Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.
Good Tuesday morning.
Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has done the unthinkable: He’s made his predecessor, Scott Rivkees, look like an all-star.
By no means should Rivkees be the measuring stick for public health acumen. He was a mostly silent pushover, and one of the few times he gave a sound opinion as Surgeon General — when he said Floridians may need to social distance for a year or more — he was ushered into a backroom for a not-so-private lashing.
Joseph Ladapo does the unimaginable; making Scott Rivkees look good. Image via Colin Hackley In other words, he was about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
But Ladapo is worse than a do-nothing figurehead. Within a matter of weeks, he’s transformed the Department of Health into an enforcement arm for the state’s spite-fueled coronavirus response strategy.
He has ordered COVID-19-positive students back into the classroom and spread vaccine misinformation. Now, he’s taking heat for refusing to wear a mask when visiting Sen. Tina Polsky, who has cancer, in her office at the Capitol.
When asked to leave, he couldn’t resist throwing out a barb drenched in smugness: “Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.”
If Dr. Ladapo finds joy in reasoning with unreasonable people, he should clear his calendar and talk to himself in the mirror. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that he was urging in a Wall Street Journal op-ed to “focus on protecting vulnerable populations … by directing testing and personal protective equipment to them and their close contacts.”
A lot has changed in the past year, but the medical definition of “vulnerable” has not. Nor have the social standards for manners or respect. Ladapo knows this, but instead, he flouted the best practices he once supported.
That’s the trouble with being an unscrupulous contrarian: Given a long enough timeline, you end up contradicting yourself.
For his own sake, let’s hope he also enjoys reasoning with reasonable people because he’ll have to do a lot of that to earn Senate confirmation.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
Gotta love kids. President of the United States walks into the room and they barely notice. pic.twitter.com/y0QkGH8YvZ
— Jeremy Art (@cspanJeremy) October 25, 2021
—@GovRonDeSantis: NIH not only funded dangerous gain-of-function research in Wuhan, but it also funded cruel experiments on puppies. Where is the accountability?
—@AmandiOnAir: Take it from this Floridian. The only person more dangerous to the future of our nation than Donald Trump, is Donald Trump 2.0 — Ron DeSantis.
—@MaryEllenKlas: One problem @wsvn. It’s called how a bill becomes a law. Is there a bill? Has it been heard? Voted on? Passed? Is there a budget allocation? Has that been heard and approved? Once that is done and reported, you can write the headline about whether the Governor will sign it.
—@Fineout: Inbox: “Nikki (Fried) mentioned you, Gary, and wanted me to reach out directly. Since we’re just days away from our end-of-month fundraising deadline, we urgently need you to step up.” Seriously doubt this … can’t even get the campaign to answer questions sometimes …
—@MattGaetz: The Facebook “scandal” is a false flag intended to justify an oncoming wave of censorship against the Right.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have another first solo here at the AirKinsey School of Aeronautics: @FlChamber Prez Mark Wilson! He’s a natural and has become a great pilot. Congrats, Mark! #avgeek #sayfie #flapol pic.twitter.com/bAO2eqTVoU
— Troy Kinsey (@TroyKinsey) October 25, 2021
You won’t boo-lieve how cute our NICU babies are this Halloween! 👻 Visit our Facebook to see the whole album. 🎃 pic.twitter.com/eIlUmxJ85Y
— Tallahassee Memorial (@TMHFORLIFE) October 25, 2021
—@Chris_Minor10: Supply chain issues have peaked. @Whataburger is out of both hash browns and spicy ketchup during peak breakfast hours. I hate Mondays.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 1; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 1; Georgia at UF — 4; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 7; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 7; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 10; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 10; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 12; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 13; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 13; Miami at FSU — 16; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 19; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 23; FSU vs. UF — 32; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 36; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 42; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 45; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 52; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 57; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 64; CES 2022 begins — 71; NFL season ends — 75; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 77; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 77; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 78; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 80; NFL playoffs begin — 81; Super Bowl LVI — 110; Daytona 500 — 117; St. Pete Grand Prix — 124; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 129; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 192; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 213; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 219; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 255; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 267; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 346; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 374; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 381; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 416; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 479; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 633.
— TOP STORY —
“Surgeon General’s mask clash with Senator complicates his confirmation” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s Surgeon General Ladapo’s refusal to wear a mask in a meeting with Sen. Polsky, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, has raised cries among Democrats for his nomination to be rejected by the state Senate. “I think the outcome should be that his nomination is withdrawn,” Polsky told MSNBC on Monday. “I don’t want this man serving as Surgeon General.” But whether it will doom his confirmation remains to be seen. Under state law, he can remain in his post even if he isn’t confirmed when the Legislature convenes in January. If DeSantis then reappoints him, Ladapo can stay as Surgeon General and head of the Department of Health and try to be confirmed during the 2023 Legislative Session.
Joseph Ladapo’s skirmish with Tiny Polsky was not a wise move for confirmation. “Democrats slam Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo’s credibility” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Ladapo‘s guidance on public health matters likely would carry little weight with Democratic Sen. Victor Torres and Reps. Anna Eskamani and Travaris McCurdy, who slammed his credibility Monday. The trio of Orlando lawmakers may be a small subset, yet they may reflect a hardening rejection by Democrats of DeSantis‘ recent pick for Florida’s top public health officer. Ladapo’s controversial views on COVID-19 protections preceded him, and now his mask-refusal encounter with Democratic Sen. Polsky last week shocked many lawmakers, including Republicans. At a news conference about mask policies for school children, a question about Ladapo’s citation of research suggesting masks don’t help drew laughter and then stinging rebukes of the Surgeon General’s and Governor’s positions.
“As Ladapo’s refusal sparks furor, expert says it’s good to mask up around those at high COVID-19 risk” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida Surgeon General Ladapo drew criticism over the last few days for refusing to wear a mask in the office of Sen. Polsky, who has breast cancer. Aside from the potential political fallout, the incident raises an important question: Is it unreasonable for certain people to ask others to wear masks. Dr. Jarod Fox, an infectious disease physician with Orlando Health Medical Group, says it isn’t. “If you know you’re going to be around someone that’s indoors, and you know that they have some sort of underlying medical condition, then it is reasonable to continue wearing a mask, even if you’re vaccinated,” Fox said. People are generally at increased risk from COVID-19 if they have conditions that make them immunocompromised or conditions that make COVID-19 more likely to be severe.
