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A Good Turkey.

I was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1974, along with H. Lee Moffitt of Tampa, among about 40 other first termers. He won a historic one vote victory to win his seat, but came into office with outstanding credentials as an aide to former Senate President Louis de la Parte (D., Tampa).

Lee was an attorney and had done legal work over the years in health care. So, when he contracted a form of cancer, he shifted his interest to fighting the dastardly disease, with funding from the legislature. His cancer fell into remission, but he doubled down on fighting cancer after becoming the Speaker of the House in 1982-84. It was the custom of the Legislature in those years, that the incoming presiding officers were recognized with a major appropriation for the pubic's benefit, dubbed by the press as a "Turkey." Typical projects selected were schools, roads, fairs, and service programs, usually carrying recognition for the legislator. Not all turkey projects were the best use of public funds. Some just satisfied swollen egos.

Lee had wanted a turkey to create a center in his home district of Tampa to fight cancer. When created, it became known as the "Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida." It is now one of the country's major facilities treating cancer patients and researching cures for the disease.

A turkey was often subject to criticism as excessive and unnecessary, but the Moffitt Center in Tampa is one that stands above the rest as serving in the public's best interests..

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