Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.23.21 — Happy Thanksgiving!

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

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.

As many of you know, it has been a trying year for our family with Michelle’s health issues. I cannot fully express how thankful Michelle and I are for those of you in The Process who have helped, in ways small and large, deal with that situation.

Of course, Michelle and I are as ever grateful for:

Ella Joyce Schorsch, Thanksgiving 2021.

Programming note — Sunburn will be off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to celebrate the holiday with our families. We’ll see you bright and early next Monday.

>>>Here are some other Thanksgiving items on my radar:

🦃COVID-19 safety isn’t just about physical health anymore: With vaccines now readily available, another COVID-19 Thanksgiving is in store, but the precautions look slightly different from last year. At that time, vaccines weren’t readily available, and the name of the game was isolation to protect against possible superspreader feasts. Now though, The New York Times posits it’s time to look at staying healthy in a new light, “focusing on the mental, emotional and social aspects of our health, too.” The piece, derived from conversations with various health experts, recommends gatherings with only a few reasonable precautions for those who are fully vaccinated and, preferably, boosted too. For the unvaccinated, though, the piece cautions risks are still prevalent, putting both the unvaccinated and those around them at increased risk. Read more here.

🍽Canned or fresh? How each state prefers their cranberry sauce: Floridians are four times more likely to buy canned cranberry sauce than to make their own from fresh cranberries, according to Instacart data compiled by Axios. The Sunshine State is one of about half in the nation to prefer canned sauce to fresh. Most of the Southeastern U.S. prefers canned, along with most of the Northeastern U.S., Arizona, Nevada and Alaska. Mississippi is the state with the most canned cranberry lovers — More than 22% used the canned Thanksgiving fixin. Nearly 71% of Iowans, conversely, prefer fresh-made cranberry sauce, and states where fresh is preferred to so more extensively than in states with a canned preference, with most surpassing 21% who make their own cranberry sauce or relish.

🦃Wet vs. dry brine, the great debate: Wet brining a turkey involves submerging the bird in a bath of water, salt and aromatics, such as bay leaves and garlic, and refrigerating for 4-6 hours. The result is a juicier, more tender meat. But drawbacks include a possible mess — without proper caution, the water can spill all over — and the added moisture is mostly just water, meaning the meat’s natural flavor can be dulled. A dry brine includes salting the outside of the turkey. The process draws the turkey’s natural juices to the surface, mixes with the salt, and then reabsorbs the juices back into the meat, thus brining it in its own juices. Dry brine fans argue the method allows for a juicier bird, without the flavor loss, and avoids the possible mess associated with wet brine. Still others argue neither are necessary, and a non-brined turkey allows the natural flavors to shine. But brining gives the amateur cook a buffer if they leave the turkey in the oven a touch too long. Read more about the pros and cons in this Washington Post explainer.

🍗Spice up your Thanksgiving spread: People call it turkey day for a reason — Thanksgiving menus tend to have a lot of repetition, from the main protein to staples like mashed potatoes and stuffing. But The New York Times notes there are ways to liven up the table for a crunchier, brighter, fresher spread. The piece includes five suggestions, including adding a sweet and sour profile, a bit of crunch with fresh veggies, getting herbaceous with a bright turkey salsa verde drizzle, adding spice with things like a cilantro-date chutney, and adding some crunch with a fried shallot topping. The additions can transform even the most ordinary Thanksgiving menu from blah to wow, and most can be offered as optional add-ons while still adding a burst of color and excitement to the table without bombarding the Thanksgiving purist with flavors they don’t think belong.

🥒Do your relish tray like a pro: If you’re like any number of Thanksgiving hosts running behind to meet that dinner deadline, a good relish tray can save the day, satiating hungry guests while you get those last-minute details into the main course (and make sure they’re hot). But why throw some veggies, crackers, cheese and olives onto a plate willy nilly when you can get some easy tips from five-star chefs, as compiled by The Wall Street Journal? Try combining both marinated and raw fermented elements, recommends Santa Monica chef Matthew Schaler. That can be as simple as a briny pickle. Amped up deviled eggs highlight upper Midwest chef Shaina Robbins Papach and husband Joe Papach’s Harvey House relish tray, including a trout roe topping. The duo also prepare a whipped ranch mousse in lieu of supermarket dressing. New York chef Nate Adler suggests mixing and matching, including turmeric-pickled cauliflower, pickled onions, fried cumin-pickled beets, and a smoked whitefish salad.

🍷Wine pair like a boss: We’re all a little rusty from last year’s lonely COVID-19 Thanksgiving, and let’s face it, sometimes family dynamics call for booze. So, make sure your adult beverage offerings play up the menu while still making sure wine choices are versatile. The New York Times has plenty of tips for choosing the best crowd-pleasers, as well as some pitfalls to avoid. Don’t, the piece notes, go for overly tannic wines. That means avoiding young reds that still need to age. Too many tannins aren’t overtly bad, but they can have a fatiguing effect. Also, avoid oaky flavor profiles. As popular as oaky wines are, they can clash with many Thanksgiving foods. Also, avoid high-alcohol wines (nothing gets your crazy uncle even more vocal at the dinner table than a solid buzz) and transgressive wines that might confuse non-connoisseur guests. Do choose lively wines, those with a lot of names — such as “fresh,” “lithe,” and “energetic” — to describe them.

👵Swoon-worthy accidental Thanksgiving invite continues for sixth year: It started in 2016 when Mesa, Arizona grandma Wanda Dench sent a text to the wrong number with a Thanksgiving invite to her grandchild. But the actual recipient, then 17-year-old Jamal Hinton, playfully let her know she had the wrong number, and asked if he could still get a plate. She gladly obliged … and has done so every year since, sparking a viral friendship that gives everyone on the internet all the feels. Read more about this adorable relationship here.

🗺Google Maps tools to make holiday travel a breeze: Google has a series of new map features to help people stay safe, maximize time with family and find the perfect holiday brunch spot. The Area Busyness feature allows users to identify when a neighborhood or town is at its busiest, so those who hate crowds can avoid them, or vice versa. The function goes deeper, allowing users to plan by seeing which areas are at their busiest during certain times of the day. Another feature will enable users to navigate malls, airports and transit stations. The feature provides data on where stores are located to help get in some travel shopping. And depending on where you’re located, Google Maps now has a feature to track grocery orders, available at more than 2,000 stores in 30 states, including Kroger, Fry’s, Ralphs and Marianos. The feature, Pickup, allows users to wait on average less than five minutes for their groceries. Also now available is a restaurant finder that allows users to find dining space that fits their budget and view reviews from other users, including information about outside seating, delivery, curbside pickup and other features. Read more here.

🏈 — Turkey Day losers: The six teams playing on Thanksgiving (Bears, Lions, Raiders, Cowboys, Bills, Saints) went 0-6 on Sunday. Here’s the slate so you can start planning your escape from the dining room: 12:30 p.m. ET, Bears at Lions; 4:30 p.m.: Raiders at Cowboys; 8:20 p.m., Bills at Saints.

— THANKFUL —

Sunburn readers share what they’re thankful for:

Gov. Ron DeSantis — I am thankful for my strong and wonderful wife Casey and our vivacious and adventurous children, Madison, Mason, and Mamie. Casey and I are particularly grateful this year for all of the prayers and unwavering support from around the state and the country, for her speedy recovery. It means so much to us, it has buoyed her spirits as she fights the cancer. From our family to the people of Florida, we say thank you. ”m”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — Amid the demands of being a Cabinet member, a candidate, a daughter, and a sister, I’m most grateful for Jake, who is my rock, and for our three wonderful boys. And for a new Gator football coach coming soon!

Attorney General Ashley Moody — While there is so much to be thankful for each Thanksgiving, this year we are particularly blessed to live in a state with law and order that prioritizes individual liberty and freedoms. My hope is that all Floridians are able to gather together safely and enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.

CFO Jimmy Patronis — I am grateful for First Responders. They work 24/7/365, so we can live in a place as nice as Florida, even during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Senate President Wilton Simpson — In a year when so many have lost so much, we are grateful for a happy and healthy family, with two beautiful granddaughters who we get to watch grow up, and the addition of our wonderful daughter-in-law last April. We are mindful of all the members of our military, law enforcement, first responders, medical personnel, and many others who stand watch today, enabling the rest of us to enjoy this Thanksgiving with our loved ones. Wherever your holiday plans may take you, we pray you find peace and joy in the company of family, friends, fond memories and familiar traditions. Happy Thanksgiving!

House Speaker Chris Sprowls — As I reflect on what Thanksgiving means to me, I can’t help but start with an expression of my deepest gratitude for my beautiful wife Shannon, our boys Prescott and Conrad, and the blessed life we are so fortunate to lead. I am so thankful that we live in the best state in the best nation in the world, and that I have the extraordinary opportunity to make a difference here as Speaker of the Florida House. It is a happy Thanksgiving indeed.”

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan — As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I’m particularly thankful for the members our Armed Forces who are stationed around the world and who cannot be with their loves ones this holiday season. I am also eternally grateful for our incredible law enforcement officers here at home who protect us and our communities every single day. It is because of the courage and resolve of our brave men and women in uniform and their families that we continue to enjoy the many freedoms envisioned by our forefathers.

U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack — I’m grateful for my family, our incredible constituents in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, and the first responders who are spending Thanksgiving away from their families to ensure we can all have a safe holiday.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor — I’m grateful for the doctors, nurses and health professionals who have worked so hard during the COVID-19 pandemic I am thankful for good health and my loving family, and grateful to the scientists who developed the COVID-19 vaccine and the community members who helped neighbors get vaccinated so we can be with loved ones this Thanksgiving and get back to normal. This Thanksgiving and every day, I am thankful for the continued generosity and resilience of our Tampa Bay community, which will grow stronger in the days ahead as we Build Back Better following President (Joe) Biden signing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into law.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist — This year, I’m thankful for the time we get to spend with friends and family thanks to modern science and the vaccine. As our families cherish this joyful season, it’s helpful to remember that just a year ago gathering safely wasn’t really possible. It’s both a miracle and a blessing for us all.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch — I’m so grateful to be able to represent you in Congress. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or Independent, you have supported my efforts to make our schools and communities safe from gun violence, help our families, front-line workers and local businesses get through the COVID-19 pandemic, consistently uphold America’s values and stand with our allies and friends like Israel when they’re under attack, and make historic and bipartisan investments in our infrastructure. Gratitude can bring us together; Thanksgiving gives us that opportunity. I hope we’ll take advantage. Thanks again, and happy Thanksgiving.

Sen. Kathleen Passidomo — I’m thankful for the love and support of my best friend and husband, John. I am blessed to have three healthy, happy daughters. And I am thankful for the lights of my life, my grandsons William and Emilio. I’m so grateful that my dad will be with us to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Most of all, I thank God every day for giving me another day to serve my community and this great state.

Sen. Ben Albritton — I’m most thankful for a God that loves me, a family that loves me, and that I live in the USA!

Sen. Loranne Ausley — I am grateful for the vaccine so I can have a real Thanksgiving with my whole family.

Sen. Lauren Book — Thankful for my children, the two biggest blessings in my life, and for the opportunity to serve the community and state I love.

Sen. Jeff Brandes — As I enter my final Session, I am incredibly thankful to family who have sacrificed so that I could serve for the last 12 years. I am thankful for the trust of my neighbors to advocate for our community. Finally, I am thankful for the lifelong friendships I have gained.

Sen. Jason Brodeur — My beautiful and brilliant wife, our incredibly supportive family and the honor of serving the hardworking people of the Free State of Florida.

Sen. Janet Cruz — I’m grateful for the unconditional love my family and I share, grateful for the brilliant scientists who dedicated their expertise toward developing a vaccine that saved, and continues to save, lives across the world. I’m grateful for this amazing America that helped business owners survive during the worst pandemic of my lifetime, grateful that doctors and nurses were heroic and went to work while risking their own lives to save others. I’m grateful to the people of Florida for entrusting me to safeguard the constitution! Happy Day, you turkeys!

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. — Wishing all Floridians a Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy time with friends and family. We have a lot to be thankful for!

Sen. Gary Farmer — My mom passed away a few months ago. It was the most devastating loss I have ever experienced, and my dad & I are still struggling mightily without her. But we are extremely thankful and grateful for all the love & support of so many family, friends & even acquaintances. And I am thankful that she instilled the values and drive in me that have enabled me to represent Broward County and the little guy & gal.

Sen. Ileana Garcia — Thankful for the clarity and strength the Lord has given me to carry out what I am doing, while I care for my family. We have a saying in Spanish that translates, the Lord may squeeze you, but he will never drown you in difficult times.

Sen. Audrey Gibson — I am grateful for family love and grateful to God for good health and the voice He gives me to speak to and on behalf of His people. I am so grateful for the honor to serve the constituents of Senate District 6 specifically, the city of Jacksonville & the state in general, and for a workplace that understands my commitment to serve.

Sen. Shevrin Jones — I am thankful for a loving family, friends, and constituents, who have supported me over the years. Even though Thanksgiving this year may look a lot different due to the loss of loved ones, I am grateful for the time I had with them and will appreciate and love those who are still here.

Sen. Tina Polsky — I am so grateful for modern medicine for detecting my cancer so early and treating it so quickly. I am grateful to my amazing family, friends and colleagues who have provided me so much support. I am grateful to my constituents for entrusting me to represent them. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

House Speaker-Delegate Paul Renner — I feel eternally blessed to celebrate this Thanksgiving — and every day — with my wonderful wife, Adriana, and our sweet daughter, Abigail. I’m also thankful to serve in a legislature that is solving real problems for those we represent in a state that is the envy of the nation. Whatever our present challenges, we also still live in a country with an abundance of faith, freedom and opportunity for which we all can — and should — be thankful.