— STATEWIDE —
“As some police fight vaccine rules, Ron DeSantis says Florida will pay them $5,000 to relocate: ‘We’ll treat you better’” via Andrea Salcedo of The Washington Post — Police officers across the country were among the first to become eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, but some are still declining the shots, leaving them clashing with city leaders as immunization mandates go into effect. On Sunday, DeSantis announced plans to offer unvaccinated officers $5,000 bonuses to relocate to his state and join the police force. “We’re actually actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement, because we do have needs in our police and our sheriff’s departments,” DeSantis said. He hopes to sign such a bill in the next legislative session.
I know a lot of journalists follow me. So here’s a PSA: ALL law enforcement officers who get hired in Florida from out-of-state would be eligible for @GovRonDeSantis proposed $5000 bonus. Regardless of jab status.
Your headlines are dishonest clickbait.
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 (@ChristinaPushaw) October 25, 2021
“DeSantis: Florida’s ‘logistical know-how’ can quell inflation woes” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis says Florida can help reduce nationwide inflation because of infrastructure investments made during his term. During a news conference Monday highlighting the Sunshine State’s economic growth since he took office, the Governor again railed against inflation, blaming Washington and President Joe Biden. “I think we have offered part of the solutions to that with our logistical know-how and ability to help process some of these goods,” DeSantis said. “But at the end of the day, I think this is something you’re seeing across the board, and it is absolutely harming families.”
“DeSantis lashes out at Anthony Fauci over ‘cruel’ puppy experiments” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis bashed Dr. Fauci over allegations his institute had funded research requiring the abuse, mutilation, and death of puppies. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded research in 2018, allowing scientists to force-feed experimental drugs into 44 beagle puppies before killing and dissecting them. According to the report, the dogs, between six and eight months old, were also “devocalized.” DeSantis also blasted Fauci over new documents showing an NIH grant funded bat coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The gain-of-function research involves enhancing a virus to predict possible future pandemics.
—”Why is Fauci trying to kill my puppy?” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post
Is Anthony Fauci in the doghouse? “Lawyers for Ashley Moody mocked lawsuit to overturn 2020 election” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Emails from Moody’s office show that the day before she agreed to lend support to Texas’ lawsuit, her own attorneys were mocking the case, its legal arguments and the motivations behind it. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed his lawsuit more than a month after the Nov. 3 election, when Trump and his supporters claimed that widespread voter fraud in a handful of states cost him the election. The case was considered a long shot with a flimsy legal argument: Paxton contended that the “irregularities” harmed Texas and that the Legislatures in the four states should be left to choose how their state votes in the Electoral College. Republicans controlled the Legislatures in all four states.
“Tampa General, Broward Health successful in first day of negotiated rule-making” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — AHCA Secretary Simone Marstiller kicked off the meeting by telling members of the negotiated rule-making panel she appointed that its proposed recommendations should be evidence-based or recommended by industry guidelines for service and care. She said licensure requirements they develop shouldn’t be “affected by or inconsistent with or be driven by” state policy regarding so-called “Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Centers.” Those comments seemed to strike at the heart of Tampa General Hospital and Broward Health, which operate two of the 11 RPICCs in the state. The hospitals challenged the proposed rules for neonatal intensive care units the state previously developed. If Tampa General and Broward Health came up on the winning end, the state’s children’s hospitals might fall short.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“Jeff Brandes bill would extend COVID-19 liability protections for health care providers” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Health care providers could get COVID-19 liability protections extended through December 2023 under a bill Sen. Brandes filed Monday. Brandes’ bill does not change the underlying law or exclude businesses with vaccine mandates from the protections, as DeSantis said last week should happen. Health care associations and lobbyists, meanwhile, were pleased with Brandes’ legislation. Jacksonville health care attorney and lobbyist Christopher Nuland agrees. Nuland said the physicians he represents were hopeful the pandemic would have been over by now and that extending liability protections wouldn’t be necessary, Nuland said.
Jeff Brandes is trying to give cover to health care workers. “Lawmakers pitch Addictive Gambling Prevention Program expansion” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Florida may soon double down on a state-funded gambling prevention program under new legislation proposed Monday. The bill (HB 405) would expand the promotion of Florida’s (888)-ADMIT-IT Helpline to all 67 counties. Helpline advertising is presently limited to Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The measure would also cut a slice of revenue from Florida Lottery ticket sales and redirect those dollars toward the Compulsive and Addictive Gambling Prevention Program. Rep. Scott Plakon is the bill sponsor.
“Ileana Garcia working to secure additional funds to improve Biscayne Bay spoil islands” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — It’s no secret Biscayne Bay is in trouble, and Sen. Garcia is now working with Miami-Dade County Chief Bay officer Irela Bagué to address one issue that has grown worse since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic: the deterioration of state-owned spoil islands in the bay. Many today function as miniature beaches and parks complete with sand and sea grape, attracting boaters, jet skiers, and other aquatic pleasure seekers, as well as an overflow of garbage and debris. The short-term solution to the island trash problem devised months ago by Bagué and the city of Miami, one of the municipalities in Miami-Dade to which the spoil islands have been deeded, was to double the number of weekly trash pickups.
Happening today — The Polk County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sens. Ben Albritton, Danny Burgess, Kelli Stargel; Reps. Melony Bell, Colleen Burton, Fred Hawkins, Sam Killebrew, Josie Tomkow, 1:30 p.m., Polk State College, Center for Public Safety, 1251 Jim Keene Blvd., Winter Haven.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Lisa Miller, Lisa Miller and Associates: LegalShield
Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: City of Greenacres
Elizabeth Dudek, Samantha Ferrin, Greenberg Traurig: Aunt Bertha
Douglas Holder, The Legis Group: GTH-GA
Scott Jenkins, Delegal Aubuchon Consulting: Osceola County
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“DeSantis on getting COVID-19 vaccine booster: ‘I’ll take a look’” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — DeSantis said Monday that he plans to “take a look” at the guidance on COVID-19 booster shots before deciding whether to get one. “I haven’t seen it, so I’ll have to take a look,” DeSantis said when asked whether he plans to follow the CDC’s recommendation last week that individuals such as the Governor who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago receive a booster. While DeSantis deflected answering whether he would get a booster shot during the visit to a manufacturing facility in Venice, he did seem aware of some of the guidance coming out on boosters from the CDC.
