Thursday, March 29, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 29, 2007

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Steroid probe casts shadow on Jupiter Christian's state wrestling title
By Luis F. Perez and Stacy Hicklin
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 29, 2007

Jupiter Christian School sits in a quiet neighborhood among small,single-family homes and one-story warehouses that belie the tumult it findsitself in.

Its connections to what prosecutors are calling a national steroid ringstunned many at the 600-student school, which offers pre-K3 through 12thgrade.

No one at the school has been accused of any wrongdoing. Still, thecontroversy threatens to tarnish one of its proudest achievements -- a statewrestling championship the school won last year.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records name people at a local clinicraided by authorities who have close ties to the school: a booster withthree sons who have wrestled on the team and the son of the team's coach.After these revelations, state scholastic athletic officials began aninvestigation this week into whether wrestlers used illegal substances.

With Jupiter Christian's ties to the steroids investigation on the frontpages of newspapers, supporters of the school and opposing coaches defendit, even as others question its rise to wrestling prominence.


Tampa Bays 10

High end homes may avoid property tax

By: Mike Deeson

Tampa, Florida - Home owners throughout Florida are saying they can't affordtheir homes because property taxes are so high. Many like Fred Diaz say theyfeel trapped in their homes
Fred Diaz:

"If you have to move you get socked with the property taxes. "That's why the top priority of the legislature and Governor is to deal withthe property tax crisis.

Governor Crist at his inauguration in January

"The time has come to expand Florida's homestead exemption as a shieldagainst burdensome taxes. "

In Hillsborough County alone instead of 3,000 homeowners paying no propertytax there would be 28,000 homeowners who would not pay property taxes. Thatwould include more than 100 homes worth several hundreds of thousands ofdollars.


Palm Beach Post

Speaker's adviser is longtime foe of taxes on wealth
By S.V. Dáte

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Thursday, March 29, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - When House Speaker Marco Rubio wanted justification for hisplan to replace property taxes with an increase in the sales tax, he turnedto a familiar name in conservative economic circles: Donna Arduin, formerbudget director to Gov. Jeb Bush.

Arduin, who also worked for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is apartner in a consulting firm with Arthur Laffer - as in the Laffer Curve,the justification of President Reagan's massive tax cuts in 1981 - andStephen Moore, former head of the anti-tax Club for Growth.

Florida is paying the firm of Arduin, Laffer and Moore Econometrics $10,000a month under a six-month contract with the state House for Arduin'sservice, which so far has included delivery of a 16-page treatise thatargues that taxes on wealth are bad for the economy while taxes onconsumption are good.

"A rising tax on wealth has a negative impact on wealth creation," hewrote. "Because property taxes are a tax on wealth while sales taxes are atax on consumption," the sales tax "is less burdensome."

The advice jibes with Arduin's philosophy through the years. Bush, withArduin's help, eliminated the state's only tax that applied almostexclusively to the wealthy: the intangibles tax on stocks and bonds heldoutside of retirement accounts. The richest 4.6 percent of Floridians todaywould have been paying about $1 billion a year if the tax had beencontinued.


Florida Today

March 29, 2007

Lawmakers find room for pork in spending plan

By Aaron Deslatte

It may be a tight budget year, but state lawmakers can still find ways tobring home coveted cash for roads, parks, ports, campuses and pet projects.

Today, Senate lawmakers plan to unveil more than $4 billion in spendingspread throughout their $71 billion budget geared to speed up constructionprojects meant to spur economic activity.

They call it "Building Florida's Future,'' and it's also how lawmakers shorton revenue can still turn dirt in their home districts.

The list includes nearly $600 million to advance arterial road projects thatadd tolling lanes or help overtaxed roadway systems meet growth-managementmuster, money to jump-start construction of research facilities on stateuniversity campuses, and more to expand ports.

For example, the Senate bill includes $43 million to expand capacity at thePort of Jacksonville, and another $35 million for toll roads in northMiami-Dade County.


St. Petersburg Times

Crist leaves little doubt Bush reign has ended
Kind words don't mask the fact that state policies are changing.

Published March 29, 2007

For a guy who used to constantly refer to himself as "a Jeb Bush Republican"on the campaign trail, Charlie Crist is doing a number on Bush's image.

"It's a new day," Florida's new governor has been fond of saying, beggingthe question: Was something wrong with the old day?

Call it the de-Jebification of Florida politics.

