Hello and welcome to Tuesday.
Trump rolls on — With the search in Surfside continuing to dominate headlines, including the demolition of the second tower over the weekend, Donald Trump brought his post-White House rally circuit to the Sarasota Fair Grounds Saturday night. It was a Fourth of July-themed event in front of a packed house. The natural social media quibbling over crowd size ensued, but regardless of the exact number, a lot of people were in attendance despite hours of rain that pounded the event site before Trump took the stage. (It should be noted, Trump did call for a moment of silence for those affected by the condo collapse.)
He said what? — Trump spent plenty of time on lies about the 2020 election, which has been the social media-less former president’s focus for months. But the Sarasota rally offered Trump the first time to tee-off on new charges against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer over allegations they did not report or pay taxes on $1.7 million in fringe benefits and other perks. Trump slammed “prosecutorial misconduct,” but in the same speech said something that some interpreted as an open acknowledgment his company committed the crimes of which it is alleged: “They go after good, hard-working people for not paying taxes on a company car. ‘You didn’t pay tax on the car! Or a company apartment!’ ‘You used an apartment because you need an apartment because you have to travel too far where your house is, you didn’t pay tax, or education for your grandchildren.’ I don’t even know. Do you have to… does anybody know the answer to that stuff? Okay? But they indict people for that!”
What was not said — Trump, though, did not mention Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the vocal Trump ally who was not in attendance as he focused on the Surfside response, once. The governor, a rising national star in the party, got mentioned throughout the opening speeches, but during Trump’s roughly 90 minutes on stage he did not mention DeSantis, which is the frame through which some conservative media outlets viewed the event.
WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.
ANOTHER SLIGHT — “Trump rails against ‘prosecutorial misconduct’ during Florida rally,” by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: Donald Trump took his recent tour to his new home-state of Florida on Saturday night but had a fresh target: the indictment against the Trump Organization. Trump held his rally — the second since he left office — as the state and nation continue to mourn a South Florida condo collapse that left at least 20 dead and more than 100 still unaccounted for. It also comes two days after prosecutors unsealed an indictment alleging Trump Organization and its chief financial officer did not report or pay taxes on $1.7 million in fringe benefits and other perks.
— “‘We couldn’t miss it for the world’: Trump supporters descend on Sarasota rally,” by Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Patricia McKnight
THREADING THE NEEDLE — “Trump said he told DeSantis not to attend July Fourth weekend rally in Florida,” by Washington Examiner’s Daniel Chaitin: “Former President Donald Trump said he was the one who told Gov. Ron DeSantis not to attend his July Fourth weekend rally in Sarasota, Florida. The pair had a conversation, during which both sides stressed they agreed the governor should stay in Surfside, where a condominium building partially collapsed over a week ago that left at least 24 dead and 121 missing.”
TOWER COMES DOWN — “Death toll rises to 27 in Surfside collapse as demolition opens new areas to search team,” by Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks, Bianca Padro Ocasio, and Daiv Ovalle: “The successful implosion of the Champlain Towers South paved the way for rescue workers early Monday to begin scouring a previously inaccessible portion of the building. The demolition provided hope, however slim, that survivors might be hidden in voids in the massive pile of twisted concrete, metal and debris. But it also signaled that firefighters will likely begin finding more victims at an accelerated pace.”
— “3 more bodies found after remaining section of Florida condo complex demolished; death toll at 27,” by Florida Times-Union’s John Bacon, Rick Neale, Wendy Rhodes
— “Is your building in danger of collapse? Look for these warning signs,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel
BACK ON — “Search back on after rest of South Florida condo demolished,” by The Associated Press: “Rescuers were given the all-clear to resume work looking for victims at a collapsed South Florida condo building after demolition crews set off a string of explosives that brought down the last of the building in a plume of dust. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told the Associated Press that the demolition went “exactly as planned” around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.”
