Sunburn The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics 6.11.20 – Florida Politics

Posted: June 11, 2020 at 4:51 am


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This could have been his moment.

With racial tension boiling over across the United States, African American voices are being heard in a way the nation hasnt seen since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps even louder. The resonating message is resonating beyond the liberal corners its typically dominated and into the mainstream and even across party lines.

Never has there been a better time for African American leaders to shine.

Imagine how much Andrew Gillum would be in the spotlight right now had he not slipped into the salacious realm of drug use and South Florida partying.

Andrew Gillum: This could have been his moment.

Gillum, once the rising-est rising star in Florida politics, stayed in the spotlight even after he narrowly lost the 2018 Governors race to Ron DeSantis. He was all over CNN as a political commentator. He was the face of Florida Democrats get out the vote efforts. There was even talk of him being a VP contender in 2020.

That was all before police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd in what became a pivotal point in racial tensions nationwide. As a black Democrat in the spotlight, he would have been a beacon of hope for the black community.

As much as the 2018 Governors race was historic few expected Gillum, a progressive Democrat, to topple the establishment machine behind Gwen Graham this time of nationwide protests and boiled over anger over institutional racism could have been Gillums moment.

His greatest political tragedy may now no longer be his infamous night in a South Florida hotel surrounded by booze, drugs and, allegedly, a male escort. Instead, it might be that he is now sidelined because of it.

Even as one of Gillums fiercest political critics, theres no denying he would have been at the front of a now-global movement.

Im no stranger to the dark side. The skeletons in my closet are no secret and are still weaponized by those who seek to discredit me (looking at you Anthony Sabatini). But those experiences, and the rebirth that I experienced when I found love, got married and became a dad, reshaped my life and I believe I am a better man for it.

If Gillum truly deconstructs his past mistakes and excises his demons, I know from firsthand experience that there can and IS a second act waiting for him. Hes too talented too capable too ambitious not to find his way back.

Some will argue his moment has passed, even if he enjoys a full rehabilitation, which I hope he does.

But its fair to consider another thing. Gillums slip into oblivion, fueled by addiction, came, according to his own words, after he fell into depression following his personally heartbreaking loss in 2018.

His critics asked the question following his Miami escapade: Can you imagine if we had Andrew Gillum in the Governors mansion? The state dodged a bullet, those critics argue.

Maybe we did. Maybe we did for other reasons, too. But maybe, just maybe, Gillums battle with addiction might not have happened had he won. Maybe the loss was too much. Maybe it pushed him into the dark, into the grim world of drugs and decline. If thats the case, he has a path forward.

Either way, this could have been his moment.

___

There is so much going on in the world right now. A pandemic. A national movement to improve race relations. A news cycle that changes so quick a major headline that would have once dominated the news for days is now defunct within hours.

But at our core, we are a political news organization dedicated to providing a deep look into the entire Process. With primary elections for state races just over two months away, its important that we continue that mission, even as we continue following the daily onslaught of headline-making news on protests and virus counts.

The work has already begun.

Take our work this week on the All Voters Vote initiative. Reporter Jason Delgado interviewed several key figures in the debate over whether to open Floridas primaries and found something shocking the issue united Democrats and Republicans, two groups with fundamentally different political ideologies who found common ground in opposing the measure, which will appear on this years ballot as Amendment 3.

Where supporters see an opportunity to involve more voters by putting all candidates on the primary ballot, rather than just those of a single party, Democratic and Republican establishment leaders see a potential erosion of party autonomy.

His table-setting piece lays out both sides of the argument and evaluates data suggesting maybe party politics are exactly why such a move is desired.

In another in-depth piece, Andrew Meacham provides a close-up look at Fiona McFarland, a Republican hoping to reclaim House District 72 for Republicans after Democrats flipped it in 2018. His narrative weaves in and out of the districts history, McFarlands experience in the Navy and her struggles coping with criticism against her mom and chief consultant, K.T. McFarland, who worked for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

A deep-dive into the candidacy of Fiona McFarland is the sort of thing to expect from Florida Politics. Image via Jacob Ogles

Both are examples of what Florida Politics has become known for: Going deep under the surface of day to day headlines and learning from the people who make politics, well, politics.

Weve only just begun. As the elections draw closer, we want every legislative candidate to know these are the questions we want to ask you all. Just send me an email.

