Lower than a month in the past, we had been all about peace on earth and goodwill.
That didn’t final lengthy, did it?
Nope, 2022 arrived carrying the identical go well with as its relations 2020 and 2021. The extra the calendar adjustments, the extra issues appear to remain the identical.
The omicron variant is galloping via the state simply as medical consultants predicted final 12 months. We nonetheless argue about masks and vaccinations, and we nonetheless see means an excessive amount of of Dr. Anthony Fauci. I think about he feels the identical means, too.
We’re nonetheless speaking about Donald Trump, sadly.
The Massive Lie a couple of stolen election began in 2020 and continues at the moment.
Sports activities leagues that juggled schedules all through all of 2021 are nonetheless juggling.
But, we soldier on.
Lecturers are doing their stage greatest to deal with an unimaginable activity, regardless of continuous interference from lawmakers, most of whom solely stepped foot in school rooms once they had been college students.
Medical doctors, nurses, researchers and first responders nonetheless work themselves to the bone.
And, right here at Florida Politics, we nonetheless decide the winners and losers of the week.
Let’s get to it.
Honorable point out: Ken Welch. St. Petersburg’s first Black Mayor didn’t get the same old pomp and circumstance for his swearing-in ceremony, due to COVID-19. However that didn’t detract from the importance of the occasion.
“I grew up within the areas of our metropolis the place my household lived not by alternative, however by sanctioned discriminatory practices that outlined the place African People might stay in our metropolis,” Welch stated. “As a kindergarten and first-grade scholar, I attended the final segregated courses at Melrose Elementary.”
Welch already has a full plate of high-priority objects, together with the exploding value of housing in St. Petersburg and rising water ranges due to local weather change. Additionally, a report final month — adopted by the Metropolis Council — detailed structural racism issues in St. Petersburg. Welch stated he’s nicely conscious of that drawback, having skilled it as he grew.
“It’s good to have that documented and accepted by the Metropolis Council because the true historical past of our metropolis,” he stated. “I believe that informs what fairness and progress appears like going ahead.”
Virtually (however not fairly) greatest winner: COVID-19 testing. Certain, there have been issues. Folks have needed to wait hours in lots of instances to obtain a take a look at. And whereas that’s not good, it’s encouraging to see how critically people take the most recent risk of the virus that gained’t die.
Information from the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management present a document 146,665 checks reported per day in Florida via Dec. 29. That quantity probably is larger now as folks scrambled for checks earlier than returning to work and college after the vacations.
They’re taking the pandemic far more critically than the state’s Surgeon Normal, Joseph Ladapo.
“People who find themselves unlikely to profit … to type of be in line ready to get examined, that doesn’t make quite a lot of sense to me,” Ladapo stated in a Tuesday information convention. “It doesn’t make quite a lot of sense to me as a doctor. It doesn’t make quite a lot of sense to me as a medical researcher.”
Um, he does understand this virus is extremely contagious, doesn’t he? Simply because an contaminated particular person isn’t exhibiting signs doesn’t imply they’ll’t go the bug on to another person who would possibly get deathly sick.
That didn’t cease the Florida Department of Health from releasing new COVID-19 pointers, saying asymptomatic folks didn’t want checks.
Within the Orlando Sentinel, Dr. Aileen Marty, professor of infectious ailments at Florida Worldwide College, known as that “a recipe for disaster.”
The lengthy traces for checks would point out extra folks agree with Marty as an alternative of Ladapo.
The largest winner: Jeff Brandes. Politicians usually speak about jail reform in our state however not often take steps to make it occur. Brandes, a state Senator representing elements of the Tampa Bay space, is a special cat.
His ardour for change is mirrored in a prolonged Twitter thread on the subject upfront of the opening of the Legislative Session.
“FL desperately wants a brand new imaginative and prescient for its corrections system as a result of at the moment it doesn’t appropriate (and) merely warehouses,” he wrote. “(Florida Division of Corrections) is presently along with spit and chewing gum. The Legislature has the duty to place it in a sustainable path however might simply as simply do nothing.”
Prisons face extreme staffing shortages, which final 12 months led to the closure of three prisons. Guards had been leaving in document numbers, reporting hazardous working situations and a backbreaking work schedule.
The system additionally has been rocked by fees of abuse.
A two-year investigation by the U.S. Division of Justice painted a horrific image of the Lowell Correctional Institute in Ocala. It concluded that the state of Florida and the FDOC “fails to maintain prisoners at Lowell protected from sexual abuse by workers.”
Even worse, the report famous that FDOC “has documented and been conscious of a sample or apply of workers sexual abuse of Lowell prisoners since not less than 2006.”
However they’re simply prisoners, proper?
That appears to be the angle, and Brandes is making an attempt to alter that.
“Certainly one of my sayings to cite is Stein’s Legislation which states issues which are unsustainable will ultimately cease. Florida can’t afford the FDOC to cease, and so we should put it on a sustainable path. This features a long-term plan for amenities and applications (we don’t have one),” Brandes wrote.
For a deeper dive, observe his Twitter thread on the topic. It’s eye-opening.
