Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST February 13, 2007

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The Palm Beach Post


Optical-scan proposal gets mixed reviews
By George Bennett

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Banning paperless electronic voting in Florida should reassure the publicthat votes aren't vanishing into thin air, many elections experts say.

But it might make casting a ballot less enjoyable, one researcher says. Andno one is predicting it will herald a new era of mistake-free voting.

Gov. Charlie Crist's proposal to overhaul much of the state's voting systemfor the second time since the 2000 presidential meltdown also has someelection watchers asking a familiar question: What's the deal with Florida?

"Florida doesn't study. Florida has gotten into a pattern of moving fromcrisis to quick response to new crisis to quick response," says CharlesStewart III, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology voting expert.


The Palm Beach Post


Wexler: Gov. Crist's proposal achieves all goals for elections
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The 2006 election sent a message that voters expect Democrats andRepublicans to put partisanship aside and work together to solve our mostpressing problems. In Florida, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has taken thismessage to heart and joined me to once and for all fix our broken electionsystem ("Crist's paper trail plan draws raves," Feb. 2).

For five years, I have led the fight for a verifiable paper trail for allvoting machines to ensure that all votes are counted and that the public hasconfidence in our elections. A voter-verified paper trail will ensure thatmanual recounts can be conducted in close elections. I had the honor ofjoining Gov. Crist in Palm Beach County, where he made a bold announcementof national consequence: Touch-screen machines no longer will be permittedat any precinct in Florida on Election Day.

Further, the governor's budget includes $32.5 million to purchaseoptical-scan machines for the 15 counties (including Palm Beach and Martin)that use touch-screen machines. Optical-scan machines use paper ballots,


The Miami Herald


Posted on Tue, Feb. 13, 2007

Expert: Doctors must guide lethal injections

Competent doctors should be supervising all executions by lethal injection,an expert said.
Associated Press

TAMPA - There is no way to tell whether a convicted killer was properlysedated before two painful drugs entered his system during a botchedexecution because blood samples were taken too late, experts told acommission reviewing Florida's execution procedures Monday.

But one of the experts said there are strong indications Angel Nieves Diazfelt pain.

''Mr. Diaz, in my opinion, was not properly anesthetized when thepancuronium and potassium were delivered to his system,'' said Dr. MarkHeath, an anesthesiologist at Columbia University Medical Center who hasstudied lethal injection cases nationwide.

Diaz's execution took 34 minutes -- twice as long as normal -- and requireda rare second dose of lethal chemicals because the needles were incorrectlyinserted through his veins and into the flesh in his arms, a medicalexaminer reported. Some witnesses reported Diaz appeared to grimace in painas the execution dragged on, but prison employees have disputed the claim.


The Palm Beach Post


ACLU may sue over black graduation rates
By Christina Denardo

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Prompted by the school district's low graduation rates of black students,the American Civil Liberties Union is considering filing a first-of-its-kindlawsuit against the district to bring them up.

In the past, the ACLU and other organizations have sued school districts fornot distributing resources equally but no organization has pursued legalactions for not achieving equal results.

On Monday, ACLU officials from New York came to the Pleasant City CommunityCenter to drum up community support for a lawsuit.

"One thing the litigation can do is trigger a conversation about educationin the community," said Vanita Gupta, staff attorney with the ACLU. "We'retrying to force the school board to first acknowledge it has a problem."


The Miami Herald



In Broward's state House District 92, two gay candidates -- Wilton ManorsCity Commissioner and lawyer Gary Resnick and first-time candidate andaccountant Mark LaFontaine -- have already filed paperwork to open campaignaccounts for the 2008 election.

And Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton, who is straight, said he'll run too.

All three are Democrats.

They'll run to replace term-limited Democratic Rep. Jack Seiler. He says hewon't be endorsing anyone.

''This field will probably be five or six candidates and of the five or sixcandidates, five or six would have supported me over the years,'' Seilersaid. ``I can't get in the middle of it.''

The district includes at least a part of Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach,Lazy Lake, Oakland Park, Pompano Beach and Wilton Manors.


The Sun-Sentinel


Teen being teased in school breaks into classmate's Wellington home, getsshot

By Chrystian Tejedor
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 13, 2007

A 17-year-old was incensed enough about a rumor at school that he broke intothe home of a boy spreading the rumor and was shot in the chest by the boy'sfather, the Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies have charged the teen with burglary and criminal mischief. Heremains shackled to his gurney at Delray Medical Center with a sheriff'sdeputy watching over him after he was shot Saturday, family said.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is not naming the teenager or his familybecause of his age and the nature of the charges.

