Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 11.23.16 – Happy Thanksgiving

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

FIRST AND FOREMOST let me wish each reader a very happy Thanksgiving. All of us who work to produce Sunburn are enormously grateful for your readership.

THIS IS WHAT MICHELLE AND I ARE MOST GRATEFUL FOR … Ella Joyce Schorsch, Thanksgiving 2016. Picture here.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sunburn will be off Thursday and Friday to celebrate the holiday with our families. We’ll see you bright and early next Monday.

TWEET, TWEET: @AnthonyPedicini: Turkey just won’t taste the same without a “Sunburn”!


Albert Balido: I’m thankful for the opportunity this county has afforded this son of Cuban refugees. Only in America!

Brian Ballard: How much fun it is to have all of my girls home for thanksgiving. As they get older having the three of them together is a real gift.

Sarah Bascom: Family, friends and good health.

Aaron Bean: Family, freedom, men and women who defend it and the opportunity to make America great again

Brady Benford: Happy, healthy kids and a Cubs World Series win!!

Taylor Biehl: I am thankful for the good health of my parents and soon to be in-laws; I am thankful for the working relationship I have with my friend and mentor, Jeff Sharkey.  I am thankful to have my brother, Jordan, and his fiance, Sarah, here in Tallahassee. I am thankful for our clients that entrust in us; I am most thankful for my loving fiance, Mackenzie — the woman that makes me want to be a better man each and every day.

Christopher Brown: New reader here and new Floridian as well…we moved here six months ago. While always being thankful for my great family, I’m particularly thankful this year that I don’t live in New Jersey anymore, thankful I don’t have to pay excessive taxes to New Jersey and New York anymore and thankful I won’t have to worry about pulling 40 inches of snow off of my roof this winter. Happy Thanksgiving!

Chris Carmody: Patrick, Lauren and that Gator win against LSU.

Kevin Cate: I’m thankful professionally for my brilliant teammates at CATECOMM and all of our clients playing to win, not just to avoid losing. Personally, I am extraordinarily thankful for my enchanting wife and my three smart, loving children.

Jon Costello: I’m thankful for so much. My boys, my wife, the health of my extended family. I’m truly blessed with amazing friends that are family. Bottom line I’m thankful that I have built a life filled with people I care about.

Steve Crisafulli: I am thankful for family, friends, health and the opportunity to live in a free and prosperous nation.

Charlie Crist: All my incredible Family. Starting with my wife Carole, no one worked harder this past year, she is simply amazing! I love her with all my heart. And, of course, I am most grateful to our God and his Son, Jesus Christ. We are all so Blessed as Americans! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Ana Cruz: I am most thankful for being raised by a compassionate and loving family who taught us to not only embrace our own diverse heritage but those of our neighbors and friends. Our thanksgiving dinners have always been a true reflection of our upbringing, filled with family, friends and friends of friends who had no place to go. In Cruz household the saying has always been the more the merrier, and we love it that way!

Claudia Davant: I am thankful for my awesome family, the greatest of friends, lots of good wine and Blue Collar Radio. Not necessarily in that order.

Blake Dowling: I am thankful to live in our great nation and not in a conflict zone. Also, very thankful to be named CEO of Aegis this year, and thankful for the opportunity to contribute to your various publications over the years. Finally, thankful my family is happy, healthy and safe in 2016. Thanks for getting the news out there and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Charlie Dudley: I am thankful for my health; family; freedom; colleagues at Floridian Partners and Prime Strategies and our wonderful clients.

Chris Dudley: I’m thankful for a wonderful wife and two amazing little boys.  And I’m thankful to wake up everyday and do a job I love, for clients I love, in a state I love.

Tre Evers: Donald Trump’s twitter feed, Ozzy’s Boneyard on Sirius radio and the 455 horsepower engine in my car.

Cesar Fernandez: Thankful for surviving wedding planning so far! Getting married in 25 days!

Marty Fiorentino: I’m thankful for my family and our incredible country and democracy that creates a transfer of power unlike any other in the world.

Trimmel Gomes: I’m most thankful for the ability to live the American Dream even as we stare into an uncertain future. As an immigrant from Georgetown, Guyana, I am thankful for the tough lessons I’ve learned and amazing experiences I’ve gained from striking out on my own to develop my media relations consultancy and podcast production company, Gomes Media Strategies. It is with great thanks to friends, family and their continued encouragement that keeps me pushing forward. I’m especially thankful for the ability to create a space where everyone can come together and share their diverse views and opinions on The Rotunda.

Gwen Graham: Given that this is a period of transition for me, I have been particularly aware of how much I have to be thankful for past, present and future. I am thankful for my wonderful family that is the foundation of my life. I am thankful for my husband who will beat cancer this year.  I am thankful for my three kids who are a source of pride and love everyday. And, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of North Florida. It has been such an honor to wake up everyday and work hard on your behalf. I look forward to whatever the future holds. Happy Thanksgiving to all Sunburn readers.

Jennifer Green: I’m thankful every day that I was raised by parents who were strong in their faith and convictions, that I am surrounded by friends and family who love and appreciate me as much as I do them, and that I have clients who trust me enough to listen to my advice and place the the future goals of their businesses and organizations in my hands.

Michael Griffin: I’m thankful for the great people I surrounded myself with on a daily basis. Whether in person or virtually, I am blessed to know some of the greatest, most well intentioned people around. I’m also most thankful for my wife, Melanie.

