From the soup kitchens of Tallahassee to the conch houses of Key West, from the toniest mansions in Coral Gables to the double wides in Dixie County, people from all walks of life will sit down to celebrate the most American of holidays: Thanksgiving.
“Americans traditionally recognize the ‘first’ Thanksgiving as having taken place at Plymouth colony in the autumn of 1621,” according to MountVernon.org, the website of GeorgeWashington’s Virginia estate. “The 1621 thanksgiving celebration, however, did not become an annual event.”
More than a century later, “Washington issued a proclamation on Oct. 3, 1789, designating Thursday, Nov. 26 as a national day of thanks,” it says. “In his proclamation, Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty’s care of Americans.”
But “the 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation … did not establish a permanent federal holiday,” the site adds. “It was not until the Civil War of the 1860s that President (Abraham) Lincoln initiated a regular observance of Thanksgiving in the United States.”
Thus we come to the tradition of eating and giving thanks, including by the state’s elected officials (and yes, by candidates and players in The Process).
Once God, country, family, and good fortune are given their due, here’s what some of the state’s most prominent leaders should be grateful for:
Marco Rubio – For the proverbial “second chance.” He’s finally becoming the influential U.S. Senator he was supposed to be.
Bill Nelson – For the wave of opinion coming that may enable the Democrat to hold off the inevitable challenge to his seat from self-funding, always-on-message Gov. Rick Scott.
Rick Scott– For Nelson, who, despite 17 years in the U.S. Senate, is not well known enough to about half of Florida’s voters, according to a recent poll. No wonder Bill keeps inundating us with press releases of all the concerned letters he writes.
Adam Putnam – For the anonymous “POLITICO 6” who have torpedoed Jack Latvala’s gubernatorial campaign, giving the Bartow Republican an even wider lane to the Governor’s Mansion in 2018.
Jimmy Patronis– For Matt Gaetz muscling him out of a state Senate race a few years back. Now he’s the appointed state Chief Financial Officer, with the full faith and credit of the Rick Scott political machine behind him to get elected to a full term in 2018.
Joe Negron– For having just one session left as Senate President. It was a long, bruising road to the presidency, with an extended and nasty battle with Latvala. And since he won the gavel, relations with the House have bottomed out, while several Senators have faced debilitating scandals. Has it really been worth it?
Pam Bondi – For state Sen. Tom Lee’s proposed constitutional amendment banning greyhound racing. The term-limited Attorney General regularly brings shelter dogs to Cabinet meetings to get them adopted. Will she make this issue her own as one springboard to her post-2018 ambitions?
Richard Corcoran– For the seemingly hapless Senate, which allows him to ally with Scott when needed to advance his priorities. A post-Session declaration of his own candidacy for Governor is a virtual lock.
Jack Latvala– For all the donors who gave to his campaign for Governor before the reports of claims of sexual harassment against him came out. No matter how the case against him plays out, he’ll have millions of dollars to make others miserable once he leaves the Legislature.
Buddy Dyer– For no term limits as Orlando mayor. How about just chucking the election pretense? Mayor-for-Life, anyone?
BobBuckhorn– For … , well, the Tampa mayor says he’s too busy hunting a serial killer right now to be thankful. We bet he will be thankful once that evildoer is caught.
BrianBallard– For the gift that keeps on giving: His relationship with President DonaldTrump. We’d wager he’s … hold on a second, he’s signing another client, we’ll get back to you.
Vivian Myrtetus – For one million hours of volunteer service in the state after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The CEO of Volunteer Florida has good reason to be proud, and we should be proud of our fellow Floridians who helped neighbors in need.
Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying until something blows up.
And that’s the best you’ll get for a clever lede on a Thanksgiving-week story about another fireworks law reform bill being filed in the Florida Legislature.
Rep. JamieGrant, a Tampa-area Republican, filed a bill (HB 6037) Tuesday to legalize consumer fireworks. “Long overdue we get this done,” he tweeted.
A companion bill in the Senate filed by Sarasota Republican GregSteube cleared its first committee on an 8-2 vote last month.
Here’s the skinny: Although you can buy fireworks in the state, they’re not actually legal here.
Retail sales are allowed only because of a 62-year-old loophole in state law, the only known one of its kind in the country. That allows “fireworks … to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.”
Various lawmakers have tried for years to change the law, with no success.
As Sen. JeffBrandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, once explained the current state of the law, it “forces law-abiding parents to commit fraud by signing forms declaring the fireworks they buy won’t be used as fireworks to celebrate freedom with their kids, but to scare birds off crops.”
That “does not promote public safety and should be repealed to simply allow fireworks to be sold,” he once said. “More freedom, less fraud.”
“We look forward to … progressive steps in removing racist slave owners and other figures that really should not be on college campuses.” — Zachary Schultz, a member of the Florida State University chapter of Students for Democratic Society, during public comments at a meeting of the school’s new statue and building name review panel.
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, will speak at the dedication of a memorial for Nassau County Deputy EricOliver, who died in the line of duty a year ago. That’s at 7 a.m., at the Gate convenience store on State Road 200 in Yulee.
The Florida State Fair Board will hold a conference call to discuss legal matters at 9 a.m. The call-in number is (888) 670-3525, and the participant code is 3675418272#.
The Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m., 101 Rhyne Building, 2740 Centerview Dr., Tallahassee.
Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its weekly opinions a day earlier than usual, at 11 a.m.
When my family gathers around the table this Thursday to express thanks for all our blessings, I will (quietly) think to myself of my continued gratitude for Adam Smith, the political editor at the Tampa Bay Times.
Because were it not for Adam’s inexplicable detachment and laziness, I’m not sure this website — and all it provides to my family and the families of those who contribute — would have existed in the first place.
Had Adam, with his unique platform, worked just a little harder during SaintPetersBlog’s formative years and made that site less essential, it would have just withered away.
Had Adam, as political editor at the state’s largest newspaper, shown anything but contempt for most of those working in Florida politics, he would have become the go-to outlet for all the insider-y news that flows from FloridaPolitics.com, News Service of Florida, and POLITICO Florida.
Had Adam, the creative force behind The Buzz, continued to show the entrepreneurial spirit he did a decade ago when launching one of the state’s first political blogs, as well as one of the more important TV programs (Political Connections), there may not have been enough oxygen for our extensive enterprises to grow.
Considering just how irrelevant he has become to Florida politics — it’s unclear what he would do were he not just handed stories only because his platform is still significantly larger than nearly anyone else’s in Florida media — I may have forgotten to thank the good Lord for Adam’s many sins of omission.
To 99 percent of Floridians, these resignations mean very little, if anything at all. But Adam Smith isn’t writing for 99 percent of Floridians. He’s writing for the readers of the Tampa Bay Times AND, as political editor at the newspaper, he’s writing to the several thousand political aficionados throughout the state.
To be honest, no one is expecting Smith to break the news, but there is still an expectation that he will offer some veteran insight about what the story means (that is, other than running the — inherently lazy — Florida Insider Polls he conducts).
But where has Smith been throughout L’Affaire Bittel? Behind the curve, as always.
Smith aggregated the story Friday morning (several hours after POLITICO Florida broke the news and a long time after other sites highlighted that work). He also tweeted a couple of times about Bittel, but nothing in real time.
Delegation not thankful for White House disaster relief offer
As Thanksgiving approaches, the delegation is not in any mood to give thanks for the Trump Administration’s latest round of funding for disaster relief. They are not alone; Texas, California and Puerto Rico are all pleading for more.
Late last week, the White House requested $44 billion from Congress to cover damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. It is the third and largest single round of disaster aid designed to offset the enormous damage.
Florida is particularly unhappy with the package that does not include sufficient relief for the state’s heavily damaged agriculture industry. The state requested $27 billion alone to cover the losses with the subsequent disappointment crossing party lines.
“The administration’s latest disaster-aid request doesn’t come close to providing what’s needed to help people recover from these devastating hurricanes,” said Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. “This request has no money for evacuee housing and barely any money for citrus growers.”
Okeechobee Republican Tom Rooney vividly described the plight of Florida citrus.
“For the citrus growers, fruit is still dropping off the trees and their root systems are rotting,” he said. “There is no telling how badly this will affect the industry’s future and so far Washington has done nothing.”
Lakeland Republican Dennis Ross, not known as one of the more boisterous members of the delegation, came through loud and clear.
“I’m urging my colleagues to oppose the disaster supplemental,” he said. “There wasn’t a Florida orange grove that wasn’t affected by the hurricane. I cannot — I will not — support a proposal that leaves behind over 60,000 Florida jobs and our state’s second-largest economic driver.”
Not addressing the substantial losses incurred by the industry could lead to dire consequences. Among those are forcing the U.S. to import orange juice from another country.
Another sticking point is sure to be the White House proposal to offset the funding with cuts to other federal programs. The first two rounds did not require any spending cuts.
Texas believes they are being shortchanged as is California, who is seeking help after combating devastating wildfires earlier this year. Funding for Puerto Rico will come after full assessments of damages are received, according to the White House.
With the country’s three largest state delegations opposed to the level of funding, there should be more than enough Republicans leaning toward rejecting the White House offer and pass a much higher figure. Will Trump and the White House thank them for the suggestion?
Maybe not, but perhaps there is a bargaining chip somewhere for supporting the current tax reform plan.
Rubio uses full court press to raise Child Tax Credit
With the tax reform plan now in the hands of the Senate, the two-term Republican senator is all-in on his crusade to increase the Child Tax Credit in the Senate’s version of the bill. The House version increased the credit from $1,000 to $1,600 while the Senate proposal bumps it up to $2,000 as Rubio has long sought.
He is on an electronic and social media blitz selling the idea to anyone who is listening.
In a tweet, he has a photo of a diverse group of 6 children with the heading “Marco supports increasing the Child Tax Credit” followed by a banner that says “Do you?” He also chastises those not recognizing that lower-income families pay taxes besides income taxes.
During a visit to Fox and Friends on Monday, Rubio said: “we need to reward work and we need to take care of people who are working really hard and trying to get ahead to keep more of their own money as opposed to sending it to Washington so Washington can spend it on their behalf.”
While Rubio is noncommittal, optimists are pointing to an end-of-year vote, and/or passage, of a final bill. If last week’s battle in the Senate Finance Committee is any indication, there is still a long way to go.
Nelson praises budget items targeted to Cape Canaveral
Florida’s senior senator was touting a number of provisions contained in the recently-passed military spending bill. In addition to items directly involving Florida military installations and servicemen and women, Cape Canaveral was also a winner.
The bill, approved by the U.S. Senate late Thursday and by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, includes provisions to upgrade the launch infrastructure at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which could lead to as many as two launches a day from the Cape, a boon to the rapidly-growing commercial space industry, Nelson, a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated in a news release.
“We got some important Florida projects included in the defense bill Congress passed (Thursday), including an upgrade to the launch infrastructure at Cape Canaveral to support more than one commercial space launch in the same day,” Nelson said. “
There also is a provision that should make Mayport a more desirable port for the Navy. A news release from Nelson’s office said a provision would require the Navy to consider a port’s ability to mitigate risks associated with natural disasters and improve fleet response times when deciding where to homeport future ships.
These considerations, the release offered, would help make Mayport a natural choice for future home-porting of a nuclear aircraft carrier and additional amphibious ships.
The bill now heads to the desk of President Donald Trump for his signature.
Ending ‘elephant trophy’ ban unpopular with both parties
The symbolism is hard to ignore. The administration of a Republican President of the United States, the leader of the party, was set to allow the importing of elephant trophies into the U.S.
