Saturday, January 27, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST January 27, 2007

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Crist wins lawmakers' raves, respect
By S.V. Date

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Saturday, January 27, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - He came, he saw, and if he didn't quite conquer, he at leastput the property insurance industry on notice that it is now the enemy.

"None of this is personal, but it's business to me. And it's your business,"Gov. Charlie Crist told a luncheon crowd two days after pushing through aspecial session law that aims to lower premiums at least in part by reducingindustry profits. "I ran as the people's governor, and I wasn't kidding."

"The governor did a masterful job of delivering on his promise," saidAssociated Industries of Florida chief Barney Bishop, whose membershipincludes the insurance industry. On the industry's behalf, he had urgedCrist to soften his approach.

"I'm sorry we lost," Bishop said.

In winning, Crist upended the state's decades-long relationship withinsurers, which had been based on the idea that private companies werebetter than government programs. If that meant insurers would get biggersubsidies while raising premiums, then that was a necessary evil.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Jan. 27, 2007

Businesses stand to benefit from wider Citizens coverage
Commercial insurance rates remain high and coverage is still scarce. But nowthe state-run pool will enter the market.

Florida's new insurance law promises to provide relief for homeowners. Butit also might address an even more urgent crisis: the inability of somebusinesses to find coverage at all.

The bill, signed by Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday, allows Citizens PropertyInsurance to expand into the commercial insurance business in a big way.

Until now, the insurer of last resort could write windstorm policies forbusinesses only in the state's designated windpool, generally east ofInterstate 95 or U.S. 1 in South Florida. And because hurricane coverage wascapped at $1 million, it could cover only very small businesses.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Jan. 27, 2007

Sink begins her tenure with a full plate
With the insurance bill passed, the state's CFO will focus on helpingresidents understand the law's risks -- and other priorities.

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE - Three weeks into her new job as Florida's chief financialofficer -- most of it focused on the Legislature's special session onhomeowners insurance -- Alex Sink said Friday she now wants to help peopleunderstand the extra risks they could face under the new law.

Sink, 58, broke the Republican lock on the executive branch with her victoryover former Senate President Tom Lee in November and joins Gov. CharlieCrist and Attorney General Bill McCollum as the new members handling Cabinetissues along with holdover Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. Sink isthe only Democrat on the panel.

And with a new cast, Sink believes Floridians will benefit from freshleadership.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Jan. 27, 2007

German railroad car a grim Holocaust reminder

The leaders of a Hollywood Holocaust museum on Friday unveiled a railroadcar that might have been used to transport millions of Jews to concentrationcamps.

The sight of a railroad car on Friday jogged Halina Laster's memory of whenthe Nazis shuttled her around German-occupied Poland in crowded cattle carsfor almost three years.

A Holocaust survivor, Laster recalled Nazis putting lime on the floorboards,saying the powdery substance was used for sanitary reasons. But whenpassengers relieved themselves, the chemical mixture produced fumes thatkilled some of the passengers who weren't already dying of starvation ordehydration.

''For it to be here, it is a symbol of remembrance,'' said Laster, 85,president of the Century-Pines Holocaust Survivor Group at Century Villagein Pembroke Pines.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Jan. 27, 2007

`Simply put, our water isn't right'


Below are excerpts from Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's speech to the EvergladesCoalition (www.everglades last Saturday in Orlando.

We are joined by a common cause, a common devotion to protecting andpreserving the vast flowing river we call the Everglades. This is a regionof strange beauty and environmental diversity. Yet it also is one of ourmost important sources of water.

Listen to the words of the late Marjory Stoneman Douglas, from her 1987autobiography, Voice of the River: ``Much of the rainfall on which SouthFlorida depends comes from evaporation in the Everglades. The Evergladesevaporate, the moisture goes up into the clouds, the clouds are blown to thenorth, and the rain comes down over the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee.

