Thursday, March 15, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 15, 2007

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Forwarded from Michael Emanuel Rajner
National Secretary - Campaign to End AIDS
Founding Member - Campaign to End AIDS-FLORIDA

The Miami Beach Coalition for Safe and Drug Free Communities,
The Miami Coalition, And The Village South, Inc

Proudly invite you to an important screening of HBO's documentary series:

To be held:
March 18, 2007
The Miami Beach Cinematheque
512 Espanola Way
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 67-FILMS (673-4567)

8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Directions and parking information will be issued upon receipt of your RSVP.

Introduction by:
Carl Arrogante, MS, The Miami Beach Coalition

This event's objective is to educate and engage the Miami Beach Community onthe issues of addiction and recovery. The Miami Beach Coalition for Safeand Drug Free Communities and the Village South, in partnership with theMiami Coalition, will screen the HBO documentary titled "ADDICTION". Thisevent will be part of a nationwide 30-city community outreach campaignfunded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and coordinated by JoinTogether, Faces and Voices of Recovery, and the Community Anti-DrugCoalitions of America (CADCA). The Miami Beach Coalition and The VillageSouth will join other community organizations in Miami that are also ostingscreenings throughout Dade County in the month of March.

Please RSVP by responding to this email
*Seating is Limited*

For more information please contact:

Carl Arrogante, MS, Project Coordinator
The Miami Beach Coalition for Safe and Drug Free Communities
Ph: (786) 312-6406


Gay protections enter anti-bullying debate
By Aaron Deslatte
Originally posted on March 14, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - A bill intended to curb bullying at public schools is onceagain becoming a lightning rod for Florida lawmakers' views onhomosexuality.

Several students who came to Tallahassee this week on behalf of the "JeffreyJohnston Stand Up For All Students Act," were told by one lawmaker that theyneeded psychological treatment because they're 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.


Democratic legislators join to seek repeal of ban on gay adoption
By Anthony Man
Political Writer

March 15, 2007

Tallahassee - Thousands of Florida children could have vastly better lives,advocates said Wednesday, if the state repeals its 30-year-old ban on gaysadopting.

A coalition of state legislators, mostly Democrats from Broward and PalmBeach counties, wants to eliminate what they said was a relic of formerbeauty queen and orange juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade ofthe 1970s.

"It is the most sweeping anti-gay parenting law in the country, something ofwhich we should not be proud in the state of Florida," said state Sen. NanRich, D-Weston. "The law is devoid of any basis in social science andcontradicts public policy on child welfare. It denies children and adultsconstitutional rights and jeopardizes, most importantly, the best interestsof children."

Lifting the ban would allow gay men and lesbians to become adoptive parentsof some of the 3,919 foster children who were available for adoption inFlorida at the end of last month, Rich said.

State Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, said she hopes her colleagues "wakeup" and realize it is 2007, not the Bryant era.


School Board seeks total ban on cell phones in Palm Beach County
By Marc Freeman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 15, 2007

Palm Beach County school leaders on Wednesday said they want to forbidstudents from carrying cell phones on campus as a way of blocking

Violating rules against using cell phones at school, bullies send textmessages and make Web postings that belittle their classmates, and arrangeattacks before, during or after school, officials say.

Citing a rise of high-tech bullying, the School Board unanimously agreed tolobby for a change in state law that would enable school districts to banishcell phones. Superintendent Art Johnson wants the Legislature to considerthe request during its session.

The law, adopted in 2004, allows students to take cell phones to school, buta local School Board policy bars students from using them at any time oncampus. Students are not allowed to carry or use camera phones.

Board members say they expect many parents would oppose a total cell phoneban because they depend on the phones to stay in touch with their childrenduring emergencies or after school.


Commissioners urged to rethink Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport expansion
Commission won't decide until May

By Bill Hirschman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 15, 2007

Thirty people paraded to a podium Wednesday -- some for the fifth time in adecade -- to plead with the Broward County Commission to reconsider its planto expand the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Environmentalists, newly elected city commissioners and people living nearthe airport crowded a hearing about whose homes would be affected by thenoise and how the county would compensate them.

