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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.16.21


Good Monday morning. This is a newsletter about the politics impacting Florida, so we will leave the discussion of the fall of Afghanistan to our betters.


The Southern Group was Florida’s top-earning lobbying firm for the second quarter in a row, according to new compensation reports covering April through June.

TSG dethroned perennial No. 1 firm Ballard Partners in Q1 when it reported $5.1 million in overall pay to Ballard’s $4.2 million.

The Southern Group one-upped itself in the second quarter, posting a $5.4 million haul between its legislative and executive branch lobbying reports.

TSG Chair Paul Bradshaw and the firm’s two-dozen or so lobbyists showed $3.3 million in receipts in the Legislature, up from $3.2 million last quarter. Likewise, executive branch earnings grew from $1.9 million to $2.1 million. Top-end estimates indicate the firm could have earned as much as $7.8 million.

Lobbying firms report their earnings for each contract in ranges covering $10,000 increments up to $50,000, after which a firm must report the exact contract size. Florida Politics uses the middle number of each range to estimate quarterly earnings.

The earnings growth came from some new additions to the client roster and a few pay boosts from the clients it has retained. Notably, Altria Client Services increased its contract from an estimated $35,000 per quarter to $53,000 per quarter.

Though the gap between The Southern Group and Ballard Partners grew in Q2, the latter firm still reported a quarter-to-quarter earnings increase. Still, it wasn’t enough to fend off a surging Capital City Consulting.

CCC reported significant gains last quarter, with legislative earnings nearing $2.4 million and executive earnings coming in just shy of $2.2 million — it was the top-earning firm in that metric.

The 12-person team led by Nick Iarossi and Ron LaFace earned $4.6 million overall, about $300,000 more than it managed in the first quarter. It may have earned as much as $6.2 million.

Ballard Partners also reported just shy of $2.4 million in the Legislature — only $10,000 separated it and CCC — and brought in another $2 million in the executive branch. Overall, the firm led by Brian Ballard earned an estimated $4.4 million during the reporting period. At the top end, the firm could have earned as much as $6.1 million.


Jennifer Krell Davis has been promoted to communications director at The Florida Bar.

Davis has served as deputy communications director for five years under longtime director Francine Andia Walker, who recently retired after 21 years with the Bar. As deputy communications director, Davis was instrumental in developing digital communications, branding, and social media strategies for The Bar.

The Florida Bar Communications Department provides a broad range of communications and public relations support for the Bar including managing content and branding for the Bar’s website, social media and email marketing; handling national, state, and local media requests on Bar issues, including discipline cases; coordinating statewide public education campaigns on legal issues and Bar initiatives; and providing communications support for Bar leadership such as talking points and presentation materials.

Congratulations to Jennifer Krell Davis on her new gig at The Florida Bar.

When Davis was hired in 2016 as the deputy director, it was her second stint with the Bar, as she had also served as a special projects coordinator with the department from 2001 to 2004, before going to work as the communications director for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Department of State, and as press secretary for Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Davis also served as vice president of public affairs for the Florida Ports Council, the professional association for Florida’s 15 public seaports.

Davis received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Florida State University and her law degree from the University of Florida. Davis, a Tallahassee native, is married to criminal defense attorney Ryan Davis of Jansen & Davis. They have two daughters.


Spotted in Dyersville, Iowa for Major League Baseball’s “Field of Dreams” game: Senate President Wilton Simpson.


Congratulations — Best wishes to the newly engaged Julie Fazekas and Jack Rogers. Jack, an aide to Sen. Jim Boyd, *finally* sealed the deal with one of the kindest hearts in The Process. He popped the question to Julie, a director at Red Hills Strategies, in North Carolina last week.

She said yes!


@RichardHaass: One can disagree with me & think the (Joe) Biden administration was right to pull out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan … but it is impossible to argue that it has gone about it in the right way. This looks to be both a major intelligence & policy failure with tragic consequences.

@NGrossman81: Really not a fan of taking a complex foreign policy issue that spanned six presidential terms — with four quite different Presidents; two from each party — and trying to shove it into preconceived partisan point-scoring.

@MattGaetz: The Afghan government we propped up was never going to win anything except a corruption contest. They’re leaving now with whatever U.S.-supplied assets they can steal.

@AndrewLearned: The situation in Afghanistan is incredibly sad, especially for our Veterans. If you’re taking cheap shots now, after being silent for the last TWENTY YEARS and having never raised your hand to go there and serve, kindly shut the &#@$ up. @votevets because we did more than talk.

@NateSilver538: One reason these Obama Birthday Takes are dumb is they take it as exceptional to hold a social event with “everything going on” when the large % of Americans of all social classes have resumed their social lives if you look at the data or look around.

@Fineout: At some point, Miami Herald’s @Jacquiecharles will get the Pulitzer she deserves. Day-in, day-out, her continual coverage of the Caribbean — especially Haiti — is remarkable.

@JennAgiesta: I do wish people would take a second to think about the terminology they’re using around new census data. Is “non-white” really the descriptor you want to use? Is “majority-minority?” Are there more inclusive ways to say that? I think there are.

@RyanEGorman: In 10 days, @GovRonDeSantis has promoted monoclonal antibody treatments on Twitter five times. The promotion of #COVID19 vaccines, which prevent you from needing such a treatment in the first place, is nonexistent during that same period. Why? Politics, plain and simple.

Tweet, tweet:

NEW: The ICU in a rural Florida hospital is FULL tonight.

Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade is out of ICU beds, according to the Palm Beach Co Health Care District.

Source says 11 of the 12 beds have COVID patients.

— Jay O’Brien (@jayobtv) August 15, 2021

@Rivers_Kim: A personal thank you to everyone who has reached out to me over the last 24 hours. I have never been more confident in the future of Trulieve nor more proud of what we have built over the past 5 years. I look forward to the future and am grateful for your support. Onward!