Imagine the political hay Democrats could make with the visuals of vanquished Republicans mounted on a wall.
That would, of course, be far less important than facilitating the extermination of some of the most iconic creatures on earth. But it would most certainly be a powerful issue to tie around the neck of GOP candidates who either supported the move or said little to nothing about it.
Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz was among those who did not wait long. When word leaked the Trump Administration was considering ending the ban on elephant trophies, Gaetz quickly tweeted “I totally oppose this and am committed to fight it.”
Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan said “We should not encourage the hunting and slaughter of these magnificent creatures. We don’t get a second chance once a species becomes extinct.”
Buchanan used the topic to gauge the opinion of constituents through his weekly Insta-poll. Early results showed huge numbers of respondents in the nonscientific poll clicking on the “strongly oppose” response.
President Trump heard the outcry loud and clear from around the country. He took to Twitter to begin the process of walking back the policy. He tweeted a reprieve on Friday, then provided a good indicator of which way he was heading on Saturday.
“Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.”
Gaetz, Buchanan and other Republicans praised the president’s apparent inclination to keep the ban in place. Trump is expected to make a pre-Thanksgiving final announcement.
Yoho welcomes Gators’ championship baseball team to Washington
With tax cuts, health care and all of the partisanship in Washington, the Gainesville Republican had the chance to get away from all of that, if only for a little while. On Friday, the NCAA Champion University of Florida baseball team was in the capital to celebrate with other national champions in other sports.
The players toured the sites and memorials before getting a tour of the White House. Later, they joined President Donald Trump for ceremonies on the South Lawn and the Rose Garden.
The team visited the Rayburn House Office Building, where they talked politics and baseball with Yoho. The Congressman then hosted a lunch for the team.
“Great to have the National Champion Florida Gator baseball team in Washington today,” Yoho tweeted. “Congratulations on a great season and your first baseball National Championship in school history. Go Gators.”
Earlier in the week, the Gators received their national championship rings.
Murphy seeks school funds for incoming Puerto Rican migrants
The first-term Democrat from Winter Park announced Friday school districts and colleges in Florida and other states may be in line for some of $1.24 billion in federal support for taking in Puerto Rican children displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Funds will be available to school districts, colleges and universities to support their efforts to provide refugee schooling to the children among the estimated 160,000 Puerto Ricans who’ve fled to Florida and countless more to other states since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September.
In Florida alone, more than 6,300 Puerto Rican children had enrolled in Florida schools by the end of last week. More are on the way. State and local officials have projected as many as 300,000 Puerto Ricans may move to Florida before the end of the year.
“When disaster strikes anywhere in our nation, Congress has a duty to act swiftly to help those families affected,” Murphy said in a news release issued by her office. “Although I am concerned that the overall request of $44 billion is insufficient and I do not support OMB’s proposed offsets, I am pleased that the request includes this critical funding for students and families in central Florida.”
On Oct. 5, Murphy authored a letter to the House Appropriations Committee and the White House Office of Management and Budget urging them to allocate school and college funding for the displaced students. The letter was co-signed by Kendall Republican Carlos Curbelo, Orlando Democrat Darren Soto,Miami Republican Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, and Miami Gardens Democrat Frederica Wilson, among others.
Democratic Sen. Nelson has also sought the funding among his colleagues.
Demings early critic of former FDP Chair, but did not seek resignation
The Florida political world was rocked by the complaints that surfaced at week’s end concerning Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel. The Orlando Democrat was the first among the delegation to weigh in.
“As a former law enforcement officer and a member of Congress, sexual harassment is an issue I take very seriously,” Demings said in a written statement. “While I do not believe the behavior (as described) rises to that level, I do believe the behavior was extremely inappropriate and a result of poor judgment. I shared my concerns with Chairman Bittel.”
All four Democratic candidates for governor took a much stronger stance, blasting the party leader who was less than a year into the job. They also called for his immediate resignation.
He soon resigned his post.
F. Rooney: Oil drilling unwelcome off Florida coast
When it comes to home state politics, the Naples Republican is taking a different approach than two GOP Senators facing the question of allowing nearby oil drilling. To Rooney, “offshore oil drilling and related activities,” must not be allowed in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
In a recent op-ed, Rooney made the argument that the oil and gas industry is not a good match for Florida’s economy.
“The industrial infrastructure needed to support offshore drilling, and ultimately offshore production of oil and gas, is wholly incompatible with existing tourist-centric development,” he wrote. “All of this would radically undermine Florida’s coastal ecosystems.”
Rooney’s position is quite different from that of Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and fellow Alaskan Dan Sullivan. Protocol often allows for deference to home state legislators on issues directly affecting them.
In this case, both Senators have signed off allowing drilling in a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an issue that has gone back and forth for more than two decades.
For his part, Rooney pledged to “continue to fight on behalf of my constituents to keep the moratorium.”
Sheriff’s deputy reassigned after dressing up as Wilson
The Miami Gardens Democrat was in the news over the weekend, but not for anything she did or didn’t do. Instead, it was all about someone who tried to look like her.
According to Sheriff J.D. Diggs, Browning wanted to show “how funny it would be for two political figures that were at odds with each other to go to a party together.”
Diggs did not get the humor and is removing Browning from her role as an anti-drug officer in the school system to a yet-to-be-determined role.
“Based on all of the circumstances,” Diggs said, “and the need for the community to realize that the Sheriff’s Office takes race relations seriously, I have decided that it would be in the best interest for all concerned to reassign this deputy to another position within the Sheriff’s Office.”
Wilson became a household name when she feuded with Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly following Trump’s telephone call with the widow of a slain soldier.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Extensive Enterprises.
“Medicaid expansion is critical to our state. As governor, I will work with the Legislature to expand health care — and if they won’t, I will veto their priorities until they are willing to listen to the priorities of everyday Floridians.” — Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Democratic candidate for governor in 2018.
Military veterans will be honored during “Governor’s Veterans Service Award” ceremonies in Citrus and Lake counties. That’s at 9 a.m., National Guard Armory, 8551 West Venable St., Crystal River and 2:30 p.m., National Guard Armory, 605 South Bay St., Eustis.
The Office of Economic and Demographic Research and other state economists will consider the fiscal impact of a variety of bills at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.
A committee of Triumph Gulf Coast Inc. will hold a conference call to discuss hiring an economic adviser. Triumph Gulf Coast helps administer BP settlement money from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. That’s at 10 a.m. Central time. The call-in number is (850) 770-2105.
Circuit Judge TerryLewis will hold a hearing in a legal battle about the constitutionality of a 2015 law that would require women to wait 24 hours before having abortions. The hearing is 11 a.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.
House members face a Tuesday deadline for filing their first two general bills of the 2018 session (members can file up to six). That’s at noon.
Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat, and Rep. AlJacquet, a Lantana Democrat, will host a “turkey drive” to provide turkeys to constituents in need. That’s at noon, Jacquet’s district office, 314 11th St., West Palm Beach.
The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a meeting about a proposed rule on requirements for providers in the Medicaid program. That’s at 2 p.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.
Sen. DarrylRouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, is expected to take part in a town-hall mixer. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Acropolis Greek Tavern, 1833 East 7th Ave., Tampa.
The Pasco-Hernando State College board of trustees is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m., Pasco-Hernando State College, Spring Hill Campus, 450 Beverly Court, Spring Hill.
Ben Crump, who gained national recognition as the lawyer for the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and other victims of gun violence, is featured in a new TV series, “Who Killed Tupac?” It premieres at 9 p.m. on the A&E Network.
Next month, Florida Democrats will gather to pick up the pieces from the scandal that brought an abrupt and premature end to Stephen Bittel’s chairmanship.
Before the Bittel debacle, the Florida Democratic Party did make some headway this year, winning a special election for Florida Senate District 40 and helping Rick Kriseman get re-elected. But that forward motion is threatened by new revelations that rocked the FDP.
It is worth noting though that there is one likely candidate for Florida Democratic Party Chair who has a successful track record of picking up the pieces from a chair who had to resign in disgrace, and having leadership that made the organization thrive: Palm Beach Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo.
“Today, as a proud Democrat, I declare my candidacy for chair of the Florida Democratic Party,” Rizzo said in a Facebook post Monday morning. “If elected to serve, I will work tirelessly and lead with unparalleled motivation to achieve the goals of our party to ensure the inclusion of those who have been left behind, protect every voter’s rights, lift up new leaders, and grow our Democratic base.”
In 2012, Mark Alan Siegel made comments at the Democratic National Conventionso inflammatory that he had to step down as chair in the middle of a presidential election, which unexpectedly thrust Rizzo as chair in Florida’s third largest county.
Despite the baptism by fire, Rizzo successfully led Palm Beach County Democrats through the rest of 2012 and has served as chair ever since.
Over the past two decades, Florida Democrats have been notorious for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory — an explanation for why they have virtually no power in Tallahassee despite Democrats enjoying a voter registration advantage in Florida.
Recent Democratic victories had some rethinking this conventional wisdom, but that was before Bittel was forced to resign.
Who will ultimately be chosen as the next FDP Chair will speak volumes about how far they have really come. Florida Democrats would benefit from choosing Rizzo as their next chair — she has seen this movie before, and is the most well equipped to lead Florida Democrats past this scandal with minimal disruption.
“We need an experienced and steady hand at the wheel,” Rizzo said on Facebook. “I believe my work as chair of the Palm Beach Democratic Party, as elected share of all Florida Democratic County chairs and as a current DNC representative from Florida have prepared me well to be that steady hand … I will work with full dedication and commitment for that purpose.”
On Monday, FDP Vice Chair Judy Mount announced she will not run, but another emerging contender is Monica Russo, president of the Service Employees International Union Florida State Council.
However, POLITICO Florida reports that since Russo is not a local party official, she is not eligible to run for chair — though there may be a way around that restriction.
As Bittel was urged to run for the chairmanship last year, Miami-Dade Democratic State Committeeman Bret Berlin resigned. As an ally of Bittel, Berlin’s move allowed Bittel to become committeeman and therefore eligible for state chair.
Some grassroots party member scoffed at the maneuver, but Matt Dixon notes since none could agree on a candidate to oppose Bittel, he won easily as chair.
As the race heats up, all eyes are now on Sen. Bill Nelson, and who he will support. As Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, Nelson faces a 2018 race — most likely against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
For any chance of success, Nelson will need the support of the FDP leader, making the selection of chair extremely important.
This week, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) of the Nature Coast named Foster, president of the Trinity-based Sunrise Consulting Group, as its 2017 Philanthropist of the Year.
AFP honors individuals who exhibit and promote integrity, commitment, accountability fairness and trust in philanthropy. In its recognition, the group cited Foster’s wide-ranging list of community accomplishments as a board member of the Children’s Movement of Florida; United Way of Florida; Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind and as a founding board member of Feeding Pasco’s Elderly.
“I currently volunteer at about 12 nonprofit events per year as an emcee,” Foster said on his nomination resume. “I also volunteer, financially support, or donate items to about two dozen events per year in Pasco County and at least 4 events per year in Hernando County.”
But the AFP honor is only the most recent for Foster, a longtime Pasco resident, capping off a 16-monthlong string of legislative and personal successes.
During the 2016 Session, Foster helped lawmakers pass a constitutional amendment to give businesses tax breaks for solar and renewable energy devices. He also worked with state Rep. Ritch Workman of Brevard County on the compromise language when the bill stalled in the Rules Committee.
After passage, supporters brought on Foster as a consultant, where he handled coordinating organizations to pass the solar amendment, which voters eventually approved in August 2016 by 73 percent.
Then, in 2017, Foster aided lawmakers on SB 90, which sought to implement the newly approved “Renewable Energy Source Devices.” On June 16, Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 90 into law.