"We are united here tonight to preserve our quality of life and to protectour outdoor use and enjoyment of our most valuable asset: our homes," saidRudy Herman, president of the Chula Vista Isles Homeowners Association.

"If we are stripped of the simple pleasures we've come to love -- barbecues,pools, gardening, parks and playgrounds with our kids -- then why in theworld should we stay here?"

For 12 years, commissioners have debated adding a second major runway orlengthening one of the two smaller runways, but they do not plan to choosean option, or even whether to undertake any expansion, until May 7.


Candidates in Palm Beach County livid over election-night errors
By Stephanie Horvath and Sally Apgar
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 15, 2007

Outraged candidates in Palm Beach County, many of them losers who thoughtthey'd won their elections, lobbed criticism Wednesday at ElectionsSupervisor Arthur Anderson for posting incorrect results on his office's Website the night before.

Satisfying answers weren't to be found. As candidates pointed fingers,Anderson in turn placed the blame on a software company he hired.

It was the fourth election in the last year where some glitch or problemwreaked havoc with the results, the second because of software.

"It's just maddening that Palm Beach County can't seem to get it right,"said Michael Bornstein, campaign manager for West Palm Beach mayoralcandidate Al Zucaro, who lost after earlier declaring victory based onincorrect results. "Arthur Anderson got his job over the issue of makingsure the election process is fair and can be trusted. For the last fewelections that hasn't happened."

Anderson said Wednesday that a glitch in the software that puts the electionresults on the agency's Web site failed. He said that the column displayingthe thousands in the vote tally was dropped in some races so that insteadof, for example, reporting 6,758, the program reported 758.


Number of reported Anti-Semitic incidents drops 10 percent in state
By Lois K. Solomon
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 15, 2007

After steadily rising for three years, the number of anti-Semitic incidentsin Florida has fallen, the Anti-Defamation League reported on Wednesday.

The organization tallied 179 episodes of harassment and vandalism last year.That's down 10 percent from 199 in 2005. There were 93 incidents documentedin 2002, 102 in 2003 and 173 in 2004.

Still, while the number of harassment incidents fell, vandalism across thestate jumped 32 percent, a figure that shows the decline in 2006 may be afluke, said Andrew Rosenkranz, ADL's Florida director.

"There is still anti-Semitism in our community," Rosenkranz said. "It'sstill something we need to react to."

Of the 37 vandalism incidents documented in Florida last year, several werein South Florida, including Boca Raton and its western suburbs, and anincident in Hollywood, according to the ADL.


The Sun-Sentinel

11 seniors to be feted in Broward
Hall of Fame entrants recognized for work
By Diane C. Lade
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 15, 2007

Allegra Webb Murphy won two elections in 24 hours.

The first, in Tuesday's race that returned Murphy to her Oakland Park citycommission seat, followed a three-month campaign. But her second victory aday later was a total surprise.

Murphy, 72, didn't even know she had been nominated for the Broward SeniorHall of Fame.

A six-person panel headed by County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Jr.,recognized Murphy and 10 other seniors Wednesday for their exemplary civicactivism and volunteer efforts over many years.

"I campaigned hard for my commission seat, but this one took my breathaway," said Murphy. A former Broward County school system teacher andadministrator, she has spent her retirement organizing homeowner's groupsand serving her city, becoming its first black mayor.

This year's roster, chosen from 37 nominations, range in age from61-year-old state Rep. Eleanor Sobel, of Hollywood, to 97-year-old LucilleD'Orso. A retired hairdresser from Lauderdale Lakes, D'Orso has logged 32years tutoring schoolchildren through Broward's Foster GrandparentProgram -- making her the organization's oldest and most longstandingvolunteer.

Broward's Aging & Disability Resource Center has given the award annuallysince 1978 to county residents 60 and older. Their names, now totaling 303,are placed on a plaque hanging in the county's Governmental Center in FortLauderdale.

Several 2007 honorees were cited for their work after Hurricane Wilma. Onewas Sister Germana Sala, 66, who lives in a convent at St. David's CatholicChurch in Davie and is involved with Hope Outreach Center Inc., a nonprofitsocial service agency founded by St. David's pastor.

Ron English, 62, was named for his advocacy for gay and lesbian seniors,including his support of the Noble A. McArtor Adult Day Care Center, thefirst of its kind in the nation.

