Sunday, January 28, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST January 28, 2007

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Learning from the FCAT

Palm Beach Post Editorial

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bob Graham knows a lot about Florida, education and civics. He was governorfrom 1979 until 1987, served in the U.S. Senate until 2005 and has been anadvocate for better public education in the state.

So when Sen. Graham says that students need more civics classes, you have topay attention. And when he says that civics should be added to the FCAT...

Well, maybe he has a point.

Sen. Graham and former U.S. Rep. Lou Frey of Orlando, who joined him lastweek in pushing the Civics-FCAT notion, point out that Florida ranked 39thnationally in voter turnout and that 40 percent of Floridians can't name thethree branches of government. Low turnout may explain why Floridapoliticians have gotten away with passing laws that have turned the FCATinto a political tool for abusing public schools.

Besides being a ploy to institute vouchers, overemphasis on the high-stakestest has driven electives and phys ed from the curriculum. Art, foreignlanguages and history aren't included on the test, yet the state claims thatthe FCAT can measure overall school quality.


Property taxes scaring you? Here's a chance to let legislators know

By Mark Hollis
Tallahassee Bureau

January 28, 2007

TALLAHASSEE -- Randy Aube of Boca Raton would like to move to BrowardCounty, but he's afraid he can't afford the taxes.

He pays $4,300 a year in property tax on the home he has lived in for sixyears. If he moves and buys a place of similar value, he thinks the taxeswill skyrocket to $14,000.

"My next-door neighbor, who bought his house a few years after I did, ispaying about twice as much [as I am]," Aube wrote in a recent letter tostate Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach. "That just doesn't make any sense. Iknow [property taxes are] a huge complicated problem, but if it doesn't getfixed, it's only going to get worse."

South Florida homeowners angry about high tax bills -- and the threat ofpaying even more if they move -- can sound off to legislators, Democrat andRepublican alike, at meetings on the topic early next month. Eighttown-hall-style hearings will be held across the state, including hearingsin Lake Worth, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Legislators have set the stage for a big debate at the legislative sessionscheduled to start in March.


Crist's party choice beats incumbent
By Brian E. Crowley

Palm Beach Post Political Editor

Sunday, January 28, 2007

ORLANDO - Gov. Charlie Crist successfully beat back a challenge to hisnominee to head the Florida Republican Party in a close vote Saturday thatcould have turned into an embarrassment for the new governor.

Carole Jean Jordan surprised the Crist team when she accepted a nominationto be reelected chair of the party. Moments earlier, Crist stood before thestate's 191 party leaders who would cast votes to tell them he wasnominating Jim Greer of Seminole County to lead the party.

When the votes were counted, Greer won 102-89 - a shift of just seven voteswould have turned the election into a stinging defeat for Crist.

Jordan's decision to challenge Crist's choice was an unusual move. Normallya state party chairman is someone close to the governor.


Push for earlier Florida voting hints primarily at chaos in '08
By Frank Cerabino

Palm Beach Post Staff Columnist

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Florida has done enough damage in national elections for one state, and it'sborderline pathological to wish that we could do more.

For some reason, there's a push in Tallahassee to give Florida a bigger rolein the upcoming presidential election cycle. Legislators want to move theFlorida primary up from March to possibly January, making the state a keyprize for any candidate looking to get an early lead in the nominationsweepstakes.

This is crazy.

What America needs is a lot less of Florida, perhaps even a bye in 2008, awise preventive measure worth considering.


Janary 28, 2007

Crist prepares first budget, narrows focus

Gov.'s agenda keeps education on center stage


As he begins to fill in the outlines of governor, Charlie Crist doesn'tstray from Charlie Crist the candidate.

Insurance and property tax relief.

Class size funded, not fought.

Stem cell research, including embryonic.

Restoration of rights for felons.

Physical education for every child, every day.

But as Crist pulls together those ambitions for this first year, flush froma special session on property insurance, other campaign issues have droppedoff the table, edited out as the "Charlie Crist Vision" is rewritten intothe "Vision Document for Governing."

Not on the immediate agenda:

Limiting abortion to cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life.

A crackdown on illegal immigration.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1600943,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Investigation reveals criminal pasts of those toting guns

By Megan O'Matz and John Maines
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

January 28, 2007

Garth F. Bailey, of Pembroke Pines, pleaded no contest to manslaughter in1988 for shooting his girlfriend in the head while she cooked breakfast.Eight years later, the state of Florida gave him a license to carry a gun.

John P. Paxton Jr., then of Deerfield Beach, pleaded guilty to aggravatedchild abuse in 1993 for grabbing his 4-year-old nephew by the neck, chokingand slapping him for flicking the lights on and off. Eight years later, thestate gave him a license to carry a gun.

John M. Corporal, of Lake Worth, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in1998 for pulling a chrome revolver from his waistband and placing it againsthis roommate's head during an argument. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to grandtheft. In February 2006, the state gave him a license to carry a gun.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,7270364,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Just how super is Super Bowl's economic impact?

Some analysts say big bucks may not come with big game.
By Sarah Talalay and Charles Bricker
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

January 28, 2007

Ask tourism officials, Dolphins executives and politicians why they areexcited about South Florida hosting its ninth Super Bowl, and the answer isalways the same: $350 million to $400 million.

That's the amount they say will be pumped into the region's businesses --hotels, restaurants and more -- from next Sunday's Super Bowl XLI betweenthe Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts.

Add to that the 100 million people across the country who will see thetelevision broadcast, and you have an economic bonanza, local officials say.

"All the television stations in the Midwest highlighting the warm weather,the great hotels, the beautiful beaches, we couldn't have a budget to payfor that," Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion said.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,883621,print.story?coll=sfla-news-editorial

Trump's Flag

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

January 28, 2007

This is what you call patriotism?

It's almost comical to watch Donald Trump twist logic into a pretzel inorder to justify the oversized American flag he insists on flying, inviolation of town codes, at his Palm Beach social club.

"They want me to pay a daily fee for the privilege to fly the Americanflag," The Donald scoffed recently. No, the town expects you to obey the lawby applying for a permit and heeding code limitations on flag sizes. Sinceyou haven't, the town is fining you $1,250 a day for the violations.

Trump has a point that the town can't pick its battles and ignore otherscofflaws, and his flag is not out of proportion to the Mar-A-Lago estate.But he can't hide behind "patriotism" as an excuse to thumb his nose at thedemocratic principles the flag represents.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,735277,print.story?coll=sfla-news-editorial

Water Woes

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

January 28, 2007

ISSUE: The price of another cheap - South Florida commodity is going up.

Palm Beach County residents are bracing for another double-digit increasethat has ramifications for all of South Florida. It involves a commodity toomany of us need but take for granted -- water.

Beginning in April, water customers in Palm Beach County could see theirmonthly bills go up by 18 percent -- from $35.75 to $42.13. The price spikewill be higher for heavy users -- up to 30 percent.

The increase will bring in an additional $15 million annually to pay forimprovements in water pipelines and pay for the cost of delivering water tocustomers. In reality, it's a modest hike after a decade long lull, but thechange illustrates what the experts across the nation have been predictingfor some time: the days of cheap water are coming to an end.

The problem for South Florida is not in the lack of water. It's the lack ofmethods to obtain it cheaply.

The region's primary source of drinking water is the Biscayne Aquifer, butgrowth and the ever increasing demand for fresh water is pushing that sourceto the brink and water managers insist that if current trends continue theunderground aquifer won't be able to meet future demand.


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