INSURANCE SIDE — “Surfside tragedy rattles Florida’s condo insurance agency,” by Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas: “Within days of the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, insurance companies sent letters to owners of condominiums 40 years and older in South Florida, asking for proof that their buildings have passed all inspections, or they will lose their coverage. The deadly collapse of the 136-unit high rise has spooked an industry that had already considered older condos on the coast — with their hurricane exposure, their common ownership structure and reputation for delaying maintenance — a high risk, experts say.”
TRAGIC STAGE — “New Miami-Dade mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, in global spotlight after Surfside collapse,’ by Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks: “It was Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s seventh day delivering grim news from the Surfside operation when she took a deep breath at the cluster of microphones where she had already announced 16 deaths. ‘Since our last briefing, I am very pained to tell you that we found two additional bodies in the rubble,’ Levine Cava said at a media briefing aired around the world on June 30. ‘It is also with great sorrow — real pain — that I have to share with you that two of these were children… In the worst of times, we come together and we pray together.’”
PET PATROL — “Where are the pets? Mayor says crews searched Surfside condo units before demolition,” by Miami Herald’s David J. Neal and Douglas Hanks: “In defending the efforts to save family pets left behind in Surfside’s Champlain Towers South, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says rescue workers went into condos on Sunday looking for animals before the building was demolished. ‘They were, at great risk to themselves, searching inside those units that had been indicated that might have pets and searching very thoroughly,’ she said Monday.”
EVERYONE — “‘Everybody in Miami knows somebody from that building,’” by Miami Herald’s Linda Robertson: “Inside the ‘condo of the abuelas,’ a walk down any hallway was a feast for the senses. The smells of frying plantains, baking challah bread and roasting brisket mingled with the sounds of Willy Chirino’s salsa hits and telenovela actors’ operatic dialogue.”
STORIES EMERGE — “Miami condo building: Tale of rescue after falling several floors in Florida collapse,” by The Associated Press: “When 16-year-old rising volleyball star Deven Gonzalez was pulled from the rubble of her Miami condo building, her initial reaction amid the shock was to tell firefighters that she had to compete in a major tournament in a few days. The teen’s world revolved around volleyball. She played beach volleyball, on her high school team and with a competitive travel club team. From her hospital bed where she’s undergone multiple surgeries for a broken femur, she apologized profusely to her coach for missing their final practice.”
THE PROBLEM — “Lax enforcement let South Florida towers skirt inspections for years,” by The New York Times’ Michale LaForgia, Adam Playford and Lazaro Gamio: “Out of the smoke and cinders of a city convulsed by race riots and an immigration crisis, the towers kept rising, each new development remaking Miami’s skyline in the early 1980s and marking an ambitious bet that the battered community would turn itself around. Over the next 40 years, high-rises like Champlain Towers, in the sleepy, beachfront enclave of Surfside, stood witness to Miami’s remarkable rebound, luxurious, multistory symbols of endurance — of booms and busts but also the harsh South Florida elements: scorching sun and driving rains, battering winds and slashing saltwater.”
— “Frank Morabito: What we know about structural engineer who worked with Champlain Towers South condo board,” by Washington Post’s Shawn Boburg, Steve Thompson and Beth Reinhard
TO COURT — “Magic City Casino owners sue to invalidates Seminole Tribe’s sports betting deal,” by Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas: “One of Florida’s oldest parimutuel companies, owner of Miami’s Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room, has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Florida gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, alleging that the sports betting component is a based on “legal fiction” that violates federal law.”
MEDIA FIGHT — “Judge to hear arguments on ex-lawmaker’s bit to shield evidence in Miami ‘ghost’ candidate case,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Annie Martin: “Attorneys for the Orlando Sentinel and other news outlets will be in a Miami courtroom this morning to argue for the public release of evidence against former State Sen. Frank Artiles, who is accused of paying a friend more than $45,000 to run as a ‘ghost’ candidate in a South Florida state Senate race. Artiles’ attorneys are attempting to shield evidence in the case from public disclosure, including his cell phone contacts and text messages, arguing it would be an “impossibility” for Artiles to receive a fair trial if they were released. But attorneys from the Sentinel say Artiles’ request was vague and disclosing the evidence would not preclude finding impartial jurors.”