@FrancoRipple: I once said “utilize” while talking to @bsfarrington, and he literally stopped me mid-sentence and said, “really?!?” I have thought about that every time I think about “use” versus “utilize.”

Tweet, tweet:

One of the best Presidents (and drummers) we’ve ever had. Thank you @FSUPresThrasher. You will be missed. #SSATDT pic.twitter.com/rNXJ3EAYwd

— FSU Seminole Sound (@FSUSemSound) August 15, 2021


Florida Behavioral Health Association’s Annual Conference (BHCon) begins — 2; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 8; Boise vs. UCF — 17; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 18; Notre Dame at FSU — 20; NFL regular season begins — 24; Bucs home opener — 24; California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election — 29; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 29; Alabama at UF — 33; Dolphins home opener — 34; Jaguars home opener — 34; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 35; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 39; ‘Dune’ premieres — 46; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 46; MLB regular season ends — 48; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 53; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 71; World Series Game 1 — 72; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 72; Georgia at UF — 75; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 78; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 78; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 83; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 84; Miami at FSU — 89; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 95; FSU vs. UF — 103; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 107; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 116; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 123; NFL season ends — 146; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 148; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 148; NFL playoffs begin — 149; Super Bowl LVI — 181; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 221; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 265; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 290; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 326; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 338; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 417; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 452.


Florida no longer provides a real-time picture of how COVID-19 is impacting the state” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the Orlando Sentinel — Just as a highly contagious new delta variant sent Florida into a vicious COVID-19 surge, the state Department of Health changed the way it reports cases and deaths attributed to the virus. The result: Florida no longer provides a real-time picture of how COVID-19 is impacting the state. The most dramatic example is that Florida’s daily death count had been trending upward since the end of June, but with the recent adjustments made by the state Department of Health, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 appeared to decline dramatically over the past week. At least on paper.

Florida tweaks COVID-19 reporting. Image via Sun-Sentinel.


Florida records 1,000+ new COVID-19 deaths in past week” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida recorded 1,071 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report released Friday afternoon by the Florida Department of Health. That total, similar to what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed for Florida in that agency’s most recent seven-day total, represents the worst week for COVID-19 deaths since January and February, when the winter surge was at its deadliest. On Friday, Florida reported that 40,766 people have now died of COVID-19 in Florida through Thursday.

The Jacksonville hospital system sees a roller-coaster in the latest delta surge. Image via NBC News.

Florida’s current hospitalizations for COVID-19 drop for the first time in two weeks” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — The first good news from Florida’s COVID-19 numbers in a while: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services data from Saturday released Sunday morning says the state ended two weeks of resetting the record daily for current hospitalizations. The continuing bad news: COVID-19 patients in intensive care units kept rising and now account for over half the state’s ICU bed usage. As for the former, after climbing up to 16,100 current hospitalizations on the 14th consecutive day of that number rising, Florida reported 15,985 COVID-19 patients. One fewer hospital reported data, so the average COVID-19 patients per hospital took a baby step back from 62.4 to 62.2.

—“Florida seniors hospitalized with COVID-19 as much as in January” via Jonathan Levin of Bloomberg

‘Health care system is really hurting,’ but Florida isn’t under a COVID-19 state of emergency” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Despite record hospitalizations, Florida isn’t under a state of emergency as the highly transmissible delta variant sends cases soaring, frustrating one Central Florida emergency manager’s response and tying the hands of other local leaders confronting the new pandemic challenge. DeSantis declined to reinstate Florida’s emergency declaration, even as the number of people needing to be hospitalized for the virus exceeded previous peaks, and he’s also curtailed the ability of local leaders to craft their own responses.

“COVID-19, delta variant & burnout fueling crisis. 68% of Florida hospitals expect to hit critical staff shortage” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Florida hospitals are near a breaking point as COVID-19 patients fill intensive care units and spill into other units while stretched-thin staff struggle to keep burnout at bay. By next week, 68% of hospitals expect to reach a critical staffing shortage, according to an Aug. 9 survey conducted twice weekly by the Florida Hospital Association. The figure climbed 8 percentage points from four days earlier on Aug. 5, which signals how rapidly the situation is deteriorating as the delta variant continues its sweep across the hard-hit state.

“Florida nursing homes limit visitors as COVID-19 cases flare” via Jon Kamp and Arian Campo-Flores — Nursing homes in Florida and other COVID-19 hot spots are once again tightening restrictions on visitation and group activities in response to recent rises in cases. The latest restrictions often fall short of those implemented earlier in the pandemic, which barred almost all visitation and left residents communicating through windows and cellphone screens. But the restrictions are a setback for families who hoped the worst was behind them after a mass-vaccination campaign sent cases plummeting earlier this year, and many rules were relaxed.

Florida Board of Education will meet to deal with 2 school districts defying Ron DeSantis mask order” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Two Florida school districts that have imposed mask mandates on students, defying DeSantis’ order banning such rules, could face sanctions Tuesday when the State Board of Education holds an “emergency meeting” to consider their “failure to faithfully follow” state edicts. The State Board of Education will meet next week to consider whether the Alachua and Broward county school districts have complied with Florida’s laws and rules that give parents, not school boards, the right to decide whether their children wear masks on school campuses.

Joe Biden calls Broward superintendent to support the school district’s mask mandate” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Biden on Friday night called Broward County Schools interim superintendent Vickie Cartwright to say he supports the district staying the course on mask mandates in defiance of DeSantis’ order, and reiterated that his administration stands ready to send resources to ensure a safe return to in-person learning. The call came on the same day that his administration said federal relief funds could be used to offset any financial penalties that DeSantis’ administration may levy against districts for having a mask mandate, escalating the rhetoric around the issue since the governor’s actions on mask mandates.

