Saturday, September 02, 2006

FLORIDA DIGEST September 2, 2006


September 2, 2006
Paul Hyman, Executive Director

PALS Project Launches New Program for HIV+ Men

FORT LAUDERDALE/WILTON MANORS, FL - Living with HIV/AIDS can prove quite stressful. That's why the Gay and Lesbian Community Center's PALS Project has launched CHOICES, a new, five-session small-group program to help participants reduce stress by building coping skills.

The first local example of the nationally respected Healthy Relationships curriculum, this free program focuses on equipping HIV-positive men with life skills including problem solving, decision making and negotiating choices. Interactive, educational and fun, each two-hour CHOICES session will provide group members a time and space to share common experiences and learn new skills from one another.

The PALS Project will offer CHOICES (Choosing Healthy Options & Improving Communication EffectivenesS) groups both in English and Spanish. The first group will begin to meet September 7th. The PALS staff currently is facilitating intake interviews for participants.

In a supportive small-group environment, participants will apply different life skills to building healthy, safer relationships with family, friends
and sex partners. "We don't tell people that they have to disclose," states Kristofer Fegenbush of the PALS Project. "That's not our purpose. Instead,we focus on developing decision-making and problem-solving skills. We provide a safe atmosphere for guys to discuss honestly how they can makemore informed decisions about sexual behaviors and disclosure. There's greatpower in sharing common experiences. By empowering and equippingparticipants, we can help stop the spread of HIV."

Sessions involve both the practice of coping skills and motivational feedback from peers and trained facilitators. Each meeting will involve fun,interactive role-playing in a positive, engaging and creative setting."During each session we'll view several short clips from popular movies,"explained Magno Morales, who recently joined the PALS team. "These modernmovie clips serve as a launching pad for role-play and small groupdiscussions. We'll relate the clips to times when disclosure or safer sexdecisions could be made. That way, the guys can think about, discuss and actout how they might do things differently than the movie characters."

The PALS Project's commitment to providing Spanish-speaking groups reflectsthe GLCC's dedication to help better serve the Hispanic community. If you orsomeone you know may be interested in joining one of these groups, pleasecontact the PALS Project today at (954) 463-9011 or Talkwith a facilitator about how the program might benefit you.

The PALS Project provides HIV+ men with real social support, accurate HIVinformation and practical, effective strategies and tools to lead safer,richer lives. Through creative efforts, the Project aims to decrease thenumber of new HIV infections in the community. The PALS Project provides asafe, non-judgmental environment for men to look at their own behavior and To make wise choices that benefit their health and the health of others."

The PALS Project is funded by The Florida Department of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS and is sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of SouthFlorida.


The Independent Gay News

Our Choice for Governor
by Paul Harris

In a few weeks voters in Florida will have the opportunity to take part inprimary elections to decide which Democrat and which Republican will gothrough to the election in November when the next governor of our state willbe chosen. Those voters registered as Republicans will be able to vote for the choice of Republican candidate while the Democrats will choose the Democratic candidate.

The two candidates seeking the Republican nod are Tom Gallagher and Charlie Crist. Gallagher currently serves as the state's Chief Financial Officerwhile Crist is the Attorney General. They both claim that if elected theywill continue to govern the state in the manner of Jeb Bush. There are othersimilarities. Although both men claim to be "Pro-Family" they have both beendivorced in the past - Crist after only nine months of marriage, whileGallagher has acknowledged committing adultery during his first marriage.Both candidates in PAST elections declared publicly that they were"Pro-Choice," meaning that women should have the right to decide what theydid with their own bodies. They both have NOW found it politically expedientto claim to be against abortion, going so far as to voice their support forthe new proposed law in South Dakota that would lead to physicians who carryout abortions under ANY circumstances being liable to prosecution -including pregnancies resulting from rape or incest - with the exception ofsituations where the mother's life was at risk. (Crist later backed off
opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest.) Amongst the real differences between the candidates is that Crist favors stem cell research while Gallagher is opposed. Crist as Attorney General also supported the courts decisions regarding the Schiavo case while Gallagher joined Jeb Bush in going in for political grandstanding.


