Statement from FDP Chair Manny Diaz on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

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On September 11, 2021, Americans [are observing] the 20th Anniversary of the coordinated terrorist attacks on our nation that devastated parts of New York City, damaged the Pentagon, took the lives of the passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93 and changed the course of our nation’s history.

In commemoration of this event, Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz issued the following statement:

“There are only a handful of historical events during anyone’s lifetime that will forever after be considered to have irrevocably changed the world. Anyone who was alive on September 11th, 2001 knows that the terrorist attacks that took place on that day constitute exactly that kind of event. 

“The scale of the tragedy was unimaginable, extending from the foreign policy ramifications of this wanton act of aggression to the devastating effects suffered by so many everyday citizens who either lost their lives or those of loved ones during the course of that day. Many of our nation’s brave first responders still suffer from the damaging health effects caused by the difficult and risky tasks they were called upon to perform on 9/11 and its aftermath. For me it was, and still is, truly overwhelming to think about.

“At the time of the attacks, I was campaigning to become the Mayor of Miami. My immediate reaction was to temporarily suspend my campaign. Advertising, canvassing and speeches seemed wholly inappropriate in the middle of such a traumatic period of time in our nation’s history. That pause, though, also gave me the opportunity to deeply reflect on the trust I was asking the people of the city to place in me. Seeing the extraordinary demands that this frightening and chaotic situation placed on so many mayors across the country really brought home the scale of the responsibility and this realization would make me a better public servant. Months later, along with over 200 9/11 era mayors from across the U.S., I would visit ground zero and pay my respects to the victims, their families, our first responders and the entire New York community. I will never forget the impact that experience had on me.

“Along with the sadness that this commemoration elicits for all of us, it is important to remember the heartening things we found out about ourselves in the aftermath of this catastrophe. In the midst of so many challenges and so much grief, something beautiful began to emerge, a spirit of kindness, unity and solidarity with other Americans that we knew existed beneath the surface but had remained dormant and out of sight for many years. In this current age of increasing polarization and heated discourse, when it can be so easy to feel physically and emotionally isolated, may this year’s 9/11 events remind us of the humanity that binds every one of us as citizens of the United States, of our fundamental goodness as a people and of our pride in our country and what it stands for.

“We will never forget. We must never forget.”

ICYMI: Rep. Skidmore and Florida Doctors Slam Marco Rubio And Ron DeSantis For Playing Politics During Recent COVID Surge

Health care workers across Florida have seen firsthand how Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis have prioritized their self-serving political agendas over an effective response to the recent surge in COVID cases across the state. 
Yesterday the Florida Democratic Party hosted a virtual press conference with Rep. Kelly Skidmore and doctors from across the state who have treated COVID patients to discuss how Rubio and DeSantis have made the ongoing public health crisis worse. The panelists recounted how Rubio and DeSantis were more focused on scoring political points than keeping people safe while hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths in Florida reached all-time highs in August. 

Highlights from the press conference are below and a full recording is available here.  

“In the vacuum created by Ron DeSantis, Senator Marco Rubio has not stepped up or spoken out to protect Floridians. In fact, he voted against $1,400 checks for Floridians and opposed funding for vaccine distribution, COVID relief for schools, first responders, and small businesses. Governor DeSantis has spent the past month attacking public school boards that want to implement their own public health measures. Instead of holding events to promote vaccines, he’s defunding school boards who disobey him…What we’ve experienced in the last month is the result of our leaders failing to do their jobs and take responsibility for Floridians’ lives,” said Rep. Kelly Skidmore. 

“As this most recent surge was getting under way, Governor DeSantis came here to Tampa General to host a press conference…He didn’t come upstairs and look at our overflowing ICU and see the chaos that was ensuing in our hospital…he comfortably stood in the press room and spoke out against masking…He’s following a political agenda, and it’s at the expense of the lives and the health of Floridians. […]

We need our elected officials to step up and set the example…We need someone to step up and lead, not be absent, not be campaigning for the next election cycle…This has never been this bad over the last 18 months,” said Dr. Jennifer Caputo-Seidler, a hospital internist from Tampa.  