On a booster shot, Ron DeSantis is a definite maybe. Image via The Governor’s Office. “DeSantis goes all-in on vaccine skepticism” via Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine — DeSantis has been trying to walk the same line with the anti-vaccine movement that he has with Trump. He recognizes an important constituency within his party that alienates a majority of the public and has tried to draw its energy behind him without tying himself to it so publicly that he poisons his political viability. The trick has allowed DeSantis to win over rabid Trump cultist anti-vaxxers even as pro-vaccine conservatives insist DeSantis is on their side. After months of carefully walking this balance beam, DeSantis has fallen off. He has thrown in fully with the anti-vaxxers, and whatever thin plausible deniability he tried to maintain is gone.
“Joe Biden administration warns Florida over financial sanctions against school boards with mask mandates” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to Richard Corcoran, warning that withholding federal funds from districts that enacted mask mandates would make the state out of compliance with federal law. The Education Department’s letter says that if the state keeps doing that, it’s “prepared to initiate enforcement action to stop these impermissible state actions.” The letter only addresses Alachua and Broward counties.
“Miami school walks back quarantine for vaccinated students after state threatens funds” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Centner Academy, the private school in Miami that has garnered attention over its controversial stance on COVID-19, is walking back its decision to require students who get vaccinated against the disease to quarantine for 30 days. The private school’s decision to no longer implement the vaccine quarantine policy at its three campuses comes just days after the Florida Department of Education threatened to cut its funding if its attendance policy was found to be against the law. Centner Academy Chief Operating Officer Bianca Erickson, in a response letter dated Oct. 22, told Florida Department of Education Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva that the school would not be “requesting any student to quarantine at home due to vaccination status.”
“Broward County schools may ease mask mandate” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Masks could soon become optional in Broward schools, even as the school district continues to fight with the state over the right to mandate them. The School Board has a special meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and a discussion on what to do about masks will be part of it, Chair Rosalind Osgood confirmed. Board members had previously agreed to relax the district’s mask policy, which says almost everyone must wear masks indoors on school campuses, if the positivity rate for those testing for COVID-19 in Broward County fell below an average of 3% for 10 days. Data released by the state Friday showed a seven-day average of 2.9%.
“Orange County Democrats, teachers union call for six more weeks of student masks” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Insisting the risk to children has not ended with the waning COVID-19 summer surge, several Orange County Democrats joined the teachers union and parents Monday in calling for the Orange County school board to extend a student mask mandate into the winter break. They called on the school board to extend its controversial student mask mandate six more weeks. That would allow the federal government to approve vaccinations for younger school children and get the school district into the holiday break to evaluate the situation before reversing the current order. The school board’s current mask mandate policy is set to end Saturday.
Orange County teachers’ union wants more mask time. “Seminole County schools to make masks optional in November” via Jon Jankowski of Click Orlando — Seminole County Public Schools will make masks optional for everyone in November. The latest mask update will go into effect on Nov. 1. “We are pleased to announce that as a result of the current status of community transmission of COVID-19 cases within Seminole County, the SCPS Student Face Covering with “parental opt-out” and Campus Visitor Suspension procedures will not be extended beyond the Oct. 29 expiration date,” the district said in a statement. The current mask policy in the district will expire on Oct. 29.
“Tampa doctors on keeping kids safe from COVID-19 this Halloween” via Rose Wong of the Tampa Bay Times — As kids look forward to showing off their costumes and collecting a pillowcase full of candy, parents should keep in mind the spookiest threat this Halloween: a “twindemic,” a severe flu season unfolding alongside an ongoing pandemic, overwhelming the health care system. Contracting one virus could leave someone vulnerable to getting the other. But children 11 and under are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and it takes weeks for the flu shot to kick in. That’s why it’s essential for adults and older kids, especially if they’re unvaccinated, to practice pandemic safety around younger kids this Halloween.
— 2022 —
RNC National Weekend of Action featured 40-plus Florida events — Florida Republicans held more than 40 events to boost Republican turnout during the Republican National Committee’s National Weekend of Action, which wrapped Sunday. The NWOA comes after significant ground game investments in Florida to promote minority engagement efforts and strategic data and digital investments. The investments include hiring a platoon of staffers at facilities such as the Hispanic community center in Doral. “The Republican National Committee is committed to building relationships with Floridians and maintaining the momentum for the Republican Party felt across the country to turnout the vote and defeat Democrats. The events that took place during the National Weekend of Action in Florida highlight the RNC’s extensive grassroots presence throughout the Sunshine State” said RNC Spokeswoman Julia Friedland.
Assignment editors — Congressman Charlie Crist will join Rep. Anna Eskamani and a group of Asian American leaders and activists to discuss the importance of HB281 and SB490, to require Florida schools to teach AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) history, 6 p.m., livestreamed via Crist’s Facebook page (@CharlieCristFL). To be able to ask questions, RSVP to [email protected].
I’m having a virtual grassroots fundraiser with @LeaKThompson to talk about the future of Florida and want YOU to be there. RSVP here: https://t.co/575mbeo8kD pic.twitter.com/M4083fGMiW
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) October 25, 2021
Assignment editors — Fried will hold a news conference on the recently announced Florida Department of Health rule affecting Black farmers applying for medical marijuana licenses who are recognized class members of the Pigford v. Glickman discrimination lawsuit, 1 p.m., Infinite Zion Farm, 626 W South St., Orlando. Press should RSVP to [email protected].
Save the date:
Jim Jordan endorses Cory Mills for CD 7 — Republican U.S. Rep. Jordan of Ohio has endorsed Mills in the race for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. “Cory Mills has been a leader on the battlefield, and a successful business owner. He has rescued Americans in Afghanistan, and he will take on the radical left in Congress. We need Cory Mills in Washington now more than ever to stand for freedom,” Jordan said. Mills is one of several Republicans challenging Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy in the Central Florida district, expected to favor Republicans after redistricting. He leads the Republican field in fundraising with $562,000 raised and $486,000 on hand. Rep. Anthony Sabatini follows with $558,000 raised and $391,000 on hand.
“Survey: Anna Paulina Luna builds early lead in CD 13 GOP primary after being endorsed by Donald Trump” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Luna, who won the Republican Primary for CD 13 last year against Amanda Makki, leads the four-person crowd in the 2022 election with 38% support, according to the latest survey from St. Pete Polls. None of the other candidates, including Makki, even break double-digit support in the poll. But, when asked who they’d vote for if the election were right now, more than 52% of voters were undecided. A second question points out to voters that Luna “is the only candidate endorsed by President Donald J. Trump” and then asks, with that information, which one voters would support. Luna’s share of support jumps to more than 64% in that question, with undecided voters dropping to 22%.