There was Crist's debut state of the state speech when he never mentionedBush. And days after Crist took office, he pulled back 283 Bush nominationsto various state boards and commissions. That's standard practice for a newgovernor, but this was the first time a newly elected Republican had done itto another Republican.

"Jeb overreached on those appointments. He's been King Jeb for so long hedidn't know that anybody would challenge him," said former state GOPchairman Tom Slade. "I think basically Charlie's message was, 'Jeb, youdon't run the place any more.' And I don't think that's bad politics."


St. Petersburg Times

Florida may go green through fertilizer limits
Published March 29, 2007

Lush green lawns, verdant golf courses and tropical gardens long have been apart of the rich Florida landscape.

But that beauty has come with a price.

For years, state officials have blamed overfertilized lawns for many ofFlorida's water pollution woes.

With every rainfall, they said, excess nitrogen and phosphorus fromfertilizers would wash downstream, spurring harmful algae blooms, fish killsand deadzones in lakes and rivers.

This spring, Florida is poised to become the first state in the nation torestrict the content of fertilizer for lawns, farms, golf courses andlandscaping, according to industry officials.


Article published Mar 28, 2007

Senate proposes requirement for renewable energy in Florida

Florida would jump from lackluster ranks to having the most stringentrenewable energy requirements for electricity generation in the nation,under a bill to be considered Thursday by a Senate committee.

The Senate's energy plan (SB 996) would require half of new electricity inFlorida to be generated with renewable energies such as biomass, wind andsolar by 2017. The Sunshine State currently generates less than 10 percentof its electricity using nuclear power and other renewable fuels, insteadrelying primarily on natural gas, coal and petroleum - all fossil fuels.

The 50 percent figure may change during upcoming negotiations, but itsignals that some state lawmakers want Florida to join at least 20 otherstates and the District of Columbia, which currently have renewableportfolio standards for electricity production. Minnesota, for example, hasa requirement of 25 percent by 2025 - the highest percentage of any state todate, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

"I think it's very bold to set an aggressive goal like that," said SusanGlickman, a consultant for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "I thinkit will certainly cause people to look at what's in the realm of thepossible for Florida."

However, the House energy plan (ENRC 07-01) approved Wednesday by theEnvironment and Natural Resources Council rejects a renewable energy mandateuntil a study can be conducted to recommend a requirement. It opts insteadfor tax incentives and grants to spur the production of renewable fuels suchas ethanol, which experts have said could be readily produced in Floridausing materials such as citrus and yard waste.


Youth Open Mic and Slam!

Hosted by San Francisco poet Paul Flores
with special guests - FREE

Friday, March 30, 2007
Open Mic 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Slam 7:00 - 8:30 pm
For teens 13 to 19 years

Miami Beach Regional Library
227 22nd Street, Miami Beach (just off of Collins Avenue)

Get a chance to arouse, provoke and inspire with spoken word poetry!

Pre-slam performances & workshops with poet Paul Flores week of March 26 at,William Turner Tech, Miami Senior, North Miami Beach High Schools, andAbriendo Puertas

Free roundtrip busses provided from these select schools directly to libraryslam on Friday

Paul Flores will also give a free reading for the general public at theCoral Gables Books and Books,265 Aragon Avenue, on Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 pm. Flores will be readingfrom his new book of poems,La Mezcla and his hip hop theater work-in-progress Representa.

For more information contact Tigertail at or 305 324 4337

Win a place on the Miami Team traveling to San Jose, California for the
Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival

The WordSpeak program and Paul Flores' residency is funded in part by agrant from the National Performance Network.


State may charge tolls on I-95 HOV lanes in Broward, Miami-Dade
By Anthony Man
Political Writer
March 29, 2007

Tallahassee - In a move that would alter the way people use Interstate 95,the Florida Senate is looking to allocate money to convert the free, HOVlanes to toll lanes from Interstate 595 in Broward to State Road 112 inMiami-Dade.

The high-occupancy-vehicle lanes currently allow vehicles with two or morepassengers and hybrid vehicles with just one occupant to zip along thehighway from 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays while everyone else issitting in rush-hour traffic. The change would offer the privilege of thefast ride for anyone willing to pay.

The idea is a long way from becoming reality and faces stiff opposition fromBroward County legislators. But it got a boost Wednesday as drafters of theSenate version of the state budget included $35 million for the project.That would be matched by $35 million from the federal government, for atotal cost of $70 million.