Rep. Ramon Alexander — I am thankful for my family, faith, and the opportunity to serve as District 8 State Representative for the last five years. Each day it is a privilege to represent the community that I have known and loved my entire life. I will remain committed to devote my energy and efforts to meet the needs of District 8. On behalf of my wife Taniyah and our family, I would like to wish you and yours, a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Rep. Alex Andrade — I’m grateful for the patience and grace of those around me, especially my employers at my law firm who’ve let me serve as a Representative; and my wife, whose patience and grace this last year and a half cannot be overstated. I’m also grateful for my District & Legislative Aides, Trevor Schaettle and Katie Doughty, who have gone above and beyond during uncertain times to help me take care of our constituents in Pensacola.

Rep. Cord Byrd — I am always thankful of course for God’s abundance and my family. But this year I’m especially thankful for my friends Erin Grall, Jayer Williamson, Jamie Grant and Frank White (the original House Freedom Caucus) for keeping me somewhat sane in an insane process.

Rep. Dan Daley — I’m thankful for the constituents of District 97, the folks I work to serve every day. I’m thankful for those who take the time out of their day to discuss the needs of our community, whether they voted for me or not. We do have a lot of work to do, but at the end of the day, we are truly lucky to be in this country and democracy where we have the opportunity to work together for a better future. I’m also extremely thankful for all of the other public servants and first responders throughout the country who have stepped up to the challenge of getting us through the pandemic. Better days are ahead, thanks to all of you!

Rep. Nick DiCeglie — I’m grateful for my family, Italian food, trash and the hardworking Floridians who collect it, the Mets, and the most beautiful sunsets in Indian Rocks Beach.

Rep. Ben Diamond — I’m grateful for my family, and especially grateful that our children are happy and healthy. Our girls now are not only sleeping through the night but play together and entertain each other all day! I’m also grateful for the warmth and generosity of our neighbors and friends across Pinellas County. This is a special community, and Christina and I are thankful to be a part of it.

Rep. Anna Eskamani — Funny moments that make hard days more bearable, good company (in-person and virtual!), vaccines, and science! 💓

Rep. Randy Fine — I am grateful for my sons, Jacob and David, and for their willingness to accept the sacrifices associated with being the children of a politician unafraid to be in the arena. Beyond the sadness each feels every time I get in the car to leave for Tallahassee, both have seen spillover from my life in politics in their lives at school. Middle school is tough enough for any child, but it takes a special heart and soul to deal with kids teasing you because of a sign calling your father a nasty name intentionally placed right outside the car loop. Unfortunately, that is just one example. Wendy and I love them both more than words can ever express, and we are grateful every day to G-d for bestowing these gifts upon us. It is for them that I go into the arena.

Rep. Jason Fischer — This Thanksgiving, my family and I are truly thankful that we live in such a great country with such amazing people. Although these past two years have been difficult for every American, we still have our freedom and one another.

Rep. Michael Gottlieb — I love what I do for a living; I help those who are accused of wrongdoing. As an elected official, I get to help constituents. I have been given an opportunity to be exposed to a world I might not ever see and reach out to many people and places and help them as a State Representative. Mostly, I am thankful for my health and family. I am grateful to be able to have my parents and to see them enjoy my children as we all get to celebrate together. For that, I am Thankful.

Rep. Michael Grieco — I am thankful for a healthy, happy family, great friends and the ability to serve my community.

Rep. Diane Hart — I am grateful for life health and strength! I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to help so many people at Thanksgiving time and throughout the year, but especially at a time like this when people are really going through because of the food shortage due to the pandemic, unemployment compensation, housing issues, and so many other things our constituents are enduring every day!

Rep. Christine Hunschofsky — I’m grateful for my family and friends. They are always an incredible support system for me through both the good and bad times. I am grateful for my health and the health of my family and friends. Additionally, I am grateful for every person who has been kind or helpful to me, especially when they didn’t need to be. They remind me of all the good there is in this world, and they inspire me to do better every day.

Rep. Chip LaMarca — I am most thankful for my family, my wife Eileen who supports me unconditionally through our journey, and our new puppy Rocco, who loves to make us smile (and steal our shoes!) I am also thankful to live in a state that has created the best place in America raise a family, start and grow a business and welcome millions of visitors to share our natural beauty with. I am grateful to play a small part in that.

Rep. Andrew Learned — I got married the Saturday of Thanksgiving last year, so the thing I’m most thankful for this year is one year in marriage and the twins I got in the deal. I’m also thankful for this opportunity to serve. It’s been a roller coast of a year, but I have enjoyed every single second.

Rep. Tom Leek — Being the oldest of four boys, I’m thankful for a family who makes Thanksgiving meaningful and memorable. Every year the entire Leek clan gathers at Michelle and my house. We don’t just eat. We compete. And every holiday has a champion. The day is full of laughs and fun, and every Thanksgiving ends with the annual viewing of Christmas Vacation and tree decorating.

Rep. Fiona McFarland — I’m thankful for a meaningful job that I love, my two little boys and a phenomenal spouse … and for nap time!

Rep. Angie Nixon — I’m thankful for a husband that is supportive of a strong-willed, outspoken woman like myself. He doesn’t want me to shrink myself for him, but rather be my true authentic self.

Rep. Daniel Perez — I’m thankful for the love of my family and friends, the honor of serving my community, the opportunity to work alongside so many talented and passionate leaders in our state, and the divine gifts of freedom and liberty.

Rep. Rene Plasencia — I’m thankful that my girls (wife and two daughters) are healthy and happy.

Rep. Michele Rayner — I am most thankful for my wife. I know it’s cliche but it’s the truth. When I met my wife, I was leaving an abusive marriage and I was convinced that unconditional love was something for romance novels or at the very least it was not for people like me. Thank God I was wrong. This past year has been challenging in ways that I never knew it could be. From losing my father, to being elected and all the life change in between. Bianca has shown me what it means to be a partner, what it means to show up fully present and to love unconditionally-even when I am not at my best. While I’m always grateful for her love and partnership- this year it hits a little bit different.

Rep. Michelle Salzman — With physical distancing being the past year’s normal — this holiday season I’m most grateful that our community is able to gather and celebrate in person.

Rep. Allison Tant — I am thankful for my community, the health of my family, for my 25th wedding anniversary coming up, and for the happiness of my children and grandchildren.

Rep. Jackie Toledo — I’m so grateful this year for my health and freedom and, as always, for God’s faithfulness to me and my amazing children. Even as my eldest is preparing to be deployed, I’m thankful for his commitment to protecting and preserving liberty. So, as you might imagine, this Thanksgiving season is extra special and I’m so grateful to be with all five kids this year.

Rep. Marie Woodson — I have so much to be thankful for — beginning with my family and loved ones, especially my husband and my children who are so supportive of everything I do. Without them, I would not be where I am. I am also thankful to my constituents for entrusting me to serve and represent them. Furthermore, I am grateful for my village of friends and supporters and my District 101 staff, interns and volunteers for their unwavering support. As we continue to deal with the pandemic, I am grateful and thankful for the vaccinations and safe precautions which allowed us to be closer to family and friends during the holidays.

Rep. Clay Yarborough — Related to how blessed we and our country truly are, President Abraham Lincoln declared in his 1863 proclamation establishing the annual observance of Thanksgiving that “…No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.” I am most thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the salvation His finished work on the Cross provides for us. In addition, I am grateful for the blessings and mercy God continues to give our families and Florida. Happy Thanksgiving!

Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez — I am thankful that we have worked together as a community to overcome these difficult times. I am thankful for our family, our health, our freedoms and the great country we live in. Let us keep in our prayers those who have passed and continue to work toward making our communities and the state in the best possible place to live in. Finally, I thank God for blessing us with all that we have.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava — This holiday season, I’m endlessly grateful for every single person across Miami-Dade who did their part to stop the spread of COVID and protect their loved ones, their neighbors and themselves. This year we successfully halted the Delta variant in its tracks — with the lowest positivity since the pandemic began — and together, we achieved the highest vaccination rate in the state. Thanks to each and every resident who got the shot, every business who acted swiftly to protect their employees and customers, every first responder and front-line worker who risked their own safety for others, and every single person who made sacrifices big and small so that we could all be safer. I know that when Miami-Dade stands together, we can accomplish anything.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Karyn Cunningham — It’s hard to believe that just like that, another year has passed! This year has presented itself with many challenges. There have been successes and defeats. Each of these has presented us with opportunities to grow, learn new things and meet new people along the way. My family, neighbors and community at large have grounded me in good things and remind me of the things that are most important to me: faith, family and community. I’m honored to be serving and count our residents and our village among my many blessings.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny CurryMolly, Boyd, Brooke and Bridget. I love them deeply. Grateful to experience that depth of love. My close family and friends. Grateful they support & surround me unconditionally. God is good. Good stuff all around us.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings — I am thankful for the overwhelming amount of support that I received from our community during the breadth of our response to the pandemic.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer — (I’m) most thankful for everyone who was willing and got vaccinated.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber — I am thankful to my community, who followed the science, listened to their doctors, made difficult choices, and refused to politicize the pandemic, choosing instead to make the sacrifices that helped so many of their neighbors survive this ordeal. I am thankful for the doctors, nurses, first responders and essential workers who put themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us. I am thankful, and pray, that this is finally in our rearview mirror.

Cutler Bay Mayor Tim Meerbott — Through the years our community has experienced very challenging times. From Hurricane Andrew to COVID-19, there has always been one constant. That constant has been a community that cares for one another and looks after one another. I am thankful to be a part of this community. Cutler Bay is one of the most caring and loving communities I have ever experienced. I am honored and thankful to have the privilege of being the mayor of this community. May God bless Cutler Bay, and God bless America.

Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer — As always, it’s the people that make Boca Raton such a special and unique place. I’m so grateful for the hard work of our city employees, our nonprofit, service, and religious groups that do so much for our community, and especially for the dedicated and caring group of close to 100,000 neighbors in our community who keep our small-town feel amid the business strength, amenities, and attractiveness of a bigger city. We have safe neighborhoods, great schools, and so much more. Thanks to all for making this a special place to live, work, learn, and play.

Broward Mayor Michael Udine — I am thankful for my wife Stacey, our kids, my parents and our family and friends. We are blessed that all are in good health. I am also thankful to be a part of our South Florida community, and for the opportunity to serve all Broward County residents as Mayor. I look forward to propelling the county into a period of sustainable growth that will lead us into a bright future. Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season to all.

St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch — As we enter this holiday season, I’m thankful for the opportunity to spend time in person with those closest to us. Due to the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines, we can spend the holidays safely with our friends and families. The vaccine development was a monumental undertaking of medical science, logistics and collaboration. That same spirit of unified purpose toward common goals will help us to overcome the many challenges before us in our local community. I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead that effort as Mayor-elect of St. Petersburg. Be safe and well everyone.

Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano — Thanksgiving is about the brave people who first came to this land to live in freedom, searching for a place to worship as they chose. From those earliest settlers through the brave founders of our great nation who threw off the yoke of tyranny, these United States of America that we call home have become a beacon of hope for those who live under oppression in all its forms. As I think of Thanksgiving, I bow my head and pray to God Almighty with words of thanks. I thank Him for allowing me to have grown up living in what is no doubt the greatest nation on this planet. Countless men and women have given their lives, limbs, and fortunes to create and protect this country and all it stands for. I am thankful for all those who came before so that we can live in liberty now. I am thankful for all those who have the courage to stand up today, and will have the courage to do so tomorrow, to defend our nation and the American way of life. I am most thankful for God in Heaven, who has set us apart as a port in a world of stormy seas.

Broward County Commissioner Lamar Fisher — I am extremely thankful for my family, especially realizing how special family is during the Pandemic and how honored I am to serve as a Broward County Commissioner and be able to represent over 216,000 residents, providing them with a voice in County Government and never forgetting where I came from.

Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr — I’m very thankful my family made it through this last year healthy. I am thankful our community found ways to help each other get through the pandemic. But we all should give a huge thank you to those brave doctors and nurses who put themselves at risk. They have been absolute superheroes.

Miami-Dade Commissioner René García — After a year and a half of many personal and professional challenges, I, for one, am extremely grateful for my health and for that of my family. I am grateful to live in a nation where the First Amendment of the Constitution grants us freedom of religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition our own government. I am grateful for the men and women who have sacrificed it all to ensure that we can continue to live in a nation of individual liberties and freedoms are respected.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman — This year has presented the continued challenges and hardships related to COVID and the devastation of the Surfside Champlain Towers South collapse, with significant loss of life. Through these and other troubling situations in my community, I am thankful for the overwhelming human kindness that overshadows the sadness of these and other hardships we confront and truly shows the strength, resilience and compassion of those I represent.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins — I am grateful to the entire Miami-Dade community — from my Commission colleagues to county employees, from health care workers to public safety personnel, and of course our residents — for doing their part to get us through the pandemic. Together we reached the one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, helped small businesses survive now and well into the future, and provided $60 million in rental assistance faster than almost any county in the U.S. As we head into 2022, I look forward to working together to bring improved transportation, more affordable housing and create economic prosperity for our county. Most of all, I am grateful to be able to serve the people who chose to make their homes in beautiful Miami-Dade County.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay — This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family. The past year has been extremely difficult on so many different levels. Being blessed with a great family has always been something I’ve taken for granted. This past year it became crystal clear just how much a supportive family means in times of pain, sadness, frustration and fear. There is nothing more important in life.

Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore — I am thankful for life and good health. Most importantly, I am grateful for my family. Nothing matters more to me than them.

Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph — I’m thankful for science and the ability to finally get Hillary (his daughter) vaccinated against a global pandemic.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado — I’m grateful for the incredible work we’ve done this year to make Miami-Dade County a more inclusive place for neurodivergent teens/adults. Among our wins — making our library system an official Autism Friendly Partner, thanks to UM/NSU CARD. This effort included employee training, signage, and social stories for every library so that neurodivergent children/adults can enjoy public spaces. Other departments specifically, Emergency Services, Transit, Police, Fire, Corrections and Parks are working on similar designation that roll out next year. Another win has been adding neurodivergent teens to our internship programs and starting a much-needed conversation on need to train/employ adults with disabilities. We also launched the Beacon Council’s Opportunity Miami, which includes adults with disabilities as a part of the workforce. Alongside the Beacon and other partners, we are focusing on vocational training and jobs pipeline for neurodivergent teens/adults. As the mother of two neurodivergent teens, I am humbled by the unflagging support of so many who have made this work possible and excited to see what else we will accomplish next year.

Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell — On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my health and my family’s health. I am thankful that my U.S. Senate campaign has already taken me to 18 counties throughout the state, where I’ve learned about Floridians’ concerns over issues like water quality, living wages, immigration, gun reform, reproductive rights and more. I am thankful that in the coming months, I will get to continue my tour of all 67 counties in the state and tell residents about my vision of the future of Florida. As I have spoken to Floridians and learned more about the inequities in our state, I have concluded that none of the problems we face are without a solution — if we work together. I have learned that even though we live in pessimistic times, there are absolutely reasons to be optimistic and to have hope — and I am most thankful for that.

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan — Thankful my sister survived her bout with COVID, and that everyone in the family is healthy now!

Palm Beach County Commissioner Robert Weinroth — This Thanksgiving it will be an opportunity to renew our personal relationships. Last year, many of us held virtual gatherings. As the pandemic recedes into the background, I am thankful to our residents who have weathered the challenges we have faced and look forward to being able to resume our regular activities with our friends and family.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore — I am thankful for our front-line responders protecting us while we enjoy time with her families during this holiday season. It takes a special person to protect our Country and citizens, and we will never forget.

Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin — I’m thankful for so much — for my family and good health, for the voters for my recent election and the continuing opportunities to serve the public, and I’m thankful that the world is finally waking up to the urgencies of climate change!

Lisa Ard, Cornerstone Strategies — I’m grateful for so much. My husband has had a recurrent form of a rare cancer for the past six years. While there have been very hard days, there has also been grace and joy. Unless you’ve walked through the valley of the shadow of death yourself or with someone you love, it’s a hard thing to understand having joy and peace in the midst of the hard. But it’s there — sometimes it’s in a text from a friend; sometimes it’s in shared understanding with others — who are in the midst of their own hard story; sometimes it’s understanding Scripture in a different way than you ever have. And sometimes it’s in gallows humor — because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. So, while I wish Jeff’s cancer would never return, I’m grateful for the past six years and the gifts that cancer has given. Cancer gave us perspective and a passion to live like we are dying. Cancer brought loved ones closer. Cancer changed us so that we are more sensitive to the broken places in others. I asked Jeff one day “If you could go back and not have cancer, would you?” He said “I can’t answer that — because it’s so much a part of who I’ve become. Do I want to go through the pain — of course not. But do I want to lose the things that cancer has taught me — I don’t want that either.”

Joey Arellano — “I’m grateful to be alive. Without health insurance, I was confined to my bedroom this time last year to weather what I believe was a near-death experience due to COVID. To my family and friend for the unconditional love and support … thank you. I’m also thankful for the incredible opportunity to expand access to public art in the Tallahassee-Leon County community through KCCI. Lastly, I’m thankful for my colleagues who’ve helped my transition to the Florida Legislature be smooth especially when I started right before the 2021 Legislative Session (#WildRide). I look forward to what next year has in store.”

Greg Black, Waypoint Strategies — We are thankful for a healthy family that we can spend time with over the Thanksgiving holiday and getting to spend time with my mom and dad. It’s a blessing to be able to spend this time together and we so appreciate it given the uncertainty and health concerns our family experienced over the last 18 months. Thankful for good science and research that helped make all of this possible. Happy Thanksgiving to all of the #flapol family!

Bob Buckhorn, former Mayor of Tampa — Thankful that Michelle Todd Schorsch is on the mend, that my family is healthy, that my daughters are prospering and growing into strong, confident young women. Thankful that my wife still tolerates me and that my dog never leaves my side. Most of all, I am grateful that I live in the greatest country in the world and for all the opportunities it has given me.

Emily Buckley, Dean Mead — Today, I wanted to say that this momma is extremely thankful that baby sis’s surgery went well and, contrary to the results of previous tests, there will be no long-term impacts to her hearing! #thankful #gratitude2021

Dominic Calabro, Florida TaxWatch — I am grateful to my family and especially my wife, Debbie, of 42 1/2 years and our four adult children. For all of its imperfections, I am blessed and honored to live in this great country and this incredible Sunshine State that has so generously adopted me. I am incredibly thankful to the great Florida Families that founded Florida TaxWatch and our past and current volunteer leaders and extraordinarily insightful and dedicated research team and staff. And I am also very appreciative of our elected Executive and Legislative leaders (of both parties) who have been, and remain, extremely responsive to the important work and policy recommendations of Florida TaxWatch’s non-partisan work to protect and help advance the health and prosperity of all the taxpayers of our great state. It is hard to ask for more, but knowing Florida TaxWatch like you and I do…we will continue to expect even greater things to come and important milestones to achieve.

Eric Carr, Florida Commission on Offender Review — I’m sincerely grateful and blessed for the opportunities that have presented themselves to me in 2021. First, continuing my education in the FSU Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy program has been an enlightening experience. Second, being able to transition back into legislative affairs and policy has been advantageous for my career. Finally, for lobbyists Christian Minor and Chelsea Murphy, who not only welcomed but mentored me into criminal justice policy and to Nick Iarossi for offering stellar advice.

Kelly Cohen — I am grateful to be vaccinated, for my business partners who worked tirelessly to come out of pandemic stronger than ever, for my rescue pup, kitty and hubby who made me smile during some dark days and to be able to hear live music and celebrate the arts again.

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig — As I approach my 50th year, the overwhelming sentiment washing over me daily is gratitude … Gratitude for the love of an amazing woman, for the unwavering support of family and friends, for the trust of my clients, and for all of the adventures still looming on the horizon in the weeks and months ahead. There’s a reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (aside from all of the delicious food and wine). It is a great time to pause and reflect upon all of our blessings and to verbalize our thankfulness for each of them. Warmest best wishes to everyone for a peaceful and restful holiday.

Keyna Cory, Public Affairs ConsultantsI am thankful that we made it through another crazy year. So thankful for family, Jack, my Dad who finally decided to retire (he is 87 years old and a plastering contractor), my little brother Chris (OK one day I am going to stop calling my 6’7” brother little) and my work family, Erin Ballas, best business partner and friend one can have, the Senior intern Dayton and Junior Intern Jett (Facebook friends know all about the interns) and James Ballas. And thankful for friends Jeff and Cyndie Kottkamp and our Godson Jackson Kottkamp. Let’s not forget the big goofy dog, Rusty! Love my family, friends, job, clients and living the best life ever! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah Couture, Fines and Fees Justice Center — I am grateful for the relationships I have made this year with those who also work around the process. What we do can be challenging, maddening, and disheartening at times, so I am grateful to those who “get it” that I can call on them for a pep talk, to bounce ideas off, or for support. I have also found they are there not just with work matters but reach out during personal times of need too.

Mark Delegal, Delegal Aubuchon — I am grateful to have two great colleagues to work with — Josh Aubuchon and Scott Jenkins; grateful for awesome, loyal clients that do good things for Florida; grateful to live and work in the greatest state in the greatest country; grateful to be loved my Ginger (wife), Mary Katherine, Liz and Caroline (daughters).

Rory Diamond, K9s for Warriors — Grateful for all the American warriors who, over the last 225 years, fought to keep our nation free. (And dogs.)

Ida Eskamani — I am so grateful for chosen family, and that Florida’s corporate income tax rate will be restored back to its appropriate rate of 5.5% at the start of the new year. I hope corporations finally start paying their fair share in 2022.

Ivette Faulkner, Florida Chamber of Commerce — I am incredibly grateful for my family, my children, my health and the ability to work in a field that is mission-based and making Florida a better place.

Jay Galbraith, Valencia College — Thankful that Peter’s (wife) Michelle has made it through her significant medical trials … And for me — thankful to have an amazing wife and four great kids!

Bill Ganz, Mayor of Deerfield Beach — I am thankful for our frontline workers, police, fire, medical workers, teachers and city employees who have done an amazing job in extraordinary times.

Max Goodman, The Goodman Agency — I’m thankful for everybody I get to work with and learn from in the Process — both friend and foe. I’m also thankful for political reporters across the state who take a torrent of abuse but remain resilient in such uncertain times.

Samantha Sexton Greer, University of Florida —  In a year of great loss and great gains, I’m incredibly grateful for my talented team that understands balance and family-first.

Abel Harding, IBERIABANK — I’m grateful for health, and for the love of friends and family. I’ve taken both of those for granted far too often in my life and that is something I’m focused on changing as we finish out the year.

Joe Anne Hart, Florida Dental Association — I want to give thanks for my family, friends and colleagues in this process. Over the past year, I’ve witnessed the best of people who have come together to encourage and support each other through moments of great sorrow, as well as moments of great joy. I think we’ve all had a chance to reflect on what matters most to us and set aside those things that have just gotten in the way. I don’t take any day for granted because the next day is not promised to us. Tell those you love that you love them, no matter who they are. I decided a long time ago — way before this pandemic — that I will tell those close to me that “I love you” so I won’t regret it later.

Buz Heuchan — As in years past, I am grateful for my Lord providing the means to keep me on track, my wife and family for the same reason, and watchdogs of Florida politics for keeping (or trying to keep) our government on track.

Carolyn Johnson, Florida Chamber of Commerce — I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Florida’s legislature and the Florida Chamber towards securing Florida’s future by ensuring the right policy passes and becomes law.

David Johnson — I’m thankful for the love of my Christina every day, and thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with family we have not seen in 23 months. We should all raise a glass filled with gratitude to the very smart people who dreamed, developed and distributed vaccines and treatments that allow us to be with families this holiday. And yes, I am thankful for the World Series Champion Atlanta Braves.

Natalie Kato — 18 months into starting my own firm, I continue to be grateful for and humbled by the clients who put their faith in me.

Paul Ledford, Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Association — I am grateful to and for: God for His abundant grace and many mercies in my life, and the lives of my family. A beautiful, wise, kind, and godly wife, and two great (adult) children. A profession and advocacy role that is challenging and rewarding, and for how God equipped me for it by establishing a career path and opening/closing doors. Living in a country whose Founding Fathers, 230 years ago, had the presence of mind to write the Bill of Rights, because we would likely be in bondage to government today if they had not. The excellent team of dedicated professionals working at Florida Hospices & Palliative Care Association. A Board of Directors and committees made up of the most patient-experience minded of people I have ever encountered. Representing a remarkable sector of health care. The people who work in hospice are absolutely lovely and a delight to work with, because it takes a big heart to serve the dying and the people journeying alongside a dying loved one. The fine people who choose a career in the front lines and at the bedside in hospice and palliative care.

Jack Levine, 4Generations Institute — Each of us has much to be thankful for — our lives, families, friendships, and work that fulfills us. While there is no perfection in life, let’s admit that the glass is more than half full for most of us most of the time. Thanking those who we love, admire, depend upon, and have work relationships with is important, but not expressed as often as we could.

Adrian Lukis, Ballard Partners — I’m incredibly thankful for my family — there’s nothing more important. But I am also thankful for my friends. I’m lucky to have some damn good ones.

John Lux, Film Florida — I’m grateful for the vaccines that have allowed us to get back to a semi-normal life. Film Florida had the opportunity to be in Tallahassee recently and I’m grateful that we were able to be together and spend time with legislators again. It was the first in-person Film Florida event since February 2020, and it was good to be back.

Dr. Robert McClure, The James Madison Institute — “I am thankful for my wife of 28 years, Julie, and our two daughters, along with our soon to be son-in-law, and his family. This year, I am especially thankful for the holiday season. Given what we’ve all been through the past year, I am really trying to slow down and enjoy each moment with my family and friends. I am also grateful I get to live and work with my great team at JMI in a free state like Florida.” Dr. Robert McClure, President & CEO, The James Madison Institute

Rebecca Matthews, Automated Health Systems — Peter’s politically whimsical breaking texts. We all need a little humor in our day.

Andrea Messina, Florida School Boards Association — I am grateful for breaking news texts and for giving “credit where credit is due“ within them. You keep me from being surprised by keeping me informed.

James Miller, Florida League of Cities — I’m thankful for my incredible wife who has been a true superhero for our family during my health issues this year, as well as my two sons, who continue to give me the motivation to keep fighting in my cancer battle. I’m also thankful for my friends for the constant supportive texts, phone calls and visits that lift my spirits when I really needed them. I’m also incredibly thankful for my wonderful Florida League of Cities work family, who continually went above and beyond and gave me the help, resources, and, most importantly, the time I needed to focus on getting healthier.