Also in 2017, Foster helped secure the greatest legislative win for the Florida Bail Agents Association in 20 years. HB 361, also signed into law by Scott in June, changed the requirements for bail bond agents and the conditions for a bond to be forfeited and discharged.
As a result, the Association honored Foster as its Man of the Year, the first lobbyist named as such.
Making up Foster’s client list is many local interests — Pasco and Hernando counties, the City of Brooksville, Pasco Hernando State College and the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, among others.
And, most recently, Foster was able to help secure a House sponsor last week on a key bill for the Florida Association of Local Housing Finance Authorities. The measure (HB 607) seeks to exempt certain notes and mortgages from taxation — as well as interest or income which are part of a loan made on behalf of the housing financing authority.
Foster also has several close, personal relationships with influential lawmakers, including state Sen. Wilton Simpson from Pasco and state Rep. Chris Sprowls from Palm Harbor, with some of those friendships going on more than a quarter-century.
For example, Foster was present in the living room of now-Sen. Bill Galvano, who he had known for decades, when Galvano announced his desire to run for the Florida House.
Foster, who spends as much as 25 hours a month on community service, was 2015 Volunteer the Year for the Community Service Council, and was a four-time nominee for King Pithla — a Pasco County tradition that recognizes volunteers for outstanding community service.
King Pithla (and Queen Chasco) are chosen to preside over Chasco Fiesta, an annual event staged by the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind to fundraise for blind babies, children’s and teens programs.
Foster was also named Honorary Governor of West Pasco in 2016.
“To whom much is given, much is required,” Foster says.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
First and foremost let me wish each reader a very happy Thanksgiving. All of us who work to produce Sunburn are enormously grateful for your readership.
This is what Michelle and I are more most grateful for — Ella Joyce Schorsch, Thanksgiving 2017.
Programming note: Sunburn will be off the rest of the week to celebrate the holiday with our families. We’ll see you bright and early next Monday.
Tweet, tweet: @AnthonyPedicini: Turkey just won’t taste the same without a “Sunburn”!
— ENABLING —
“Florida Democratic Party president accused of ‘enabling’ chair’s inappropriate behavior” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — After Sally Boynton Brown, the president of the Florida Democratic Party, said in a letter to party members that she never saw chair Stephen Bittel act inappropriately with women, two former staffers accused her of “enabling” his behavior. Bittel is expected to resign early this week because of his behavior. “He would do it in front of Sally,” one woman said. “He was really into talking about sex, and if you went along with his conversations, he would be more amicable to working with you.” Brown said the party’s sexual harassment policy has been under review for the past few months and recommended stricter changes to make sure women are treated with respect in the workplace. In a memo sent by Brown on Nov. 12, though, she referred to sexual harassment as “sexy harassment.”
His “conversational style”? Really wish you asked me to help edit this letter @FlaDems — would have given you some tips w/the first one being not to praise the outgoing chair who has been accused of creating an unsafe workspace. Not helpful or necessary. https://t.co/hF3crC389K
“Judy Mount, FDP interim chair? Not So fast, say party bylaws” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — The fine print: party bylaws require the First Vice Chair to call a meeting of the Central Committee within 30 days to elect an interim chair to serve as head of the FDP until a new chair is decided. But the first vice chair — who would be Mount — can only call that meeting to choose an interim chair in the event of a vacancy. In this case, there isn’t one, because Bittelhasn’t officially resigned — and he’s already set the date to find his successor, all while still being chair. Essentially, the party is skipping the Central Committee meeting, which would leave them without a chair (or even an interim chair) for about two weeks until the next executive meeting. That means Mount cannot possibly be interim chair, a temporary filler for the party head who typically does not run for the seat once their short-term is up. Mount, on the contrary, said she intended to file her paperwork and run for the seat next month.
— 88.2 MILLION —
Gov. RickScott will announce today “that Florida set another tourism record by welcoming the highest number of visitors of any nine months in the state’s history with 88.2 million visitors,” according to VISIT FLORIDA.
That’s a 3.3 percent increase over the 85.4 million visitors from the same period in 2016.
Scott is expected to make the announcement at Azucar Ice Cream Company, a “locally-owned ice cream boutique that has been nationally recognized as one of Little Havana’s top tourist destinations.”
“Florida has had three record quarters in 2017, which would not be possible without our relentless work to market Florida as the top tourism destination,” he said in a prepared statement.
“This includes VISIT FLORIDA’s aggressive marketing efforts to make sure families across the world knew that Florida was open for tourism following Hurricane Irma. We will work with the Legislature to invest $100 million for VISIT FLORIDA this upcoming session to continue this success and make sure Florida can continue to break tourism records.”
Ken Lawson, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, added: “Back-to-back-to-back record quarters in the first nine months of this year show the Florida tourism industry has great momentum.
“VISIT FLORIDA will not rest on our laurels, but will continue to be at the forefront of creating leading-edge, original marketing programs for our industry partners so that together we can make Florida the number one vacation destination in the world.”
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***
Sunburn readers share what they’re thankful for:
Gov. Rick Scott: “As another great year comes to a close, I am so thankful for my family, my wife, Ann, our wonderful daughters, Allison and Jordan and six beautiful grandchildren. I am also so honored and thankful to have the incredible opportunity each and every day to work for Florida families and fight to make our state the best place in the nation to get a great job, receive a top-notch education and live in a safe community. I wish every Florida family a safe and happy Thanksgiving.”
Former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire: “I am thankful for the love of family and for exciting new life adventures. I’m also thankful that for all the turmoil in America today, we still live in the land of the free and home of the brave. Thanks to those who serve our nation in uniform so that we are able to freely express our disagreements and settle our differences at the ballot box.”
Danielle Alvarez, Mercury Public Affairs: “I’m thankful that we are keeping the family tradition of celebrating at our family farm in Madison County. But after traveling more than 30,000 miles across this State since May 1, I am especially thankful for quality time with Yvonne and Ava. The truth is that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is a time to focus on all of life’s blessings.”
Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: “To my wonderful Tallahassee Partners making it easy on me to get the DC office up and running. Bad news for them is I’m back full-time for Session.”
Katie Ballard, “I am grateful to be spending the first of a lifetime of Thanksgivings married to my best friend.”
Erin Ballas, Public Affairs Consultants: “This year I am thankful for dirty diapers, spit up and extra loads of laundry. I am thankful to have a healthy six-month-old join our family. I am thankful for a husband who love us ‘so big.’ I am thankful for bosses/co-workers who are family and who have hired aforementioned six-month-old to our team. I am thankful for family and friends and health. I never knew such happiness existed. Happy Thanksgiving.”
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto: “I am thankful for the love, support, and patience of my family. I am equally thankful to have the privilege to serve the residents of SD 27. Giving back and serving others is a great joy.”
Brewster Bevis, Associated Industries of Florida: “I’m thankful for my wife, Amanda. She keeps this zoo of Bevis boys in line. A zoo of boys that will be expanding … God bless her soul.”
Taylor Biehl, Capitol Alliance Group: “I am thankful for the continued good health of my parents and in-laws; I am thankful for the working relationship I have with my friend Jeff Sharkey. I am thankful for our clients that entrust in us; I am most thankful for my selfless, loving and pregnant wife, Mackenzie — the woman that makes me want to be a better man each and every day. We cannot wait to meet our baby girl in early February!”
Matt Brockelman, Southern Strategy Group: “I’m thankful for great mentors. From my first years as a UNF lobbyist with Janet Owen and John Delaney to my current experience at SSG with Deno Hicks and my other partners, I’m grateful for colleagues and friends who share their time, talents and experiences to help me succeed.”
Lydia Brooks, Swampette Strategies: “Since I’m hosting this year, I’m probably most thankful for a full supply of Blanton’s.”
Rep. Danny Burgess: “I’m thankful for the men and women in uniform who are away from their families this holiday season to ensure I can be with mine.”
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Naples Chamber of Commerce: “I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people on behalf of my community each day. And Chamber of Commerce hours.
Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: “I’m thankful for a job where I like the people I work with, I like what I do, and I like the clients we represent.”
Joyce Carta: Vice president, Greyhound Adoptions of Florida: “I am thankful for Senators Tom Lee and Don Gaetz who are proposing a Constitutional Amendment to ban betting on greyhound racing, which effectively and essentially will lead to the death of this industry of institutionalized animal abuse. Why must dogs be injured or worse in order for people to play poker? Many MANY thanks to the Senators and to you, Peter Schorsch, for the opportunity for a public Thank You!! YES ON P-67!!
Joe Clements, Strategic Digital Services: “I’m thankful for Donald Trump and his never-ending stream of social media content inspiration.”
Steve Cona, Associated Builders & Contractors: “Prosperous economy and a healthy construction industry!”
Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: “I am grateful for laughter and friendships, for family, for the love and good health of those I love. So grateful for all these gifts, which I am blessed to have in abundance.”
Rep. Janet Cruz: “I’m thankful that my 83-year-old mother, who’s still working, taught me the value of a solid work ethic. I’m proud of my reputation … known as a workhorse, not a show horse. Thanks, Mom! … I’m thankful for a family that fully supports my fascinating yet frustrating service as a Legislator. Nothing better than feeling loved by my husband Steve (the good doctor and smartest all-around man in the WORLD) daughter Ana Cruz (the brilliantly successful redhead at Ballard Partners) and son Nick Cruz (eat at Big Ray’s which will someday contribute to my nursing home fund) … I’m thankful for every American soldier. These brave men and women risk their lives for my freedom … they have never met me, yet they are willing to die for my freedom. Could never thank them enough. … I’m thankful for our teachers in Florida. They are underpaid and often underappreciated, yet they continue to educate and are sometimes the only positive influence in a child’s life. Blessed are the teachers! … I’m thankful for Maddie, Peter, Tess, Patrick, Maizy, and Julian who are my delightful grandchildren. They are living proof that things will be alright once I’m gone. … I’m thankful for a supportive staff in Tampa and Tallahassee make me look good. The taxpayers certainly get their money’s worth here!
Mayor Lenny Curry: “I’m thankful for my wife Molly, my kids Boyd, Brooke & Bridget, and for the opportunity to serve the city I love.”
Bill Day, Florida Politics:“Thankful for now living in my home state of Florida again. Thankful for all those who made it possible and especially thankful for Ron Sachs and Peter Schorsch.
Justin Day, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: “I am thankful for health and happiness, and an incredible wife and family.”
Nick DiCeglie: “On this Thanksgiving, and every day, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon me., especially my loving and talented wife Erica, and my kids, Livia and Carlo. I’m also thankful for my family business, Solar Sanitation, which for 37 years has provided the essential service of trash collection to the residents and businesses of Pinellas County. This year I am also thankful for the opportunity to run as a candidate for Florida House, District 66. For more than 20 years, Indian Rocks Beach has been where Erica and I have decided to raise our children and enjoy the breathtaking sunsets in the best place to live, work and play. Happy Thanksgiving from the DiCeglie family to yours.”
Former Rep. Jose Felix Diaz: “This will be the first Thanksgiving week in eight years that I won’t be part of the legislative process and I want everyone to know that I am thinking about you and wishing you and your families a safe and loving holiday.”
Chris Dudley, Southern Strategy Group: “I’m thankful for the start of my 18th year at Southern Strategy Group — surrounded by brilliant and talented partners working for amazing clients.”
