Thursday, March 08, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST March 8, 2007

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The Sun-Sentinel,0,4022344,print.story?coll=sfla-consumer-headlines

Crist outlines ambitous tax cuts, consumer programs, but how will he pay?
By Mark Hollis, Linda Kleindienst and Anthony Man
Tallahassee Bureau

March 7, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday urged Florida legislators tounite and put an end to "out of control" property taxes as he delivered hisfirst State of the State speech, a laundry list of consumer-friendly itemsthat may run into funding woes in what promises to be a tight budget year.

"The American dream of home ownership is being crushed under the weight ofproperty taxes," Crist said in an upbeat address that opened a 60-daysession of the Legislature. "It will require bold and decisive leadership toreverse this trend and make the Florida dream more affordable."

Crist was interrupted by applause 21 times during the speech of a littleover a half-hour, with opposition Democrats often leading the ovation. Hiswish list ranged from making Florida a leader in fighting global warmingtoimposing tougher sentences for probation violators, though cuttingFloridians' property tax load is certain to be the session's dominant theme.

"It must be put before the voters this year," Crist said of a referendum ontax changes that he wants legislators to place on the ballot , which wouldrequire approval of three-fourths of the House and Senate. There appears tobe virtual unanimity among legislators that action on the issue must betaken, but no consensus so far on what to do.

The opening-day mood was unusually upbeat, a reflection of Crist's customarycheeriness and the presence of 44 freshman legislators. The desks of manymembers in the House, where Crist spoke, were piled high with flowers.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,6042360,print.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Fort Lauderdale mayor's name on solicitation letter, despite opposition
By Brittany Wallman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 7, 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE -- The mayor is pushing strict new ethics laws to banelected officials from using city resources to solicit money for charities.

But a solicitation letter with his name and a city logo on it just landed inhundreds of mailboxes.

Mayor Jim Naugle acknowledged Tuesday that a recent Sister Cities mailing,which he said he did not explicitly authorize, would be banned under thetougher ethics rules he's advocating and which got partial approval Tuesdaynight.

The invitation told recipients that "the Honorable Jim Naugle, mayor of FortLauderdale" and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities Internationalboard of directors requested the recipient's presence at a fund-raising galaSunday that costs $150 to attend. Suggested donations were as high as the"platinum" level of $10,000.

"I never proofed it or authorized it or anything," Naugle said Tuesdaybefore the vote. " ... The policy isn't in effect now, but if it goes intoeffect, I will ask them not to put my name on there again."


350 rally to protest city manager's ouster

The Largo official, fired last week over plans for a sex change, says the
support is overwhelming.

Published March 7, 2007

LARGO - They stood 350 strong in the grass outside City Hall on Tuesdaymorning, united by faith.

They held signs, saying "Justice," "Compassion" and "Love," as well asthese:

Some Baptists need their hearts examined.

Jesus wasn't the Terminator.'

We don't tolerate diversity, we celebrate it!


Legislators want pregnant girls reported

They say it's to counter abuse, but others fear it would scare teens awayfrom getting help.
Published March 7, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Health care professionals would be required to call police ifthey know or suspect a patient 15 or younger is pregnant, under a bill filedrecently in the House and Senate.

In addition, doctors who perform abortions on such girls would be requiredto collect a DNA sample from the fetus and send it to the Florida Departmentof Law Enforcement.

State Sen. Ronda Storms, a Brandon Republican, has joined forces with a topHouse Republican, Rep. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, on the bill, which aims tocrack down on underage sexual abuse by having health care professionalsassume pregnant teens are crime victims.

Doctors and nurses at abortion clinics, hospitals or even counselingagencies would have to report underage pregnancies within 24 hours ofknowing about such a pregnancy or risk losing their state license.

The report would trigger a criminal investigation examining whether the girlwas a victim of a crime, such as statutory rape, which can include sexbetween two minors who are under 16.


Can-do Crist sets centrist tone
Published March 7, 2007


"Whatever form of property tax relief you decide upon, it must becomprehensive, it must bring real relief to our people, and it must be putbefore the voters this year."


"Will we take this gift of public service and use our time here together tobring meaningful reform to Florida? Or will we waste it through neglect orpartisan divide? You know I am an optimist. I believe we will not waste thisgift, this trust." ON CRIME

"Let us send a clear message to violent criminals: If they violateprobation, they are going back to jail where they can do no further harm toour people and our children."