Erin Mitchell — In a world so often full of pain, injustice, and tragedy, I’m grateful for laughter and for light, for the moments of connection people make that nourish and sustain us.

Karen Moore, Moore — I am thankful that we could celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday this year by holding nine different birthday parties for her!

Happy 90th, mom!

Jared Moskowitz — I am thankful that I will be able to spend probably the last Thanksgiving with my Dad. In retrospect, I took too many of those for granted.

Jay O’Brien, CBS 12 — I’m thankful for my family and that this year — unlike so many others in the news business -I’m able to spend Thanksgiving with them. I’m also grateful for my tremendous colleagues in local Florida journalism, who power through low pay and long hours to give people the information they deserve.

Anthony Pedicini — I am grateful to have had a mother who showed me unconditional love and understanding for the last 42 years and continue to be grateful for a family that she built.

Cameron Pennant — Hope all is well with you and your office. I have been a longtime fan of your work and first-time “caller” so I would like to first express my gratitude to you and the work you seek to provide to the citizens of Florida. Introductions aside, I believe there is a group that works in the “process” that often doesn’t get enough of the thanks and appreciation they deserve, the Capitol staff. The everlasting shorthand for calling what we all do “The Process” simply wouldn’t exist without them and even though it’s easy to say “thank you” there simply is not enough gratefulness or appreciation for the Capitol staff that keeps our state running on Florida time. As a former staff member in the Florida Legislature, I know firsthand that there are countless staff members throughout the many halls and rotundas at the Capitol that go either unnoticed or underappreciated. They deserve our consideration beyond just good southern manners. I humbly request to you, please raise the awareness of the quiet and diligent work that staff throughout the Capitol accomplish. Lastly, to be clear and nostalgic, the House side is the best side.

Jacob Perry — This year, more than ever, I am grateful for the unconditional love and support from my family and a small circle of friends.

Bob Porter, St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce — I’m grateful to my granddaughter Celeste who recently turned 6 months old and has changed the trajectory of my life! The night before she was born, we had a long conversation and I told her I wanted to be around for a long time to see her grow up. To wit, I stopped drinking that night, have lost 65 pounds so far, and will be smoke-free by the end of the year. Amazing what that little bundle of joy can make this jaded lobbyist the most thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Ryan Powers, National Republican Senatorial Committee — Incredibly thankful for the healthy birth and growth of our son who was born in the middle of the pandemic: Brickman Spencer Powers. Happy healthy 9-month-old Floridian (at heart).

Brickman Spencer Powers: No better reason to be grateful.

Debbie Ressler, Citrus County Hospital Board — Grateful this year can simply be stated … Am grateful to live in a nation where my faith, family, and friends can be enjoyed without retribution.

Ashley Ross — I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving break and takes time to remember what matters the most. I am thankful for a happy and healthy family and for clients that feel more like friends. Now put on your stretchy pants and eat another slice of pie!

Evan Ross, Public Communicators Group — I’m grateful for those who dedicate themselves to bettering the world for others no matter how difficult — doctors, nurses, first responders, journalists and leaders who uphold the values that make our communities, country and world safer, better, and more prosperous.

Elnatan Rudolph — I am thankful for my wife, who puts up with me and keeps the fort down while I traverse the world working with the greatest partners and clients every day.

Ron Sachs, Sachs Media Group — In what surely has been the hardest era in the lives of all of us, there is still a powerful reservoir of gratitude we all have for family, friends and faith. Those triumphant triple assets power us through anything. Life is a gift — and its adversities are there to help us channel our best against the obstacles that are a part of the path we all traverse. We can endure and prevail through it all.

Robin Safley, Feeding Florida — To work in a field where you can actually help people in need — veterans, seniors, families facing hard times — is why I remain especially thankful. Our feeding Florida food banks help families every day of the year in every county in our state, and honestly, I can’t think of a more noble cause than helping average everyday Floridians in their times of need or a better group of people to call my heroes.

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson — This year, I am grateful for my family, my friends, my colleagues and clients at GrayRobinson, and, most of all, my beautiful and amazing fiancee Nancy Gonzalez and our two cats — Dash and Athena. Lastly, I am grateful for contractors who show up on time and have helped us transform our Miami home into the family’s headquarters for the holidays.

Mac Stipanovich — I am, of course, thankful for the good health and material well-being of my children and their children. As for me, after the life I have lived — I will be 73 the day after Thanksgiving — I am thankful that God is often merciful rather than always just.

Melissa Stone — Joe Biden! Thank goodness we have a President so tone-deaf on what middle America cares about. It’s helping us boost Republican voter registration and win again in 2022.

Eddie Thompson — 2021 has been so memorable for me; I started a new job with an amazing team, I moved back to my hometown, and now my children will be around family; I saw Florida politicos lay down their differences and rallied around Michelle’s healing, my wife and I caught COVID and quickly recovered but the most moments I’m grateful is … daily spending time with my children and watching their love of life! I’ve been told that one day, they will just stop wanting to cuddle, so I’m grateful that in 2021 … Noah, Miles, Amelia, and Elliot still want to cuddle.

Mike Vasilinda, WCTV — I am grateful for Michelle, the love of my life, a career that has never been work, and my new twin grandchildren and their older brother.

Frank Walker, Florida Chamber of Commerce — I’m extremely thankful for my family, my friendships and the relationships I’ve built across Florida and the nation while working to ensure Florida remains competitive and the best state to live and work.

Jason Welty — I am grateful for all the long-term staff that provide continuity to The Process. Tim, Eric, Marti, Adam, Greg, Gino, Abram, Sean, ERP, and Laurie. Without these people, The Process would break down within weeks, and no one would know what to do or when to do it.

Larry Williams — After deciding to pull the trigger on my retirement from lobbying a couple of months ago, I look back and am grateful for the friends I have, and have made, who contributed to my professional journey in The Process since 2008. If I named one person in particular, I would have to name so many others, and the space here is too limited so to all of you who have been there for me, I will simply say I am grateful for your friendship and counsel over the years and wish you and your families health and happiness this Thanksgiving holiday.

Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber of Commerce — I’m thankful for my family, friends and all of the Florida Chamber members, partners and champions of free enterprise that are helping us keep Florida as the best place to live, work, start a business, learn, raise a family and retire.

Christian Ziegler — This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my rock star wife Bridget, my three girls — Reagan (8), Sloane (5) and Fallon (2) all of whom are incredible children (kind, caring, smart, compassionate, driven, and strong), and the fact that I live in the most free state in America under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

— DAYS UNTIL —

‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 1; FSU vs. UF — 4; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 8; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 14; ‘Sex and the City’ revival premieres — 16; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 17; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 17; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 31; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 36; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 42; final season of ‘This Is Us’ begins — 42; CES 2022 begins — 43; NFL season ends — 47; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 49; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 49; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 49; Florida Chamber’s 2022 Legislative Fly-In and Reception — 49; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 50; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 52; NFL playoffs begin — 53; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 73; Super Bowl LVI — 82; Daytona 500 — 89; CPAC begins — 93; St. Pete Grand Prix — 94; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 100; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 169; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 188; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 192; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 228; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 239; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 318; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 353; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 356; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 388; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 451; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 612. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 696; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 976.

— TOP STORY —

‘Courageous’ quest brings closure to Groveland Four case” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Fifth Circuit Judge Heidi Davis agreed with State Attorney Bill Gladson‘s motion Monday and posthumously exonerated the “Groveland Four” of false charges and convictions that the four young Black men had raped a White woman in rural Lake County in 1949. Davis dismissed indictments against Ernest Thomas and Samuel Shepherd, who were killed before they could go to trial, and dismissed indictments and vacated convictions against Charles Greenlee and Walter Irvin. “Today, this is a day that God has made in more ways than one,” said Greenlee’s daughter, Carol Greenlee. Besides the families, Gladson and investigators, investigative authors, lawmakers, and others drew praise for their courage Monday, including Reps. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando and Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale.

The Groveland Four finally their names cleared. Image via Florida Memory.

— STATEWIDE —

Breaking overnight — “All bets are off. Federal judge throws out Seminole Tribe’s sports betting compact” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — In a stunning rejection of Florida’s attempt to give the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on sports betting, a U.S. District Court judge in the District of Columbia ruled late Monday that the compact violates federal Indian gaming law and invalidated the entire agreement, halting all sports betting and gaming expansion in Florida indefinitely. The ruling by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich puts a halt on the sports betting quietly launched by the Seminole Tribe on Nov. 1, but it also stops the other provisions of the gaming compact signed between DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe, and approved by the Florida Legislature. The decision is a victory for the owners of Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room and a group of plaintiffs that includes No Casinos and Miami businessmen Armando Codina and Norman Braman.

Ron DeSantis calls on Legislature to lower gas tax, citing inflation” via Lawrence Mower and Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis is calling on the Legislature to spend more than $1 billion to lower the state’s gas tax. At a news conference at a Buc-ee’s gas station in Daytona Beach, the Governor said it was incumbent on Florida to fight rising prices — which the Governor blamed on the policies of Biden. DeSantis said that the Legislature can do its part by cutting the state gas tax by 25 cents per gallon. “We want to protect Floridians as much as we can against the inflation that we’re seeing,” the Governor said.

DeSantis vows to fully fund transit programs despite $1B gas tax relief” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Despite his proposal Monday to reduce gas taxes in Florida by $1 billion, DeSantis says the Transportation Department’s work won’t slow down. “We will fully fund the Work Program, 100%,” DeSantis told reporters and visitors at a Daytona Buc-ee’s. “In fact, we probably may even end up having more going in the Work Program. I mean, we have the resources to be able to meet needs and to be able to do (it).” The Fuel Sales Tax is just one of several sources paying into the State Transportation Trust Fund, which, along with federal and local funding, pays for the Florida Department of Transportation’s transportation programs. The state Legislature this year put $9.2 billion in trust fund dollars toward the Transportation Work Program.

Ron DeSantis makes a series of commitments to lower gas taxes, fund transit programs.

Former NYPD officers heralded by Gov. DeSantis include fired security guard, defendant in police brutality suit” via Fresh Take Florida — New details are emerging about the newest dozen police officers lauded by DeSantis for moving to central Florida from New York City to escape what the Governor described as low morale and a lack of support from Democratic politicians there. The new hires include one previously fired as a Walmart security guard, one with only three years of experience, which demanded more than double his salary and others with mysterious gaps in their resumes. One newly hired officer in Lakeland was among eight NYPD plainclothes officers accused in a federal lawsuit of handcuffing and brutally beating a man in January 2015. The city paid $178,000 to settle the case.

Jimmy Patronis launches ‘Holiday Money Hunt’ — Floridians have clawed back more than $1.4 billion in unclaimed property since Patronis took office in 2017, but the CFO wants to help them recoup a little more ahead of the Christmas shopping season. On Monday, his office announced a new push to raise awareness of the state’s unclaimed property portal, which still has $2.5 billion ready to return to its rightful owners. “During the holidays, everyone can use a little extra cash, and an unexpected check from the State of Florida may help make things a little brighter this year,” he said, adding that one in five state residents has unclaimed property waiting to be claimed. Floridians can scour the database at FLTreasureHunt.gov.

Joe Gruters, Jayer Williamson seek constitutional amendment allowing recalls for county officers” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Most elected county officials in Florida face no risk of recall. But that could change with legislation just filed. Sen. Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, filed a bill (SJR 1004) to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot expanding Florida’s recall law. Rep. Williamson, a Pace Republican, filed an identical bill (HJR 663) in the House. Right now, only municipal and charter county officers can face a voter recall. But the amendment would significantly increase the number of officials at risk. “The legislature may provide by general law for the recall of county officers and commissioners,” the text of the bill as proposed reads.

Jennifer Bradley bill would revise ‘net metering’ rule — Sen. Bradley filed a bill on Monday that would have the Public Service Commission revise the state rule requiring utility companies to pay for extra energy that customers pump into the grid via rooftop solar panels. Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reported that SB 1024 would lower how much utility companies pay for surplus rooftop energy. It would allow utilities to charge grid access fees and set minimum bill amounts for customers with solar panels. According to Florida Power & Light, which supports the bill, the current rule costs ratepayers without solar panels about $30 million a year.

Jennifer Bradley floats a bill to energize the utility industry. Image via Colin Hackley.

Happening today — The Manatee County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Jim Boyd; Reps. Michele Rayner, Will Robinson and Tommy Gregory, 9 a.m., Manatee County Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton.

Court recommends $15K fine for Daphne Campbell — An administrative court recommends former Sen. Campbell should be fined $15,000 for submitting incorrect financial disclosures. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the recommendation detail that the former lawmaker did not disclose several liabilities, assets and liens on her home. Her 2017 disclosure form also listed a $470,000 Miami home as an asset even though it had been placed in her son’s name. She told the court that she thought the house was still in her name, but Administrative Law Judge Brittany Finkbeiner was unconvinced.

Former DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein named to Biscayne Bay Commission” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Governor’s Office on Monday announced former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Valenstein would be DeSantis’ appointee to the Commission. DeSantis, in June, signed the Biscayne Bay Commission into law, helping to protect the prominent natural resource along South Florida’s coast. The bill (HB 1177) gives the Governor one appointee to the nine-member panel. Valenstein left the administration in June after four years leading DEP, beginning his stint there under then-Gov. Rick Scott. He also doubled as the state’s Chief Resilience Officer during his final year as Secretary. Since then, Valenstein has joined the American Flood Coalition as a senior adviser and The Nature Conservancy as a board member. DeSantis also appointed him to the Florida Communities Trust Governing Board in August.