Ryan Duffy, U.S. Sugar: “I am thankful for the people who will not be spending Thanksgiving stateside with their families and are instead fighting for our freedom overseas. I’m also keeping Florida farmers in my prayers. Hurricane Irma hit Florida’s crop hard, but farmers are resilient and will rebound strong. I ask for prayers as I am deep-frying two turkeys to feed a large group at our family get-together. Looking forward to spending time with them and watching the Seminoles get our fifth straight win over the Gators.”
Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano: “As a public servant I am blessed and thankful to have the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Pasco County and work with individuals at our Tax Collectors office who are truly second to none. Thankful and blessed to have been given the means allowing me to help those less fortunate than us and so I may give back to our community in some small way. God bless!”
Adam Giery, Strategos Group: “Truly thankful for the support of my family, the mission of our team, and to the invaluable freedoms we have in America.”
Cesar Fernandez, Uber: “I’m thankful for my amazing wife, Ailyn, our family and the ability to work for a great company that’s changing the world.”
Rep. Randy Fine: “My wife, Wendy, for being a great partner and friend, and for giving us our two young sons, Jacob and David. Every moment I get to spend with them is a blessing. I’m particularly grateful to Wendy this year for the all solo duties she has had to handle when I’ve been in Tallahassee.”
Rep. Jason Fischer: “Thanksgiving is upon us again, and it offers us all a chance to reflect and show our gratitude for life’s many blessings. And blessed we all are! The Fischer family invites you all to join us as pray a special blessing for our armed service personnel and their families as they work to keep us safe at home and abroad.”
Brian Franklin, Impact Politics: “I’m thankful for my family and friends, but particularly my wife and partner, Nicole, who has been scientifically proven as the main source of light and happiness in this universe.”
Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham: “While there will always be more work to accomplish and more challenges to meet, this Thanksgiving I am reflecting on how fortunate we are to live in America and how thankful I am for the people of this great state. Florida is blessed with amazing beaches and springs, live oaks and palm trees, wild turkeys and orange groves — but our greatest blessing is each other, our fellow Floridians.”
Mike Griffin: “I am thankful for my wife Melanie, family and friends. Today, I am particularly thankful for the Tampa Police Department and those supporting them during this difficult time for our city.”
Jeff Hartley, Smith Bryan & Myers: “We have lost loved ones this year, which make us more appreciative of family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving!”
Robert Hawken, FCCI: “Thankful for my family and their health. Especially my 22-year-old who had heart valve replacement surgery in May and was 100 percent by September.
Bill Helmich: “That I will be able to spend my grandfathers 100th birthday with him next Wednesday (the 22nd). He is a hero to me.”
Chris Hudson, Americans for Prosperity – Florida: I’m thankful to live in a state that embraces free market principles – even if sometimes they have to be embraced kicking and screaming (side note: I’m really thankful for the screaming). Our state is better off without corporate welfare giveaways, and the passion my team has for holding their officials accountable is second to none. I’m blessed to have a beautiful and healthy daughter, and a loving wife that gets me
Nick Iarossi, Capital City Consulting: “I’m thankful that my wife and daughters are happy and healthy, our firm is growing with wonderful people, and I still get to do some car racing.”
Tanya Jackson: “I am thankful for my love of family, friends, work-family, and our clients who put their trust in us. I am thankful for parents who lived by example. I am thankful for the strong women who have been my mentors, and for a father who believed his daughters could do anything!”
Alia Faraj-Johnson, Hill+Knowlton: “Thankful and privileged to be working with so many dedicated professionals. But I am most thankful for my family and their unwavering support!”
David Johnson: “I’m thankful for the love of a wonderful woman, and when I know the difference between trusted friends and those whose friendships I trusted.”
Jon Johnson, Johnson and Blanton: “In 2017 I’m Thankful for my daughter’s wedding, another daughter’s high school graduation, great friends, early start to Session and the December release of the Last Jedi.”
Ashley Kalifeh, Capital City Consulting: “That’s easy this year since I have a 5-month-old, Maryanne :)”
Troy Kinsey, Bay News 9: “I’m thankful for a few things: My surprise elevation to the presidency of the Florida Capitol Press Corps in the wake of perennial Prez Tia Mitchell‘s bittersweet departure (whether I serve ten days or ten years, I pledge to Make Press Skits Great Again!); hidden cameras and deleted voicemails; and, of course, our uniquely American freedom to fly!”
Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: “In September, I had the great honor and privilege to travel to Uganda. Regardless of how the trip would pan out, going was a dream come true. To say it exceeded expectations would be an understatement. I saw so much and learned so much. One important lesson learned was/is to be thankful for every day you are given because there’s someone, somewhere (near or far) who don’t have what you have … but they still have joy and are thankful. During this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for life and all that comes with it. Could always be worse.”
Rep. Kionne McGhee: “I’m thankful for Grace and Mercy.”
Seth McKeel, Southern Strategy Group: “I’m thankful for my beautiful wife, my awesome family, and sisters who can make my grandmother’s pumpkin chiffon pie!”
Will McKinley, PooleMcKinley: “That’s easy … My wife of 27 years and my children I couldn’t be more proud of. And of course our team at PooleMcKinley and our awesome clients. Thanks and I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving.”
James Miller, Florida Retail Federation: “Thankful that I have the friends and family (like you!) that have supported me throughout this year of what I’ve gone through. Never been more grateful for who and what I have in my life then what’s happened to me this past year.”
Michael Milner: I am thankful for my wonderful wife, our children, family, clients, state and country. I remind myself daily how fortunate I am for food, shelter and good health remembering how so many in this country still struggle for what others take for granted.”
Chris Moya, Jones Walker: “A conservative U.S. Supreme Court.”
Former Rep. Ed Narain: “This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the love of family and friends. 2017 has reminded me that tomorrow is not promised and we should cherish one another every chance we get. Happy Thanksgiving!”
Rhett O’Doski, Advantage Consulting: “My upcoming 28+ person Cuban-Gringo Tally Thanksgiving and my supply of libations to help me make it through!”
Meredith O’Rourke: “I’m grateful for my loving husband, John, the closeness of my relationship with our daughter, Lexi-Langley, the improving health of our son, Liam, and God’s grace, which is always a comfort during times of struggle but also times of peace.”
Chief Jimmy Patronis: “Grace of God, family, friends, and the chance to serve the best state in the nation.”
Anthony Pedicini, Strategic Image Management: “I’m thankful for special elections.”
Toby Philpot, AHCA: “I am thankful to have a career and daily work that is of consequence; friends who champion my dreams and challenge my wisdom; my brother (Thomas) — life’s greatest enduring blessing; parents who are unyielding in their love; and the opportunity to learn everyday from the tremendously talented and committed team at AHCA.”
Thomas Piccolo, Strategic Image Management: “I’m thankful for my family and for clients who have become like family.”
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam: “Melissa and the kids. My faith. The resilience of this state. We’ve faced so many challenges this year, and there are many more ahead in our future. But the people of Florida prove time and time again that they can withstand anything that comes our way.”
Melissa Ramba, Florida Retail Federation: “I am thankful for God blessing my family and friends this year with good news and no drama.”
Ryan Ray, Florida Democratic Party, “This year, I’m thankful for working people organizing for change all across the state, and the men and women in the process who work on their behalf. It’s easy to despair and just give up today, given the serious structural problems with our political leadership. It’s the people who show up day in and day out to fight for a better, fairer future who keep me going, and I am supremely grateful for them.
Andrea Reilly, Smith Bryan & Myers: “That life is so full. We cherish our wonderful families and dear friends who offer constant support, love, and laughter. We both have jobs that don’t feel like work because we get to impact issues that matter to us while surrounded by people who make it fun.”
Franco Ripple, CateComm: “Being thankful for family may be cliché. But the birth of our second son, Carson, this summer reminded me that while politics and politicians come and go, the most important work I’ll ever do is raising kind, respectful boys.”
Scott Ross, Capital City Consulting: “I’m thankful for the health and happiness of my family. I’m also thankful for the great colleagues and clients I get to work with each and every day.”
Ron Sachs, Sachs Media Group: “I always have loved Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday because real gratitude is much more than a once-a-year meal and calendar event. Thanksgiving should be a daily reality for all of us. Even in the midst of any and all of our hardships, problems, challenges — personal or professional — the truth is that life is good … so very good. It is often about solving problems and overcoming difficulty — but that only evolves our experience, widens our wisdom, and adds to appreciation for this great gift that we all own. We only need to recognize this gift of life for what it really is to be enriched by it. We are aided in that lifelong process by the omnipresent natural miracles all around us in the simple greatness of every sunrise, every sunset and everything God-made in between. Beyond nature’s wondrous gifts to us, gratitude for our loving families and friends who are a family of choice completes the ongoing circle of our lives. It is surely, always, great to be alive.”
Mark Sharpe: “A rejuvenated FDOT-7 with a laser-like focus on mass mobility that will slingshot Tampa Bay to contender status among élite metros.”
Patrick Slevin: “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because there’s no pretense or secular pressures. You gather with those who matter most in your life. I’m thankful to live in a country that, despite its political and social turbulence, it’s still the greatest nation on the planet to pursue your hopes and dreams. I’m thankful to have love in my life and the ability to share a life with many wonderful, inspiring people both near and afar. Happy Thanksgiving.”
Stephanie Smith, Uber: “I’m thankful for my son’s continued health. Despite cardiologists saying he’d never play football again he defied the odds, worked hard and made the Varsity team this year!”
Rep. Chris Sprowls: “I’m thankful that I get to experience childhood again through the eyes of our two little boys. Every day brings another gift.”
Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: “I’m of course thankful for wonderful family and friends and that I get to work with great people and great clients. Mostly, though, I’m thankful that Jodi and I get to spend the day with our son Henry on his first Thanksgiving.”
Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: “I’m thankful for my amazing Mom. With our crazy schedules, my husband, my children and I would often be lost without her.”
Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: “I’m thankful for the greatest wife and kids on the planet; a job and clients I love, and a firm that is growing and full of pros I️ enjoy working with. Also coffee and bourbon. Definitely coffee and bourbon.”
Kevin Sweeny, Florida Justice Association:
T … Thanks to all those who challenge me with goals to go after,
H … Home with halls filled with a new baby’s laughter.
A … All my loyal and honorable friends, training lads and even RINOS, dinos and winos,
N … Neighborhoods for doors to knock and roads for intervals and tempos.
K … Knowledge to help those who need it and those who don’t,
S … Sage advice from many to listen to (even if I won’t.)
G … Great friends and a few frenemies who put up with endless cat memes,
I … Indivisible love of my wife who never seems to tire of listening to my crazy dreams.
V … Vision of true leaders both in and out of government for them say a prayer,
I … Inspiration to be better; look around, it’s everywhere.
N … Never forget to make this place better with action and words we say,
G … Giving thanks for my family on this blessed day.
Christian Ulvert, I’m most thankful this year for having a husband, family and friends who lift me up every day and inspire me to aim high. I’m also thankful to work with amazing leaders who remind me every day why I wake up eager to fight for a Florida where we achieve things as they should be, not as they are today! Above all, I’m grateful for my health and stability, and reminded to always live life to the fullest through a #positive and #payitforward lifestyle!”
Mike Vasalinda: “I am thankful for a wife and a job which has allowed me to watch the process from the inside and out, and for the vast majority of the people who serve and sacrifice for all the right reasons.”
Katie Webb, Colodny Fass: “I am thankful that this upcoming year I will be able to spend spring break with my kids! #JanuarySession”
Andrew Wiggins, Senior Director of Campaigns & Elections: “I am thankful for my family, especially my two beautiful, healthy and intelligent kids, my love and how she takes care of me, my friends, my faith, and being in a job I truly love. There is nothing better than being a part of the electoral process, doing my part to help drive the candidates and the issues, that move Florida forward. As a 6th generation Floridian, I am thankful for this great state and the people who live here.”