A Donald Trump endorsement can do wonders. “Brian Mast adds nearly $1M in Q3, has more than $2M banked for CD 18 defense” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mast is bringing in plenty of cash. The incumbent in Florida’s 18th Congressional District posted another quarterly report with nearly $1 million raised. Mast also spent more than $556,000 during the period. But his third quarter haul of almost $995,000 leaves him with almost $2.16 million in his war chest as he faces two challengers. Mast first won the seat in 2016. Since then, he has easily defeated Primary challenges in 2018 and 2020, securing nearly 78% of the vote in 2018 and 86% of the vote in 2020. Melissa Martz is challenging Mast in the Republican Primary this cycle. Martz raised just under $32,000 during the third quarter, which covered financial activity from July 1-Sept. 30. Martz showed just under $5,400 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
— CORONA NATION —
“COVID-19 cases falling, but trouble signs arise as winter looms” via Lindsay Whitehurst of The Associated Press — Tumbling COVID-19 case counts have some schools around the U.S. considering relaxing their mask rules, but deaths nationally have been ticking up over the past few weeks, some rural hospitals are showing signs of strain, and cold weather is setting in. The number of new cases nationally has been plummeting since the delta surge peaked in mid-September. The U.S. averages about 73,000 new cases per day, less than half the nearly 173,000 recorded on Sept. 13. And the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 has plummeted by about half to around 47,000 since early September.
“Biden administration looks to speed authorization of rapid coronavirus tests” via Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — The Biden administration announced additional steps on Monday to increase the availability of rapid at-home coronavirus tests and bring down their cost. The most significant change is a $70 million investment by the National Institutes of Health to help manufacturers navigate the FDA’s regulatory process. The NIH program aims to speed up the authorization process for new tests by helping manufacturers produce the data regulators need. It will also identify rapid tests that can be produced and distributed on a large scale. The at-home tests could be particularly useful during what experts predict may be a bad flu season, particularly in settings such as schools, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes.
A very brief guide to mixing boosters, in descending order of antibodies:
3 shots of Moderna = Best
Pfizer → Moderna = Next best
Moderna → Pfizer = Also very good!
J&J → Moderna = Do it
J&J → Pfizer = Yes
J&J → J&J = Get Moderna or Pfizer insteadhttps://t.co/MdUyOGg3NX
— Adrienne LaFrance (@AdrienneLaF) October 21, 2021
“Americans abroad search for a first vaccine dose as millions at home get their third one” via The Washington Post — Army veteran Leighton Slattery, 83, who lives with his daughter outside of Jakarta, Indonesia, says the two have spent much of the year housebound as they implored officials to share coronavirus vaccines donated by the U.S. government. In Bangalore, India, Asray Gopa, 17, still waits to get vaccinated because — unlike his friends in the United States — he is not old enough to obtain the shots under that country’s rules. And in Bangkok, businessman Charlie Blocker, 59, spent weeks scouring that city for a vaccine as the coronavirus exploded. But he got nowhere even as the U.S. government shipped doses to its embassy.
“Unvaccinated children and some people from countries with low rates will be exempted from new U.S. travel rules.” via Zolan Kanno-Youngs of The New York Times — Children under the age of 18 who are unvaccinated against the coronavirus, and a limited category of foreigners arriving from countries with low vaccination rates, are among the travelers exempted from forthcoming requirements that will determine who can enter the United States, Biden administration officials said. The Biden administration has announced that it would lift travel restrictions on Nov. 8 and reopen the United States to fully vaccinated international travelers. The new travel system also comes with stringent requirements and will seal the United States off from most foreigners who have not yet received a vaccine cleared by the World Health Organization or U.S. federal regulators.
“Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine produces a strong immune response in younger children, the company said.” via Apoorva Mandavilli of The New York Times — The coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna is safe and produces a powerful immune response in children 6 through 11, the company said on Monday. One month after immunization was complete, the children in Moderna’s trial had antibody levels that were 1.5 times higher than those seen in young adults, the company said. Moderna did not release the full data, nor were the results published in a peer-reviewed journal. The results were announced one day before an advisory committee of the FDA is scheduled to review data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children 5 through 11.
“CDC director encourages kids to go outside on Halloween and ‘enjoy your trick-or-treating’” via Paulina Firozi of The Washington Post — It’s time to prepare your Halloween ensembles. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky encouraged Americans to get outside and relish the holiday. “I would say, ‘Put on those costumes, stay outside and enjoy your trick-or-treating,’ ” Walensky said when asked on “Fox News Sunday” what she would say to children about the holiday coming up this weekend. Walensky added that she “wouldn’t gather in large settings outside and do screaming like you are seeing in those football games, if you are unvaccinated — those kids that are unvaccinated.” Earlier this month, Fauci also encouraged Halloween activities. “Particularly if you’re vaccinated, you can get out there. You’re outdoors for the most part,” he said.
Rochelle Walensky urges families to scare up some fun for Halloween and other holidays. Image via AP. What Richard Reeves is reading — “New York City inches toward COVID-19 becoming endemic” via Brianna Abbott of The Wall Street Journal — Life in the New York City area might be transitioning into a phase in which the virus is a present but diminished danger for most people, some epidemiologists and doctors say. Vaccination rates are higher than U.S. averages, and some people in the region likely have some immunity from infections during past surges. Masks are required in settings including public transit and schools, and officials mandated vaccinations for health care workers, employees, and patrons at bars and restaurants. The state and most counties surrounding the city are still experiencing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers high or substantial COVID-19 spread, but the number of confirmed cases at the peak of the Delta wave was about one-third of the peak of reported cases last winter.
—”Arizona’s pandemic outlook worries experts as mask and vaccine mandate battles rage” via Annabelle Timsit of The Washington Post
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Treasury claims rental assistance helped stop eviction wave” via Ashraf Khalil of The Associated Press — The number of households receiving emergency rental assistance has increased steadily in recent months, with no major increase in people being turned out of their homes despite the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium, the Biden administration said Monday. Fresh numbers released by the Treasury Department, which oversees the Emergency Rental Assistance program, showed that the number of households receiving the benefits jumped 10% in September, up to 510,000 households compared with 459,000 in August. Congress authorized $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance late last year.