Joe Gruters: For the Americans voters who elected Donald J. Trump as their next President, for Jameis Winston for giving me a reason to cheer for the Buccaneers again, for the voters of Florida District 73 for allowing me to serve and for my wife, Sydney, for allowing me to do all I do!

Shawn Harrison: First is family, and second is validation from my community that they want me to continue to speak for them in our Capitol.

Jeff Hartley: I know it’s cliche but I’m thankful for my family and friends. A wonderful wife and a perfect daughter. They keep me afloat through everything, good times and bad. Also for an amazing group of people I work with everyday and all year in the office and at the capital.  Its makes going to work fun and enjoyable year round.

Brecht Heuchan: I was thinking about all the stuff I’m thankful for, a loving wife, healthy kids, remarkable friends, supportive clients… my list is long but it all comes down one thing – I’m thankful for God’s redemption because like most of us, i don’t deserve what I have, and often take it all for granted.

Bob Henriquez: I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve the people of Hillsborough County for four more years.

Chuck Hinson: Thankful that Jen and I have our children with us for Thanksgiving.

Justin Hollis: Thankful for my family of little ones that are growing too fast and the food grown from Florida farmers you can purchase at your local Publix.

Brian Hughes: While my default is usually to be grateful for clients and victories, I’m most thankful for Rachel Perrin Rogers. She’s a great legislative staffer, a phenomenal mother, and a wonderful wife. My life is enriched by having her in it.

Nick Iarossi: I am most thankful for my wonderful and very patient wife, Debbie and my two loving daughters. My happiness begins and ends with them. I am also thankful for all the dedicated people who work at Capital City Consulting to make our firm successful, as well as, all the interesting and talented people at the Capitol who make this profession enjoyable and challenging. Finally, I am thankful for our clients that place trust in our firm to advocate on their behalf.  I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Blaise Ignoglia: As Party Chair I am thankful for all of the hard work the grassroots of the Republican Party of Florida did this election cycle to deliver historic wins up and down the ticket. As State Representative, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Hernando County in Tallahassee again. As a husband, I am thankful that my amazing wife Julie who allows me to do all of the above.

David Johnson: Let’s be thankful for the women and men in the US military, our first responders, the domestic and international intelligence services and the American Allied forces who work to protect freedom here at home and around the world. Please remember them today and every day, for there are no Norman Rockwell paintings without their efforts and good work.

Jonathan Kilman: I am incredibly grateful for the abundant opportunities that come my way, and for the perpetual support of family, friends and colleagues in my life. I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and a year of tremendous success and happiness!

Darrick McGhee: When considering what I am thankful for, the easy answer is LIFE. And although the aforementioned is true, I am also thankful for the happiness and health of my wife and kids. As one who grew up with financial hardships, this year (like in previous years) I find myself reminiscing about the sacrifices my mother made to put food on the table for her two sons. To now consider where I am in my life and profession, I am very thankful that I will be able to host many family members, especially that same mother and allow her to see that her many sacrifices were not in vain.

Tim Meenan: I am thankful that Peter Schorsch ferrets out and summarizes, on a daily basis throughout the year, all the political inside scoop that’s fit to print!

Paul Mitchell: Thankful for the three greatest gifts any man could ever wish for: Chase, Bennett and Spencer Mitchell – my three boys.

Caitlin Murray: Hmmm… not to sound too cliché, but probably the most amazing support system ever- my family. Especially my parents AND their inspiring 42 years of marriage.

Rich Newsome: I’m thankful to have heard Richard Corcoran‘s speech about cutting corporate welfare and other budget fat. And REALLY thankful to have the chance to sit in the gallery during the next two years, have some popcorn, and watch the whole rest of the fourth floor lose their minds as it all unfolds.

Sarah Niewold: I am thankful for working with a team that has become family, a pup that excitedly welcomes me home each day, and Orangetheory fitness to help rescue me after I eat too much food and drink too much wine during the holidays. I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving!

Kirk Pepper: A job that doesn’t feel like work, beautiful, talented children, family that are friends and friends that are family.

Fred Piccolo: A wonderful, beautiful wife who has embraced this adventure in Tallahassee. Supportive and encouraging parents who taught me faith and fortitude. Two brothers who are best friends and partners in crime. A job that is challenging and rewarding. Two bosses I respect and can have fun with. Friends who are steadfast and loyal. A grandmother who speaks her mind – even when it’s hilarious. The best dog a guy could ask for and a President-elect who will Make America Great Again.

Scott Ross: I’m thankful for my beautiful wife Ashley, my daughter Kendall, our dogs Kacey and Walker and the 11.5 years we got to spend with our dog Riley. Thankful to live in the freest country in the world where we can raise our children to believe anything is possible.

Ron Sachs: Thanksgiving always has been my favorite holiday. Everyone has so much to be grateful for — and this day reminds us to keep an attitude of gratitude omnipresent, not just one day a year. Personally, I am grateful for the friends who are our family of choice, and for family who love each other enough to be loving friends, too. In a really painful year with personal losses of loved ones among those closest to me, I’m thankful for how we helped each other through — with the love of others — as we hope to help others in their same sad times. I deeply appreciate living in a country which so values freedom that our wide differences of opinion may test and stress us, but they will never really tear us apart. I’m grateful for those who hold themselves out for public service — elected and appointed — and who almost always are in it for all the right reasons. And, I’m grateful for the greatness of our free enterprise system, which enabled us to start, grow and sustain a business more than 20 years ago that does excellent work for our clients, gives back as much as possible to our community, and helps our work family take care of their own families. Happy Thanksgiving to All.