DAYS UNTIL

Last day of state candidate qualifying 1; Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks release 5; Belmont Stakes rescheduled 9; Fathers Day 10; Apple to hold Developer Conference 11; NBA training camp 19; The Outpost with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres 22; NBA teams travel to Orlando 26; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen 30; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen 34; Federal taxes due 34; Christopher Nolans Tenet premieres 36; Mulan premieres 43; TED conference rescheduled 44; NBA season restart in Orlando 50; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins 67; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races 68; NBA draft lottery 73; Indy 500 rescheduled 73; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte 76; Rev. Al Sharptons D.C. March 78; A Quiet Place Part II premieres 85; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby 86; Rescheduled date for French Open 103; First presidential debate in Indiana 111; Preakness Stakes rescheduled 114; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah 121; NBA season ends (last possible date) 123; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan 126; NBA draft 126; Wes Andersons The French Dispatch premieres 127; NBA free agency 129; Third presidential debate at Belmont 135; 2020 General Election 146; Black Widow premieres 149; NBA 2020-21 training camp 152; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit 159; No Time to Die premieres 166; NBA 2020-21 opening night 173; Top Gun: Maverick premieres 215; Super Bowl LV in Tampa 241; New start date for 2021 Olympics 407; Jungle Cruise premieres 416; Spider-Man Far From Home sequel premieres 512; Thor: Love and Thunder premieres 610; Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres 652; Black Panther 2 premieres 694; Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel premieres 848.

AMERICA SMOLDERING

Enough is enough: George Floyds brother pleads with Congress to act to stem police brutality via Paul Kane of The Washington Post With negotiations on both ends of the Capitol heightening, Philonise Floyd put a personal face on a death that had been, in his estimation, almost desensitized by the recurring loop of his older brothers video-recorded death on TV news. I couldnt take care of George that day he was killed, but maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death would not be in vain. To make sure that he is more than another face on a T-shirt. More than another name on a list that wont stop growing, Floyd told the House Judiciary Committee. He went on to tell the panel that he was tired of pain, pain you feel when you watch something like that, when you watch your big brother who you looked up to your whole life die, die begging for his mom.

Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, arrives to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed changes to police practices and accountability on Capitol Hill. Image via AP.

Floyds brother pleads with Congress: make it stop via Catie Edmondson of The New York Times Philonise Floyd, whose brothers death in police custody has inspired two weeks of sprawling protests across the country, made an impassioned plea to Congress to enact sweeping changes to law enforcement in America to address police brutality and systemic racism. I am asking you, is that what a black mans life is worth? Twenty dollars? Floyd asked. This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. Floyd was the first witness and marquee voice among more than a half-dozen civil rights experts and activists at a hearing called to consider the most expansive federal intervention into law enforcement that lawmakers have proposed in recent memory, which was put forth by Democrats this week.

The army was open to replacing Confederate base names. Then Donald Trump said no. via John Ismay of The New York Times Monuments and memorials bearing the names of men who fought to preserve slavery and uphold white supremacy are facing a reckoning, as demonstrations against police brutality have erupted across the country in response to the killing of Floyd. A Pentagon official said Monday that Secretary of Defense Mark P. Esper and Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy were open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic of removing Confederate names from the bases. Trump was quick to shut down any bipartisan discussions, tweeting, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.

After killing of Floyd, white liberals embrace ideas that once seemed radical via Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post Among white liberals, the anger and unrest that followed Floyds death have provoked a far different reaction, leading them to embrace positions that only a few weeks ago might have seemed radical or unthinkable. The response follows a pattern that has held for much of the past decade as white liberals have moved dramatically to the left on racial issues. The change in white liberal attitudes, which one journalist described as a Great Awokening, has coincided with the rise of Trumps brazenly racial politics as well as a series of police killings of black men caught on video.

Defund the police? Heres what that really means. via Christy E. Lopez of The Washington Post Since Floyds death, a long-simmering movement for police abolition has become part of the national conversation, recast slightly as a call to defund the police. Defunding the police is not as scary as it sounds, and engaging on this topic is necessary if we are going to achieve the kind of public safety we need. Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what the government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need.

LeBron James and other stars form a voting rights group via Jonathan Martin of The New York Times James and a group of other prominent black athletes and entertainers are starting a new group aimed at protecting African Americans voting rights, seizing on the widespread fury against racial injustice that has fueled worldwide protests to amplify their voices in this falls presidential election. Because of everything thats going on, people are finally starting to listen to us we feel like were finally getting a foot in the door, James said in a phone interview on Wednesday. The organization, called More Than a Vote, will partly be aimed at inspiring African Americans to register and to cast a ballot in November.

