB —

Pasco Sheriff asks for 9% budget increase but says that is not enough” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco’s message to County Commissioners, who decide his budget each year, has been consistent. Every time the Commissioners approve another big development project, including those with hundreds of new homes, businesses and industry, it is like they are creating an entirely new city for Nocco to protect. That takes more resources, as Nocco described in detail to the Commission during a workshop in April.

Chris Nocco asks for a bump in his budget, but it’s not enough for what he needs. Image via USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.

Madeira Beach residents oppose idea of Caddy’s putting tables on beach” via Wayne Ayers of the Tampa Bay Times — City Hall was packed with residents who came to voice their objections to the possibility that Caddy’s, the city’s only beachfront restaurant, may put tables on the sand. The topic was on the agenda for discussion at the May 22 workshop meeting. However, Mayor Jim Rostek started the meeting by saying that item had been pulled from the agenda, but “once the city attorney explains why this has happened, I want each one of you to come up and please talk to us.”

Big Storm Brewing faces eviction in Ybor City” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Big Storm Brewing Co. will close its Ybor City location this month after its landlord filed an eviction lawsuit alleging the brewery owes it nearly $400,000 in back payments. Tampa-based Third Lake Partners filed an eviction complaint seeking possession of the brewery’s taproom and restaurant space on May 31, Hillsborough County court records show. The eviction comes just over one year after Clearwater-based Big Storm opened in Centro Ybor. Big Storm said the location will close on June 16.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Oysters, through threats of drought and drilling, still a Tallahassee tradition” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Oysters are a Tallahassee tradition. Leroy Milligan would know. He’s been in the oyster business for more than 50 years and can tell the difference between an oyster from Texas and one from Apalachicola Bay. The (farmed) Apalachicola oyster wins every time. “The oysters still got the same taste,” he said. “The price of them? Of course that’s changed.” Milligan, the owner of Shell Oyster Bar, remembers when a dozen oysters were $1 a dozen. Now, in some places around Tallahassee, a dozen on the half shell can cost $24. But that doesn’t stop locals from buying the bivalves, even during months without an “R,” when historically raw oysters were thought to not be safe to eat because of the hotter temperatures. They’re for parties, holidays and any special occasion, really.

Despite all the recent troubles, Apalachicola oysters still taste the best.

SRIA executive director stepping down after three years serving Pensacola Beach” via Edward Bunch III of the Pensacola News Journal — Pride, responsibility and collective effort. Those concepts are the core of a community, according to Leigh Davis, the outgoing executive director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority. The SRIA is a governmental entity funded by lease fees collected from beach businesses and residences. Davis spent the past three years working to keep the SRIA and Pensacola Beach on a positive path of growth in the minds of residents, visitors and leaseholders alike. Davis returned home to become the executive director of the SRIA during a tumultuous time period, a year after the COVID pandemic shook our local community and the world. Since then, she’s helped establish a stronger foundation for the SRIA and its relationship with the local community, a goal she’d been working toward since before she began the position.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Hurricane Ian walloped Cape Coral. Two years later housing costs have spiked” via Greg Allen of WLRN — The Atlantic Hurricane Season is forecast to be an especially active year. On Florida’s southwest coast, more than a year and a half after Hurricane Ian’s high winds and flooding caused more than $117 billion in damage, the fallout continues. Housing costs and insurance have spiked, prompting many to put their homes up for sale. Concerns about hurricanes and climate change have raised questions about the long-term affordability of coastal communities like Cape Coral. The city of more than 200,000 residents near Fort Myers is on the coast, but there are no beaches. What Cape Coral does have is 400 miles of canals giving many homes direct boat access to the Gulf of Mexico.

After the Hurricane Ian cleanup, housing costs spike up.

Tourism remains strong as Collier County adds more hotels, resorts to its lineup” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — As Collier County adds more hotels and resorts, tourism remains strong. Not as strong as it was a few years ago, however. Tourism bounced back from COVID-19 quicker than expected in 2021. The county then saw a near-record number of tourists in 2022. Joseph St. Germain, president of Downs & St. Germain Research, the county’s tourism consultant, said visitation has normalized, following elevated demand coming out of the pandemic, oft referred to as “revenge travel.” Presidential election years often add more uncertainty, sparking economic concerns that can impact travel decisions and demand, he said.

Manatee County officials announce burn ban due to drought conditions. What to know” via Victoria Villanueva-Marquez of the Bradenton Herald — Manatee County officials have enacted a burn ban amid ongoing drought conditions in the Bradenton area. In an emergency meeting, the Manatee County Commission voted to ban outdoor burning, which includes fireworks, sparklers and campfires. The burn ban comes after talks with the Fire Chief’s Association and the Department of Forestry. According to a news release, the ban includes any item that contains an “explosive compound.” County officials say certain uses are still allowed.

— TOP OPINION —

November Is America’s last chance. Let’s take it — by electing Trump” via Marco Rubio for Newsweek — In 2016, Democrat operatives hatched a plot to convince 37 Republican electors to “reject their oaths — and in some cases, state law” by voting against Trump.

Three years later, Democrats impeached him. They did it again in 2021, this time after he’d already left office. Fast forward to 2024, there was an attempt to kick him off the ballot — an effort so insane it was rejected unanimously by the Supreme Court. And now, there are unprecedented efforts to jail, bankrupt, and otherwise prevent him from campaigning.

Why is this ruling class so desperate to sideline Trump? Because voters like him better than Biden. Poll after poll makes it clear that Trump is very likely to be the next President. The reasons why aren’t a mystery. Life was better, America was stronger, and the world less chaotic when Trump was President.

And how else do you explain a coordinated legal effort to deny Americans the ability to vote for a former and very likely future President?

In the face of all this, it is puzzling to see there are still some Republicans who refuse to support Trump and talk about how they plan to “write in another Republican.” Maybe someone could rationalize that position in a different time and place. But now, a vote for anyone other than Trump is literally a vote to normalize the weaponization of government against political opponents and criminalize the traditional American way of life.

Deranged far-Left Democrats will not do. And old-school Republicans afraid of losing their membership in the ruling class club won’t either.

But Trump already did it once. And if we send him back to the White House this November, he will do it again.

— OPINIONS —

The GOP’s single-message machine” via Charles Sykes of The Atlantic — Republicans fell seamlessly in line last week, not merely defending Trump after his conviction on 34 felony charges but also embracing his threats of retribution. Seemingly prewritten statements of unwavering, fervent support were issued within minutes. The GOP presumptive nominee had just been found guilty of paying hush money to a porn star and covering it up, and not a single prominent Republican withdrew their endorsement. Trump, of course, has made locking up his opponents a central theme of his campaigns and has repeatedly threatened to use another presidential term to retaliate against his critics, his opponents, and the media. Prominent Republicans have not only made their peace with Trump’s character; they have also made his revenge tour the centerpiece of their agenda. If Trump wins and enacts his campaign of retribution from office, do not expect any resistance from the GOP establishment. They will be cheering it on.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

AAA: Florida gasoline prices on a downward trend” via Elena Barrera of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gasoline prices have been on a steady downward trend in Florida. Over the last 10 days, the state average dropped 11 cents, landing at $3.45 per gallon by Sunday. “While gasoline prices are usually volatile through the Summer months, recent futures prices suggest the state average could move lower this week,” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said. The U.S. price for crude oil dropped 4% over the last two weeks, and gas futures are down 16 cents during that same period.

The pressure of high gas prices will ease up a little this Summer.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Jason Attermann, former AHCA Secretary Holly Benson, Andrew Dolberg, Julie Haines Fess, and Rebecca Romero of Strategic Digital Services.

___

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

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