DeSantis’ lawyers want parents’ push for mandatory masks thrown out” via John Kennedy of the USA Today Network — Attorneys for DeSantis asked a judge Friday to throw out a lawsuit by parents in a half-dozen Florida counties challenging the state’s ban on mandatory masks in school. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper set a hearing date for next week on the proposed dismissal, a first step before any discussion of the effort to stop the ban on mask mandates takes place. “We believe that the complaint exhibits some significant deficiencies,” said Michael Abel, a DeSantis attorney, in Friday’s opening hearing on the lawsuit filed a week ago.

As DeSantis consolidates his power in Florida, some local officials rebuke his leadership style” via Tim Craig and Meryl Kornfield of The Washington Post — Rick Kriseman, mayor of St. Petersburg, knows there are a lot of things he can’t predict as part of his job running a sprawling waterfront city of 260,000 residents. He never knows when violent crime will spike or a destructive hurricane will slam into Florida’s fifth-most populated city. But there is one thing Kriseman can pretty much count on; he won’t be talking to DeSantis. “I have never spoken to Ron DeSantis,” said Kriseman, who has been mayor since 2014.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will provide a virtual COVID-19 update, joined by JJ Holmes, a 17-year-old student with cerebral palsy from Longwood, who has spoken out about his fears returning to school as COVID-19 rates continue to rise, noon, Zoom link available upon RSVP, and it will be livestreamed on Facebook. RSVP no later than 11 a.m. on to [email protected]

This is who Fried is meeting with:


I’m scared @GovRonDeSantis

Do I risk my education
Do I risk my life pic.twitter.com/nxWflegSYX

— JJ Holmes (@JJHoImes) August 10, 2021

Assignment editors — Ruth’s List Florida and the Dolphin Democrats will host a virtual discussion on masks in schools with Agriculture Commissioner Fried and Broward County School Board member Sarah Leonardi, 5:30 p.m., register for Zoom link here.

Which Tampa Bay state legislators and Congress members are vaccinated?” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times


—”A Florida mother held her newborn one time. Ten days later, she died from COVID-19.” via María Luisa Paúl of The Washington Post

The view from a Jacksonville ICU, Florida’s COVID-19 hot zone” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — UF Health is Jacksonville’s safety-net hospital and the only Level 1 trauma center in the city, another bit of jargon that means this hospital services some of the city’s poorest patients and some of its most injured: When someone is shot, they’re often taken here; when a prop plane crashes in south Georgia, the survivors probably end up here. Many of them end up in the emergency intake on the first floor, probably the most chaotic room in the hospital, because neither violence nor misfortune have taken a break during the pandemic. There are patients everywhere. There are beds in the aisles and hallways, a COVID-19-era necessity.

COVID-19 is worsening already chaotic ICUs.

—“Jacksonville baker known for kindness, family devotion and unwavering faith dies from COVID-19” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union

Kids as young as two weeks old hospitalized with COVID-19 in Pensacola as pediatric cases surge” via Emma Kennedy of the Pensacola News Journal — As COVID-19 hospitalizations in Escambia County climb to levels not seen so far in the pandemic and schools are back in session, the growing number of children hospitalized with the coronavirus has experts worried. Studer Family Children’s Hospital Pediatrician-in-Chief Jason Foland said that last week, he saw a two-week-old baby with COVID-19 go into cardiac arrest and has recently seen more children, from newborns to teenagers, who are in the intensive care unit or need critical care due to COVID-19. On Friday, 12 children under the age of 18 were being treated for COVID-19 at Escambia County hospitals.

‘No one should die.’ Tampa Bay doctors, nurses exhausted by COVID-19 surge” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — The COVID-19 patients arrive with depressing frequency to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Hospital North. The sickest have a similar complaint: “I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m drowning.” Everyone is assessed as soon as possible, but the community hospital has only 40 treatment rooms in its ER. Some patients are returned to the waiting room, where, even with an area divided off for those infected, they put others at risk. Over a recent weekend, the ER wait time stretched past four hours, said Dr. Brett Armstrong, the hospital’s chief of surgery. He’s heard similar stories from colleagues at other Tampa Bay hospitals.

Three Broward educators died recently from COVID-19 complications, teachers union says” via Madeleine Romance of the Miami Herald — One week before school is set to begin, three Broward County Public Schools teachers died in recent days from COVID-19 complications, Anna Fusco, elementary school teacher and Broward Teachers Union president. “It was a sad day for three schools because our teachers walked back on campus with their principals and they got the news from their families that they wouldn’t be reporting because they passed away from COVID,” Fusco said. One female teacher, who was 48, and one female teacher assistant, 49, worked at the same elementary school. The other teacher who died taught at another elementary school. She was 48.

COVID-19 infections and vaccinations break records in Alachua County” via John Henderson of The Gainesville Sun — More people than ever are getting infected with COVID-19 in Alachua County, but a record number of people also are being vaccinated, the latest figures show. Records were shattered on both fronts in the latest weekly figures for the week of Aug. 6 through Aug. 12 published Friday by the Florida Department of Health. The figures show 1,644 new positive cases in Alachua County for that week, with 3,353 people being vaccinated, which are both record highs since the department started reporting weekly in June. “We will continue to monitor the COVID numbers closely and rely on the advice of our local scientific and medical community,” County Commission Chairman Ken Cornell said in a text statement on Sunday.

Condo owners, put your masks back on. COVID-19 rules are returning.” via Amber Randall of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tens of thousands of people who live in condos in South Florida will have to start wearing masks again and following other restrictions as COVID-19 skyrockets. Despite a brief period of freedom, restrictions are returning to condos as the delta variant makes Florida one of the worst COVID-19 hot spots in the country. “If you make the decision to move into a condo, that whole decision comes with a huge responsibility for the people that you share a roof with,” said property manager Bob Westfall of the Pompano Beach Club South condominium in Pompano Beach.

Condos are reinstating mask rules.