Dishonorable point out: The Miami Herald. Newspaper reporters and editors are used to claims of bias and different points by disgruntled readers and politicians. Even by that commonplace, although, the venerable Herald is below siege.
It began with a Dec. 20 story in the Herald on proposed laws coping with rooftop photo voltaic. That article says that “Florida Energy & Gentle, the nation’s largest energy firm, is pushing to hamstring it.”
Florida Politics reported that FPL provided a commentary difficult the article, solely to have it seem in a closely edited type within the letters to the editor part.
Herald opinion editor Nancy Ancrum informed FPL the letter was edited (halved from 500 phrases to lower than 250) because of “unsubstantiated” claims to disparage a member of their editorial workers, particularly Tallahassee Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Klas.
So, FPL launched a webpage to make its case.
“Unsurprisingly, we discovered the story to be extremely one-sided and deceptive on a difficulty of actual significance to 18 million Floridians,” the corporate stated.
You possibly can read its full rebuttal here.
Then, Senate President Wilton Simpson wrote a prolonged critique on a special matter about Klas to Herald Govt Editor Monica Richardson.
Simpson’s ire centered on Klas’ reporting in regards to the Senate’s proposed redistricting maps.
“Mary Ellen Klas has crossed the road of reporting and informing to advocating for organizations that may deliver litigation towards the Legislature,” Simpson wrote.
The Senate’s preliminary maps have usually drawn reward, even from Democrats.
“I’ve nice respect for the impartial evaluation and overview of our work product made potential by the free press,” Simpson wrote. “Sadly, Ms. Klas has crossed the road between reporting and interfering. To deal with the intense nature of this interference, workers directed the Senator to ignore the ideas she made when considering future requests for info and evaluation from skilled workers.”
For a deeper dive and to see the Herald’s protection of Klas, click here.
Virtually (however not fairly) greatest loser: Matt Gaetz. The eye-crazed U.S. Consultant from Florida’s CD 1 suggested on Steve Bannon’s podcast that when Republicans win management of the U.S. Home (doesn’t he imply if?), they need to preserve the Jan. 6 committee going and set up nut-job Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene as Chairwoman.
The committee might then get to the REAL reason behind the riot: An unholy alliance between the FBI and Democrats to place Joe Biden within the White Home.
However wait a minute, didn’t Gaetz say initially that antifa was behind the riot? And all these peace-loving Donald Trump supporters obtained unfairly caught up in smashing the home windows of the U.S. Capitol and trashing places of work?
Nicely, that one didn’t stick, so let’s see what conspiracy is behind Door No. 2.
“I’m prepared to tear the entire thing large open and expose every thing,” Greene stated on Gaetz’s podcast.
Why not simply do it now? If there may be credible proof of such a nefarious plot, let’s hear it. However, after all, there isn’t any proof. There may be, nonetheless, an opportunity to lift extra money from the gullible flock that believes such tripe.
These two had been made for one another — soulmates of babble, baloney and balderdash.
The Greatest Loser: Ron DeSantis. We’re used to hyperbole on steroids from Florida’s Governor, however even by that commonplace, his feedback in regards to the anniversary of the Jan. 6 rebellion had been abominable.
At a press convention in West Palm Seaside on Jan. 6, DeSantis dismissed the commemoration of the U.S. Capitol riot as a device for his outdated adversaries — Democrats, the loathed information media — to “smear” supporters of former President Trump.
He known as it “Christmas morning” for his perceived enemies.
“Jan. 6 permits them to create narratives which are unfavorable about people who supported Donald Trump,” DeSantis stated.
The narratives had been already there, Governor, taking part in out on our TV screens in actual time. It was an try by a band of loonies to overturn the presidential election and preserve Expensive Chief in energy. The assault on the coronary heart of our authorities have to be remembered eternally and taught in historical past courses.
However in DeSantis’ world: Nothing to see right here! Nothing to see right here!
“So, I think it’s going to end up being only a politicized Charlie Foxtrot (Thursday),” DeSantis stated, utilizing army slang as an alternative of “cluster—-.”
Greater than 725 folks had been arrested in reference to that Charlie Foxtrot. At the very least 165 have pleaded responsible — 145 of them to misdemeanors and the remainder to felonies.
Authorities charged 75 Floridians with insurrection-related crimes. That’s greater than every other state.
When our state skilled rioting within the wake of the George Floyd verdict, DeSantis rushed via an ill-advised and broadly panned “anti-riot” invoice.
And two days earlier than the rebellion anniversary, a 72-year-old man was arrested at a DeSantis information convention in Jacksonville after disrupting the continuing.
In a tweet, the Governor’s Press Secretary, Christina Pushaw, in contrast the outburst to the Capitol riot.
She wrote: “It’s virtually the anniversary of J6, and Democrats in my replies are insisting that authorities buildings ought to all the time be open to any member of the general public who needs to confront an elected official, and no one must be arrested for trespassing in a authorities constructing! Wow!”
This shall be one unusual 12 months, however then once more, aren’t all of them?