Wednesday, March 14, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 14, 2007

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The Sun-Sentinel,0,3557838,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Incumbents rejected in 3 Broward cities as voter turnout falls under 10percent

By Brittany Wallman and Juan Ortega
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 14, 2007

Disenchanted voters fired elected officials in three cities Tuesday incontests marked by an exceptionally low turnout countywide.

Scandal was on voters' minds in Cooper City, where commissioners wereinvestigated for drinking and dining together at taxpayer expense beforepublic meetings. Two incumbents lost their seats.

Promises of a more accountable government helped return an ex-commissionerto office in Sunrise, at the expense of an incumbent.

Worries about developer donations helped a candidate with comparatively slimdollars trounce a sitting commissioner in Pompano Beach.

Voters in 12 of Broward's 31 cities had races and ballot questions toconsider Tuesday.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,2074604,print.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Commissioner Murphy wins over Mann; mayor returns in Oakland Park

By Elizabeth Baier
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 14, 2007

Oakland Park voters returned City Commissioner Allegra Murphy to her seat onTuesday, selecting her over challenger Roger Mann.

Murphy, a four-year commission veteran, overwhelmingly beat Mann, who hasrun nsuccessfully four times since 1999.

"I'm just elated and thrilled at the outcome," said Murphy, who celebratedher victory with supporters at her home Tuesday night. "I want to continueto serve akland Park and help move it forward."

Mayor Steve Arnst, who ran unopposed, also returned to his seat on thecommission. urphy and Arnst will serve Oakland Park residents for fouryears. Among their biggest challenges will be reducing flooding, buildingaffordable housing, and reducing the tax burden on residents.

Murphy, 72, promised to continue focusing on capital improvement projects,including ompleting the drainage work in the Kimberly Lakes neighborhood;developing the ommunity Redevelopment Agency; and expanding the Carter G.Woodson Park in the arlem-McBride neighborhood. Mann, 55, had pledged toabolish the $149 annual fire ee and curb spending if elected.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,4678760,print.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

Palm Beach County water bills are about to go up for first time in decade

By Dianna Cahn
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 14, 2007

Water bills in Palm Beach County are going up.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, county commissioners approved the first ratehike for the utility in a decade.

For the average household, rates will go up about 18.5 percent, or fromabout $33.85 to $40.10, according to the Water Utilities Department.

That rate increase will be even higher for higher usage customers,especially customers whose water usage falls into the category of luxuryrather than necessity, said Harry Osterman, a consultant to the WaterUtilities Department.

In a presentation to commissioners, Osterman said the water department wasstruggling under the burden of rising material and operating costs duringthe last seven years, among them a 97 percent increase in energy costs, a241 percent jump in fuel prices and a spike of 182 percent in health andlife insurance. With growth for the same period only having risen 48percent, the department operated at a $4.2 million loss in the 2006 fiscalyear.

With added expenses for facilities improvements and hurricane preparedness,the current rates were insufficient.

Commissioners, who had expressed support for the rate hike in previousdiscussions, voted unanimously to raise the rates.

Dianna Cahn can be reached at or 561-228-5501.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,205061,print.story?coll=sfla-news-florida

It's not quite all systems go as Elections Committee test voting machines

By Anthony Man
Political Writer

March 14, 2007

Tallahassee - As voters in 27 Broward and Palm Beach county communities usedtouch-screen voting machines to pick new city, town and village leadersTuesday, state lawmakers focused on the best way to replace thecontroversial electronic devices with paper ballots.

The touch-screen machines were deployed by 15 Florida counties -- at a costof more $60 million in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties alone -- after the 2000 presidential election debacle.

Critics have raised questions about touch-screen machines almost since DayOne.

Questions intensified last fall when a Sarasota-area congressional contestwas decided by 369 votes while more than 18,000 ballots didn't include avote for either candidate. In January, 1,015 ballots cast on touch-screensin a Miami-Dade special election didn't show votes, even though onereferendum question was the only thing on the ballot.

