Thursday, May 17, 2007


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Forwarded from Nadine Smith - Equality Florida

Contact: Damien Filer

Fairness for All Families Coalition Growing

Prominent Florida Leaders, Organizations Join Campaign to Oppose So-called'Marriage Amendment'

St. Petersburg, FL - A diverse group of Florida leaders have joined Fairnessfor All Families - the campaign to oppose a constitutional amendment slatedfor the 2008 ballot that could strip away employee benefits while barringthe passage of future measures to help Florida families.

New members of the campaign's honorary board of directors include:

U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Department of ElderAffairs Secretary Bentley Lipscomb and Florida NAACP President Adora ObiNweze.

These prominent Floridians will help guide a growing group of leaders thatincludes Florida Alliance for Retired Americans Secretary Barbara A. DeVane,Civic Concern Executive Director Pamela Burch Fort, Managing Director andCreative Director of Parsons-Wilson Gregory Wilson, Florida Consumer ActionNetwork Executive Director Bill Newton, National NAACP board member LeonRussell, ACLU of Florida LGBT Advocacy Project Director Robert F. Rosenwald,Jr. and Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith.

"This measure could jeopardize health care and other employment benefitsthat many seniors and their families rely upon across the state," saidLipscomb.

In addition to broadening its leadership base, the campaign has recentlybeen endorsed by the Florida branches and affiliates of leading nationalcivil rights organizations such as the ACLU, NAACP and Florida NOW. Theseorganizations join a diverse and growing coalition of seniors, businessleaders, consumer groups and social justice organizations working togetherto oppose the effort to take away benefits and enshrine discrimination inFlorida's constitution.

"Everyone should stand against this attempt to make discrimination part ofour state constitution," said Nweze. "Why strip away health and partnershipbenefits already provided by many local governments and companies across thestate?" she asked.

More than 8,000 public and private employers nationwide - including almosthalf of the Fortune 500 companies - offer health care benefits to employee'sdomestic partners or spouses.

"This amendment threatens the legal protections and benefits of familiesacross Florida," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "I am honored to work withthe campaign to ensure this attack on Florida families doesn't become partof our constitution."


Forwarded from Director,
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty,

New Fla Lethal Injection Procedures

The new Florida Lethal Injection Procedures and DOC Report were releasedtoday. FADP will soon have a copy up on our website.

There is no change to the chemical cocktail, even after the Governor'sCommission recommended a consideration to change chemicals and the recent Uof Miami Medical School report that raised more disturbing questions aboutthe chemicals currently used. Like so many other states, Florida is simplyvalidating their LI chemicals and procedures based on what other states aredoing.

The addition of a Narrator to the Florida execution process is a new twist Ihave not heard of, until now. The Narrator is to explain to witnesses whatthey are seeing. If it was not already presented as a theatrical event, itis now. It is so surreal and unnatural. Perhaps a Rod Serling voice wouldbe best suited for the narrator.

In the event of a problem, the curtains will be closed to the soundproofDeath Chamber. This is to "relieve any apprehension that might arise withwitnesses otherwise unfamiliar with the process." The botched execution ofAngel Diaz contrasted the testimony of experienced Death Chamber stafferswho "saw nothing wrong" with witnesses who reported visual evidence ofalarming problems. Now, witnesses will be TOLD what they are selectivelyseeing. Why bother to call them "witnesses"? As before, no family membersof the prisoner are allowed in the viewing area.

The new, improved procedure attempts to create "a buffer for qualifiedhealth care professionals to participate only to the extent that theirconsultation is needed to resolve a venous or other technical issues withoutactually participating in the execution itself." The procedures are written"validating the limited involvement of the medical community to purelymedical issues that are an aside to the actual process."

The procedures attempt to further obfuscate the roles of medicalprofessionals by only mentioning "physicians" only once, as responsible forpronouncing death. Otherwise, all participants, except the warden arereferred to as the "execution team" with a reference to a "technical team"mixing drugs and starting IV's.

There is no significant change in the execution chamber actions requested ofmedical professionals by the state of Florida. Doctors and other medicalpractitioners are still being asked to participate. It is up to physicians,the AMA and the Florida Board of Medicine to stop this unethical practice.

"A member of the execution team will assess whether the inmate isunconscious. The warden must determine, after consultation, that the inmateis indeed unconscious." What depth of anesthesia is "indeed unconscious"?
How will it be determined? Which execution team member? What are theirqualifications?

