Sunburn for November 27 – Happy Thanksgiving

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the public affairs firm known for unparalleled relationships and winning strategies: The fanfare may be focused on Plymouth Rock, but it seems the real credit for the first Thanksgiving belongs right here in Florida. Fifty-six years before the Pilgrims inspired an American tradition, in September 1565 Spanish explorers and priests sat down in present-day St. Augustine with Timucuan natives for food and fellowship to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Europeans’ safe journey. Academics tell us the first Thanksgiving’s main dish was a garlic stew made from pork, garbanzo beans and olive oil from the Spanish ships. Just think … if that event had caught on, modern American presidents might be pardoning Thanksgiving hogs instead of turkeys. Whichever version you prefer, Sachs Media Group wishes you a joyful day of giving thanks.

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 2014. Picture here.

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

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


“I am thankful for a wonderful wife, a daughter and son who make me very proud, parents who loved me, the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the opportunity to live in the greatest country and the best city on the face of the planet!” — former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker

“This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the many blessings in my life, first and foremost among them are my children. Having Austin home from college and getting to spend time with him and Gabriella sure makes this mom’s heart full with happiness and gratitude.  I am also grateful that the voters of Senate District 30 once again placed their trust in me to represent beautiful Southwest Florida in the Legislature.” — Lizbeth Benacquisto

“I’m always so thankful… Thankful for a Savior. Thankful for an incredible wife. Thankful for healthy and wonderful children. Thankful for a great business partner who has the same world view on life, personal and business as I do. Thankful for loving parents who gave me a childhood that while not perfect was worlds above the normal. Thankful I found the narrow path at a time in my life when I was lost. Thankful for my ability to get out of bed each day without real struggles or worry. Thankful for having known some great people who have forever changed my life by their love. Thankful for today… Have a great thanksgiving, my friend. Best to Michelle and Ella. I hope you all find joy in knowing what a blessing you are to people like me.” — Travis Blanton

“I’m grateful that we live in a country that respects freedom of speech and the rule of law and we enjoy that because of the men and women of our military, law enforcement and first responders who put their lives on the line for us every day. God bless them all!” — Barney Bishop

“Grateful that my family is healthy, my daughters are thriving and blossoming into bright, curious and confident young girls and that my city is prepared for its next chapter.” — Bob Buckhorn

“This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for turkeys. They give TaxWatch something to do.” — Paul Bradshaw

“Case Family will be running a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 10k and then enjoying parades, football, too much food and naps!  We feel very thankful for blessings of both professional and personal friendships.  We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!” — Chip Case

“I’m really grateful for the people who are in my life and that I get to live and work in Tallahassee. Some of the folks in this town are a hoot and others are very, very cool.” — James Call

“I am grateful for all of God’s Blessings, my Wife and  Best Friend Keyna, our Associate Erin, our Godson Jackson, his Parents, our 4-legged Children George, Bear, Rusty and all the Foster Pets we helped go home this year.” — Jack Cory

“I’m most thankful for Peter Schorsch providing me the opportunity to have my cartoons published in SaintPerersBlog, and for Ron Sachs of Sachs Media Group for all that he has done to promote the beautiful state of Florida.” — Bill Day (Bless you, Bill, bless you.)

“I am thankful that I wake up each day knowing my opinion is valuable enough to make a living offering it!” — Jennifer Green

“I am grateful for not having said something dumb during the opening moments of the #Fangate debate. I am grateful the elections are over and that most everyone has calmed down. I am grateful to have met the man I’m going to marry on Thanksgiving Sunday, Tom O’Hara, who has been editing Context Florida and is about to become a visiting professor at FAU. And I am grateful to live in such a beautiful and interesting place, to be blessed with a wonderful family and great friends, and to still be healthy and pain-free on this journey we call life.” — Rosemary Goudreau

“I have so much to be thankful for; hard to know where to even begin. A loving wife and model mother, respectful kids, supportive parents and in-laws. Friends who stick with me in times of despair. Clients who provide for my family, committed employees, service men and women who keep us safe and a God who loves me and obviously gave me things I don’t deserve. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Peter, your family and the entire SPB community.” — Brecht Heuchan

