Florida

* Richard D. McCullough has been chosen as the next president of Florida State University. The former vice provost for research at Harvard has a vision that transcends FSU. He wants to help grow Tallahassee into a city like Charlotte—working with industry to better understand workforce demands. McCullough personifies what major universities need when they bring in a new president: an experienced academic who understands and prioritizes the synergy between universities and their communities.

* It looks like a chunk of the Dixie Highway, part of U.S. 1, will be re-named in honor of Harriet Tubman, the black abolitionist.It’s progress, however symbolic and incremental.

* There are more than 560,000 medical marijuana patients in Florida—a number that is growing by the thousands each week.

* One of the first colleges in the country to adopt a vaccine mandate (April 2) was Fort Lauderdale-based Nova Southeastern University.

* The number of states (22) withdrawing from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program now includes the Sunshine State. All 22 have Republican governors.

* It’s been well noted that when pushing a gambling agenda, it helps to call it “gaming.”

Media Matters

* Old normal: Paramount Pictures’ “Quiet Place Part II” had a highly successful (estimated North American gross of $58.5 million) opening–in actual theaters--over the holiday weekend.

*“One key change to mainstream journalism in the Trump era was the impulse to tell the reader exactly what to think, lest by leaving anything ambiguous you gave an inch to right-wing demagogy.”–Ross Douthat, New York Times.

Sports Shorts

* Imagine asking St. Petersburg city council to weigh developer presentations on the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field sitewithout knowing if the Rays actually intend to build a new stadium there. That’s not just an important detail; that’s a game-changer.

* Congrats to USF baseball. The Bulls won the American Athletic Conference tournament—and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Next up: the Florida Gators in Gainesville on Friday.

Trumpster Diving

* “Appeal of one personality.” That, in the words of former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, is what the GOP cannot rely on if the conservative cause is to be preserved. But Ryan still couldn’t bring himself to actually name that “one personality.” Have to draw the line someplace.

* More than half (55 percent) of Republicans recently told Ipsos/Reuters that they strongly or somewhat agree that the Capitol assault was led by “violent left-wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad.” Would that it were shocking.

* “It is well recognized that rousing and controversial speeches are a key function of the presidency.”–That was Trump’s lawyers disingenuous response to the lawsuit filed by California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell that accused the then-president of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

* “I know a lot of the cops really liked Trump because they feel he stands up for them against a lot of progressives. I personally believe that he was encouraging that insurrection that day.”–Bill Bratton, former police commissioner of New York and Los Angeles.

* Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser made news again—this time while speaking at a, yes, QAnon conference. Flynn’s response to a question asking if what happened in Myanmar (a military coup) could happen here: “No reason. I mean it should happen here.”

Quoteworthy

* “We see the cease-fire, not as an end, but as a beginning, something to build on.”–U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after two days of talks with Israeli, Palestinian and Arab allies.

* “Redouble their efforts.” What President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. intelligence community to do to get “information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” on the coronavirus’ origins—and report back in 90 days.

* “Many unvaccinated Republicans and minorities have something in common. They are working class. And there is a huge class gap in vaccination behavior.”–David Leonardt, New York Times.

* “We have a mob overtake the Capitol, and we can’t get the Republicans to join us in making historic record of that event? That is sad.”–Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Number 2 Senate Democrat.

* “It was unbelievable that this far along in a democracy we could have this kind of an event occur. It needs exploration.”–Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, who was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

* “We have an economy that was struck by a very severe and unusual shock. It caused substantial shifts in spending patterns.”–Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

* “There is some bad news out there, but most of it is a temporary byproduct of extraordinary good news: the virus is losing, and the economy is winning.”–Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

* “On economic policy, Biden pursues a legislative agenda that is nothing less than revolutionary.”–Colin Dueck, American Conservative.

* “There is no such thing as the united States. … Absent history putting a metaphorical gun to our heads, we’ve always been a fractious people, a bunch of competing interests—South vs. North, farm vs. City, hippies vs. hardhats—masquerading as a nation.”–Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald.

* “The year 1492 changed the world, but not by introducing slavery to the Americas. Slavery was already here.”–Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars.

* “President Biden’s budget meets this urgent moment and provides the resources needed to help communities, families, schools and businesses recover and thrive.”–Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

* “This is a time universities need to lead and not leave it to who can yell the loudest.”–Richard D. McCullough, FSU’s newly-named president.

* “We’re fairly fortunate that we didn’t see a long-lived, widespread effect on that ecosystem.”–Thomas Frazer, dean of USF’s College of Marine Science, on the massive discharge of polluted water from the old Piney Point fertilizer plant site in an area of Lower Tampa Bay.

* “Clearly, our society still has a long way to go.”–Elizabeth Gelman, executive director of the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, which recently experienced antisemitic vandalism.

* You know me … I can work with anybody.”–Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

* “We cannot achieve 100 percent sustainability without TECO.”–Whit Remer, Tampa’s chief sustainability and resiliency officer.