NASCAR bans Confederate flag at all events and properties via Dan Mangan of CNBC Auto racing giant NASCAR said that it is banning the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties. The announcement is sure to be controversial with a number of NASCAR fans, some of whom continue to display Confederate flags and symbols at racing events even five years after the organization asked fans not to do so. Also, NASCAR removed its rule mandating that racing team members stand for the national anthem. It is not clear how NASCAR plans to enforce the ban.

NASCAR said it is banning the flying of Confederate flags at its races. Image via AP.

Song of the South trends as critics tackle Disney film, Splash Mountain via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel The debate over Disney film Song of the South reemerged Wednesday as the term began trending on Google, with critics tackling both the film and its presence at the companys theme parks in the form of its Splash Mountain attraction. The 1946 film is considered to be racist by some, a story about life on a Southern plantation, famous for its song Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. It featured live-action including narration from a character named Uncle Remus, but also animated characters like Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. Walt Disney Co. officials did not include the film among the archival options in its rollout of the Disney+ streaming service last year, with Bob Iger saying in 2019 to not expect it either.

FLORIDA REAX

Calls to defund police could spark Floridas criminal justice reform effort via John Haughey of The Center Square Defunding police wont get an eye blinks consideration in Florida, but a coalition of conservative groups has been questioning ever-increasing state and local law enforcement, courts and corrections costs for more than a half-decade. Sen. Jeff Brandesspearheaded the reform effort by sponsoring numerous bills, including proposals to give judges more discretion in sentencing for drug-related offenses, steer more felons to prison diversion programs, increase monthly gain time inmates earn and permit the early release of seriously ill and aging inmates. All were adopted in the Senate but not in the House.

Nikki Fried says both parties fall short on social justice On Wednesday, Fried said Democrats and Republicans are both to blame for a lack of reforms in criminal and social justice, Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reports. Im angry, too, and want to be part of the conversation and move the ball forward and make real change in our country, Fried said on a call. But it starts now, it starts here and it starts with conversations like this. Fried, Sen. Jos Javier Rodrguez, and Reps. Bobby DuBose, Tracie Davis and Fentrice Driskell criticized a lack of state Clemency Board meetings and the Amendment 4 implementing bill passed the Republican Legislature.

Nikki Fried says both parties have a responsibility for the problem in social justice.

More protests planned this week in South Florida via Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel After almost two weeks of social justice demonstrations, more are planned in the coming days. Protesters are drawing attention to both institutional racism and a string of African American deaths in police custody, including Floyd. Some protests over the past few weeks have erupted in violence and arrests, both here and across the country, but most have concluded peacefully.

Shifting from weeks of racial protests to a day of Trump flag-waving birthday rallies on land and sea via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel South Florida Trump supporters are planning to be out in full force Sunday to celebrate the presidents 74th birthday with boat flotillas, a truck rally and a motorcycle ride. The show of support comes after days of Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have spanned from West Palm Beach to Miami. Hundreds of boats adorned with Trump flags and gear will set off Sunday from Sunrise Bay near Fort Lauderdale and head north to Lake Boca. These floating Trump rallies have been dubbed Trumptillas.

Here are the 11 Jacksonville Civil War monuments, markers coming down via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union When Mayor Lenny Curry announced the removal of the bronze Confederate soldier that stood atop a 62-foot pedestal in Jacksonvilles Hemming Park for 122 years, crowds cheered. Then they asked, what else? The confederate monument is gone, Curry announced on the steps of City Hall. And the others in this city will be removed as well. We hear your voices. We have heard your voices. One day later, Currys office has provided an eleven-item list of whats coming down. It includes two additional monuments and eight historic markers. Details are sparse regarding the timeline or where items removed will go, but spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton said removal will happen over the next few weeks.

Tommy Hazouri: `Era of enlightenment for tackling Jacksonville racial disparities via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union Jacksonville City Council president-elect Hazouri said the city has entered an era of enlightenment that can take the outcry at protest rallies about racial injustice and turn them into actual progress. Hazouri said he will form a social justice committee that will act as City Councils clearinghouse for all legislation on that topic. The committee will start meeting next month. Were going to be the bold new city of enlightenment of all the cities in the South, Hazouri said during a Zoom meeting.

