Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.2.22

Gun Rights

Good Tuesday morning.

Good news about a great team — On 3 Public Relations added Alissa Johnson to the team this week as an Accounts Manager.

Johnson recently graduated with honors from Florida State University, where she studied public relations and creative writing. Through her course work, Alissa developed a strategic public relations campaign for a real-life client (FSU-Teach), which entailed research, content creation, and pitching.

Alissa Johnson to bring fresh energy to On 3 Public Relations.

Alissa further honed her writing, social media, and media relations skills through two public relations internships, with the second eventually transitioning into a position as a public relations consultant. She held this role for over six months — while finishing her senior year of college — supporting a roster of clients in various industries, such as technology, health care, and hospitality.

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“Even as a recent graduate, Alissa has already developed an arsenal of valuable skills that will undoubtedly make her an asset to the team at On 3 Public Relations. We are thrilled to engage her in our hands-on, holistic approach to public relations as we continue to create meaningful change and secure countless wins on behalf of our impressive portfolio of clients,” said firm founder and President Christina Johnson, no relation.

As an Accounts Manager, Johnson joins Vice President of Accounts Aly Coleman at the woman-owned and woman-certified firm, celebrating its 15th anniversary in February 2023.

“It’s an honor to be a part of the hardworking, successful team at On3PR,” said Alissa Johnson. “I look forward to all we will achieve together as we

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Personnel note — Laura Lenhart hired as VP at Port Tampa BayLenhart has been hired as Port Tampa Bay’s new vice president of Government Affairs. In the new position, Lenhart will be responsible for advocating on behalf of the president and CEO, Port Tampa Bay and its stakeholders to implement legislative policies and secure sponsors for legislative and appropriations requests. “Port Tampa Bay is the state’s largest and most diverse seaport and our operations support 85,000 direct and indirect jobs. With a more than $17 billion economic impact, our port is the single largest economic driver in West Central Florida, and I am thrilled that Laura has chosen to bring her knowledge and experience to Port Tampa Bay to advocate for our needs,” Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson said.

Congrats: Laura Lenhart takes charge of Port Tampa.

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Miami-based public affairs firm Converge Public Strategies is expanding its government relations practice to Illinois and Missouri.

Converge’s Illinois practice will be based in Chicago and the state capital of Springfield and will be led by government relations professional John Daley, serving as managing partner.

Daley has built a dynamic government relations practice in recent years, marked by his leadership over the successful effort to legalize sports betting in Chicago’s sports venues. He is joined by his brother and colleague Michael Daley, who will also be a partner in the practice.

In Missouri, Converge has named leading Missouri political consultant and lobbyist Scott Dieckhaus as managing partner.

A former two-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives, Dieckhaus chose to forego re-election to lead House campaigns for the Republican Party of Missouri. In that role, Dieckhaus took Republicans to their zenith in the Missouri House majority.

Dieckhaus then left his role at the Party to launch a political consulting firm, through which he has served as one of the two lead consultants for the House and Senate majorities in Missouri and continues to advise members of legislative leadership in both chambers. He also served as the lead operations consultant for the political action committee of current Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

“Our goal is to enter markets when we can attract top-tier professionals who are as excited about our innovation-focused client base as we are,” said Converge Public Strategies Chair Jonathan Kilman. “In each of the Illinois and Missouri expansions, we found experienced strategists who will provide tremendous value to our clients.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Sarabeth345: There is no legitimate reason for any school in the U.S. to have a single COVID “mitigation” in place this school year other than “stay home when you’re sick.”

@MattGaetz: Florida is a RED STATE!

@ChrisSprowls: (George) Soros’ op-ed is a stark reminder of the billionaire’s disconnect from ordinary Americans. Voters on the left, right and middle have rejected this warped vision of “reform” that prioritizes criminals over law-abiding citizens.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 3; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 7; Early voting begins for Primaries — 11; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 15; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 16; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 19; 2022 Florida Primary — 20; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 27; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 29; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 29; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 31; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 37; 2022 Emmys — 41; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 44; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 65; Deadline to register for General Election — 69; 22-23 NHL season begins — 70; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 84; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 84; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 85; Early voting begins for General Election — 88; 2022 General Election — 98; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 101; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 101; FITCon 2022 begins — 107; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 107; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 111; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 111; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 112; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 120; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 120; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 136; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 199; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 217; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 234; 2023 Session Sine Die — 276; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 276; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 304; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 353; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 458; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 472; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 605; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 724; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 724; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 829; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,004.

— TOP STORY —

Insurance firms, not homeowners, reap benefit of $2 billion taxpayer-financed fund” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Nearly five dozen Florida companies have submitted plans to tap into a $2 billion taxpayer-financed plan designed to shore up the struggling property insurance industry that would only save homeowners about 1% to 3% on their annual premiums. That would barely make a dent in the double-digit increases in premiums millions of state homeowners have endured for years if those companies actually extend those savings to their customers.

The law creating the fund provides no guarantees that the companies will pass on the savings to consumers. Many are simultaneously filing for rate increases to cover the higher cost of private reinsurance, which they buy to cover themselves in the event of major disasters.

Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes said the situation illustrates just how little the Legislature has done for both the industry and homeowners alike.

Jeff Brandes warns us again about the state’s insurance crisis.

He said the $2 billion fund is “like performing Stage 1 treatment on a Stage 4 cancer patient.”

The Reinsurance to Assist Policyholders, or RAP program, was approved during a Special Session called by Gov. Ron DeSantis in late May after the Legislature failed to address the property insurance crisis during the regular session. DeSantis signed it immediately into law.

Insurance companies that wanted to tap into it this year had to hustle if they wanted to meet the June 30 deadline to apply with the Office of Insurance Regulation, which is still sifting through the paperwork.