Michael Williams, CoreMessage: “I’m thankful for kids that sleep through the night, a wife who keeps me sane, a job that’s never boring, and pitchers and catchers report is 84 Days.”
Gary Yordon: “I’m thankful that it’s only one year until the midterms. Or I’m thankful we made it through the first year without having to gather my family under the kitchen table.”
Skylar Zander, Americans for Prosperity: “I’m thankful to work for a great organization with passionate individuals, a boss who is always mellow and happy, my family and my smoking hot wife and lastly running shoes to work off the turkey.”
— THANKSGIVING READS —
“Why Thanksgiving still wins, in one paragraph”via Michael Schaffer of The New Republic — “It’s a holiday to be proud of: Humble without being morose, generous without being opulent, old without being irrelevant, intimate but also all about community. At a time of income inequality, the feast that is its central organizing event is made of ingredients that are democratic. In an era of suspicion, it celebrates immigrants. During a period of polarization, it’s something we all agree on. It can be religious if you want, but it doesn’t have to be: Thank the Almighty, thank your friends, thank your lucky stars — it’s all good.”
“Here’s what your part of America eats on Thanksgiving” via Walt Hickey of FiveThirtyEight — Thanksgiving — when we give thanks and celebrate a tale about the welcoming of foreign refugees to American shores — is once again upon us. For some, it’s a day of mass media consumption, with a parade and three NFL games. … Sure, we’ve hit the point where the Santa Claus float at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade commemorates the start of the third week of Christmas music on the radio, but at least turkeys are cheap, right? And that’s what Thanksgiving is really about: food. So, in the spirit of the things that bring us all together, let’s peel apart this holiday and carve this nation up into factions like a bargain-bin bird. Who eats what where? The Southeast prefers their carbs in the form of mac and cheese — 35 percent of respondents in that region include the dish on their Thanksgiving menu versus 20 percent of the country overall. … Every region enjoys pumpkin pie. But beyond that, there are three Americas: The America that disproportionately has apple pie (New England and the Middle Atlantic), the America that has pecan pie and sweet potato pie (the assorted South), and the America that consumes cherry pie (the Midwest and West).
“FSU researchers talk turkey: Native Americans raised classic holiday bird long before first Thanksgiving” via Kathleen Haughney of Florida State University — Native Americans as early as 1200 — 1400 A.D. were managing and raising turkeys. This is the first time scientists have suggested that turkeys were potentially domesticated by early Native Americans in the southeastern United States. Researchers knew that turkeys had been a part of Native American life long before the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Their feathers were used on arrows, in headdresses and clothing. The meat was used for food. Their bones were used for tools including scratchers used in ritual ceremonies. There are even representations of turkeys in artifacts from the time. An intricately engraved marine shell pendant found at a site in central Tennessee shows two turkeys facing each other. But this new research indicates turkeys were more than just a casual part of life for Native Americans of that era. For one, the groupings researchers worked on had more male turkeys than a typical flock. In a typical flock of turkeys, there are usually more females … But in the flock they examined, they found more remains of males. That would only happen if it were designed that way.
“What’s the word for turkey in Turkish?”via Gretchen McCulloch of Slate.com —Turkey in Turkish is Hindi … the word for turkey in Hindi is टर्की … transcribed ṭarkī in the Latin alphabet … Turkeys are native to the Americas, but the Europeans first encountering them thought that they looked like a kind of guinea fowl, another large, ungainly, colorful-faced kind of bird … Europeans received most of their guinea fowl imported via Turkey … original guinea fowl kept that name, but the new kind of guinea fowl (which weren’t actually guinea fowl at all) ended up with the other version: turkey fowl, which became just turkey … first turkeys brought to Europe also generally came via Turkey: The birds had originally been domesticated by the Aztecs and were brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadors, who traded them to the rest of the continent via North Africa and, yes, Turkey.
***AGRiMED Industries is a leading medical cannabis company committed to improving the health and wellness of ailing patients. With state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities and over 200 years of collective experience in the agricultural and health care fields, AGRiMED produces high-quality agricultural medicine with tremendous health benefits. Learn more at AGRiMEDIndustries.com.***
— D.C. MATTERS —
“President Trump in Palm Beach: Season 2 begins this week” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — The 2017-18 Winter White House season will look different from the 2016-17 version — from a new, post-Charlottesville mix of charities renting the Mar-a-Lago ballroom to new staging areas for pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators who used to gather on Bingham Island. The 2017-18 protest season kicked off with a “We’re Still Here — March Against Trump” that drew about 100 people to downtown West Palm Beach. Trump supporters are tentatively planning a “Welcome Home Mr. President” rally for Nov. 25. Asked if Trump’s visits are a good thing for the town, Mayor Gail Coniglio answered: “I think that is all according to who you speak to and certainly we are very honored to have the president of the United States in our illustrious community.” Said Palm Beach Civic Association spokesman Mike Brown: “We really don’t talk much about his visits. They are what they are.”
“Marco Rubio’s reservations put Trump’s NASA nominee in jeopardy” via Ledyard King of News-Press.com — Rubio continues to harbor deep reservations about Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s nomination to be NASA’s next administrator, dimming the Oklahoma Republican’s chances of running the space agency. “I remain very concerned about the politicization of NASA, not even because he would do it on purpose but just given some of the resistance he’s already engendered,” Rubio said in an interview Friday. “I don’t think NASA at this critical stage of its history can afford that … As of this moment, I can’t assure anyone that I would support his nomination if it came to a vote.” Rubio’s comments are his strongest yet and suggest that his initial misgivings when President Trump announced Bridenstine’s nomination in early September have only grown.
“Matt Gaetz to hold open town hall meeting in downtown Pensacola” via the Pensacola News-Journal — The meeting will take place in the SunTrust Tower building at 220 W. Garden St. in downtown Pensacola, with doors opening at 4:15 p.m. During the talk … Gaetz intends to discuss a range of topics, including his bill that would allow for private ownership of land on Pensacola Beach, health care and tax reform. Audience members will be allowed to ask questions. The congressman will also field questions through email and social media.
“Ex-U. S. Rep. Corrine Brown asks judge for ‘mercy’ in fraud sentencing” via The Associated Press — Brown told U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan that the good she did over her political career overshadows her crimes. A jury convicted Brown of stealing money from a bogus charity, One Door For Education, which purported to give scholarships to poor children. Federal prosecutors are asking for prison time for the 71-year-old former lawmaker, saying she ran for office as a leader of democracy while stealing money and working to cover it up. Brown’s attorney James Smith is asking for probation. Corrigan is scheduled to issue Brown’s sentence Dec. 4.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Matt Caldwell announces endorsements from key leaders for Agriculture Commissioner bid — The fifth wave of endorsements includes Michael Adkinson, Sheriff (Walton); Larry Hart, Tax Collector (Lee); Michael Hickox, Property Appraiser (Nassau) and John Crawford, Court Clerk (Nassau). Adkinson said, “The importance of protecting our heritage and the economic engine that is Florida Agriculture cannot be overstated.” Hart said, “His experience working on agricultural policy along with his conservative principles and his legislative skills best qualify him to be Florida’s next Agriculture Commissioner.” Crawford said, “Matt is a humble and serious public servant. He cares deeply about Florida and its future.”
Save the date:
Two more sheriffs back Ashley Moody — Moody gained yet two more law enforcement endorsements: Bradford County Sheriff GordonSmith and Washington County Sheriff KevinCrews. “When it comes to the security of our state, we don’t need a politician. We need a trusted, conservative leader who has spent a lifetime in service to the law,” Smith said. Added Crews: “It is important we elect a qualified, seasoned, and effective conservative as our next Attorney General. Ashley Moody is the only candidate that meets all these requirements.” Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge, now faces state Reps. Jay Fant, Ross Spano, and Frank White in the Republican primary. Tampa attorney RyanTorrens remains the lone declared Democrat.
Northwest Florida mayors and county leaders back Frank White for AG — Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and Gulf Breeze Mayor Matt Dannheisser join Okaloosa County Commission Chair Carolyn Ketchel, Okaloosa County Commission Vice-Chair Graham Fountain, Escambia County Commission Vice-Chair Jeff Bergosh, and Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson our endorsing state Rep. White for Attorney General. Hayward: “Frank is a consistent conservative and tireless worker with the character to lead.” Dannheisser: ” White … will serve as Attorney General with integrity, principle and a tireless work ethic.” Ketchel: “Frank White represents everything we need in a faithful public servant.” Fountain: “Frank’s commitment to conservative values, upholding the rule of law, and protecting our Second Amendment rights are essential.” Bergosh: “I’ve known Frank to be a dedicated and principled defender of our constitutional rights, the rule of law, and family values.” Robinson: “It is very important to me that we have a person of faith, integrity and principle in Florida’s lead prosecutor.”
Gary Farmer fundraiser — Fort Lauderdale Democratic state Sen. Farmer will hold a fundraiser 5:30 p.m. at the YOLO lounge, 333 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.
“Open House seats draw hopefuls” via the News Service of Florida — Jacksonville Democrat Matthew McAllister became the third candidate to open a campaign account to run in 2018 in House District 15. Rep. Jay Fant is running for attorney general instead of seeking another term in the Duval County district. Meanwhile, Delray Beach Republican Michael Caruso opened a campaign account to become the fourth candidate running in Palm Beach County’s House District 89. Rep. Bill Hager cannot run for re-election next year because of term limits. In Miami-Dade County, Republican will that opened an account to become the fourth candidate in House District 119. Rep. Jeanette Nunez is barred by term limits from running for re-election in the district.
“Neil Combee mentions familiar name defending Josie Tomkow” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Outgoing GOP House member Neil Combee invoked a familiar statewide officeholder in an op-ed he submitted to the Lakeland Ledger Friday, defending fellow Republican Josie Tomkow’s candidacy for the District 39 seat Combee is set to vacate next week. Combee is exiting the House Nov. 24 to start a new job as Florida’s State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Tomkow was the first candidate to file for the impending special election, and quickly earned Combee’s endorsement, though most reports of her candidacy latched on to her being just 22 years old. “Although I am aware she is young by time’s standard, I don’t think age should ever preclude someone from entering public service,” he wrote … Combee then wove a tale that many in the Polk County-based district might find a little familiar.
Now that’s a host committee:
“Joe Wicker becomes first Republican to file for Ross Spano’s HD 59 seat” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Businessman and Iraq War veteran Wicker’s entrance into the race comes a day after current HD 59 occupant Republican Ross Spano announced his bid for Attorney General. “Trust in government is at an all-time low and voters are looking for leaders with a demonstrated history of service to their country and community to help restore faith in the political process,” Wicker said. “I’m looking forward to having a conversation with voters about how we can continue to grow Florida’s economy and improve our education system, while at the same time addressing critical needs in health care and transportation,” he added.
“Senate hires special master as second Jack Latvala probe gets underway” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — The special master, retired 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Ronald Swanson, will conduct an investigation in response to a formal complaint filed by an unnamed Senate staff member. Swanson, 69, was appointed to First DCA by Gov. Scott in June 2011 and retired April 30, 2016. He now teaches at Flagler College and lives in Jacksonville Beach. Swanson, a Republican, was appointed Circuit Judge of the First Judicial Circuit and to the Santa Rosa County court bench by former Gov. Jeb Bush. He previously served as a military judge in the Navy and the Marine Corps. In his merit retention election for the DCA in 2012, Swanson received 65 percent approval. He’s a former prosecutor, who sent people the death row, a former teacher at the Florida School for the Blind, and went to high school in Tampa.
