Friday, December 22, 2006

FLORIDA DIGEST December 22, 2006

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Plan may ease backlog of mentally ill inmates
Chris Tisch
Published December 22, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush said Thursday that he wants to use $16.6-millionto create 373 additional mental health beds, a move that would helpalleviate a backlog of mentally ill inmates languishing in jails.

The Legislative Budget Commission is expected to approve the idea at anemergency meeting next month, which Bush urged leaders in the House andSenate to schedule to address the crisis.

Many of the about 300 mentally ill jail inmates awaiting treatment have beenin jail much longer than the 15 days allowed by state law. The new bedsshould become available in the next five months.


Florida population continues to grow
Published December 22, 2006

WASHINGTON - In one corner, there are hurricanes, stifling hot summers andseemingly endless voting problems.

In the other, there are millions of postcards sent worldwide showingpicture-perfect beaches and sunsets.

The postcards are winning.

Florida added 321,697 residents in 2006, according to population estimatesreleased Thursday by the Census Bureau. In sheer numbers, that puts theSunshine State second only to Texas in new residents, but many of the newTexans are former Louisianians chased there by Hurricane Katrina.

In fact, Louisiana lost nearly 220,000 people, more than any other state.

Arizona led the nation with a growth rate of 3.6 percent (or 213,311 newresidents) in the past year, followed by Nevada, Idaho, Georgia and Texas,unseating Nevada from its 19-year reign as the nation's fastest growingstate by percentage.


Palm Beach Post

Is it the season, or is it Crist?
By Elisa Cramer

Palm Beach Post Editorial Writer

Friday, December 22, 2006

Maybe it's the magic of Christmas, that time of year when hope visits evenunexpectedly, when renewal peeks around the calendar.

I get caught up in the sentimentality of the season, so forgive me anyoverstated sappiness, any Pollyanna reflection, any overly optimisticoutlook.

Not to be maudlin or anything, but ... I think Gov.-elect Charlie Cristmight not be bad for Florida.

I know, I know. He hasn't even been sworn in yet. And, no, I did not votefor Mr. Crist, who ran his Republican primary campaign trying to out-Jeb hisopponent. And, yes, I thought his selection of state Rep. Jeff Kottkamp,R-Cape Coral, as his running mate further signaled that Floridians would bein for a continuation of Gov. Bush's ideological policies on everything frompublic schools to stem-cell research to ex-felons' civil rights to teenpregnancy. And, of course, all of that still is possible.


Crist's picks bring experience
Published December 22, 2006

Gov.-elect Charlie Crist picked two veterans of state government to head upthe state's land-planning and environmental agencies Thursday.

He chose Tallahassee lawyer Tom Pelham to lead the state Department ofCommunity Affairs, an agency Pelham ran in the late 1980s under then-Gov.Bob Martinez.

And Crist's pick as the new head of the state Department of EnvironmentalProtection is the agency's current deputy secretary, Mike Sole, who startedat the DEP 16 years ago.

Crist's selections were praised by both environmentalists and developers.Edie Ousley of the Florida Home Builders Association called both men"outstanding," and Thom Rumberger of the Everglades Trust called them"inspired choices."


December 21, 2006

Nelson: U.S. needs realism in Iraq

The Times-Union

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson ended a 12-day trip to the Middle East on Wednesday,saying the United States needs to use realism when dealing with the region.And the realism is that a surge in the U.S. military isn't going to workunless the Sunnis and Shiites work together to solve their problems, theFlorida Democrat said.

"You can only increase your troops in Iraq if you have a plan - and a planthat is going to work," said Nelson, a member of the Armed Services, Budgetand Foreign Relations committees. "You have to have honest realism and apolicy, not hard-headed ideology. You have to have policies driven byrealism."

Nelson visited with heads of state from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel,Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq during the tour. He spoke withreporters Wednesday on a conference call from Kuwait. A day earlier, he hadbeen visiting troops in Baghdad, Fallujah, west of Fallujah and in southernIraq. The Florida troops were in "high spirits," he said. He dined withthem.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,5814757.story?coll=sfla-news-sfla

S. Florida's delegation snags surprising power in Democratic Congress

By William E. Gibson
Washington Bureau Chief

December 22, 2006

WASHINGTON · The Democratic takeover of Congress next year has propelledyoung and junior members from South Florida into positions of surprisinginfluence on Capitol Hill.

These members, once foot soldiers operating defensively in the minority,will be in position to secure federal funding for Everglades restoration andother local projects while shaping legislation on taxes, insurance, trade,Social Security and Medicare.

Florida lost a lot of seniority in Congress this year with the abruptresignation of six-term Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fort Pierce, and the defeat of13-term Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale. But a younger generation haspushed its way into prime committee assignments and other positions of powerin the 110th session that begins next year.

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