The nominees will be honored on May 16 at a breakfast in Tamarac. Ticketsare $20 each and can be purchased by calling 954-714-3456.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 14, 2007
Bill would allow closed-door talks

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro picked a bad week tobegin a push to change Florida's Sunshine Law by proposing that electedofficials should be allowed to meet behind closed doors and out of publicview.

In recognition of the law's long history of requiring open meetings ofFlorida's public agencies, Gov. Charlie Crist declared this week Governmentin the Sunshine Week.

Barreiro is offering a resolution urging the Legislature to change the law:His change would allow any two members of a government commission or councilto meet privately, if that group is made up of 12 members or more. OnlyMiami-Dade and Duval counties would be affected.

''I don't see the community losing out,'' said Barreiro. ``There's still aprocess in place that will ensure all items are deliberated on.''

Crist was inclined to disagree Tuesday, when he served as the guest speakerat a First Amendment Foundation luncheon.


Gay adoption push renewed
Published March 15, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Florida's three-decades-old ban on allowing gays to adoptchildren is under attack once again.

But the ban has powerful allies, including Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. RondaStorms of Brandon, who ran for office on a pledge to prevent gays from beingfoster parents.

Florida is one of three states, with Mississippi and Utah, that prohibitsgays from adopting.

Some state lawmakers, backed by human rights and gay rights groups, want toallow gay foster parents to adopt children if a judge rules it's in thechild's best interest or if a gay adult were the legal guardian of a childwhose biological parents had died.

"We're coming back this year," said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, a sponsor ofthe bill. "Every child needs and deserves a permanent, loving home."


Palm Beach Post

Touch screens could be scrapped
By Dara Kam
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Thursday, March 15, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning said Wednesday he hasa plan that could allow large counties to completely scrap touch-screenvoting machines, even for early voting.

Gov. Charlie Crist has proposed doing away with the electronic machines onelection days, but continuing to allow counties to use them for early votingif they choose because some large counties have hundreds of precincts, eachof which may require a different ballot.

Elections supervisors say they do not have room to store that many paperballots at the limited number of early voting sites, where people from manydifferent precincts may come to vote.

Paper ballots are needed for the optical-scan voting machine that is thealternative voting technology supported by Crist.

Browning's solution would be to keep a ballot for every precinct on acomputer and put printers at early voting sites that would create "ballotson demand" for any precinct that a voter could show he was a resident of.

That printed paper ballot could then be used in the optical-scan machines atthe early voting site.


March 13. 2007 6:33PM

Crist takes stand in bullying legislation

With a brief statement, Gov. Charlie Crist appeared to weigh in Tuesday onan effort to include sexual orientation as a specific protected status in ananti-bullying bill.

The effort to list certain reasons for which a student or school employeeshould not be bullied -- such as race, appearance or religion -- has been asticking point for years with some lawmakers, who say such delineations onlyserve to heighten the prejudice.

Gay rights supporters and others said bullying due to sexual orientationshould be specifically banned to send a strong message.

Crist said Tuesday that he agreed with the latter argument.

"Nobody should be bullied, for anything," he said. "So I wouldn't object tothat at all."


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Mar. 15, 2007

Utah expert lectures GOP lawmakers

Republican lawmakers who met for an hour to listen to an expert play downthe promises of embryonic stem-cell research did not let the public knowthey were meeting, even though the Florida Legislature is considering twobills on the issue.

As many as 25 House Republicans gathered at the University Club at FloridaState University on Monday night to hear a lecture by Maureen Condic, aneurobiologist and professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine.The dinner and Condic's expenses were paid by the Republican Party ofFlorida.

The lecture comes at the same time that legislators are considering twobills to set aside $20 million for stem-cell research. The main differencebetween the measures: the version backed by Democrats authorizes spendingmoney on embryonic stem-cell research, which results in the destruction ofhuman embryos, while the GOP version does not.

Republican leaders said the meeting -- which was first disclosed by the PalmBeach Post -- did not violate any public meetings laws.

''There was no secret meeting,'' said Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, a FortLauderdale Republican. ``It was a lecture to provide people with valuableinformation.''