Eviction aid seems to be working. Image via AP. “Florida truck drivers being offered $110K a year, $15K bonus amid shortage” via Corley Peel of News4Jax — The American Trucking Association estimates the industry is facing a shortage of approximately 80,000 truck drivers. Some trucking companies are offering bonuses for drivers who apply. Distributor Sysco is offering salaries of up to $110,000 per year along with a $15,000 bonus. Driver Thomas Glass said the company he works for even has a referral program. “The bonus has been between three to five thousand dollars just to refer somebody to drive,” said Glass. The job requires mental focus and being on the road for long hours. Glass said it is rewarding. “It’s a good career. It going to allow you to see some things that you’ve never seen before. You’re going to experience some things you’ve never experienced before,” Glass said.
“Central Florida distillers struggle to get glass bottles for their spirits” via Will Robinson-Smith of Spectrum News 13 — Halloween spirits aren’t the only thing haunting distillers this October. For several weeks, many of them have been dealing with how to get their spirits out to customers with another challenge of the pandemic: glass bottles. The COVID-19-related difficulties forced some, like Ron Folino, the owner of Cape Canaveral-based Oceanside Distillery, to get creative to keep things going. “Due to the logistic situation that’s going on since COVID-19 has affected America, we were unable to get our American bottles,” Folino said. “In fact, when we finally got a call on our purchase order, they told us that they were going to outsource product to India,” Folino said they’ve been dealing with this headache since July.
— MORE CORONA —
“The U.S. government is rushing to resume risky virus research. Not so fast.” via Josh Rogin of The Washington Post — Although we don’t know how the COVID-19 pandemic started, it’s now clear there were serious gaps in oversight of U.S.-government-funded projects around the world that focused on digging up dangerous viruses in the wild. Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Wuhan, China, troubling revelations about U.S.-government-sponsored research there continue to emerge. The U.S. Agency for International Development gave $65 million to EcoHealth over the years as part of USAID’s $200 million PREDICT program, which aimed to give warning of future pandemics. USAID continues to ignore congressional requests for documents and information about its extensive collaborations with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Discovering new viruses in the wild? Not so fast. “‘Memory loss and ‘brain fog’ may be side effects of COVID-19, new study shows” via Michelle Chen of USA Today — Long-term COVID-19 side effects could include memory loss and other cognitive dysfunctions commonly labeled as “brain fog,” according to a study. The study analyzed patients who contracted COVID-19, not people who only received the COVID-19 vaccine. The most common cognitive deficits the study identified were memory encoding and memory recall, which showed up in 24% and 23% of the participants, respectively. Memory encoding is the process of storing sensory input as a memory, such as storing a phone number in your head. Memory recall refers to accessing memories that are stored already and retrieving them for use.
“FDA rules have blocked COVID-19 vaccine makers from advertising on TV” via Tom Kertscher of PolitiFact — There have been many public-service TV ads promoting vaccination generally. But one Instagram post claims that drugmakers aren’t doing TV ads for their COVID-19 vaccines because they would have to list the possible side effects. The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. The actual reason is that Food and Drug Administration rules prohibit advertising drugs that have not been fully approved by the FDA. Only one COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer’s, has been approved, which didn’t occur until August. A Pfizer spokesperson said the company plans to take a “thoughtful approach” to marketing and adhere to FDA requirements about disclosing any serious side effects.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Democrats to Biden: Start pushing back more aggressively against Trump” via Francesca Chambers of the Miami Herald — As Trump maintains his grip on the Republican Party and further spreads conspiracies about the 2020 election, some Democrats and progressive activists are urging Biden to speak out more forcefully against his predecessor. During his first nine months in office, Biden has largely avoided attacking Trump by name, even as he has broadly criticized those sowing doubt about the electoral process and pushed for measures to safeguard voting rights. Some Democrats agree with Biden’s posture, arguing that he should not provide oxygen to Trump and his baseless election fraud claims when he is no longer in power.
When it comes to Donald Trump, Democrats urge Joe Biden to grow a pair. Image via AP. “Sluggish pace of confirmations vexes Biden White House” via Kevin Freking of The Associated Post — The Senate’s willingness to confirm a president’s nominees took a downward turn during Trump’s first year in office. And it has only gotten worse for Biden. About 36% of Biden’s nominees have been confirmed so far in the evenly divided Senate, a deterioration from the paltry 38% success rate that Trump saw at the same stage of his presidency. Their predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, both saw about two-thirds of their nominees confirmed through Oct. 21. The trend is alarming to good government advocates, who say Washington’s ability to meet mounting challenges is being undermined by gaps in leadership.
“School board group backtracks on letter for security help from DOJ” via Bianca Quilantan of POLITICO — The National School Boards Association has apologized for a letter that called on Biden to use the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, its National Threat Assessment Center and other federal agencies to stop “threats and acts of violence” on school officials during school board meetings. About a month after the association sent its initial plea letter to the Biden administration, the NSBA has faced outrage on all sides, from its members, state attorneys general, lawmakers, and parent advocacy groups. Nicole Neily, President of Parents Defending Education, a group “working to reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas,” said her group has emailed 47 state school board associations for comment on the NSBA’s Sept. 29 letter.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Former adviser: Time working for ‘Trump lickspittle’ Marco Rubio a ‘monumental disappointment’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A former campaign adviser to Rubio regrets having worked for him, saying in a recent interview that his time on Rubio’s payroll was “one of the monumental disappointments” of his life. Author, historian, and foreign policy analyst Max Boot spoke about changes to the Republican Party, changes, he said, representing “an existential threat to democracy.” Boot lamented events over the past year, including Trump’s “unprecedented” refusal to accept defeat in the 2020 Election and the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Working for Marco Rubio is a ‘massive disappointment.’ Image via AP. “Rick Scott appeals to airlines to fight ‘unconstitutional’ vaccine mandates” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott appealed to two organizations representing airlines to follow the lead of Southwest Airlines and abandon plans for COVID-19 vaccine mandates. “I would like to applaud Southwest Airlines, which recently announced a reversal of its plan to punish unvaccinated employees. I urge your other member airlines to do the same. President Biden’s mandates, like many of his failed domestic and foreign policies, have the dubious legal authority, and American companies should not be bullied by the executive branch to impose a vaccine mandate on their employees,” Scott wrote. The letter to Airlines for America President Nicholas Calio and National Air Carrier Association President George Novak claimed airlines had done enough via mitigation, leaving no need for mandatory inoculations.