—“Fort Lauderdale police officer dies of COVID-19; 27-year-old survived by husband, 2-year-old daughter” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Coronavirus levels hit record highs in Jupiter-area sewage tests; ‘It’s discouraging’” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — Stark new data about the prevalence in COVID-19 in the Jupiter area has come from an important if often overlooked source: a local sewer system. The Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District, which provides sewage services for about 100,000 customers in northern Palm Beach County, collected wastewater samples from its treatment facility Sunday and Monday and sent them to Massachusetts-based Biobot Analytics to determine the presence of the coronavirus. Test results from samples show the area’s highest virus levels since the district started sampling wastewater in May 2020.

—“Brevard COVID-19 cases keep climbing with ‘quite substantial’ increase of 4,344 in last week” via Dave Berman and Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today

—”Brevard Public Schools report over 700 cases, 1,500 quarantines since beginning of August” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today

—”Winter Haven, Bartow hospitals pause elective surgeries because of COVID-19 hospitalizations” via Sara-Megan Walsh The Lakeland Ledger

—”COVID-19 in schools: Cases surge during first week in Sarasota-Manatee” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

—”Manatee County shuts down its public libraries following COVID-19 outbreak” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

UF does 180-degree turn, says classes will be in person, as scheduled” via Stephany Matat for The Gainesville Sun — UF President Kent Fuchs released a late-night statement saying all classes will be in person, as planned. “In efforts to manage the pandemic’s effects on university life, there have been discussions about moving some courses online for the first three weeks of the semester,” Hessy Fernandez, director of issues management and crisis communications, said in an email to The Sun. “The decision was made today that UF will not pursue that option,” Fernandez said. Classes start Aug. 23, and university officials initially planned to have this semester return fully in person. The email said the reason for the possible shift was to give students more time to get vaccinated.


Tropical Storm Fred expected to hit Florida Panhandle on Monday” via Robin Webb, Angie DiMichele, and Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tropical Storm Fred regained its strength Sunday as it continued on a path toward the western Florida Panhandle, where it could make landfall Monday afternoon or night, forecasters said. Fred could bring a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet in the Panhandle, particularly along the Florida-Alabama border to Indian Pass. The deepest water was expected near and to the east of wherever Fred makes landfall. “Wind shear should prevent Fred from intensifying too quickly over the warm Gulf waters,” according to the Weather Channel.

Tropical storm Fred makes a beeline for the Panhandle.

Florida DEP files motion for emergency hearing due to possibility of flooding at Piney Point” via WFTS — On Saturday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed a motion for an emergency hearing due to the possibility of flooding or overtopping at Piney Point. The DEP says Piney Point has gotten 22 inches of rain since the first of June. They say they’re expecting at another 11.5 inches by the end of September, and possibly up to 24.9 inches if extreme rainfall occurs. But they say the ponds atop the Piney Point gypsum stack only have the capacity to hold another 10 inches. The DEP says HRK, the owners of Piney Point, has failed to safely operate the phosphogypsum stack system at the site and remove the water in the compartments atop the stacks. It is required they do so by HRK’s Consent Order with the department. Now the DEP is requesting an independent third party to oversee the management and closure of Piney Point. To read the entire court filing, click here.

State program for disabled students continues underperforming during pandemic” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Vocational Rehabilitation, or VR, is a federally mandated program administered by states. In Florida, it is overseen by the Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The modern incarnation was created in 2014 when Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Without instruction and professional development, many of the students and young adults served by VR would face near-insurmountable barriers to employment. Yet many students who meet VR’s eligibility requirements have been left out because labyrinthine application process. According to survey results, 81% of VR customers were satisfied with Florida’s VR program and the services they received last fiscal year. But the same survey also showed that nearly a quarter ran into a problem.

Bad look here, sir — “Immigrant advocates: Rick Roth’s comments linking COVID-19 spike to undocumented migrants ‘racist’” via Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post — Officials with the Guatemalan Maya Center in Lake Worth Beach say Republican state Rep. Roth made offensive remarks about undocumented immigrants during a virtual meeting this week with local community leaders to promote vaccination efforts. Roth allegedly connected the swelling number of COVID-19 cases nationwide to the surge of migrants on the U.S.-Mexican border and urged those participating in Wednesday’s call to write Biden and urge him to close the border. Public health experts say undocumented migrants are not behind rising infections in the U.S. The primary culprits are people who refuse to get vaccinated.

Thad Altman: We need to make Indian River Lagoon Florida’s next big rescue” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — After touring the northern Indian River Lagoon with biologists Thursday, Reps. Altman and Rene Plasencia expressed some hope but also issued dire calls for action to rescue the lagoon and save the manatees that are dying there. Altman, the veteran lawmaker from Indialantic, has been active in Indian River Lagoon preservation and restoration efforts since he was a Brevard County Commissioner in the 1980s. What he saw Thursday left him deeply disturbed after a boat trip with Plasencia and biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the St. Johns River Water Management District. It also made him even more firmly committed to making lagoon restoration, including the St. Johns River system, a top priority for Florida.

Indian River Lagoon should be Florida’s next big project, says Rene Plasencia and Thad Altman.

Glades leaders say Palm Beach Post ‘attack story’ ignores facts, local voices” via Florida Politics — The Palm Beach Post teamed up with ProPublica for a series of stories on the impact of sugar-cane burning on South Florida Glades communities. Local leaders say the stories left out many facts and failed to include their perspectives. “It is frustrating when reporters write attack stories about the Glades without any knowledge of our region or voices from within this community,” said CyNedra Blake. Health leaders from the area have taken issue as well. “As documented by the Palm Beach County Health Department, the air quality in Belle Glade and throughout Palm Beach County is good, with pollution levels lower than the state average,” said Dr. Wilhelmina Lewis, president and Chief Executive Officer of Florida Community Health Centers.