Conference, Celebration and Town Hall Meeting

March 24-25, 2007
Fort Lauderdale, FL



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

(Fort Lauderdale - March 7, 2007) A group of South Florida non profitorganizations has prepared a town hall meeting for Sunday, March 25 at 1:30p.m. to discuss the issue of whether or not gays and lesbians should beallowed to adopt. The town hall will be held at First Congregational Churchof Fort Lauderdale, UCC, at 2501 NE 30th Street. Anyone interested in thistopic is invited to attend. Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger,chair of Broward County's Children's Services Council, will moderate a panelincluding gay and lesbian parents, faith community leaders and social

"All are invited to attend to learn the facts about Florida law, its impacton children, especially those in foster care, and the community at large,"says Mark Adler, Executive Director of SunServe, one of the agenciessponsoring the meeting. "This is a chance for the community to come togetherand have an informed, heart to heart discussion. We want to move theconversation away from stereotypes and into the realities of family life inFlorida." More information and registration for this free event can be foundat or call 954-764-5150


Disney's Magic Kingdom Closed to Same-Sex Weddings
by Michael Jensen, March 5, 2007

On the Feb. 20th episode of The View, well-known wedding planner DavidTutera appeared on the talk show to promote his David Tutera Couture WeddingCollection at Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Fla. The collectionallows the happy couple to choose between four elaborate wedding styles:classic elegance, simply chic, cocktail soiree and whimsical garden.

But are those weddings available if there are two brides or two grooms?Short answer: no. According to Walt Disney World spokesperson JasonDiPietre, Disney's Florida property requires a valid Florida marriagelicense in order to offer their services.

But getting that answer was far from a straightforward task, as the WaltDisney World Weddings website and the Disney consultants at first gaveconfusing, often contradictory information to's questions.

The fact is, Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons offers weddingceremonies, not marriage licenses. The two things are legally completelyseparate; no license is legally required or necessary for such a ceremony totake place.

When asked why Disney, a private corporation, insisted it needs a validmarriage license to offer wedding services, DiPietre responded that what"makes the marriage binding and recognized by the state [of Florida] is thelicense, so that is why we need the license."


Jupiter to Provide Family Benefits to Employees with Domestic Partners

(Jupiter, Florida) The Jupiter Town Council voted this evening to implementa Domestic Partner Benefits Policy to provide the same employee benefits toemployees with domestic partners as the Town offers to married employees.The benefits include medical insurance, dental insurance, medical insurancecontinuation coverage and family medical leave.

In addition, in response to a December 7, 2006 request of the Palm BeachCounty Human Rights Council ("PBCHRC"), the Town Council approved on firstreading an ordinance to amend Jupiter's Equal Opportunity Ordinance toprohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The final vote is setfor March 20.

PBCHRC is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988, which is dedicated toending discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Council promotesequality through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation andcommunity outreach.

"There is clearly a trend in Palm Beach County for public employers to enactpolicies to treat all of their employees equally - regardless of theirmarital status or sexual orientation." said PBCHRC President and FounderRand Hoch.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,4220125,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

South Florida V.A. cemetery ready to open -- and there's already a lengthywaiting list
By Diane C. Lade
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

March 8, 2007

What began as a dream a decade ago will become reality next month when thefirst veteran is laid to rest at the South Florida National Cemetery.

The burial ground west of Lake Worthwill open April 16, two years after theoriginal projected date that was rolled back several times. As many as adozen interments are expected on the first day, said South Florida CemeteryDirector Kurt Rotar. There would be more, but only one of the six sheltersfor services will be ready.

Rotar expects to keep up that pace for months, with as many as a dozenburials six days a week. More than 700 families are holding cremated remainsor planning to move their loved ones from other cemeteries to South FloridaNational -- so many that the Veterans Affairs will not add new names to thewaiting list until after April 9.

Service and burial scheduling for new national cemeteries will be handled bya centralized VA system in St. Louis, with requests being taken in the orderthey were received and juggled with the burials of the newly deceased.Living veterans cannot make reservations, and their interments -- or thoseof their spouses, who are entitled to national cemetery gravesites, even ifthey die before the veterans -- are handled by funeral homes at the time ofdeath.

Lois Silverstein called the cemetery office just days after her husband,Joel, died at 72 of pancreatic cancer in 2005, which blindsided him sosuddenly that the couple barely had time for a discussion of last wishes.