— THANKSGIVING READS —

At the first national Thanksgiving, the Civil War raged” via Ted Widmer of The Washington Post — As the Civil War raged in 1863, President Lincoln and his secretary of state, William H. Seward, issued a proclamation on Oct. 3 calling for a national holiday to be observed on “the last Thursday of November.” That proclamation might do good service again in a nation that could use words of healing. The Civil War is never that distant; in troubling ways, it has resurfaced in recent months as an implied threat of a conflict that may reignite someday. Even in the worst months of the fighting, with violence all around them, they saw a better day coming, when Americans would return to the same table, in the “full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed two special days: The last Thursday of April 1863 as a National Day of Prayer and Fasting, and the last Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving to God.

The invention of Thanksgiving” via Philip Deloria of The New Yorker — Americans have been celebrating Thanksgiving for nearly four centuries, commemorating that solemn dinner in November 1621. We know the story well, or think we do. Adorned in funny hats, large belt buckles, and clunky black shoes, the Pilgrims of Plymouth gave thanks to God for his blessings. The local Indians, supporting characters who generously pulled the Pilgrims through the first winter and taught them how to plant corn. Almost none of this is true. In Pilgrim’s terms, the first Thanksgiving was not a “thanksgiving” but a “rejoicing.” An actual giving of thanks required fasting and quiet contemplation; rejoicing featured feasting, drinking, militia drills, target practice, and contests of strength and speed. It was a party, not a prayer, and was full of people shooting at things.

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.”

Saying grace: How a moment of thanks, religious or not, adds meaning to our meals” via Emily Heil of The Washington Post — This Thanksgiving, it’s likely to be heard at tables around the country. The very purpose of the holiday, after all, is to express gratitude. Many families who don’t typically pray before meals will do so, and those that do might expand the ritual. The act of saying grace seems to be as varied as recipes for stuffing. The words people utter may be secular or religious, perhaps blended from various traditions. They could be familiar phrases repeated over and over, or invented on the spot. People create games to get their children involved. They say grace over fast-food burritos and elaborate holiday meals. Saying grace, though, “is medicine to the ingratitude that we can develop.”

Thanksgiving tips to keep everyone happy and sane at your holiday gathering” via Becky Krystal of The Washington Post — Make as much as you can in advance. Don’t give up if you wait until the last minute. Ask for help. Clear your fridge. Set out some snacks before the meal. Learn how to make the best use of your oven. Not everything has to be hot or even warm. Have containers to send leftovers home with your guests.

Five myths about turkey” via Tamar Haspel of The Washington Post — 1. Ben Franklin almost made the turkey the national bird. In a 1784 satirical letter to his daughter, he maligned the eagle’s “bad moral character.” The turkey is a “more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America,” Franklin wrote. 2. Stuffing turkey is a recipe for food poisoning. Yes, it’s important to take precautions when cooking poultry, but you can safely stuff a turkey — generations of Americans wouldn’t have risked death for the sake of a more flavorful side dish. 3. Basting is better. Not so fast, says Meathead Goldwyn, the force behind AmazingRibs.com and the author of “Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.” The problem is that basting prolongs cooking times. “Think of it like sweat after a long workout,” Goldwyn told me via email, “it cools you off.” And basting may moisten the bird, “but not a lot,” says Goldwyn. 4. Thanksgiving turkey makes you sleepy. Tryptophan doesn’t necessarily induce sleep, and it’s doubtful that turkey’s the culprit for your post-Thanksgiving-dinner nap. 5. Turkey was Thanksgiving’s first entree. Kathleen Wall, a culinarian at Plimouth Plantation, a history museum that re-creates the original Plymouth colony, told Smithsonian, “Wildfowl was there … venison was there,” water birds like goose or duck were likely candidates, and passenger pigeons were a plentiful game at the time. But turkey probably wasn’t the featured dish.

The rise and fall of turkey brining” via Kim Severson of The New York Times — Like the length of a trouser leg, turkey fashion shifts. Interviews with the big players in food media over the past few weeks suggest that the wet, salty turkey has lost its appeal among many of the people who once did the most to promote it. “I’m so over it,” said Alex Guarnaschelli, the New York chef and television personality. Never mind that her turkey-brining recipe — thick with honey, molasses and soy — is still prominently displayed on the Food Network website. “I’m not afraid to admit evolution has occurred with my cooking, and I’ll go on record as someone who has a great brine recipe,” she said. “But right now, I am in a no-brining phase.” Why the change of heart on brining? “It’s enormous. It’s wonky. It’s ambitious,” she said. “And I don’t always love the texture.”

— THANKSGIVING IN FLORIDA —

Do you need an umbrella? Here’s the weather forecast for Thanksgiving and Black Friday” via Rebecca San Juan of the Miami Herald — Only sunshine and partly cloudy skies will color Miami-Dade County on Thanksgiving; Broward, on the other hand, may see some thunderstorms at night. In Key West? Keep an umbrella on hand since rain is expected throughout the day. Expect wet Black Fridays in Bradenton, Miami-Dade and Broward with a 20% chance of thunderstorms. Bradenton will be in the clear for the remainder of the weekend, with temperatures ranging from the high 50s to the mid-70s. Rain dampens South Florida again on Saturday, but Miami-Dade will stay dry on Sunday. Heading to a theme park on Friday and Saturday in Orlando? You’ll be in the clear. Stay in on Sunday since the forecast calls for a 20% chance of showers.

Assignment editors — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Florida Democratic Party, Cuban American Democrats, and Miami-Dade Democratic Party will host a Thanksgiving Food Drive, noon, Tropical Park in the parking lot between COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites, 7900 SW 40 Street, Miami. For more information, contact Abel Iraola at (305) 331-9712.

For Thanksgiving, add old Florida fare to your table of gratitude. Some historians note the 1565 meal at St. Augustine.” via Joy Wallace Dickinson of the Orlando Sentinel — Floridians have spread the word about our “real” first Thanksgiving with recipes for dishes such as garbanzo-bean soup made with chorizo, potatoes and saffron. That’s the sort of fare Spanish soldiers and Florida Indians probably shared back in 1565. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ “Cross Creek Cookery” (1942) is always a great place to turn for further inspiration for old Florida fare. Earlier this fall, Geoff Gates and Donna Wright of the Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek visited the Orlando Public Library’s Cuisine Corner to demonstrate Rawlings recipes, including chicken pilau (pronounced “pur-loo”). “Feeding the masses with almost nothing — that’s the genius of pilau,” Gates noted. “No Florida church supper, no large gathering, is without it,” Rawlings wrote in 1942.

Celebration of the first St. Augustine Mass in the New World, which many consider the first Thanksgiving.

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. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, a wild turkey can run up to 25 miles per hour and briefly achieve a flying speed of 55 miles per hour.

Wild Florida turkeys face headwinds from habitat loss, disease and hunts” via Jim Waymer of FLORIDA TODAY — As we celebrate Thanksgiving, state biologists warn that Florida wild turkeys face a litany of threats and uncertainties in coming decades, some preventable, others not. What’s certain, biologists predict, is that if Florida’s development patterns persist, the iconic bird, once praised by Benjamin Franklin as a more “respectable” bird than the bald eagle, stands to lose more than 2 million acres of habitat by 2060. “Despite factors such as urbanization and habitat fragmentation, wild turkeys are still well distributed across the state,” Tammy Sapp, a spokeswoman with the FWC, said. “Similar downward trends in harvest and annual productivity have been observed recently by many southeastern states. It is unclear what led to this drop.”

Wild Florida turkeys are facing dwindling numbers due to habitat loss, hunting and disease.

If you want to be historically accurate this holiday, serve alligator” via the Jacksonville Historical Society — Fifty-six years before the Pilgrims celebrated their feast, Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived on the coast of Florida. He came ashore September 8, 1565, naming the land on which he stepped “St. Augustine” in honor of the saint on whose feast day, Aug. 28, the land was sighted. Members of the Timucua tribe, which had occupied the site for more than 4,000 years, greeted Menéndez and his group of some 800 Catholic colonists peacefully. Colonial records indicate that on the date they came ashore, and in gratitude for their safe arrival, the Spanish celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, the very first Catholic mass on American soil. According to the memoirs of Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, who celebrated the mass, once “the feast day [was] observed … after mass, ‘the Adelantado [Menendez] had the Indians fed and dined himself.”

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 to 1400 A.D. were managing and raising turkeys. This is the first time scientists have suggested that early Native Americans potentially domesticated turkeys 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. 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.

For Tallahassee couple, every day is turkey day at Paradise Found Farms” via Marina Brown of the Tallahassee Democrat — But this is farm life after all, and in many ways an unexpected one for Chris and Kelly Cogswell. “I grew up in St. Augustine and am a financial analyst,” says Chris. “My husband was an Army brat, but he did have some experience with gardening and a few chickens.” Yet it was only after a stint in the hospital when a doctor advised that Chris eat better, wholesome, healthy foods, that the pair decided just to try growing their own. “The chickens were laying lots and lots of eggs!” laughs Chris. “That’s when we decided to make it a business. After that, our customers began asking if we would also sell prepared chicken.”

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida COVID-19 update: 66 deaths, more than half in the past two weeks. 1,656 cases added” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Florida on Monday reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1,656 COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths, according to Miami Herald calculations of CDC data. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,681,204 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 61,147 deaths. Of the deaths added Monday, about 88% occurred over the past 28 days and about 65% in the last two weeks. In the past seven days, the state has added 43 deaths and 1,389 cases per day, on average. COVID-19 patients take up 2.36% of all inpatient beds in the state compared to 2.40% the previous day. Of the people hospitalized in Florida, 243 were in intensive care unit beds, a decrease of 25. That represents about 4.33% of the state’s ICU hospital beds.

Slam dunked in the trash: DeSantis predicts demise for Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis told reporters in Jacksonville on Monday that he doesn’t believe the order, which mandates the vaccine or weekly testing requirements for workers in businesses with 100 or more employees, will ever see the light of day. “I don’t think it’s ever going to apply,” DeSantis said. “I think the 6th Circuit is going to slam dunk this thing into the trash bin, and it’s going to be done, so it’s never going to go into effect.” The ruling may go back and forth while it works its way through the “legal pingpong” of the courts, he continued. “But at the end of the day, it’s not going to survive scrutiny before the full 11th Circuit or in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Ron DeSantis gives a smackdown to Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate plans. . Image via AP.

Federal court shuts down Florida’s challenge to vaccine mandate — A federal judge rejected Attorney General Moody’s request to block the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers from going into effect, Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reports. Moody had used an estimated health care worker shortage to justify the request, but Judge Casey Rodgers said that was insufficient. “Such opinions, absent supporting factual evidence, remain speculative and may be disregarded as conclusory,” Rodgers wrote. After the ruling was handed down, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said, “Moody will continue to fight back on President Biden’s unlawful vaccine mandates. We strongly disagree with this order and will pursue further action in court to protect the livelihoods and rights of all Floridians.”

State health department sets workplace COVID-19 vaccine rules. There’s a lot of leeway” via Kirby Wilson of the Miami Herald — On Thursday, Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo signed an emergency rule outlining several exemptions an employee can claim to avoid a workplace vaccine mandate. Earlier that day, DeSantis had signed a law restricting a company’s ability to mandate vaccines unless they offered certain carve-outs. Experts say the rules handed down by the state health department come with loopholes that are easily exploited by workers who do not wish to get vaccinated. “For folks that really don’t want to get vaccinated, these exemptions provide countless ways to do that,” said Marissa Baker, an assistant professor of occupational health at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health.

Jacksonville hospital’s staff vaccine suspensions on hold pending ‘clarity’ on legality” via Beth Reese Cravey of The Florida Times-Union — Ascension St. Vincent’s has rescinded the suspensions of staff, including those at its three Jacksonville-area hospitals who were sent home because of failure to comply with the hospital’s Nov. 12 vaccine mandate. The move stemmed from conflicting state and federal rules about employee vaccine mandates, according to a Nov. 19 internal memo obtained by Action News Jax. The contents of the memo were confirmed by Ascension spokesman Kyle Sieg. “In order to be compliant with state and federal laws, Ascension Florida will be rescinding the suspensions of associates who were suspended pending their compliance with the … vaccine policy,” according to Friday’s memo from Tom Van Osdol, president and CEO of Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast.

University of Florida scientists make promising discovery on COVID-19 treatment” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A combination of over-the-counter products can thwart the duplication of SARS-CoV-2, researchers at the UF and the University of Saskatchewan have discovered. Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine used for allergy symptoms, and lactoferrin, a protein found in cow and human milk used as a supplement to treat stomach and intestinal ulcers, have proved effective in retarding duplication of the virus during tests on monkey cells and human lung cells. The findings, published in the journal Pathogens and announced in a UF news release Monday, could eventually lead to the development of a product that could be used in the fight against COVID-19, said David Ostrov, an immunologist and associate professor in the UF College of Medicine.

Heightened food insecurity persists as other COVID-19 effects wear off” via Maya Lora of The Ledger — Nearly 14% of Polk County residents experience food insecurity. That’s the number provided by Feeding America in 2018, but it may be higher today due to the number of jobs lost and lives disrupted by the onset of COVID-19 over 18 months ago. Even as the effects of COVID-19 start to wear off — vaccines are widely available; businesses have weathered the worst of the storm and the unemployment rate has come down considerably — food insecurity continues to be a problem in Polk County ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. And according to some anecdotal evidence from local pantries, it’s getting worse.