NAACP holds protest to demand permanent removal of the Robert E. Lee bust in downtown Fort Myers via Andrew West of the Naples Daily News A small number of protesters gathered at a Lee statue in downtown Fort Myers. One protester led the group in a chant of, no justice, no peace! James Muwakkil, president of the Lee County branch of the NAACP, said of the statue, It represents racism. It represents hate. Muwakkil continued later, what African Americans have experienced is the same as what the Confederacy represented.

Hillsboroughs sheriff, chief prosecutor talk defund the police with activists via Kavitha Surana of the Tampa Bay Times As people started the second week of marching and speaking out against police brutality in Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Countys sheriff and chief prosecutor addressed issues at the heart of the protests in a Zoom panel with activists, pastors and defense attorneys. First on the agenda: Defund the police, which has become a rallying cry for activists to speed reforming law enforcement agencies. Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister is not a fan. The idea isnt to erase law enforcement agencies, its to rethink their budgets.

Hundreds gather in Orlando to amplify black LGBTQ victims, as community feels left out of recent protests via Cristobal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel Before Mulan Williams took the microphone to speak before a crowd gathered at Orlando City Hall on Wednesday, she said she asked herself a question: Do I matter? As the black transgender woman looked out at the roughly 200 people in front of her, she got her answer. The people who did arrive to stand in the sweltering heat were vocal in their support. But after people marched by the thousands in response to the Minneapolis killing of Floyd, many who attended the significantly smaller demonstration Wednesday were left wondering whether LGBTQ people are being left out of the conversation.

Spurred by Mayors Facebook post, 200+ protesters gather in Wellington to call for social justice via Kristina Webb of The Palm Beach Post More than 200 protesters gathered outside Wellingtons Village Hall on Tuesday night, spurred to action by a Facebook post from Mayor Anne Gerwig and the recent movement for social justice. Dozens of those protesters filed inside, with roughly 60 speaking during the Village Councils public comment period. With each person allowed three minutes to speak, their comments took about three hours. Their message: Racism is in Wellington. And change needs to happen. Rumors were circulating that day that the Mall at Wellington Green could become a target of looters, prompting the mall to close early and the Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office to add additional patrols in the area.

Palm Beach Sheriffs officers prepare for protesters at the Southern bridge to Palm Beach. Image via the Palm Beach Post.

Wynwood Pride hosts virtual party to highlight black performers, raise funds for BLM via April Rubin of the Miami Herald The first-ever LBGTQ pride was a protest, and this years Wynwood Pride will be no different. After founder Jos Atencio wrapped up the annual celebration in June 2019, he couldnt have imagined that next time hed be coordinating it in the midst of a pandemic and civil rights movement. But as soon as the challenges hit, he and his team adapted, knowing they had to uphold their mission statement to serve the community in the pillars of youth, health and justice, Atencio said. All parts of the virtual festival are free, but hosts ask participants to take action however they can, via donation, signing petitions or educating others, Atencio said, calling the event a digital protest.

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

@OJPgov: @OJPOVC today announced it has awarded nearly $10 Million in an Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program grant to assist victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

@TocRadio: SCOOPLET: Multiple RNC officials tell me this morning that Washington Posts story about hosting the convention in Jacksonville is premature Phoenix, Dallas, Savannah, Nashville, Orlando still very much in the running

@briantylercohen: Trumps first campaign rally, in the aftermath of positioning himself squarely against the Black Lives Matter protests, is in the city of the Tulsa race massacre that occurred 99 years ago and takes place on Juneteenth.

@anthonypedicini: Of men who rise up against the United States in defense of a culture that promoted slavery. @GovRonDeSantis its time. Florida needs not celebrate men who took up arms against their country in the name of slavery. Retire the confederate statue, pls.

@BillGalvano: Thank you @GovRonDeSantis for lowering the flags to half-staff in honor of former Senate President [Gwen] Margolis. @FLSenate

@TomLeeFL: .@DannyBurgessFL has represented his community admirably in the halls of the Florida Legislature & has offered steadfast leadership for Floridas 1.5 million veterans. I am proud to endorse him and look forward to calling him my Senator.