Denise Grimsley files ‘Florida Call-Blocking Act’ — The Republican state senator from Lake Placid has filed legislation (SB 962) that would “permit telecommunication carriers to offer call-blocking software intended to filter out the persistent robocalls that tend to originate from overseas.” They “often spoof local phone numbers and pay no attention to the No Call List or other restrictions,” she said in a statement. “The only recourse is to let consumers systematically block calls.” The bill is contingent on action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to give carriers authorization to block unwanted calls. The FCC is currently in the process of rule-making to offer that approval. This bill provides state-level approval for the same call-blocking criteria.
First in Sunburn — Keith Perry, Jason Fischer to call for investment in manufacturing — The Gainesville state senator and Jacksonville state representative filed legislation “calling for $3.5 million in state funding to strengthen and expand Florida’s manufacturing sector.” The funding “will further the work of FloridaMakes, an industry-led public-private partnership established in 2015 to improve the productivity and technological performance of Florida manufacturers and strengthen the state’s high-wage manufacturing economy,” they said in a news release. FloridaMakes provides services through Florida’s existing network of Regional Manufacturers Associations and other partners to support Florida’s more than 20,000 manufacturers, with support from the State of Florida, NIST and Florida’s manufacturers.
Happening Tuesday: Rep. Al Jacquet, Sen. Bobby Powell host turkey drive — Democrats Jacquet and Powell are working with the local chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and Green Roads to provide 500 turkeys for the local community. This is an opportunity that will help those facing economic hardship to have a Thanksgiving dinner with their families. The event is open to all residents and turkeys will be distributed on a first come, first served basis from noon- 6 p.m. at 314 11th Street, West Palm Beach.
“Final committee week to include four days of meetings” via News Service of Florida — Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Dec. 4 for the last round of committee meetings before the 2018 Legislative Session starts in January. The House and Senate have scheduled meetings over four days, including meetings Dec. 4 and Dec. 7 of the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness. The panel has been looking at a series of issues after Hurricane Irma and is expected to start moving forward with recommendations in December. Appropriations committees in both chambers also likely will discuss Gov. Scott’s proposed $87.4 billion budget for 2018-2019. The proposal, released this week, is an initial step as lawmakers prepare to negotiate a budget during the 2018 session, which starts Jan. 9.
‘Pro-Family Days at the Capitol’ set for Jan. 22-23 — The event, sponsored by the Florida Family Policy Council, was announced last Friday. The organization is an Orlando-based social conservative group. “Our theme this year is ‘A Celebration of Life’ and we will be honoring pregnancy care center directors from around the state as our special guests,” the group said in an email. Participating organizations include the Pregnancy and Family Resources Alliance (PAFRA), the South Florida Pastors Network, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, Personhood Florida, the Hispanic-Israel Leadership Coalition, the Asociacion de Ministros Hispanos del Gran Miami, Generation Joshua, New Hearts Outreach, and Celebration Baptist’s Salt and Light Council.
— STATEWIDE —
ICYMI: “Florida unemployment down to 3.6 percent, lowest number in decade” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — After an uncharacteristically subdued release of September job numbers after Irma, Gov. Scott was able to thump his chest Friday with October numbers. The top-line takeaway: Unemployment is down to 3.6 percent, the lowest number in a decade. Florida added more than 127,000 private sector jobs in October; all told, 1,448,300 jobs have been added by the Scott administration. “I am proud to announce today that Florida’s unemployment rate has reached a more than 10-year low of 3.6 percent and that more than 127,000 private-sector jobs were created in October. While Hurricane Irma was a devastating storm,” Scott asserted, “we have worked day after day to help communities recover and send a message across the world that Florida is open for business.”
“Federal judge orders Florida to treat sick inmates” via The Associated Press — U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered the Florida Department of Corrections to treat inmates who test positive for the viral infection with direct-acting antiviral drugs, a 12-week treatment that now costs about $37,000 per patient. Walker concluded the state prisons system had failed to treat inmates properly due to a lack of funding. He told the state that he wanted a plan submitted by Dec. 1 that included timetables that showed how Florida would comply with the order. “This court will not tolerate further foot-dragging,” Walker wrote. The class-action lawsuit was filed in May by three inmates who had been suffering from hepatitis C but were denied treatment from both the state and the private companies contracted to provide medical care in the prison system.
“Florida wipes inspections of troubled nursing homes from its website”via Carol Marbin Miller and Caitlin Ostroff of the Miami Herald — For many years, AHCA’s website included links to inspections of nursing homes, retirement homes and hospitals. They were available with a few keystrokes with very few redactions. The agency then began to heavily redact the reports — eliminating words such as “room” and “CPR” and “bruises” and “pain” — and rendering the inspections difficult to interpret for families trying to gauge whether a facility is suitable for a loved one. AHCA says the redactions were necessary to protect medical privacy, though patients were identified only by number. In the past year, the state spent $22,000 for redaction software that automatically blacks out words the agency says must be shielded from the public. Those same words were available on a federal website unredacted. Elder and open-government advocates said the newly censored detail did more to protect the homes than patients.
“Florida confirms second local Zika virus infection for 2017” via The Associated Press — Florida’s Department of Health said a case had been identified in Miami-Dade County. Officials wouldn’t say where the person was bitten but did say there’s no evidence of an ongoing, active transmission zone. Florida reported 296 locally acquired Zika infections last year.
“State divvies up bear-proofing money” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Bear-proofing money from the state is going to seven counties, a parks department, a homeowners’ association and a community for surviving spouses of retired U.S. Air Force enlistees. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced how it would spread $515,283 available this year in the “BearWise” program, which is intended to help purchase bear-resistant trash cans and strengthen existing containers. The most substantial award will go to Seminole County, which is receiving $189,000 to buy bear-resistant trash cans for residents in the western portion of the county. Other counties getting money are Lake, Volusia, Highlands, Orange, Walton and Franklin.
Retail holiday forecast — The Florida Retail Federation hosts an 11 a.m. conference call to discuss its annual holiday shopping forecast. Call-in number: 1-877-868-6863. Code: 621327#
— THANKSGIVING IN FLORIDA —
“First Thanksgiving actually was in Florida” via Ben Brotemarkle of WTSP — Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, colonists in St. Augustine shared a feast of Thanksgiving with Native Americans. “Not until 42 years later would English Jamestown be founded,” said eminent Florida historian Michael Gannon. “Not until 56 years later would the Pilgrims in Massachusetts observe their famous Thanksgiving. St. Augustine’s settlers celebrated the nation’s first Thanksgiving over a half-century earlier, Sept. 8, 1565. Following a religious service, the Spaniards shared a communal meal with the local native tribe.” Hosting the first Thanksgiving celebration in what would become the United States is one of many “firsts” for the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in America. “When the Spaniards founded St. Augustine nearly 450 years ago, they proceeded to found our nation’s first city government, first school, first hospital, first city plan, first Parrish church, and the first mission to the native populations,” Gannon said.
“Florida’s unique turkey species gobbles on” via David Flesher of the Orlando Sentinel —An elusive variety of the giant bird will be gobbling, clucking and flying at surprisingly high-speed through South Florida’s fields and forests … Osceola turkey, also called the Florida wild turkey … a subspecies unique to the state’s peninsula. Smaller and darker than its Northern cousins, the Osceola can be found at the southeastern end of Everglades National Park, at the far western edge of Broward County, in the forests of northwestern Palm Beach County and throughout the peninsula up to about Jacksonville. The state’s native turkey has turned into an unlikely tourist draw, attracting hunters seeking to complete their “grand slam” of all five North American turkey subspecies. At the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area in northern Palm Beach County, hunters killed 103 turkeys in the last three seasons … Their speed would surprise anyone who thinks of turkeys as waddling blobs of meat and feathers. A wild turkey can run up to 25 miles per hour and briefly achieve a flying speed of 55 miles per hour, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation.
— FOR YOUR RADAR —
A great migration from Puerto Rico is set to transform Orlando
As Lizette Alvarez of The New York Timesreports the “sudden exodus of tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans to Florida after Hurricane Maria is “larger than any previous movement of Puerto Ricans to the mainland, including the wave that arrived after World War II.” The sheer number of arrivals is expected to transform Orlando, a city which already has a large population of Puerto Ricans who came after the recent years of economic crisis on the island.
— According to the Pew Research Center, the Puerto Rican population of Florida has risen from 479,000 in 2000 to well over 1 million. “The number of Puerto Ricans in Orlando was 210,000 in 2014, according to the Center for Population Studies, and since then the count has risen rapidly as more arrived during the economic crisis.”
— “The impact of this latest wave is likely to stretch from schools and housing to the workforce and even politics. Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens and tilt Democratic, could sway the electoral results of one of the country’s most pivotal swing states.”
— “Most islanders have moved in with relatives, and many have no plans to return home.”
— The Federal Emergency Management Agency will not bring in mobile trailers … The agency also provides rental assistance. Beyond that, long-term housing … is so dire that at a recent roundtable there was talk of buying an abandoned motel to house people.
“Personnel note: Chris Hart IV to head Court Clerks group” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Chris Hart IV, who last was with Florida TaxWatch, will be the next CEO of the statewide Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers association, according to a Friday news release. He starts Dec. 4. Hart “will provide strong leadership to our association,” said Marcia M. Johnson, Franklin County Clerk and Comptroller and 2017-18 Board President, in a statement. “He brings extensive knowledge of the legislative process, which will be critical as we work together with lawmakers to establish sustainable funding for our offices,” she said. Hart served in the Florida House of Representatives for Hillsborough County’s District 57 in 1998-2002. He later was president and CEO of CareerSource Florida, the state’s employment services operation, from 2007-17. He left that position to become CEO of Enterprise Florida (EFI) but stepped down after less than three months on the job.
Florida Chamber names Central Florida Regional Board Chair — David Strong, president and CEO of Orlando Health, was appointed to a one-year term. “Serving as the Florida Chamber’s Central Florida Regional Board Chair is an exciting opportunity,” Strong said in a statement. “I am eager to unite Central Florida’s area business leaders behind the Chamber’s pro-business initiatives.” Strong was tapped by BobGrammig, chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce board of directors and partner at Holland & Knight. Strong will “connect area business leaders with resources to help make the Central area — and Florida — more competitive,” the Chamber said.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Jason Allison, Foley & Lardner: U.S. Imaging Network
Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: Food Group International
Gregory Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Broward College Foundation
Melanie Shanks Bostick, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Scent Evidence K9
Ron Pierce, Edward Briggs, Natalie King, RSA Consulting Group: Tampa Bay Sports Commission
Marty Fiorentino, Joseph Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: Five Stars Veterans Center
Paul Mitchell, Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: Sole Proprietor Solutions
Corey Staniscia, TSE Consulting: Charter Schools USA
Samuel Verghese, Don Yaeger, Jeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: DCI Group AZ on behalf of Dell Technologies
Tallahassee Democrat publisher speaks — Skip Foster will appear at the Capital Tiger Bay Club beginning 11:30 a.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St. in Tallahassee.
— ALOE —
Happening today — 19th Annual Helping Hands for the Holidays, an evening filled with holiday music, a Rockefeller-style Christmas tree, and photos with Santa Claus. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at Team Aubuchon Corporate Headquarters, 4707 SE. 9th Pl. in Cape Coral. Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, Ronald McDonald House Charities SWFL and Lee BIA Builders Care.