“I practice preventative medicine and it’s my job to try to convince people to get the vaccine, and right now we are in a leadership vacuum. With Senator Rubio and Governor DeSantis not really speaking out in terms of what people need to be doing with the vaccine and with masks, it puts us at a huge disadvantage…By not being pro-vaccine – vocally and strongly pro-vaccine and pro mask, [DeSantis and Rubio] are leading to this vacuum where people are getting their information from absolutely ridiculous sources. And that’s what’s bound to happen when our leaders aren’t stepping up,” said Dr. Dawn Sherling, an internist from Palm Beach County.

“This particular spike starting in July has been made so much harder by both the neglect from officials as well as the willful fighting to recognize that we have any sort of emergency…If they came out at every event with [a mask] on, it’s a real sign to the community that we’re in crisis, but instead they choose not to do that.” said Dr. Jennifer Cowart, a Jacksonville hospital internist.

Statement from FDP Chair Manny Diaz on Governor DeSantis’s Remarkable Losing Streak in the Courts Over the Last Weeks

On September 9, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker issued a 90-page order preliminary enjoining the enforcement of HB 1, the anti-protest Bill. Judge Walker’s order makes clear what Democrats in the Florida Legislature have argued since last session: HB 1 is an unconstitutional infringement of Floridian’s First Amendment rights.

This ruling is the latest in a long line of legal defeats for Governor De Santis:

  • On August 8, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban as applied to cruise ships.
  • On July 1, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor (a Trump appointee) issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of Florida Senate Bill 1890. SB 1890 was designed to set $3,000 limits on campaign contributions to committees in support of or opposition to ballot initiatives during signature gathering. 
  •  On June 30, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle entered a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of SB 7072 the so-called Big Tech “Censorship” Law. Judge Hinkle specifically noted DeSantis’ flaunting of basic constitutional rights, noting that “The state has asserted it is on the side of the First Amendment; the plaintiffs are not. It is perhaps a nice sound bite. But the assertion is wholly at odds with accepted constitutional principles…” The order is on appeal.
  • On August 27, 2021 Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis acted outside his authority when his administration ordered that local school districts could not require that students wear masks. ​​Judge Cooper found that DeSantis violated the due process rights of School Boards under the Parent’s Bill of Rights and that the EO and DoE Rule were “arbitrary and capricious.” DeSantis immediately appealed, which triggered an automatic stay of Judge Cooper’s order. However, on September 8, 2021, Judge Cooper found good cause to vacate the stay pending appeal – reinstating his order and invalidating DeSantis’ ban on requiring masks in schools. On September 9, 2021, DeSantis filed an emergency appeal in the First District Court of Appeal.

In response to Governor DeSantis’s recent losing streak in the courts, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz issued the following statement:

“Over the past weeks, rulings by judges at different levels of our judicial system have painted a damning portrait of our Governor. In case after case they have found DeSantis’s arguments patently unconvincing and his actions unconstitutional. In spite of his claims, his authoritarian attempts at twisting constitutional principles to further a partisan and deeply ideological agenda have consistently endeavored to make our state less free and less safe.

“We should be thankful that, at least for now, the court system has provided a firewall that provisionally protects Floridians from DeSantis’s and the GOP’s disingenuous, dystopian and distorted views of our constitutional freedoms.

“The ultimate judgement will come in November of 2022, when the citizens of our state will finally have the chance to rule on DeSantis’s cynical, self-serving and dictatorial behavior. For the future of our state, it is essential that the voters dismiss DeSantis with prejudice from the Governor’s mansion.”

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Florida Democrats believe in effective and efficient government that prioritizes quality education, affordable health care, and an economy in which anyone who works hard can succeed.

Most importantly, we believe that we are stronger together. We believe the fundamental American promise — that you can go as far as your own hard work will take you — should shine brightest in Florida.

That is why we champion the middle class and cherish the principle that all Floridians should have the opportunity to work hard and succeed. That is why we will never stop fighting for better public schools, because education is the surest path to a better life for millions.

From standing for affordable health care and better schools to fighting for civil rights and access to the ballot box, Florida Democrats are leading every day to move our state forward.

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