Tuesday, July 25, 2006

FLORIDA DIGEST July 25, 2006



Davis offers solutions for state insurance woes

By S.V. Date
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

PANAMA CITY - U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, found an eager audience Monday for what could be his party's most powerful issue this fall: the state property insurance crisis. "Folks are furious, furious about this," Davis said after meeting with a dozen community and business leaders at a restaurant. Davis said he would create an insurance consumer advocate within the governor's office, push for a national hurricane catastrophe fund and close what he called a "loophole" that could put homeowners in the middle of a fight between their hurricane insurer and their flood insurer over who has to pay following a storm. Jamie Smith, owner of a Port St. Joe bookstore, said she no longer can afford insurance.



Poll: Crist far ahead
Democratic primary race tightens between Davis, Smith

Jason Garcia and John Kennedy
Tallahassee Bureau

July 25, 2006

TALLAHASSEE -- Attorney General Charlie Crist has nearly doubled his lead over his chief Republican rival for governor, building an advantage that could be insurmountable and carry over into the general election, a statewide poll released Monday shows. In the survey, Crist leads Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher 55 percent to 24 percent -- a 31-point divide that comes just six weeks before the Sept. 5 primary. The more than 2-to-1 advantage is nearly twice Crist's lead in a similar poll conducted in March. Something big will have to happen to turn these around: a revelation on Charlie Crist, a big mistake, something that's not on the radar screen right now," said Brad Coker, the managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll for the Orlando Sentinel. "The political landscape would have to change."



July 25, 2006

Florida City Rejects Stringent Law on Migrants

MIAMI, July 24 - The Avon Park City Council rejected an ordinance Monday that would have cracked down on illegal immigrants after one member changed her vote in spite of strong protests. The ordinance, called the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, would have fined landlords $1,000 for every tenant found to be an illegal immigrant, denied city permits, contracts and grants to businesses that employed illegal immigrants and required city documents to be in English only. Mayor Tom Macklin of Avon Park, a city of about 9,000 in Florida's citrus belt, proposed it last month after hearing of a similar plan in Hazleton, Pa. Councilwoman Brenda Gray, who voted for the measure on first reading last month, voted against it on final reading Monday night after a heated public hearing where dozens of residents spoke for and against it. Ms. Gray said she had changed her mind because she disagreed with the ordinance's claim that illegal immigration "leads to higher crime rates, contributes to overcrowded classrooms and failing schools, subjects our hospitals to fiscal hardship and legal residents to substandard quality of care, and destroys our neighborhoods and diminishes our overall quality of life."



Florida's still too violent
Times editorial
Published July 25, 2006

Gov. Jeb Bush soured some encouraging news on crime by throwing a bone to Floridians who think our streets are the Wild West. Bush credited gun owners recently for helping to curb serious crime in Florida. "Law-abiding citizens who have guns for protection are actually part of the reason we have a lower crime rate," the governor said. Police and prosecutors must have cringed. Serious crime has been dropping in Florida for 14 straight years, long before Bush and the Legislature imposed tougher criminal sentences and passed a law allowing people to use deadly force if they feel threatened. Having crime at a 35-year low is good news enough. The governor didn't need to spin it to mislead the public. Violent crime, after all, is lower nationwide than it was in the 1970s, thanks to better policing, antipoverty programs and a growing population that divides the number of crimes among more people.



Nelson makes unusual request for bill
The senator supports a drilling compromise but wants assurances that the
House won't weaken it.
By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
Published July 25, 2006

WASHINGTON - Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said he will vote against an oil-and-gas drilling compromise this week unless his colleagues promise not to alter the proposal later to match a more sweeping House bill. Nelson, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, filed his unusual request Monday evening, even though he supports the bill that opens much of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to exploration - with significant protections for Florida's west coast. "If the Senate position, providing protections for Florida's economy and environment, is at risk in negotiations with House members, then I can't support sending something over to them for a series of closed-door negotiations," Nelson said in a statement. "During these negotiations, supporters of more drilling easily could adopt their own horrendous plan to allow oil and gas rigs just several miles off the nation's shorelines."



Ducking the questions
Our position: It's pitiful that Florida candidates are ignoring survey that would help voters.
July 25, 2006

Smart shoppers know the score: They may be drawn to the slick, colorful packaging, but the only way to know what's really in that box is to read the ingredients and nutritional information on the label. Too bad smart voters don't have the same option. Political candidates can package themselves anyway they want, regardless of where they really stand on the issues. In fact, many want to be as vague as possible, so they can't be pinned down by their opponents or, heavens forbid, the voter. The latest attempt at getting candidates to come clean on the issues this election season is a dismal failure so far. Florida's state and federal candidates have all but ignored a valuable survey sponsored by Project Vote Smart, a truly nonpartisan group dedicated to educating voters.



Shaw-Klein contest hits TV
The first television commercial aired Sunday in the high-profile campaign
between Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw and Democratic state Sen. Ron Klein.

The high-stakes campaign for Florida's 22nd Congressional district began in earnest this week, with a TV commercial touting Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw's environmental record. More are on the way. A spokesman for Shaw's Democratic opponent, state Sen. Ron Klein, said Monday his ad blitz also is set to begin, kicking off what is likely to be one of the most expensive U.S. House contests this election season. ''We certainly have the resources,'' said Klein campaign spokesman Brian Smoot. ``We intend on being up all over the district.''



The Miami Herald
Posted on Tue, Jul. 25, 2006
Banned books ordered back on shelves

A series of children's books banned last month by the
Dade School Board must remain in libraries while the district
fights a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

BY MATTHEW I. PINZUR - mpinzur@MiamiHerald.com
A federal judge on Monday ordered all copies of Vamos a Cuba and 23 other children's books returned to Miami-Dade school libraries, hobbling the School Board's attempt to ban the controversial books. In a sometimes scathing 89-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold said the School Board ``abused its discretion in a manner that violated the transcendent imperatives of the First Amendment.''



Conservative Group Seeks Answers From Judge Candidates
by The Associated Press
July 24 2006 - 9:00 pm ET

(Tallahassee, Florida) The Family Policy Council wants Florida judicial candidates to answer questions on such hot-button social topics as gay marriage, school vouchers and abortion although a judicial canon urges them to avoid commenting on political issues. The group plans to publish the responses in a voter guide to be distributed mainly through churches although it also will be available on the Internet, said John Stemberger, its president. "It's clear that certain judges may not like this," Stemberger said at a news conference Monday. "The public is demanding it." Stemberger also is leading a petition drive to get a proposed state constitutional amendment on the 2008 ballot to ban gay marriage although already prohibited by state law. He has endorsed Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher over his main opponent for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Attorney General Charlie Crist, because Crist is unmarried.



Delray Beach
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
July 25, 2006

ISSUE: Delray OKs benefits for gays.

Ordinarily, the Delray Beach City Commission's majority decisions to afford city employees domestic partner health benefits and new protections against discrimination would have garnered little notice. This All-America city is known as progressive, and it's just the latest to recognize unmarried partners deserve affordable health care and fair treatment regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. What does merit attention, though, is the disturbingly personal, objectionable arguments longtime City Manager David Harden used to try to dissuade commissioners from making the changes.



In PDF format at

'Why Should I Vote?'

TAMPA, Fla. -The League of Women Voters of Florida announces the release of a new publication: "Why Should I Vote?" The guide, available in English and Spanish, provides concise, easy-to-read voting information on a variety of topics. Our goal is a successful 2006 election cycle in that no eligible voter in Florida is disenfranchised. All organizations working to get out the vote on September 5 and November 7, 2006 will benefit from this important and timely brochure.