“My thankfulness is for friends, family and colleagues that enlighten, amuse and inspire, and for the now 20 Thanksgivings with Christina, whose world I am so thankful to live in everyday.” — David Johnson

“Thanksgiving 2014 is like no other in my life. I am thankful that on Sunday I’m marrying Rosemary Goudreau, the brilliant and lovely Opinion Editor of the Sun Sentinel. Falling in love at this stage in life is surprising and extraordinary. ” — Thomas O’Hara

“In addition to the usual listing of health, family and loved ones, friends, etc. I will say that I am happy Florida has leadership in place for the foreseeable future that will focus on the economy, job creation, quality of life for all Floridians plus our state having a favorable work environment. Happiness begins with a good job. While we can debate which are the right tactics and strategies to get there, I think we all agree on the general direction. Let’s give thanks and hope for a lot more happy Floridians in 2015.” — Fred Leonhardt

“We are grateful to not be watching the approximately $19 million a day that was being spent on advertising up until November 4 nationally. We are grateful that the ‘burn provides daily updates on everything going on politically in one location early every morning. We are grateful to those who offer themselves for public service and not for a job — you know who you are! We are most of all grateful for good health and family and friends — not much else really matters.” — Bob Levy

“I am thankful for everyone who supports news coverage of environmental issues in Florida.” — Bruce Ritchie

“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is all about gratitude – and that is something that everyone can embrace and reflect. Geography, age, gender, ethnicity, partisanship or religion cannot divide us when we focus on being thankful for our lives, families and friends. The optimism that flows from an attitude of gratitude brings with it the belief that anything is possible: that chronic problems can be solved, that our differences can be our strengths and that our best days and years are still ahead.” — Ron Sachs

“I spent Thanksgiving of 1967 at the American military base of Dong Ha, Viet Nam, and we had hot turkey, hot mashed potatoes, hot gravy and hot bread and we had a shower. We mixed  the food together in our canteen cups and it was absolutely wonderful. I put extra gravy in my canteen cup so after stirring, I actually drank my Thanksgiving dinner. This was the first hot meal we had been privy to in over two months since our special operations unit had been operating from a forward operating base (FOB) on the Laotian border for several months where we had no hot food, no shower units and very little else of a creature comfort nature. For years thereafter, I ate my Thanksgiving dinner out of my canteen cup, which did not go over real big with some of my friends who were war protesters in Southern California where we all lived. I lost my canteen cup years ago during a move. I guess I’ll use a plate this Thanksgiving… and, I’ll think about a great bunch of Marines, some of whom never saw another Thanksgiving, from that era with whom I was honored to serve.” – Jon Shebel

“I am thankful that working on Thanksgiving gets me the 26th of December off #lifeofareporter” – Mike Synan

“I’m thankful for having a loving and supportive husband who inspires me everyday to dream big and move our community to be a more just and accepting place for all.” — Chrisitian Ulvert

“I’m thankful for my amazing family, for living in the greatest state in the Nation, and for the ability to read solid news every morning.” — Skylar Zander

“Quick question: What’s the  right  balance of CBD and THC for my turkey stuffing recipe?” — Taylor Biehl

 ***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks, a trusted provider of industry-leading communications and networking services to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large, multi-site organizations. Our Enterprise Solutions provides the fiber connectivity, cloud and managed services  today’s large organizations demand, while our Business  Solutions team works with small- to mid-size companies to ensure they get the right services to fit their needs and their budget. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more at ***

U.S. CONSUMER SENTIMENT RISES FOR 4TH STRAIGHT MONTH via Christopher S. Rugaber of the Associated Press

Greater optimism about income growth and future spending pushed U.S. consumer sentiment to a fresh seven-year high in November.

The University of Michigan said that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 88.8 in November from 86.9 in October. That’s the highest since July 2007, five months before the Great Recession began.

The report adds to a mixed picture of U.S. consumers heading into the holiday shopping season. A separate measure of consumer confidence, released Tuesday by the Conference Board, fell sharply after reaching its own seven-year high last month. And Americans are spending at a sluggish pace despite a pickup in job creation this year.

Consumers are more optimistic that their incomes will increase, the Michigan survey found, but their expectations are modest: Respondents expect their incomes will increase 1.1 percent over the next 12 months. That’s the most in six years, though still not enough to keep up with inflation.

