First Read for Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

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

Good morning. It’s National Draw a Dinosaur Day. No dinosaur fossils can be found in Florida. Do you know why?


Andrew Warren, Hillsborough County’s suspended state attorney, says he feels “vindicated” by a federal judge’s opinion in his challenge to his suspension by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The fight, however, isn’t over. Warren spoke with the News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam for the latest episode of the “Deeper Dive with Dara Kam” podcast

“I mean, the court's findings are crystal clear,” Warren says. “I did my job extremely well and I did nothing wrong, that the governor's allegations against me are totally false. And that, as we've said from the beginning, the suspension broke the law. It violated … both the United States and Florida constitutions.” 

DeSantis’ Aug. 4 suspension order accused Warren of “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties,” referring to Warren’s pledge to avoid enforcing a new law preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, among other reasons. Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that DeSantis violated the First Amendment and Florida Constitution but said he didn’t have the legal authority to reverse the suspension.  

Warren’s fate now rests with the Republican-controlled Florida Senate, which must ultimately decide whether to reinstate or remove Warren, an elected Democrat, from office. “I did exactly what I told people I was going to do when they elected me twice in Hillsborough County,” Warren tells Kam. “I stood up for things that I believed in and I was transparent about it.” 

Listen to the complete podcast on the City & State Florida website, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.  


* TALL TIMBER: With its plan to plant more than 450 trees at Amelia Earhart Park, Miami-Dade thinks that it shall never see urban planning lovely as a tree

* PICKLEBALL PASSIONS: Orlando's Buddy Dyer and other mayors are coping with the sport's craze, as demands for new facilities rise – along with noise complaints.


* Advisers to DeSantis are actively preparing for a possible presidential run, the latest indication that he and his team are laying a foundation for a national campaign, the Washington Post reports

* Former President Donald Trump hit the campaign trail in New Hampshire and South Carolina for the first time since announcing his 2024 presidential bid, saying he’s “more angry” and “more committed” to winning the presidency now than ever, CBS News reports

* Tensions are high at New College as new trustees consider the future of the liberal-arts institution, which the DeSantis administration has criticized on what it sees as a left-wing ideological focus out of touch with the state’s values, the Wall Street Journal reports

* A potential class-action lawsuit has gone to the Florida Supreme Court in a dispute about whether the University of Florida should return fees to students because of a campus shutdown early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the News Service of Florida reports

* Joe Gruters took over as Sarasota GOP chairman in 2008 and held leadership positions in the Republican Party ever since, but that streak will come to a close now that he lost his bid for treasurer of the Republican National Committee, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

More news below …


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* One of the professors who helped devise the African American Studies course rejected by the DeSantis administration called it a “beautiful course” that celebrates “the making of the nation,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

* The State University System of Florida last year became the No. 1 state with the lowest costs but a possible increase in tuition and fees for students enrolling in the universities from outside of Florida might change that, the Tallahassee Democrat reports

* The city of West Palm Beach will not have any municipal elections this March, as none of the three city officials who are running for reelection have a challenger, the Palm Beach Post reports.

* U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has succeeded in winning approval of a key first step toward the designation of the Kissimmee River as “wild and scenic,” which would qualify it for protection and restoration funds, the Orlando Sentinel reports

* Scott Cupp, a circuit judge in Charlotte County, says he is stepping down from the bench to defend a man he says was wrongly convicted of killing his wife in 1987, the New York Times reports


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Over the weekend, the governor attended a Blue Mass for first responders at St. Agnes Church in Naples, met with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, attended a Knights of Columbus luncheon with first responders, and met with Chief of Staff James Uthmeier, according to his official schedule. 


* It’s become a familiar script, especially as he possibly seeks the 2024 Republican presidential nomination: Gov. Ron DeSantis says something, critics erupt, fans fawn – and the facts and details are lost amid the resulting fury, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports

* Before DeSantis accepted an award from The Union League in Philadelphia last week, he held a fundraiser at another historic and tony private club – The Acorn Club – where the crowd embraced his pro-business, anti-regulation stance, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports

* Trump said DeSantis running for president would be “a great act of disloyalty” as the former president kicked off his first two major campaign events as part of his own 2024 presidential run, The Hill reports

* As Trump ramps up his 2024 campaign, he finds himself trailing DeSantis in the early-voting state of New Hampshire, according to a new poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, Business Insider reports

* Political committees linked to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez have already run ads criticizing President Biden in early GOP primary states, and he continues to describe himself as a potential presidential candidate, the Miami Herald reports.


* Florida could soon have two separate and unequal school systems: One regulated by strict state laws curriculum, testing and safety, and the other getting to slide by, the Miami Herald editorial board writes

* Parents will be winners under Speaker Paul Renner's proposed school choice assistance legislation, which closes out the Legislature’s two-decade-long march towards universal school choice coverage, William Mattox writes in the Tallahassee Democrat

* Don Falls, who teaches high school social studies in Manatee County, explains why he’s suing DeSantis after he said he was forced to cover up the books in his classroom. He spoke with Business Insider.  

* DeSantis should keep up his attack on ‘woke’ educational institutions and governors in other states should follow his lead, George Leef writes for National Review

* Florida Power and Light’s CEO Eric Silagy announced he’s leaving the company after a string of scandals, with his boss saying the past year “took a toll” on him. Aw, the poor thing, the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell writes


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Mario Rubio, regional managing director of the Florida Department of Children and Families … to former state Sen. Perry Thurston. 

Belated wishes to Nick Primrose, chair of the Florida Elections Commission and chief of regulatory compliance for the Jacksonville Port Authority, who celebrated Sunday.

ON THE MOVE: Pat Beall, previously a senior investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post and USA Today Network-Florida, has joined the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Opinion team as an editorial writer and columnist. 

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis appointed Ken Jones, founder and managing partner of Third Lake Partners, to the Florida State Board of Administration Investment Advisory Council, which provides independent policy oversight of SBA’s funds and major investment responsibilities. 

Lew Wilson has retired as president and CEO of the Florida Veterans Foundation. 

CONGRATULATIONS: Jamie Champion Mongiovi marks two years as director of communications for AARP Florida. 

Construction Industry Licensing Board Executive Director Donald Shaw received the first Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation proclamation presented to an employee. 

Liz Shawen Underwood, managing director of public affairs at the Moore agency, marks 17 years with the firm. 

IN MEMORIAM: Marcia G. Cooke, the first Black woman to serve as a federal judge in Florida history, died Friday after an 18-year career on the bench in Miami, the Miami Herald reports. She was 68. Among her previous positions, Cooke was chief inspector general under Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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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:



“There’s only one job in America that would make you want to stay there long term.”

– Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, via the Miami Herald, talking about Washington, D.C., amid rumors he is considering a Presidential run.