Friday, October 19, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST October 18, 2007

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Fort Lauderdale: Appeal court sides with Las Olas condo builders
October 18, 2007

The would-be developers of the proposed Palazzo Las Olas condo complex atFort Lauderdale beach won a victory in court Wednesday, when an appealscourt ruled to restore most of their lawsuit against the city.

In an eight-page ruling, the Fourth District Circuit Court of Appeal foundthat the Palazzo Las Olas Group LLC's lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale, thecity's Community Redevelopment Agency and four city-elected officials shouldnot have been thrown out by Broward Circuit Judge Victor Tobin.

The ruling paves the way for the developers to return to Broward court tochallenge the city's denial of the mixed-use project.

The City Commission rejected the Palazzo site plan in 2003, and thedeveloper filed a court appeal of that decision and lost.

At the same time, though, the developer filed a 12-count civil lawsuitalleging unfair dealing on the part of the city.

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Ribbon-cutting at Fort Lauderdale library marks controversial move of gayarchives

By Elizabeth Baier
October 18, 2007

Fort Lauderdale

After months of controversy over its content and a proposed move, theStonewall Library and Archives will hold a ceremony today to celebrate itsplanned relocation to a Fort Lauderdale branch of the Broward CountyLibrary.

The collection drew little attention until July, when Fort Lauderdale MayorJim Naugle objected to the library and some of its materials moving into acity-owned building. He argued the collection contains some hard-corepornography and fought library plans to move to a 4,200-square-foot space atthe ArtServe library in Holiday Park.

Naugle lost the debate, and city commissioners in July approved the move tothe Sunrise Boulevard building.

At a news conference Wednesday, Stonewall's Executive Director Jack Rutlandsaid he does "not want to resurrect controversy . but to simply get ourtruth out."

"Even people who are members here, volunteers, even some of our boardmembers, even they're confused, so I'm sure our broader public are confusedabout what we really are and what we do," he said.

The Stonewall collection includes about 18,000 titles and 7,000 historicalarchives, including items that chronicle the history of the gay movement,national magazines and biographies on famed gay writers such as TennesseeWilliams, said Nate Klarfeld, president of the library's board of directors.

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Dania OKs diversity resolution with eye toward gay community

By Thomas Monnay
October 18, 2007


The city is hoping to take advantage of anti-gay remarks by Fort LauderdaleMayor Jim Naugle to attract tourists and new residents.

Leading the effort is gay activist Joe Van Eron, founder and president ofthe Dania Beach Tourism Council, who recently persuaded commissioners topass a resolution stating Dania Beach "prides itself on being a communitythat is inclusive and welcoming, rather than divisive."

While Broward County, Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors already have taken asimilar position, Van Eron said Dania Beach couldn't remain silent becauseit has been a steady destination for gay travelers and up to 20 percent ofthe city's residents are homosexual.

Roger Handevidt, chairman of the Rainbow Alliance, which represents a groupof gay-owned and gay-friendly hotels in the county, called the city'sresolution "a very enlightened move."

While it may not necessarily sway visitors to make Dania Beach their primarydestination, Handevidt said, "what it will do is that there won't be a redflag saying: We don't want you."

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New tax plan promises deep cuts for S. Fla.

By Josh Hafenbrack and Linda Kleindienst
Tallahassee Bureau
October 18, 2007


With a property-tax deal nowhere in sight, House Democrats floated a new
plan Wednesday they said would provide deeper discounts for South Floridahomeowners as a special meeting of the Legislature threatened to drag intonext week.

Meeting in their fourth special session this year, legislators are trying tostitch together a compromise on how to cut local property taxes, after aprearranged deal between the House, Senate and Gov. Charlie Crist unraveled.Some legislators began comparing the chaos surrounding their $40,000-a-daysession to a fraternity toga party.

They face a looming Oct. 29 deadline to get something on the Jan. 29
statewide ballot.

To try to break the logjam, House Democratic leaders unveiled a proposal togive permanent Florida residents a tax exemption equal to 40 percent of acounty's median home value, which they said would deliver relief to thosewho need it most.

In Broward and Palm Beach counties, high real estate prices would generatesome of the state's biggest savings under this approach: an averageexemption of $100,000-plus, on top of the $25,000 homestead exemption that'sbeen on the books for decades.