Disney World temporarily suspends sales of new annual passes” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World has stopped selling most new annual passes to its theme parks. The temporary change was posted on the company’s website late Sunday night. Sales of its three most expensive annual passes — Disney Pirate Pass, Disney Sorcerer Pass and Disney Incredi-Pass — are “currently paused,” the website says. Only the Disney Pixie Dust Pass, designed for Florida residents and valid only on weekdays, remains available for new sales at this time. The three paused passes are still listed on the site but with notations that read “currently unavailable.” No end date was given for the pause. “We will continue to evaluate the return of new sales for these passes,” the site says.

Disney pumps the brakes on its renewed annual pass program.

A Miami man used his dead business and sold condo for a $920,000 COVID-19 relief fraud” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — Carlos Vazquez’s Big League LLC was a dormant business when the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. So, how did Big League have 64 employees, pay them $4.425 million during the 2019 tax year and become eligible for a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $921,875? Big League didn’t and Big League wasn’t. Vazquez was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison and $921,875 restitution this week. And, thus, does the Miami metropolitan area continue earning its reputation as the capital of fraud. For years, the region that’s been No. 1 in Medicare fraud turned COVID-19 relief programs for businesses into another flowering form of fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida leads the nation in people prosecuted for COVID-19 fraud, 60.

— 2022 —

Thanksgiving will cost more this year. that could cost Democrats, too.” via Trip Gabriel of The New York Times — Samantha Martin, a single mother shopping ahead of Thanksgiving, lamented how rising gas and grocery prices have eaten away at the raise she got this year as a manager at McDonald’s. Gas “is crazy out of hand,” Martin said as she returned a shopping cart at an Aldi discount market in Auburn Hills, a Detroit suburb, to collect a 25-cent deposit. Her most recent fill-up was $3.59 a gallon, about $1 more than the price in the spring. To $16 an hour from $14, her raise was “pretty good, but it’s still really hard to manage,” Martin said.

This year, Thanksgiving dinner will take a bigger bite out of wallets — and Democrats. Image via AP.

Democrats confront wall of worries toward 2022 elections” via Mario Parker of Bloomberg — The vast majority of Americans are vaccinated against the coronavirus, a generational infrastructure bill is now law, the House passed a $2 trillion social spending plan, and the jobless rate is dropping. That should spell good fortune for Biden and Democrats in next year’s midterm elections. But they don’t. Americans say they are worried about inflation, shortages in goods and are frustrated with the public schools. They think Democrats aren’t doing enough to fix it, according to polling data, the results of the 2021 elections and interviews with strategists.

Assignment editorsCrist will join South Florida AFL-CIO union leaders and workers for a news conference on the importance of the newly signed Infrastructure package, 10:30 a.m., IBEW Local Union 349, 1657 N.W. 17th Ave., Miami. RSVP to [email protected].

Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, may end up in a swing district” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — The draft map proposals from the Florida Senate redistricting committee for new congressional districts could lead to a major shake-up in the Tampa Bay area delegation, including the first serious challenge to Castor since her 2006 election. Political insiders had few ideas about what prominent Republicans might step up as challengers if the districts end up looking like the Senate proposals, but said there’s sure to be intense interest.


— CORONA NATION —

Americans should get vaccine boosters ahead of possibly ‘dangerous’ winter spike, Anthony Fauci says” via Annabelle Timsit and Bryan Pietsch of The Washington Post — Americans who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should get booster shots ahead of a winter spike that could be “dangerous” due to the rampant spread of the virus among the unvaccinated, said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert. “Get vaccinated if you’re not vaccinated and boostered if you have been vaccinated,” Fauci said, speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He addressed the recent rise in cases in the United States, explaining that as the weather cools and people spend more time indoors, an increase in infections is “not unexpected.” But, he said, the large portion of Americans who have yet to be vaccinated creates a “dynamic of virus in the community” that is dangerous.

Get your boosters now before things get worse, says Anthony Fauci.

Official: More than 90% of fed workers got shots by deadline” via The Associated Press — More than 90% of federal workers received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday’s deadline set by Biden. Biden announced in September that more than 3.5 million federal workers were required to undergo vaccination, with no option to get regularly tested instead, unless they secured an approved medical or religious exemption. A U.S. official said the vast majority of federal workers are fully vaccinated, and that a smaller number have pending or approved exceptions to the mandate. In all, more than 95% of federal workers are in compliance with the Biden mandate, the official said, either by being vaccinated or having requested an exemption.

The big question this Thanksgiving: Are you vaccinated?” via Christina Morales of The New York Times — The age-old wisdom about dinner conversation “is to avoid sex, death and politics,” said Noel Brewer, a professor specializing in health behaviors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Vaccinations have moved onto that list.” Still, they threaten to complicate the holiday planning and the meal itself. “People who get vaccinated can also be self-righteous, and some people who haven’t been vaccinated can be belligerent,” Dr. Brewer said, adding, “That could really be a combustible mix.” Last year, the pre-Thanksgiving concerns centered on social distancing and taking risks with the coronavirus. This year, the focus is immunization; more than 192 million Americans had been fully vaccinated as of Sunday morning, but that is only about 58% of the total population.

The one Thanksgiving necessity America forgot to stock” via Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic — A couple of weeks ago at my local CVS, I spied them in the wild for the very first time: Abbott BinaxNOWs, currently America’s most sought-after rapid, at-home coronavirus test, piled neatly behind the counter. With the fall and winter holidays on the way, I figured it was a good opportunity to stock up. But after I asked for a few tests to cover my multi-person household, the pharmacist plucked just a single box off the stack. “One box per customer,” she told me, shaking her head as if she’d already had this conversation four or five times that day. This year, tests, not turkeys, might turn out to be the most expensive, prep-heavy fixtures of many a Thanksgiving table. The power of tests depends on people being able to access and afford them, and use them correctly and frequently enough. But scarcity could prompt people to use the tests in nonideal ways, as my pharmacist was verging on advising me to do.

Stubborn COVID-19 surges signal bleak winter” via Dan Goldberg of POLITICO — Coronavirus cases are rising once again, disrupting classrooms, overwhelming hospitals and alarming public health officials — even in areas with high vaccination rates — who warn the country is headed for a holiday surge that could leave thousands dead. Though nearly 70% of the country has had at least one shot and hospitalizations have fallen from their September highs, the news in many states remains grim and the trend lines portend a fresh wave in the coming weeks. States across the country are also seeing a growing number of people with breakthrough cases end up in hospitals. In Michigan, for example, 28% of hospitalizations and 24% of deaths, between Oct. 7 and Nov. 5, were among fully vaccinated individuals.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

‘It’s been crazy,’ Turkey shortages, supply chain issues impacting Thanksgiving meals” via Louisa Moller of CBS Boston — Supply chain issues could mean Thanksgiving dinner items will be harder to find this year. By the end of October, turkeys were 60% out of stock. The USDA reports the production of fresh turkeys is down 1.4% this year. IRI also reports that cranberry sauce is 20% out of stock and yams and sweet potatoes are a quarter out of stock. Bob’s Turkey Farm in Lancaster is already feeling the effects of supply chain issues. More than two weeks before Thanksgiving, they are out of fresh turkeys. Supply chain issues have also impacted other products sold at Bob’s like stuffing and cranberry sauce. “Our stuffing for instance. My supplier, I couldn’t get bread,” said Susan Miner, co-owner of Bob’s.

Publix puts purchase limits on holiday food, other items amid supply issues” via WFLA — Publix shoppers will have to put a cap on their holiday season purchases after the supermarket chain enacted purchase limits across all stores. Director of Communications Maria Brous said high holiday demand and supply problems have forced the chain to limit certain items to 2 per customer. These items include: canned cranberry sauce, jarred gravy, canned pie filling, canola and vegetable oil, cream cheese, bacon, rolled breakfast sausage, paper napkins, disposable plates, disposable cups, disposable cutlery, bath tissue, refrigerated snacks, sports drinks, aseptic type juices, canned cat food and refrigerated pet food. the limits will be enacted across all seven states where Publix operates. A Publix spokesperson declined to say how long the policy will be in place.

Stores are starting to limit sales of holiday staples.

This year’s Thanksgiving feast will wallop the wallet” via Kim Severson of The New York Times — Nearly every component of the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, from the disposable aluminum turkey roasting pan to the coffee and pie, will cost more this year, according to agricultural economists, farmers and grocery executives. Granted, last year, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 was the lowest it had been since 2010. But because of the pandemic, fewer people bought for big gatherings, and turkey prices were kept low to entice shoppers. This year, turkey prices are likely to hit record highs, and the cost of many foods has jumped sharply. There is no single culprit. The nation’s food supply has been battered by a knotted supply chain, high transportation expenses, labor shortages, trade policies and bad weather. Inflation is at play, too. In September, the Consumer Price Index for food was up 4.6% from a year ago. Prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs soared 10.5%.

Your Thanksgiving meal might be more expensive this year, at home or at Tampa Bay restaurants” via Helen Freund of the Tampa Bay Times

But …“Supply-chain problems show signs of easing” via Stella Yifan Xie, Jon Emont and Alistair MacDonald of Bloomberg — Global supply-chain woes are beginning to recede, but shipping, manufacturing and retail executives say that they don’t expect a return to more-normal operations until next year and that cargo will continue to be delayed if COVID-19 outbreaks disrupt key distribution hubs. In Asia, COVID-19-related factory closures, energy shortages and port-capacity limits have eased in recent weeks. In the U.S., major retailers say they have imported most of what they need for the holidays. Ocean freight rates have retreated from record levels.

The cost of delay” via Abha Bhattarai, Shelly Tan, Laura Reiley and Betty Chavarria of The Washington Post — This holiday season, just about everything that ends up in your shopping cart has taken a tumultuous journey through the world’s mangled supply chains. Some items that should’ve arrived months ago are just showing up. Others are tied up at factories, ports and warehouses around the globe. To show how some of the most popular products this year have been affected by this global upheaval, The Washington Post dug into the backstory for four top sellers: a puffer jacket produced by Primary, a kids apparel company; the electronic Got2Glow Fairy Finder, a WowWee toy that’s expected to be one of the hottest this year; an artificial Christmas tree manufactured by the National Tree Co.; and a sparkling wine sold by the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

DCF won’t say what it’s doing with more than $660M in unused rental aid; now they could lose it” via Daniel Figueroa IV of Florida Politics — The agency was supposed to submit a plan for unused Emergency Rental Assistance Program Funds to the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Nov. 15, but has not confirmed a plan’s details or even if one exists. The Treasury could now recapture the funds. Data available from the Treasury shows both what Florida was awarded and how much has been spent. DCF received $871.2 million in ERAP funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The most recent Treasury data shows that Florida had only expended 24% of the funds, or a little more than $200 million. That means more than $660 million in rental assistance funding has been untapped in state coffers since DCF started distributing funds in May.

Millions more Americans plan to travel this Thanksgiving, but it won’t be the same as 2019” via Katherine Shaver of The Washington Post — The widespread availability of coronavirus vaccines and a desire to resume normal activities has millions of Americans eyeing Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends, leading experts to predict the biggest holiday travel surge of the pandemic era. Travel experts say that motorists who breezed along highways last year should brace for backups and crowded rest stops despite the highest Thanksgiving gas prices in eight years. AAA and the TSA predict air travel will approach pre-pandemic levels, with airport officials recommending parking reservations and extra time to catch flights. Amtrak expects an increase in passengers during its traditionally busiest week of the year.

Thanksgiving travel bounces back, somewhat.

Target will keep stores closed on Thanksgiving for good” via Anne D’Innocenzio of The Associated Press — Target will no longer open its stores on Thanksgiving Day, making permanent a shift to the unofficial start of the holiday season that was suspended during the pandemic. Retailers last year were forced to turn what had become a weekend shopping blitz into an extended event. U.S. holiday sales last November and December rose 8.2%, according to The National Retail Federation. NRF predicts between 8.5% and 10.5% growth in 2021. “What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard — one that recognizes our ability to deliver on our guests’ holiday wishes both within and well beyond store hours,” Target CEO Brian Cornell wrote in a note to employees.

— MORE CORONA —

When can the COVID-19 masks finally come off?” via Emily Anthes of The New York Times — Amid the turmoil of the last two years — a period that included a deadly pandemic, mass layoffs, an ugly presidential election and an attack on the United States Capitol — some of the fiercest political debates in America have been waged over a nearly weightless piece of fabric: the face mask. American officials were slow to embrace face masks as a strategy for slowing the spread of the coronavirus. When they finally did, masks became a potent symbol of the pandemic — a common-sense public health measure turned political flashpoint and a visible reminder that life was anything but normal.

So, when can we drop the masks? Image via AP.

GOP embraces natural immunity as substitute for vaccines” via Anthony Izaguirre of The Associated Press — Republicans fighting Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandates are wielding a new weapon against the White House rules: natural immunity. They contend that people who have recovered from the virus have enough immunity and antibodies not to need COVID-19 vaccines, and the concept has been invoked by Republicans as a sort of stand-in for vaccines. Florida wrote natural immunity into state law this week as GOP lawmakers elsewhere are pushing similar measures to sidestep vaccine mandates. Lawsuits over the mandates have also begun leaning on the idea. Conservative federal lawmakers have implored regulators to consider it when formulating mandates.

Will Thanksgiving’s pandemic-era gratitude last?” via Marco della Cava of USA TODAY — But in truth, there has never been a better time to be genuinely thankful than this holiday season, one that arrives in the throes of a wrenching two-year pandemic. In fact, we as a society are uniquely poised to feel profound gratitude because of our tough times. If any parallel is apt, it is to those who grappled with the Great Depression. That generation faced a decadelong hardship so profound that it forged a lasting appreciation for the value of hard work and simple pleasures, both enshrined by the mythic paintings of Norman Rockwell. Consider this our Depression-lite Generation’s chance for an attitude makeover. Perhaps on Turkey Day, ditch those superficial appreciations in favor of more profound celebrations. It’s simple enough, though it does take commitment.

