First Read for Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

The must-read morning roundup of Florida politics and government.

Good morning. It’s International Public Radio Broadcasting Day. There are 13 public radio stations in Florida, all linked together through the Florida Public Radio Network, the oldest public radio network in the country.


Gov. Ron DeSantis said the “corporate kingdom has come to an end” in Florida, promising a “state-controlled board” to replace the special district that Walt Disney Board used to govern itself for over a half-century. He spoke Thursday during a press conference in The Villages on prescription drug prices. “Disney will live under the same laws as everybody else, and Disney will pay the debts and taxes,” he said. 

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, which covers parts of Orange and Osceola counties, was created for the Walt Disney Co. in 1967. It essentially gave the entertainment giant control over land use, fire protection and wastewater services. The governor targeted the district last year after Disney criticized a parental rights law that among other things bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten-3rd grade. 

“The most important thing is you cannot have a corporation controlling its own government,” DeSantis said. “They had a sweetheart deal for decades and I think that they made some mistakes to call that into question, but neither here nor there.”

Critics of a bill passed last year to dissolve Reedy Creek argued it could result in tax burdens being shifted to residents and businesses in Orange and Osceola counties. Nope, DeSantis promised, saying there will be “no additional burdens placed on taxpayers other than Disney. … It's absolutely in the best interest of the state of Florida to be able to bring accountability to a previously corporate run government.” 

– Jim Rosica (with background from News Service of Florida)

Editor’s Note: First Read will be taking the day off Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day but will return to inboxes on Tuesday, Jan. 17. 


* Who’s up? Who’s down? Find out in this week’s Winners & Losers.

* Calling for “long overdue reforms,” DeSantis outlined proposed legislation that would target pharmacy benefit managers to try to lower prescription-drug costs.


The Florida Women Power 100

* Who are the most influential women in Florida politics and government? City & State Florida's Women Power 100 identifies the most important government officials, high-powered lobbyists, leaders of the worlds of business, nonprofits, strategic messaging and social justice in the arena of Sunshine State politics and policy.

 ▶ Read This Month's Issue


* At least one new board member among DeSantis’ New College of Florida appointments isn’t sure that creating a “Hillsdale of the South” is possible or even desirable, and he doesn’t believe any big changes will happen quickly, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reports.

* After more than three years of legal battling, the Florida Department of Corrections has fended off a lawsuit over the use of solitary confinement in prisons, the News Service of Florida reports

* Miami-based ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and others coordinated an attack on “the heart of our democracy” in an attempt to keep Donald Trump in the White House, a federal prosecutor said at the start of their seditious conspiracy trial, the Associated Press reports.

* Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate President Joe Biden’s handling of classified material, after the president’s attorneys found stashes of documents in unsecure locations in Washington and Delaware, the Miami Herald reports.

* Last year, DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature teamed up to pass a pair of bills that made it easier for billionaires to hide their fortunes from the outside world and from federal taxes, Seeking Rents reports.

More news below …


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* U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, imploring her colleagues not to continue the country on a path to pre-Roe v. Wade restrictions on abortion, gave a deeply personal account of the tragic outcome of her first pregnancy five decades ago, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

* The city of Jacksonville has potentially paid over $150,000 in fees to outside law firms and consultants in its attempts to draw and defend Jacksonville City Council district maps, according to a Florida Times-Union review of invoices, the newspaper reports.

* DeSantis sent dozens of immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last year, but as thousands of Cuban migrants flocked to his own state’s shores in recent weeks, he adopted a more cautious approach, the Associated Press reports.

* Armed officers, as part of DeSantis’ crackdown on voter fraud, descended on the homes of two men accused of illegally voting and arrested one of them at gunpoint, new body-camera footage shows, the Guardian reports

* Former Riviera Beach Police Chief Nathan Osgood sued the city, claiming it is refusing to provide phone call and text message records that would “exonerate” him in a high-profile case that led to his resignation in April, the Palm Beach Post reports.


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After his press conference in The Villages on prescription drugs, the governor on Thursday attended a “staff budget briefing” then met with Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Strickland, Director of Cabinet Affairs Cody Farrill, Press Secretary Bryan Griffin, Communications Director Taryn Fenske and External Affairs Director Savannah Kelly Jefferson, according to his official schedule. 


* As news breaks of President Biden’s having kept classified documents – which we all know he takes very seriously – in his garage, it shows hypocrisy, the National Review’s Andrew McCarthy writes.

* A new nationwide poll conducted for the conservative Club for Growth shows DeSantis is emerging as a bigger potential threat to President Joe Biden than former President Trump, NBC News reports

* The looming fight for the soul of New College of Florida is important because it speaks volumes about where the battle for America is headed between now and November 2024, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Will Bunch writes

* Most criticism of DeSantis’ national electability has been centered around his lack of charisma, but focusing on personality and style obscures the governor’s real failings, Lulu Garcia-Navarro writes in the New York Times.


* Same-sex marriage is legal and Florida’s legislators should just get over it, the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board writes.

* Former Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz’s farewell memo underscored three points that Florida Democrats must address, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board writes.

* Questions still abound about what will happen in the area served by the Reedy Creek Improvement District once it’s dissolved, the Orlando Sentinel editorial board writes


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Tony Glover, attorney and former director of the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering … to Chester Spellman, senior vice president at Lead For America and former head of Volunteer Florida. 

On SATURDAY, to Erin Daly Ballas of Public Affairs Consultants … to former Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls … to CVS Comms founder and political communications consultant Claire VanSusteren.  

On SUNDAY, to former state Rep. Daniel Davis of Jacksonville … to Ed George, former journalist and past communications director for the Florida Lottery … to former state Rep. Jake Raburn of Lithia. 

On MONDAY, to Los Angeles Times White House reporter and Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post alum Noah Bierman … to former state Rep. and now Ballard Partners lobbyist Jose Felix Diaz … to Meredith Ivey, chief of staff at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity … to lawyer/lobbyist Christopher L. Nuland

ON THE MOVE: Michele L. Canale has been promoted to Assistant Dean for the Nurse Anesthesia major at the University of South Florida College of Nursing. She is president of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthesiology and is a member of City & State Florida’s Health Care Power 100. 

CONGRATULATIONS: Jim Fogler marks three years as president & CEO of the Florida Press Association. 

Have a birthday, career change, birth, death or life event to announce? Email us:  


YOUR MESSAGE HERE: City & State First Read is the must-read morning roundup of Florida politics and government. Reaching thousands of subscribers each morning, it's the most effective and targeted digital ad venue to get your message in front of city and state elected officials, agency and industry leaders, and the staff, advocates, media and operatives who drive the issues of the day – all by 7 a.m. each weekday. For advertising information, please email:



“It’s too hard to blame Trump. It’s easier to blame Enrique.”

Sabino Jauregui, former Proud Boy Leader Enrique Tarrio’s lawyer, via the Associated Press, saying the ex-president is more at fault for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol than his client.