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From Karen Doering, Esq.
Senior Counsel
NCLR Southern Regional Office

St. Petersburg, Florida

I wanted to alert you to an important opportunity to have our voices heard.

On Monday, October 22nd, the Florida State Senate Committee on Children,Families, and Elder Affairs will hold a public hearing in Tampa to discussfoster care and adoption issues. The forum will allow community members toraise any issues related to foster care or adoption. It is vital that ourcommunity have a strong presence at this hearing to push for a committeehearing on our adoption bill (SB-200), which will allow lesbian and gayparents to adopt in certain circumstances.

This will be the first-and possibly only-opportunity that the CentralFlorida community will have to convince the committee to give SB-200 thehearing it deserves. This committee is headed by former HillsboroughCommissioner Ronda Storms.

We need families of all shapes and sizes to come and share their stories
about how this ban hurts our families and prevents children from findingpermanent, loving homes.

Monday, October 22, 2007
6:30 - 9:00 pm (Arrive at 5:30 pm to sign up to speak)

Hillsborough Community College
At the intersection of Dale Mabry and Tampa Bay Blvd.,Tampa
Student Services Building, Building #113, 1st Floor

WHAT you can do:
Come to the hearing. Tell legislators how this ban has affected your family.Even if ou do not want to speak, it is important that we turn out in largenumbers to show ow many people care about this issue. If you are not ableto come to the Tampa earing, there will be a hearing in Tallahassee inNovember and a hearing in Miami in December.

Join the Faces of Florida's Families Campaign by sharing your family's storyand photos at will be compiled and sent to legislators who have the power to hear ourbill.

If you are able to attend the Tampa hearing, please RSVP here. While it isnot necessary to RSVP, it will help with our planning for the event.If you are unable to attend the Tampa hearing, please stay tuned for theother hearings occurring across the state:

October 22-Tampa
November 5-Tallahassee
December 3-Miami
Thank you for joining us in our work to protect Florida's LGBT families.
In solidarity,


Forwarded from Michael Rajner

Yesterday I learned the sad news that Broward Commissioner Ken Keechl's
father passed away.

Should you wish, please feel free to send a personal card of

Commissioner Ken Keechl
Broward County Governmental Center
115 South Andrews Avenue - Room 412
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301


St. Petersburg Times

Federal prosecutors meet with activist on boot-camp verdict

Associated Press Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Federal authorities reached a temporary truceWednesday with college students threatening a march on the Capitol next weekto protest the acquittal of seven boot camp guards and a nurse in the deathof a teenage boy under their supervision.

Justice Department officials assured protest organizers that they werecontinuing their investigation into possible civil rights violations by theguards and nurse.

"It was a very productive meeting," said Cendino Teme, spokesman for acoalition of students from Florida State University, Florida A&M Universityand Tallahassee Community College. "I am confident in the individuals wespoke with. That they will try to pursue some types of civil rightsviolations."

Students from the three schools briefly blocked traffic during rush hourFriday in downtown Tallahassee, a few hours after the all-white jury inPanama City delivered its verdict.

Teme, a 26-year-old Florida State graduate student from Miami, said it wastoo early to plan further protests.

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Southwest Florida's News-Press

Fla. Democrats: Property-tax plan no good

By Jim Ash Tallahassee Bureau
Originally posted on October 17, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - House Democrats said that they will deny Republican leadersthe two-thirds vote needed today to put an ever-growing package of propertytax relief on the Jan. 29 ballot.

Consensus between Gov. Charlie Crist, Republican leaders and Democrats overan $11 billion proposal began to unravel Monday when figures were releasedthat showed the education budget could take as much as a $2 billion hit overfour years.

The Senate softened a proposal to eliminate property taxes for low-incomeseniors, a move they estimated would cut the four-year loss for schools to$1 billion.

But the House yesterday added a sweeping new proposal that would extend the3-percent annual assessment cap of Save Our Homes to all property, with thesupport of some Democrats.

However, Democratic critics demanded to see the numbers on the potentialfinancial impact and House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beachwarned House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, that a vote today would bepremature.

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Democrats hope to pick up seat in southwest Broward

Party unites behind single candidate
By Anthony Man
Political Writer

October 18, 2007

Democrats have united behind a single candidate in a special election for aFlorida House seat that takes in part of southwest Broward, and they'rehoping she gives them a shot at victory in a Republican-dominated district.