Yet the Michigan survey also found other positive signs. Consumers said they were more likely to spend on big-ticket items such as appliances and autos than at any time since the recession began. And Americans expect recent steady job gains to continue and the unemployment rate to decline further.

Yet rising confidence hasn’t yet translated into big gains in spending. Consumer spending rose just 0.2 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, after a flat reading in September. That could limit growth in the October-December quarter. Economists forecast the economy will expand at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter, down from an average of 4.25 percent in the preceding six months.

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.”


President Obama pardoned two turkeys at the White House, sparing them from becoming someone’s Thanksgiving dinner. They spent the last few nights in their own room at a swanky Washington hotel, and now head to a Virginia farm to live out their lives, which, unfortunately, will actually be quite miserable.


Two obese birds will be sent into retirement in an opulent ceremony at the White House. The beneficent ritual happens in anticipation of the annual mass consumption of their unlucky brethren, as political precedent mandates.

Michael Pollan told fellow Post writer Tim Carman this week, “It’s sort of an animal sacrifice in reverse — instead of killing the one to stand symbolically for the many, we free the one and kill the many.”

In response, there will be those who plead with the government to pardon festive bean curd instead, like our neighbors in the Northwest. There will be those who note that the current president has pardoned far fewer people than many other modern presidents.

But mostly, there will be awful puns:

Pardon me: Ohio farm to present presidential turkey

Pardon me, Mr. President, but we have a couple of problems

Pardon me! The turkeys who won a presidential reprieve

For two lucky birds, it’s gravy


The Boehner Brine is Speaker John Boehner’s trademark Thanksgiving special, crafted after years of finessing a recipe he found online.

“Well, I decided a couple of years ago that I would try to brine a turkey,” Boehner said in a new video.  He “found some recipe online, worked on it, tinkered with it, and over a period of about five years I settled in on my current brine.”

The Boehner Brine recipe is now on YouTube.


One in four Americans plan to be out of town this Thanksgiving.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 25 percent of American adults plan to travel away from home over the long holiday weekend, up from 22 percent last year and 18 percent in 2012. 

More travelers are buckling up for a road trip this Thanksgiving. Eighty-six percent plan to travel by car to their holiday destination this year, up significantly from 66 percent last year. Just 10 percent will travel by plane, while three percent plan to take a bus. Statistically speaking, virtually no Thanksgiving travelers intend to take a train or some other means of transportation this year.

Last year at this time, 21 percent still had not decided on their mode of transportation. Two years ago, though, 74 percent were traveling by car.

Americans are also in a more generous mood this year when it comes to holiday spending, but they’re off to a slower start shopping.

Higher-income adults are more likely to plan Thanksgiving travel this year than lower-income Americans.

Only nine percent of all Americans say they are more likely to shop at a store that opens on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on Black Friday deals. Forty-four percent say they are less likely to shop at a store that is open on Thanksgiving, while just as many (45 percent) say it will have no impact on their shopping plans.


Thanksgiving weekend has traditionally been the busiest time of the year for air travel, but that distinction is quickly becoming a thing of the past. With airlines merging and consolidating operations in fewer hubs, congestion that was once characteristic of the holiday is becoming more common at major airports all year round.

The change follows a string of megamergers that left four big carriers controlling about 80 percent of airlines’ seat capacity, down from 11 in 2005. It might take another year to assess the impact of these mergers — American Airlines and US Airways have not yet integrated their operations — but fliers can already get a glimpse of the future of air travel.

“What was once the exception slowly becomes the rule,” said Erik Hansen, the senior director of policy at the United States Travel Association, a trade group. It found that 13 of the nation’s top 30 airports already experienced Thanksgiving-like congestion and traffic at least one day a week. “People will see our airports bursting at the seams.”

And while the number of passengers keeps growing every year, airlines are not increasing seat supplies much, which means planes are growing more crowded. Fares, as a result, have risen in the last five years after being driven down by weaker demand during the recession and fare wars in previous years.

Airlines have also made it harder for passengers to compare fares and fees as they withdraw from popular search engines. Now, they seek to draw travelers to their own websites, reducing consumers’ ability to compare and shop.