— 2022 —

In ‘Westonzuela,’ glimpses of Florida’s race for Governor” via Steve Bousquet of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The silver-haired guy in the polo shirt and jeans slipped inside a west Broward bakery practically unnoticed. Hardly anybody looked up from their coffee and croissants, so they didn’t even notice a former governor, Charlie Crist, as he entered this spot in Weston known for its freshly baked French pastries. As part of Crist’s “Opportunity for All” tour, he was in this Fort Lauderdale suburb known as “Westonzuela,” where he met Wednesday with a few members of the area’s growing Venezuelan community. This was the day after the Broward School Board faced down an intransigent DeSantis and kept its mask mandate in place for all students.

Charlie Crist brings the campaign to Southeast Florida.

Silly —”‘Recall DeSantis’ petition hits 35,000 target as delta variant devastates Florida” via Jack Dutton of Newsweek

Slip into Florida: Charlie Crist would create new office to welcome Sunshine State newcomers” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Moving to Florida will become even easier if Crist has anything to say about it. Crist, running to replace DeSantis, announced his intention to create the Office for New Floridians that would assist some 900 people who move to Florida every day. That works out to nearly 330,000 new Floridians every year. And Crist’s campaign says the former Republican Governor, now a Democrat, wants to welcome them with “open arms.” The campaign even has a URL in mind: WelcometoFlorida.gov. New Floridians are an essential part of the economy of our state, the news release says.

Happening today — Crist will speak at a virtual meeting of the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee, 6 p.m., event link here.

Happening today — Fried will speak at a virtual meeting of the Mid-County Democratic Club in Palm Beach County, 7 p.m., Zoom link here.

Alan Grayson enters race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Brash, progressive former U.S. Rep. Grayson is running for the U.S. Senate. The three-term Democratic former Congressman from Central Florida has been exploring the possibility of a U.S. Senate run since March. On Friday, he began running social media ads attacking Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and touting his own commitment to universal health care. “I think we were pretty much there,” Grayson told Florida Politics Friday. “Now we’re going to try to take it up a notch.” Grayson is known for taking it up a notch. Or two.

“Elections supervisor imposes vaccine mandate for all poll workers in Broward special congressional election” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott has told poll workers they must be vaccinated for COVID-19 if they wish to work during the upcoming special primary and general elections to fill a congressional vacancy. Scott said poll workers come can come into close contact with hundreds of voters, some of whom will be unmasked and unvaccinated. He said his directive, which he vetted with the office’s legal counsel, is designed to enhance public safety.

How does Peter Feaman’s PAC spend its money? Mostly by raising more money.” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Republican National Committeeman Feaman’s Keep Florida Red PAC with high overhead costs for the committee, particularly the price of conducting fundraising itself, not only raises questions about the fiscal responsibility but also about the practices currently employed in gathering small-dollar donations. Feaman formed Keep Florida Red in January 2020, and over the course of the calendar year, raised $50,868 in contributions. The bulk of the spending went to a single vendor LGM Consulting Group, for fundraising fees. In total, Keep Florida Red reported payments to the Delaware company just this year of $104,528, or around 62% of all money raised, and almost 72% of all dollars spent by the committee went to a single vendor.

Peter Feaman is spending more on fundraising than keeping Florida red.

Bryan Avila eclipses $200K raised in two months as he pursues Miami-Dade County Commission seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Avila raised nearly $68,000 in July for his bid for Miami-Dade County Commission, giving him more than $200,000 in just two months since declaring his candidacy. Thanks to his eight years serving in the House, Avila has a deep well of donors to tap into. Facing term limits in 2022, Avila is competing against Ibis Valdés to determine who will succeed Rebeca Sosa in District 6 on the County Commission. Sosa, too is barred from running again due to term limits. Valdés raised just over $7,700 in July. Avila announced his intent to run for the seat on June 1. That month, Avila pulled in nearly $132,000, thanks partly to contributions from his fellow House Republicans. Avila is serving as House Speaker Pro Tempore in his final term.


‘This is starting to look really ominous in the South,’ expert says, as U.S. is among nations with highest rate of new COVID-19 cases” via Aya Elamroussi of CNN — The U.S. remains among nations with the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases, driven mostly by a surge in the South, where many states are lagging in getting people vaccinated against the coronavirus. “This is starting to look really ominous in the South. … If you look at rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they’re actually probably the highest in the world,” Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said. On a state-by-state comparison, Louisiana has the highest rate of new cases per capita, followed by Florida.

COVID-19 in the South is spiking at an alarming rate.

New COVID-19 hospitalizations for 30- to 39-year-olds at record rate” via Melanie Evans and Taylor Umlauf of The Wall Street Journal — Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in their 30s have hit a record, U.S. government data show, a sign of the toll that the highly contagious delta variant is taking among the unvaccinated. Thirty-somethings, who are in prime ages for work and parenting, had largely avoided hospital stays for COVID-19 during earlier phases of the pandemic because of their relative good health. Yet, the age group is seeing new COVID-19 hospital admissions increase during the recent delta-driven surge, which doctors and epidemiologists attribute to the failure of large numbers of Americans to get vaccinated and their highly active lives.

Inside America’s COVID-19-reporting breakdown” via Erin Banco of POLITICO — COVID-19 was spreading rapidly throughout the United States, as cold winter weather began to drive people indoors, but the CDC was flying blind: The state agencies that it relied on were way behind in their tracking, with numbers trickling in from labs by fax or even snail mail. Inside the state health department in Oklahoma City, staffers shuffled through piles of paper they’d pulled out of fax machines and sorted through hundreds of secure emails to upload COVID-19 lab results manually to the state’s digital dashboard, a system that often malfunctioned. When the data came in, state employees routinely found errors, instances where a person was counted twice, or two people with the same name were identified as a single patient.

