Axios Miami

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Woot, woot! It's Wednesday!

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🚌 Situational awareness: Today's the first day of school in Miami-Dade County. Remember to stop for school buses!

Today's newsletter is 920 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Teachers worry about Florida law's impact on LGBTQ+ kids

Illustration of a stack of rainbow and a stack of red books leaning on each other.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Fears of pushback from parents didn't stop Miami teacher Elizabeth Morales from filling her classroom with rainbow decorations for the start of school today.

  • But Morales tells Axios she's worried about how Florida's Parental Rights in Education law β€” dubbed "Don't Say Gay" by critics β€” will impact conversations she can have with students about their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Why it matters: Teachers in Miami-Dade County Public Schools are starting their first school year under the new law. Some say they're concerned about navigating its restrictions and the harm it might cause LGBTQ+ students.

Context: The law prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade β€” as well as instruction that isn't "age appropriate" for older students. It also allows parents to sue school districts over alleged violations.

  • Critics say the law could stifle conversations about LGBTQ+ issues because it doesn't specify what would be considered inappropriate in higher grades.

What they're saying: Morales has run the Gay Straight Alliance Club at Felix Varela Senior High School for 14 years and considers her classroom a "safe space."

  • "There are teachers that are very concerned because we don't know what to do," Morales tells Axios.

Francisco Sanchez, a Miami Coral Park Senior High history teacher who's gay, tells Axios he wants to make sure LGBTQ+ students know they have support if they feel marginalized.

  • "Any kid in my school will know this is a safe classroom, and if you're having issues there are people in this school that will help you out," he says. "And we will protect you."

Keep reading

2. DeSantis swaggers into school board races

A close-up of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, smiling
Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis is bringing his statewide "Education Agenda Tour," where he promotes candidates in nonpartisan school board races, to Doral on Sunday.

Driving the news: DeSantis is holding rallies to back candidates who agree with him on certain points, such as keeping "woke gender ideology out of schools" and rejecting critical race theory (CRT).

Why it matters: Around the country, school boards have become a new battleground for political fights over culture-war issues like book banning and transgender people in sports.

  • And DeSantis, who's endorsed dozens of school board candidates and donated to campaigns, is blazing a new trail for GOP governors in education-related contests, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

Zoom in: In Miami-Dade, DeSantis is backing Roberto Alonso and Monica Colucci, Florida Politics reports.

  • Both candidates' platforms oppose CRT and allowing trans girls to compete in girls' sports.

What's ahead: DeSantis also has stops planned for Sarasota and Volusia counties Sunday.

  • Meanwhile, the governor this week proposed new initiatives to fill teacher shortages, including incentivizing police officers and first responders to obtain temporary teaching certificates. He wants state lawmakers to consider the measures in the upcoming legislative session.

Go deeper: Learn more about local school board races and candidates.

3. Cafecito: Your morning shot of news

Illustration of  "Cafecito" spelled out in the wake of a speedboat.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A Florida appellate court on Monday blocked a teenager from getting an abortion without parental consent, ruling that she isn't "sufficiently mature" to choose to end her pregnancy. (Axios)

🚲 A pro cycling league is launching next year with races in Miami, Atlanta, Denver and Chicago. The National Cycling League is co-founded by NFL agent David Mulugheta and Miami-based health care entrepreneur Paris Wallace. (News release)

πŸ‹οΈβ€β™‚οΈ Gym selfies doomed Army veteran Zachary Barton, who was sentenced to one year in federal prison for lying to obtain more than $245,000 in disability benefits. He claimed he couldn't lift weights over 20 pounds or walk without a cane, but investigators saw social media posts of him lifting hundreds of pounds. (DOJ)

4. Breaking down the Riverside Wharf ballot question

A rendering of a massive hotel and entertainment hub at Riverside Wharf.
Rendering courtesy of MV Real Estate Holdings and Driftwood Capital

Miami voters will decide this Aug. 23 election whether the city should extend a lease for Riverside Wharf, which developers want to revamp into a massive waterfront hotel and entertainment hub.

Catch up fast: In 2016, voters OK'd leasing public land on the east bank of the Miami River for 30 years with options to extend to 50 years. A year later, the site became home to trendy nightlife venue The Wharf.

  • Now, developers are planning two 10-story towers, including a 165-room Dream Hotel, an event hall, a nightclub, and a rooftop day club.
  • The project would take up two acres, part of which is owned by the city. Developers, who are requesting a 50-year lease extension, own the adjacent land.

What they're saying: Alex Mantecon, co-developer of Riverside Wharf, tells Axios the longer lease is needed to secure financing to build the $185 million project.

  • "We're trying to make something that's going to redefine what the Miami River is," Mantecon said.

Yes, but: Allowing private entities to use public land is always a contentious issue.

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5. Dine on a discount during Miami Spice

A photo of Red Rooster Overtown's deconstructed key lime pie
Red Rooster Overtown's deconstructed key lime pie. Photo: Martin Vassolo/Axios

A three-course lunch at a Michelin-star restaurant for under $30? That can only mean that Miami Spice is back.

Why it matters: The two-month dining promotion offers a rare opportunity to try highly acclaimed food at reasonable prices. And it's the first one since the Michelin Guide came to town in June.

Details: Through Sept. 30, you can order discounted lunch and dinner specials at more than 200 Miami restaurants. Just ask the waiter for the Miami Spice menu.

  • Lunch or brunch will run you $28, and dinner specials are either $45 or $60.

Martin's thought bubble: I tried Red Rooster Overtown β€” one of Miami Spice's participating restaurants and a recent Michelin Bib Gourmand award winner β€” this summer. I loved their deconstructed key lime pie, which also happens to be on their Miami Spice dinner menu.

  • If you want to go for lunch, the cast-iron-cooked Marcus' Cornbread, infused with jalapeΓ±o honey butter, is another can't-miss.

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