@ShevrinJones: Being an elected official means having obligations to represent all people, and elected officials who dont take action on issues of racial injustice should be called out. #BlackLivesMattter

Tweet, tweet:

CORONA FLORIDA

Key indicators raise concerns among local officials about coronavirus resurgence via Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times Local elected officials say the latest coronavirus numbers give them new cause for concern as people are venturing out again and demonstrators take to the streets. For each of the past seven days, every day but Monday, the number of new coronavirus cases reported across Florida has topped 1,000, a pattern not seen since coronavirus in Florida hit its first peak in early April. Tuesday, the state reported 1,096 new patients and 53 deaths over a 24-hour period. The total number of cases in the state hit 66,000.

Several local officials in Florida are seeing some key indications of a coronavirus resurgence.

Another state inmate dies of COVID-19 via the News Service of Florida An 18th Florida inmate has died from complications of COVID-19, the state Department of Corrections reported. The inmate, whose name was not disclosed by the department, is the third prisoner to die from COVID-19 in less than a week. The Department of Health reported that the 18 inmates have died while incarcerated at Sumter Correctional Institution, Union Correctional Institution, South Florida Reception Center, Liberty Correctional Institution, Dade Correctional Institution, Everglades Correctional Institution, Blackwater River Correctional Facility and South Bay Correctional Facility.

Thousands of Floridians abruptly stopped getting $600 federal unemployment. State blames technology concerns. via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel For thousands of out-of-work Floridians, the abrupt stop to their weekly $600 federal unemployment checks was a mystery. They had been approved for and been collecting Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for weeks, on top of their state benefits, but around Memorial Day week, the checks inexplicably ceased. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity hadnt offered an explanation until this week. Paige Landrum, press secretary for the DEO, said the department identified technology concerns that may have prevented an individual from receiving their Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payment over the last few weeks and said the department is correcting the issue. Affected workers should start receiving payments again in about five business days, Landrum said.

Florida seniors get leeway for Bright Futures scholarships via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times When COVID-19 closed Floridas schools, many graduating seniors had a practical concern. They no longer had opportunities to complete the volunteer service hours, or to improve their SAT or ACT test scores, to meet the eligibility requirements for a Bright Futures scholarship. After months of receiving calls and complaints, the Florida Department of Education issued an executive order aiming to address the teens concerns. The order suspends the volunteer hours mandate. Instead, a student may submit a statement from a school counselor or other authorized administrator stating that the student intended to complete the service during 2019-20 but could not.

REOPEN FLORIDA

Assignment editors Agriculture Commissioner Fried will hold a news conference to highlight the June 15 reopening of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Tallahassee regional licensing office. Joining Fried is Steve Hurm, Director of Licensing for the department, 8:30 a.m., FDACS Tallahassee Regional Licensing Office, 1925 Capital Circle NE, Tallahassee. The media should RSVP to Franco.Ripple@FDACS.gov.

Twice-a-week school among options considered for fall via Scott Travis and Karina Elwood of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel The Broward School District has drafted a plan of school reopening scenarios, which the School Board plans to discuss Tuesday. Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic and all education has been done online. Some of the changes considered by the district include continued distance learning, staggered schedules, staggered days of attendance and limited enrollment.

Downtown Miami filled with cautious optimism as recovery begins via Gabriel Poblete of Miami Today Downtown Miami has not been Teflon during COVID-19. Still, there is cautious optimism the urban core could be seeing a return to normal, and some economic development opportunities could emerge from the pandemic. The City of Miami has begun its reopening, and by extension, downtown Miami is starting to liven up again. Shopping hubs like Brickell City Centre and Bayside Marketplace are in full swing. The city has launched its restaurant recovery program, which will allow restaurants to open into the public sidewalks, on-street parking spaces and closed traffic lanes, which helps the smaller eateries in the area that might struggle with social distancing.

Brickell City Centre is one of the downtown Miami shopping hubs that are starting to recover.

As Miami-Dade beaches open after coronavirus closure, people hurry to hit the water via Martin Vassolo and Aaron Leibowitz o the Miami Herald As visitors to South Beach stepped onto the newly reopened public beach, they were asked if they had a face covering and if they wanted to rent a lounge chair. I want to let you know some rules we have in place, Boucher Brothers employee Haizen Forero said as part of his greeting to visitors. I see you have your mask with you. Are you looking to rent today? In Miami Beach, those rules include a ban on coolers, floats and inflatable devices. Across Miami-Dade County, the new rules state that no organized sports, even between two people, may take place. Masks are not required among members of the same household, but no groups of more than 10 people are allowed to gather.

