Thursday, January 25, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST January 24, 2007

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Cong. Etz Chaim Men's Club hosts Movie Night (Feb. 15)

The Men's Club of Congregation Etz Chaim launches its series of classicJewish films with "Gentlemen's Agreement" (1947) on Thursday, February 15,at 7:30 p.m., at the Wilton Manors home of a Men's Club member. A pizzadinner will be served before the movie and a discussion will follow thefilm. Admission is $5 for members of the Men's Club and $10 for non-membersand is limited to 12 people. "Gentlemen's Agreement," stars Gregory Peck asa writer who pretends to be a Jew in order to uncover anti-Semitism infashionable society. A critical success, "Gentlemen's Agreement" wonAcademy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan) and BestSupporting Actress (Celeste Holm). For reservations and directions, phoneJesse Monteagudo at (954) 424-8449.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Tue, Jan. 23, 2007

Alvarez achieves strong-mayor victory


Frustrated by repeated scandals engulfing county hall in recent years,Miami-Dade voters gave Mayor Carlos Alvarez broad new power today to managethe county's sprawling bureaucracy and the officials who run it.

Alvarez's strong-mayor proposal was headed to a victory in today'sreferendum,up 57 percent to 43 percent with all early votes and absenteeballots counted and 671 of 744 precincts reporting.

The passage of the strong-mayor proposal will make Alvarez one of SouthFlorida's mostinfluential political leaders and bring policy weight andpolitical heft to an office that was rarelymore than ceremonial.

The win gives Alvarez power to hire and fire the county manager, as well asthe directors of mostof the government's 66 departments. He also gainsbroad authority over day-to-daymanagement of the county's $6.9 billionbudget and 30,000 employees.


West Palm mayor testifies to grand jury investigating corruption, conflictsof interest

By Sally Apgar
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

January 24, 2007

West Palm Beach · Mayor Lois Frankel testified for about 90 minutes Tuesdaymorning before a state grand jury that is investigating possible corruptionand conflicts of interest among city officials and employees.

"I asked to come back before the grand jury because I am tired of theinnuendo and speculation by my political critics and in the newspapers,"Frankel said Tuesday.

Frankel said, "I'm tired of me and everyone else at City Hall getting lumpedtogether with Exline and Liberti," referring to two former citycommissioners who were forced to resign.

State Rep. Mary Brandenburg, D-Lake Worth, testified for about 30 minutes.She said she was asked about whether a business has to "pay to play" in thecity and how the city ethics commission operates. She said she was alsoasked if she solicited donations for the mayor's re-election campaigntelling people they had to contribute to get anything done. She denied doingeither.



Local option can add funds
By Peter Rebmann

January 22, 2007

New state and federal mandates will require building many schools in Floridain the near future. Conservative estimates of the costs of these new schoolsbetween now and 2020 start at $35 billion. Current funding for thesemandates does not match their projected costs. A local fee on real estatetransactions could help make up the shortfall.

In Florida, we estimate the cost of building a new school by using a unit ofcapacity called a student station. A student station takes into account thata student will use space in core facilities like cafeterias and auditoriumsas well as using classroom space.

Right now, the state pays a maximum of about $18,500 per student station tobuild an elementary school. This means a school designed to hold 1,000students would cost $18.5 million.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Jan. 24, 2007
No one exempt from Clean Water Act

South Florida's water pollution problems will not be solved until state,regional and federal officials stop trying to create exemptions forpolluters and start honestly enforcing the law.

The South Florida Water Management District is using your tax dollars toargue that it is outside the reach of the Clean Water Act, one of the mosteffective and popular environmental laws in the country. Big Sugar supportsthis claim. In a recent article by the Associated Press, the watermanagement district argues that if it has to get permits to regulate thecontaminants in the water it pumps into Lake Okeechobee, every flood controlsystem in the United States would have to shut down and the entireEverglades restoration project would be jeopardized. Big Sugar also madethis inflammatory claim.

The water management district and the U.S. Sugar Corp. are in denial. Theypresented identical stories to a federal judge in Miami in a three-monthtrial.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Jan. 24, 2007


Sarasota Democratic candidate gets gallery seat for speech
Democrats signaled that they're still interested in the disputedcongressional race in Sarasota by giving Christine Jennings a seat in theHouse gallery for the State of the Union address.

WASHINGTON - Christine Jennings wasn't able to line up and shake PresidentBush's hand when he walked down the House aisle Tuesday night to deliver hisState of the Union address, but she did get a chance to make her point.

Clad in a cherry red pantsuit, the banker from Sarasota County who iscontesting her narrow loss to succeed Rep. Katherine Harris, sat in theHouse gallery to the president's right -- a symbol of the fact Democrats arenot relinquishing dibs on the seat -- despite the presence of Rep. VernBuchanan, R-Sarasota, who, as a member of Congress, got a seat on the floor.

''I hope it's a reminder that we need election reform and standards for thecountry,'' Jennings said of her presence in gallery 5, row B, seat 17. ``Themessage has never changed, we've got to know that we have fair and accurateelections.''


St. Petersburg Times

Recount method a touchy issue
Published January 24, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Secretary of State Kurt Browning on Tuesday defended usingpublic money to challenge a decision by Sarasota County voters to requirepaper trails on voting machines.

Browning emphasized that his agency is not challenging the right of a countyto change its voting system - only a new provision in Sarasota that requiresmanual audits of ballots, which is inconsistent with state election law.

Sarasota voters in November made the county the first in Florida to requirea voting system with a paper trail by 2008.

The vote was widely viewed as evidence of a lack of trust in touch screenvoting and has taken on greater significance because of the disputedcongressional election that occurred in November in Sarasota County. Theloser in that race still contends that voting machines must have been atfault because 18,000 voters recorded votes in other races on the ballot butdid not record a vote in the congressional race.


State looks for methods to verify electronic votes
By Dara Kam

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Florida's newly appointed secretary of state told lawmakersTuesday he is looking for ways to implement Gov. Charlie Crist's desire toprovide a paper trail for electronic votes in the state.

But while Florida voters may eventually have the reassurance of avoter-verified election system, it doesn't appear likely before the 2008presidential election.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning told the Senate Ethics and ElectionsCommittee he believes he has the authority under current Florida law torequire the touch-screen manufacturers to provide a paper trail forelectronic votes.

But none of the companies that currently sell the machines here has aprinting device that could make the paper trail possible. And, if they did,they would have to pass a certification process that could take up to twoyears to complete, Browning said.

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