— 2022 —

New ad launches in California mocking Gavin Newsom’s attack on Florida” via Bethany Blankley of Center Square — A new ad campaign launched Monday in California mocking an ad California Gov. Newsom launched July 4 in which he attacked DeSantis and invited Floridians to move to “the free state of California.” In Newsom’s first re-election campaign ad in California, he targeted Floridians, saying, “Freedom is under attack in your state.” Republicans were “banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors.” The ad points to news headlines about Florida laws banning public schools from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 grades, and banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, among others.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Val Demings, Marco Rubio drop six figures on broadcast — Democratic U.S. Rep. Demings has reserved another $106,900 in ad time for her U.S. Senate campaign. The flight was brokered by AL Media and will cover broadcast ads in three markets. According to AdImpact, the campaign spent $63,450 in the Tampa market, $22,720 in the Jacksonville market, and $20,730 in the Miami market. The flight continues through Monday. Meanwhile, incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Rubio dropped $326,385 on a broadcast flight for the exact dates as Demings’. Rubio’s buy directs $210,069 to the Tampa market, $64,255 to the West Palm Beach market, and $52,060 to the Jacksonville market.

Nikki Fried airs first TV ad as primary contest nears finish line” via John Kennedy of USA Today Network — With voters choosing a Democratic nominee for Governor in three weeks, Fried went up Monday with her first TV ad of the primary season and drew a sharp contrast with rival Charlie Crist. Fried’s $1.5 million buy places the 30-second spot in six of the state’s top TV markets, including costly Orlando, Miami and West Palm Beach. The ad’s most prominent image is the candidate striding through mannequins representing all men in Florida’s 46 previous Governors. “We have to try something new,” Fried says in the spot, after the text displayed references to the overturning of abortion rights, economic woes and gun limits that have failed to advance because of the National Rifle Association’s influence.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

State matching funds buoy Charlie Crist’s campaign cash” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Crist’s campaign received its first injection of state matching funds, a $964,646 check that arrived in time for the latest campaign finance report. With that lump sum, another $108,826 his campaign raised from private donors during the seven days of July 16-22, and $107,560 raised by his independent political committee, Crist’s campaign appeared to have a very good week. On paper, at least, Crist’s efforts looked, for a change, to not be dwarfed by that of the re-election campaign for DeSantis.

Crist pumps another $110K into TVCrist’s campaign spent $110,929 on a new broadcast flight that begins today and runs through Monday. The buy, placed through GMMB, includes $96,079 in ad time within the Miami media market, $13,500 in the West Palm Beach media market, and $1,350 in the Tampa media market. The new flight follows a $500,000-plus statewide buy made last week.

Assignment editors — Crist will join the Wynmoor Democratic Club for their monthly meeting to share his vision of a Florida for All, 2 p.m., Coconut Creek. Location provided upon RSVP at [email protected].

Al Lawson throws support to Daniel Uhlfelder in AG race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Lawson wants the next Attorney General to hail from the Panhandle, and that’s part of the reason why he’s endorsing Uhlfelder to be Florida’s next top legal adviser. “I’m supporting my fellow North Florida Democrat, Daniel Uhlfelder, for Florida Attorney General because I know he cares deeply about the people of Florida,” said Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat. Uhlfelder embraced the support of the longtime lawmaker. The Santa Rosa lawyer said he has long followed Lawson’s career in the Florida Legislature and Congress.

— 2022: CONG —

Aaron Bean adds $21K to CD 4 ad buy Bean’s campaign for Florida’s 4th Congressional District spent $21,085 on an ad campaign that started July 26 and ended Monday. According to AdImpact, the flight was originally $19,986 but was later expanded by $1,099. The ads aired on broadcast in the Jacksonville media market. Bean is one of three Republicans running in CD 4. He faces Erick Aguilar and Jon Chuba in the Aug. 23 Primary. The Northeast Florida district is expected to perform Republican in the fall.

Aaron Bean is looking to throw around a little more cash.

Crowded field looks to flip Stephanie Murphy’s congressional seat to GOP” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — A military veteran promising to make the “liberal media” cry, an ex-Navy SEAL Christian minister, and one of Florida’s most conservative state lawmakers are among Republican candidates hoping to flip an Orlando-area congressional seat red. The 7th Congressional District has been represented by U.S. Rep. Murphy, a moderate Democrat from Winter Park who decided not to run for re-election. Republicans are favored to win the open seat with the district’s redrawn boundaries, and eight GOP candidates are in the race. Four Democrats — none considered high-profile — are running to keep the seat blue. Most of the GOP competitors are campaigning on an “America first” agenda popularized by Donald Trump that includes stopping illegal immigration, protecting gun rights, and increasing the production of fossil fuels.

New Florida maps could change who wins Pinellas’ typically moderate congressional seat” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County voters are divided into almost-perfect thirds among Republicans, Democrats and those with no party affiliation. For years, that balance meant the county had the potential to swing any which way, and recent congressional candidates reflected it. Both U.S. Rep. Crist and his predecessor, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican, were considered moderates in their parties. But this year’s reconfiguration of Florida’s congressional districts split the liberal-leaning St. Petersburg into two districts, turning Pinellas County’s 13th District more reliably red and the largely Hillsborough County-based 14th District bluer.

Assignment editors — AARP Florida and Spectrum Bay News 9 will host a Community Conversation with candidates for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, 6:30 p.m., St. Petersburg College, Seminole Campus, Digitorium, 9200 113th Street North, Seminole. Register here.

— MORE 2022 —

Griff Griffitts’ campaign internal poll shows big lead over Brian Clowdus in HD 6 GOP Primary” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Bay County Commissioner Griffitts has a significant lead over Clowdus in the House District 6 Republican Primary. Griffitts leads 52% to 11% over Clowdus, with 30% unsure. The election is an open Primary because there are only two candidates in the race, allowing Democrats and third-party and no party affiliation voters to participate. But although Clowdus, who moved to Bay County in 2020, is running as an outsider and self-described “MAGA Republican,” Griffitts does better with Republican voters than non-GOP voters. Among Republican voters, Griffitts holds a 65%-10% lead over Clowdus, with 23% unsure. Among non-Republicans, his lead is slimmer, 28%-12%, with 43% unsure.