‘I feel defeated’: Mask and vaccine mandates cause new divides as officials try to head off virus surge’” via Dan Diamond, Kim Mueller, Alex Baumhardt and April Capochino Myers of The Washington Post — At hospitals, mandatory deadlines for staffers to get coronavirus shots are arriving. At big corporations such as United Airlines and Google, workers are told to roll up their sleeves. Even unions that once balked at vaccine mandates are signaling support. And it’s not just shots: In dozens of cities and counties, indoor mask mandates are back, with city leaders and public health officials arguing the requirements are necessary to save lives and preserve the economic recovery. In some corners of the nation, the government mandates extend to vaccination.

Mounting lawsuits, federal government challenge DeSantis, Greg Abbott bans on mask mandates” via Meryl Kornfield of MSN — DeSantis and Abbott are encountering mounting challenges in their quest to ban mandates requiring masks in schools, as lawsuits advance through the courts and the Biden administration steps in to back districts requiring face coverings. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote both governors and their education chiefs to express concern about recent executive actions prohibiting school districts from “voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the CDC.”

The battle for school mask mandates heats up. Image via AP.

U.S. preparing plan to offer vaccine boosters, perhaps by fall” via Sharon LaFraniere of MSN — With a stockpile of at least 100 million doses at the ready, Biden administration officials are developing a plan to start offering coronavirus booster shots to some Americans as early as this fall even as researchers continue to hotly debate whether extra shots are needed, according to people familiar with the effort. The first boosters are likely to go to nursing home residents and health care workers, followed by other older people near the front of the line when vaccinations began late last year. Officials envision giving people the same vaccine they originally received. They have discussed starting the effort in October but have not settled on a timetable.


Appeals court asked to block Biden’s retooled eviction ban” via Josh Gerstein and Katy O’Donnell of POLITICO — Opponents of the federal government’s pandemic-related eviction ban asked a federal appeals court Saturday to block the latest version of the policy, which the Biden administration rolled out under pressure last week after allowing an earlier version to expire. Landlords and two chapters of the National Association of Realtors asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for “immediate” action to prevent enforcement of the moratorium issued by the CDC. The dispute, which seems certain to be resolved by the Supreme Court, looks likely to get a ruling from the D.C. Circuit by the end of next week.

Joe Biden gets legal pushback on his hastily renewed eviction ban. Image via AP.


27 cruise ships have reported COVID-19 infections. Why can’t we find out how many?” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Cruise lines and government agencies are not making that data publicly available as the cruise industry resumes operations from U.S.-based ports. Critics who want to see more transparency say cruise consumers and community members deserve to know how successful cruise lines are at preventing the spread of the virus. Twenty-seven ships that currently operate or will be operating in U.S. waters have reported COVID-19 infections to the CDC since cruising resumed this summer. Of the 27 ships, 14 are sailing with passengers. Ten have not yet returned to passenger service and are operating with crew members only.

So, how many COVID-19 cases are on cruise ships? Image via AP.


Biden administration makes record increase to food stamp benefits” via Helena Bottemiller Evich of POLITICO — The Biden administration plans to unveil a major permanent increase to the food stamp benefits that help 42 million Americans buy groceries, a record bump up for one of the country’s largest safety net programs. The average monthly benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be roughly 27% higher than they were before the pandemic, starting Oct. 1. That comes out to an increase of about 40 cents per meal. The change comes right as millions of households were set to face a benefits cliff, as the current 15% pandemic plus-up that Congress authorized at the end of last year is set to expire Sept. 30.

Joe Biden pushes a huge expansion of the SNAP program. Image via CNN.

Biden administration ordered to reinstate Donald Trump’s remain in Mexico policy” via Michelle Hackman of The Wall Street Journal — A federal judge in Texas has ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the Remain in Mexico program, a Trump-era immigration policy that required migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexican border cities. Biden wound down the program, which the Department of Homeland Security under Trump introduced in 2019 at the height of a surge in Central American families coming to the U.S. border. In a ruling late Friday, U.S. Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas said the policy’s elimination was arbitrary and violated federal law because the administration didn’t properly consider the benefits of the program. He also wrote that ending it has contributed to the current border surge.


Trump has reportedly rejected multiple pleas from allies to promote vaccinations” via Christian Spencer of The Hill — Trump has done very little with his big platform, albeit less visible since being ousted on social media, to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, observers say. Trump either does not want to do favors for Biden or risk alienating his core supporters who indicated in polling they are somewhat against the vaccines. Trump and his family are vaccinated, and the former President has expressed some public support for vaccines. People close to Trump say he is more worried about his poll numbers among his followers, “he doesn’t want to push too hard on the subject, to not ‘piss off his base,’ ” one of the sources said.

Donald Trump refuses to help promote vaccinations.


Homeland Security considers outside firms to analyze social media after Jan. 6 failure” via Rachael Levy of The Wall Street Journal — The Department of Homeland Security is considering hiring private companies to analyze public social media for warning signs of extremist violence, spurring debate within the agency over how to monitor for such threats while protecting Americans’ civil liberties. The effort, which remains under discussion and hasn’t received approval or funding, would involve sifting through large internet traffic flows to help identify online narratives that might provide leads on developing attacks, whether from home or abroad. The initiative comes after the nation’s intelligence community failed to sufficiently identify and share signs of the threats that led to the assault on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

Social media could give hints of what was to come on Jan. 6. Image via AP.


Nancy Pelosi takes step to quell moderates’ budget rebellion” via The Associated Press — House Speaker Pelosi is proposing a procedural vote this month that would set up future passage of two economic measures crucial to Biden’s domestic agenda, a move Democratic leaders hope will win votes from unhappy party moderates. In a letter Sunday to Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi suggested that the House take a single vote that would clear an initial hurdle for a budget resolution and a separate infrastructure bill. The budget blueprint would open the gate for Congress to later consider a separate, $3.5 trillion, 10-year bill for social and environmental programs.