The candidate is Linda McDonald, a school teacher from Naples.

Four Republicans are vying for their party's nomination in an Oct. 30primary. McDonald became the sole Democratic candidate in the Nov. 20general election when Samuel Lopez said he's dropping out.

Speaking to the Broward Democratic Party this week, she articulatedpositions that appeal to the party's base - and a background that could helpher appeal to some people who aren't as motivated by typical Democraticstands.

McDonald, 60, is an ordained elder and deacon in the Presbyterian Church USAand teaches Sunday school. She describes herself as someone who "believe[s]in the sanctity of all human life, and I am pro-choice, because I believeevery woman should have the right to make her own choice."

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St. Petersburg Times

No real progress on tax plan

The Senate passes a proposal, but nobody's really happy about it.
October 18, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Senate passed a property tax cut package Wednesdaythat disappointed both Republicans and Democrats and rejected provisions theHouse wants that greatly expand the savings.

The Senate's action and a suddenly dormant House set up what could be brutalnegotiations between the chambers to find common ground or a new plan.

After a day of tense debate, the Senate plan got two more votes than the 24,or three-fifths, it needed to get on a statewide ballot.

"This bill is seriously flawed, it is a bad product, and it is, in myopinion, seriously on life support," said Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla,R-Miami.

Earlier in the day, the Senate debated but overwhelmingly rejected a Houseplan to cap annual assessments on commercial property and second homes at 3percent. The Senate did not even take up an equally controversial Housemeasure to increase the statewide sales tax from 6 to 7 percent to cutproperty taxes for schools in half.

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Los Angeles Times,0,863619.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Equal rights for the bilious, choleric, melancholic and sanguine!

Why there's no such thing as a non-discriminatory anti-discrimination law.
By Michael McGough

October 18, 2007

Can a law prohibiting job discrimination itself be discriminatory? That'sthe charge being leveled against a compromise version of the EmploymentNon-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, a bill in Congress that would add sexualorientation - but not gender identity - to the list of protected categories.Activists object that the compromise version of the bill, whichcongressional Democrats came up with under pressure from opponents oftransgender rights, is itself discriminatory. But it's an indictment thatcan be leveled against any civil-rights bill.

Let's begin with ENDA. Fearing that the House wouldn't vote for the bill ifit included protection for transgendered people, Rep. Barney Frank(D-Mass.), after consulting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco),shunted the ban on gender-identity discrimination to a separate bill.Outrage ensued. In The Times' Op-Ed page last week, Christine Daniels arguedthat Frank and Pelosi had committed the legislative equivalent of the "lowbridge," a basketball foul in which an opponent takes out a player's legs ashe or she leaps for a rebound, pass or jump shot.

But whether or not ENDA is re-revised to outlaw discrimination on the basisof gender identity, the bill will end up discriminating against some group.All anti-discrimination laws do, in the sense that they target some but notall of the characteristics that might lead a bigoted employer to fire - orrefuse to hire - a qualified individual.

Firing, or not hiring, an employee because she is African American or Mormonor a woman exposes the employer to the full force of Title VII of the 1964Civil Rights Act, which prohibits job discrimination on the basis of race,color, religion, sex or national origin. Firing an employee because he isover 40 triggers liability under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of1967. Discriminating against a handicapped employee invites legal actionunder the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Firing, or not hiring, someone because he is overweight, ugly, a "Star Wars"fanatic or a graduate of a non-Ivy League college is not illegal. Yet I haveno doubt that members of these groups are the victims of at least occasionaldiscrimination. If the Constitution guarantees equality under the law, whyisn't it unconstitutional for government to punish some acts of invidiousdiscrimination but not others?

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Veep's Wife Says Hubby and Obama Related

Associated Press Writer
1:59 PM EDT, October 17, 2007


Though they may spar across the political aisle, Vice President Dick Cheneyis close enough to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama to call him"cousin."

Very distant cousin, that is.

Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, spoke about this tantalizing bit ofpolitical trivia during a television interview Tuesday.

She said she uncovered the long-ago ties between the two while researchingher ancestry for her latest book, "Blue Skies, No Fences," a memoir aboutgrowing up in Wyoming.

"This is such an amazing American story that one ancestor ... could beresponsible down the family lines for lives that have taken such differentand varied paths as Dick's and Barack Obama," Lynne Cheney told MSNBC.

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