Griff Griffitts is the man to beat in the HD 6 GOP Primary. Image via Griffitts Campaign.

Jason Holloway, Kim Berfield start to spend big as HD 58 Primary approaches” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Holloway and former Rep. Berfield are starting to ramp up spending as they approach the House District 58 Republican Primary. Holloway, a former legislative aide for Sen. Darryl Rouson, dished out $32,634 in the latest finance period, which spanned from July 16-22. His spend was heavy on media and advertising, allocating $15,463 for media production, $14,547 for social media advertising and another $2,611 on texting services and TV spots. From July 2-15, his campaign spent another $16,331. That included $12,068 for media production and $4,175 for polling.

Karen Gonzalez Pittman leads fundraising in HD 65 Republican Primary field” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — After collecting $3,431 in the most recent finance period, Pittman has kept her lead in the House District 65 Republican Primary field. Since she entered the race, Pittman has raised $147,372. She faces two other candidates in the Primary Election, including Jake Hoffman and Michael Minardi, who has yet to report any financial disclosures for the latest fundraising period. The candidates are racing to take the competitive Hillsborough County seat, closely resembling the current House District 60 represented by Rep. Jackie Toledo. The winner of the Republican Primary will go on to face Democrat Jen McDonald.

Kelly Skidmore dominates in spending, fundraising as she fends off Primary challenge” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The $23,341 Democratic Rep. Skidmore spent between July 16 and July 22 represents the most she’s ever reported spending this cycle in the race to continue representing HD 92. The CEO of the Palm Beach Medical Society is facing a challenge from Democrat Hasan Zahangir, a native of Bangladesh and management consultant who is vying for his first election. In the money race, Skidmore is dominant. She was elected in 2020, following a Statehouse stint between 2006 and 2010. Between her personal account and her political committee, Floridians for Early Education, she reported $44,284 on hand. That compares to the $12,729 Zahangir reported having on hand as of July 22.

Danielle Cohen Higgins hits cycle-high spending in July for Miami-Dade Commission defense” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — In just three weeks last month, Cohen Higgins spent more than $127,000 to defend her seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission, a cycle-high sum that went mostly to a Plantation consulting firm for advertising. Cohen Higgins also raised nearly $27,000 through her campaign account and political committee, Fight for Our Future. The two accounts held a combined $527,000 by July 22 despite her healthy campaign activity. Consultant Michael Worley’s MDW Communications received the lion’s share of her payouts, $81,000, for direct mail consulting, digital advertising and “email program” and campaign collateral. Another $15,000 went to Miami-based Win Canvass LLC for outreach and consulting services.

Danielle Cohen Higgins hits a high point.

Who will be Pensacola’s next Mayor? Longtime politician or political newcomer?” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — A little more than three weeks are left before Pensacola city residents will go to the polls and select the next Mayor of Pensacola. The Mayor’s race kicked off last year when Mayor Grover Robinson unexpectedly announced he would not seek a second term in office. Former Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan was the first to throw his hat in the ring, but Morgan withdrew in October, citing family health issues. After qualifying ended in June, four candidates are competing to become the third “strong Mayor” under the city’s 2010 charter.

Early voting for 2022 Florida Primary Election: What you need to know in Lee County” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — Early voting for the 2022 Primary Election begins in Lee County on Aug. 13. Early voting sites will be open daily including on the weekends. Voters can also drop off their Vote-by-Mail ballot at a Secure Ballot Intake Station located at early voting sites during the early voting period in their county. In order to participate in this election, residents must have registered to vote in Florida by July 25, 2022.


— STATEWIDE —

Far from court at a condo pool, Judge Renatha Francis is said to threaten to take away a stranger’s kids” via Noreen Marcus of Florida Bulldog — High-profile Judge Francis and her husband, Phillip Fender, provoked a bizarre scene at a condo swimming pool on the Fourth of July, a woman whose family is still reeling from it said. The woman, Olga Mervyak and her four daughters were visiting relatives at Cityside Condominiums in West Palm Beach to celebrate the holiday. By the time they left, a stranger, later identified as Francis, had accused Mervyak of neglecting her children and threatened to have the state take them away, she said. A complaint by the judge apparently triggered investigations of the Mervyak family by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Both are unresolved. They have filed no charges.

Renatha Francis is at the center of a bizarre story that involves a threat to remove children.

Monkeypox cases, confirmed or probable, nears 500, state Department of Health says” via Jennifer Sangalang of The Palm Beach Post — Monkeypox cases continue to rise in Florida and beyond. As of Aug. 1, the Florida Department of Health reported 442 confirmed or probable cases of monkeypox in 22 counties. A week ago, the state reported 273 cases in 16 counties; that’s a jump of 169 probable or confirmed monkeypox cases here since July 25. It should be noted that the case numbers in Florida vary from what the CDC report: As of Aug. 1, the CDC lists 5,189 total confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases in the U.S. and 373 in Florida.

Health Dept. wants to ban gender-affirming care for minors — The Florida Department of Health is asking the state Board of Medicine to ban transition-related care for minors, Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reports. They made the request in a petition filed with the board last week. It argues that there is no evidence surgical procedures or hormone therapies are safe for people under 18 years old. The petition runs counter to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, both of which support the delivery of gender-affirming care, including surgeries, to those under 18. The petition will be discussed when the Board of Medicine meets Friday in Ft. Lauderdale.

School lunches in dust-up, lawsuit over new federal LGBTQ anti-bias requirements” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — School lunches could be the next battleground for state officials’ quarrel with new federal guidelines that add “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the list of classes protected from discrimination. Participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s national lunch program comes with a new poster announcing that the institution where the sign hangs complies with civil rights regulations. The new poster says the institution is prohibited from discrimination on “the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), age, disability and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.”

