First Read for Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023

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

Good morning. It’s National Ballet Day. There are 46 ballet companies in Florida, with the largest one being the 48-year-old Miami City Ballet


As the clock on Vickie Cartwright’s time as Broward schools superintendent winds down, the county’s school board now looks to hire an interim superintendent as soon as today. Three people are under consideration: Jermaine Fleming, the district’s acting chief strategy & operations officer; Ernie Lozano, who has been serving as Cartwright’s chief of staff among his other district posts; and Earlean Smiley, who’s been a teacher, principal and deputy superintendent in the district. 

Earley has the support of Torey Alston and Daniel Foganholi, board members who are aligned with Gov. Ron DeSantis. By Monday, Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco also gave Earley her thumbs up for the interim superintendency. Board member Jeff Holness, on the other hand, says he favors Lozano. Both Foganholi and Holness have added action items to the meeting’s agenda. 

Another name that has entered the mix: Valerie Wanza, who started with the district in the 1990s, eventually becoming head of the Office of School Performance and Accountability. But Cartwright eliminated her position and moved her to associate superintendent in charge of alternative and special schools. The board meets at 9 a.m. in the Kathleen C. Wright Building’s board room in Fort Lauderdale, when it will also consider the “mutual separation agreement” with Cartwright.  

– David Volz


* BILL COTTERELL: In this week’s Capitol Column, Bill writes on the slippery slope that comes with a judge’s recent creation of executive privilege in Florida law

* MIGRANT FLIGHTS: Nearly five months after Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration sparked controversy by flying about 50 migrants from Texas to Massachusetts, the Florida House started moving a proposal that could help set the stage for more flights.

* LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Sierra Bush Rester, the parent of a child with autism, writes on this year's school vouchers expansion bill and ‘why inclusion matters.


* The Florida House is considering an overhaul of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District that would give appointment power to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who clashed with the company last year over a controversial education law, the News Service of Florida reports

* The two-week special legislative session now underway will include bills that give DeSantis legal and political cover for actions that Democrats described as political “stunts” meant to benefit his potential run for president in 2024, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

* A bill that would update the rules of engagement between student-athletes and their ability to make money might have died in committee last year, but now it’s on the special session’s fast track, Florida Politics reports.

* A Department of Management Services survey found Florida continues to have the smallest state government workforce per capita among the 50 states and continues to get a better bargain from its workers than other states do, the Tallahassee Democrat reports

* House Speaker Paul Renner, along with speakers-to-be Danny Perez and Sam Garrison, will continue the tradition of holding a pre-legislative session fundraiser for the Florida GOP at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida Politics reports

More news below …


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:


* Democrats are calling DeSantis a “fascist” for cracking down on a venue for exposing kids to a drag show, with one calling it “an extreme abuse of … power,” the Florida Standard reports.

* After a contentious selection process this past fall, former U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse has begun his new job as the University of Florida’s 13th president, kicking it off with letters to students, faculty and staff, the Tampa Bay Times reports

* A group of over 100 people, protested the first day of Sasse’s tenure as UF’s president, going as far as to storm the university’s administrative building, the Independent Florida Alligator reports

* Prosecutors say they will ask a judge to imprison for 35 years ex-Broward Sheriff’s deputy and self-styled justice reformer Jonathan Bleiweiss because he violated the lenient plea deal he struck eight years ago, Florida Bulldog reports

* A group of investors is on track to open six indoor 34,000-square-foot pickleball facilities in Florida, with the first to open in Sarasota's Lakewood Ranch in early April, Axios Tampa Bay reports. (For a policy context, see this story.)


Become a subscriber to News Service of Florida today for breaking news alerts straight from the Capitol. Join fellow professionals and civic leaders and get instant access to the News Service of Florida’s essential reporting on government, policy and politics in the Sunshine State. Request a 10-Day Trial



The governor had a call with Chief of Staff James Uthmeier, the only item on his official schedule for Monday. 


* DeSantis says he wants to mandate a “core curriculum” in public universities, but it could be political kryptonite for him in the midwest if he decides to run for the White House, The Hill reports.

* The Biden administration is willing to brief officials of former President Donald Trump on newly discovered intelligence that China sent spy balloons into U.S. airspace during their time in office, Politico reports

* Trump threatens to use his core skills – peddling conspiracy theories, spreading lies, sowing distrust – against his own party, Peter Wehner writes in the Atlantic

* The odds are not impossible, but very slim, that any candidate besides Trump or DeSantis will get through the 2024 Republican primary victorious, CNN’s Harry Enten writes


* Educators and advocates who pushed for Florida’s Black history standards say the DeSantis’ education policies are threatening to reverse the modest progress they have made, the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas writes.

* Florida hasn’t made reading a crime, but it’s doing the next worse thing by dangling threats of criminal charges against teachers and educators who share the “wrong” books with students, the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial boards write

* If January is any indication of the breadth of DeSantis’ mission to get things done, then he’s off to a great start in 2023, John Grant writes in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

* As a fellow Jacksonville minister, Brandon Frick is imploring the Rev. Heath Lambert of First Baptist Church to retract his statement on ‘biblical sexuality,’ which targets ‘LGBT folk,’  he writes in the Florida Times-Union


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To state Rep. Brad Drake … to Dr. Rachel Sutz Pienta of UF/IFAS Extension. 

Belated wishes to Fred Karlinsky, shareholder and global co-chair of the Greenberg Traurig law firm’s Insurance Regulatory and Transactions Practice Group, who celebrated Monday. 

ON THE MOVE: LSN Partners announced that former Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams is joining the firm as managing partner of its Palm Beach County practice. Abrams also will focus on the Transportation and Emergency Management practice groups.

The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors on Monday formally elevated Laura DiBella to run the business-recruitment agency. Her new title is secretary of commerce as well as being president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. She is the first woman to lead the agency.

Robert Gorin has been named head of the Florida office of Getzler Henrich, a corporate restructuring and operations improvement firm. Gorin, who will be based in Miami, had been its managing director and leader of the Consumer Products Practice. 

The Republica Havas companies in Miami announced three promotions: Marcela Maurer to Managing Director, Republica Havas; Vanessa Bolanos to Managing Director, Republica Havas Health; and Alexis Regalado to Managing Director, Republica Havas Group. 

Nancy Niles, formerly a digital producer for Gannett/USA TODAY Network-Florida, will become managing editor of the Wenatchee World newspaper in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, Washington. 

CONGRATULATIONS: The College of Law at St. Thomas University in Miami on Wednesday will be named the Benjamin L. Crump College of Law after the Florida-based civil rights attorney and activist. 

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:



“I don’t think that the site of curricular decision is the state legislature. I think the site is the faculty of the school.”

– Columbia University Senior Lecturer Roosevelt Montás, via The Hill, on DeSantis’ push to get the state to adopt a core curriculum.