Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for December 24 – Merry Christmas

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.

MERRY CHRISTMAS  If the past year for our family can be summed up in a single word, “blessed” certainly comes to mind. Blessed by Ella Joyce’s continued good health, happiness, and development. Blessed by so many treasured moments, whether it be aboard (again) a Disney cruise or gathered around the pool in our new home. Blessed by the richness of so many considerate friends and blessed by continued professional prosperity. 2015 was one of the best years of our lives. Yet we’re so excited by the prospect of 2016. Best wishes to you and your family for a Merry Christmas, and may the New Year bring you boundless joy and success.

— “An honest reason for the abundant number of presents under our Christmas tree” via Peter Schorsch


“Walking my daughter through Dorothy Oven Park display, letting her pet the live donkey at the funky little Nativity off Colonial Drive and reading NYT printed edition before Christmas dinner.” — Jim Ash

“My lovely wife, Debbie, and I will be welcoming our four (adult) children at our home Christmas Eve with my sister (Phyllis) and brother in law (Chuck), my brother and his wife and daughter and my sister’s daughter and her extended family. We will share a tremendous dinner Christmas Eve, followed by 9:00 PM Christmas Mass (Debbie plays the bells during the service). Afterwards, we view Christmas lights and then come home. I read the children the classic story “Yes Virginia…There Is a Santa Clause,” then open some gifts from the children to us. Then share some special family Christmas cards and letters from my Father/Mother in law. … Unfortunately, both of my parents have passed and must watch over all of us with the Big Guy up above. … Afterwards, we try to go to sleep and let Santa do his thing. First thing in the morning, we awaken and the kids gather around the Christmas Tree and open their presents from Santa. Then we go to my sister’s home for more food, drinks and family time. … Two special things: First, our older son, Dominic II, is traveling from Munich, Germany to stay with us at Christmas, as he lives and works there full-time. Secondly, my brother Peter and his wife, Holly, and their daughter Heather are coming up for Christmas from Davie, Florida.” — Dominic Calabro, Florida TaxWatch

“The Cate Family will be celebrating in Tallahassee. Most importantly, we’ll shower all the kids with love. The adults will talk, eat, and sing. But mostly talk. It’s what the Cate-Ray family does best during the holidays. If tradition holds, we may also be able to get in a two hand touch football game and a conversation about mom’s lifelong dream of owning a pumpkin farm. Those are my favorite two things.” — Kevin Cate

““Outside of watching the classic Christmas movies – National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, etc. – and football on Christmas Day, my wife and I enjoy giving back to those less fortunate, especially children.” This year, Day says his family will spend Christmas delivering a truck load of presents to a children’s home in Tampa.” — Justin Day

“The DiCeglie family will be spending this Christmas at home, on Indian Rocks Beach.  Traditionally on Christmas Eve we attend the 6pm mass at St. Jerome Catholic Church in Largo and then eat a huge Italian meal, with seafood of course, at our favorite restaurant, Villa Gallace.  Christmas morning begins at the crack of dawn as our two children, Livia 11 and Carlo 7 are more than excited to open gifts from Santa.  This year there will certainly be a Star Wars theme.  The rest of Christmas day is spent with family and friends, enjoying each others company, as we reminisce about the past year and make our New Years resolutions. On behalf of the entire DiCeglie Family, I want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas.” — Nick DiCeglie

“In our first Christmas as a married couple, I’m already doing what I swore I never would: splitting the holidays. I always loathed the thought of running around from place to place during the holidays, trying to keep everyone happy —  and my husband and I promised each other we’d never do that. Well, life isn’t always so cut and dried – and this year we are doing 4 days in Florida and 4 days in St Louis, where my husband is from. Though it is technically our “Florida year” since we spent last year in Missouri, Andrew’s sister just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and we couldn’t wait any longer to meet Rose Corrine! Its funny how life quickly disposes of your theoretical intentions… and frankly I’m happy it did.” — Kirsten Borman Dougherty

