ORLANDO, Fla. – State Representative Daisy Morales (D-Orlando) has sent a letter to the Governor urging him to assist with and release much needed resources to aid Puerto Rico in the wake of the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Fiona.
The letter reads:
“Dear Governor DeSantis,
“With the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria right behind us, Hurricane Fiona, which has now dealt catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico according to Governor Pedro Pierluisi, is an opportunity for us to help our loved ones on the Island.
“With expected flooding, mudslides and blackouts, conditions are extremely dangerous.
“I’m asking the Executive Office of the Governor and the Division of Emergency Management to closely monitor the situation and begin preparations for relief efforts. I am also asking your office to facilitate discussions with city and county governments, and transportation authorities, to prepare for a potential influx of our fellow citizens from Puerto Rico, as was the case with Hurricane Maria. I am also asking your office to assist with the potable water residents of the island needs with the contamination of its existing water supply. Florida, and in particular Central Florida, will always stand with and support Puerto Rico.
“My district, District 48, has one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the state and I know that, like myself, many Floridians are concerned for the safety and well-being of friends and loved ones currently there.
“Puerto Rico is still rebuilding from Hurricane Maria and must now redouble its efforts in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. Florida must be committed to doing everything we can to help the families impacted by Hurricane Fiona and aid in the recovery process.
“Thank you for your consideration.”
Other governors have already stepped into action, some as early as Sunday. Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced that two members of Pennsylvania Task Force 1 (PATF-1) Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) are deploying to Puerto Rico to support response operations there. They will serve with a federal Incident Support Team and are prepared to remain deployed in Puerto Rico for up to two weeks.
New York governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement Sunday that “the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is monitoring the storm closely and will be able to rapidly deploy assistance if requested by the federal government and Puerto Rico.”
Thus far, it appears that Florida governor Ron DeSantis has not yet taken action.
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ Brings the South to Your Mouth at ICON Park
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – “Put some south in yo’ mouth.”– Brother Jimmy’s BBQ certainly delivers on its motto at ICON Park on International Drive.
The barbecue chain, launched in North Carolina in 1989, opened its new location at ICON Park in early August and opened its doors to the media Wednesday, providing a sample of rich ribs (both sauced and dry rub), pulled pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, cornbread, and tea (sweet and unsweetened).
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ cuisine is made fresh in-house, with the butcher chopping, seasoning, smoking and slicing fresh meat before your very eyes. Utensils await diners in tall receptacles on each table, next to a small container showcasing three barbecue sauces: Original, North Carolina, and Chipotle; and in true southern charm, diners can enjoy their drinks in mason jars.
The 7,200-plus square foot restaurant offers an open, inviting dining experience that lulls you to stay a while. The furniture there was taken directly from the restaurant’s New York location and shows some “personality” in the slight wear of the wood and unique giant metal pig figurines peppering several tables. The restaurant offers its own photo both (and a board close to the main entrance to post the pics for others to see), tons of TV screens to watch whichever game you wish to see, and the whole back half of the establishment is a mini-arcade with pinball, mini basketball, and yes, beer pong. Also, kids eat free at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ with the purchase of one entree.
Looking for some good barbecue in a great atmosphere? Learn more and check out the menu on the Brother Jimmy’s BBQ website.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. DeSantis Announces Toll Relief Program
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a new toll relief program at the Florida Turnpike Headquarters Thursday.
The SunPass Savings Program launches on September 1, 2022 and will run for six months and will benefit SunPass and other Florida transponder users. According to a press release from the governor’s office, the program “is estimated to provide $38 million in relief to SunPass commuters.” Eligible roadways include the Turnpike, the 528, 95 Express, I-4 Express, Palmetto Expressway, the Sawgrass Expressway, and many others. The complete map of included roadways can be found at www.sunpass.com.
With the savings program, drivers who have 40-79 transactions per month will receive a 20 percent discount, and drivers who rack up 80 or more transactions per month receive a 25 percent discount. Gov. DeSantis acknowledged other toll organizations and the fact that they’re independent of the Florida government and outside of his authority, but said that a deal can be made legislatively.
“This program will help frequent SunPass customers keep more money in their pockets during a time of growing inflation,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Florida families who depend on these FDOT facilities for a timely commute to work will benefit from these savings. We will, of course, seek to enact greater savings for commuters in the next legislative session.”
“The SunPass Savings program is a way for us to give back to our loyal customers and thank them for their continued support,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “FDOT and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise are proud to offer this additional cost-saving benefit.”
The governor reiterated the upcoming gas tax holiday in October, but spent much of his commentary slamming President Joe Biden’s economic policy, including the most recent law canceling student loan debt for millions of Americans, which Biden announced Wednesday. DeSantis said President Biden making that a law was unconstitutional. When Florida National News asked Gov. DeSantis how it was unconstitutional, he pointed out that it needs to go through Congress. “Could the Congress pass a law that passes that on to the taxpayer? I believe they probably would have the Constitutional duty to do it–I’m not saying that’s a good idea,” he explained. “But for an executive action through fiat to sanction and to just say you’re dumping this debt on the taxpayers, that is not something that is consistent with the rule of law.”
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | email@example.com
State Rep. Daisy Morales Announces a Half-Million Dollars in Assets in Amended Campaign Financial Disclosure
ORLANDO, Fla. (August 18, 2022) – State Representative Daisy Morales‘s campaign released a statement announcing a half-million dollars in assets reported in a recently amended full and public disclosure of financial interests.
Much like in her clapback against the Orlando Sentinel, Rep. Morales had a lot to say. The first portion of the long statement appears to answer the questions bubbling through Rita Harris circles about Rep. Morales’s recent $50,000 campaign loan after the Orlando Sentinel released its commentary last week.