“Progressive Lois Frankel trades in fossil fuel companies as gas prices rise” via Alex J. Rouhandeh of Newsweek — Frankel purchased somewhere between $4,004 to $60,000 worth of stock in two of the nation’s top greenhouse gas emitters over the past year, according to House financial disclosures. Half those purchases were made last month amid global energy concerns. The two companies the Florida Democrat invested in — Duke Energy and Dominion Energy — rank No. 2 and 10, respectively, on the Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index by the Political Economy Research Institute. These investments incite potential concerns given that Frankel sits privy to conversations concerning the direction of federal funding as a member of the House Committee on Appropriations.
“After 34 years of growth, will Congress change how Florida’s clean-water money is figured?” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — As Congress mulls multibillion-dollar hikes in spending on clean water, members from Florida are renewing a bid to grow the share of that money reaching their state. The awkwardly named Clean Water Allotment Modernization Act of 2021 would update rules for distributing money first drafted in 1987, when Florida had almost 10 million fewer people. The legislation, filed last week in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, is meant to shake up a financing system called the Clean Water State Revolving Fund that sent $54 million to Florida this year but sent more to smaller states like Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“Facebook staff complained for years about their lobbyists’ power” via Emily Birnbaum of POLITICO — Facebook says it does not take the political winds of Washington into account when deciding what posts to take down or products to launch. But a trove of internal documents shows that Facebook’s own employees are concerned that the company does just that and that its Washington, D.C.-based policy office is deeply involved in these calls at a level not previously reported. The lobbying and government relations shop, overseen by former Republican operative Joel Kaplan, regularly weighs in on speech-related issues, such as dealing with prominent right-wing figures, misinformation.
— CRISIS —
“Jan. 6 protest organizers say they participated in ‘dozens’ of planning meetings with members of Congress and White House staff” via Hunter Walker of Rolling Stone — As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., had begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former President’s supporters stormed the Capitol. Two of these people detailed explosive allegations multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.
A lot of planning went into Jan. 6, it seems. Image via AP. “Jan. 6 investigators privately question Steve Bannon associate” via Betsy Woodruff Swan, Heather Caygle and Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — Dustin Stockton, a conservative activist linked to Bannon, is fielding questions Monday from congressional investigators scrutinizing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to two sources familiar with the interview. Stockton has not been charged with any wrongdoing but has reportedly been linked to the investigation. Stockton heavily promoted the event in the days and weeks leading up to the pro-Trump Jan. 6 rallies. And in the aftermath, he has defended some of the militia groups who had significant contingents charged with participating in the attack on the Capitol. The Jan. 6 select committee subpoenaed 11 organizers of the pro-Trump rallies that preceded the riot. Stockton was not among them, but he has ties to some of those involved.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“God, Trump and the closed-door world of a major conservative group” via Robert O’Harrow Jr. of The Washington Post — Much has been written about this turn of conservatives toward Trump. But I wanted to learn more about the political and communications infrastructure that converted this support into votes and influence. How did these leaders and activists — once so critical of Trump — end up helping shape and advocate for his agenda? And now that he is almost a year removed from the White House, how are they continuing to serve him and his cause? We zeroed in on key figures and groups, making charts of their ties and timelines of their actions. We identified networks of groups that served as a kind of nerve system for conservative influence campaigns.
Why did conservative critics drink the Donald Trump Kool-Aid? Image via AP. “Inside the Trump Meme-SPAC clown car” via William D. Cohan of Puck News — Just when you thought Trump had no more outrageous tricks up his sleeve, he delivers his latest stunner: the proposed merger of a fantasy social media company — what he is calling Trump Media & Technology Group — with SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, started in September. The investor deck promises a social media app to compete with Twitter and Facebook; a news and streaming platform to rival CNN and Netflix; and a “tech stack” to compete with Google and Amazon. This one has stinker written all over it. But not to Trump’s adoring throng, who don’t realize they are being fleeced and can’t get enough of the opportunity to invest alongside a man who has already taken a handful of his other companies through bankruptcy court.
“Trump pick’s messy personal life worries Senate Republicans desperate to hold on to Pennsylvania seat” via Michael Warren and Sara Murray of CNN — Sean Parnell may have the backing of former President Trump, but the Pennsylvania Republican has significant personal baggage raising concerns about the GOP’s ability to hold one of the most competitive Senate seats in the country. Documents showed his estranged wife was granted two protective orders against him. Multiple GOP senators and donors are asking Sen. Scott, the powerful chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, about why his political consultants are also working with Parnell in the primary, according to three Republicans with knowledge of those conversations.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“Ken Welch crosses $1M raised since launching mayoral campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Welch has crossed the million-dollar mark since announcing his candidacy. Between his campaign and affiliated political committee, Pelican PAC, Welch has raised $1,018,939. Welch’s opponent, Robert Blackmon, has collected $533,370 between his campaign and committee, Prosperous St. Pete. Welch and Blackmon both collected $23,000 in the latest campaign finance reports. For Blackmon, that includes a $5,000 loan to his campaign account. The latest campaign finance reports cover the week of Oct. 9 through Oct. 15, reflecting the candidates’ fundraising and spending two weeks before the Nov. 2 General Election.
One million reasons to smile: Ken Welch makes big bank in his mayoral campaign. Image via Ken Welch campaign. “Miami’s local elections draw ‘abysmally low’ turnout. Here’s why that matters” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Voters in a half-dozen Miami-Dade communities are set to decide on important issues like who should serve as mayor of Miami. History suggests that less than a quarter of eligible voters will participate, perhaps as few as one in nine. Miami proper is in the bottom eight of the country’s most populous cities for voter turnout. Take Miami, where Mayor Francis Suarez is seeking reelection. While the mayor often mentions that he was elected in 2017 with 86% of the vote, in truth, only 11.3% of Miami’s 193,346 registered voters voted for him. Experts say the low turnout in off-year elections harms democracy by limiting the types of people represented in local governments and creating an outsized focus on the needs of the few versus the needs of the many.
“After four decades of influence, the ‘Godfather’ of Miami politics wants four more years” via Bianca Padro Ocasio and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Off-and-on for more than 40 years, Joe Carollo, 66, has imposed his will on Dinner Key, loudly warring with enemies real and perceived while beating back personal controversies and outlasting foes. And on the eve of a Nov. 2 election that could earn him another four years in office — and perhaps position him to regain his post as Miami’s Mayor — Carollo’s ouster of police chief Art Acevedo showed that some things in the Magic City still run through him. Carollo’s four decades of public life contain the kinds of ups and downs one would find on a streaming service or in the political dossiers he so often compiles about his opponents.