As for the possibility of another botched execution, the words of HarrySingletary, Governor's Commission panelist and former head of DOC, may beprescient: "We know for sure that this is going to happen again."

According to James McDonough, current head of DOC, executions could begin inthe next 14 days. There are 20 Florida prisoners now eligible for DeathWarrants and another 7 more soon. 4 are volunteers.

ACLU of Fla, AIUSA Fla, FADP, Florida Pax Christi, Fla Coalition for Peaceand Justice, FDRAG, GCADP, TCADP are among those participating in agrassroots campaign to contact Gov. Charlie Crist and ask him not to signany new Death Warrants.

Please see TAKE ACTION on the website.

Now is the time to increase and expand this effort ASAP. Write ANOTHERletter. Send ANOTHER email. Forward the TAKE ACTION Alert to as manypeople as possible.

Gov. Charlie Crist
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399

PHONE: 850-488-7146
FAX: 850-487-0801



May 9, 2007 By Gary Fineout

The head of Florida's prison system said Wednesday that the state will soonbe ready to resume executions of Death Row inmates, nearly six months afterthe botched execution of Angel Diaz led then-Gov. Jeb Bush to halt them.

Department of Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough said he has implementedthree dozen changes to the way the state administers lethal injections thatwere recommended by a special panel assembled by Bush. The state couldresume executions within 14 days if Gov. Charlie Crist decides to give theorder.

''We will be prepared to proceed with executions if it is determined thatexecutions should proceed,'' McDonough said.

Last December it took 34 minutes and two doses of lethal drugs to kill Diaz,who was convicted of killing the manager of a Miami topless club. During thelong execution at Florida State Prison in Starke, Diaz squinted his eyes,flexed his jaw, moved his mouth and grimaced. Unlike in mostlethal-injection executions, he kept moving well into the process.

During an investigation into the lengthy execution, several doctors said itappeared that the executioners did not properly insert the needle used fordrugs into Diaz's veins and that the drugs went into his flesh instead.

Among the changes that McDonough has ordered: enlarging the actual size ofthe room used to execute inmates, establishing two teams to deal with theinmate and carry out the execution, installing closed circuit cameras andplacing a clock in place so that is visible by everyone in the witness roomand in the execution chamber.

Mark Elliott
Director, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty,
2840 W. Bay Drive, #118
Belleair Bluffs, FL 33770
(727) 215-9646


Lavender Writes is hosting five literary events in the months of May and
June. All events are free and open to the public.

Thursday, May 17: 7pm
Gay and Lesbian Literary Program Series: A Interactive Discussion
Contemporary Gay and Lesbian Literature: Stonewall to Current Day
Broward County Main Library
100 S. Andrews Ave

Saturday, May 19
Open Mic
Cafe Opening at 2 p.m.--Open Mic at 3 p.m.
Borders Book and Music
2240 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Writers sign up in advance at:

Wednesdays, starting May 23
Open to all students, including new and established writers
Classes meet online on a weekly basis
Attendance is limited to keep class size small
Register at

Thursday, June 14: 7pm
Gay and Lesbian Literary Program Series: A Interactive Discussion
Where the Gay and Lesbian Literature Movement Is Headed
Broward County Main Library
100 S. Andrews Ave

Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m.
Gay Pride Open Mic
Borders Book and Music
2240 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Writers sign up in advance at:

Lavender Writes, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, providesservice and support to lesbian and gay writers by sponsoring writingworkshops, developing public forums for writers to present their work andoffering assistance with publication. Co-sponsors for these events includeBroward County Libraries Division, Borders Books and Music, the BrowardCultural Council and the Stonewall Library and Archives.

The writing workshops and open mics are part of The Next Generation, ayear-long series of free fiction writing workshops and public readings forgay and lesbian writers. This program is a collaborative project of LavenderWrites, the Broward County Libraries Division, Borders Books and Music andauthor Karen Dale Wolman. Funding for this program is provided in part bythe Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by theBroward Cultural Council. Non-gay writers and readers are also welcome toparticipate.

The Gay and Lesbian Literary Program Series is co-sponsored by LavenderWrites, the Broward County Libraries Division and the Stonewall Library andArchives.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, May. 16, 2007
Early primary date creates minefield for Democrats

Florida Democrats face another vote-counting quandary they can blame onRepublicans: whether to stage their first presidential caucus in modernhistory.