“I’ll be spending Christmas in Parkland, Florida which, as its name suggests, is as bucolic a town one can find in the sprawling metropolis of southeast Florida. Highlights will include the fight over the Christmas Eve dinner bill (I somehow always lose) my better half’s father one-upping me in the gift of jewelry, and letting said father beat me in Parkland’s most popular and viciously competitive sport – pickleball. Happy Holidays to all, and many wishes for a new year with more peace across our planet.” — Mark Ferrulo, Progress Florida

“We have two big traditions for Christmas dinner: home made pasta and pizzelles (Italian cookie). We will definitely be eating home made pasta on Christmas Day but I’m not sure I can live up to my Mom’s pizzelles just yet!” — Jennifer Green

“’m spending the Christmas Holiday in the Blue Ridge Mountains with family. It’s a yearly family tradition which includes an Italian feast on Christmas Eve consisting of a couple pans of lasagna, homemade meatballs and a few bottles of red wine. Christmas Day almost always entails a beef tenderloin and lots of southern sides. After the meal, the traditional hike down the mountain and back up to the house is followed by an extended nap. Cheers from Blue Ridge!” — Cory Guzzo 

“When my two cousins and I first started our Christmas Day feast, I insisted all of our families sit together at the same table.  Over the years we have grown in number and so has the length of our table.  This year, in true Whoville-style, our table is 26-feet long and all 39 of us will continue the tradition of sitting together.” — Kristin Jacobs

“My family’s unique tradition is singing happy birthday to Jesus. We celebrate Christmas as a recognition of the birthday of our Savior. Every year we decide what kind of birthday cake to have and before we open presents Christmas morning we light a candle and sing happy birthday to Jesus. It’s a sweet reminder of the real reason for Christmas and a great breakfast! This year is bread pudding with amaretto icing.” — Sara Johnson

“The McDougald Trio (Jenn, Maddie & Robert) will be spending Christmas in our annual matching PJ’s opening gifts, followed by a BIG breakfast and the Hallmark Channel all day. Merry Christmas SUNBURN!” — Jennifer McDougald

“I’ll be spending this Christmas enjoying my family especially my niece and nephew.  We have many traditions in our family but my favorites include eating the food my mom and grandmother make as well as closing out our family game of listening for Feliz Navidad to come on the radio.” — Anthony Pedicini

“Two favor(ite holiday traditions) – Making homemade lasagna and seafood stew for a gathering of family and friends for Christmas Eve.  A truly fun and wonderful gathering with just a little fruit of the vine.” – Cari Roth

“When I was growing up my dad and I would do our last minute Christmas shopping bright and early on Christmas eve.  We would get to the mall before it opened and be waiting for them to unlock the doors. We did this to give my mom some peace and quiet, plus provide her with time to finish prepping for the holiday.  After shopping we would go to McDonald’s for breakfast.  Now, the tradition has carried over to my girls.  We will be at Governor’s Square Mall on Christmas Eve at 8AM, still in our jammies.  We will do some last minute shopping and then head to Chick-fil-A for chicken minis and peppermint milkshakes.” — Greg Ungru

“The 4 F’s: 1) Family in Town – From Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle … 2) FSU Football Bowl Game –  (NCAA record 34 straight years and counting) … 3) Fried Turkey – on Christmas Day … 4) Fires – except this year because of that climate thing  “we can not mention”,  there will be no fires unless I crank down my air conditioning! Sprinkle in a Griswald decorated front yard, Elf on the Shelf antics, a post Christmas trip to Disney World for the last year of the Osbourne Family Lights at Hollywood Studios, my daughter Shelby and I attending “Elf night” and being actors in a local Living Christmas Story, taking my family to see a live performance of “A Christmas Carol ” and attendance at Dylan Sumner’s Annual Christmas Eve Party (after Church, of course)….and you have the Christmas Traditions of the Watson Family” — Screven Watson

INFLUENCE MAGAZINE – THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT Subscribe here –  INFLUENCE is what a magazine would look like if George Magazine had been about Florida politics … Complete your Christmas list with a one-year subscription to INFLUENCE Magazine for only $25.

