Thursday, January 04, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST January 4, 2007

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The Sun-Sentinel,0,1500523.story?coll=sfla-news-opinion


Policy shift protects quality of life
By Colleen M. Castille

January 1, 2007

Today more than 16 million people call Florida home, and we continue to beone of the fastest growing states in the nation. With close to 1,000 newresidents moving to Florida daily, the state's population is projected togrow by 5 million during the next 17 years. Coupled with warm weather andspectacular natural resources, our booming economy makes Florida the bestplace to live, work and visit.

Recently, a report by 1000 Friends of Florida made dire predictions aboutFloridians' future quality of life based on future growth. Yet, in 2005,Gov. Jeb Bush spearheaded landmark growth management reforms that partnerthe state with local governments and the private sector to fund theinfrastructure needed to meet growth demands.


January 4, 2007

Chances of success tougher for Florida students

Report ranks state's climate 31st


Children born in Florida and across the South are the least likely tograduate high school, go to college and earn an income above the nationalmedian, according to a report released Wednesday by Education Week magazine.

Florida ranked 31st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in the newassessment, which rated how well states prepare students for success inschool and beyond. Virginia ranked first and New Mexico last. States wereranked using an index based on 13 indicators, including family income andenrollment in preschool and college, that measure whether children get offto a good start, succeed in elementary and secondary school and reach keyeducational and income benchmarks as adults.

Florida beat national averages on six indicators, but fell below nationalaverages on seven others.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Jan. 04, 2007

Vote-machine ruling appealed

TALLAHASSEE - (AP) -- Democrat Christine Jennings asked an appeals courtWednesday to overturn a ruling that denied her access to the programmingcode for electronic voting machines used in Sarasota County in the Novemberelection.

Jennings wants experts to examine the programming to determine if themachines failed to count votes in the congressional race in which she wasrunning against Republican Vern Buchanan. The state declared Buchanan thewinner of the race to replace Katherine Harris by 369 votes and he isscheduled to be sworn in today.

But Jennings is seeking to have the election results thrown out becauseabout 18,000 ballots cast on the touchscreen machines in the county didn'trecord a vote for Congress. The state -- and Buchanan -- assume that thosepeople, nearly 15 percent of voters, chose to skip the race. Jenningsalleges that many tried to vote but their votes weren't counted.

Circuit Judge William Gary ruled last week that Jennings' allegations wereconjecture and she had no right to violate trade secrets of the company thatmade the voting machines, Election Systems & Software, by examining theprogramming code.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,7261112.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Fort Lauderdale P&Z board rejects Colee Hammock church project

By Melissa Hoyos

January 4, 2007, 8:02 AM EST

FORT LAUDERDALE -- The city's planning and zoning board late Wednesdayrejected a controversial $24 million life center and parking garage projectproposed by the First Presbyterian Church in the Colee Hammock neighborhood.

Following five hours of discussion, the board unanimously turned downrequests to change the area's zoning and get rid of an alley to make way forthe project. Many who live in the historic Colee Hammock are against theproject and were elated by the decision.

The church said it plans to appeal the decision to the city commission.

The 2.65-acre project calls for a three-story family life center, asingle-story fellowship hall and kitchen and a multi-story parking garagebehind East Las Olas Boulevard to border Southeast Fourth Street betweenTarpon Drive and Southeast 15th Avenue. The buildings would add to thechurch's two existing buildings along Tarpon Drive.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,5785949.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Hurricane center chief Max Mayfield retires, urges storm vigilance

By Ken Kaye
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

January 4, 2007

Max Mayfield spent his last day as director of the National Hurricane Centeron Wednesday following a familiar routine: warning that another HurricaneKatrina is inevitable.

With more than 50 million residents clustered along the U.S coast, including7 million in Florida, the potential for hurricane damage and deaths isgreater than ever, he said, after giving one last speech, this one to theWorld Economic Club in downtown Miami.

"The biggest concern we have in our country is the rapid buildup of thecoastlines," he said. "We're setting ourselves up for another disaster."

Mayfield, 58, who became a national celebrity for providing a calm voicethrough the tumultuous 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, departed after sixyears as director of the hurricane center, which is in west Miami-DadeCounty.

Bill Proenza, former director of the National Weather Service's SouthernRegion, takes over on Monday.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Jan. 03, 2007

Broward Transit gets too little attention

Broward County Transit must be the unloved stepchild of the county'sgovernment. Begin with last fall's effort by the Broward business communityto fund transit improvements by pitching a one-cent hike in the sales tax tovoters. Inexplicably, a handful of irresponsible county commissioners didtheir best to sabotage the effort. It was no surprise when voters inNovember delivered their report card on BCT's performance by overwhelminglyrejecting the transit tax.

BCT is so desperate for more buses that it is borrowing vehicles ready forretirement in Miami-Dade County. The agency is so short of mechanics that itcan't keep up with repairs on its current fleet of 284 buses, causing delaysin bus routes. Mechanics can make more working for other government agenciesbecause BCT's pay is low by comparison. What's more, BCT's contract with itsunion workers expired 14 months ago, and there is no new agreement yet. BCTofficials say that they are working to raise mechanics' salaries as part ofunion negotiations.

Flawed bid process


The Sun-Sentinel,0,5438774.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Sixth lawsuit filed involving Broward priest accused of child molestation
By Jim Ellis
Associated Press Writer

January 3, 2007, 6:46 PM EST

MIAMI -- A man who says a former Roman Catholic priest sexually abused himas a teenager sued the Archdiocese of Miami for at least $25 millionWednesday, raising the number of lawsuits involving the ex-cleric to atleast six.

The 21-year-old man, identified in the complaint as John Doe No. 28, allegesthat Father Neil Doherty sexually abused him while Doherty served as pastorat St. Vincent Catholic Church in Broward County, which falls under thearchdiocese's jurisdiction.

Doherty -- who was charged last year with several counts of childmolestation -- befriended the boy when he was 14 in 1999, according to thelawsuit. After a "quick grooming process'' the pastor began sexually abusingDoe in various locations, including Doherty's car and in the bedroom of theSt. Vincent rectory, said Jeffrey Herman, Doe's attorney.


George Hester's Classic Nudes Exhibit Opens January 8

ArtsUnited will feature the original photography of pioneer artist GeorgeHester in a solo exhibit at the Stonewall Library and Archives from January8 through February 2, 2007. The show opens with a reception to meet theartist on Monday, January 8 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. Admission to the exhibitand reception are free and open to the public. The Stonewall Library andArchives is located at 1717 North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale,Florida.

George Hester's exhibit titled "Classic Nudes" is a collection of worksfrom his first three books, "The Classic Nude"(1973), "Man"(1975) and"Woman" (1975). Hester is a part of history, since those were the firstpublished books of nude photography in the U.S.

George began painting as a hobby at a very young age. After a stint inWWII, he turned his art interests into a career as an art director for majordepartment stores in new York. That experience inspired his love ofphotography. He decided to focus on male and female nudes, which wasrelatively undeveloped at that time.

Many of his photography subjects also became subjects of his paintings.

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