Nancy Pelosi walks a budgetary tightrope. Image via AP.


Rest in peaceBill Horne, Clearwater city manager for 20 years, dies at 72, three weeks before retirement” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — To carry Clearwater into the 21st century, Commissioners chose Horne, a retired senior Air Force colonel known for his calm demeanor and unquestionable ethics. Horne, who led Clearwater as city manager for 20 years, died Saturday of a suspected heart attack, the city’s communications director Joelle Castell confirmed. Horne was 72 and three weeks away from his planned retirement. “Yesterday, we lost a patriot, mentor, leader, public servant, veteran and role model. I lost my friend,” Mayor Frank Hibbard said.

RIP: Longtime Clearwater city manager Bill Horne dies at 72.

‘A real tragedy for our community’: J.T. Burnette verdict news reverberates at Chamber Conference” via William L. Hatfield and TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Ben Graybar with Gantt Financial Group was speaking on a panel about cybersecurity at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference Friday when the “announcement pinged everyone’s phone.” Burnette was convicted on five of nine counts in a host of public corruption charges. For many who knew Burnette, like Graybar, the news was surprising. “We’re all sort of digesting what that means, as he was someone who was here previously,” Graybar said.

‘Evil men and their 12 trolls’: State attorney blasts Jeremy Matlow at Tallahassee Chamber Conference” via William Hatfield of the Tallahassee Democrat — A day after Tallahassee Chamber leaders pledged to be more vocal and visible in the issues of the day and elections, State Attorney Jack Campbell took the podium at the annual conference and dropped a bomb that will echo all the way to the 2022 local elections. “We need Jeremy Matlow out of office,” Campbell said to loud applause. He delivered the fiery criticism of the outspoken commissioner to the more than 200 gathered during the COVID-19 pandemic at scattered tables and chairs across two separate rooms.

Chamber Conference: See what’s coming and going in Tallahassee development plans” via Tamaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — While office space leasing took a nose-dive in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parts of the capital city are exploding with growth while others are seeing steady development. A lightning round of updates came at Sunday’s closeout of the annual conference hosted by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. Ed Murray, president at NAI TALCOR and a commercial real estate broker, led the presentation. It featured a snapshot of robust development in the CollegeTown area by Zimmer Development Company, which built Stadium Enclave and Urban Enclave apartment properties.

“Preventing the next Joel Greenberg: Seminole officials want more oversight of tax office in scandal’s wake” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — During his time as Seminole tax collector, investigators say Greenberg doled out millions of public dollars on murky consulting contracts and salaries to friends and associates for little or no work, embezzled hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to buy himself cryptocurrency and used an office credit card to buy sports memorabilia, among other abuses of his position. But more than a year after Greenberg was arrested and resigned, County Commissioner Jay Zembower worries there is little to stop a future tax collector from committing the same transgressions.

Anthony Rodriguez nears $300K raised since entering Miami-Dade County Commission contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Rodriguez added another $59,000 in July as he seeks a transition to the Miami-Dade County Commission. Rodriguez has shown his fundraising prowess since entering the race on June 1. In two months, he’s raised just shy of $300,000 for the District 10 Commission contest, far outpacing his opponent, Miami-Dade Libertarian Party Vice Chair Martha Bueno. In July, Bueno raised just under $600 and has collected just over $13,000 since declaring her candidacy in February. That $13,000 total includes a $10,000 loan from Bueno to her campaign. As of July 31, Bueno holds less than $6,900 in her campaign account. Rodriguez maintains a war chest of nearly $523,000.

Danielle Cohen Higgins gains construction, real estate cash to defend Miami-Dade Commission seat” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Higgins outspent the $6,500 she raised to retain her seat representing District 8 on the nonpartisan Miami-Dade Commission last month. But with about $243,000 banked so far, she still holds a commanding fundraising lead over two of three challengers. All but $1,500 Cohen Higgins received in July came from the construction and real estate sectors, which have shown increasing interest in the comparatively underdeveloped southeastern portion of the county that includes Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay and Homestead. All of those donors listed addresses in South Florida, but none were in Miami-Dade.

‘Speechless.’ Shock of another devastating earthquake rocks Miami’s Little Haiti” via Bianca Padró Ocasio Devoun Cetoute and Carl Juste of the Miami Herald — The news of the earthquake resonated with South Florida’s sizable Haitian American community, many of whom were trying to reach family members back home even as musicians and business owners prepared to host a lively all-day Caribbean Market Day. Down the street at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church, Maritza Reiher lit a candle in prayer for her home country. Reiher, 52, came to Florida from Haiti to celebrate a baptism. She has lived in the country her whole life, surviving the historic 2010 earthquake.

The deadly Haitian earthquake rocks Florida. Image via AP.

Hallandale Beach condo in compliance but must make repairs, city says” via Chris Perkins and Steve Svekis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Hallandale Beach condominium — required to repair various aspects of its infrastructure by Sunday afternoon or face a mandatory evacuation, is in compliance but must continue to make repairs, the city announced. The city said Sunday that the Olympus Towers Condominium and Marina “does comply with the Building Safety Advisory Notice requirements posted on August 13, 2021; hence, mandatory evacuation is no longer necessary.”

Florida toddler accidentally shoots and kills mother while she is on a Zoom work call, police say” via Timothy Bella of The Washington Post — A toddler accidentally shot and killed a Florida woman who was on a Zoom call with her co-workers this week, after the child found an unsecured, loaded handgun, police said. Shamaya Lynn, 21, has been identified by local media as the mother of the child who fatally shot her Wednesday morning in Altamonte Springs, Florida. A co-worker on the Zoom call told the Altamonte Springs Police Department that they saw a toddler in the background of Lynn’s Orlando-area apartment and heard a noise. Lynn fell backward and never returned to the call, the co-worker told police. When police and paramedics responded around 11 a.m., they found the 21-year-old with a fatal gunshot wound to her head.