Last month, Gov. Charlie Crist said he wanted to replace the touch-screenmachines in time for the 2008 presidential election. Some touch-screenswould remain in use for early voting and so people with disabilities coulduse the audio component to cast their ballots.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 14, 2007
Water restrictions expected this week

For the first time since 2001, South Florida homeowners and businesses willsoon be under orders to use less water.

With the region in a deepening drought and the big water bucket known asLake Okeechobee receding daily, water managers on Thursday expect to imposemandatory restrictions intended to cut water use by at least 15 percent inMiami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties -- and double that forsugar growers and rural towns around the lake.

For residents, it will mean reduced water pressure and less-lush landscapingbecause of a three-day-a-week limit on lawn sprinkling, which accounts forhalf of suburban water demand. In the past, repeat violators have beenslapped with fines of up to $500.

Mary Tafoya, who manages an estate on posh Hibiscus Island near Miami Beach,said she would consider less colorful but less thirsty plantings.

''We probably only water twice a week anyway, but maybe I'd take out someimpatiens and put in more plants from the cactus family,'' she said.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 14, 2007
Crist keeps on giving pleasant surprises

Has Gov. Charlie Crist been reading Mark Twain? It was Twain who, writing toa Presbyterian youth group, advised: ``Always do right. This will gratifysome people, and astonish the rest.''

Count me among the gratified and slightly astonished -- as are most membersof the Florida Legislature after the new governor's first two months inoffice. Crist has consistently done right on issues large and small. He hasmade nary a serious misstep and many in a direction that Tallahassee hasn'tseen in decades. Toward civility and collegiality. Toward not justbipartisanship but nonpartisanship.

''We will work together not as Republicans or Democrats, but asFloridians,'' Crist said in his excellent State of the State address lastweek. That's the kind of flatulent prose that's usually as light as asoufflé and about as substantial. But coming from Crist, it had some heftand, more important, credibility. He then went on to paraphrase, of allpeople, Bobby Kennedy. ``Some people see things as they are and say, Why? Idream of a better Florida and say, Why not?''

Why not, indeed? Crist has set the bar very high for himself and theLegislature, which appears ready to respond. Unlike Jeb Bush, Crist servedthere and sees lawmakers as part of the solution, not the problem. Which ishow Bush often viewed lawmakers, even those from his own party. Bush likedto give them strict and detailed marching orders and never let them forgethe was the smartest guy in the room. Crist doesn't pretend to be thesmartest guy and is eager to invite whoever that is into the discussion ifit produces positive results.

That's what is different in Tallahassee: It's no longer about ideology; it'sabout results. Crist understands at some primordial level that Floridiansare sick and tired of us-versus-them politics. He knows that citizens wantsolutions to serious problems -- sky-high property taxes, insurance,education funding, the environment -- not political posturing. And he wantsa little humility to grease the problem-solving process. ''We are in thisroom,'' Crist said last week, gesturing toward the House gallery, ``onlybecause the people of Florida allow us to be here. It is we, and not they,ho are the servants. So let us serve them well.''


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 14, 2007
Oil bill could put rigs near Florida

Florida's two senators expressed alarm Tuesday over a proposal they saidwould put oil rigs just 45 miles from the Florida coast -- and skirt theembargo against Cuba by allowing U.S. firms to explore for oil and gas inCuban waters.

Plans to introduce Senate legislation today come as gasoline prices arerising and just months after Florida lawmakers labored to keep oilexploration as far as 325 miles from the Florida coast.

The proposed bill, dubbed the Security and Fuel Efficiency Energy Act 2007,or SAFE, by its sponsors, Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Larry Craig,R-Idaho, also calls for an increase in fuel economy for all new vehicles,beginning in 2012, and incentives to promote alternative fuels.

But the provision to permit drilling drew strong opposition from DemocraticSen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, who have teamed up toderail past drilling legislation.

Martinez called the bill ''bad policy,'' noting that it would violate theembargo with Cuba by allowing for oil exploration in Cuban waters.