NO FIREPLACE? HERE ARE SOME DIGITAL YULE LOG OPTIONS via Robbyn Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times – Brighthouse Networks will return its annual Yule Log On Demand programming including the standard version you all know and love with holiday music, plus one without music, one with Latin music, a 3D version and one updated for 2015 — now with more crackling! WTSP Channel 10 will run a Yule log … 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Christmas Day. The Hallmark Movie Channel starts its Yule log programming at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve … Sports fans can tune into the SEC Network for a college-themed log burning at 6 a.m. Friday. New to the Yule log family is the Outlander version on Starz … the Fraser family’s Scottish hearth (complete with hound and music) will be on air at 11:44 a.m.Friday, but you can see it on now … Disney XD’s animated Yule log ignites at 2:15 a.m. Christmas Eve … Redneck Yule Log ($1.99 Amazon Prime) … Yule Log A Go Go, ($3.99, Amazon Prime), showcasing 13 burlesque dancers giving an hour-long performance to newly recorded Go-Go versions of holiday standards.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 325 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget, and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers.  Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

AMERICANS TRUST TRUMP MOST TO FIGHT WAR ON CHRISTMAS; GOP DOWN ON KWANZAA, FESTIVUS via Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling – You can add protecting America from the War on Christmas to the list of issues voters trust Donald Trump the most on. Among voters who do think there’s a War on Christmas, 29 percent say they think Trump’s the candidate best fit to wage the counter offensive to 16 percent for Carson, 15 percent for Clinton, 14 percent for Cruz, 9 percent for Bush, and 6 percent each for Rubio and Sanders. Americans have increasingly been identifying as independents over the last few years and apparently that extends to their perception of Santa’s party affiliation as well … the share of voters thinking he belongs to either of the major parties has declined- from 44 percent to 28 percent thinking he’s a Democrat and from 28 percent to 22 percent thinking he’s a Republican. Everyone likes Christmas (88/6 favorability) and pretty much everyone with an opinion about it likes Hanukkah (64/8 favorability.) It gets a little more divided when it comes to Kwanzaa (37/21 favorability) and Festivus (24/17 favorability) … Democrats are fine with both Kwanzaa (49/13) and Festivus (25/15). Republicans meanwhile have a negative view of each of those holidays- it’s 27/33 for Kwanzaa and 13/25 for Festivus. Americans have spoken and have an emphatic message: Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. Only 13 percent of voters think it is to 62 percent who say it is not.

BUSH ACTS VERY MERRY ABOUT A CERTAIN HOLIDAY via Ashley Parker of The New York Times – At a town hall-style event … woman stood to thank Bush for wishing the crowd “Merry Christmas” in his remarks, noting that he would not have done so were he “a radical Muslim.” (“No, that’s for sure,” Mr. Bush replied.) … Bush, who is Roman Catholic, also used her comment to note that celebrating one’s faith should be a joyous occasion. ”I’ve lit the Hanukkah candles in celebration of Hanukkah, and there I said, ‘Happy Hanukkah,’” he said. And here you see the adornments and it looks Christmas-y, so I think it’s O.K. to say Merry Christmas. We’re getting a little too politically correct in this country.”

JEB ABANDONS JEB! via Russ Choma of Mother Jones – Perfect last-minute Christmas present for the low-energy person in your life who needs an extra exclamation point: Jeb! Not the candidate, just his name—upbeat punctuation mark and all. The word has apparently lost its appeal. Even to the candidate. Last winter, months before Jeb Bush announced he was running for president, a Miami intellectual property attorney filed a trademark request for the word “Jeb!” on behalf of a mysterious Delaware corporation called BHAG … an acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal …  directly owned [by Bush] … November 9 Bush’s application was officially abandoned. Technically, Bush has until Jan. 9 to restart the process, but for now the name is not trademarked and open for anyone else to try to grab.