``Lake Okeechobee, especially, is fed by these rains. When the lake getsfilled, some of the excess drains down the Caloosahatchee River into theGulf of Mexico, or through the St. Lucie River and into the Atlantic Ocean.The rest of the excess -- the most useful part -- spills over the southernrim of the lake into the great arc of the Everglades.''


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Jan. 27, 2007

Good salaries retain good teachers


Much of what masquerades as educational policy around this state is really abitter discussion about money -- who gets it and who does not -- and how welabel the recipients of those dollars. Take the current debate about STAR(Special Teachers Are Rewarded), which is supposed to help retain Florida'sbest teachers with a performance bonus.

The proviso language for this has been transmuted by the Department ofEducation into a cudgel used to beat up teachers in an illegal overreach ofthe department's authority. The DOE would have teachers and the publicaccept the premise that teachers will be motivated by performance paybonuses based 80 percent on increased student scores on a state assessmentor other, undefined instruments. FCAT raises its ugly head again, this timeto rank all the teachers in this state based on an instrument that leavesout 75 percent of teachers from consideration of the bonus. Supposedly,districts and their unions are to negotiate the plan (subject to DOEapproval) for those others in order to allow them to be considered for thebonuses. Talk about a morale booster!


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Jan. 27, 2007


Coral Springs church wants to talk about sex
A Coral Springs church is tackling the topic of sex with a controversialthree-part series and a provocative billboard advertisement.


There's a three-letter word that has long been taboo in church: S-E-X.

Not anymore.

Next weekend, Church by the Glades in Coral Springs starts a three-weekseries, The Bare Naked Truth on Sex.

And as if the topic weren't controversial enough, the unorthodox church isadvertising the sex talks with a racy billboard -- showing two pairs offeet, interwined, hanging off the end of a bed.

The billboard, on Interstate 595 between Pine Island and Nob Hill roads inDavie, is raising eyebrows.

''That's not what church is supposed to represent,'' said David Lino, 19, ofDavie. ``It's kind of shocking.''

Yet the program isn't meant to be offensive or vulgar, said David Hughes,44, senior pastor at the sprawling, 3,600-member church.


Financial trouble looms for Broward

Report lists scenarios as budget work begins
By Bill Hirschman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

January 27, 2007

The Broward County Commission faces potential deficits of $5 million to $61million each year over the next five years as it tries to meet sharplyrising expenses with modest increases in taxes from property owners, acounty report revealed Friday.

County staff forecast how much money Broward would collect through 2012under three scenarios.

Each is based on different financial assumptions, such as stagnant propertyvalues as opposed to moderately rising housing prices.

Even the lower shortfalls underscore what commissioners like John Rodstromand Mayor Josephus Eggelletion have warned for months.


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Plan unequal for gays

Alligator Online and Campus Communications

Alligator Writer

When Nora Spencer heard a year ago that UF would offer health insurancebenefits to partners of gay and lesbian employees, she and her partnerthought it was wonderful.

But when the former adjunct professor became eligible for the benefits asthe director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs in August,she realized the plan came with a heavy cost. The plan would give her extrataxable income of at least $5,000, which is why she decided not to use it.

"I just looked at it, and it doesn't make any sense," Spencer said.

Almost a year after the university first offered domestic partner benefits,the plan is meeting mixed reception from faculty.

While it is seen as a step forward in gay and lesbian rights, those whobenefit from the plan said it is not equal to the spouse plan forheterosexual couples and, most importantly, not enough.


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This exciting and fun program is patterned after the highly successful andwidely recognized Leadership Miami program. YLM brings together young peoplefrom different backgrounds and experiences for leadership and personaldevelopment.

YLM is a two-day conference that will take place on March 30 and 31, 2007,at the Florida International University Kovens Center.

Day one will kick off the conference with the exciting Team Ropes AdventureChallenge. This unique series of activities is focused on team membersworking together to solve structured problems in an outdoor setting. Daytwo consists of a series of leadership and personal development activities.

Applications for YLM are due March 1 and can be downloaded in PDF format byclicking this link:

More information is available at

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