State returned $26M in unclaimed property to Floridians in July” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — The state returned more than $26 million in unclaimed property to Floridians in July, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced. “That’s an amazing injection of cash into Florida’s communities and it’s my mission to continue to return every cent of unclaimed property back to its rightful owner,” Patronis said. “This month, our team will host an auction in Tampa on Aug. 27 to garner top dollar for lost or abandoned items in Florida’s unclaimed property vault. Until claimed, the state is proudly putting these dollars to work for Florida’s students by funding vital public education programs.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

A policy win, an economic hit: Turbulent week reflects Joe Biden’s challenge” via Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — Biden notched some unexpected policy wins just hours after emerging from his COVID-19 isolation last Wednesday: Democratic Senators announced a startling breakthrough on his stalled climate agenda. Multibillion-dollar legislation to subsidize computer chip manufacturers was on the cusp of becoming law. And a measure to make some prescription drugs cheaper gained momentum. But all of that crashed into the news the very next day that the economy contracted for a second straight quarter. Biden and his top aides have spent much of the past few days arguing that the country is not entering a recession, pointing to strong economic indicators such as job growth and low unemployment, but that did not stop Republicans from decrying the “Biden recession.”

Climate bill said to put emission goals in ‘striking distance’” via Benjamin J. Hulac of Roll Call — The climate bill Senate Democrats unveiled last week would keep the U.S. within “striking distance” of its national climate target, strengthen the Biden administration’s negotiating hand with foreign powers and lower energy costs for the public if it becomes law, according to climate analysts and advocates. A compromise between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, the bill includes about $370 billion in climate and energy elements to be spent over 10 years, a smaller sum than $555 billion included in legislation House Democrats passed in late 2021. While slimmer, the new bill contains elements most Democrats wanted, including a price on methane emissions, raised royalty rates on oil and gas drilling on federal land and offshore, and tax credits for zero-emissions electricity sources.

Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer are full of surprises.

Senators unveil bipartisan abortion access bill; measure unlikely to pass” via Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post — A bipartisan group of Senators has unveiled compromise legislation to guarantee federal access to abortion. It faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where it is unlikely to gain enough Republican support. The legislation, co-authored by Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, is an attempt to create a middle ground on an issue that is largely pitting anti-abortion Republicans against pro-abortion rights Democrats. The compromise legislation unveiled Monday ensures federal abortion rights up to viability and allows post-viability abortion when the mother’s health is in jeopardy. The statute does not specify what week is viability or what constitutes when a mother’s health is in danger. Both issues are to be defined by the pregnant person’s medical practitioner.

Kamala Harris visits Miami, touts $1 billion for states to combat heat, flooding” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Harris visited Miami to tout new federal funding to help states protect against the impacts of climate change. At Florida International University’s Sweetwater campus, she announced an additional $1 billion intended to help states address extreme heat and flooding. A string of states have been dealing with devastating extreme weather events this summer. At least 35 people have died in flooding in Kentucky alone over the last week. “The climate crisis is here,” Harris said in remarks at FIU. “It has arrived, and we are experiencing it in real time.”

IRS changes guidelines for inherited IRAs, causing confusion and pushback” via Ashlea Ebeling of The Wall Street Journal — Payouts from a traditional inherited IRA are taxed like wage income. The new guidance means that many Americans inheriting an account will inherit it during their working life, and will therefore pay a much larger tax bill, say accountants. Taxpayers can deal with the new law and guidance by calculating the necessary amount each year. Or they can cash out in the first year and pay one tax bill. Taxpayers who fail to take a required distribution are hit with a tax penalty equal to half the amount that should have been taken out. Some taxpayers and industry groups are urging the IRS to kill the additional annual distribution requirement or temporarily waive penalties for people who inherited money since 2019 but haven’t taken distributions.

— JAN. 6 —

First Jan. 6 defendant convicted at trial sentenced to more than seven years” via Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman of The Washington Post — Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the right-wing Three Percenters movement in Texas, was convicted March 8 of five felony offenses, including obstruction of Congress as it met to certify the 2020 election result, interfering with police and carrying a firearm to a riot, and threatening his teenage son, who turned him into the FBI. Prosecutors said Reffitt led a mob while armed at the Capitol and asked a judge to sentence him to 15 years after applying a terrorism sentencing penalty. U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich condemned Reffitt’s conduct in handing down an 87-month sentence, saying in a nearly six-hour-long hearing that his views espousing political violence were “absurd,” “delusional” and “way outside of the mainstream.”

More than half of voters think Donald Trump should face indictment over Jan. 6” via Brad Dress of The Hill — Just a couple of weeks after the last public hearing of the summer from the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack, voters are split on how the country should move on from the attempted insurrection and how much Trump should be held responsible. The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll showed that 53% of voters agreed Trump should face a criminal indictment for Jan. 6, but 54% of voters also said he should be allowed to run for President again. Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll, said the polling indicates that “indicting Trump over Jan. 6 would be an explosively divisive issue in the country.”

Donald Trump should face the music, many Americans say. Reuters.

DHS watchdog asked the Secret Service for all Jan. 6 texts, then retracted the request in an email” via Julia Ainsley of NBC News — On July 27, 2021, DHS Deputy Inspector General Thomas Kait sent an email telling Jim Crumpacker, a senior official at DHS, “Jim, please use this email as a reference to our conversation where I said we no longer request phone records and text messages from the USSS relating to the events of Jan. 6,” referring to the U.S. Secret Service. The email was obtained by the House Homeland Security Committee, which sent a letter to the DHS inspector general’s office Monday referring to the email and noting that in December, five months after he retracted his request for Secret Service text messages, Kait again asked the Secret Service for the texts. It was not until this July that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari told Congress that the emails were missing.

