Thursday, March 01, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 1, 2007

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Sex abuse trial begins for art teacher at New Renaissance Middle
By Akilah Johnson
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 1, 2007

A Broward School District teacher molested a student for more than a yearand then as revenge created embarrassing fliers when the teen found thecourage to rebuff the advances, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Aaron Mohanlal, an art teacher at New Renaissance Middle School, is chargedwith numerous counts of lewd and lascivious behavior for allegedly sexuallyabusing a student in a supply closet every week during the 2003-04 schoolyear. Some of the abuse happened in Mohanlal's home and car, prosecutorssaid.

Prosecutor Anita White described Mohanlal not only as a teacher who abusedhis position and forced a boy to perform sexual acts but also as a scornedlover.

"In the defendant's mind, [the victim] was no longer his student," she toldjurors Wednesday during her opening statement. The victim "was his lover,and he did the things that lovers do."

Prosecutors allege the abuse began when the victim was a 12-year-oldseventh-grader and continued until he was in the eighth grade. The SouthFlorida Sun-Sentinel is not identifying the teen because of his age and thenature of the charges.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1781375,print.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Coulter is speaker at Coral Ridge Presbyterian deminar
By James D. Davis
Religion Editor

March 1, 2007

Sharp-tongued conservative columnist Ann Coulter will headline speakers forthis year's Reclaiming America for Christ conference.

The journalist and frequent talk show guest will speak Saturday afternoon atthe closing session of the two-day conference at Coral Ridge PresbyterianChurch in Fort Lauderdale.

Organizers cheerfully acknowledged the controversial choice, saying Coulterhad the high profile they wanted.

"She's a polarizing person," Gary Cass, executive director of the Center forReclaiming America, said in an interview. "Some have told us they think herstyle is too caustic, though they agree with her positions. Others love herstyle."

Perhaps because of her drawing power, more than 1,000 have alreadyregistered for the conference. An additional 150 to 200 people typicallyregister the week before.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,6395514,print.story?coll=sfla-news-editorial

School Board
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

March 1, 2007

ISSUE: Teacher merit pay plan

deadline missed -- on purpose.

Maybe the Broward County School Board misunderstood. See, when slot machineswere approved for Broward, it meant that public schools could benefit fromsome of the proceeds. It didn't mean school officials were supposed to turninto high-stakes gamblers themselves.

Yet on Tuesday, the board threw a high-stakes bet onto the table. It choseto miss the state's deadline for submitting a payment plan for teacherbonuses. It's betting the Legislature will revise the program, known asSpecial Teachers Are Rewarded, or STAR, when the legislative session beginsnext week.

The gamble could cost the school district $75 million in state funding.Worse, the state could impose a merit pay plan anyway, and then the districtwould have to come up with the money to fund it on its own.

Let's be clear: the STAR program is flawed and in need of revision. Theprogram, which would award 5 percent bonuses to the top 25 percent ofteachers, is divisive, pitting teachers against teachers. It also ranksteachers on a far too limited scale, focused primarily on studentperformance and standardized test scores. And, by threatening schooldistricts with a loss of funding, it puts them in a no-win situation.

All the same, banking on the Legislature to come up with an acceptable fix,and then further banking on the revision's having any effect on this year'sprogram, is a reckless shot in the dark. By caving in to the pressure ofup-in-arms teachers, the board has put the district in a tenuous position.

Edward Marko, the board's attorney, said he didn't have "legally a clue"what the ramifications of the missed deadline might be. "Everybody isguessing," he said.

Does that sound like responsible government to you?

BOTTOM LINE: Though the plan is flawed, this is a reckless gamble that couldlead to huge problems for the school district.


Posted on Thu, Mar. 01, 2007
Warm weather gives South Florida farmers chills

By this time of year, Dan Lyons' mango groves should be filled withcream-colored petals and perfumed with the heavy scent of blossoms.

Not this year.

There is not a bloom in sight, and only a few tennis ball-sized fruits dotLyons' groves, thanks to unusually warm winter weather.

Despite cold spells in early February, high temperatures during the crucialearly winter growing season are imperiling crops such as mango, litchi andlongan fruit.

The balmy conditions have also brought tiny virus-transmitting pests thatbedevil tomato and bean growers.