And airlines say that they are creating bigger networks linking more cities both in the United States and abroad. For instance, American Airlines passengers can use the combined network of American and US Airways, which serves more destinations than any airline could on its own.


Like many other readers, we were fascinated by the 50-dishes-for-50-states Thanksgiving mega-menu that our colleagues in the Food section recently produced. The piece – and the many reactions to it – got us wondering what a democratic version of the project might look like. That is, if the residents of every state could vote for distinct Thanksgiving dishes, what would each state’s dish be?

So we asked researchers at Google for help. You can think of every web search that someone does for a recipe as a kind of vote, after all. The researchers didn’t focus on the most popular dish in every state, because that would be “turkey” in all 50 states. They instead looked for the most distinct.

The dishes you see listed here are the result of the analysis. The numbers next to each dish indicate how much more popular searches for it were in a given  state than in the rest of the country during the week of Thanksgiving over the past 10 years. In Michigan, for example, “cheesy potatoes” is nine times more commonly searched (relative to population size) than in the rest of the country.

You should not interpret the dishes here as the most iconic Thanksgiving recipes in each state, or even a state’s favorite dish. It’s possible that some dishes are so central to a state’s culture that people there don’t need to search for them on the web, for instance. But academic research – on everything from voter turnout to flu epidemics – has found that Google searching can be a meaningful indictor of behavior and attitudes. We certainly learned a lot from the analysis – ooey gooey bars! pig pickin cake! – and have had great fun talking about them around the office in the last few days. We hope you enjoy it as much.

In Florida, it’s ‘flan de calabaza.’ Florida’s influences from Cuba show clearly, with two variations of flan topping the list. (Flan de calabaza sounds more traditional, though, if you know that calabaza is Spanish for a kind of pumpkin.) For another hit of Caribbean-style sweetness, try coquito, essentially coconut eggnog mixed with rum.


You’ve probably noticed that a certain seasonally appropriate bird and a country on the Mediterranean have strikingly similar names. Is this a coincidence or is there some deeper funny business going on?

Let’s start with the simple part: The word for turkey in Turkish is hindi.

What? OK, so what’s the Hindi word for turkey?

Turns out that the word for turkey in Hindi is टर्की. And that, if you don’t know Devanagari, is transcribed ṭarkī in the Latin alphabet. Which looks an awful lot like turkey again.

What the heck is happening here?

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.

Now, guinea fowl were also called turkey fowl, but that’s because they actually had a legitimate connection to Turkey the country: Europeans received most of their guinea fowl imported via Turkey. And because there’s a limit to real logic, the 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. It helped that the 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.

TWEET, TWEET: @AndyLevy: The people who write those “how to talk politics at thanksgiving” pieces have no idea they’re the ones their relatives are dreading seeing

***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. One of Florida’s Top Lobbying Firms, Corcoran & Johnston has demonstrated the ability to navigate government and successfully deliver results for clients, time and again. To learn more visit***


Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. told Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday that he is leaving the department on Dec. 1.

Vinyard, who has lived in Tallahassee while commuting to his Jacksonville home on weekends since being appointed in 2011, was expected to leave following Scott’s re-election on Nov. 4. The governor named DEP Deputy Secretary Clifford Wilson as interim secretary.

DEP and Gov. Rick Scott faced criticism from environmentalists during Vinyard’s tenure, although the department has been at odds with some environmental groups for many years.

In his resignation letter, Vinyard congratulated Scott on his re-election and praised the governor’s “solutions-based leadership style.” Vinyard was a Jacksonville ship-building executive who served on Scott’s transition committee in 2010.

Possible replacements for Vinyard include Wilson, DEP General Counsel Matt Leipold and Jon Steverson, whom Scott appointed as executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District in 2012.

Vinyard told Scott that during his four years at DEP, the department had improved Everglades water quality while ending a legal dispute with the federal government and also had adopted the most comprehensive nutrient reduction program in the country. Most environmentalists support the Everglades agreement but some groups still say the nutrient program includes too many loopholes for polluters.



The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service invites you to visit a state park or trail this Thanksgiving Day. While many places across the state will be closed for the fall holiday, most of the 171 Florida state parks and trails will be open the normal hours of 8 a.m. to sunset on Thursday, Nov. 27.

