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Florence Snyder: Postcard from ‘The Process’

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

In Casablanca, “everybody goes to Rick’s” Cafe Americain.  In Tallahassee, everybody goes to Andrew’s Capital Grill.

Or Andrew goes to everybody, as he did last night, personally attending to the feeding and watering of 1,200 of Associated Industries’ closest friends at its annual eve-of-session cocktail party.

Andrew Reiss has been doing this since the party began, 28 years ago poolside at the old Ramada Inn.

Andrew hugs and smiles a lot more than the brooding, lovelorn character played by Humphrey Bogart. But in real life as in fiction, the saloonkeeper is like Carson the Butler from Downton Abbey.  He knows everything about everybody, and loves them anyway.

The Associated Industries annual blowout has a Vanity Fair Oscars party vibe, but it’s much easier for those who have not yet “arrived” to score a ticket. Twenty-somethings are all over the place. They sport new clothes, or new iPhones, like on the first day of school, and seek a wink, a handshake or a moment of small talk with the bold-faced names. Elected officials and lobbyists who flew in on their own private jets, are, for the most part, extremely gracious about it.  You never know who’s going to be the Next Rising Stars.

They might even come from the ranks of the college kids moving gracefully through the party with silver trays of hors’ d’oeurves.  Andrew has employed hundreds of them over the years. They learn as much about government tending bar in the courtyard of Associated Industries’ mini-Mansion two blocks down from Gov. Rick Scott’s local address as they do in their political science classes at FSU.

The Associated Industries party lends itself almost too easily to parody. It’s worth remembering that there are plenty of decent, committed, smart people in The Process looking to make a living doing the right things for the right reasons.

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