Posted on Thu, Mar. 08, 2007

A big-tent approach to state governance

To say that Gov. Charlie Crist's first State of the State speech struck aninclusive tone is an understatement. The governor's upbeat, wide-rangingaddress included proposals supported by Democrats as well as those onRepublicans' agenda. He capped his address by citing a philosophy held by amuch-admired Democrat, Robert Kennedy.

An inclusive tone

It is fair to say that this governor has set the stage for a welcome newatmosphere in Tallahassee, where ideology may take a back seat tobipartisanship. The challenge for Mr. Crist will be whether his leadershipcan spread the gospel of bipartisan action to lawmakers in both parties.

Gov. Crist set his inclusive tone early on with a willingness to reachacross the aisle for appointments, putting competency before ideology --stably by naming Democrat Bob Butterworth to head the Department ofChildren & Families. To show that he intended to lead, Mr. Crist wasted notime tackling a top priority for many Floridians by calling a speciallegislative session in January to begin dealing with soaringwindstorm-insurance rates. His Tuesday address reflected this energetic,ambitious, big-tent approach to governing.

For Mr. Crist this means a state government that is ''more open, moreethical and more focused on serving the people,'' whom he told lawmakers aretheir employers. Getting down to specifics, the governor called on lawmakersto create property-tax relief that ``must be comprehensive, it must bringreal relief to our people and it must be put before the voters this year.''

The governor also recognized that much more needs doing to addressunresolved windstorm-insurance issues, in particular bringing relief tocustomers of Citizens Property Inc., the state's carrier of last resort.

Better quality of life

Beyond these statewide concerns, commendable priorities for Mr. Crist are ineducation: more funding of the class-room size amendment to the tune of $3.8billion and nearly $300 million to increase teachers' pay. Mr. Cristsupports reducing class sizes, noting that ``smaller classes provide abetter learning environment.''

Perhaps taking his cue from California's Gov. Schwarzenegger, Gov. Cristcited cutting greenhouse gases to fight climate change among his goals. Thischallenge couldn't be more timely in a state surrounded on three sides bywater that is already rising.

The biggest challenge for Gov. Crist, however, will be to find a way to fundhis ambitious agenda in a year when state revenues are expected to fallshort of recent years. Nonetheless, Gov. Crist's first State of the Stateaddress gave lawmakers a solid road map to improve Floridians' education andquality of life, as well as protect their wallets.


From ArtsUnited

Stephen Kuttner's Photography Featured at Stork's

ArtsUnited is featuring the photography of local artist StephenKuttner in a solo exhibit at Stork's Bakery Coffee Cafe from March 3 through31, 2007. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Stork's is located at505 NE 15th Avenue in Wilton Manors, FL.

After a successful career as a graphic artist in Washington, D.C.Kuttner moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2000 and became a massage therapist andfound that the best thing for his spirit. "No more crazy 'Devil Wears Prada'clients demanding a new design they needed yesterday," he said. Now that hehas been working successfully for himself doing bodywork for the last threeand half years, he has that creative itch again. "I am ready to step out ofmy box and demonstrate my artistic side", says Stephen.

Contact for the full article.


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

HIV/AIDS Activists & Advocates Demonstrate Ability to Overcome Apathy,Complacency and Stigma

Today, members of Campaign to End AIDS-Florida attended Fort Lauderdale'sNew Mount Olive Baptist Church's prayer vigil for the healing of AIDS aspart of The Balm in Gilead's "The Black Church Week of Prayer." Theservice was moving as approximately 80 people crowded into a chapel to sharein prayer for the healing of persons living with HIV/AIDS and for society todemand an end to systematic disenfranchisement of marginalized andulnerable populations. As evidenced often in the past, the New Mount Olive Baptist Church serves as aeader among Black Churches in the fight against AIDS and the stigma thatoften follows. Ministers from New Mount Olive Baptist Church have alsooffer to assist one of our members in organizing a faith-based event forApril - we will report more on the event as it develops.

C2EA-FLORIDA also salutes Adriane Reesey of the Broward County Sheriff'sOffice for her continued leadership in the community and her attendance atthe service. Andriane has often responded to community concerns and made apoint to have the Broward County Sheriff's Office represented on thetraining conference calls of C2EA's national partners.

Contact for the full article.


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