Wednesday, July 26, 2006

FLORIDA DIGEST July 26, 2006

Scott's already off and running

Broward County Commissioner Jim Scott has begun airing campaign commercials,
foreshadowing a long, expensive campaign to retain his seat.

As former president of the Florida Senate and a well-connected and wealthylawyer, Broward County Commissioner Jim Scott has every reelection advantagebut one: he hasn't had to run a competitive campaign since 1992.Now, for the first time since Scott's 2000 appointment to the CountyCommission, the Fort Lauderdale Republican has an opponent, Democraticactivist Ken Keechl, also a well-connected and wealthy lawyer.More than three months before the election, Scott this week began airing a television commercial -- although he describes his hurricane-preparednessmessage as more of a public service announcement than political advertising.

Broward officials, residents seek solutions to soaring property tax rates

By Anthony Man
Political Writer
July 26, 2006

Fort Lauderdale -- With emotions ranging from anger to desperation, propertyowners pleaded with politicians Tuesday to do something about soaring property taxes.Democrats and Republicans alike responded with concern for the cries for taxrelief, but didn't offer much hope for quick fixes. The most-discussedreform can't get on the statewide ballot until 2008."We have a federal government, a state government, and a county governmentthat are spending like drunken sailors," J. Dean Abbott of Oakland Park saidto the applause of 300 people at a town hall meeting on property taxes."When the tax base has exploded, as it has in this county, and we arespending every dime of it, something is wrong."


Las Olas Riverfront owners want to replace it with condo towers and shops

By Brittany Wallman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

July 26, 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Some buildings last centuries; the Las Olas Riverfrontcomplex might not last a decade. After months of speculation, Riverfront'sproposed replacement has been put on paper and officially submitted to thecity for approval.The small booklet of drawings recently given to City Hall brings to lifewhat previously was relegated to rumor: a gigantic eating - drinking-living destination with 750 condos in three towers rising 34, 39 and 41 storiestall, plus 100,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor forstores, restaurant-bars, a small theater and an independent film cinema.

Expert: New law may reduce voter turnout
Published July 26, 2006

MIAMI - A new Florida law imposing heavy fines for voter registration violations could suppress turnout in elections and hamper the ability oflabor unions, grass roots groups and other organizations to sign up peoplewho wouldn't ordinarily vote, a political science expert testified Tuesday.Yale University political science professor Donald Green also told a federal judge that the law makes it catastrophically risky for such groups to mountvoter registration campaigns because of the high potential costs ofviolations."It seems to trample on basic constitutional rights of association andexpression," Green said at a hearing in federal court. "It's essentiallylike creating a political moat around certain kinds of groups. They simplywill not conduct voter registration drives."

State to test for success of pre-K
A two-part assessment will help show how much prekindergarten helped. But some say the test is flawed and out of context.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
Published July 26, 2006

Now that a year's worth of 4-year-olds have completed prekindergarten,Florida wants to find out if its state-funded program prepared theyoungsters for school.Experts, however, are questioning whether the state can do a meaningful assessment. They pointed out that the evaluations won't be done until after students enter kindergarten, months after many of them finished pre-K. The screening won't take into account what a child knew before enteringprekindergarten. Nor does it consider a child's home environment, lifestyle
or age - some kindergartners are almost 6 years old while others are barely 5.


Insurance crisis now, calamity tomorrow

Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature shouldn't wait to address the insurancecrisis now hitting businesses and threatening Florida's economy. In the lastmonth, companies -- large and small -- have discovered that their insurancerates have skyrocketed, if coverage is available at all. This urgent problemneeds to be addressed before the economic damage is irreversible.`Going bare' Unlike homeowners, businesses don't have state-backed Citizens PropertyInsurance as an insurer of last resort. Firms that can't find or affordcoverage face difficult choices, none of which are healthy for the economyor Floridians.

Voting law hearing begins
Registration measure challenged

By Vanessa Blum
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

July 26, 2006

A new state law forced several major advocacy groups and labor unions tocancel planned 2006 voter registration drives in Florida over fear that theycould face hefty fines, organization leaders said Tuesday during a hearingin Miami federal court.Cynthia Hall, president of the Florida chapter of the AFL-CIO, said unions belonging to her organization called off voter registration activities because of possible fines ranging from $250 to $5,000 per mishandledapplication."It could get very costly and literally bankrupt us, if just one personmakes mistakes," Hall said. Under the legislation, which took effect Jan. 1, organizations and their volunteers must pay fines of $250 for each voter registration application submitted more than 10 days after it's collected, $500 for each application submitted after the voter registration deadline, and $5,000 for each application not submitted.


Ft. Lauderdale
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
July 25, 2006

ISSUE: City manager given raise in private.

Let's make no bones about it. George Gretsas is an excellent city manager.He has helped bring Fort Lauderdale back from the brink of a fiscal abyss.He probably deserves every penny of the raise he recently received.That said, objections must be raised about the way the issue was handled, byboth Gretsas and city commissioners. Gretsas, ignoring the spirit of thestate's "sunshine law," went privately to each commissioner and lobbied foran increase to bring him closer to the salary of the city attorney.The commissioners, unmindful of the public's interest in such matters,privately agreed to give him a 7 percent raise, bringing him to $212,742 --approaching what the county administrator and the superintendent of schoolsare making.


Forwarded from Paul Harris:

The Independent, South Florida's leading GLBT newspaper, has two openings
for experienced salesmen
to work out of their Oakland Park office. He or she will have experience as a salesperson, be a self-starter, responsible, and enjoy working as a member of team. Please call the publisher, Paul Harris, on 954 732 4418 or e-mail him at We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religious belief, or, obviously, sexual orientation.