Holidays are the perfect time to introduce out-of-town visitors to our award-winning state parks and trails. This year, consider stopping by a park near you to enjoy the Florida sunshine and work off some of the holiday feast with a bike ride, a hike or fishing.

“This holiday, we hope you take time to enjoy our state parks and trails,” Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione said. “State parks can be a great way to complement your day. Bring visitors and family members to hike, bike or swim while enjoying the beautiful Florida scenery.”

Florida has 171 state parks and trails that offer a variety of activities including camping, biking, swimming, hiking and fishing. Many parks are hosting special events this holiday season and host many events throughout the year ranging from kayak tours to war re-enactments.


Of the many reasons Floridians can be grateful this Thanksgiving, here’s one: Florida is one of the states in the nation that doesn’t tax groceries.

Florida residents will enjoy most of their Thanksgiving feast tax-exempt, with only a few exceptions.

According to the government watchdogs at Florida TaxWatch, some of the items on dinner tables statewide may be subject to the state’s sales tax, which ranges from 6 to 7.5 percent.

In Florida, foods prepared in-store are subject to sales tax. Raw turkeys are tax exempt, but prepared turkeys are not.

As with most Florida tax rules, there are some peculiarities.

For example, exempt from taxes are certain deli foods prepared off-site, as long as the seller keeps them in their original sealed containers. Bakery products sold for consumption at in-store dining facilities are not taxed. It goes the same for deli meats and cheeses, unless sold in party trays. Fruit and salad platters are exempt, unless packaged with utensils.

While most of the Thanksgiving feast is tax-free, one staple at most Thanksgiving celebrations – beer and wine — is always taxed. Not just sales tax, either. Alcoholic beverages have an additional excise tax levied.

FLORIDA’S UNIQUE TURKEY SPECIES GOBBLES ON via David Flesher of the Orlando Sentinel

As families gather over platters of turkey, an elusive variety of the giant bird will be gobbling, clucking and flying at surprisingly high speed through South Florida’s fields and forests.

The Osceola turkey, also called the Florida wild turkey, is 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.

These lean, energetic birds bear little resemblance to the turkeys found in the grocery store freezer. Mass-produced turkeys, raised indoors in crowded barns, are typically a variety developed in the mid-20th century called the broad-breasted white.

Smaller than wild turkeys, so they can easily fit into the typical oven, they have white feathers rather than the dark ones of the wild variety. They were bred to produce a massive amount of breast meat, so massive, in fact, that these turkeys can’t get close enough to each other to reproduce and must be conceived through artificial insemination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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.


Attorney General Bondi is giving consumers her own version of a holiday shopping guide.

Bondi is releasing a 114-page guide online that includes tips on online purchases and how to avoid charity scams. The guide also contains photos and descriptions of items that have been recalled in the past year due to safety or health issues.

Bondi says she wants to help consumers have a “safe and enjoyable shopping experience.”

Consumers can access the guide by visiting or by calling Citizens Services at 1-866-966-7226.

***CoreMessage is a full-service communications and issues advocacy firm with the experience, relationships and expertise to help you get your message out. Connected at the state Capitol and throughout Florida, the CoreMessage team unites issues with advocates, messages with media and innovative solutions with traditional tactics to get results. Follow CoreMessage on Twitter and visit them on the Web at***


A Thanksgiving poem dedicated to Florida’s legislative politics. Authored by Anonymous. 

I am thankful for my wife, my family, my health, and my friends,

Of course, in today’s political process to name them may bring about their ends.

But, no matter, it’s OK, for right this second they know who they are,

They help me to stay on time, be it to the Knott, the CAP or to the bar.

During Session and the Committee weeks I can count on them to make the save,

But I am most thankful because I can count on them to take secrets to the grave.

… I am thankful for the President, the Speaker, Senators and the House members,

I am thankful for staff, interns, bill drafting and those who survived the Novembers.

I am thankful to work in a process where we strive to treat one another with respect,

And let’s all be thankful for the Senate and House Sergeants Office’s who keep everything looking perfect.

APPOINTED: Judge Angela Cox to the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court; Dan Casper to the Florida Citrus Commission; Richard Toppino to the Monroe County Housing Authority; Josh Altman to the Hamilton County Memorial Hospital Board; John Garcia to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority; and Julian “Ed” Fouché to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

REAPPOINTED: Ellis Hunt Jr. and Martin McKenna to the Florida Citrus Commission; Aaron Castillo Sr. and Carey Goodman to the Monroe County Housing Authority.