September 2, 2006
New Questions About Inquiry in C.I.A. Leak

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 - An enduring mystery of the C.I.A. leak case has beensolved in recent days, but with a new twist: Patrick J. Fitzgerald, theprosecutor, knew the identity of the leaker from his very first day in thespecial counsel's chair, but kept the inquiry open for nearly two more yearsbefore indicting I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's formerchief of staff, on obstruction charges.

Now, the question of whether Mr. Fitzgerald properly exercised his prosecutorial discretion in continuing to pursue possible wrongdoing in thecase has become the subject of rich debate on editorial pages and in legal and political circles.

Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, first told the authorities in October 2003 that he had been the primary source for the July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak that identified Valerie Wilson as a C.I.A. operative and set off the leak investigation.


Candidates for governor take different tacks in the final push

By Mark Hollis
Tallahassee Bureau

September 2, 2006

OCALA · The underdogs in Florida's governor's race came out charging Fridaywith new attacks and frantic-paced tours in battleground counties.

But the frontrunners showed no signs of being rattled, as they throttledback with more leisured campaign travel and toned-down stump speeches.

Running well behind Charlie Crist in the polls, Republican Tom Gallaghertouted a prized endorsement of a high-ranking conservative legislator, andhe linked Crist to gay-rights' supporters.

Crist fired back, saying that he's not going to run a divisive campaign orbe a divisive governor.

On the Democratic side, Rod Smith, who trails Jim Davis in a much closercontest than the Republican fight, stepped up the rhetoric. He accusedDavis, a congressman from Tampa, of not doing enough to persuade Congress topay for Everglades' cleanup. Davis, meanwhile, blasted U.S. Sugar Corp. forhelping to bankroll what's now become a $4-million campaign promoting Smithby attacking Davis' congressional record.


Florida Politics

Primary attacks will prove costly for Democrats


The Democrats blew it.

(Don't worry, I'll get to the Republicans in a few inches.)

Once again, they have turned one of their own into damaged goods. Whoever wins the Democratic primary for governor will stumble toward the general election with a bruised cheek and a wobbly knee.

In contrast, the likely Republican nominee, Charlie Crist, will emerge fromthe primary sturdier than ever. Tom Gallagher's beef with Crist -- that he's not conservative enough on issues like abortion, gay rights and immigration -- makes him all the more appealing to moderate, general election voters.

On the Democratic side, the attacks and counterattacks between U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and state Sen. Rod Smith could prove more damaging.

If Smith wins the primary -- and the polls show him closing in -- he willcarry baggage as heavy as a big sack o' sugar. Campaign reports filed Friday show that corporate interests -- primarily the sugar industry -- have dumped nearly $4 million into two front groups running anti-Davis ads. More than half of the money came from a single company, U.S. Sugar.


Insults, charges mark race for Broward School Board

Campaign fliers draw criticism
By Douane D. James
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Education Writer

September 2, 2006

As the primary nears, the four-way race for a Broward County School Boardseat has turned more heated as candidates lob insults and allege ethicsviolations.

Marty Rubinstein, the incumbent School Board member for District 6, targetedchallengers Stewart "Stew" Webster and Phyllis C. Hope with two negativedirect-mail fliers sent to residents this week.

The fliers use the phrases "Liar, liar ... pants on fire!" for Webster and"Let's Hope not!" for Hope and question the challengers' trustworthiness and abilities to oversee the Broward School District's $5 billion budget.

Voters from Sunrise, Weston and parts of Cooper City, Davie and Lauderhill will choose a District 6 candidate Tuesday. If no one receives at least 50percent of the tally, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff inNovember.


The Express Gay News


No Big Easy for 'ex-gays'

Therapists who try to 'convert' gays saw their plans swept away in a floodof gay support from U.S. psychologists in New Orleans meeting.
Sep. 02, 2006

THE BIG EASY proved to be quite difficult for the so-called "ex-gay"industry last month. At the American Psychological Association's annual
convention in New Orleans, anti-gay forces choreographed an expensiveprotest designed to pressure the APA into endorsing ex-gay therapy.