Parents still have a Thanksgiving problem” via Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic — The past year has been trying for young children, a massive test of patience — not always a kid’s strongest skill. And there’s yet another immediate hurdle to clear: the plodding accumulation of immunological defense. The timing of this semi-immune stretch might feel particularly frustrating, especially with the winter holidays approaching: At this point, essentially no young kids are slated to be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, except the ones who were enrolled in clinical trials. One shot can offer a level of protection, but experts advise waiting to change behavior for a reason; the extra safeguards that set in about two weeks after the second shot really are that much better, and absolutely worth sitting tight for.

Thanksgiving is challenging enough; building immunity is now in the mix.

How to host Thanksgiving with unvaccinated friends and family” via Christina Caron of The New York Times — For some, the risk of celebrating with unvaccinated friends and relatives just isn’t worth it. But if you’re open to gathering with a mixed vaccination status group, there are ways to do it cautiously, experts say. Start by calling your unvaccinated family members and soliciting their ideas on how to gather safely, said Daniel L. Shapiro, an associate professor of psychology. Taking a coronavirus test ahead of a holiday celebration can reduce the risk of spreading the virus, particularly when people from multiple households and different parts of the country mix. If your family members balk at the idea, remind them that an infected person can easily spread the virus to other people, even if they don’t have symptoms. People may decide not to get vaccinated for various reasons, so try not to make assumptions about their rationale.

— A THANKSGIVING POEM —

By Kevin Sweeny

Over the river, around the I-4 construction and through Rock Spring Run woods,

First hand out the pies and then to Aunt Sarah’s house we go;

The Google map knows the way

To skip the political fray

Through the rain and quieting of the legislative show.

___

Over the river along I-10 and through the Aucilla woods,

Oh, how the Capital does glow!

Thanks to my team and the loyal friends we chose

And Wellesley’s kiss on the nose

Give thanks to those we work with- tell them- they might not know.

___

Over the river, flying down 95 and through the Matanzas woods,

I’m thankful for Babes, N+P, Dp, the G’s, 1.3%, KIE and the leadership play.

Hear the end of the recounts ring

“Ting-a-ling-ding,”

Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

___

Over the river, ripping along Alligator Alley and Big Cypress woods,

Give thanks for what you have and send a prayer for those in Michael’s way.

Give thanks for family and friends we have found,

And for last-minute amendments inbound,

For this is Thanksgiving Day.

___

Over the river, stuck on 275 and through Terra Ceia woods,

For just one day may our political differences abate.

Stop! Now! Give thanks for all those you know

Donations, bills, Reps, Senators, paywalls and blogs come and go

Our time here’s short — give thanks now- you simply can’t wait.

___

Over the river sneaking along US 1 and through the Glades woods —

Put down the Twitter, ‘insta and ‘book today to remember why!

I’m thankful I can run!

Is this damn poem done?

I’ll be running for pumpkin pie!

—THANKSGIVING TRAVEL —

More than 53 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year, AAA estimates.

The Auto Club Group’s national travel forecast is 13% higher than last year and is within a few points of pre-pandemic levels. It’s even closer in Florida — just 2% fewer Floridians are expected to travel for Turkey Day this year than two years ago.

“It’s beginning to look more like a normal holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of Travel for AAA.

“Now that U.S. borders are open, vaccinations are readily available, and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holidays.”

With more people on the move this year, AAA warns travelers to expect crowds on the interstate, especially at the airport.

“The reopening of the U.S. borders to international travelers means airports will be even busier than we’ve recently seen, so travelers must plan for longer lines and extra time for TSA checks,” Haas said.

“With flight delays and cancellations becoming a problem recently, air travelers are encouraged to consider travel insurance. If your flight is canceled, there are various policies that would help offset unexpected expenses like a hotel, transportation and food. You may also receive compensation for lost luggage, or if your flight is delayed for as little as 3 hours.”

America is ready to hit the road. Image via AP.

Thanksgiving travel should be almost back to normal, AAA projects” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — It’s almost time to go back over the hills of Lake County and through the woods of Ocala National Forest to Grandmother’s house in The Villages. And those roads and skies should be crowded again. Travel should increase by 13% overall for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday period, compared to last year. Much of that increase will be through the friendly skies, AAA forecast Tuesday. AAA predicts 53.4 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, including 2.9 million Floridians. That would put the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday just 2% below the travel pace of pre-pandemic years. This year, people are much more eager to hit the road, according to AAA. Or, more precisely, they’re more eager to hit the air. AAA said that nationally, about 8% more people than last year are expected to drive somewhere for a Thanksgiving trip.

Thanksgiving week travel: Expect lots of traffic, longer airport lines” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — The COVID-19 pandemic kept millions of people at home last fall, either out of fear of catching the virus or due to clampdowns on travel. Now that many more people have been vaccinated and safety mandates have been lowered, experts predict millions more will fly and drive to Thanksgiving events with family and friends in the next week or more. So here are some answers to probably the most-asked Thanksgiving travel questions, other than “Are we there yet?”

Florida gas prices spike as Thanksgiving travel traffic nears” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Gas prices this holiday travel week will hit their highest of the year in Florida, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group. The average price per gallon in the state on Monday was $3.35 per gallon, higher than in any state south of Illinois and east of Colorado. The statewide average was just below the national average of $3.42 per gallon, with the Tampa Bay average a cent or two below that, according to gas tracking site GasBuddy. But prices in both Tampa Bay and Florida have spiked in the past week, with local prices jumping nearly 15 cents and statewide prices jumping more than 10 cents. The result: Florida’s highest gas prices of 2021, up $1.33 per gallon year over year.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Biden’s big squeeze” via Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine — Eleven months into his term, and a year from a midterm election that appears likely to end his legislative majority, the cold reality for Biden is that his presidency is on the brink of failure. Business lobbyists swarmed over Washington, ripping chunks out of his Build Back Better program. The scope of his agenda kept shrinking in tandem with his poll numbers. Initially, the drop seemed attributable to temporary factors. Maybe the cause was the delta wave that crested this past summer. Maybe it was the media freakout over his ham-handed Afghanistan withdrawal. But even as those events receded from the headlines, Biden’s numbers continued to drop along with his Party’s fortunes.

Joe Biden gets it from both sides. Image via AP.

Biden to keep Jerome Powell as Fed chair, Lael Brainard gets vice-chair” via The Associated Press — Biden announced Monday that he’s nominating Powell for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chair, endorsing Powell’s stewardship of the economy through a brutal pandemic recession in which the Fed’s ultralow rate policies helped bolster confidence and revitalize the job market. Biden also said he would nominate Brainard, the lone Democrat on the Fed’s Board of Governors and the preferred alternative to Powell among many progressives, as vice-chair, the No. 2 slot. A separate position of vice chair for supervision, a bank regulatory post, remains vacant, along with two other slots on the Fed’s board.

Biden to spend Thanksgiving on Nantucket, reviving a family tradition” via Jim Puzzanghera and Mark Shanahan of The Boston Globe — Biden will spend Thanksgiving on Nantucket, reviving a family tradition of gathering his family for the holiday on the island. The exact timing and location of the visit are being determined, the source said. Biden has celebrated Thanksgiving on Nantucket nearly every year since 1975. He does not own a home there and has stayed in different rental properties over the years as he hosted a large family gathering and participated in events like the polar plunge. Biden did not celebrate the holiday on Nantucket last year after his election as President because of the pandemic, choosing instead to follow the advice of public health experts to avoid large gatherings that could spread the virus. He and his wife spent Thanksgiving at their home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Spared from the dinner plate: The unique White House tradition of pardoning turkeys” via Jillian Olsen of WTSP — For years, turkeys have been sent to the White House to adorn the President’s Thanksgiving table right next to the stuffing and the gravy. And they did, for a while. But over the years quite a few of our feathered friends have been pardoned, granted clemency and given a second shot at life on the farm. So, how did one of the White House’s most unique traditions get its start? We’ll have to head back to the 1800s. The White House Historical Association records President Lincoln as the first leader of our nation to spare a turkey’s life. He reportedly granted it clemency in 1863. But you might be shocked to know that the first official turkey pardon didn’t happen until President George H.W. Bush took office. That means, as a nation, we’ve only been pardoning turkeys for 32 years. Since the tradition officially began, more than 40 turkeys have been pardoned by U.S. Presidents.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Kamala Harris to announce $1.5B investment in health care workforce” via Alexandra Jaffe of The Associated Press — Vice President Harris will announce Monday that the Biden administration is investing $1.5 billion from the coronavirus aid package to address the health care worker shortage in underserved communities. The funding will go to the National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programs, all federal programs that offer scholarships and loan repayments for health care students and workers if they pledge to work in underserved and high-risk communities. According to the White House, the money, which includes funds from the American Rescue Plan and other sources, will support more than 22,700 providers, marking the largest number of providers enrolled in these programs in history.

Kamala Harris has a big health care announcement next week. Image via AP.

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Castor releases the annual Trouble in Toyland report, a guide to protecting children from toxics, choking hazards, privacy problems and other toy-related dangers, 10 a.m., St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, 3001 W. Martin Luther King Blvd., Tampa.

Businessman pleads guilty in $25M extortion attempt of Matt Gaetz’s father” via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — A Florida businessman pleaded guilty Monday to involvement in an effort to extort $25 million from Don Gaetz as part of a bizarre scheme that involved a pledge to secure a presidential pardon for U.S. Rep. Gaetz in the high-profile federal sex trafficking investigation the lawmaker faces. Stephen Alford pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in connection with the convoluted shakedown. Alford faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 at his sentencing, set for Feb. 16 before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. Defendants typically get a sentence far below the maximum, but Alford could face a stiff prison term because he has prior federal convictions for fraud.

— CRISIS —

Man charged with carrying loaded firearm to the Capitol on Jan. 6” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — An Indiana man charged with carrying a loaded firearm to the Capitol on Jan. 6 told investigators that if he had found Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “you’d be here for another reason,” according to court documents posted over the weekend. Mark Mazza, is the latest of about half a dozen Jan. 6 defendants charged with bringing a gun to the Capitol. In this case, Mazza allegedly carried a Taurus revolver known as “The Judge,” which is capable of firing shotgun shells — two of which were in the chamber. Though reports of rioters charged with carrying firearms have been limited, the number has been steadily climbing. The mounting evidence has undercut claims by Donald Trump and his allies that the mob attacking the Capitol was unarmed.

Judge scolds Florida man who took Nancy Pelosi lectern in Capitol riot. ‘Why shouldn’t I lock you up?’” via Jessica De Leon of the Miami Herald — Adam Johnson, the Parrish man who posed for photos after stealing Pelosi’s lectern during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, pleaded guilty to illegally entering The Capitol that day. In exchange for his plea and accepting responsibility, federal prosecutors are not seeking any prison time. Senior U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton will sentence Johnson at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 25. Walton declined to detain Johnson until sentencing based on the prosecution’s request, but not without making clear he was considering imposing prison time. Walton called Johnson weak-minded enough to believe Trump’s lie and do what he did before asking him, “So why shouldn’t I lock you up, sir? Why should I think that you won’t do this again?”

Why shouldn’t Adam Johnson go to jail? Image via Getty.

Judge hands Jan. 6 rioter 60 days for misdemeanor charge” via Marissa Martinez of POLITICO — A federal judge sentenced Jan. 6 rioter Frank Scavo, a Trump supporter from Pennsylvania, to 60 days in prison on Monday — one of the harshest sentences doled out to a misdemeanor defendant and more than four times what prosecutors initially sought. Judge Royce Lamberth issued the sentence after raising concerns about whether Scavo had sought to downplay his behavior even as late as the day of his sentencing, when he read a letter that softened the conduct, he admitted to in his plea agreement. Lamberth said he had to recognize that through Scavo’s and other rioters’ actions, the event “brought the government to a screeching halt that day. The consequence to the nation … has to be weighed in the balance.”

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Donald Trump poll tests his 2024 comeback map” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — As Trump builds out a presidential-campaign-in-waiting, his team is focusing on an electoral strategy that relies on recapturing the five states that flipped to Joe Biden in 2020. The five states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — delivered a total of 73 electoral votes in 2020, enough to produce a decisive Electoral College victory for Biden. Since then, Trump has held four rallies, endorsed dozens of candidates and played a key role in shaping contests that could put his allies in top offices in those states in 2024.

New York prosecutors set sights on new Trump target: Widely different valuations on the same properties” via David A. Farenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Josh Dawsey and Shayna Jacobs of The Washington Post — The Trump Organization owns an office building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan. In 2012, when the company was listing its assets for potential lenders, it said the building was worth $527 million — which would make it among the most valuable in New York. But just a few months later, the Trump Organization told property tax officials that the entire 70-story building was worth less than a high-end Manhattan condo: just $16.7 million, according to newly released city records. That was less than one-thirtieth the amount it had claimed the year before.

The Trump Building’s shady pricing catches the eye of prosecutors. Image via Wikipedia.

A MAGA squad of Trump loyalists sees its influence grow amid demands for political purity among Republicans” via The Washington Post — The show of force from Trump’s staunchest congressional allies began almost immediately after 13 House Republicans voted this month in favor of a massive infrastructure bill that handed Biden one of the biggest victories of his tenure. “Traitor Republicans,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia declared in a series of tweets where she posted their office phone numbers. Rep. Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach told a pro-Trump podcast there was never a situation during the infrastructure debate in which Republicans should work with Democrats: “They were going to win it all, or we were going to win it all.”


