Sunday, April 29, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST April 29, 2007

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The Sun-Sentinel,0,6434443,print.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Religious group closes Lauderdale center for conservative activism

By James D. Davis
Religion Editor

April 28, 2007

Fort Lauderdale · The Center for Reclaiming America has closed, halting itsconservative activism and throwing the future of its signature annualconference in doubt.

An undisclosed number of employees were laid off on Thursday at the center'sheadquarters in Fort Lauderdale and its congressional chaplaincy office inWashington, D.C., in what its parent organization, Coral Ridge Ministries,called a "streamlining."

The closures put a stop to day-to-day actions such as e-mail and petitiondrives against abortion, pornography and same-sex marriage.

"We're getting back to our core competency, the production of media," saidBrian Fisher, executive vice president at Coral Ridge Ministries, founded bythe Rev. D. James Kennedy. "Our heart and soul is the teaching of Dr.Kennedy, and getting it to more people than those who come to church."

Fisher wouldn't divulge how many workers were laid off but said Coral idgeMinistries still has more than 120 employees. The organization produces TVand radio programs and publishes books by Kennedy, pastor at Coral RidgePresbyterian Church. It reported a budget of more than $37 million in 2005,according to spokesman John Aman.


The Sun-Sentinel,1,6126387,print.story

Gay & Lesbian Film Fest: It's bigger, bawdier, better

By Dan Hudak
Special Correspondent

April 26, 2007

If you thought the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival peaked riding theBrokeback wave last year, you'd be sadly mistaken. This year's festival,which begins Friday and runs through May 6, has more films. More parties.More than 130 filmmakers attending. It has titles like Hollywood Kink andLezploitation: Triple X Selects. This isn't just a film festival -- it's anevent.

Of course, it's not all fun and games. The documentary Saving Marriagechronicles the two-year fight to keep gay marriage legal in Massachusetts.

"And it's timely because in 2008 the ballot will come to Florida about gaymarriage," said festival director Carol Coombes. "Massachusetts is still theonly state that legally allows gay marriage."

When asked if she felt obligated to include "issue" films, Coombes insistedthat the overriding principle in her program is quality.

"I never think I need to make political statements," Coombes said. "Iprogram the best films available to me, and that's what I've always done."


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Apr. 28, 2007
Abortion bill heads to Senate

A controversial proposal requiring a 24-hour wait period and a sonogrambefore almost all abortions passed the state House of Representatives onFriday and is on its way to the Florida Senate.

The House voted 71-42 in favor of the provisions, after roughly two hours ofcontentious debate. Both proposals were added to a bill by Rep. TreyTraviesa, a Tampa Republican, that would require judges to appoint aguardian for underage girls who want an abortion and seek to get around thestate's parental-notification law.

''On every other medical procedure there is time, time for those importanttwo words: informed consent,'' Traviesa said. ``And anyone who seeks to denya woman the ability to achieve informed consent is not advocating for therights of women. They're advocating for an idea.''

Women who are victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or humantrafficking would be exempt from the sonogram requirement.


The St. Petersburg Times

Not everyone wants property tax relief
Published April 28, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - The towns of Eatonville and Opa-locka have survived economicand social hardships over the last century but now they face a differentkind of ruin: property tax reform.

Eatonville and Opa-locka are caught in a largely silent fight for theirfinancial survival, as lawmakers debate how far back to roll tax rates aspart of a broad effort to cut property taxes. Although property taxnegotiations are stalled, all three proposals still being considered - theHouse's, the Senate's and Gov. Charlie Crist's - would slash millions out oflocal government budgets.

Although lawmakers have carved out wide exemptions for poor cities andcounties around the state, Eatonville and Opa-locka don't qualify. Andadding to the drama is this: These two towns have storied histories asenclaves of African-Americans.

Lawmakers have told these cities and a few others that they will look outfor them. Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster, a chief negotiators onproperty tax plans, said lawmakers are committed to these cities, especiallygiven their historic significance.

"We have been talking all along about doing something for the historic blackcities like Opa-locka and Eatonville, " he said. "It's going to happen."


The Miami Tribune

Posted on Sat, Apr. 28, 2007
Paper ballot system appears likely

Florida is on the verge of doing away with touch-screen voting in favor ofpaper ballots, after the state Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday to pay foroptical-scan machines and House leaders said they were optimistic they willagree next week.

The change would be in place for the 2008 elections in all 15 counties thatuse ATM-style machines -- including Miami-Dade and Broward -- for all votersexcept the disabled, who would still use touch-screen machines until 2012.

The move to voting machines that produce a paper trail is a priority forGov. Charlie Crist. The House has been reluctant to approve paying the $28million cost but is getting some powerful incentive from the Senate: Thebill also calls for Florida to make its '08 presidential primary one of theearliest in the nation, on Jan. 29 -- one of the top items on House SpeakerMarco Rubio's wish list this year.

The 73-page bill, which passed the Senate by a 37-2 vote, includes severalcontroversial provisions: Election-law violations would be harder toprosecute, third-party groups that register voters would be subject tofines, and groups pushing constitutional amendments would face additionalhurdles.

But those backing the bill say moving Florida to a paper-ballot system wasmore important than anything else in the legislation.


Stonewall Book Club visits "La-La Land" (May 17)

The Stonewall Library and Archives' GLBT Book Club will hold its nextmeeting at the Stonewall Library on Thursday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. BookClub moderator Jesse Monteagudo ("The Book Nook") will lead a livelydiscussion of "Going Down in La-La Land," Andy Zeffer's funny, sexyHollywood novel that is also a finalist for this year's Lambda LiteraryAward in the category of Gay Romance. The Stonewall Library and Archives islocated at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida, 1717 NorthAndrews Avenue, in Fort Lauderdale. For more information phone (954)763-8565


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