* “We’re in the mental health business. Should we be? I don’t know. … But we need to be, and we’re going to be, until somebody else comes in and picks it up.”–Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Revisionism Update

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is proposing a new rule requiring Florida teachers to align their civic lessons to a traditional view of American history. It states that teachers “may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” It’s also in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ priority to make sure “critical race theory,” which deals with the role of racism in U.S. society, isn’t taught in public schools.

And it’s also in line with a cherry-picking, revisionist approach to how we contemporary Americans got where we are. It’s not been a seamless evolution from 1492 to 1619 to 2021. If we’re not truthful and candid about our history, we’re never going to learn from it, let alone realize the ideals of our ambitious, democratic experiment—still very much a work in progress. If we’re not honest, for example, we won’t acknowledge that George Floyd is an extension of America’s original sin—not just an unfortunate incident.

We know that those who deny or ignore history will repeat it. What Corcoran proposes—in the name of proscribing “crazy liberal stuff”–is the stuff of revisionism. It’s also an insult to teachers, who seemingly can’t be trusted to think critically or to present the truth in a context that is honest, sensitive and instructive.

COVID Bits

* 162.5 million: The number of Americans who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s 58 percent of the eligible (12 and older) population.

* While COVID relief has been the high-profile province of government, the private sector, notably large banks, were scrutinized by the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees this week about their actions–or lack of—in helping struggling Americans and small businesses. Among the executives testifying: those from JPMorgan, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

* Vax & match.” The Biden Administration is teaming up with dating apps to showcase the benefits of getting vaccinated. Some apps are offering proof-of-vaccine badges and free access to premium content. Others are offering higher-visibility profiles to potential matches.

* “Vax & scratch.” Those who get vaccinated at select state-run sites in New York will receive a lottery scratch ticket with prizes potentially worth millions.

* “In a number of major sectors, like restaurants, hotels, car insurance and airfares, prices fell sharply during the pandemic. These price declines will be reversed.”–Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

* It’s known that anxiety and isolation are typically associated with eating disorders. So, no surprise that such disorders have surged during the pandemic.

* Florida drew 26.16 million visitors from Jan. 1 to March 31. For the first quarter of 2020, it was 30.4 million.

* “Vaccines work. … Get vaccinated. COVID is still here.”–Dr. Douglas Holt, director of the state Health Department for Hillsborough County.

* COVID cases in residents of Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities have fallen 90 percent since January.

* The Rays no longer require masks for fully vaccinated fans. The Rays also announced plans to increase Tropicana Field capacity to 20,000, starting in June.

* Meanwhile, the Lightning have now increased Amalie Arena capacity to 9,000—or about 47 percent of capacity—for the playoffs.

* The Bolts are also offering free, on-site vaccinations to anyone with a ticket inside Amalie or the watch parties at the arena’s Thunder Alley, Pepsi Porch or Cigar City tap room.

* USF will return to full capacity this season—starting with the Florida Gators on Sept. 11.

* Pandemic litter: As mask mandates decrease, there has been a noticeable increase in discarded masks.

Dem Notes

* The pandemic-impacted economy and Administration efforts to combat it have become dominant in news cycles and GOP talking points. Largely overlooked is a key economic adviser to President Biden, the chair of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers. That person is Cecilia Rouse, the first African-American to hold this position. She was confirmed by the Senate, 95-4.

* “Given the size of the federal government’s fiscal responses to the pandemic, there is more risk of inflation than has been the case in recent decades. But there is also a risk of doing too little, leaving our labor and capital resources underemployed and, as a result, losing incomes the economy could have created. I believe the Biden administration has been correct to go big with pandemic rescue policies.”–Washington University economist Steve Fazzari.

* “Amtrak Joe”: The nickname of President Biden for being enamored of train travel.

Florida

* About a decade ago, Tampa was primed for a high-speed rail connection to Orlando. The fed money and need were there, but Gov. Rick Scott was also there—and it never happened. Fast forward to now. The Biden Administration has proposed an infrastructure package that would include new investments in eco-friendly transit. Cities and states will be able to apply for grants that would include rail. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg especially favors rail demands from communities. He also knows the base-pandering ideological recent history—and logistical needs—of the Sunshine State.

Florida, points out Buttigieg, is a state with a lot of major metro centers that could benefit from “fast, affordable and increasingly clean means of getting there.” In short, underscored Buttigieg, “Florida is such a great candidate for rail.” Plus,there are no tax-and-tracks scenarios.

* Shouldn’t private businesses such as Twitter and Facebook have the right to decide what is acceptable on their own platforms? Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t think so.

Tampa Bay

This summer Stetson University College of Law—in partnership with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg—will host a week-long (July 19-24) course aimed at training underrepresented teenagers to advocate for themselves and others. Under-representation includes race, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status and school performance.