Monday, February 19, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST February 19, 2007

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The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Feb. 19, 2007

Hispanic eyeing run for president to speak

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -- one of several Democrats who have openedexploratory committees in potential presidential bids -- is the featuredspeaker at the Broward County Democratic Jefferson Jackson Dinner Feb. 24.

Democrats expect several hundred attendees at the event, which is theparty's biggest Broward fundraiser. The annual dinner has been popular withpast presidential contenders -- both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards havespoken there -- and typically raises up to $75,000, said Mitch Ceasar,Democratic Party chairman in Broward.

Part of Richardson's draw: He's Hispanic -- which is important in a countywith a growing Hispanic population.

For information about tickets, call 954-423-2200.


Critics of manatee proposal speak out
Wildlife commission's vote to downlist sea cow angers activists
By Jeremy Cox
Monday, February 19, 2007

The manatee may be mellow but opponents of a state proposal to strip themammal of its endangered status have been anything but.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously lastJune to downlist the manatee to threatened during a contentious meeting.

The decision could become final in June, when commissioners are scheduled toconsider whether to adopt the first management plan for the species. It isshaping up to be among the most controversial votes in the Fish and WildlifeCommission's history.

The agency fielded more than 850 e-mails and letters by the Jan. 11 deadlineto comment on the plan, mostly from those vehemently opposed to it. TheDaily News obtained the responses through a public records request.

A common theme among those critics involved one of the state's mainjustifications for downlisting the creature. A state report used to supportthe move found that manatee numbers have a roughly 50-50 chance of droppingby 30 percent in coming years.


February 19, 2007
Our view: Jailing the bad guys

Gov. Crist's new anti-crime bill must have money to help counties covercosts

Gov. Charlie Crist is pressing a get-tough-on-crime measure called theAnti-Murder Act, pegging it to high-profile slayings of young Florida girlsat the hands of parole violators.

The appeal of the legislation is obvious.

It would improve public safety by requiring that violators who hadpreviously committed violent crimes be immediately jailed and held until ajudge determines whether to continue probation or send them back to prison.

If the measure passes, it could put 1,352 offenders back into prison overthe next three years.

The stricter policy makes sense -- who doesn't want to keep violentcriminals who refuse to play by the rules off the streets? -- and has ourstrong support.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,6702395,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Palm Beach County police using license tag scanners to search for fugitives
By Jason B. Gumer
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 19, 2007

There's a new twist to a crime-fighting staple. Police have long trackedlicense plates to help them find criminals. Now they're adding new,high-tech gadgets that will help them do that with more speed andefficiency -- without lifting a finger.

Local law enforcement officers are turning to a new video surveillancetechnology that scans license plates and alerts officers to warrants,criminal backgrounds or stolen vehicles in seconds.

Police and community leaders say the technology is an invaluablecrime-fighting tool, yet, some civil liberties advocates are questioning themove.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office will soon begin using a $33,000mobile license plate recognition system. The multi-camera system can beinstalled in an unmarked car and will read license plates at multipledirections and angles, search criminal databases and notify police, saidCapt. Jack Strenges, commander of the violent-crimes division.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1421615,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

FEC tracks tracks hold key to commuter train linking S. Florida's downtowns
By David Fleshler and Michael Turnbell
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 19, 2007

A railroad built in the 19th century could help solve South Florida's21st-century transportation dilemma.

The old Florida East Coast Railway, which cuts through the urban cores ofthe region's coastal cities, is under serious study as the location forcommuter trains that could whisk passengers from Fort Lauderdale to Miami orBoca Raton to West Palm Beach. A draft environmental impact statement wascompleted late last year, and planners are working on a new version tosubmit to the federal government.

A new commuter line would take pressure off Interstate 95 and provide atransportation option to the thousands of people moving into new downtowntownhouses and condominium towers. But it would be at least 2015 before thefirst trains could begin carrying passengers.

Although city leaders along the route generally support the proposal, itfaces formidable obstacles. It could cost as much as $6 billion to buy theright of way and build stations, bridges and additional tracks, requiringfederal investment as well as local contributions.

"A lot of things have to come together," said Scott Seeburger, an engineeroverseeing the study for the Florida Department of Transportation.



New Governor
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

February 19, 2007

ISSUE: Same-sex ban no priority for Crist.

Gov. Charlie Crist has received well-deserved kudos for addressing importantissues with a common sense approach since taking office in January.

He appointed a Democrat, Bob Butterworth, to head the troubled Department ofChildren & Families. He has addressed the property insurance crisis. He'stalked about state funding of stem cell research.

Just as important, Crist is showing that he is not going to cater to theextreme right wing in his own party, which is a welcome change frompredecessor Jeb Bush. Crist has previously indicated that Tallahasseeshouldn't have gotten involved in the Terri Schiavo case, as opposed toBush, who zealously went head-first into the right-to-die case.

Now, Crist has come out and said he doesn't want the Republican Party ofFlorida spending more money to get a proposed constitutional amendmentbanning same-sex marriage on the 2008 ballot.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,3605022,print.story?coll=sfla-news-florida

Stop meddling with our Ten Commandments monument, Dixie County tells ACLU
By Jim Stratton
Orlando Sentinel

February 19, 2007

CROSS CITY · In the piney flatlands of Dixie County, a place where churcheseasily outnumber traffic lights, Florida's latest battle between God andgovernment is being fought on the steps of a 40-year-old courthouse.

At the top of the steps stands a six-ton piece of granite inscribed with theTen Commandments and the admonition, "Love God and Keep His Commandments."

The massive gray monument, approved by county commissioners and installedlast November, is the target of a lawsuit brought by the American CivilLiberties Union. The ACLU says the display is unconstitutional because itviolates a provision in the First Amendment prohibiting the government fromestablishing a preferred religion.

But what ACLU lawyers see as a violation of law, many locals see as afitting tribute to the county's Christian heritage. And those locals aren'thappy.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sun, Feb. 18, 2007

Tim Hardaway's car wash changes name after ''I hate'' scandal


Former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway's name is off his South Dixie Highwaycarwash, just days after he declared on a local radio program, ``I hate gaypeople.''

Hardaway apologized, but the backlash has cost him a national endorsementdeal and an appearance at the NBA's All-Star Game weekend activities.

A local gay-rights group then called for a boycott of Hardaway's US 1 FinestHand Car Wash at South Dixie Highway and Bird Road.

Saturday a new sign went up: Grand Luxe Auto BathePosted on Sun, Feb. 18,2007


February 19, 2007
Lethal horror
Florida, yet the cruel, inept executioner

It must have seemed like a scene out of a third-world torture chamber, or anightmare.

A man was strapped to a gurney, with needles injecting caustic chemicalsinto the flesh of both arms. Needles meant to be inserted into veins hadmissed, a mistake that would raise foot-long blisters on the condemned man'sarms. Witnesses say he twisted and appeared to be gasping for air -- areaction that one expert anesthesiologist says might have indicated that theman felt as though he were suffocating.

The sadistic scene played out for more than half an hour, as appalledwitnesses, including members of the man's family, looked on.

When it was all over, the state of Florida had accomplished its objective:Angel Nieves Diaz was dead, executed for the murder of a bar manager nearly27 years ago. But at what cost?

Many Floridians don't want to ask themselves that question. So long asexecutions take place away from their sight, they don't want to think aboutthemechanics of state-sanctioned homicide.

But when executions go horribly wrong -- as they did in Diaz's case -- itbecomes much harder to look the other way.

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