Posted on Thu, Mar. 01, 2007
Crist pushes for felons' rights

When the Florida Board of Executive Clemency meets today for the first timesince Gov. Charlie Crist took office, a majority of members will be onrecord supporting automatic restoration ofvoting rights for most felons who have been released from prison.

But as of Wednesday evening, Crist said he was still not sure he had thevotes to overhaul the Jim Crow-era rules, found in only two other states,that disenfranchise felons who have served their time.

''I don't know if we have the votes yet, but I'm going to keep trying,'' thegovernor said as he was returning to Tallahassee from Jacksonville lateWednesday.

He said a suggestion from Attorney General Bill McCollum to expedite thereview process to relieve the backlog of felons seeking a hearing from thestate clemency board doesn't go far enough.

''My big concern is not the backlog,'' Crist said. ``My concern is justice.My concern is you've paid your debt to society, you've done just that --paid your debt.''


Posted on Thu, Mar. 01, 2007
Crist to get report on executions

TAMPA - The commission examining last year's botched lethal injectionexecution wants Gov. Charlie Crist to consider reviewing the mix ofchemicals used to kill condemned criminals, according to a draft report ofthe commission's findings.

The 11-member commission must hand over its review of the Dec. 13 executionof convicted killer Angel Diaz to Crist today. Executions in Florida havebeen suspended until Crist reviews the panel's recommendations to ensurefutureones go more smoothly.

Diaz, 55, took twice as long as normal to die and required a rare seconddose of lethal chemicals.

Some witnesses said he seemed to grimace and gasp as the execution draggedon for 34 minutes.

A key commission recommendation was that the execution team ensure theinmate is unconscious before two extremely painful chemicals are injected.

''Under no circumstances should the executioner continue with the second andthird lethal substance without the warden's authorization,'' the commissionreport said.


Posted on Thu, Mar. 01, 2007
Tourism industry looking abroad for workers

Tourism season means a labor crunch for hotels -- and a wide search forhired help. One resort went to South Korea.

Every winter, Marco Selva and his staff at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscaynefight a tight labor market to find extra workers for the busy tourismseason.

But Selva has never gone as far as he did this year to recruit temporaryemployees: all the way to South Korea.

Through four days of meetings in a Seoul office building, Selva interviewed50 Korean hospitality students. Today, 25 of them work at the Ritz-Carltonas dishwashers, laundry workers and bus staffers.

''We post positions, and they remain open for weeks, sometimes evenmonths,'' Selva said. It's a ``manual labor force that's hard to findhere.''


Give Florida's ex-felons a reason to stay straight
Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Legislature has portrayed itself as tough on crime when refusing toapprove automatic restoration of civil rights for ex-felons. But legislatorswho engage in this demagoguery don't make Floridians safer. In fact, theyinvite criminal behavior. Ex-felons who are denied occupational licenses andostracized from society commit new crimes more often. Taxpayers house andfeed repeat offenders who could have led productive lives.

Gov. Crist said last week that he wants to follow through on his campaignpromise to automatically restore rights for felons who have done their timeand paid their restitution. That will mean trumping his own party in theLegislature. The governor may use an executive order to restore rights formost of the state's 700,000 ex-felons. He has support from two of the threeFlorida Cabinet members: Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and AgricultureCommissioner Charles Bronson.

Attorney General Bill McCollum opposes automatic restoration and wants tofix the system of granting clemency by adding more workers.


The Orlando Sentinel,0,377740,print.htmlstory?coll=orl-opinion-utility

March 1, 2007,0,2318353.htmlstory?coll=orl-opinion-utility

Click here to watch video and listen to a podcast of Florida Speaker of theHouse Marco Rubio's discussion with the Sentinel's Editorial Board about hisproperty tax plan.


The Seder of Hope - An interfaith gathering

Seder 2007 Invitation
Ramat Shalom Synagogue
11301 W Broward Blvd.
Plantation Florida

Kick-off the "Passover Season" with a very moving, pre-Passover Seder onSunday, March 18. The Seder of Hope is an interfaith gathering for thosetouched in some way by HIV/AIDS... in other words, all of us. The $20 can bewaived for those unable to pay, but reservations must be made to the JewishHealing Center (phone number in attachment). Hope to see you there.