Karen Skyers: I am thankful for my children, my grandchildren, my godparents, my sisters, friends, health, my career, my mentors and mentees. I am thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had over the past year and those to come. I am most grateful for having loving parents who stood together against all odds and raised my sisters and I with love, compassion and respect for all others.

Chester Spellman: I am thankful for my wonderful wife, three healthy kids and the opportunity to serve the people of Florida through my position at Volunteer Florida.

John “Mac” Stipanovich: I am thankful that I have lived long enough to  graduate from being an enduring pain in the ass to being an endearing eccentric.

Steve Vancore: As a business owner, I am extremely thankful that so many clients put so much trust in our hands.  As a father and husband, I am grateful that my family put up with long hours at the office and the nights away from home…and now I am grateful that I get to spend the next few weeks in my own bed.

Michael Williams: For healthy kids, a great wife, and Dalvin Cook.

Frank Zilaitis: I am thankful for House Speaker Richard Corcoran. I suspect/hope he is a closet Objectivist implementing the ideal political party platform and policies: The Florida House has a golden opportunity to take the lead in restoring liberty in Florida. Best to you and your colleagues Mr. Speaker!

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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.”

AS WE CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING, REMEMBER OUR HIGHER CALLING: HELPING THE NEEDY via Rao Musunuru for the Tampa Bay Times – One does not have to be a socialist to want to help the poor and needy. And one does not have to be deeply religious to feel the pain of the poor and sick … The United States of America is the most generous country in the world. Most of us like helping. Do we do enough, though, especially to meet the local needs? The muscular middle-aged man begging on the street corner on a Sunday morning may not fit the description of the needy. How does one decide whom to help? It will be very obvious, if one observes closely … let us think of both ends of the life spectrum — children and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable. Let us give our thanks to God for this Thanksgiving by sharing what little we can with the unfortunate. Also, may we make a habit of it throughout the year and enjoy the endless happiness of helping.

COST OF THANKSGIVING DAY MEAL DOWN IN 2016 via Florida Politics — According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is $49.87. That’s a 24-cent decrease from the 2015 average of $50.11. The survey found a 16-pound turkey will cost $22.74, or about $1.42 per pound. That’s a 2 cents per pound decrease from 2015. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates consumers will pay about 30 cents less per whole turkey this year compared to last year. “We have seen farm prices for many foods – including turkeys – fall from the higher levels of recent years,” said John Newton, the director of market intelligence at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “This translates into lower retail prices for a number of items as we prepare for Thanksgiving and confirms that U.S. consumers benefit from an abundant, high-quality and affordable food supply.”

HERE’S WHAT YOUR PART OF AMERICA EATS ON THANKSGIVING via Walt Hickey of Five Thirty Eight — Thanksgiving — when we give thanks and celebrate a tale about the welcoming of foreign refugees to American shores — is once again upon us. For some, it’s a day of mass media consumption, with a parade and three NFL games. … Sure, we’ve hit the point where the Santa Claus float at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade commemorates the start of the third week of Christmas music on the radio, but at least turkeys are cheap, right? And that’s what Thanksgiving is really about: food. So, in the spirit of the things that bring us all together, let’s peel apart this holiday and carve this nation up into factions like a bargain-bin bird. Who eats what where?

The Southeast prefers their carbs in the form of mac and cheese — 35 percent of respondents in that region include the dish on their Thanksgiving menu versus 20 percent of the country overall. … Every region enjoys pumpkin pie. But beyond that, there are three Americas: The America that disproportionately has apple pie (New England and the Middle Atlantic), the America that has pecan pie and sweet potato pie (the assorted South), and the America that consumes cherry pie (the Midwest and West).

COST OF THANKSGIVING DAY MEAL DOWN IN 2016 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is $49.87. That’s a 24-cent decrease from the 2015 average of $50.11. The survey found a 16-pound turkey will cost $22.74, or about $1.42 per pound. That’s a two-cent-per-pound decrease from 2015. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates consumers will pay about 30 cents less per whole turkey this year compared to last year. The America Farm Bureau Federation’s shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk. All the quantities will serve a family of 10, with leftovers. While the cost of turkey is down, a few dinner table staples did increase. The price of a dozen brown-and-serve rolls increased to $2.46; while 12 ounces of fresh cranberries will cost an estimated $2.39. The Farm Bureau also found the cost of a half-pint of whipping cream is $2 and a three-pound bag of fresh sweet potatoes is $3.60.

GAS PRICES DROP AHEAD OF BUSY THANKSGIVING TRAVEL SCHEDULE — AAA projects 43.5 million Americans will take a road trip this Thanksgiving, and drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. The national average price is $2.14, and represents a savings of 3 cents per gallon compared to one week ago and 9 cents per gallon on the month. According to AAA, pump prices “are only five cents higher than compared to last year.” The organization said retail averages have fallen steadily since Nov. 6.