Jason Allison: Agency for Space Technology

Ron Book: Florida Breast Cancer Foundation

Mario Bailey, Becker & Pollakoff: Women’s Breast Health Initiative

David Griffin, Robert Stuart, Jason Unger: GrayRobinson: Target Corporation

Doug Murphy: Florida Medical Association

Bill Peebles, John Wayne Smith: Peebles & Smith: City of Mount Dora

Ron Watson, Watson Strategies: EMTeLINK


We’ve all seen the words “turkey” and “lobbyist” in the same sentence before. But, more than likely, this referred to the role of special interests in securing political pork for clients. Indeed, Florida’s political process has its own special “turkey day” which falls after each legislative session, before the governor gets to the bulk of budget signings and vetoes. We have Florida TaxWatch to thank (or chide) for that.

But today, in honor of Thanksgiving, we bring to you a different look at turkeys and lobbyists — namely, those individuals and organizations whose work helps ensure the very things that define this holiday.

In Florida, Thanksgiving may as well begin with the letters P-U-B-L-I-X. Score have been written about what sets this grocery chain apart from others. And come holiday time, thanks be given for that! The Publix lobby team in Florida consists of Floridian Partners’ Charlie Dudley, Jorge ChamizoTeye Reeves, and Lindsey Napier. Nationally, however, Publix is also growing its political presence. Publix contributed $737,420 to political candidates during the 2014 election cycle, and spent $250,000 on lobbying. In 2012, these figures were far higher: $1.2 million in political contributions and $470,000 on lobbying.

Of course, the national food industry has lots of cooks in the political kitchen. The Grocery Manufacturers Association alone spent $14.3 million on lobbying in 2013, ranking number 16 of all lobbying organizations nationally.

Nationally, Kroger is one of the biggest suppliers of canned foods. During the 2014 election cycle, this food giant gave $109,880 in political contributions and spent $350,000 on lobbying. Even Campbell Soup Company lobbies: in 2013 it spent $580,000 on these activities.

Tyson Foods rang in far higher in 2012, spending $1.9 million on lobbying, and contributing another $373,761 to political candidates.

The United States is the world’s largest turkey producer. In fact, Americans consume more turkey per person than do residents of any other country — to the tune of about 16.4 pounds per person, per year. That said, you won’t find much political activity from Butterball, the nation’s largest turkey producer — nor for Jennie-O, the number two. On that note, the famed Bruce’s Yams is absent from national lobbying halls.

Moving back to Florida, where turkey comprises a small portion of overall poultry and egg production, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation nonetheless has a strong presence in state policymaking. The FFB works with lobbyists Adam BasfordFrank Matthews and Robert Lance Pierce in these efforts — often aligned alongside the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association‘s H.F. Calhoun, III. 

Food, though, is just one piece of the Thanksgiving experience. Black Friday, once just a day, has inched into a week- to month-long experience for shoppers. Leading the retail interests’ charge in Florida is the Florida Retail Federation, which stands 16 strong in its lobby corps. Randy Miller takes the helm with his team including Travis BlantonMelanie BrownAmy ChristianJon JohnsonMelissa Joyner RambaCameron Yarbrough, and Todd Steibly.

Wal-Mart is also a force to be reckoned with — both in terms of Black Friday fame and political prowess in Florida. The retail giant’s lobby team  includes Bill RubinHeather TurnbullMelissa AkesonMichael Corcoran, Jeff Johnston, Michael Cantens, Matt Blair, and Amanda Stewart.

While home-cooked meals and 4 a.m. Black Friday excursions at the local mall may be the norm for some, many others travel for the holiday; and still others enjoy the expert cooking of professional chefs who offer Turkey Day spreads galore. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association brings an A-List of lobbyists to its efforts, including Jim DaughtonJeff HartleyAimee Diaz LyonSteve MetzAndy PalmerHerb SheheaneWarren Husband, and eight others.

So, this year, as you enjoy the last few weeks of 2014, and keep  your distance from politics to focus fully on family, remember… your turkeys, shopping excursions and sweet potatoes have some hard-working folks behind them.