“Nearly 2.6 million Floridians expected to travel for Thanksgiving” via the Tampa Bay Times — According to AAA, The Auto Club Group, 50.9 million Americans … are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, including 2.6 million Floridians, up 3.2 percent from last year. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence. These factors should help fuel consumer spending and generate a strong finish for the travel,” said Vicky Evans, an assistant vice president at AAA … Going into the holiday, gas on Thanksgiving Day is still expected to be the most expensive since 2014. Gasoline in Tampa Bay averaged $2.50 per gallon Thursday.
“Why do the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving?” via Florida Politics— It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise … in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth … wasn’t quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934. Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving … The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL’s Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, but they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and that’s why the Lions still play on Thanksgiving.
“The 32 rules of Thanksgiving touch football”via Florida Politics— A Nerf ball is OK, but you should own a leather football … It’s two-hand touch. One-hand touch is for lazy people who buy turkey sandwiches out of vending machines. … Two completions are a first down. Not as simple as it sounds — just ask the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars. … The ground is probably going to be squishy with cold mud, and someone in your family is going to fall face-first and ruin his or her Thanksgiving outfit. This is not cause for alarm. This is the highlight of the game … It’s OK to play with kids, but don’t baby them. Just because your 7-year-old niece is playing quarterback doesn’t mean you can’t intercept her screen pass and run it back for a touchdown. She’s got to learn sometime not to throw into triple coverage.
“Justin Motlow first member of Seminole tribe to score touchdown for Florida State” via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press — The wide receiver is the first member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to score a touchdown for FSU. Motlow‘s 12-yard diving catch in the end zone from J.J. Cosentino gave the Seminoles a 70-6 lead over Delaware State. They would end up winning 77-6. “That is just the most amazing honor you could ever feel,” Motlow said. “I am so proud to represent my tribe. The first member to score a touchdown, let alone just play, it’s an exhilarating feeling. It makes me so happy.” Motlow is one-fourth Seminole Indian. His father is half Seminole, and his grandmother is 100 percent Seminole.
Happy birthday belatedly to class acts Karen Moore and Gerald Wester, as well as former Sen. Geraldine Thompson and Rep. JaredMoscowitz. Celebrating today is my brother from another mother, Anthony Pedicini, as well as Jon Coley. And since Sunburn is off the rest of the week, let us send early birthday wishes to Bettina Inclan-Agen, the second best looking lobbyist at Ballard Partners, Brady Benford, Ed Briggs, Derek Cooper, Jennifer Krell Davis, Rep. Jason Fischer, former Rep. Rich Glorioso, former Rep. Adam Hasner, Andrew Ketchel, Jeff Johnston, Chris Spencer‘s better half, Gina, our friend Gary Springer, Todd Thomson, my fellow Disney aficionado Screven Watson, and future gubernatorial chief of staff Julia Gill Woodward.
The head of the panel now eyeing the state’s constitution for changes says “more than 50 percent of the 103 proposed constitutional revisions filed by (its) commissioners represent public ideas.”
Carlos Beruff, chair of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), this week recounted how his board “traveled the state listening to Floridians and reviewed thousands of public proposals and comments.”
“Much like the previous CRC in 1997-98 advanced ‘general concepts’ based on public input, we identified general themes and ideas that were submitted by Floridians and then crafted proposals in the appropriate legal language,” he said in a statement.
Sounds like Beruff still is smarting from a Miami Herald story last month that dinged the commission for accepting only “a few” ideas from the public to improve Florida’s governing document.
“In a swift, 20-minute meeting, the panel … rejected all but a few of the 2,012 public proposals submitted …, advancing only six of them, after months of encouraging the public to submit ideas,” that story began.
Beruff isn’t having it.
“Altogether, more than 740 public proposal submissions are represented by commissioner proposals,” he said. “If you also consider the Commissioner proposals inspired by ideas presented by Floridians at CRC public hearings, this representation is even higher.
“Proposals are now being referred to CRC committees for further review and consideration. We encourage Floridians to stay engaged in the CRC process as we move forward.”
The commission is formed every 20 years to review and suggest changes to the state’s governing document. Any amendments it places directly on the 2018 statewide ballot still must be OK’d by 60 percent of voters to be added to the constitution.
Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Jim Rosica, Ana Ceballos, Michael Moline, Andrew Wilson, Danny McAuliffe and Peter Schorsch.
But first, a program note: Takeaways will not appear next week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Now, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:
Bittel out at FDP — Less than a year after taking office, Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel resigned following mounting pressure for him to step down. This was after reports he would belittle and make suggestive remarks to women in the workplace. AllisonTant, the state party’s immediate past chair, told Florida Politics that at least seven women complained to her about the inappropriate and demeaning behavior they endured while he was at the helm. Tant said several women left their jobs because of his behavior. Bittel said in a statement, “When my personal situation becomes distracting to our core mission of electing Democrats and making Florida better, it is time for me to step aside.” The millionaire South Florida developer apologized for his behavior and did not deny the accounts of six unnamed women who called him “creepy” and “demeaning” in a POLITICO Florida report.
Job numbers looking good — After an uncharacteristically subdued release of September job numbers after Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott was able to thump his chest with October numbers. The top-line takeaway: Unemployment down to 3.6 percent, the lowest number in a decade. Florida added more than 127,000 private sector jobs in October; all told, 1.4 million jobs have been added under Scott’s administration. “I am proud to announce today that Florida’s unemployment rate has reached a more than 10-year low of 3.6 percent and that more than 127,000 private-sector jobs were created in October. While Hurricane Irma was a devastating storm,” Scott said in a statement, “we have worked day after day to help communities recover and send a message across the world that Florida is open for business.”
Senate hires outside lawyers — As Sen. Jack Latvala faces sexual harassment allegations under a Senate investigation, Senate President Joe Negron hired a legal team to represent the chamber through the proceedings. Weeks after Senate general counsel Dawn Roberts recused herself, Negron hired three attorneys from the politically connected GrayRobinson law firm. Among those is George Meros, who has worked on several high-profile state government cases in recent years. He also represented then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential recount. The Senate agreed to pay the attorneys — at taxpayers’ expense — on an hourly rate. Attorney Brian Bieber will earn $600 an hour; Meros will make $550 an hour; and Allison Mawhinney will charge $345 an hour, according to the contract.
Hurricane committee hunkers down — It’s turkey time for some lawmakers, but crunchtime for those charged with addressing hurricane readiness. The House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness met for the fifth time this week. Now equipped with info on the statewide woes of the 2017 hurricane season, the committee transitions to its final job: Policy recommendations. “This is it for our fact-finding mission and our education phase of our work,” Chair Jeanette Nuñez said. She expects there will be two committee meetings in December, where “the rubber hopefully will meet the road.”
Confederate statue’s time dwindling? — A likeness of educator and civil-rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune is one step closer to replacing a statue of a Confederate general as one of Florida’s two representatives in the U.S. Capitol. The Senate Appropriations Committee cleared a bill to replace the statue of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith with Bethune, who lived 1875-1955. Each state has two statues on display in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Florida’s other statue, a marble rendering of scientist-inventor Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, a pivotal figure in the invention of air conditioning, will remain. The move to replace Smith’s statue came after a renewed debate in recent years about Confederate symbols, including the battle flag ubiquitous in the South.
Volunteer firefighters weekend back on
The 12th annual Northwest Florida Volunteer Firefighter Weekend, postponed from September because of Hurricane Irma, will take place this weekend, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal JimmyPatronis announced.
More than 200 volunteer firefighters registered for the rescheduled event, which offers free classroom and field training courses to volunteer firefighters.
Hosted at the Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, the event is open to all volunteer firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, and military in Florida and all southeast states.
“Volunteer fire departments offer lifesaving services to our communities, oftentimes operating on very low budgets,” Patronis said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to ensure that our firefighters have every bit of the training and expertise they need to safely perform their jobs.”
Active shooter response and animal first aid courses, as well as live burn classes, will be available.
Pam Bondi urges action on ‘opioid oversupply’
Attorney General Bondi joined 43 other attorneys general last week to send a National Association of Attorneys General policy letter to congressional leaders, according to a news release.
They urged the repeal of a 2016 federal law to restore the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to hold drug manufacturers and distributors of opioids accountable.
“The opioid crisis is affecting families across our country, and we need every tool available to combat this epidemic and save lives. To ensure the Drug Enforcement Administration is able to stop the oversupply of dangerous prescription opioids, Congress must repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016,” Bondi said.
The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 severely limit the DEA’s response to the opioid crisis. In 2016, more than 2 million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.
According to the NAAG letter, the Act effectively strips the DEA’s ability to issue an immediate suspension order against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct poses an immediate danger to public health or safety.
Florida is one of the states leading an extensive multistate investigation into major manufacturers and distributors of opioids. As part of this effort, the bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general recently sent subpoenas and demanded additional information about potentially unlawful practices in the distribution, marketing and sale of opioids.
Leaders talk about improving workforce educational attainment
A nationwide campaign to bolster the state’s workforce with adults that have a degree, industry certification or an education certificate by 2025 is in motion.
The campaign, called RISE to 55 and led by Florida’s Higher Education Coordinating Council, is partly in response to a study saying that by 2025, the state will have more jobs requiring postsecondary education but that workers will be ill-equipped to fill those positions.
To address this issue, leaders in business, government and economic development representing 15 counties from across the Gulf Coast gathered this week to debate the importance of increasing the current 47 percent threshold of working-age adults with postsecondary education to 55 in the next seven years.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Patronis, Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega, who is spearheading the campaign, and local leaders in higher education led the discussion at Florida State University, Panama City.
“For Florida to reach 55 percent attainment, we need buy-in from every community to make postsecondary education part of our culture,” said Pumariega. “Championing higher education is championing a sustainable Florida economy.”
Metz returning to vets’ panel — Gov. Scott reappointed state Rep. LarryMetz to the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame Council.
Metz, a Yalaha Republican, has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2010 and has practiced with the Metz Law Firm P.A. since 2007.
He also was in the U.S. Marine Corps 1976-82, including active duty until 1980.
Metz received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from Florida State University.
He is appointed for a term beginning Nov. 15 and ending June 30, 2020.
Top cop named to trafficking board — Scott appointed of Bradenton Police Chief MelanieBevan to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.
Bevan, 52, of Bradenton, is a 31-year veteran law enforcement officer who most previously served as Assistant Chief at the St. Petersburg Police Department.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Saint Leo University, her master’s degree from Troy State University, and her doctor of education degree from Argosy University.
Bevan fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning Nov. 15, and ending June 30, 2018.
Rick Scott appoints two to Medical Examiners Commission — Scott announced the appointment of Sheriff James Reid and State Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister to the Medical Examiners Commission.
Reid, 70, will fill a vacant seat due to the resignation of Sheriff Paul Beseler. His term began Nov. 14 and will end Aug. 21, 2021.
Siegmeister, a 45-year-old State Attorney from Live Oak, will replace Angela Corey following her resignation. His term also began Nov. 14 and will last until July 1, 2019.
Republicans lead bills placed on House committees
From the total 60 measures that have been put on committee agendas in the Florida House, as of Nov. 6, the vast majority has been sponsored by Republicans.
According to a weekly roundup by the House Democratic Caucus, 66 percent of the bills were sponsored by Republicans; nine of those were introduced by Democrats and 11 proposals have bipartisan cosponsorship.
The report is released every week in “commitment to openness and transparency,” the report says.
Did Jay Trumbull miss the meeting when the House leadership doled out responsibility for carrying this year’s assignment of benefits package?
That’s often how one “volunteers” for a thankless job. (Or as Tampa Republican JamieGrant put it this week in another committee, getting “voluntold.”)
