Twitter video screenshot

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is very, very upset that anyone would suggest he's steering coronavirus vaccinations to populations that are most likely to vote for him. In fact, he's so hurt by the allegations of vaccine favoritism that he threatened this week to take vaccinations away from counties where leaders criticize him, and to move them where people are more grateful.

DeSantis made the threat Wednesday at an upscale, mostly white retirement community, Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County, after some Manatee County commissioners criticized DeSantis for selecting Lakewood Ranch for a three-day pop-up vaccination clinic that would only serve seniors from two affluent zip codes. The Bradenton Herald, which broke the story, very rudely pointed out that residents in those zip codes aren't just wealthy — with a median income nearly double that of the rest of the county — but that the neighborhoods also have a far lower COVID-19 infection rate than other parts of Manatee County. On the other hand, they tend to vote Republican, so you really need to take a balanced approach to keeping them happy.


The temporary vaccine site came about after DeSantis phoned Lakewood Ranch's developer, Rex Jensen, to suggest it would be really neat if Jensen would host a vaccination event to distribute some 3,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. After some help from County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, a Republican who's close to DeSantis, the vaccination campaign was set up at the Premier Sports Campus, a county recreation facility in Lakewood Ranch. But other members of the county commission had questions about the decision. At a commission meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Misty Servia said,

We have people struggling with the virus. If we were going to pick and choose, I would hope it would go to the under-served populations and neighborhoods. [...] You're taking the whitest demographic, the richest demographic in Manatee County and putting them before everyone else.

Shouldn't be long before Tucker Carlson calls her a racist and a socialist, we suppose. While he's at it, he should also call out Politico for noting that "Just 5.3 percent of the vaccine doses the state has administered so far have gone to Black residents," although Black people constitute almost 17 percent of Florida's population.

When DeSantis went to the pop-up site at Lakewood Ranch, he explained that people better be happy that vaccines are going to any parts of their communities at all, or maybe he'll just take his vaccines somewhere his generosity is appreciated:

If Manatee County does not like us doing this, we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it. We're totally happy to do that, so anyone that's saying that, let us know, and if you want us to send to Sarasota next time, or Charlotte, or Pasco, or wherever, let us know. We're happy to do it.

Isn't that just some first-class passive aggressive bullying? Better not complain that underserved communities aren't getting vaccinated, or you people will find out what "underserved" really means so fast your head will spin.

As NBC News points out, DeSantis has been accused of using the vaccination rollout for political advantage from the get-go. While federal guidelines recommended that states prioritize getting vaccines into the arms of frontline health workers first, DeSantis added adults aged 65 and up to the top priority group, and surely that's just because he cares so much, not because retirees make up one of Florida's most influential voting blocs.

Not surprisingly, DeSantis also made sure he was in the room and in front of a camera when Holocaust survivors and veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion got their vaccines, and only a terrible cynic would suggest he had any political motives there, you monster.

And wouldn't you know it, now there's this very unfair suggestion that DeSantis is making sure that vaccines get to retirement communities full of folks who happen to vote Republican, and whose developers have GOP ties, too. NBC News notes that

Lakewood Ranch's parent company, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, is owned by the Illinois-based Uihlein family, which has given millions to the Republican Party.

Family member Dick Uihlein gave $900,000 in 2018 and 2019 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee, according to state election records. He and his wife, Liz, were also big bankrollers of ex-President Donald Trump's campaign and were highly critical of federal pandemic restrictions.

But before you start grumbling, you just keep in mind there's nothing funny going on there, because a spokesperson for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, in a very carefully parsed statement, that neither Dick nor Liz Uihlein were shareholders, which clearly means their big money connections to the GOP and DeSantis had absolutely nothing to do with any of this.

"The state [Gov. DeSantis] called our CEO and asked to hold a pop-up clinic in Lakewood Ranch," she wrote. "We connected them with our county commissioner, who coordinated the use of the county-owned Premier Sports Campus."

At his presser Wednesday, DeSantis said Lakewood Ranch was chosen for the pop-up vaccination site because "there's a high concentration of seniors, and where you could have communities to provide the vaccine," and nothing more — never mind that people from outside the two chosen zip codes weren't on the list of lucky duckies who could be vaccinated.

Also too, NBC News reports that last week, another pop-up vaccination clinic was held in Charlotte County, at Port Charlotte's Kings Gate retirement community, another well-off GOP enclave. A local GOP official, Harvey Goldstein, who's clearly not a fan of the move, said he suspected the community was chosen because the developers "swing a heavy hammer in Tallahassee."

Charlotte County Democratic Party Chair Teresa Jenkins was none too happy about it, either, noting that of the 1,900 residents of Kings Gate, only 150 of 'em are registered Democrats. "That says something. [...] And we're very angry about it." That's not very open-minded, Ms. Jenkins! Maybe there simply aren't any places in Florida where there are concentrations of Democrats or not-white people over the age of 65!

Oh, except there's also this: Politico spoke with R.B. Holmes Jr., the pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, who

said last month that he sent a plan to DeSantis offices to use a network of churches and community centers in predominantly Black neighborhoods as vaccination sites, but his proposal was ignored.

OK, but maybe DeSantis's people just lost the memo. Things happen, you know. Besides, maybe the governor's office was worried about safety, since large gatherings of politically active Black people are so scary, even if they're elderly. Rev. Holmes told Politico the whole thing left him disgusted:

"For some reason, Florida is a little hesitant about working collectively, with a group of volunteers who reached out our arms and not our fists," Holmes told POLITICO. "But that's why the federal government is so important. ... If it were just states' rights, we'd still be living under Jim Crowism."

OMG did you see what he said about fists? That was totally a threat, and we're sure DeSantis will want to investigate the pastor's violent political leanings.

UPDATE: Never let it be said that Ron DeSantis isn't sensitive to what really matters. He plans to order that state buildings fly flags at half-staff, to honor the late Rush Limbaugh.


[Bradenton Herald / Politico / NBC News]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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