Friday, January 19, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST January 19, 2007

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The Miami Herald

Posted on Fri, Jan. 19, 2007

Sex charges against high school athlete may be dropped

Northwestern's star running back entered a special program for first-timeoffenders as a police union filed a grievance on behalf of a detectiveinvolved in his case.


Prosecutors have agreed to drop charges that Northwestern Senior Highrunning back Antwain Easterling had sex with an underage girl if hecompletes a special program for youthful offenders, officials said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade schools police union announced it filed grievanceson a behalf of a detective who was abruptly transferred after issuing astinging report that said school administrators knew of the alleged crimefor several weeks, but didn't report it.

Easterling, 19, was arrested Dec. 7 and charged with lewd and lasciviousbattery on a minor. Miami police say he confessed to having sex with a14-year-old girl in a school bathroom after a football game on Sept. 16.


Gov. Crist hammers insurance industry
By S.V. Date

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Thursday, January 18, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Charlie Crist today again hammered the insurance industryfor enjoying record profits while simultaneously increasing premiums, andadded that a solution that fails to reduce rates for policyholders ofstate-run Citizens Insurance was not acceptable.

"Let me remind you where we're coming from. This insurance industry thispast year has enjoyed a $60 billion profit. $60 billion," Crist said,rapping his finger on the podium for emphasis. "And I've seen estimateswhere $3 billion of that money has been made on the backs of Floridians. Andthey're tired of it. And so am I. Nobody got a refund when we didn't have astorm."

oth House and Senate versions of the insurance bills that passed theirrespective chambers Wednesday require cuts for private insurers who will getcheaper re-insurance from the state. But it's less clear whether the 1.3million households who get policies from Citizens would get a premiumreduction or whether their rates merely would not increase as they otherwisewould have under last year's insurance law.


Palm Beach fines Donald Trump $1,250 a day for supersized flag

By Sally Apgar

January 18, 2007, 4:16 PM EST

PALM BEACH -- Town fathers voted 6-1 Thursday afternoon to fine Donald Trump$1,250 a day for flying a supersized American flag atop an 80-foot flagpolethat violates several of the town's codes and ordinances.

Retroactive to Jan. 6, the Donald already owes the town $16,250.

"I think Mr. Trump, the property owner, picked this fight. I think he's beenprovocative," said Martin Fried, a member of the town's Code EnforcementBoard.

Fried told Trump's attorney, Raymond Royce, who represented him at thehearing, that, when it comes to town laws, Trump is a "serial violator."


Report paints gloomy financial picture for Florida's universities

By Scott Travis
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

January 18, 2007, 10:06 PM EST

Florida's universities could look dramatically different and cost studentssignificantly more, if state leaders accept recommendations from aneducation consultant.

Low university tuition, the Bright Futures scholarship program and prepaidtuition plans have created what could become a financial nightmare for thestate, the consultant said.

"All of these economic decisions, while fueled in many ways by goodintentions, will bankrupt the state's higher education system if thesefundamental policy issues are not revisited in a timely manner," accordingto the report, written by Alceste T. Pappas of the Connecticut-based PappasConsulting Group. She proposes dramatic changes in the way the state paysfor higher education.


Negotiations on Citizens Property Insurance in final stretch

By Mark Hollis and Linda Kleindienst
Tallahassee Bureau

January 18, 2007, 8:53 PM EST

TALLAHASSEE -- Whether to expand Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and alsoguarantee its policyholders a major rate reduction was the major stickingpoint Thursday as Florida lawmakers eased into final negotiations on a menuof measures to stop the state's insurance crisis.

The keenest debate as the Florida Legislature's special session on insurancemoved into its decisive days was over a plan to freeze Citizens rates at theDec. 31, 2006 level for all of 2007.

The proposal delivers at least 25-percent savings for Citizens customersliving in ''high risk'' zones east of Interstate 95 in South Florida. Butother Citizens customers - mainly those west of I-95 - might see a rate cutonly half that size.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Jan. 18, 2007

Alvarez's stance angers Christian coalition


Miami-Dade's conservative Christian Family Coalition rallied at County Hallon Wednesday to denounce Mayor Carlos Alvarez for his amended stand on gayrights.

''We call on Mayor Alvarez to honor his commitment,'' said Anthony Verdugo,the coalition's executive director. ``That's all it is. It's not rocketscience.''

When Alvarez first ran for mayor in 2004, he signed a coalition pledge tooppose gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

While campaigning last week to become strong mayor, Alvarez told The MiamiHerald Editorial Board that he still opposes gay marriage, but ''doesn'thave a problem'' with civil unions.

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