— MORE TURKEY NOTES —

Washing Thanksgiving turkey could spread germs, say food safety experts” via Candice Choi of The Associated Press — Food say experts say don’t wash the turkey before popping it in the oven. They say that could spread the germs lurking on your turkey in the kitchen sink or nearby food. But it’s a challenge trying to convince cooks to stop rinsing off raw poultry. “If your mother did it and your grandmother did it, and suddenly the (government) says not to wash your turkey, you may take some time to adjust,” said Drusilla Banks, who teaches food sanitation for the University of Illinois Extension. Germs that make people sick are common in the guts of healthy poultry and are legally allowed to be on raw turkey and chicken.

Be careful with the bird. Image via AP.

How to spatchcock a turkey” via Carla Lalli Music of Bon Appétit — If you’re looking for reasons to spatchcock a turkey this Thanksgiving, ask yourself these simple questions: Do you want the bird actually to taste good? And be juicy? With perfectly browned skin? Of course, you do. This method, which disposes of the backbone so the bird can be flattened and cooked skin side up, is a game-changer. Because the turkey is butterflied, there’s more surface available for even browning, and the high cooking temperature means crackly, crispy skin. Perhaps most seductive of all, a 12-pounder cooks in 90 minutes. Repeat: 90 minutes. That’s half the time of your old-fashioned roast.

How to avoid the seven worst holiday table decor mistakes” via Rebecca Malinsky of The Wall Street Journal — For many Americans, Thanksgiving will mark the first time they are setting the table for a holiday dinner party in quite some time. Here are some mistakes that can derail a holiday dinner party. 1. A table needn’t be covered in brown and orange linens, pilgrim figurines, and gourds galore to make the evening feel special. 2. A surplus of decorative objects will crowd both the victuals and the visitors. 3. A Thanksgiving feast deserves better than paper plates. 4. While many of us have been waiting years to dust off Grandma’s wedding china, don’t feel the need to use every teacup and dessert spoon. 5. Don’t have a tablescape that is too tall for conversation. 6. Avoid seating people too close or too far apart. 7. Pumpkin spice candles or cinnamon-scented pine cones create unappetizing olfactory confusion.

Reese’s giant 3-pound Peanut Butter Cup Thanksgiving ‘pie’ now sold out” via Matthew Knight of Nexstar Media — Move over pumpkin pie. Hershey’s has unveiled your new favorite dessert for Thanksgiving. The company is selling a giant 9-inch Reese’s Thanksgiving Pie. The largest Reese’s Peanut Butter cup ever weighs in at a whopping 3.25 pounds of peanut butter and chocolate. The box says the pie is meant to be served in 48 slices at 160 calories each. That works out to a total of 7,680 calories if you’re thinking of eating the whole thing yourself. Only 3,000 pies will be sold online for $44.99 plus tax while supplies last.

— LOCAL NOTES —

No one is sad a law firm is shuttered — “The demise of a notable law firm in Florida’s capital: The end of an era and a sad time” via Lucy Morgan of the Florida Phoenix — Tallahassee is a town that will always be full of lawyers. The presence of state government offices and the Florida Legislature requires a lot of watching from good legal minds. But there is not likely to ever be another law firm that will replace the notable firm started more than 40 years ago by former Supreme Court Justice Wade L. Hopping. The demise of his widely known law firm, variously known as Hopping Boyd and later Hopping Sams and Hopping Green & Sams, exists no more.

Hopping Green & Sams is no more.

Parkland school massacre families settle lawsuit against FBI” via CBS Miami and The Associated Press — A lawsuit against the FBI, involving the 2018 Parkland school massacre, was settled Monday. The families involved in the suit announced the settlement against the federal government over the FBI’s failure to stop the shooter even though it had received information he intended to attack. Attorneys for 16 of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland said they have reached a confidential settlement with the government over the FBI’s failure to investigate a tip it received about a month before the massacre. The 17th family chose not to sue. A source familiar with the details of the settlement told CBS4 that the DOJ has agreed to pay the Parkland families between $125 million and $130 million.

Out-of-state money flows into Clearwater City Council race” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — Church of Scientology defector Aaron Smith-Levin campaign for Seat 5 on the City Council raised $26,844 between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31. But of his 176 donors, 91% live outside of Clearwater and 74% live outside of Florida. Community activist Lina Teixeira has raised $21,020, with 70% of her 49 donors living in Clearwater. The financial reports underscore how distinct the candidates are in their platforms. Smith-Levin is running on a platform that the city should advocate for the IRS to review and revoke Scientology’s tax-exempt status. Teixeira has said addressing Scientology’s impact on downtown real estate is one of her top priorities, but she is also focused on making the city less reliant on tourism and bringing unity to neighborhoods.

Palm Beach County schools chief: ‘We’re not teaching critical race theory’” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — At a meeting between school board members and the county’s legislative delegation, Rep. Rick Roth told Schools Superintendent Mike Burke that he believes critical race theory’s concepts “are teaching our children to be hypersensitive to race and to use racial discrimination in the classroom.” He asked Burke if any such concepts were being taught. Burke responded that “there’s no curriculum in Palm Beach County that’s called critical race theory.” … “We teach history, and we should teach all of it,” he continued. “You know, the pleasant parts and the things that maybe we’re not that proud of as a country. So, I know this is a big national issue as people try to bring partisan politics into school boards.”

Florida city cancels turkey shoot as price of birds doubles” via The Associated Press — For nearly 70 years, residents of Seville fired shotguns at targets hoping to win a frozen turkey. But nonprofit organizers said they simply can’t afford the expensive gobblers, which usually cost between 50 to 70 cents per pound. But this year, the turkeys were around $1.19 a pound. And it’s also gotten harder to find smaller birds, with many turkeys averaging 15 to 17-pounds. The nonprofit usually buys 60 turkeys to give away before Thanksgiving but said it couldn’t even afford 30 birds. “It’s terrible,” said 89-year-old Seville resident Pasco Cade, who has been attending the event since he was a teenager. “But I am not surprised. Everything is going sky-high. And it doesn’t look like things are going to get better.”

Local agencies help ensure families don’t go hungry over Thanksgiving week” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun — On Thursday, a Strike Our Hunger event at Oaks Mall gave out 63,000 food from Bread of the Might Food Bank and 2,000 turkeys donated to the Long Foundation as cars lined up for the bounty. Every Friday, Food4Kids with a handful of volunteers fill up backpacks with nonperishable food items that students referred by Alachua County Public Schools can take home. This week before the Thanksgiving Holiday break, volunteers with the organization dropped off boxes that can hold 30 to 40 pounds of food at schools for children whose families may be experiencing food insecurity. Inside the box are meals that can last at least a full week, giving children the chance to eat three times a day.

‘Sorry, no turkey this year.’ Sarasota-Manatee food pantries struggle with supply chain issues” via Saundra Amrhein of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — While Mayors’ Feed the Hungry Program recently received 3,000 donations for turkeys through The Joy FM T-shirts for Turkeys, only 200 of those donations were actually frozen turkeys. The rest came in $10 gift cards or cash. Donors were arriving saying, “I couldn’t find a turkey, but I’d be happy to give you $10.” By the time Mayors’ Feed the Hungry Program had the cash donations in hand, it was too late to make mass purchases of turkeys for food pantries. With so many challenges in the supply chain, no large grocery would sell $10,000 in turkeys at the last minute. Still, some food pantries are flush with food thanks to partnerships with larger food banks. But that doesn’t mean they have turkeys to provide families for Thanksgiving.

Needy families are victims of a broken supply chain for Thanksgiving. Image via AP.

City of Tallahassee, Leon County announce closures, service changes for Thanksgiving” via the Tallahassee Democrat — During the holiday week, Tallahassee residents who have their garbage and recycling picked up on Thursday and Friday will receive service one day later than their regularly scheduled service. The StarMetro transit system will not offer fixed-route or Dial-A-Ride services on Thursday. On Friday, StarMetro’s fixed-route service will operate on a Saturday schedule, and Dial-A-Ride will operate as usual. The Animal Service Center will be closed on Thursday and Friday, and community centers operated by the Tallahassee parks department will be closed on Thursday and Friday. Also, Leon County Solid Waste Management Facility and Household Hazardous Waste Center will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Leon County offices, libraries, Animal Control, and community centers will be closed Thursday and Friday.

— TOP OPINION —

Why 400 years later Thanksgiving is still important” via William Cheshire for The Florida Times-Union — This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving. Across America, every November, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a holiday that is especially relevant now. As we look forward to cooking, gathering with family, feasting, and giving thanks, we are also painfully aware of the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, disruptive events around the globe, and political divisions in our country. In contrast to such threats, Thanksgiving is a story of overcoming hardships, reorienting our thoughts to what is good, and, in gratitude, striving toward a hopeful future. Thanksgiving, the antidote to cynicism, is a balm for a hurting nation.

— OPINIONS —

If Thanksgiving costs are up, you can thank Biden’s disastrous economic policies” via Ronna McDaniel for the Miami Herald — This Thanksgiving is on track to be the most expensive in holiday history. Fox News reported that the price of poultry is up 6.1% and ham has surged by 7.7%. Experts predict holiday costs will rise as much as 5% from last year. For this, you can thank President Biden’s disastrous economic policies. Biden has already spent $1.9 trillion and is on track to spend trillions more on his radical agenda. For the first six months of Biden’s presidency, higher prices have exceeded wage growth every month, wiping out pay raises and making the money Americans earn worth less. It’s no wonder 86% of Americans are worried about inflation and higher prices, and a mere 40% approve of Biden’s economic strategy.

Don’t be distracted by lawmakers’ food fight. The real fight is for our democracy” via Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald — It’s like something out of middle school. Rep. Paul Gosar posts video of an asinine anime that depicts him violently murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Rep. Lauren Boebert defends him and slags Rep. Ilhan Omar. Omar fires back, hitting Boebert for sleeping “with a pervert.” Meantime, Sen. Ted Cruz goes after Rep. Liz Cheney, saying she has “Trump derangement syndrome.” Playing on Cruz’s canine loyalty to someone who famously insulted his wife’s looks, Cheney shoots back that “a real man” would be defending his spouse. This is not a good look for anybody. The old adage about mud wrestling with pigs comes to mind. Gosar, Cruz and Boebert dragged Cheney and Omar down to their level, and that’s low enough to give Aquaman the bends.

— ALOE —

NFL to intensify COVID-19 protocols around Thanksgiving” via Mike Jones of USA Today — Citing rising COVID-19 numbers in the United States at large, the NFL has instructed teams to intensify protocols in hopes of mitigating the risk of spread of the virus as holiday gatherings take place beginning with Thanksgiving next week. In a memo issued to all 32 teams, the NFL said, “This upward trend, coupled with the onset of colder weather driving individuals indoors, has resulted in an increased risk of infection among players and staff. Our experts and data confirm that getting vaccinated remains our strongest defense against contracting and transmitting the virus within club facilities.

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 down face-first and ruin their 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.

Thanksgiving touch football has a lot of rules, many of them unspoken — or should be.

25 more rules of Thanksgiving family touch football” via Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal — You absolutely do NOT need a football uniform to play Thanksgiving Family Touch Football. Meanwhile, your cousin wearing the game-used Dolphins jersey is going to run into a tree. Just like the 2019 Dolphins. Resist the temptation to play “Parents vs. Children.” It’s a cute idea, but if the children are any good, it always ends up with at least four parents in urgent care. Dad will throw at least one pass that he’ll loudly say reminds him of his “high school glory days.” Mom is the true athlete of the family. Everyone knows this. No, those aren’t infants crying inside the house. Those are Bears and Lions fans, watching the Bears-Lions Thanksgiving game. No Juuling or vaping on the field.

World on a string” via Nathan King of Air Mail News — In 1924, Macy’s asked Tony Sarg, the most acclaimed puppeteer in America, to help with their Thanksgiving Day Parade. In a stroke of genius, Sarg suggested introducing inflatable balloons to the parade. He was certain these upside-down marionettes would turn the event into living theater. The procession of smooth, dreamlike forms would float through the canyons of New York, enchanting adults and children alike not with the commercial appeal of today’s Macy’s parade but with the distended crudeness of a child’s fantasy liberated from the pages of a sketchbook and filled with gas. That year, the Macy’s parade featured balloons of Felix the Cat, a 60-foot-tall toy soldier, and a 20-foot-long elephant, all manufactured by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are our friends Brady Benford of Ballard Partners, Chip Case, Screven Watson, Ronald Christaldi, Lauren Bankert Steif, and Julia Gill Woodward. Among those celebrating over the Thanksgiving break: Freddy Balsera, Adam Basford, Stephanie Berger, Halsey Beshears, Edward Borrego, Ed Briggs, Danny Burgess‘ better half Courtney, Peter Cuderman, Jennifer K. Davis, Rebecca De La Rosa, Rep. Jason Fischer, Keith Fitzgerald, Dan Gelber, Adam Hasner, Tasi Hogan, Jeff Johnston, Mark Kaplan, John Kennedy, Beth Nunnally, Jacob Ogles, Ann Orner, Ben Pollara, Rep. Bob Rommel, Joel Searby, Keith Sonderling, Gary Springer, John “Mac” Stipanovich, Curtis Stokes, Robert Stuart, Mike Van Sickler, Charlie Van Zant, Carlie Waibel, Mitch Wertheimer, Amy Young and Mark Zubaly.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]FloridaPolitics.com
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




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