The boy was rushed to surgery in Delray Medical Center early Sunday morning,where doctors worked for six hours to repair an artery that was torn openwhen the bullet struck him. The projectile remains embedded in his back,family said.


The Sun-Sentinel


Refunds on their way to some Citizens customers who had big increases

By Kathy Bushouse
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 13, 2007, 12:26 AM EST

Refund checks will be in the mail starting today for some customers ofstate-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida's largest homeinsurance company.

If you're a customer with a single-family house who already paid for therate increase that took effect Jan. 1, you'll get money back soon. How muchyou'll get depends on where you live, but refunds will be higher forhomeowners in Citizens' high-risk area, which includes neighborhoods east ofInterstate 95 in Broward County and neighborhoods east of I-95 or AlternateA1A in Palm Beach County.

Customers in Citizens' high-risk area will see their premiums go down anaverage of 25.3 percent in Broward County and an average of 22 percent inPalm Beach County, according to a rate adjustment filing Citizens madeFriday with the state Office of Insurance Regulation.


The Miami Herald


Posted on Tue, Feb. 13, 2007

Relief for rape victims


The horrible story of the Tampa rape victim who was jailed and then denied acrucial second dose of the morning-after pill on religious grounds is anoutrage that resonates beyond Florida's borders. Now two state lawmakerswant to make sure no rape victim will ever be refused emergencycontraception.

Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, and Rep. Yolly Roberson, D-Miami, have writtenlegislation that would require doctors and nurses to offer ''Plan B'' -- themorning-after pill -- to all victims of rape. This is about humaneness, notideology.

Plan B prevents the release of an egg from the ovary. It also can prohibit afertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Some pro-life supportersbelieve that the emergency birth control is a form of abortion. But manyothers across the abortion spectrum see Plan B as a way to prevent unwantedpregnancies, thereby reducing abortions. Beyond all of that is the fact thatPlan B can provide a rape victim a potential escape from one bad consequenceof her traumatic ordeal.

Rape-treatment centers in Florida always offer patients the morning-afterpill. But where there are no such centers, rape victims are taken tohospitals -- and there is no statewide policy on offering Plan B. In the


The Sun-Sentinel


GOP chief backs gay marriage ban vote

By Jason Garcia
Tallahassee Bureau

February 13, 2007

Tallahassee · Florida's new Republican Party chairman said Monday he wouldlike to see a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the 2008ballot and would not rule out spending more state GOP money to support it.

Jim Greer said he hasn't yet decided to whether his party will contributemore money to a group gathering signatures for such a ballot measure.

The GOP gave the group $300,000 last year.

But Greer said he supports the initiative and acknowledged that it couldhelp the Republican Party by drawing socially conservative voters to thepolls during the next presidential election.


The Sun-Sentinel



South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

February 13, 2007

ISSUE: Where is the new school chief?

You have to wonder how many things could really be more important to theBroward School Board than searching for, and naming, a new superintendent.

To say the issue is on the board's backburner is putting it mildly. Fourmonths after firing Frank Till as superintendent, the board hasn't startedlooking for a successor.

It's long past time they do.

Interim superintendent Jim Notter has done a good job, but he isn't allowedto be Till's permanent replacement. The whole episode shows that the boardwas too hasty in firing Till last October, when there was no immediatecrisis demanding his ouster. There was an opportunity to let him finish outhis contract in July, and, since the average superintendent search can takenine months or more, the board could have spent that time discussing whatthey wanted in a new schools chief, and getting the search process underway.


The Sun-Sentinel


Showdown on Iraq war sharply divides South Florida's representatives in

By William E. Gibson
Washington Bureau Chief

February 13, 2007

WASHINGTON · As Congress heads for showdown votes this week, South Floridamembers are sharply divided over President Bush's controversial troop"surge" in Iraq.

Nonbinding resolutions in the House and Senate that express disapproval ofthe surge may have little influence on the buildup of U.S. forces alreadyunder way, but the intense debate is forcing all members to take a stand onthe most controversial issue of the new session of Congress.

Some Democrats, including Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, are willing togo beyond these resolutions to try to wield the congressional power of thepurse to try to block what they call Bush's "escalation."

"An overwhelming number of my constituents are giving me the message:`Congress, end the war,'" Wexler said. "I have been astonished by the levelof intensity, not just from left-wing Democrats, but business people,middle-of-the-road people who are telling me, `End the war.'"


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