City of Naples votes to fully reopen beaches with limited parking via Karl Schneider of the Naples Daily News Naples City Council unanimously voted to reopen its beaches without any time restrictions during a special meeting. The Council also decided to reopen Naples City Pier and its concessions, the city dock to pedestrian traffic, as well as the concessions and volleyball courts at Lowdermilk Park. Parking restrictions will remain in place, limited to county and beach parking stickers. Mayor Teresa Heitmann and the council members briefly discussed the timeline of the citys beach closures. Most agreed that what counties on the East Coast were doing played into how the city moved forward with its own reopening. Collier and Lee counties both reopened beaches without time restrictions as well.

UCF to say which fall classes will be in-person by July 1 via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel UCF is planning to resume some activities on campus this fall, including in-person classes on a limited basis, and intends to tell students which courses will meet face-to-face by July 1. President Alexander Cartwright told students and employees during an online forum on Wednesday that reopening the campus, which has been mostly shuttered for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, will require a number of changes, including continuing the online-only format for classes with more than 100 students. Campus life will be much quieter when the fall semester starts on Aug. 24. Most dorm rooms will have a single occupant; fraternity and sorority recruitment will be completed virtually, and social events will be restricted.

Seminole Hard Rock and other casinos reopen Friday via David Selig of Local10.com The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood will reopen at noon Friday along with the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek and Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood. Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming have made a tremendous commitment to sanitary protocols and a safety-first mentality for both guests and team members, Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and Chairman of Hard Rock International, said. Temperature checks for all guests and employees will be mandatory before entry. Anyone with a temperature above CDC guidelines of 100.4 degrees will not be allowed entry. All guests must wear masks or cloth face coverings that meet CDC guidelines. Masks will be provided as needed. Thousands of alternating slot machines will be turned off, to help ensure social distancing.

SeaWorld Orlando reopens Thursday, reservations and masks required via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel SeaWorld Orlando reopens to the public, and officials expect that the animals inside will be happy to have more visitors. The theme park has been shut down since mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. When you close, the attention you give to the animals has to be upped a little bit more than when you had guests here to make sure you do all the enrichment, Jon Peterson, the parks vice president of zoological operations, said Wednesday. A major change is that SeaWorld Orlando visitors must make date-specific reservations online before arriving at the park.

Everything you need to know about MLS, NBA plans to resume their seasons in Orlando via Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald Disneys ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando is about to become the epicenter of U.S. professional sports this summer, as all 26 MLS teams and 22 of the 30 NBA teams will resume their seasons there fan-free after the COVID-19 crisis forced leagues to shut down in mid-March. MLS will take approximately 1,200 people to Orlando, a traveling party of about 45 from each team, from late June to early August. Details are expected to be announced in the next few days as many teams, including Inter Miami, return to full-squad training this week.

Walt Disney World ESPN World of Sports is going to be the epicenter of professional sports, for the time being.

USF trustees approve plan to reopen campuses. Masks will be required in enclosed areas. via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times The University of South Florida Board of Trustees unanimously approved a four-phase plan to reopen campuses in August with protections against the spread of the coronavirus. The plan calls for testing large numbers of students, faculty and staff for the presence of the virus; increased measures to clean and disinfect public areas; and a number of steps aimed at social distancing. Many, but not all, classes would be offered virtually, and students would be required to wear masks on campus in all shared, enclosed spaces, including classrooms. The plan will be sent to the state Board of Governors this week and could be dialed back if conditions warrant.

St. Johns County updates vacation rental plan via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics Tourist-dependent St. Johns County got the green light from Florida regulators for its updated plan to reopen short-term vacation rental properties again after prohibitions instituted during the coronavirus outbreak. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation signed off on the St. Johns County plan submitted this week. The plan went into effect is in line with executive orders instituted by DeSantis and allows visitors to begin renting vacation properties such as those offered by Airbnb. Vacation rentals are popular in the county in popular tourist spots like St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach. St. Augustine also has a large roster of bed-and-breakfast rentals.

CORONA LOCAL

South Florida restaurants now charging COVID-19 fees to survive, but for how long? via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel COVID-19 fees are rapidly becoming the new normal as pandemic-weary restaurants reopen to the public, with surcharges popping up, often to customers surprise, on dine-in food checks. After statewide lockdowns, surging food costs and months of piddling takeout sales, restaurants now face a juggling act, balancing rising expenses against turning off customers. Raising prices now risks alienating the customers helping him survive this month.

