Saturday, October 14, 2006

FLORIDA DIGEST October 14, 2006


Four Lauderdale teens to be tried as adults in beating of homeless man

By Tonya Alanez
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

October 14, 2006

Four teenage boys -- three 15-year-olds and a 17-year-old -- will be triedas adults for attempted murder in the beating and stabbing of a homeless man in Esplanade Park last month, a Broward County prosecutor said Friday.

Evidence showing "extreme callousness and recklessness" prompted the stateto upgrade the charges against the Fort Lauderdale teens from aggravatedbattery with a deadly weapon, said Assistant State Attorney Maria Schneider.

The attempted murder charge is punishable by life in prison.

Outside the courtroom, the mother of one of the teens blamed society for herson's actions, saying she has sought help from police, schools and socialworkers numerous times, to no avail.

"What do you do when you don't have the resources that you need?" saidTabitha Keels, mother of 15-year-old suspect Patrick Keels.


Medicare plans offer dizzying choices, HMOs add incentives as deadline looms

By Diane C. Lade
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

October 14, 2006

Medicare recipients, it's time again to get out your calculators and sharpenyour pencils.

Companies with Medicare HMOs that include drug coverage released the detailsof their plans Friday, adding it to similar information for stand-alonedrug-only plans issued about two weeks ago. Consumers now have until Nov.15, when enrollment begins, to shop and compare all the 2007 plans, whichtake effect Jan. 1.

The overall picture for HMOs: There are a lot more incentives to join one,aimed at nudging more Medicare participants into managed care.


Davis has serious plan for insurance rate relief
Palm Beach Post Editorial
Saturday, October 14, 2006

With less than four weeks until the election for governor, Jim Davis hasbeaten Charlie Crist in the race to offer an insurance proposal that couldbring relief to Florida.

Previously, Rep. Davis had proposed a Policyholders Bill of Rights thatoutlined what Floridians should expect - stable premiums, quick settlementof claims - but not much more. The plan he released Tuesday goes muchfurther.

At its core, the Davis plan is similar to what Democrats in the Legislatureproposed this year - a state-run entity that would collect premiums from allof the state's homeowners and pay claims for hurricane damage, up to between70 percent and 90 percent.


Dems sue to prevent poll officials telling voters of Foley substitute

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE - The Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Friday toprevent election supervisors in Mark Foley's district from informing votersthe disgraced Republican congressman has been replaced by another candidate.

Supervisors in most of the affected counties planned to display notices inpolling places stating: "A vote for Mark Foley (Rep.) will be counted forJoe Negron (Rep.), the Republican candidate."

The sheets would also say a vote for Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney countsfor Mahoney and a vote for unaffiliated candidate Emmie Ross counts forRoss.


Posted on Sat, Oct. 14, 2006


All Broward voters will be asked four questions on the Nov. 7 ballot. Our recommendations on the first two are below. Recommendations for the remaining two will be published Monday.


Voters are asked to increase the county's six-cent sales tax by a penny to help pay for expanding the county's abysmal transit system. Given conservative estimates that at least one million more people will be living in Broward County in 20 years, putting some 1.5 million more cars on the roads, voters should take the plunge now and approve the tax increase for their and their children's futures here.

Vociferous critics of this proposal include a few county commissioners who say the county didn't prepare well enough for the referendum. They also say that the plan for spending $260 million in annual tax proceeds is incomplete.

Yet these same commissioners participated in the 2004 land-use policy change that began clustering future growth around existing major roads and rail lines in anticipation of mass transit. Sitting as the Metropolitan Planning Organization, they adopted a long-term transportation plan with the same transit goals as the land-use change. They commissioned a 2005 study to determine the needs of Broward Transit. Also in 2005, VisionBroward, a countywide charette, identified the need for a dedicated-funding source, which would bring state and federal matching funds for rail lines and an expanded bus fleet.


Posted on Sat, Oct. 14, 2006

New claims of abuse at boys camp

As law enforcement investigates allegations of abuse, officials at the governor's office sent a team to a North Florida town to ensure the safety of juvenile delinquents.


GREENVILLE - Three separate state agencies are investigating whether caretakers used banned, excessive and harmful restraints at a camp for delinquent boys, some of whom are mentally retarded or have other special needs.

At least one youth might have suffered a broken collarbone at the Greenville Hills Academy in Greenville just last week, according to records obtained by The Miami Herald. One 16-year-old claimed he was ``choked.''

And in another episode, guards also reported using a technique called a wrist lock that was banned two years ago by Anthony Schembri, secretary of the state Department of Juvenile Justice, an agency still reeling from the death of a 14year-old at another Panhandle facility earlier this year.

The DJJ is investigating Greenville along


Posted on Sat, Oct. 14, 2006


Captive boy's mother charged

The mother of a 9-year-old who was locked in his bedroom much of his life faces child abuse charges. The boy's father was charged Wednesday.

Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE - The mother of a 9-year-old boy, who authorities say was kept locked in his bedroom for most of the last three years and monitored by a video camera, was arrested Friday, two days after the boy's father was arrested and charged with child abuse.

Michelle Piercy, 37, was arrested Friday afternoon on charges of aggravated child abuse, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. Her bond was set at $1 million. It was not immediately known if she had an attorney.


Michelle Piercy said earlier this week that her husband, Randall Warren Piercy, locked the boy in the bedroom to protect him because the child had been sexually abused by a relative.


Posted on Sat, Oct. 14, 2006

The Miami Herald recommends

Voters in three Broward County Commission districts will select theirrepresentatives for the nine-member board on Nov. 7. The coming four yearswill decide much for the county, which will continue to confront majorissues such as transportation and finance through pressures of growing needsand growing demands to rein in spending.


In District 2 in the orth-central part of the county, voters have littlechoice. The challenger, Bob Hoffman, 42, an independent who is making hissecond run for the seat, is not campaigning. Fortunately, Kristin Jacobs,46, has served both the district and the county with energy andthoughtfulness.



Governor candidates Crist and Davis grade merit of the FCAT differently

By Linda Kleindienst
Tallahassee Bureau Chief

October 14, 2006

TALLAHASSEE · Love it or hate it, the FCAT may be the most incendiary issuein this year's race for governor.

When voters pick a successor to Gov. Jeb Bush next month, they will also bedeciding the future of Florida's public school system and the controversialannual exam.

Some of the starkest differences between Republican Charlie Crist andDemocrat Jim Davis revolve around what Bush has done with public schools.Under Bush's guidance, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is used tohand out financial rewards to the best schools and teachers. It can also bethe deciding factor for which students get promoted and graduate.


October 14, 2006

Two Adults and Two Children Are Found Shot to Death Alongside a FloridaHighway

MIAMI, Oct. 13 - A man, a woman and two small children were found shot todeath early Friday on a lonely stretch of highway in St. Lucie County, about120 miles north of here.

The woman had tried to shield the boy and girl, thought to be 4 and 6, bycradling them under her arms, officials said. But bullets riddled all fourbodies, which were found in the grass alongside the road.

Sheriff Ken J. Mascara of St. Lucie County said a southbound driver onFlorida's Turnpike had spotted the bodies and alerted state troopers justbefore 8 a.m. The victims had probably been traveling with their killer in avan or sport utility vehicle that left tracks along the roadside, SheriffMascara said.