The caucus could lure primary candidates to the state and nurture Democraticgrass-roots organizations and fundraising. But staging an alternativecontest to the traditional primary could cost the party millions of dollarsas well as its credibility, after years of vowing to make every vote count.

The Democratic dilemma was triggered by the GOP-led Legislature's decisionto make the presidential primary one of the earliest in the country on Jan.29. The move defied national party rules governing the primary calendar.Scofflaw states lose half of their delegates to the nominating conventions.

It gets worse for Democratic presidential candidates, who can't earn asingle delegate in rule-breaking states, even if they win the most votes.


St. Petersburg Times

Stanton uses status to lobby
Doors open more easily for Susan thanks to her celebrity.
Published May 16, 2007

WASHINGTON -- As Largo's city manager for 14 years, Steve Stanton workedwith Rep. C.W. Bill Young's office, but never met the long-term Floridacongressman face to face.

But Tuesday, as a fired transgender official, Susan Stanton, chatted withYoung in his Capitol office for almost an hour.

"As a city manager, I had no status," said Stanton, 48, who spent the day asa woman, a couple of weeks before she plans to make her transition fulltime. "I probably have more status now than I had before."

Nearly two months after being fired as Largo's city manager after announcingplans to become a woman, Stanton was one of about 120 people from 30 stateswho lobbied Congress on behalf of a pair of proposed laws: One that wouldprotect gay and transgender people from employment discrimination; the otherwould expand federal hate crimes legislation to cover gay and transgenderpeople who are victims of violence.

Stanton said she wasn't looking for a commitment to support the legislationon the spot. "Some people are receptive to the message. Others are in thewait and see mode," she said. "I ask them to reach out and educatethemselves."


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, May. 16, 2007
Final deal on property tax cuts gets closer

From new homeowners and buyers to poor seniors and business owners, manyFlorida taxpayers would get a break under a revamped plan by Democrats inthe House of Representatives that seeks to trim nearly $4 billion from nextyear's tax rolls.

The plan creates a system of so-called ''super'' tax exemptions to giverelief to those who need it most, but it excludes one taxpayer group:longtime homeowners who have no plans to move and have seen their tax billsfreeze -- or even drop -- because of the state's tax cap.

House Democrats first proposed the idea during the regular lawmakingsession, only to see it go nowhere until Republican House Speaker MarcoRubio recently embraced a version of it in preparation for a June specialsession on taxes.

Under the Democrats' plan, homeowners who benefit from the Save Our Homestax cap wouldn't lose their exemption. New homeowners who haven't saved muchunder the Save Our Homes cap would see a maximum savings of $2,325 inBroward County, $2,143 in Monroe and $2,288 in Miami-Dade.

''It delivers tax relief to people who need it the most. It's fairer thanSave Our Homes and gives Floridians a better deal than they currentlyhave,'' said House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat.``Nobody can deny there's a tax crisis. This is the most efficient use oftax dollars to relieve the crisis.''


The Sun-Sentinel,0,6054854.story?track=rss

Broward may cut services and jobs if property taxes slashed
By Scott Wyman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

May 16, 2007, 9:29 AM EDT

Broward County officials may cut park hours, increase bus fares, add fewernew library books and stop subsidizing a childcare program that serveshundreds of families in the wake of demands they lower property taxes.

The proposed cuts unveiled Tuesday would shrink county government by 10percent and result in eliminating 428 of its 7,100 jobs. The tax savingswould top $50 million, potentially shaving more than $100 from the averagehomeowner's tax bill.

Still, the plan would ensure only that the county not cash in on risingproperty values. Officials would have to find more cuts to make in nextyear's budget depending on the outcome of next month's special session ofthe Legislature. State legislators are considering forcing local governmentsto return to tax levels set earlier in Florida's real estate boom.

"We heard it loud and clear that the taxpayers of Broward County want somereduction, and we are preparing a budget that would grant that tax relief topeople," Mayor Josephus Eggelletion said during a County Commission meetingTuesday.

Skyrocketing real estate prices have caused county property taxes to soarfrom less than $550 million in 2001 to almost $900 million this year. Statelegislators took up tax reform as one of their main issues this spring, butdid not reach agreement on what to do before their regular session endedthis at the start of the month.


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