CHANGES COMING — “Florida’s new Parents’ Bill of Rights brings big changes to medical care for children,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Cindy Krischer Goodman: “Dr. John Gross, a Florida family physician who specializes in sports medicine, often attends his children’s soccer games. But Gross says doing so won’t be the same anymore. If a player gets injured, he says he has to make a tough decision from the sidelines: ask for a parent’s written consent to give emergency medical help, or move into action and risk being charged with a misdemeanor.”
GETTING CLOSER — “Tropical Storm Elsa nears Cuba. Track nudges west, likely easing impact on Florida Keys,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Harris and Gwen Filosa: South Florida got its first taste of Tropical Storm Elsa Monday afternoon as the outermost bands began to lash the region with brief, intense bouts of rain. The storm’s projected track jogged a bit west early Monday — easing the threat for South Florida, including most of the Lower Florida Keys, which now appear likely to see a windy, wet sideswipe rather than a direct hit from a slightly stronger but small system.
— “Tropical Storm Elsa: Sarasota, Manatee counties prepare for impact,” by Sarasota Herald Tribune’s Earle Kimel
— “Tropical storm warning issued for Tampa Bay region as Elsa approaches,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Matt Cohen and Gabe Stearn
NUMBERS TO WATCH — “COVID-19 in June: Caution urged as vaccination and testing slows, variants rise,” by Florida Today’s Bailey Gallion: “Throughout Florida in June, COVID-19 case counts held steady, vaccination and testing rates dropped and the more contagious Delta strain of the virus spread in the Sunshine State and elsewhere. U.S. experts now warn that the emergence of the Delta variant and other strains could slow the ‘return to normal’ many Americans hoped to see in 2021.”
TIME TO LEARN — “UNF team surveys 3,000 Florida health care workers to learn from the pandemic,” by Florida Times-Union’s Matt Soergel: “University of North Florida researchers polled about 3,000 Florida health care professionals during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic about how their work lives were being affected. A big takeaway was that many were not fully equipped to deal with telehealth conferences, which became much more common in 2020.”
NO-GO — “State Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Palm Beach County COVID-19 mask mandate,” by Palm Beach Post’s Chris Persaud: “In the fight over anti-coronavirus rules, Florida’s Supreme Court has dealt a blow to anti-maskers. The state’s highest court declined Friday to hear a case involving a group of Palm Beach County anti-maskers who sued the county last year when it ordered people to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of the deadly airborne pathogen. The court said in a two-sentence statement that it will not take up the case. It did not explain why, as usual.”
— “Another Jacksonville City Council member hospitalized with COVID-19,” by Florida Politics’ AG Gancarski
THE SECRET — “The ‘Amazon of North America’ could be Florida best-kept secret,” by CNN’s Will McGough: “Seeing a panther in the wild is one of the most-coveted experiences an adventurer in South Florida can pursue. It’s also one of the least likely to occur. The Florida panther is among the most endangered species in the United States, found only in South Florida, with an estimated population of less than 130. Its habitat, which includes swamps, marshlands and thick jungles, makes it extremely difficult to track.”
LOCAL JOURNALISM MATTERS — “Tampa lead factory gets credit downgrade,” by PBS Frontline’s Rebecca Woolington, Eli Murray, Corey G. Johnson: “A global credit-rating agency has downgraded Gopher Resource — a move that experts described as a serious blow to the Tampa lead smelter. The downgrade comes after the Tampa Bay Times revealed that Gopher had exposed hundreds of workers to extreme amounts of lead. The newsroom’s investigation published in March prompted federal regulators to descend on the plant.”
— “Chief: Florida officer fatally shot man who pointed gun at him,” by The Associated Press
BIRTHDAYS: Republican Party of Florida chair and state Sen. Joe Gruters … Former state Rep. MaryLynn Magar … The Associated Press’ Joe Reedy