Wednesday, March 28, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 28, 2007

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Man guilty in 2001 murder

Loureiro fled to Nicaragua after slaying
By Tonya Alanez
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 28, 2007

He spent 20 months on the lam after being accused of killing a drinkingbuddy on New Year's Day 2001.

On Tuesday, it took a Broward jury less than 90 minutes to convict OmarLoureiro, 44, of first-degree murder for the slaying of James G. Lentry, 55.

The jurors apparently didn't buy Loureiro's claim that he killed Lentry inan effort to fight off an unwanted sexual advance.

Prosecutor Howard Scheinberg said the slaying was too brutal -- Lentry'shead was nearly severed and he was stabbed twice in the neck and six timesin the face -- to justify self-defense.

Defense attorney Michael Tenzer said that, unaware Lentry was gay, Loureiroleft a Deerfield Beach bar with the older man and went to Lentry'sLighthouse Point apartment for more drinks. A struggle ensued and endedviolently, he said.


More S. Fla. businesses building environmentally sound office spaces
By Doreen Hemlock
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 28, 2007

Imagine an office building with its own water ecosystem.

Excess water from the roof park flows into the air-conditioning system,which urifies and channels it to a waterfall in the atrium for reuse later.

That's just one of more than 120 environmental features in a project underconstruction in Lake Worth for law firm Romano Eriksen & Cronin and seekingcertification as "green."

Lawyer John Romano said the firm's $20 million, two-building complex isexpected to cost about the same in money and time as conventionalconstruction. But operations should be cheaper, because the buildings willuse less electricity, water and resources, and will be less expensive tomaintain.

"A lot of people, when you tell them you're building green say, `Oh, mygoodness, this is going to be really, really expensive,' and it's not thatway at all," said Romano from his firm's West Palm Beach office. "And thereare many tax incentives and grants out there, which are or will becomeavailable, that are worth looking into."


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 28, 2007
Jenne proposes releasing some inmates

Broward could save about $26 million on its jail each year if judges allowedmore nonviolent defendants to be released while they wait for a trial,Sheriff Ken Jenne proposed Tuesday.

That's the type of solution to jail crowding that is part of a new reportreleased in final form Tuesday by federal consultants who studied Broward'sexploding jail population.

But Jenne said he doesn't know if releasing more defendants would allow thecounty to cancel or postpone a plan to build a $62 million jail by 2010.

He made his comments during a budget workshop, where no vote was taken.Commissioners also heard from the property appraiser and supervisor ofelections about their upcoming budget needs. The county's spending plan mustbe final by Oct. 1.

Jenne proposed releasing an extra 1,000 inmates charged with minor crimessuch as trespassing. They would be supervised on house arrest or byelectronic monitoring.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 28, 2007
House GOP seeks end to class-size caps

Calling voter-imposed caps on class sizes an ''insane expenditure,'' theGOP-controlled House is once again attempting to undo the constitutionalamendment that limits the number of students in each public-schoolclassroom.

A House panel voted along party lines Tuesday in favor of asking voters tofreeze class-cap levels as they are now and use any savings to give moremoney to teachers and other school employees.

It is unclear how far the proposal will go this session.

The Senate has rejected similar measures in the past two years, and Gov.Charlie Crist has said he is not in favor of repealing the amendment votersapproved in 2002.

Rep. David Simmons, a Maitland Republican, said something needs to be donebefore the strictest mandates kick in. By 2010, kindergarten through thirdgrade classes will be capped at 18 students; 22 will be the limit in fourththrough eighth grade classes; and high school classes will be capped at 25students.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
On Education

Trying to Disarm the Dangerous World That Students Live In


During the spring of his sophomore year in high school here, Jeffrey Johnsontook the standardized tests that Florida requires for promotion andgraduation. He scored in the 93rd percentile in reading and the 95th inmath. That same semester, he earned straight A's.

Two years later, in May 2006, Jeffrey was about to graduate summa cum laude,having received a full college scholarship. Days before commencement, at theage of 17, he was shot to death at a party during an argument about his car.His graduation mortarboard was found near his body.

For Paul Moore, who had taught Jeffrey in an advanced social studies classat Miami Carol City Senior High School, a terrible question began to emerge.It all turned on the concept on accountability. Jeffrey had provedaccountable to the state by passing the Florida Comprehensive AssessmentTest. But what about the accountability the state had to keep Jeffrey alive?

Jeffrey was the third Carol City student shot to death during the 2005-6academic year. By the first semester of this year, two more had been killedin gun violence. It was then that Mr. Moore decided to do something morethan deliver eulogies, visit weeping parents and initiate class discussionsabout all the senseless death.