IN YEAR-END MEMO, FLORIDA GOP FOCUSES ON DELIVERING IN 2016 via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – At the end of a trying year, the Republican Party of Florida says it had success building up an infrastructure for its primary focus: delivering Florida’s 29 electoral votes for the Republican nominee … The party’s data collection efforts in 2015, [included] signing up more than 1,800 2016 volunteers, and collecting nearly 30,000 new email address, 15,000 new addresses and 8,485 new phone numbers … social media gains, including 80,000 added Twitter followers, 70,000 additional Facebook likes, and 634 followers on a newly-created Somos GOP, a bilingual site … the party did experience some setbacks. [BlaiseIngoglia was not supported by … Scott or Senate leaders, which pulled money from the party and are no longer fundraising for the state GOP.

SPOTTEDDavid Jolly in CNN’s “9 politicians to watch in 2016” … “A moderate to replace Marco … Jolly made early waves in a crowded Republican field when called for Donald Trump to quit the GOP primary … ‘His brutal, bullying bigotry runs contrary to the very principles our forefathers fought so hard to defend,” [he] said.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Jamestown Associates – Winning tough campaigns. The record to prove it. Jamestown produces persuasive TV, radio, mail and digital advertising that breaks through the clutter and gets votes. We help our clients in Florida and the nation perfect their message, create powerful ads, micro-target the media buy and WIN. Jamestown’s work has been recognized with 50 Pollie and Reed awards. See our work at***


RICK SCOTT GIVES STATE WORKERS CHRISTMAS EVE OFF via Florida Politics – This is the third time Scott has given state workers Christmas Eve off. Last year, employees had the day after Christmas off. In 2011 state employees received Dec. 23 off since Christmas Eve fell on a weekend. Scott said he was closing state offices Dec. 24 “in recognition of the hard work” of state employees.

CHRISTMAS EVE STRUGGLE IS REAL FOR SOME STATE WORKERS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – As far as state workers are concerned, if … Scott is Santa, then Connecticut state officials are Grinches … Scott has given state employees the day off on Christmas Eve … Not so in the Nutmeg State, where workers not only have to work, but were warned not to leave early, according to the Hartford Courant: “The widespread practice of leaving early has gotten so extreme that state officials deemed it necessary to send out an official email that went to dozens of offices across state government … ‘The day before Christmas and New Year’s, we do not allow for early dismissal of your employees … Your agency is to remain open during regular working hours.’ There will be no exceptions to this.’’

ADAM PUTNAM ANNOUNCES TOP 5 “FRESH FROM FLORIDA” CHRISTMAS RECIPES via Florida Politics – Putnam … offers a list of “Fresh From Florida” recipes for families planning meals and celebrations, each of which can be easily incorporated into holiday traditions … feature products grown and harvested in the Sunshine State, with ingredients that have the “Fresh From Florida” label … Florida Tomato Cornbread … Char-Grilled Florida Vegetables with Feta … Southern Harvest Succotash … Snap Bean and Tomato Sauté … Florida Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salsa.

DCF PROGRAM WILL SEND 1,600 FLORIDA FOSTER CHILDREN HOME FOR CHRISTMAS via Florida Politics – Department of Children and Families “Home for the Holidays” initiative accelerates adoption paperwork and visitation requests so children can spend time with their adoptive or biological families over the holidays … 1,347 children will spend time with their siblings, parents and extended family this Christmas, and another 266 foster children will spend their first Christmas with their adoptive family … the state’s 18 community-based care agencies will pick up the tab for travel costs if a child’s family cannot afford it.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT DROPS IN DECEMBER AMID PERSONAL FINANCE CONCERNS via Florida Politics – … fell slightly in December to 90.2, down almost 1 point from November’s revised reading, but 2.6 points higher than last December … Among the five components that make up the index, three declined and two increased. The perception of the personal financial situation now compared with a year ago dropped 7.3 points to 79.6. The expectation of personal finances one year from now fell one-tenth of a point to 98.4. Views of the U.S. economy were mixed: Expectations over the next year fell less than half a point to 84.4 while hopes for the U.S. economy over the next five years rose 2.5 points to 89.2. Among those with annual incomes under $50,000, perceptions of personal finances now compared with a year ago dropped 6.1 points to a reading of 71.5, while for those with income of $50,000 or more per year, the score tumbled 11.1 points to 90.0 from a yearly high of 101.1 in November. The downturn in consumer sentiment comes despite an anticipated healthy finish to this holiday shopping season by the Florida Retail Federation.