Rep. Daisy Morales issued the following statement:
“Let me be clear. Concerning my campaign’s recent $50,000 loan, I have an existing line of credit with a local bank, which I’ve had for years. It’s that simple. My 2021 campaign financial disclosure reflected an error which has been amended to reflect approximately $507,000 in assets.”
The Morales campaign provided the images below of her copies of her 2021 amendment, which she has sent up to Tallahassee.
She also furnished and referenced a copy of her financial disclosure amendment from 2020.
“However, for anyone wanting to know if I’m worth $50,000, all you have to do is see the attached financial disclosure that accompanies this statement, which is from 2020.
“My total assets in the 2020 campaign financial disclosure are in excess of $170,000 and my net worth is over $66,000, so my ability to loan my campaign $50,000 was already public.”
According to Rep. Morales, the Orlando Sentinel was still pressing her on the homestead exemption, despite her explanation in her response to the newspaper, so she reiterated her answer in today’s statement.
“Concerning the home for which my adult son, a disabled military veteran, has a homestead exemption, he alone has the exemption. The Orange County Property Appraiser’s Office confirms that. I co-own the property with him, but I don’t live there.”
Rep. Morales pointed out the lack of scrutiny of her opponent’s finances, most notably her tax debt.
“That said, I still find the lack of concern for my opponent’s financial issues strange. Jennifer “Rita” Harris’s campaign financial disclosure revealed $178,000 in federal tax debt and yet there is no outrage. And that’s just the tax debt—not even mentioning all of her other debts. But all eyes are on my assets.
“Remember, assets mean ownership. Debt means financial mismanagement and irresponsibility. Which is worse?
“I loaned my campaign funding from a line of credit available to me due to good financial stewardship. Harris is swimming in debt and loaning money to her campaign as well, sinking even deeper in the debt. Harris’s adult daughter, who is listed on Harris’s tax forms as a dependent (included with her campaign financial disclosure), donated $1,000 to her campaign but she is listed as not employed in the financial report. How can an unemployed dependent donate $1,000 to a campaign? Where would that money come from? But again, not a word has been said about this.
“No one finds it strange that on her campaign financial disclosure, she’s listed as a housewife, and yet on two different LinkedIn accounts, she’s listed as CEO and sales executive of her husband’s current company on one account and as a writer on the other; and, according to the Florida Division of Corporations, she’s listed as the CEO of a failed business (Kronos Unlimited, LLC.). Which is it, then? Housewife or business owner? Unemployed, self-employed, or employee?
“Again, Harris has been given a pass on not being transparent about this, but United For Progress PAC and her campaign are slamming me for not being transparent? I was a federal employee working for the U.S. Government for 24 years and have served as an elected official for the past eight years—over 30 years of public service.”
UFP PAC Flips on Morales After Endorsing Her in 2020
United For Progress, for its part, seems to have turned on Morales.
Morales’s statement comes on the heels of UFP PAC’s mailers on Rita Harris’s behalf casting doubt on Morales’s finances. The organization endorsed her in the 2020 general election after she defeated its endorsed primary candidate Samuel Vilchez Santiago.
And as it turns out, Rep. Morales was the UFP PAC’s only endorsed Florida House candidate who won the general election year, and by the largest margin of the four. The other three fellow Hispanic candidates–two of which were Democratic incumbents, lost to Republicans, flipping at least two of the seats.
UFP PAC-Endorsed State Representative Candidates in 2020
- Endorsee Dolores Guzman (D-27) lost to Webster Barnaby (R): 56.2 percent – 43.8 percent
- Endorsee Cindy Polo (D-103) lost to Tom Fabricio (R): 54.2 percent – 45.8 percent
- Endorsee Josh Lopez lost to Mike Giallombardo (R) (HD 77, open seat): 64.3 percent – 35.7 percent
- Endorsee Daisy Morales won against Jesus Martinez (HD 48, open seat): 65.3 percent – 34.7 percent
A High Profile Example
Morales even harkened back to the nationally visible Stacy Abrams Georgia gubernatorial race to prove her point about the lopsided scrutiny in her own race.
“Stacy Abrams, the black candidate for governor in Georgia in 2018, was forced to address the media about her $50,000 IRS tax debt. They put her finances under a super-fine microscope, and even after she answered the media’s questions, she was still being slammed. Harris, a Caucasian candidate in this race, has an IRS tax debt that is more than triple what Abrams owed, and she’s being given a pass. I, a Puerto Rican incumbent, have ZERO tax debt and am being grilled about my assets. Even with good credit, I’ve been put under the microscope and judged harshly. The level of hypocrisy in this race is unreal.
“The lack of due diligence into Rita Harris’s background will prove harmful to Florida voters, the members of the Florida Legislature, and the people and organizations that endorsed her.
“Harris wants to go to Tallahassee and use Florida taxpayer dollars to bail her out of her federal tax debt.”
A Desperate Democratic Party
The 2022 Florida midterm election has seen Democrats scrambling for seats and ravenously attacking each other, but the Democratic party, in its desperation to keep or gain seats it lost, doesn’t seem to be vetting its candidates in any strict way.
In an investigative piece on the highly contentious Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner, the West Orlando News revealed that candidate Ryan Morales has a past riddled with election law violations and aggression against others, mugshot and all. WON noted, “It appears that the Florida Democratic Party has all but given up on vetting their candidates.”
Rep. Morales closed out her long statement with a “so there” ending.
“This statement is meant to clear up any misinformation that has been reported by the Orlando Sentinel, United For Progress PAC and others with regards to my campaign’s $50,000 loan. Holding candidates for public office accountable works both ways.”