“I got a call from the chair a couple of Fridays ago that said we’re going to run assignment of benefits out of Judiciary and he’d like me to run it,” said Trumbull, a Panama City Republican.
He spoke right after the bill (PCB JDC 18-01) cleared the full committee.
Trumbull is well acquainted with the issue, having sat through lengthy hearings before the Commerce Committee during the spring Legislative Session.
He must know all about it, right?
“I wouldn’t say all about it,” he demurred. “I’m still learning a pretty good bit.”
Sean Shaw to host minority transportation forum
State Rep. Shaw, a Tampa Democrat, will host a transportation forum to help citizens connect with transportation leaders Wednesday.
The speakers will include various leaders representing various transportation and transit entities that keep Tampa moving, and they will help clear up questions about transportation issues impacting the area.
It will also be an effort to open the door to those who want to get involved with the effort to better transportation in the region.
“Transportation improvement and transit innovations are coming to Tampa, and it is important that all residents are able to express their concerns, questions and ideas,” Shaw said.
The forum will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Children’s Board-Hillsborough, located at 1002 E. Palm Avenue.
Robert Asencio files apprenticeship bill
Rep. Asencio, a Miami Democrat, wants school districts, colleges and universities to encourage the expansion of apprenticeship programs.
Asencio filed legislation (HB 711) this week that would create a ‘Earn to Learn Grant Program” within the Department of Education, which would be tasked with developing an application process for students eligible for grants.
“By allocating our resources to develop the next generation of Florida workers, we’re giving them a chance to get a high wage, permanent job here at home,” Asencio said.
The bill would also create a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion to study ways to grow these opportunities.
Janet Cruz touts help for small business
Last session, House Democratic Leader Cruz of Tampa offered an amendment to legislation aimed at reforming and increasing transparency at VISIT FLORIDA that would create a Targeted Marketing Assistance Program (TMAP) for minority, rural and agritourism businesses.
That amendment was adopted during the regular session and became a part of the final legislation that was passed during the special session and was signed into law by Gov. Scott.
Under the new program, small, minority, rural, and agritourism businesses with gross income not exceeding $500,000, or a 501(c)(3) under IRS guidelines, can apply for increased aid from VISIT FLORIDA in helping to get the word out about their organization.
If accepted into the program, all of the assistance is offered free of charge, with a discounted rate to join the Small Business Partnership to receive additional benefits.
“The goal of my amendment last year was to ensure that we’re not just focusing on the needs of our largest corporations, but that we are giving our mom and pop shops the resources they need to succeed,” Cruz said in a statement.
Loranne Ausley named finalist in ‘Ideas Challenge’
State Rep. Ausley is a finalist in the 2017 New Ideas Challenge, a competition among “rising and innovative state and local policymakers to identify effective ways to address the anxieties facing many Americans in the new economy,” according to a news release.
Ausley’s “Whole Child Leon” initiative was a finalist in the “Future of Families” category. “Whole Child Leon has brought together public, private and nonprofit partners, business leaders, elected officials, educators, health care providers, parents and caregivers to work together toward systemic change.
“Key initiatives include the monthly Professional Network Community Conversation, Early Childhood Developmental Screenings, and the Pediatric Behavioral Health Navigator, which provides integration of quality behavioral health services for all children and families through referrals from area pediatricians, the Early Learning Coalition, and community partners,” the release said.
“I am thrilled to be included in this group of talented and innovative leaders from across the country,” Ausley said in a statement. “This is an exciting opportunity to share the work we have done with Whole Child Leon in our community and to learn from other outstanding work being done to help more Americans get ahead. I look forward to bringing these ideas back to Tallahassee to help everyday Floridians and their families.”
Florida Workers’ Advocates responds to workers’ comp vote
As lawmakers try to pass workers’ compensation legislation, some industry groups are not too pleased with what is being pushed so far.
Mark Touby, the president of Florida Workers’ Advocates, said the bill passed by the House Commerce Committee this week would “turn workers’ compensation grand bargain to protect injured workers into a grand illusion.”
“Lawmakers have an opportunity to provide a constitutional approach to workers’ compensation reform that would bring rate stability to the market, increase transparency in ratemaking, spur free-market competition among insurers and enhance benefits for injured workers,” Touby said.
The bill would revise workers’ compensation law to include direct payment of attorneys by or for claimants and increasing the total combined temporary wage replacement benefits from 104 weeks to 260 weeks.
DEP launches recycling initiative
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection wants Floridians to know more about recycling.
The department launched a public education campaign, titled “Rethink. Reset. Recycle,” this week with Waste Management, MARPAN, Waste Connections and Single Stream Recyclers, LLC. The website is FloridaRecycles.org.
The campaign seeks to teach Floridians the basics when it comes to recycling. Right now, about 30 percent of household materials recycled in Florida are actually not recyclable, which shuts down processing centers for hours at a time.
“With the increased popularity of curbside recycling across Florida’s 67 counties, we’ve seen a big increase in participation — but many items ending up in the bins aren’t actually recyclable at curbside,” JoeUllo, DEP division director, said in a statement.
According to DEP, eliminating contamination of recycling could lead to about $100 million in savings each year.
FSU professor recognized
Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice professor Eric Stewart has been named a fellow of the prestigious American Society of Criminology.
Stewart joined just three other highly distinguished criminologists honored during the society’s annual conference Nov. 15 in Philadelphia.
The honor distinguishes those who have made significant contributions to the discipline, contributed to the career development of other criminologists or participated in organizational activities within the society.
“I’m definitely humbled and honored,” Stewart said. “The American Society of Criminology is the premier flagship professional organization for criminologists.”
Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge tours Japan
After being selected as the representative for the National Association of Counties (NACo), Leon County Commissioner Desloge headed to the Land of the Rising Sun.
He began participating in the Local Government Exchange and Cooperation Seminar 2017 organized by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), which includes a seminar in Tokyo and a study tour of Rikuzentakata City, the local authority in regional Japan, according to a news release.
The program will last until Nov. 15. Desloge is Immediate Past President of NACo.
“During my time as the president of the National Association of Counties, I had the opportunity to share best practices and learn from the best-of-the-best in county government across the nation,” Desloge said in a statement.
“I am eager to share what I have learned with government representatives here in Japan, and I look forward to the opportunity to exchange ideas, best practices, and so much more with the local government employees of Rikuzentakata City and beyond.”
Rikuzentakata City was one of the areas most affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. The disaster claimed 1,700 lives and destroyed more than 3,000 buildings. Desloge will see how local governments can promote town planning, even after a disaster, “to live a comfortable and secure life,” the release said.
Leon County Commission reorganization set
A reorganization ceremony for the Leon County Board of County Commissioners will be held Tuesday, Nov. 28, in the Commission Chambers, fifth floor of the Leon County Courthouse, 301 S. Monroe St.
The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. and will be presided over by Clerk of Courts Gwen Marshall.
During the ceremony, the commission will elect a chairman and vice chairman for the 2017-18 year and the newly elected chairman will take the oath of office. After the formality, the Board will reconvene for the regularly scheduled board meeting.
Lecture series looks inside CRC
The Leon County Library Lecture Series returns with “The Room Where it Happens: An Insider’s View of the Constitution Revision Commission,” presented by G.C. MurrayJr.
Murray is the Florida Justice Association’s deputy general counsel and works with the legal, political and legislative teams.
The lecture will be held at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Main Library, 200 W. Park Ave. in downtown Tallahassee, 7 p.m. Nov. 27.
Once every 20 years, the Constitution Revision Commission convenes to conduct a thorough review and propose amendments to the Florida Constitution. This lecture will discuss the history and importance of the Constitution Revision Commission, the major players, the background noise, and predictions of what will change in Florida’s Constitution.
All Leon County Library Lecture Series events are free and open to the public.
Tallahassee airport upgrades completed
Thank goodness for small favors: The Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) announced the “completion of upgrades to the airport security checkpoint … in time for the busy holiday travel season.”
“Completion of this work restores two passenger processing lanes and paves the way for future growth and development,” a news release said.
“Passengers will notice several upgrades designed to enhance the overall travel experience and increase operational efficiencies.”
The airport is owned and operated by the City of Tallahassee, with daily flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Washington, D.C. (effective Feb. 15).
Thanksgiving #1 day for home cooking fires
CFO and State Fire Marshal Patronis is advising Floridians to be safe in the kitchen this Thanksgiving.
“Every year, hundreds of avoidable cooking accidents happen,” he said in a statement. “In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for home cooking fires. Anything from turkey frying gone wrong to a pot left on the stove too long can cause a fire, and there’s nothing that will ruin a holiday faster.”
So what is there to do?
“Simple steps like turning in the handles of your pots and pans and keeping your kitchen floors free from toys and pets can help make sure your holiday goes off without a hitch,” Patronis said.
Moreover, “fried turkeys have become a hit, but they can become incredibly dangerous if proper attention is not paid.
“Make sure your bird is completely thawed and take your turkey fryer to the furthest place from your home possible. Never fry at the edge of your garage because any stray spark might light the house in flames.
Now for this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:
Dr. Kiran Patel, Tampa’s renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist, has confirmed he was one of the previously anonymous investors in the Tampa Bay Times.
Patel, 68, and his wife Dr. Pallavi Patel, 62, are former cardiologists, and natives of India. Kiran Patel is also a health care executive and a real-estate developer.
In September 2017, the Patel’s announced they would spend $200-millionto create a Clearwater campus for Nova Southeastern University.
In July 2017, the Tampa Bay Times announced that a group of eight local investors had agreed to lend the newspaper $1.5-million apiece through an entity called FBN Partners. The $12-million loan was secured by a mortgage on “the buildings and 27 acres of land at the newspaper’s printing facilities” in St. Petersburg.
On Nov. 10, Patel told local legal website Baylawsuits that Tampa Bay Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash approached him about investing. Patel said it was an easy decision, made “five minutes” after Tash began his pitch.
FBN’s investment — which the Times said could grow to as much as $15-million, provided the paper found two more investors — helped the Times refinance some higher-interest loans.
Afterward, the Times published the names of four of the eight investors — Tampa business executive Frank Morsani and his wife Carol, Tash and his wife Karyn, developer Ted Couch, and investment company chair (and part owner of the Washington Redskins) Robert Rothman — but the remaining investors wished to remain anonymous.
A short time later, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik identified himself as an FBN member, leaving three investors unidentified.
One of those three was Kiran Patel, who was among the $1.5-million FBN Partners investors. Baylawsuits did not ask if Pallavi Patel another in the group.
While there the investment did carry some risk, Kiran Patel said investing always involves risk. However, in the case of FBN Partners, there is collateral — the Tampa Bay Times and its holdings.
More important for Patel was the opportunity to support his local newspaper, which he said is an important institution in large metropolitan areas.
Understanding that the Times (and other papers) are struggling to secure conventional loans, Patel knew of the need to pursue innovative alternatives. He told Baylawsuits the only reason he asked for anonymity was because he did not like to flaunt his wealth.
Among those approached who did not join the FBN investment group were husband and wife Leslie Muma and Pamela Muma, also well-known as Tampa Bay-area philanthropists. Les Muma, 73, earned his fortune as president and CEO of Fiserv, a Wisconsin-based financial services company.
Earlier this month, the Muma’s announced they were donating an additional $15-million to the University of South Florida, bringing their total donations to the school to more than $56-million.
University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft was in charge of the school when both the Patels and the Mumas made their substantial contributions.
In an interview, Mumas said: “I don’t think newspapers are a real sound investment. I think they’re going backward, and it just didn’t make sense to me.”
As with Kiran Patel (and others interviewed for this report), Muma was also approached by the Times’ Paul Tash.