Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST October 17, 2007

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Mass. congressman takes sides in Broward race
Posted on Wed, Oct. 17, 2007

Members of Congress from outside Florida rarely get involved in the state'slegislative races.

But in the contest to replace term-limited Democratic Rep. Jack Seiler,whose eastern Broward district includes the heavily gay community of WiltonManors, one of the nation's best-known gay politicians has taken sides.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts has endorsed Oakland Park accountantMark LaFontaine, who, if elected, would be the first openly gay member ofthe Florida Legislature. LaFontaine's rivals include Wilton ManorsCommissioner Gary Resnick, who is also gay, Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newtonand former Deerfield Beach Commissioner Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed.


Craig Says He Was Entrapped in Sex Sting

Associated Press Writer
4:31 AM EDT, October 17, 2007


Idaho Sen. Larry Craig said he was entrapped in a sex sting at an airportmen's room and was not aware of the bathroom's reputation as a spot tocruise for gay sex. "Well, I certainly am now," Craig told NBC's Matt Lauerin an interview aired Tuesday night.

"Were you prior?" Lauer asked.

"Not at all," Craig responded. "I go to bathrooms to use bathrooms."

Craig said it was a "tough call" when he decided not to tell his wife orchildren about the arrest.

"I didn't want to embarrass my wife, my kids, Idaho and my friends," Craigsaid. "I should have told my wife. I should have told my kids. And mostimportantly, I should have told counsel."

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The Miami Herald

Clinton leads in Florida fundraising

Posted on Wed, Oct. 17, 2007

Democratic presidential contenders continue to outraise Republicancandidates in Florida, despite a meltdown over the state's Democraticprimary and the entry of a heavyweight GOP candidate.

The national Democratic Party has decreed that Democratic votes in the Jan.29 primary will not count at the nominating convention, and all of the majorcandidates have sworn off campaigning in the state. The reason: Floridadefied party rules when it leapfrogged over dozens of states and scheduledone of the nation's earliest primaries.

The backlash has not stopped donors from giving to the Democraticcontenders, especially to front-runner Hillary Clinton, who led the packwith more than $1.4 million raised in the state in the past three months.Democratic candidates have raised about $2.4 million more than theirRepublican rivals since January, reflecting a national trend blamed on anunpopular incumbent.

''American people want change,'' said Florida Democratic Party spokesmanMark Bubriski. ``The Republican candidates seem to think that the currentadministration has done everything right, from their vote against children'shealth insurance to the war in Iraq.''

The Democratic boycott of Florida did not begin until late September, soend-of-the-year fundraising will more accurately test donors' resolve. Bothstate parties will hold their annual convention in Orlando this month, butonly the GOP event will be surrounded by a flurry of candidate fundraisers.

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St. Petersburg Times

Crist defends decision to hang religious symbol on office door

Associated Press Writer
Oct 16, 5:11 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Eager to embrace all constituencies, Gov. CharlieCrist now has a boxed Jewish scroll on his office door at the Capitol.

The mezuzah, a portion of sacred Jewish parchment contained inside a case,was placed on the door by the governor last week with assistance from RabbiSchneur Oirechman, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Panhandle. Themezuzah was a gift from state Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, during atrade mission to Israel earlier this year.

According to Jewish custom, it is believed every mezuzah that is displayedadds to the divine protection of the people of the house.

Crist's decision to put the mezuzah in his office, that he often describesas "the people's house" has drawn criticism from civil liberties groups.

The mezuzah contains the text of two prayers the Shema and Veahavta writtenon a parchment scroll and attached to the threshold of a room, building orhome as a blessing. The word is Hebrew for "doorpost."

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Quick deal on tax relief eludes legislators

Leaders split on how to ease burden

By Linda Kleindienst and Josh Hafenbrack
Tallahassee Bureau
October 17, 2007


Hopes of reaching quick agreement on property tax relief dimmed Tuesday asthe House and Senate drifted further apart on how to ease the tax burden onFloridians.

Legislative leaders had hoped their special session, the fourth this year,might end as early as today with both chambers formally approving a taxcompromise they cobbled together last week so that Gov. Charlie Crist couldsend it to voters in January.