LOTTERY REVENUE BEAT PROJECTIONS BY NEARLY $90M via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – State economists predicted total lottery revenues would be $5.6 billion between July and November, a number that was eclipsed by $88.7 million. The new number revises estimates for future years, boosting the 2016-17 estimates by $94 million, and the 2017-estimate by $96 million. “Scratch-off ticket sales were $84.7 million over estimate for July through November 2015,” read an executive order released by the economic panel.

***SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm. Visit to read about their growing team, success stories and case studies.***

NORAD PREPARES TO TRACK SANTA’S JOURNEY via The Associated Press – Peterson Air Force base is getting ready for its annual holiday mission — tracking Santa’s storybook sleigh ride around the world. The North American Aerospace Defense Command has been working for weeks to tackle the one-day mission … Miles of wire, dozens of computers and 157 telephone lines will greet hundreds of volunteers … will be answering calls from an estimated 125,000 children around the globe looking for Santa’s whereabouts. “We keep adding stuff every year,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Kelly after he and a team of airmen taped down phone wires in the call center Monday.

THE COST OF ’12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS’ ITEMS TOPS $34,000, UP 0.6 PERCENT via The Associated Press – The cost of 10 lords a-leaping increased 3 percent over last year, but nine of the other 12 gifts listed in the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas stayed the same price as last year, according to the 32nd annual PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index … The set of gifts spelled out in the final verse of the song would cost $34,131 this year, or 0.6 percent more than the adjusted 2014 price of $33,933.  “The headline, I think, is that inflation in this economy, with the sort of tepid recovery we’ve seen, is almost nonexistent,” said Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer of PNC’s asset management group.

LAST MINUTE HOLIDAY SHOPPER? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT via Mae Anderson of The Associated Press – Apps like Curbside deliver orders directly to the trunk of your car, more retailers are offering incentives to buy online and pick up in store, and Amazon Prime Now and other same-day delivery services have vastly expanded this year. “In some sense, same-day delivery is going to become the new gift card,” said Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv which works with retailers to offer same-day delivery. “It used to be ‘uh-oh, too late, here comes the gift card.’ Now you’ve got two hours before the cutoff if you want something from national retailers.” That’s good news as on-demand services have trained people to put off things until the last minute. This year, 44 percent of shoppers said they planned to wait until December or later to shop for holiday presents, up from 39 percent five years ago.

YOU’RE NOT IMAGINING IT: A LOT OF COVETED GIFTS ARE OUT OF STOCK ONLINE via The Washington Post – Out-of-stock rates on online shopping sites are 10 to 15 percent higher this holiday season than they were last year …  Monday, out-of-stocks were at 14 percent, meaning that 14 out of every 100 product views showed an item out of stock. That means out-of-stock items that day were as high as they were on Cyber Monday — only now, with Christmas just around the corner, it’s harder to come up with a gifting Plan B … especially prevalent in the toy category. In particular, it called out Star Wars toys, the Barbie Dream House and items from Paw Patrol and Shopkins as being hard to find. Another toy … to have high out-of-stock rates is the Pie Face game, a new toy from Hasbro in which players get splatted in the face with a heap of whipped cream … It is available on, but only if you’re willing to wait until January to receive it. The industry is on pace for its best sales growth in about a decade.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend Patrick Slevin (December 25). An early birthday wish to Skylar Zander (December 27).

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.

Latest from Statewide

Go to Top