48.7 MILLION AMERICANS TO TRAVEL THIS THANKSGIVING via AAA – AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of 1 million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. Why the Increase? This year’s increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. Despite incremental increases in the national average price of gasoline during the past couple of months, AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year. “This is the most traveled holiday of the year, and as usual, there is an emphasis on road trips,” said Joseph J. Richardson Jr., President and CEO of AAA – The Auto Club Group. “If you are one of the 43.5 million people on the road, we urge you to be patient in traffic and limit distractions while behind the wheel.” The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27 – the same duration as last year. The most popular travel dates are the Wednesday before the holiday and the Sunday after. The vast majority—more than 89 percent—of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent, with 3.69 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 1.44 million travelers. In Florida, AAA estimates 2,531,080 people will travel, an increase of 4.9 percent; of that, 2,293,620 will travel by auto, an increase of 5 percent.

WHAT’S THE WORD FOR TURKEY IN TURKISH? via Gretchen McCulloch of – … turkey in Turkish is hindi … the word for turkey in Hindi is टर्की … transcribed ṭarkī in the Latin alphabet … Turkeys are native to the Americas, but the Europeans first encountering them thought that they looked like a kind of guinea fowl, another large, ungainly, colorful-faced kind of bird … Europeans received most of their guinea fowl imported via Turkey … original guinea fowl kept that name, but the new kind of guinea fowl (which weren’t actually guinea fowl at all) ended up with the other version: turkey fowl, which became just turkey … first turkeys brought to Europe also generally came via Turkey: The birds had originally been domesticated by the Aztecs and were brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadores, who traded them to the rest of the continent via North Africa and, yes, Turkey.

FLORIDA’S UNIQUE TURKEY SPECIES GOBBLES ON via David Flesher of the Orlando Sentinel … An elusive variety of the giant bird will be gobbling, clucking and flying at surprisingly high speed through South Florida’s fields and forests … Osceola turkey, also called the Florida wild turkey … a subspecies unique to the state’s peninsula. Smaller and darker than its Northern cousins, the Osceola can be found at the southeastern end of Everglades National Park, at the far western edge of Broward County, in the forests of northwestern Palm Beach County and throughout the peninsula up to about Jacksonville. The state’s native turkey has turned into an unlikely tourist draw, attracting hunters seeking to complete their “grand slam” of all five North American turkey subspecies. At the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area in northern Palm Beach County, hunters killed 103 turkeys in the last three seasons … Their speed would surprise anyone who thinks of turkeys as waddling blobs of meat and feathers. A wild turkey can run up to 25 miles per hour and briefly achieve a flying speed of 55 miles per hour, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation.


FIRST THANKSGIVING ACTUALLY WAS IN FLORIDA via Ben Brotemarkle of WTSP/10 News – Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, colonists in St. Augustine shared a feast of thanksgiving with Native Americans. “Not until 42 years later would English Jamestown be founded,” said eminent Florida historian Michael Gannon. “Not until 56 years later would the Pilgrims in Massachusetts observe their famous Thanksgiving. St. Augustine’s settlers celebrated the nation’s first Thanksgiving over a half century earlier, on September 8, 1565. Following a religious service, the Spaniards shared a communal meal with the local native tribe.” Hosting the first Thanksgiving celebration in what would become the United States is one of many “firsts” for the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in America … “Our nation’s first city government, first school, first hospital, first city plan, first Parrish church, and first mission to the native populations.”

FSU RESEARCHERS TALK TURKEY: NATIVE AMERICANS RAISED CLASSIC HOLIDAY BIRD LONG BEFORE FIRST THANKSGIVING via Kathleen Haughney of Florida State University News — Hundreds of years before the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans were raising and feasting on America’s classic holiday meal. Florida State University Associate Professor of Anthropology Tanya Peres and graduate student Kelly Ledford write in a paper published … in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports  that Native Americans as early as 1200 – 1400 A.D. were managing and raising turkeys. This is the first time scientists have suggested that turkeys were potentially domesticated by early Native Americans in the southeastern United States. “In the Americas, we have just a few domesticated animals,” Peres said. “Researchers haven’t really talked about the possibility of Native Americans domesticating or raising turkeys.” Researchers knew that turkeys had been a part of Native American life long before the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE WARNS OF WILDFIRE DANGERS AHEAD OF THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service issued a fire danger warning this week, and encouraged Floridians to take extra precaution over the Thanksgiving holiday. Dry conditions sparked wildfires in many areas of the state, threatening 32 homes within the last month. The Florida Forest Service encouraged Floridians to avoid burning yard debris on dry, windy days and never leave a fire or outdoor heat source unattended. Deep frying your turkey? According to the Florida Forest Service said turkey fryers and grills should be set up at least 10 feet away from your home and away from overhanging branches and natural areas. “As we join friends and family this Thanksgiving, let’s all take extra care while outdoors, whether frying a turkey or grilling out for a big game,” said Putnam.

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JOE NEGRON REAFFIRMS POLICY GOALS AS HE TAKES OVER AS FLORIDA SENATE PRESIDENT via Kristen M. Clark of the Miami Herald — As Negron officially took over control of the Florida Senate on Tuesday, the Republican from Stuart outlined once again his priorities for improving higher education, stopping harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee and reforming juvenile justice. Negron first detailed those plans in his designation speech almost a year ago, but now he’s in a position to personally drive that agenda for the next two years. … Negron also said he wants to defend the right of free speech on public college and university campuses — pointedly noting he hopes Florida’s institutions “will continue to reject the culture of coddling that has consumed some campuses around our country the past few weeks and months.” “Dating back all the way to antiquity, institutions of higher education have always served as forums for free speech and the open exchange of ideas,” Negron said. “No one has a right to shut down speech simply because it makes someone feel uncomfortable. We should train students to articulate and defend their ideas in an open and responsible way that prepares them for the real world.”