Rights Activist Arrested in Largo to Be Honored in Fort Lauderdale


Contact: Mark Adler
954-764-5150 or 954-254-2267

MS Word document version at

Photo of Nadine Smith at

(Fort Lauderdale, March 14, 2007) Nadine Smith, executive director ofEquality Florida, the largest gay lobbying group in the state, was recentlyarrested in Largo, a small city west of Tampa. She allegedly committedfelony resisting arrest as four uniformed officers shoved her to the floorand pinned her down after she responded to a request for a "Don'tDiscriminate" flier.

The activist was one of hundreds of people who had come out to try toinfluence the decision of the Largo City Council as it consideredtermination of the city manager, Steve Stanton, after 14 year of highlyregarded service to the city. His failure? He plans to transition from hismale physique to his female self.

On Saturday, March 24, Smith is scheduled to be honored at the Fourth AnnualValuing Our Families Conference at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.The award is in recognition of her work in supporting families of gay,lesbian, bisexual and transgender parents around the state.

"Nadine Smith has been a tireless campaigner for equal civil rights for all," said Mark Adler, executive director of SunServe, one of the sponsorsof Valuing Our Families. "We are honoring Nadine for her ten years ofservice to our community and her commitment to our families. We werestunned by the actions of the Largo police and we're sure she will beexonerated when the case goes to court."


ArtExplosion Finale - Saturday!

A night of Gay Comedy with Marga Gomez, Greg Walloch and Madame w/ JoeKovacs at the Broward Center. Great seats are still available for thisSaturday night. Have you bought yours yet?

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Don't miss these great events this week at ArtExplosion 2007

Open Mic Night at Georgies Alibi Wednesday night at 9:30
Win a paid gig at Georgie Alibi in St. Pete. Free! Come see great local

Alison Bechdel in person at Broward Main Library Wednesday night.
Author of Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For. Free

Gay and Lesbian Shorts at Cinema Paradiso, Wednesday and Thursday.
ArtsUnited Members get in for $5. Show your card at the door.

For more information on ArtExplosion 2007 events visit


Stanton gets to state his case
He has nine days to prepare arguments to save his Largo city manager job.

Published March 14, 2007

LARGO - City Manager Steve Stanton will make his case to keep his job onMarch 23.City Commissioners Tuesday night chose that date for the public hearingbecause that's when they'll all be available.But his attorney said she must attend an out-of-town conference forlitigators on that date."They chose to go with the only date we're not all available," said KarenDoering.Stanton, who initially requested a hearing in April, said he wished he hadmore time to prepare his case, but will make the most of the opportunity.


The Pensacola News Journa

Homosexuality a tense topic in battle over bill to curb bullying in schools

Aaron Deslatte
News Journal capital bureau

TALLAHASSEE -- A bill intended to curb bullying at public schools is onceagain becoming a lightning rod for Florida lawmakers' views nhomosexuality.Several students who came to Tallahassee this week on behalf of the "JeffreyJohnston Stand Up For All Act," were told by one lawmaker that they neededpsychological treatment because they are gay.The bill named for a Cape Coral teenager who killed himself in 2005 afterbeing bullied at school would define "bullying" and direct schools to set upclear rules for how to handle threatening behavior.But a group of students called the Florida Safe Schools Coalition implored aHouse committee Tuesday to include specific protections for gay students.The bill defines "sexual, religious or racial harassment" as bullying, butmakes no mention of sexual orientation.


The Palm Beach Post

Paper trail for balloting under study
By Dara Kam
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee experimented Tuesdaywith touch-screen voting systems retrofitted with printers for a papertrail, as well as a yet-to-be-certified machine.Gov. Charlie Crist has said he wants all voters in Florida to cast theirballots on optical-scan machines and has included $32.5 million in hisbudget to cover the cost of the equipment for the 13 counties, includingPalm Beach and Martin, that now use touch-screen machines.Lawmakers may decide this legislative session whether Florida voters willcast paper ballots with optical-scan machines or use touch-screen votingmachines equipped with printers in the 2008 presidential elections.The Florida Department of State also will hold an 11 a.m. hearing Saturdayto create a rule requiring a printer to be attached to the touch-screenmachines.

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