“VIPs disavow purported endorsements of 2 a.m. South Beach booze ban” via Alex Deluca of the Miami New Times — In the weeks leading up to Miami Beach’s Nov. 2 municipal election, residents’ mailboxes have been stuffed with political propaganda. Three commission seats are up for grabs, and sitting Mayor Dan Gelber is seeking reelection. But at the center of the mailer blitz is a contentious ballot initiative to change the citywide alcohol curfew from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. On the one side of the initiative, there’s Gelber, who supports the 2 a.m. bar ban and was recently caught on tape with former Mayor Philip Levine appearing to court support from developers and wealthy executives to transform South Beach’s Entertainment District. Gelber argues that the alcohol ban will curb crime after a series of high-profile murders this past year.
“Feds step up prosecutions of money laundering cases in Miami” via the Tribune News Service — After a slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic, federal authorities in South Florida are accelerating their crackdown on foreign corruption in Venezuela’s government and the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars into the U.S. banking system. The latest target: Colombian businessman Alvaro Pulido Vargas, who has been charged in two massive money-laundering conspiracy cases accusing him of bribing high-ranking Venezuelan officials in exchange for billions of dollars in food-, medicine- and housing-supply contracts that were supposed to help the country’s poor, according to federal prosecutors in Miami.
“Husband of Sunny Isles Commissioner cited wife’s position after alleged hit-and-run accident” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Dana Goldman was in the passenger seat when her husband, Michael Gates, allegedly backed his 2021 Genesis into a parked car at Bal Harbour shops. He then left the scene, police said. When confronted by law enforcement, Gates repeatedly invoked Goldman’s name and elected position. Goldman, a Nov. 2 candidate for Sunny Isles Mayor who has served on the City Commission seven years, told the Herald her husband “acted inappropriately” during the June 27 incident but maintained, “this is my husband’s legal problem, not mine.” She said she was not paying attention while on the passenger side of the vehicle and declined to say if she heard Gates mention to police that she is a Sunny Isles Commissioner.
“State Attorney wants to fully clear Groveland Four” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — State Attorney William Gladson sought Monday to posthumously fully clear the Groveland Four of any official charges or convictions that they raped a woman in 1949, based on a new state investigation. Gladson filed a court motion Monday seeking to dismiss indictments that were brought in 1949 against them. The four, now all deceased, were young Black men or teens who had been falsely accused of raping a White woman in Lake County in 1949. In a case embodying horrific injustices of Florida’s Jim Crow era.
“Supporters rally around huge ‘Trump Won’ banner on 30A home, calling it a ‘symbol of hope’” via Jim Thompson of Northwest Florida Daily News — About a dozen local Republicans showed up at Marvin Peavy‘s home along Walton County Road 30A on Sunday to defend what they see as the Georgia businessman’s right to keep a massive “Trump Won” banner hanging for three stories down the side of his house. Peavy, a Georgia real estate and property management business owner who lives four days each week in the nearly 7,000-square-foot, $4.4-million house just east of Seaside, hung the banner in March. By June, he’d heard from a county code enforcement officer, and in July a notice was sent to him that he had violated a provision of the county land development code restricting signage along 30A under its local designation as a scenic corridor.
That’s one way to get the word out. “Four Santa Rosa County massage parlors raided after SRSO prostitution investigation” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — Search warrants have been executed at four separate massage parlors in Santa Rosa County where undercover deputies were reportedly offered sexual favors in exchange for money, according to Sheriff Bob Johnson. Deputies on Friday raided the China Wellness Center at 1815 Alpine Ave. and Navarre Oriental at 8239 Navarre Parkway, both in Navarre, and Gulf Breeze Massage at 3057 Gulf Breeze Parkway and True Massage & Spa at 2701 Gulf Breeze Parkway, both in Gulf Breeze. As of Monday, one person had been arrested in the investigation. Xia Sun, 37, of Gulf Breeze, was arrested Friday and charged with misrepresentation as a masseur and practicing massage without a license.
“Citrus County Commissioner eyes waterfront land for park” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — A Citrus County Commissioner is recommending the county negotiate to buy property in Ozello that once housed a popular restaurant before the March 1993 “no-name” storm reduced it to splinters. Commissioner Jeff Kinnard is seeking support at the board’s Tuesday meeting to negotiate for the 3-acre Pirates Cove property next to the county boat ramp and community park along the shores of the St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve. Pirates Cove was a hotel and restaurant destroyed by the infamous 1993 storm; the property sat dilapidated until 2019, when it was torn down. In 2017, Citrus Commissioners turned aside owner George Decker‘s attempts to turn the property into a condominium resort. According to Tuesday’s board agenda, there were two appraisal reports: One set the value at $700,000, the other $616,000.
— TOP OPINION —
“America’s national mood disorder” via Tyler Cowen of Bloomberg — Nobody, including you and me, is consistently good at measuring the current national mood, never mind forecasting changes to it. That may sound a little scary, but it has ever been thus. Americans are more negative and more oppositional in some important ways, especially around politics. This is not a good development. Yet — especially when you look beyond politics — the national mood is by no means entirely sour or hopeless. National moods also change frequently, and in unpredictable ways. There will be many positive developments in the coming decades, most of all in biotechnology. The negativity, in other words, is contained, and it could change swiftly and without notice. I don’t know about you, but I find this outlook liberating — or even, dare I say, a reason for some modest optimism.
— OPINIONS —
“Democrats’ wasteful, misguided ‘Build Back Better’ plan spells disaster for Florida” via U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz for The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Biden and Democrats in Congress, with zero input from Republicans, are currently negotiating how best to pass a massive $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” package. This massive bill includes hundreds of provisions that, if passed, would do serious harm to our country and especially Florida. This legislation will send our country into even more economic uncertainty as Floridians grapple with high inflation, rising gas prices, backlogged shipping and more expensive groceries. An amnesty plan for 8 million undocumented immigrants estimated to cost more than $100 billion over the next decade and a lifetime net cost of roughly $1 trillion to Medicare and Social Security.