Marc Paige


Democratic Activist Ron Mills elected Area Nine Leader for Broward DEC

News release:

Broward County Democratic activist Ron Mills was elected Area Nine Leaderfor the Broward Democratic Executive Committee at the DEC’s Bi annualelections on Feb. 20.

Mills, an eight-year DEC member and past vice president and current boardmember of the Dolphin Democrats, will represent all of Fort Lauderdale andDania Beach as well as Precincts 7Z, 31Z, 34Z, 62Z and 73Z in unincorporatedBroward.

Mills has a strong commitment to progressive politics, including equalrights for the GLBT community, and has worked on numerous Democraticcampaigns in various capacities, including state co-chair of Howard Dean forPresident. He also is a member of the National Stonewall Democrats and theFlorida GLBT Caucus, co-founder of Progressive Democrats of America andfounder of the Broward chapter of Democracy for America.A firm believer in grassroots politics and party-building, Mills has been anoutspoken advocate for running Democratic candidates in every race inBroward and holding elected Democrats who support Republican candidatesaccountable.

During his two-year term as Area Nine Leader, he will focus on building andstrengthening the local Democratic Party’s grass roots to help lay thefoundation for successful elections in 2008.

“As an Area, we need to grow our precinct representation and give Districtand Precinct leaders the tools necessary to be successful leaders in theirAreas,” Mills said.

Concact for the full article.


Stonewall Library & Archives ~
Arts United ~
Broward County Library ~


Dr. James T. Sears
author of
Behind the Mask of the Mattachine

Sunday, March 4 ~ 1 p.m.
Stonewall Library Reading Room
1717 North Andrews Ave.
Fort Lauderdale

On Sunday, March 4th 2007 at 1:00PM the Stonewall Library & Archives inassociation with Arts United's Arts Explosion and the Broward County Librarypresents Dr. James T. Sears, author of Behind the Mask of the Mattachine atthe reading room of the Stonewall Library, 1717 North Andrews Ave, Ft.Lauderdale. Dr. Sears, a professor at Penn State University, lecturesthroughout the world on issues related to education, sexuality, and LGBTissues.

The Mattachini, of medieval Italy, were fools or court jesters, who stood upin the midst of political oppression and persecution and dared to speak thetruth in the interests of the common folk.

In post-WWII America, the Mattachine Foundation was formed in Los Angeles in1950, becoming the Mattachine Society in 1953. At its height, seven yearslater, it had 300 paid members with chapters in a half-dozen U.S. cities anda variety of publications, including the Mattachine Review.

James T. Sears, a leading historian of GLBT issues, richly examines therather messy history of the organized gay movement. In Behind the Mask ofthe Mattachine, Dr. Sears weaves in and out of the biography of Hal Call andhis personal struggle with those of other pioneers and their politicalstruggles to organize homosexuals. After reading Behind the Mask of theMattachine one can only come away with a better understanding of what reallyhappened in the gay movement in its formative years.

Please join us on Sunday, March 4, 2007 at 1:00 PM at the Stonewall Library,1717 N. Andrews Ave, (inside the GLCC), Ft. Lauderdale for this fascinatingprogram. The event is free and open to the public and is being co-sponsoredby The Broward County Library and Arts United. For further informationplease visit or contact the library at 954-763-8565.

Nate Klarfeld
Stonewall Library & Archives
954-763-8565 voice
954-763-8533 fax


John Amaechi Book Signing

March 6, 2007 @ 7:30 PM
Barnes & Noble
2051 N. Federal Highway
Ft. Laudedale, FL

March 5, 2007 @ 6:30 PM
Dolphin Mall
11401 NW 12th Street
Suite 512
Miami, FL

He is coming to the South Florida area to support his new book, Man in theMiddle, an autobiographical account of his life as a professional NBA playerand gay man.


From Michael J. Rajner
Committee to End Aids - C2EA

Call To Action/CHAIN Days: Join us in Tallahassee on March 21st-23rd!

Florida CHAIN and the Human Services Coalition will make their annual bustrip to the state capitol from March 21st-23rd to advocate for improvedaccess to and funding for health care. Participants will be trained onpriority issues such as Medicaid and KidCare and will learn how to framemessages so legislators listen, learn and act on the behalf of consumers.Participants from accross the state are welcome to join! For details on thisand with other questions, call 305/576-5001 x42. Click here to register orfor more information.

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