However, instead of succor, "conversion therapy" leaders got sucker punchedwith the APA forcefully reiterating that being gay is not a mental illnessand efforts to "treat" homosexuality can be dangerous.

"The APA's concern about the positions espoused by the National Associationof Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and so-called conversion therapy isthat they are not supported by the science," an APA statement said. "Thereis simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexualorientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positionsespoused by NARTH and Focus on the Family create an environment in whichprejudice and discrimination can flourish."


Smith, Davis keep on attacking


TALLAHASSEE -- The Democratic primary for governor continued its descent into negativity on Thursday, with two new television ads slamming Rod Smith on the Everglades and other issues.

Meanwhile, Smith allies renewed their criticism of Jim Davis for failing tocompensate two black men falsely convicted of murder.

Smith campaign aides suggested the attacks from Davis -- which include onead put out by the campaign and another launched by an independentenvironmental group -- were a sign that the Tampa congressman's lead in therace is slipping.

Independent polls show Davis' lead has shrunk over the past few weeks,although none of the polls has yet given Smith, a state senator from Alachua, the lead in Tuesday's primary election.


Rep. Harris Goes From GOP Darling to Liability

Polls say she's no longer a shoo-in against her rivals in the U.S. Senateprimary in Florida.
By Carol J. Williams
Times Staff Writer

September 1, 2006

MIAMI - She's called for a Christian theocracy so Congress won't "legislatesin." She's lost a dozen key campaign staffers in the home stretch,advertised endorsements she didn't get and failed to pick up a singlerecommendation from Florida's leading newspapers.

Rep. Katherine Harris - the former darling of the Republican Party for herpivotal role in the 2000 presidential recount - has stumbled so badly in herbid for the U.S. Senate that pollsters and pundits no longer focus on herlongshot chances against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in November, butinstead on the outlook for Tuesday's primary race against virtual unknowns.

Three polls released this week all put Harris, 49, at least 16 percentagepoints ahead of her three Republican rivals. But with two of the challengersclosing in on her, and the share of undecided voters larger than heradvantage, analysts say the contest for the party's nomination is far fromover.


September 1, 2006

Religious right tests voting strength in Florida races

Next Tuesday, Florida will likely follow the same pattern we have seendeveloping around the nation this midterm primary season.

An uninspired and dispirited electorate will, in huge numbers, fail to vote.

That will mean quirky results in some important races, and a major test forthe continued viability of the so-called Christian Right as a force inRepublican politics.

While most polls have shown Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist leadinghis race against Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher by at least 20 points, our InsiderAdvantage survey, conducted for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, suggested that Crist was leading, but not by a huge margin.

Unlike the other surveys, ours showed a substantial percentage of undecidedvoters. This is consistent with the results of polls we have conducted inother southern states, where these undecideds actually turned out to benonvoters. When this happens, races get tricky because only the mosthard-core voters go to the polls.


Neither Davis' nor Smith's record doused in green

The two Democrats who want to be governor have pleased and angered environmentalists over sugar, a dam, oil and the Everglades.

By JENNIFER LIBERTO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 1, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Four months ago, several hundred Floridians began mailing little gold postcards to gubernatorial candidates, asking whether they would support clean-water environmental policies.

No Republican responded. Tampa Democrat and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis has yet to respond. Rod Smith, the Democratic state senator from Alachua, answered nearly every question, generally supportive but without the commitment the
postcards tried to elicit.

A broader look at both candidates' overall environmental records shows thatwhile Jim Davis has a better voting record than Rod Smith on theenvironment, neither candidate has lately proved himself a champion of themovement.


Proposals on hurricane insurance by major governor candidates

Associated Press

A look at major property insurance proposals by the four major candidates for governor:


_ Would allow insurance companies to more quickly tap into the stateCatastrophe Fund, a backup account that bails them out when they have biglosses. Currently, they can dip into the fund once they've paid $5.3 billionin claims. Gallagher has proposed lowering that threshold to $3 billion,thus making more companies able to afford to write policies in Florida.Crist supports lowering the threshold to $3.2 billion.