“Florida’s deadly COVID-19 hypocrisy” via The Gainesville Sun — Florida Republicans who want to keep businesses and schools open even when COVID-19 cases surge are trying to take away the best ways to ensure that happens. And now, DeSantis wants to rush the job, calling lawmakers into special session to quash vaccine mandates across the state and hand out punishments to those who dare to differ. State Sen. Keith Perry has introduced legislation for the regular session starting in January that would ban city and county governments and school boards from mandating masks and local governments from requiring vaccines. Perry wrote on Twitter that the bill would “further codify the medical liberties of all Floridians and fight against government overreach.”
“Gov. DeSantis’ weird version of Florida has found the perfect pandemic-era Surgeon General” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Ladapo represents the pompousness, the wackiness and the disregard for life and community that have become the hallmarks of Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Herald Editorial Board criticized his predecessor in August for being a no-show as coronavirus cases among children hit record highs, we didn’t know how good we actually had it. During his short tenure, Ladapo has been on a rampage. He issued an order forcing schools to allow students who have been exposed to COVID and aren’t showing symptoms to attend in-person classes. Last week, he gave a speech that misconstrued the coronavirus vaccine’s efficacy. Most recently, Ladapo refused to show simple good manners when a state senator battling breast cancer asked him to mask up in her Capitol office.
“Joe Henderson: Hiring Ladapo was DeSantis’ way of trolling critics” via Florida Politics — In Ladapo, DeSantis has a lap dog who will do exactly what he demands, no matter the consequences. And man, COVID-19 brought this state a lot of consequences. The last thing we need is a taunting quack as the state’s top doc. Ladapo cast doubt on whether current vaccines are as good as advertised. Look at the survival rate of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated people, and you’ll see that they are. Ladapo also shares the Governor’s almost maniacal opposition to mask mandates. DeSantis knew that when he hired Ladapo. In other words, DeSantis used Ladapo to troll critics of his COVID-19 policies, particularly when it comes to masks. Once again, DeSantis is playing politics with a deadly virus.
“As DeSantis descends into anti-vaxx Crazyville, Miami-Dade Schools follows the data” via the Miami Herald editorial board — DeSantis’ latest move, announced Thursday, is to call a special legislative session to undermine federal requirements announced by Biden that some workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Among the laws he wants lawmakers to pass is making businesses liable for medical harm that results from mandatory vaccinations. Contrast that with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which announced it might relax its mask requirement this week. That decision will be based on data and advice from a task force of doctors. Seven criteria must be met before restrictions are lifted, including a benchmark of 80% of eligible students who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and two consecutive weeks of a seven-day average of COVID-19 cases below 100 per 100,000 people.
Disagree — “Better public education in Florida starts with a new Education Commissioner” via The Palm Beach Post editorial board — Florida needs a new education commissioner. The lowlights of Richard Corcoran‘s tenure have centered around endangering students and their families with the coronavirus, bullying public school administrators and school board members and eroding the state’s already mediocre stature in public education circles. In the real world, Corcoran would be shown the door. But this is Florida, where our Education Commissioner is part of the ideological hackery that used to be state government leadership. Corcoran, like many of his counterparts in Tallahassee, is beholden to a Governor whose political ambitions have encroached upon the needs of our state and, in particular, undermined public schools.
“Florida politicians suddenly like protesters who threaten, intimidate school board members” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — School boards across Florida and the nation are facing loud, unruly crowds at meetings, threats on social media and protesters who gather in front of board members’ homes. Parents absolutely have a right to voice their displeasure over mask mandates. They don’t have the right to use weedkillers to etch obscenities into a school board member’s lawn or make phony child abuse claims about a board member’s kid. And they don’t have the right to threaten someone’s well-being because they don’t like how an elected official voted. DeSantis, who had zero tolerance for protesters in 2020 when the cause was racism and police brutality, is giving a full-throated defense to protesters targeting school boards in 2021.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
The Senator with stage one breast cancer who refused to meet with Florida’s top doctor for not wearing a mask, says she’s also concerned for First Lady Casey DeSantis.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Gov. DeSantis is busy bashing Dr. Fauci over allegations his institute had funded research involving the abuse of puppies.
— Today’s Sunrise Interview is with Polsky, the Democratic Senator at the center of the controversy with Florida’s Surgeon General who refused to honor her request to wear a mask in order to meet with her in her office. She explains how it all went down.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“This year’s Thanksgiving feast will wallop the wallet” via Kim Severson of The New York Times — Thanksgiving 2021 could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday. Caroline Hoffman is already stashing canned pumpkin in the kitchen of her Chicago apartment when she finds some for under a dollar. She recently spent almost $2 more for the vanilla she’ll need to bake pumpkin bread and other desserts for the various Friendsgiving celebrations she’s been invited to. Nearly every component of the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, from the disposable aluminum turkey roasting pan to the coffee and pie, will cost more this year. Last year the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 was the lowest it had been since 2010.
Thanksgiving is going to be extra stressful this year. Image via Flickr. “‘Eternals’ expands the Marvel universe with a messy, history-spanning origin saga” via Brian Lowry of CNN — Adapting a relatively obscure comic into a sprawling epic, “Eternals” might be Marvel’s boldest bet since “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Whether this millennia-spanning tale of immortals hiding in plain sight on Earth can repeat history will serve as a referendum on the studio’s muscle. The movie’s structural flaws offset its stunning visuals and strong performances. The story represents such a significant potential expansion of its “cinematic universe” that it might only be fairly judged in the rearview mirror, once there’s time to see what fruit these seeds have borne. As constructed, the film spits out tons of exposition during its first third, sags during the middle, and rallies impressively during the final leg, which is filled with surprises and genuine emotion.
“Florida-Georgia classic returns full force with football, parties, concerts — and traffic” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — The fans are back to watch Saturday’s historic match between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs, plus catch the sights and sounds of Michael Bublé, Luke Combs and the Bold City Bash. A year after only 19,000 fans were allowed to attend the Florida-Georgia football classic at TIAA Bank Field due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Jacksonville officials expect a full stadium of 76,000 at Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. kickoff. In fact, game officials really want the world to see every seat full of orange and blue, and red and black when the first football’s flight is shown on CBS. And with that full stadium’s occupants seeking parking spots at and around TIAA Bank Field, get there long before the gates open, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Chief Brian Kee warns.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to Dan Dawson, former Tampa Bay Times reporter (now-grillmaster) Mark Puente, and Katie Sanders, managing editor at PolitiFact.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.
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