West Virginia politician who apologized for Jan. 6 now writing defiant book” via Rachel Weiner of The Washington Post — Derrick Evans, who was sentenced in June to three months in prison after pleading guilty to felony civil disorder, said in a statement that he had been “slandered” and wanted “to share my story with the world.” The terms of the deal are confidential, a representative for Defiance Press said. Evans filmed himself entering the Capitol building and urging others to do the same, while yelling at police officers who tried to control the mob. At his sentencing, he said he felt daily regret for getting “caught up in a moment which led to me breaking the law.” But Evans has since repeatedly downplayed the violence and destruction and his own role in the riot, as prosecutors noted in a letter to the court.

Taxpayers still left on the hook for Jan. 6: Congress to increase security due to continued threats” via Abigail Goldberg-Zelizer of Salon — Beginning Aug. 15, the House sergeant-at-arms office will pay for lawmakers to strengthen security at their homes in response to increased safety threats. The government funding will cover up to $10,000 for lawmakers to spend on securing their personal residences. In addition to a $150 monthly maintenance fee, the equipment can include locks, cameras, video surveillance, or motion detectors, Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker explained. The initiative comes directly following a recent incident in which Rep. Lee Zeldin, the New York Republican gubernatorial candidate, was attacked at a rally. The authorities have reported that a 43-year-old man jumped onto the stage with a pointed weapon yelling “You’re done!” The Zeldin incident follows a larger trend of increased safety threats to lawmakers.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Trump’s lawyers are preparing legal defenses against criminal charges” via Asawin Suesaeng and Adam Rawnsley of Rolling Stone — Trump’s lawyers are pre-emptively preparing a legal defense against criminal charges from the Justice Department, as the former President’s lawyers are increasingly anxious that their client will be prosecuted for his role in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Members of the ex-President’s legal team have already begun brainstorming strategies and potential defenses. Trump himself has been briefed on potential legal defenses on at least two occasions this summer. “Members of the Trump legal team are quietly preparing, in the event charges are brought,” says one person familiar with the situation. “It would be career malpractice not to.”

Donald Trump’s lawyers are themselves lawyering up.

Lindsey Graham adds Trump’s former White House counsel as he battles Georgia subpoena” via Olivia Rubin and Katherine Faulders of ABC News — Amid an ongoing legal battle over the 2020 election probe in Georgia, Sen. Graham has added Trump’s first White House counsel, Donald McGahn, to his legal team. Graham continues to fight a subpoena ordering him to appear before a grand jury in Fulton County’s criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the state. McGhan’s name appeared on a recent legal filing alerting the Fulton County Superior Court that Graham would be moving his challenge to the Northern District of Georgia, as he continues his fight against the subpoena, which he first began last month. Asked by ABC News on Monday why he brought McGahn on board, Graham said, “He’s a really good guy in this area.”

Fox is talking about Trump less because it’s busy talking about Biden” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Two things can be true at the same time: Executives at News Corp. can have soured on Trump as a politician even as the company’s newspapers and on-air talent continue to coddle the former President and his base. But there’s a pretty simple contributing factor here: Fox News has leaned into its role as the political opposition. That means more President Biden — and less Trump. It is obviously the case that a sitting President should, in normal times, be a subject of more media coverage than a former one. These are not normal times. These are times when the former President has worked energetically to remain in the public conversation and in which national politics is heavily oriented around that former President’s effort to undermine his election loss.

The latest Trump grift? Burying Ivana at their golf club.” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — The former President has shown little interest in conventional post-presidency pursuits, such as building a presidential library; he’s not much for reading, and he’s trying to hide his presidential papers, not display them. But why would he bury himself in, of all things, the interment trade? Simple: He has seemingly turned his late ex-wife (and his oldest kids’ late mother) into a tax dodge. Dartmouth professor Brooke Harrington, a specialist in tax optimization, checked the New Jersey tax code and reported that operating a cemetery at the Trump National offers “a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated.” She tweeted that it “looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least 3 forms of tax vanish.”

Another of Donald Trump’s grifts?

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

‘Our lives have been shattered and changed forever’: Parkland families testify about the loss they suffered” via Lisa J. Huriash and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Jurors on Monday began hearing from the Parkland shooting victims’ families about how their loved ones lived and what the South Florida community lost when the shooter took their lives on Feb. 14, 2018. The relatives, at times crying, spoke warmly about the victims in their emotional testimony. Their remarks stand apart from the statements in recent weeks, in which jurors have heard in excruciating detail about how the victims died. One of the gunman’s attorneys also seemed moved to tears as she turned from her client and clutched a tissue, wiping her eyes. Patricia Oliver, the mother of shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, said, “he was loved.” She only talks to her son now “in my mind.”

Another day of heartbreak in the Parkland shooting trial. Image via NYT.

Parkland school shooter’s sister wants to testify in his trial. But she’s in jail, too” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — As Nikolas Cruz enters the third week of his sentencing trial for the Parkland school massacre, his biological sister sits in a Miami-Dade jail on a carjacking charge and her upcoming trial may now be complicated by his. Miami attorneys for Danielle Woodard have asked a judge to let them withdraw from her case, saying they don’t agree with her wishes to testify in her brother’s defense. “We don’t think it will be helpful in her case,” Miami defense lawyer Fred Moldovan, who is representing her with Richard Mirsky, said.

COVID-19 policies to LGBTQ law: 8 things to know as Palm Beach County goes back to school” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — As students prepare to go back to school Aug. 10, the Palm Beach County School District is facing compounding pressure due to short staffing, concerns about school safety and how the newly minted Parental Rights in Education law will affect the 2022-23 school year. Superintendent Mike Burke addressed it all Monday at a back-to-school news conference. He said the Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by opponents, is not changing curriculum this year in district-run schools. Ed Tierney, deputy superintendent and chief of schools, said a “handful” of books has been moved to sections of the library for older grades in order to follow the standards set for K-3 students.