He drafted a petition, expressing his righteous anger. ("Anger" indeed wasthe word, for it derives from the Norse "angr," which means grief at thewrongness in the world.) The petition appealed to the newly electedgovernor, Charlie Crist, to "make Florida's schools and the communitiesaround them 'measurably' safer" and it concluded, "You are accountable to usfor it!"



Selling out the public interest
Stephen Goldstein

March 28, 2007

Warning: Unless you put up a roadblock this minute, soon Florida Republicanswill "Dubai" all the state's assets.

Once again, Elephants in the Florida Legislature have sold their souls,assuming they ever had any. Routinely, they barter the public interest for abuck.

This time, in a scheme that only Halliburton could hail, House Republicansjust passed H.B. 7033, giving private companies virtual monopoly ownershipof most of Florida's toll roads. (Democratic state Reps. Susan Bucher andKeith Fitzgerald told me they were outraged.)

That's right! If the scheme becomes law, corporate interests will be able tomake a profit by levying the fees you pay to drive on most current, and allfuture, toll roads. In addition, the state could use eminent domain to takeprivate land for new toll-road construction, then turn it over to privatecompanies. The bill even prohibits any local, non-toll roads from beingbuilt that would "compete" with those of for-profit companies.

It's a one-way street: Politicians pumping public dollars into privatehands, but no guarantee that the state will ever make a penny. It's a deadend for democracy: Your elected officials selling the public interest insweetheart deals that could last for 50 or 75 years, or longer.


Palm Beach Post

Senate votes to extend state's no-fault law
By Jennifer Sorentrue

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Florida's no-fault auto insurance system, set to expire in sixmonths, would remain in place under a plan a state Senate committee approvedTuesday.

The Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance voted unanimously to extendFlorida's no-fault law, which provides a minimum of $10,000 worth of medicalcoverage, known as personal injury protection, or PIP, to those injured inauto accidents.

The law, which will expire Oct. 1 unless lawmakers vote to extend it, alsoprovides lost-wage coverage for those who miss work because of an accident.

Under the bill (SB 1880) approved Tuesday, the law would be reenacted forone more year and could be repealed again on Jan. 1, 2009.

"I think if we eliminate PIP, the consumers of this state will suffer," saidSen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, who sponsored the bill.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 28, 2007

Plan for slots tax credit falters

A proposal to give tax credits to Broward's new casinos is temporarily offthe table, after its first state Senate committee stop Tuesday.

The proposal to provide 5 percent tax credits for capital improvements andfor local payments would have been part of a larger bill to loosen slotsregulations for the three racetracks and jai-alai fronton allowed to operatethe state's new Vegas-style slots.

During a Senate committee tour earlier this month, parimutuel executivestried to persuade lawmakers that they needed a tax change to help themcompete with the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which does not pay statetaxes.

Sen. Steve Geller, a Cooper City Democrat, withdrew the tax credit ideaafter he learned it did not have the support of Senate Regulated IndustriesCommittee Chairman Sen. Dennis Jones. But Geller added he might reintroducethe idea before a final bill is passed.

Tuesday's change leaves the current 50 percent slots tax rate unchanged inboth the Senate and House proposals.


Palm Beach Post

House budget omits voting machines, teacher bonuses
By Michael C. Bender

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Senate released its budget priorities last week, and the House made itsversion public Tuesday.

Both chambers cut back their $70 billion spending plans, as a sales-taxslump contributed to a $956 million shortfall in state revenues.

While House lawmakers lauded their idea to increase school spending by 6.8percent, they also proposed a 5 percent tuition hike at state colleges anduniversities.

Crist is seeking a freeze on tuition hikes this year.

Lawmakers already have approved Crist's Anti-Murder Act, which would cost$22 million to increase the number of prison beds to jail violent felons whoviolate probation.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 28, 2007

Abortion waiting period advances


A group of House lawmakers on Tuesday approved an amended bill on teenageabortions that would add a new hurdle to all Florida women seekingabortions -- a 24-hour waiting period.

Rep. Trey Traviesa, a Tampa Republican and sponsor of the bill that passed aHealthcare Council, said the wait would give women who go to abortionclinics under great stress the time to make a more informed decision.

''Many women come to lament, regret and suffer for not having been able tofully consider their alternatives,'' Traviesa said.


In 2005, the Legislature enacted a law that requires underage girls to telltheir parents they were planning to get an abortion. If a girl doesn't wantto tell her parents, the law allows her to seek a waiver from a judge.


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