IN FIRST SPEECH AS SPEAKER, RICHARD CORCORAN CALLS TEACHERS UNION VOUCHER CHALLENGE ‘DOWNRIGHT EVIL’ via Jessica Bakeman of POLTICO Florida — If it wasn’t already clear the conservative state House of Representatives resents teachers’ unions, new speaker Richard Corcoran plans to plainly target them during his opening remarks as he takes over the chamber. “The teachers union is fixated on halting innovation and competition,” Corcoran will say, according to his prepared remarks, which were distributed to reporters. “They are attempting to destroy the lives of almost 100,000 children, mostly minority, and ALL of them poor. This flies in the face of research. It defies common sense. It is downright evil.” …FEA is fighting a voucher-like tax-credit scholarship program that lets poor kids attend private schools. State trial and appeals courts have ruled the plaintiffs don’t have standing to sue over the 15-year-old program, in which corporations save on their tax bills by funding the scholarships. But, led by the FEA, the plaintiffs have appealed to the state Supreme Court. “Tell the teachers union they’re wrong,” Corcoran will say, referring to the lawsuit.

SENATE AND HOUSE NOT THAT DIFFERENT, NEGRON SAYS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Negron said his approach to budgeting isn’t that different from Corcoran … In sweeping changes to the House’s traditional way of doing business, Corcoran said senators would need House sponsors for special spending requests, such as hometown projects, often derided as “turkeys.” But Negron, who along with Corcoran is a former Appropriations chair, said he “would encourage senators to find someone in the House” to support a budget item, and “we’ve always done that,” he said. “The chances of an appropriation surviving this process are higher if both chambers are doing it,” said Negron …  He also suggested those who lobby the Legislature for appropriations for paying clients have as much of a First Amendment right to cajole lawmakers as residents who seek money to build a senior center. “The Capitol … should always be open for comment,” Negron said. “… I believe that lobbyists and others and constituents have every right to redress grievances and to work in the process. And I believe all of us have a responsibility, myself included, to get information from many different sources to make a decision about voting and on budget decisions.”

FLORIDA SENATE LEADERS RESIST CORCORAN’S CALLS FOR CHANGE IN CAPITOL via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – “Too many lobbyists see themselves as the true power brokers of this process,” Corcoran told the House during a one-day organizational session. “Too many appropriations projects are giveaways to vendors and the decision of whether they get in the budget has more to do with their choice of lobbyist than the merits of the project … It all ends, and it all ends today.” Despite Corcoran’s reformist zeal, he controls only one side of the Capitol. The Senate … has very different ideas. “Lobbyists and others and constituents have every opportunity to redress grievances,” Negron told reporters … the Senate will resist new House rules … requiring that lawmaker-sponsored spending projects be filed as stand-alone bills by next March 7, the opening day of the session. “We shouldn’t put ourselves in a straitjacket,” Negron said. “The Capitol should always be open for business.” Negron’s priorities are juvenile justice, the environment and higher education. He’ll propose a $1.2 billion borrowing program to buy land to increase water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, where harmful lake discharges have polluted the fragile Everglades and triggered devastating algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The program is part of the implementation of the land and water initiative known as Amendment 1, a ballot measure passed by voters two years ago. Negron avoided directly criticizing Corcoran, but a leading Democrat did the job.

OSCAR BRAYNON TO RICHARD CORCORAN ON THE NEW HOUSE RULES: WHERE’S THE REAL CHANGE? via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – “I look at these rules and I think, he must be expecting criminals and unethical people to come to the House. I know I expect senators to come to the Senate,” [Braynon] said in an interview …  “If Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva really wanted to change the culture of the House, to me they wouldn’t be afraid to debate issues,” he said. “They wouldn’t stifle Democratic bills. They wouldn’t take good Democratic ideas and make them Republican bills. if they really wanted change, and they talk about openness, they would start doing these things instead of this foolishness claiming we’re cleaning up the process because people can’t fly on jets, or text lobbyists or get a promotion in a government job. “To me, that’s not a real change. Most of that is illegal or is not allowed anyway and if it is, it’s disclosed. Real change is changing the dynamic where bills are not heard, where ideas are stifled, where people are forced to vote against their conscience. If they change that, then he’s doing a real change. the rest of this is — since Trump got elected I guess I can say this — it’s bullshit.” In a nod to bipartisan cooperation, Oscar will present the Senate’s rules with it convenes today to swear in new members and most of the Senate rules are the same ones used by the Republican-controlled upper chamber in the past. “One of the reasons we didn’t change them is because we believe we elected senators of high regard and if my colleagues break the law, or violate the rules, we’ll deal with violating the statutes and the rules,” he said.


Among the changes is a requirement that members file individual legislation for each budget earmark they seek, reports Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida.

Initially, there was some confusion about this rule change because it was unclear what would happen to an earmark in the Senate that had no accompanying bill in the House.

Corcoran said Monday the solution to that problem is senators will need to find a House co-sponsor for earmark requests just like any other bill, reports Dixon.

“They have to find one of the 120 members [of the House] to file that earmark or project for them, then it’s in play,” Corcoran said.

There would appear to be an easy workaround to this roadblock, err, reform.