Legitimate ‘bonuses’? Sheriff hands out big bucks in extra compensation to top staff, aides” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has been distributing millions of dollars in extra compensation to his executive staff and deputies for at least the past three years, department data shows. Every sheriff’s employee received a raise in fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, but they also received extra compensation in each of those years as well in the form of “supplemental COLAs,” cost-of-living adjustments, which were initially called “bonuses.” After the Post questioned the justification for a bonus program and pointed out that it might be illegal under state law, Public Information Officer Teri Barbera said the column should have been labeled “one-time COLAs.”

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Orlando downtown shooting: City to add ‘controlled entry’ checkpoints, Mayor says” via Monivette Cordeiro and Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — Mayor Buddy Dyer said the city will be implementing “controlled entry” checkpoints into the downtown area this weekend after a Sunday morning shooting left seven people injured. At a news conference Monday afternoon, Dyer said the checkpoints will be similar to a safety measure implemented during the holidays. The access points will have police dogs and a way to detect weapons, he said. “Incidents like this cannot and should not happen in our downtown,” the Mayor said. Dyer did not have new information about the police investigation into the shooting but said the victims are in “stable condition.”

After a shooting downtown, Orlando is looking to limit access to a popular neighborhood.

Incumbent faces personal injury lawyer in Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge race” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Personal injury lawyer Michael Stewart is seeking to unseat incumbent Circuit Judge John Beamer from the Orange-Osceola bench in Group 14. Stewart said he left to work as an assistant public defender in the Ninth Judicial Circuit for four years before leaving in 2016 for a job as staff counsel to GEICO where he defends people and entities in personal injury suits. Beamer was appointed judge by DeSantis in 2020 after working as in-house counsel for Farmers Insurance, where he tried numerous civil litigation cases across Florida.

Transit and trains advocate Bob O’Malley seeking Altamonte Springs seat” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Veteran transportation guru and former railroads executive and lobbyist O’Malley is turning his focus toward municipal government, seeking election to the Altamonte Springs City Commission. O’Malley, executive vice president for Railroad Consultants, is running for the open seat representing Altamonte Springs’ District 4, in the city’s southeast quadrant, mostly south of State Road 436 and east of Interstate 4. So far, he is unopposed. Qualifying takes place in the last week of August. That district is one of two Altamonte Springs City Commission seats up for grabs in the Nov. 8 election. Guerdy Remy and Mike Brunscheen are facing off for the open District 2 seat in northeastern Altamonte Springs.

Low salaries, high stress: Hillsborough County schools lost 1,800 teachers in the last year” via Lauren Coffey of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Nearly 2,000 teachers have left Hillsborough County School District in the last year, delivering a significant blow to one of the region’s largest employers. Superintendent Addison Davis said 1,800 teachers left the district in the last school year for various reasons, from retiring to moving out of state to the more increasingly common general burnout. “Throughout the state and nation, the great resignation is in front of us,” Davis said. “You have all the political and social unrest, and it’s penetrating the classroom. It’s been difficult times, but we’re trying to work through it every single day.”

Will Hillsborough County voters approve raising property taxes for schools on Aug 23?” via Mitch Perry of Spectrum News — The formidable challenge that the Hillsborough County School District is facing in getting public approval for a property tax referendum on the Aug. 23 ballot was evident last month, when Superintendent Addison Davis discussed the specifics of the proposal at Sumner High School in Riverview. With a video screen behind him illustrating how the one mill increase in ad valorem tax would benefit the district, Davis made his case, with less than two dozen members of the public in attendance.

—“Stephanie Meyer: Businesswoman, teacher looks to stop the decline in Pinellas County schools” via Daphne Taylor Street of Florida Politics

Stephanie Meyer looks to stop the slide in Pinellas County Schools.

Beware: Halloween is already sneaking up on us in the Tampa Bay area” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — We know it’s the last thing on your mind in this heat, but the Halloween creep has already begun. From store flyers promoting their decorations to theme parks launching their annual Halloween parties as early as mid-August, the scary season is right behind you. It used to be early Christmas promotions that got all the eye rolls, but Halloween is gaining as a holiday with a long, icy reach. The reason, of course, is money. Scares sell. Fall had been the slowest time of year for Florida’s attractions. But these days, elaborate haunted houses have become a bloody bank of profits for the theme parks, with crowds for Halloween-themed special events now dwarfing the spring break hordes.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

National Hurricane Center monitoring four tropical waves, including two in Caribbean” via Cheryl McCloud of the Naples Daily News — In the tropics, conditions remain quiet as Saharan dust helps inhibit the development of tropical waves in the Atlantic basin. The National Hurricane Center reports no new tropical cyclones are expected during the next five days. Forecasters are monitoring four tropical waves, including two in the Caribbean. It’s been almost a month since Tropical Storm Colin popped up near the South Carolina coast on July 2. Saharan dust crossing the Atlantic is having an impact. The dry, dusty air that moves off Africa’s Sahara Desert can travel thousands of miles, typically during the late spring, summer and early fall.

Fuel cleanup continues at Riviera Marina” via Frank DiFiore of the Port Charlotte Sun — The U.S. Coast Guard will continue its cleanup of the Riviera Marina. Approximately 620 gallons of “oily water mixture” has been removed from the waters around the marina, up from 400 gallons reported removed by July 24. Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Ayla Hudson, a public information officer, said the total amount of polluted water at the scene is not likely to be known until the full cleanup is complete. However, Hudson noted investigators will likely not be able to differentiate between fuel leakage from the July 24 boat fire and any fuel pollution present before then.

The Riviera Marina has a slippery problem.