_ Calls for the creation of individual tax-free catastrophe savings accountsto help homeowners save for items like deductibles and uninsured losses

_ Would encourage insurance companies to create tax-deferred catastrophereserve funds to help limit their reliance on reinsurance.

_ Gallagher has also pushed hard for a state program that provides grantsfor people to hurricane-proof their homes, and was among those who calledfor using a surplus in tax dollars earlier this year to offset a deficit atCitizens Property Insurance, thus preventing
Florida homeowners from getting socked with a huge assessment.


Shadowy support groups play role in gubernatorial campaigns

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Let's say you're up for a job. You've sent your resume,you've done the interview and provided references.

But there are some things about the other candidates that might just hurttheir chances.

But it would be a little unseemly to call up the personnel director and point out your competition's flaws - that might make the employer think lessof you. Wait - if somebody ELSE pointed out to the company the trouble your competition has had? If you don't ask the person to do it, you're not really sabotaging the other guy.

Welcome to politics.

If you are a registered voter, you are hiring the next governor and if youhaven't already, you may soon be sent information or see an ad on TV
pointing out things about one candidate or another - although it won'tspecifically tell you to vote for them or not.


You'd think there wasn't a Senate race

Neither Katherine Harris nor her GOP rivals have managed to organize much visible grass roots support.
By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
Published September 1, 2006

TAMPA - In these final days leading to Florida's primary, navy blue signs for Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher dot countless GOP campaign forums and political mixers. Signs for other Republicans running statewide are almost as plentiful.

But in one of the most high-profile races, the Republican contest for U.S.Senate, the yard signs and bumper stickers are largely and noticeably absent.

"It's very odd," said Mike Miller, a Florida fundraiser who has worked in the last three Senate races. "I've never seen anything like it."

In a primary where candidates generally agree on many of the key issues, astrong grass-roots effort is considered crucial to creating momentum, building name recognition and, in the end, gathering votes. Races are wonand lost at this level.



Smith gains on Davis in primary
Jason Garcia
Tallahassee Bureau

September 1, 2006

TALLAHASSEE -- With just five days left before the primary, Rod Smith isclosing the gap on his chief rival, Jim Davis, in the Democratic race forgovernor, according to an Orlando Sentinel poll released Thursday.

On the Republican side, Charlie Crist holds what looks to be aninsurmountable lead over Tom Gallagher, the Mason-Dixon Polling & Researchsurvey found.

The poll has Davis, a congressman from Tampa, with 40 percent of the vote,compared with 33 percent for Smith, a state senator from Alachua. That'sless than half of the 15-point lead Davis held in a similar survey just last month -- before Smith's supporters launched a series of ads attacking him onvarious issues.

More than a quarter of likely Democratic voters still haven't picked theircandidate, the poll found.


Oliphant shouldn't be fined, judge says

By Scott Wyman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

September 2, 2006

Almost four years after the botched 2002 primary that led to her downfall asBroward County's elections supervisor, Miriam Oliphant won a court decisionthis week against the state Elections Commission's effort to fine her $10,000 for polls opening late and closing early.

Claude Arrington, an administrative law judge, said state electionsofficials have failed to prove that Oliphant intentionally neglected her
duties. The decision, though, is far from the last word in the case: theElections Commission can reject his opinion and has pressed ahead in thepast against Oliphant despite unfavorable rulings.

Oliphant said Friday she is pleased with the decision and will fight on if the commission doesn't stand behind the judge. She hopes in the end to force the state to pay her legal bills, which her attorneys say could reach $400,000.


Crist rejects Gallagher's call to disavow endorsement by gay publication
By Deana Poole, Brian E. Crowley

Palm Beach Post Staff Writers
Saturday, September 02, 2006

ORLANDO - Tom Gallagher called on his Republican primary opponent Friday to reject an endorsement from a biweekly gay and lesbian publication, saying it doesn't reflect the party's values.

Attorney General Charlie Crist was picked as the "hands-down favorite" between the Republican candidates running for governor, largely because of Crist's support of civil unions, according to a recent endorsement by Watermark Online.