A quick resolution, however, may now be beyond their grasp.

The chambers agree on doubling the $25,000 homestead exemption, giving abreak to first-time home buyers and letting permanent Florida residents taketheir Save Our Homes tax break with them when they move.

But the House on Tuesday, citing the need to deliver across-the-boardproperty tax relief, was eager to pile on more cuts, including a committee'svote to eliminate half of the state's school property taxes in exchange fora penny increase in the state's 6 percent sales tax.

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Florida donors steer cash to Clinton, Obama, Giuliani

By William E. Gibson
Washington Bureau Chief
October 17, 2007


South Florida keeps giving and giving, even when the candidates stay away.

Despite the refusal of Democratic presidential candidates to appear inFlorida, the state's wealthy enclaves continue to pour money into theircampaign coffers, especially those of party front-runners Hillary RodhamClinton and Barack Obama.

Data from the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, broken down by ZIPcode, indicate that Clinton has consolidated her front-runner status inSouth Florida by collecting more than twice the amount received by Obamaover the past three months.

Among Republicans, Rudy Giuliani led the money chase statewide in Florida,though his contributions plunged from $1.7 million in the second quarter ofthe year to $960,210 in the third quarter. His strongest financial supportin South Florida over the past three months came from Jupiter, followed bySouth Miami.

Republican Mitt Romney, who raised $724,988 statewide, got his best resultin South Florida from neighborhoods in North Palm Beach and Juno Beach.

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Bonita Daily News

Mack backs Romney's presidential run

Former Mass. Gov. coming to Southwest Florida on Oct. 27
Originally published - 12:01 a.m., October 17, 2007
Updated - 7:37 a.m., October 17, 2007

Mack is for Mitt.

Congressman Connie Mack announced this morning that he is endorsing formerMassachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.

Mack, sent to Washington to represent Southwest Florida in 2004, will alsochair Romney's statewide steering committee. Mack said he met and talkedwith all the leading GOP candidates before choosing Romney.

"Most people jumped on a bandwagon before now," he said. "I took time tolearn about each one and talk to each one."

Mack, son of the former U.S. Senator and great-grandson of the Hall of Famebaseball manager, said Romney is best able to instill the core conservativebeliefs he preaches.

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The Miami Herald

Tests begin on Broward's new vote machines

Posted on Wed, Oct. 17, 2007

If it were anywhere else but Florida, the testing of new voting machinestucked in a nondescript Lauderhill warehouse on a Tuesday morning wouldprobably go unnoticed.

But in a state nicknamed ''Flori-duh'' -- after the messy 2000 electioninvolving pregnant chads and butterfly ballots -- every turn of everyelection is scrutinized. The setting at Broward's Voter Equipment Center onTuesday almost mimicked a crime scene, except instead of examining a deadbody, the handful of journalists and voting rights advocates peering behinda barrier were watching voting machines.

Testing began Tuesday on the 942 paper-ballot machines that will be usedstarting next August in Broward County. It will take about two weeks to testthe machines approved by the state Legislature earlier this year to replacetouch-screen voting machines.

About one dozen counties in Florida have or are in the process of buying newelection equipment from Election Systems & Software at a cost of $28million.

On Tuesday, officials from the voting equipment company and the countyhuddled over the machines, pushing buttons, and feeding dozens of ballotsthrough the equipment, checking off boxes on a piece of paper, to the soundof electronic beeps.

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Ft. Lauderdale


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Ft. Lauderdale

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The Miami Herald

Mass. congressman takes sides in Broward race
Posted on Wed, Oct. 17, 2007

Members of Congress from outside Florida rarely get involved in thestate's legislative races.

But in the contest to replace term-limited Democratic Rep. JackSeiler, whose eastern Broward district includes the heavily gay community ofWilton Manors, one of the nation's best-known gay politicians has takensides.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts has endorsed Oakland Parkaccountant Mark LaFontaine, who, if elected, would be the first openly gaymember of the Florida Legislature. LaFontaine's rivals include Wilton ManorsCommissioner Gary Resnick, who is also gay, Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newtonand former Deerfield Beach Commissioner Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed.


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