Sewage spill contained, Port Charlotte waterway affected” via the Port Charlotte Sun — About 100 gallons of untreated waste entered a Charlotte County waterway Friday, authorities with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported. The cause was a ruptured surface device that transfers waste to the West Port treatment site. The likely cause was a mower or a car, a representative said. Crews with the Charlotte County Utilities division were at the St. Paul Drive location around noon and quickly contained a sewage spill estimated at nearly 500 gallons. Crews recovered 400 gallons; the remainder reportedly washed into storm drains running into the nearby Clyde Waterway.

Airport news: RSW Passenger traffic dips by 21% in June” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — June was a bit of a swoon at Southwest Florida International Airport for passenger traffic. Compared to 2021, there were 21% fewer passengers coming and going from RSW this June. A total of 663,141 passengers traveled through the Fort Myers airport. The passenger count for June 2021 was 839,377. Overall, for 2022, the passenger count remains strong and stands at 17.6% higher than it was a year ago at this time. More than 1 million passengers came through RSW in the first four months of this year, including 1,514,146 in March, which is a record.

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

Nassau School Board nixes citizens’ budget advisory committee” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — A proposal that would remake power on the Nassau County School Board failed on a 4-1 vote. The idea, a citizens’ budget advisory committee, was suggested as a method of greater transparency. “I’ve presented to each of you the policy for the school district of Palm Beach County,” Fernandina Beach resident Richard Lamken said. “It talks about the fact that it’s created — the budget advisory committee is created for the purposes of making recommendations to the School Board regarding the school district’s annual budget, and any policies and practices that may be relevant to the budgeting process.” The Board would appoint members of the committee. They would be residents of the county who are volunteers, not district employees, and exhibit a broad range of interests.

Santa Rosa Commissioners will hold public hearing on abortion ban later this month” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners will be hosting a public hearing on a “trigger ordinance” that would prohibit abortion procedures in the county. The hearing will take place on Aug. 11 during the Commission’s regular meeting. There are currently no abortion clinics in Santa Rosa County. District 3 Commissioner James Calkins started a discussion on the subject in June, before the SCOTUS ruling.

Santa Rosa considers taking the abortion debate to the people.

First unionized Starbucks in Jacksonville goes on strike, demanding $15 an hour minimum wage” via Alexandria Mansfield of The Florida Times-Union — Mason Boykin, Starbucks shift supervisor and union organizer at the Ricky Drive store, said employees showed up at 4:30 a.m., their usual time to open the store by 5 a.m., and immediately began the strike. “We never opened the doors,” Boykin said. “We’ve got a lot of partners outside, [and] we’ve had lots of community support, from some other unions and other organizations as well as customers.” Boykin said the workers were on strike to demand they receive the $15 an hour minimum pay increase which began at all non-unionized stores on Monday. The other stores were told they wouldn’t receive the raise until Aug. 29. This was an unfair labor practice issue, Boykin said. Workers also were experiencing issues with their hours being cut.

Lack of affordable housing, high utility rates in Gainesville pose serious financial concerns” via Javon L. Harris of The Gainesville Sun — Thursday, the City Commission is scheduled to vote on whether to eliminate exclusionary zoning throughout the city. Exclusionary zoning limits building more than one home on a residential lot and how many unrelated people can live there. City officials argue that removing those restrictions would allow including more options that could lower housing costs and bring greater diversity to neighborhoods. Kim Tanzer, a former UF architecture professor and dean of the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture, disagrees. “If you have talked to folks in our local Black community, (exclusionary zoning) doesn’t register with them there,” said Tanzer, who has worked alongside Black residents in historically Black neighborhoods in Gainesville. “It’s not of interest to them.”

New amphitheater, boardwalk and other additions are planned for the FWB Landing” via Tony Judnich of Northwest Florida Daily News — Construction of various long-planned upgrades to the popular Fort Walton Beach Landing could get underway this fall and be completed by Christmas of next year. The $5 million to $5.5 million project is expected to take 14 months to complete. It will include a new amphitheater, boardwalk and seawall, new restrooms, better lighting and a new entry canopy, a larger parking lot and a beach area to launch and land kayaks, canoes and paddleboards into Santa Rosa Sound. It also will include construction of an erosion-fighting “living shoreline” of oyster reefs and sea grass, the replacement of the T-shaped dock on the park’s west side and the removal of the park’s little-used boat ramp.

— TOP OPINION —

Six million died. We still don’t know how the pandemic began.” via The Washington Post editorial board — While scientists have struggled mightily to confront threats to human health, attempts to discover how it all began and why remain skimpy and inconclusive. One school of thought is that the coronavirus jumped from bats to humans, perhaps with an intermediate animal host, a zoonotic spillover event, which has happened often in the past. In the early chaos of the outbreak, sick patients were turned away from hospitals and not properly counted, so the population plots might not contain the whole story.

After the pandemic picked up steam in early 2020, China made no known effort to go back and look for additional early cases from November and December, which might have provided important clues about the origin. Environmental samples point to animals being sold in a corner of the market, but there are no live animal samples to identify which species carried the virus.

At a news conference in Wuhan at the end of the mission, the WHO team leader, Peter Ben Embarek, called a lab leak “extremely unlikely,” but he later told Danish television he was under pressure from China to dismiss the hypothesis, which it calls “a false claim.” A second WHO group is now investigating.

The Washington fantasy world.” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — An odd atmosphere has descended on Washington, D.C. At the precise moment the government announced that the economy shrank for the second consecutive quarter, the popular definition of a recession, Washington pundits began talking about what a great week Biden was having. And they meant it sincerely, not ironically.

Why was it such a great week? Two reasons, according to the new conventional wisdom. One, the Senate passed a bill providing billions in subsidies to the semiconductor industry. Conservatives denounced the measure as a pork-laden handout to big business and slammed the 16 Republicans in the Senate and 24 in the House who voted for it. But Biden, with unanimous Democratic support in both chambers, said it “will make cars cheaper, appliances cheaper, and computers cheaper,” as well as “create high-paying manufacturing jobs.” The White House portrayed it as a win-win.