A gang of Republican senators just needs to find some backbench, preferably term-limited Democrat member of the House who has no hesitation about pissing in Corcoran’s Cheerios.

Have this House member file a bill for every single possible earmark the Senate can conceive of, this way the upper chamber is in compliance with the House’s new requirements.

(The gang of senators needs to remember to lend this helpful House member a handful of Senate staffers to complete all of the new budgeting paperwork now required by Corcoran and Co.)

Since there’s no limit on the number of appropriations bills that can be filed by an individual member, it won’t matter if this helpful House member files one bill or a thousand. In fact, the more bills, the merrier for the Senate. After all, as Dixon noted in his reporting about Corcoran’s changes to the appropriations process, as long as a budget bill is filed by both the House and the Senate, it can remain in play until final budget negotiations.

Sure, this helpful House member may draw the scorn of Speaker Corcoran, but they’ll have a lot of friends in the Senate.

And that’s one way to get around Speaker Corcoran’s new rules.

Email [email protected] if you have suggestions for other hacks and workarounds.

AS THE LEGISLATURE ORGANIZES, WHERE’S PAM BONDI? via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – It’s a big day in the Capitol as the state House and Senate elect leaders and organize for the 2017-2018 term — big enough that Gov. Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and most of the Florida Cabinet are on hand. But one member of the Cabinet isn’t here: Attorney General Bondi. She is working. Bondi called in to a meeting of the Elections Canvassing Commission with Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater … She could well be in New York helping with president-elect Donald Trump’s transition to the White House. Trump named Bondi to the executive committee of his transition team. She is also considered a frontrunner for an appointment in the new administration.

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY GIVES THUMBS UP TO NEW HOUSE RULES via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “We are especially eager to see Speaker Corcoran’s new house rules in action,” said state director Chris Hudson. “These new rules are a strong signal to Floridians that the legislature will focus on good stewardship and transparency as their guide throughout the next two years.” Included in the approved package of proposals are a requirement for lobbyists to submit paperwork the first time they meet with anyone in the House on an issue or a bill; requiring lobbyists to list the particular issues of a bill before they can lobby them, and a ban on lobbyists texting lawmakers during committee hearings. In addition to Corcoran’s election, the House and Senate voted for new leaders selected years ago. “We are excited to begin working on holding elected officials accountable for the 2017 session,” said Hudson. “We heard Senate President Joe Negron, Speaker Richard Corcoran, and leaders Janet Cruz and Oscar Braynon lay out aggressive agendas for the coming years. Our hope is that these lawmakers, and both legislative bodies, rise to the principled standards they laid out in order to advance freedom for Florida families and entrepreneurs.”

FAMILY FEUD MIAMI STYLE: LEGISLATORS RE-ELECT REP. JOSE FELIX DIAZ AS DELEGATION CHAIR AFTER PARTISAN BATTLE via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Despite their attempt to flex their muscles, four Democrats crossed over and the group re-elected Diaz to the one-year post that has the power to make appointments to several local boards of directors. Diaz was challenged by the current vice chair, newly-elected state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez … He collected 14 votes to Rodriguez’s 9 while Diaz failed to vote. Democrats who voted for Diaz over their party’s candidate were Rep. Joe Geller of Aventura, Rep. Roy Hardemon of Miami, Rep. Nick Duran of Miami Beach and Sen. Daphne Campbell of Miami. “I think it’s still a united delegation,” Diaz said after the vote. “Every election gets like this. The best part about our delegation is that no matter what happens today at the election, we always work together throughout, so it’s going to be a good couple of years. I’m excited. I felt confident I had the votes, but we still need to come here and that we follow through with the right protocol.” … “I’m disappointed,” said Sen. Oscar Braynon … who voted for Rodriguez by proxy. “I think Pepe [Diaz] will be a good delegation chair but that’s not the point. The eternal question is, what do Democrats really want? We had a chance to have a position of power and elect a Democrat for the first time and we didn’t do it.”

CALL FOR COSTLY RE-DO OF PALM BEACH COUNTY STATE SENATE RACE NOW BEFORE JUDGE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Prospects for a costly and confusing election re-do in a Palm Beach County state Senate district now rest with a Leon County judge following a hearing which coincided with the Legislature’s organization session. Sen. Bobby Powell was sworn-in as a new senator at 10:32 a.m. Just over a half-hour later across the street from the Capitol, lawyers for Powell and political opponents Ruben Anderson, a Democrat and Ron Berman, a Republican, were battling over whether the primary and general election contests for Senate District 30 should be replayed. Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, looking on in Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis’s courtroom, said a do-over of the two recently completed elections would likely cost taxpayers more than $1 million. Anderson was disqualified in July after his bank did not honor his campaign’s $1,781.82 check to cover the candidate qualifying fee. Florida law gives a candidate until the end of the qualifying period to correct such a situation. But Anderson had no remedy because his check was returned after qualifying closed.

ROBERT ASENCIO IS SWORN IN TO HOUSE DESPITE ATTEMPT BY DAVID RIVERA TO CHALLENGE HIM via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — After a ruling by the Secretary of State that Democrat Asencio’s 53-vote victory over former state Rep. David Rivera was legitimate, the Florida House swore in the Democrat and rejected Rivera’s seating challenge.  The House unanimously rejected the formal challenge for House District 118 Tuesday, during the House’s post-election organizational session, after the Florida Canvassing Board, headed by Secretary of State Ken Detzner certified the vote after a recount. After 10 hours of counting ballots, Miami-Dade County elections department last week declared that Asencio finished with 31,412 votes and Rivera 31,359 — a margin 15 votes closer than when the recount began. “There is no assertion and no evidence submitted that the Miami-Dade canvassing board…In other words, there was no allegation of any irregularity,” said Rep. Larry Metz, R-Umatilla, who moved to dismiss the seating challenge. The motion was unanimously approved.