TWEET, TWEET: @KevinDerbySSN: Just for the record, “Flying Turkey Trot” by REO Speedwagon is not a Thanksgiving song


Facing Florida with Mike Vasalinda: A retrospective on LeRoy Collins

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Hedrick Smith

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Senator Jeff Brandes

Political Connections on CF 13: Former Orange County Commissioner Mildred Fernandez

The Usual Suspects, which airs on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore, Gary Yordon, and Dr. Ed Moore.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

ALL EYES ON THE PIE AT THE 12TH ANNUAL SHUT UP AND RUN 5K via Phillip Heilman of the St. Augustine Record

The Shut Up and Run 5K originated as a cross-country challenge race more than a decade ago before growing into a race for families and individuals of all ages, with all proceeds benefitting the St. Francis House homeless shelter.

How do you win a dessert? It’s simple: Beat (Kevin) Sweeny, The Pie Guy.

A few years after the event was created, Sweeny had an idea to give out prizes to more than the winners of each age group and do so with a reward that would add to the holiday festivities. He decided he would buy pies — mostly pumpkin or apple for those wondering — and give one out to anyone who could beat him in the race.

The event has continued to grow since. This year’s 12th edition, which costs $20 for those who pre-register and $25 for those who register the day of the race (cheaper rates are available for families and members of the Ancient City Road Runners) is expected to be one of the largest yet.

Sally Hawes, a member of the Ancient City Road Runners, is the organizer of the event and has had a close view of the growing legend of The Pie Guy over the years.

In her opinion, he’s one of the main reasons the race separates itself from other similar events in the area.

“I’m sure he has a family and things he could do, but he gives up time on his Thanksgiving to come out and help us year after year,” Hawes said. “I think he’s just fantastic and helps make the event a hit with families and people of all ages.”

THANKSGIVING TRUMPS BLACK FRIDAY FOR DEALS via Anne D’Innocenzio of the Associated Press

Thanksgiving could be the best day to shop all year.

An analysis of sales data and store circulars by two research firms contradicts conventional wisdom that Black Friday is when shoppers can get the most and biggest sales of the year.

Turns out, shoppers will find more discounted items in stores that are open on Thanksgiving. For example, there are a total of 86 laptops and tablets deeply discounted as door buster deals at Best Buy, Wal-Mart and others on the holiday compared with just nine on Black Friday, according to an analysis of promotions for The Associated Press by researcher MarketTrack.

And on the Web, discounts will be deeper on the holiday. Online prices on Thanksgiving are expected to be about 24 percent cheaper compared with 23 percent on Black Friday and 20 percent on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe, which tracks data on 4,500 retail web sites.

The data is the latest proof that retailers are slowly redefining the Black Friday tradition. It’s been the biggest shopping day of the year for years, mostly because it’s traditionally when retailers pull out their best sales events. But in the last few years, retailers like the Gap, Target and Toys R Us have started opening their stores and offering holiday discounts on Thanksgiving to better compete with online rivals.

But some industry watchers fear others won’t shop on Thanksgiving, choosing to keep the day sacred. Those who wait instead to shop on Black Friday could wind up being disappointed with the leftover deals, they say. In fact, according to Deloitte Research’s recent survey of shoppers, about two-thirds say they’re not motivated to go out to stores Thanksgiving because it’s important to be with family and friends.


If you have a healthy relationship with your family and speak to them all the time, you’re playing touch. If you see your family only once a year, it’s tackle. … A Nerf ball is OK but you should own a leather football. A leather football is one of the things every home must have, like a dishwasher and a bourbon distillery in the garage. … 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. …

Unless you live in California, Hawaii or Florida or some fancy place like that, 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. …


Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. When this year’s 7-3 squad squares off against the undefeated Green Bay Packers, you might find yourself wondering why the Lions get the plum gig of playing a nationally televised game every Turkey Day. So what’s the origin of Detroit’s most beloved football tradition this side of the old “Fire Millen!” chants? And what about the other Thanksgiving NFL stalwart, the Dallas Cowboys?

It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, 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.

Although Richards’ new squad was a solid team, they were clearly playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchisee, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards’ WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to power-lobbyist Jeff Johnston.

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.