The second big thing for Biden was that Capitol Hill Democrats appeared to unify behind a kinda, sorta slimmed-down version of Biden’s ill-fated “Build Back Better” agenda — this time, one that focuses mostly on climate, health care, and tax increases, instead of everything, as the original bill did. At somewhere between $400 billion and $700 billion, it’s as big a spending bill as Democrats could get past Manchin, their most centrist member. On the other hand, it’s unclear whether it will have the support of the other Senate centrist, Sinema. And in a 50-50 Senate, with all Republicans opposed — and they will oppose this one — Democrats will have to corral all 50 of their Senators to pass the bill with Harris breaking the 50-50 tie. So, it is not a done deal yet.

— OPINIONS —

How decades of greed and bad choices left us vulnerable to a pandemic” via Andy Slavitt of The Washington Post — Before you crack open John Ehrenreich’s new book, “The Making of a Pandemic: Social, Political, and Psychological Perspectives on COVID-19,” both the rather bland title and the lengthy compilation of footnotes may give you the impression that you are about to read a dry academic text. Instead, the book turns out to be an examination, indeed an indictment, of the last few decades of American politics, business and society. He wants us to look back further to pinpoint the policies that caused the pandemic to hit us so hard, things we don’t immediately associate with the coronavirus, such as the growth of factory farms, the overuse of antibiotics and policies that promote individual wealth over equality.

Biden needs to face facts and deal with the return of stagflation” via E.J. Antoni of the Miami Herald — Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson has said that you can bend reality only so far before it snaps back at you. In short, bad actions, ultimately, always have negative consequences. America is living through the economic equivalent of this principle right now. For a year and a half, the federal government has spent, borrowed and printed trillions of dollars while simultaneously pursuing an anti-energy agenda. The result is stagflation. The term stagflation, first coined during the economic doldrums of the 1970s, refers to the combination of stagnant economic growth and inflation, both of which are afflicting the American economy today. The economy shrank in the first three months of the year and did so again in the second quarter.

In GOP Congress primaries, avoid Big Lie believers” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The leading Republican candidates for the U.S. House District 23 seat in Broward and Palm Beach counties have something in common, and it’s not good. They are election deniers. In an interview with the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, four candidates, Joe Budd, Steve Chess, Christy McLaughlin and Jim Pruden questioned whether Biden fairly won in 2020. “No one knows,” said McLaughlin, of Boynton Beach. Indulging or, worse, believing that lie may be mandatory for an appeal to GOP primary voters, but it’s an absolute disqualifier for service in Congress. Florida already has too many representatives in Washington who are an embarrassment to the state and country by actively undermining democracy and perpetuating the myth of the stolen election.

—“Endorsement: Jared Moskowitz is Democrats’ best choice for Congress” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

In GOP legislative primaries, interview refusals lead to non-endorsements” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — In three Palm Beach County legislative primaries, the Sun Sentinel is not recommending any candidates. Candidates who won’t engage with the local newspaper likely won’t pay enough attention to their constituents, either. The Sun-Sentinel makes no endorsement in the Republican Primary for Senate District 26, House Districts 87 or 91.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Disney+ releases official ‘Andor’ trailer for new Star Wars series” via James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter — Diego Luna stars in Disney+’s official trailer for Andor, and this time we actually get to see quite a bit of him. Unlike the streamer’s previous teaser trailer, Luna’s underdog rebel fighter Cassian Andor gets plenty of screen time in this new look (below) at the action-filled Star Wars series. The trailer also confirms reports that an unbilled Forest Whitaker will reprise his Rogue One role as resistance fighter Saw Gerrera.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:

SeaWorld adds blood, more sirens to Howl-O-Scream lineup” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — SeaWorld Orlando has announced more of its lineup for Howl-O-Scream, its after-hours Halloween event that starts early next month. The third haunted house that the theme park has identified is called Blood Beckoning, and it features a siren named Scratch. “Beauty is in her blood,” the event website says. “You have just what she and her disciples need to sustain their allure; it’s racing through your veins right now.”

Key lime pie fans whipped up over dessert snub” via John Clarke of The Wall Street Journal — Earlier this year in Plant City, DeSantis tried a spoonful of strawberry shortcake, gave a thumbs-up, and signed a new law making it the state’s official dessert. Strawberry shortcake. Not Key lime pie, the citrusy culinary delight and the state’s most celebrated dessert, but strawberry shortcake, which most agree, is a British confection. To many, the act was borderline treasonous. Florida’s culinary industry, locals and visitors, immediately let it be known. “I don’t know how this happened — I think it’s a travesty,” said Mike Martin of Mike’s Pies in Tampa.

Is that a queen conch in your pants? How a mollusk found in the Keys can put you in jail” via Alexander Lugo of the Miami Herald — Florida’s marine life attracts people from all over the world — but what happens if someone gets too comfortable with the state’s natural wonders? Florida has strictly enforced laws in place to protect wildlife. Last week, for instance, a tourist visiting from Houston was accused of taking eight queen conchs from their habitats in the Florida Keys. He was arrested and taken to jail. Yet again, restaurants serve conch on the menu. So, what is allowed and what isn’t? What is a queen conch? And what’s the penalty for taking one? People can collect conch shells as long as there is no living conch in the shell.

Look, it’s an old house in the middle of Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg” via Thomas C. Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times — It’s a two-story frame home, built in 1912, aqua-colored with a metal roof and a handsome wraparound porch. For more than a century it graced the 100 block of Fourth Avenue NE near the downtown waterfront, later becoming a local historic landmark. On Sunday morning, it was headed north on Fourth Street N, making for an odd sight as dozens of onlookers gathered along the sidewalks. Crews cut tree limbs and lifted power lines to make way, and police directed motorists to take detours for the move, which began Saturday night and continued past noon on Sunday.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to former House Speaker Dean Cannon, as well as Kevin Cate and Lindsey Perkins Zander.

___

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


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