2018 WATCH – HIALEAH LAWMAKER EYES FLORIDA SENATE SEAT IN TWO YEARS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Fresh off re-election to his third term in the Florida House … Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. is already planning his political future. Diaz opened a campaign account to run in 2018 for Florida Senate District 36 — which current state Sen. René García … will vacate in two years because of term limits. The north Miami-Dade County seat overlaps largely with Diaz’s House district — an area that includes Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Miami Lakes and Doral. Diaz is expected to have a powerful role in the Florida House for the 2016-18 term when it comes to education matters. He is likely to be named as an appropriations chairman for one of the subcommittees overseeing education spending. It is quite common for lawmakers to open campaign accounts almost immediately after being elected or re-elected, so that they can begin fundraising for their next campaign.

FLORIDA PTA DROPS OUT OF FEA VOUCHER LAWSUIT via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The move comes the same day new House Speaker Richard Corcoran … called on the Florida Education Association to drop the suit. The Florida PTA was one of several groups which participated in the lawsuit against Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides nearly 100,000 low-income and minority students with vouchers to attend private schools around the state. Groups opposed to the scholarship program have repeatedly taken their case to court, challenging the constitutionality of the program. The Florida Education Association, which represents nearly 140,000 teachers statewide, has led the charge against the program. The Florida PTA joined the FEA and other groups like the NAACP to fight against the scholarship program, much to the dismay of parent groups, students and lawmakers alike. The PTA has decided it no longer wants to be a part of the movement against the scholarships — at least in a legal sense — moving forward … the PTA still opposes the scholarship program, but “has decided to focus its efforts elsewhere.” Last month, the board of the parent-teacher group decided to drop out of the suit. Support for the lawsuit has dwindled over time. Last year, the Florida School Boards Association decided it wouldn’t appeal a Leon County judge’s dismissal of the case. That ruling was just one in a series of many judge orders saying the plaintiffs don’t have a standing to file a lawsuit. The FEA has pledged not to give up on its legal battle against the program despite losing one of its comrades along the way. “This doesn’t change the FEA’s resolve to have the merits of this case heard in a fair and open court,” FEA president Joanne McCall said in a statement.

CAPITOL HOLIDAY DISPLAY WOULD PAY HOMAGE TO POLICE SHOOTING VICTIMS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A South Florida activist and former blogger has again filed to erect a “Festivus” pole in the state Capitol this year as a holiday display. But this year’s pole has a politically charged twist, according to Chaz Stevens‘ application to the state. “The all black, six-foot-tall Festivus-inspired pole will contain the names of all unarmed black men killed by police in 2016,” Stevens wrote. The application has not yet been acted on by the Department of Management Services, which oversees state property. For the last few years, reviewing and approving holiday displays in the Capitol’s plaza-level rotunda has been a thorn in the side of state administrators. The only other application for the 2016 holiday season is from the First Coast Freethought Society in Jacksonville. It wants to display a poster that “explains the astronomy producing the winter solstice and the historical reasons for celebrating at this time of year,” its application says. Other past displays have included a crèche from Florida Prayer Network/Florida Nativity Scene Committee; a 9-foot-tall menorah; a placard with a tongue-in-cheek message to “celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” with “friends,” “fun” and “Chinese food” by American Atheists; and a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” display by Secular Student Alliance and Pastafarian Peter Wood.

OIR NEEDS MORE MONEY TO COVER INSURANCE COMMISSIONER’S SALARY via Christine Sexton of POLTICO Florida — Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is asking the Florida Legislature to put some money where its mouth is. Atwater and Gov. Rick Scott on April 29 agreed that David Altmaier should replace longtime insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty, who resigned at Scott’s urging. The full Cabinet agreed to pay Altmaier $165,000, about $31,000 more than what McCarty earned. According to the Department of Financial Services legislative budget request, the Office of Insurance Regulation has not been given the additional funding needed to pay Altmaier the agreed-to salary. It asks for an additional $30,843 in rate and $35,521 in salaries and benefits to cover the increase.

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FPL’S MIKE SOLE, JOHN HOLLEY MOVE INTO NEW POSITIONS via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Florida Power & Light Co.’s Sole has moved from Tallahassee to Juno Beach to take a position with parent company NextEra Energy. Sole, who was Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary from 2007 to 2010, becomes vice president of environmental services at NextEra, replacing retiring Randy LaBauve … Sole had been vice president of state government affairs at FPL. He is being replaced by John Holley, who had been vice president of state legislative affairs since 2011. The changes were effective Nov. 1 followed by a transition period.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ALBERTO MOSCOSO MOVES TO FDEM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Moscoso, formerly press secretary for the Department of Corrections, now is communications director for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). Moscoso, who also holds the title of Public Information Officer, started the new job Nov. 18 … “We are excited and proud to welcome Alberto,” said Bryan Koon, the state’s director of emergency management. “His experiences serving both our country and our state will provide our team with the diverse skill set essential to accurate and effective communications during times of crisis.” At Corrections, Moscoso “developed and honed the skills of strategic public relations, crisis communications and relationship development with media and community partners.” That department has long had a contentious relationship with the press, including, most recently, a public spat with POLITICO Florida over its report that the agency misled the public about plans to eliminate transitional programs for prisoners and probationers.