"While he unsurprisingly dislikes gay marriage, Crist supports civil unions for same-sex couples," the endorsement in the Aug. 24-Sept. 6 issue reads. "He's charming, decisive - and moderate. That simply cannot be said for state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who trails Crist in the polls. This may be the reason why Gallagher talks so often about his opposition to gay marriage in his ads. He doesn't want us to forget it."


Poll gives Harris double-digit lead

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE - Congresswoman Katherine Harris holds a double-digit lead inthe race for Florida's Republican U.S. Senate nomination less than a weekbefore the primary, according to a poll released Thursday.

However, the poll also indicates that a large number of Republicans haven't settled on a candidate, and about a third of those supporting Harris said they still might change their minds.

"If Rep. Harris had only one opponent she might be in deep trouble," saidPeter Brown, assistant polling director for the Quinnipiac UniversityPolling Institute, which conducted the poll last week. "But having three candidates splitting the anti-Harris vote is a major plus for her."

Harris was favored by 38 percent of 317 likely Republican voters.


Democrats confront divided loyalties

Two issues are defining the last days of the Democratic race for governor: Rod Smith's perceived alliance with Big Sugar, and Jim Davis' vote in awrongful conviction case years ago.


In the final few days of the Democratic race for governor, voters will betorn between two images: Jim Davis turning his back on two wrongfullyconvicted black men, and Rod Smith swimming in money from Big Sugar.

The two snapshots are closely intertwined: U.S. Sugar has bankrolled radioads and mailers highlighting Davis' 1990 vote in the Florida Legislature todeny compensation to Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee. The political attacks,however, have exposed Smith's ties to a corporation vilified byenvironmentalists for contaminating the Everglades.

And on Thursday, an Everglades group unleashed a cutthroat, $1 milliontelevision campaign across Florida that aims to bury Smithby telling voters: ``Don't let sugar money pollute this election. Tell RodSmith dirty politics won't clean up the Everglades.''


Study: Too many jobs in state have low pay, meager benefits
By Jeff Ostrowski
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 02, 2006

Florida's economy ranks among the nation's strongest by some measures, yettoo many workers toil for low wages and stingy benefits, says FloridaInternational University labor expert Bruce Nissen in his "State of Working Florida 2006" report.

"Florida's workers are not prospering along with the state's economy,"Nissen writes. "It continues to be a low-wage state, with a disproportionate number and percentage of low-wage jobs."

Laboring for less

Florida's booming economy is leaving many workers behind, a Florida International University report says:


September 2, 2006

Internal warfare plagues parties

Campaigns turn nasty in days before election


Florida Democrats are used to beating themselves up.

It was 40 years ago that a Miami mayor ousted a governor in a bitterly fought Democratic primary -- resulting in Florida's first Republican
governor since Reconstruction.

It's been 20 years since an attorney general was beaten by a young Jacksonville legislator in another bruising Democratic runoff -- resulting
in Florida's second GOP chief executive in modern times.

But with winner-take-all primaries set for Tuesday, this year's Republican combatants have shown they can do as much mud slinging and gut punching as the Democrats ever did.


Cross the party? Read this, and you might think twice
By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
Published September 2, 2006

MIAMI - This is what happens if you are Alex Villalobos, a Republican state
senator who crossed his party and Gov. Jeb Bush:
- You will have a leadership role taken away from you;
- You will face a fierce opponent in your party's primary, a well-known pol who will have the endorsement of the popular governor and millions ofdollars spent on his behalf;
- As you campaign around your suburban Miami-Dade district, you will be followed by a man dressed in a chicken suit.

The fight over who represents Senate District 38 - a slice of Miami-DadeCounty that includes the largely Cuban enclaves of Westchester and WestKendall - is one of the nastiest and costliest this primary season. Theoutcome this Tuesday doesn't affect just the 300,000 voters in the district;at its core, the race is a fight for the future of the Republican party. "It's a slugfest," sighed lobbyist Ron Book. "It's about as ugly as I've ever seen and it's going to come down to the wire."