The Saint Petersburg Times

Bonus plan reconfigured
Published March 15, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Hoping to end months of acrimony within Florida's schools,House and Senate leaders Wednesday unveiled a proposed teacher bonus planthat gives school districts significant flexibility and control in how theyassess and reward top teachers and administrators.

The measure would repeal the controversial, $147.5-million Special TeachersAre Rewarded plan adopted last year under Gov. Jeb Bush and replace it witha new bonus program that educators say is much more palatable and fair.

"STAR was probably one of the most acrimonious programs to be implemented inrecent memory," said Christian Doolin, a lobbyist representing more thanthree dozen small school districts including Citrus and Hernando. "Thisproposal places responsibility and decisionmaking in the hands of thedistricts and school administrators. It's much better."

Lawmakers hope to pass the proposed fix and send it to the governor by theend of next week.

"We listened," said Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, chairman of aHouse education committee that's been working on the proposal for weeks. "Wereally listened."



From: Equality Florida

Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2007 10:02 AM
Subject: Please join us for the Adoption Town Meeting

Join us for a town hall meeting on this pressing topic currently beingdebated in the Florida legislature:


Sunday, March 25, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Dear Friends,

As you all know, Florida is the only state in the country to have alegislative ban on gay and lesbian adoption. Last year we saw unprecedentedorganizing and legislative momentum on this issue in Tallahassee and acrossthe state. This year we will see legislation on gay adoption move inTallahassee, how far and to what degree depends on us.

"Our Families, Our Future: A Town Hall for Floridians"
First Congregational Church
2501 NE 30th St., Fort Lauderdale
(Near the Target at Oakland Park Blvd. & Federal Hwy.)
Sunday, March 25, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Join us for a town hall meeting on this pressing topic currently beingdebated in the Florida legislature.

Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay and lesbian adoption.Thousands of children are trapped in Florida's overburdened foster caresystem.

Thousands gay and lesbian parents are raising children but cannot legallyadopt them under current law.The Florida legislature will be debating the ban on gay and lesbian adoptionin the next 60 days.

A panel of presenters, including lesbian and gay parents and their children,South Florida political and faith community leaders as well as socialscience research specialists, who are there to share their thoughts and hearyours

Your chance to be heard in a heart to heart dialogue about family issuesthat concern all Floridians Ideas about taking the next step toward insuring what is right for Florida'schildren.


For more information, contact Tobias Packer at or DustinKight at

For more about other activities in the Valuing Our Families Weekend,including workshops, celebrations and family fun, go to

Co-sponsoring Organizations: SunServe, Family Pride Coalition, EqualityFlorida, NOW/Florida, Planned Parenthood of South Palm Beach and BrowardCounties, Women in Distress of Broward County, ACLU/Florida, PFLAG/ Florida,South Florida Family Pride, Salvaging our Children's Rights, National Centerfor Lesbian Rights, GLSEN/South Florida, GLAAD, National Gay and LesbianTask Force, The GLCC of South Florida, GSSA/Nova Southeastern University.

If you can't make the Broward/Miami Dade meeting on the 25th, attend thePalm Beach County town hall on the 27th.

Please save the date:

What: Palm Beach County Fair Adoption Town Hall
When: Tue. Mar. 27th; 7:00pm- 9:00pm

Where: New Hope First Community Church;

2929A South Seacrest Blvd., Boynton Beach, FL 33435

I-95 to Woolbright East, at Seacrest (the light) take a right, approx. onemile. The Church is on the Ascension Lutheran Campus, just south of thelarger church.

Who: Child welfare advocates, concerned citizens, LGBT parents, children ofLGBT parents, faith leaders, community leaders, straight allies and thoseseeking more information on the subject. We need those in the Palm BeachCounty who are committed to ensuring that the best interest of the child isthe only concern this state has when granting parental rights.

if you have trouble with the above link, cut and paste without spaces

This Town Hall will involve a panel of experts in the legal field, childwelfare field, faith leaders, personal stories and a legislative update.Panelist will share their knowledge and be available to answer questions.All are welcome to attend.

For More Information or to RSVP contact:
Tobias Packer at 305-924-1899
Allan Hendricks at 561-541-3700


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