South Florida restaurants are beginning to charge a COVID-19 surcharge. How long will that last?

FIU researchers think of a way to speed up a vaccine for COVID-19. Now theres a $1M grant. via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald Machine-learning algorithms that work with supercomputers to analyze and understand data in quicksilver time could hold the key to finding cures for many diseases, including the novel coronavirus. Thats what Florida International University researcher Fahad Saeed and his colleagues have been developing. Their work was recognized by the National Institutes of Health with a three-year, $1 million grant to help FIU researchers design and develop machine-learning algorithms that allow biologists to make sense of proteomics, the large-scale study of proteins. According to the researchers, the study of proteins is critical for understanding and treating diseases, but there is so much data to analyze and so little time.

Palm Beach County offers rent, utilities relief up to $7,000 via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel The Palm Beach County Community Services Department is now offering a rental and utilities assistance program for residents who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The relief program will provide one-time rental and utility assistance to residents who have experienced a loss of income, a decrease in hours, or unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants can only receive assistance once but can apply for multiple relief services. Benefits up to $7,000 are available for applicants who live in apartments, houses, townhouses or mobile homes. Financial assistance will be limited to past due rents or utilities from after March 1 to before Dec. 30.

Palm Beach Council says no to proposed rule to make masks mandatory via Adriana Delgado of The Palm Beach Post In a unanimous decision, the Palm Beach Town Council voted no on a proposed ordinance that would have made wearing facial coverings mandatory. The topic was included in the Councils agenda after several council members received complaints from residents about some people not wearing masks and some businesses not following the CDC guidelines on wearing face coverings, Council President Maggie Zeidman said. All five council members, Police Chief Nicholas Caristo and Town Manager Kirk Blouin questioned how the town would enforce the rule. Councilmember Danielle Moore said making the wearing of masks mandatory would open up an entire can of worms and open the town to possible lawsuits.

Palm Beach Chamber will distribute 5,000 masks to town businesses via Adriana Delgado of The Palm Beach Post The Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce will distribute 5,000 face masks to affiliated businesses in town beginning June 22. Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce President Laurel Baker said local businesses can request the number of masks they need, within reason, by sending an email to the Chamber. Businesses can have the masks delivered or pick them up from the Chambers office at 400 Royal Palm Way. The Chamber will receive the masks from UniFirst, a Massachusetts-based textile and uniform company, that seeks to help businesses in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties get back to work.

Gardens begins next phase of economic relief for local businesses; North Palm cancels July 4 fireworks via Jodie Wagner of The Palm Beach Post In partnership with the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce and PGA Corridor Association, the City has announced the next phase of its Economic Recovery Act to assist local businesses impacted by closures due to COVID-19. Phase Two of the Palm Beach Gardens Economic Recovery Act aims to help restaurants, bars, and breweries through the creation of the Food Services Stabilization Fund. The City has allocated $596,000 in aid for eligible restaurants, bars, and breweries with 3-75 employees that have been in business in Palm Beach Gardens for 18 months or more. Funds received through the program will be in the form of a grant that businesses do not have to repay.

MORE LOCAL

Central Florida coronavirus numbers rising; officials arent worried yet via Naseem S. Miller and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel Coronavirus cases in Central Florida have been increasing since the statewide stay-at-home order was lifted in early May, but local officials say its too soon to press the panic button. Although hospitalizations, which are among the key indicators of COVID-19 trouble in a community, have also risen since hitting a low in mid-May, they continue to be below their peak in early April, according to local health systems. Were pretty reassured that this sort of bump, which we had anticipated, isnt anything thats going to overwhelm us, said Dr. George Ralls, chief quality officer for Orlando Health. The most important thing people can do is remain vigilant in the way that theyre socializing.

Families of residents who died of COVID-19 sue Freedom Square retirement community via Kathryn Varn and Kavitha Surana of the Tampa Bay Times The families of two men who died in a COVID-19 outbreak at a Seminole nursing home are suing the facility, claiming their loved ones died due to mismanagement and poor communication. The facility chose to place profits over residents and ignore deficiencies in their emergency preparedness plan and in their infection prevention and control program, the lawsuits say. Its a disgrace, really, not just here but all over the whole country, said attorney Bennie Lazzara Jr., who is representing the families. The numbers are staggering.

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Sunburn The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics 6.11.20 - Florida Politics

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June 11th, 2020 at 4:51 am

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