PERSONNEL NOTE: DAVE MURZIN JOINS LIBERTY PARTNERS OF TALLAHASSEE AS NW FLORIDA DIRECTOR via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “We are honored to have Dave join forces with the Liberty Partners team.” said firm owner and President Jennifer Green in a statement. “This strategic partnership gives us the opportunity to continue to work with a longtime friend and colleague in a region of the state where we all have a strong connection.” A former state legislator and longtime legislative staffer, Murzin has experience in both the public and private sector. Murzin served in the Florida House from 2002 until 2010. While in the House, Murzin was appointed by former House Speaker Larry Cretul to the Florida Council on Military Base and Mission Support. He also served on the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council, was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to both the Joint Select Committee on Hurricane Insurance and the Property Tax Reform Committee, was appointed by former House Speaker and current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to the Joint Property Tax Reform Committee, and served on the Escambia County Utilities Authority Administrative Advisory Committee. Before serving in the Florida House, he served as a top staffer to Jeff Miller, a former congressman and member of the Florida House, and former House Majority Leader Jerry Maygarden.

SPOTTED: Diane Roberts eats food and teaches writing in Atlanta. More here.

WHAT STEPHANIE SMITH IS READING – UBER, LYFT ON HOLD IN ST. PETE WHILE CITY TWEAKS BUSINESS TAX via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Council members appeared poised to approve the measure, first discussed at a council workshop in February 2015, before an Uber representative said his company was exempt from the tax because it didn’t employ any workers who received W-2 tax forms from Uber. Lyft officials had similar concerns. The Uber representative, Cesar Fernandez, managed Mayor Rick Kriseman’s 2013 mayoral campaign. City attorneys said the city’s tax code had been simplified in recent years, but its procedures had remained consistent: taxi and other vehicle-for-hire services were assessed the tax not by workers, but by individual vehicles. The current tax code wasn’t explicit on this point, conceded Heather Judd, an assistant city attorney, but she said the city would need only to clarify the code to legally assess the tax, which is pegged at $65 per vehicle. Council members agreed to defer the issue until next month when they could consider a revised tax code spelling out how taxis and ride-sharing companies would be taxed. Taxi companies who have contended that Uber and Lyft have operated illegally in the city for years, cheered council member Jim Kennedy’s request that Kriseman order police to begin enforcing the city’s existing ordinance, which requires fees and taxes of up to $265 per vehicle.

WHY DO THE DETROIT LIONS AND DALLAS COWBOYS ALWAYS PLAY ON THANKSGIVING? via Florida Politics – It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise … in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth … wasn’t quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934. Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving … The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL’s Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and that’s why the Lions still play on Thanksgiving.

THE 32 RULES OF THANKSGIVING TOUCH FOOTBALL via Florida Politics – A Nerf ball is OK but you should own a leather football … It’s two-hand touch. One-hand touch is for lazy people who buy turkey sandwiches out of vending machines. … Two completions is 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 his or her Thanksgiving outfit. This is not cause for alarm. This is the highlight of the game … It’s OK to play with kids but don’t baby them. Just because your 7-year-old niece is playing quarterback doesn’t mean you can’t intercept her screen pass and run it back for a touchdown. She’s got to learn sometime not to throw into triple coverage.

THANKSGIVING IN SPACE: TURKEY, GREEN BEANS & EVEN FOOTBALL via Marcia Dunn of The Associated Press – NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the station’s commander, is serving as Thanksgiving chef for the six-person crew. He showed off the specialties he’ll be preparing in a video this week. “It’s going to be a little bit different for us up here in space,” he said, “but I’m going to try to make it as much like home as we can.” On Thursday – a regular workday for the crew – Kimbrough will warm up pouches of sliced smoked turkey, candied yams, and cherry and blueberry cobbler. He’ll also add water to the bags of freeze-dried cornbread dressing, green beans and mushrooms and mashed potatoes. “You can’t have a Thanksgiving meal without green beans,” he noted. Mission Control promises to beam up some live football games – “to complete the experience,” Kimbrough said. NASA, meanwhile, is sharing its recipe for “out of this world” cornbread dressing. It’s straight from Johnson Space Center’s food lab, “no freeze-drying required.”

CYBER MONDAY TO BE BIGGEST SHOPPING DAY OF YEAR FOR FLORIDIANS via Doreen Christensen of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Cyber Monday is expected to overtake Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of the year for Floridians, according to a new AAA Consumer Pulse Survey. Of 400 state residents surveyed by the Tampa-based Auto Club Group, more than 75 percent of Floridians said they planned to begin holiday shopping in November, with 49 percent expected to click for deals on Cyber Monday. Black Friday came in a close second in the survey, at 48 percent. Only 19 percent said they would venture out for doorbuster deals on Thanksgiving Day or Saturday. Gifts at the top of shoppers’ lists include apparel (68 percent), gift cards (60 percent), toys (39 percent), jewelry (38 percent) and books (37 percent), according to AAA.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Brady Benford, Craig Chown, Julia Woodward, and my dear friend, Screven Watson.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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