Guest died after riding Disney’s Spaceship Earth, theme park injury report says” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — The agency publicly releases a report every three months meant to reveal the most serious injuries at Florida’s theme parks. As part of an agreement that exempts them from state inspection, major theme parks statewide must self-disclose injuries that required visitors to be hospitalized for at least 24 hours. The report, updated July 15, includes injuries at Orlando-area theme parks reported from April to June ranging from mild to severe. The report showed that Walt Disney World and SeaWorld each had four injuries reported at their parks for the three-month period. Universal Orlando had one reported injury, while Legoland had none.


John Thrasher bids Florida State University, Tallahassee community, a personal farewell” via John Thrasher for the Tallahassee Democrat — Today marks my last day as president of Florida State University, a place that has held my heart since the first day I arrived on campus as a 17-year-old freshman. To say this has been my dream job does not even begin to capture what an honor and a joy it has been to lead my beloved alma mater. I want to express my deep and sincere appreciation to everyone who has contributed to FSU’s success during the course of my presidency. Florida State comprises thousands of people who care deeply about educating students from all walks of life. We’re making the world a better place — and everyone here makes a difference in some way, every day.


In Florida, we’ve gone from rendezvous to Regeneron” via Mark Woods of the Florida Times-Union — As a wannabe-ranger since childhood, I was excited about having something called “Ranger Rendezvous” come to Jacksonville. The event started in 1977 when 33 national park rangers met in Wyoming after the busy summer season. They thought of this informal gathering as the continuation of an old-fashioned rendezvous, where traders held a large meeting once a year in the wilderness to exchange goods, tell stories and engage in some revelry. Since then, Ranger Rendezvous has grown, turning into an annual nearly weeklong gathering. Like so much else in 2020, that event was canceled by COVID-19. It was rescheduled for this October — and then canceled again last weekend.

Spike in COVID-19 cases throughout Panhandle didn’t have to happen” via the Northwest Florida Daily News — Recent reporting from the Pensacola News Journal’s Emma Kennedy introduced readers to Sandy English, an Escambia County resident who didn’t decide to get a COVID-19 vaccination until recent weeks when her unvaccinated son and pregnant daughter-in-law, who are both in their 20s, fell extremely ill with COVID-19. “I kind of felt like the walls were closing in,” English said while waiting in line for her shot at the Brownsville Community Center last week. The vaccination rates throughout the Panhandle are below 50%, including just 38% fully vaccinated in Bay County, 39% in Walton County, and 48% in Okaloosa County.

With 2020 census in hand, Florida lawmakers have one job: Don’t screw it up again” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Lawmakers, don’t mess up Florida’s redistricting process again. The Legislature set a bad precedent the last time it reconfigured the state’s maps for Congress, the Florida House and Senate after the 2010 census. They will start that process again after receiving 2020 census numbers, released Thursday, that is expected to give Florida a new congressional seat for a total of 28 thanks to the state’s population growth. The point of redistricting is to reflect population changes in each district and make sure communities are adequately represented. But the process last time wasn’t just bad; it was shameful.

Scott Maddox’s sordid story is not the story of this community” via Mary Ann Lindley for the Tallahassee Democrat — While attempting to connect the dots during the federal corruption trial of Florida businessman Burnette, I came to a full stop with his tip to an FBI undercover cop. To the agent trying to worm his way into a business deal needing City Commission support, Burnette advised that then-Commissioner Maddox was the most “sophisticated” of local officials, meaning the go-to guy for bribery. Tallahassee doesn’t deserve such a black eye or casual cancel culture speculation that government corruption is rampant. Maddox’s Olympian gift for deception masquerading as charm became obvious during the Burnette trial for extortion under the withering eye of no-nonsense federal Judge Robert Hinkle.


The showdown over masks in schools is heading to court. Parents are suing the state over the Governor’s ban on mask mandates, and the state wants the court to dismiss the lawsuit without a full hearing.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The state plans to file a motion to dismiss before noon … a decision could come by the end of the week.

— The Governor’s “no mask mandate” is also playing out in the court of public opinion. School boards in Alachua and Broward have ignored DeSantis’ threat to cut their funding if they require students to mask up.

— Broward County School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood says they know from firsthand experience that masks prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

— It was quite a week in Florida: 152,000 cases of COVID-19 and 1,071 fatalities. Agriculture Commissioner Fried says we’re doing worse than Third World nations — all of them.

— And finally, the stories of two Florida Men: One was busted for threatening Disney executives with C-4 plastic explosives and hand grenades; the other stole $13 million and spent it on internet porn.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Bucs waive former Navy defensive back Cameron Kinley” via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times — Kinley spent months trying to get his commission delayed so he could pursue an NFL career. Eventually, he convinced the U.S. Department of Defense to let him give football a chance. It didn’t last long. Kinley was among three players waived Sunday by the Bucs after only one preseason game. Kinley had six tackles, including five solos, in the Bucs’ 19-14 loss to the Bengals Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs also waived tight end De’Quan Hampton and receiver Josh Pearson.

The Bucs cut loose Cameron Kinley. Image via Buccaneers.com.

First renderings released of St. Regis Longboat Key Resort” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The architect for the long-planned St. Regis Longboat Key Resort and Residences has released the most detailed renderings yet of what will replace The Colony development on the barrier island. St. Regis Longboat Key Resort and Residences plans a fall 2021 groundbreaking to see a five-star hotel with 166 rooms and 69 private luxury condominiums built by Unicorp National Developments. Plans call for the construction to be complete and the resort to open its doors by spring of 2024. The interior design will pay homage to Sarasota’s culture and history by “gesturing toward the intersection of circus and dance.”


Celebrating today are Matt Choy, Robert “Hawk” Hawken, journalist Michael Grunwald, the City of St. Pete’s Ben Kirby, and political consultant Rockie Pennington.


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

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