The money, and the concept, isn't in the House version of the budget. Thestate spending plan doesn't get final legislative action until early May,and state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, chairman of theTransportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee, said theHouse and Senate are "miles apart on money issues."

State Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors, his party's top budget negotiatorin the House and vice chairman of the Broward Legislative Delegation,opposes the plan.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Mar. 29, 2007

Motorola to cut 79 jobs in Plantation

Motorola expects to eliminate 79 jobs at its Plantation manufacturingfacility by mid-July.

Motorola, based in Schaumberg, Ill., announced in January that it intendedto cut 3,500 jobs -- about 5 percent of its 70,000-person workforce -- tosave $400 million over two years. The firings in Plantation represent lessthan 3 percent of the plant's staff.

Plantation is the home of Motorola's Integrated Digital Enhanced Network(iDEN) division. The technology combines the capability of wireless phonesand two-way radios.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Mar. 29, 2007
Lawsuit: Broward policy cheats white male contractors

Broward County's program to help minority-owned firms get county work isunconstitutional because it favors minorities and females, a federal lawsuithas charged.

The suit was filed by the same lawyer who has won similar suits againstMiami-Dade County, most recently in 2004. Atlanta attorney Herbert Schlangerfiled the Broward lawsuit on behalf of trade associations that representcontractors, engineers and architects.

The lawsuit contends that the county's policies put the associations at acompetitive disadvantage in bidding and force them to hire subcontractorsbased on race, ethnicity or sex -- not quality.

Filed March 15 in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, the suit asks forunspecified damages and seeks to force the county to evaluate bids withoutregard to sex or race. It alleges that the county has violated the federal
Civil Rights Act and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, whichguarantees equal protection under the law.

In Miami-Dade, Schlanger said his suits forced the county to drop a minorityset-aside program in favor of one to help small businesses compete forcounty contracts.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Mar. 29, 2007
Fix juvenile justice's 'broken' system

Not long after Gov. Charlie Crist appointed him to head the state'sDepartment of Juvenile Justice, Walt McNeil put himself on the record asrecognizing what many advocates for troubled youths have long known. DJJSecretary McNeil said that the state's juvenile-justice system is ''broken''and needs fixing. Mr. McNeil, a former Tallahassee police chief, has anuphill challenge.

Perennially underfunded

Part of the problem is that the DJJ -- which contracts 85 percent of itsprograms to private providers -- has been perennially underfunded. Last yearthe Legislature identified a $100 million deficit in DJJ's budget andallocated an extra $21 million, which upgraded salaries and benefits ofproviders' direct-care staff. A study found that the turnover rate for thesestaffers was 55 percent, prompting a crisis for providers. Some of DJJ'srequests for proposals have drawn no bidders or have been canceled becauseof a lack of experienced bidders. The reason is money, or lack thereof.

Though the Legislature faces a revenue shortfall this year, it should notforget the remaining $79 million deficit at DJJ. Advocates, acknowledgingthe shortfall, are asking for $45 million new dollars for next year.

One way you know that DJJ needs fixing is that, even though violent crimeoverall is down, the state has one of the country's highest rates of tryingjuveniles in adult court. If DJJ were more effective at turning aroundtroubled youth, fewer of them would be committing new crimes serious enough,or frequently enough, to land them in adult court. So while more money wouldhelp DJJ, Mr. McNeil needs to identify the most effective treatment andrehabilitation programs and be sure they are emphasized.

Also, laws passed in reaction to a 1990s crime wave that included severalkillings of tourists by teenagers toughened up the state's attitude towardjuvenile delinquents. It's time to revisit some of those changes.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Mar. 29, 2007
TV's Dog Whisperer coming to correct S. Florida canines

Pssst!!! Dog owners who are fans of The National Geographic Channel's TheDog Whisperer, take heed: Cesar Millan is coming to South Florida.

And Millan, the Dr. Phil of problem pooches, is seeking to rehabilitate yourdog and train you -- all for upcoming episodes of his hit television show tobe shot in Miami-Dade and Broward counties the week of May 6.

Just send in a five- to seven-minute video featuring you and your dog. Stateyour name, age, occupation and your dog's name, age and breed.

Describe problems your dog is having and how that is affecting your life.The video should show at least three instances of your doggy being bad.Don't forget to describe what you love about your dog, too.

When sending your video, include the bio sheet and release forms that can bedownloaded from


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