Thursday, November 01, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST November 1, 2007

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Hollywood: City expected to announce interim police chief today
November 1, 2007

Hollywood officials plan to announce who will be the city's interim policechief during a news conference scheduled for 11 a.m. today in City Hall.

Speculation about who will be the interim police chief has been circulatingsince Police Chief Jim Scarberry announced his plan to retire earlier thismonth.

The city's two assistant chiefs, Louis Granteed, 43, and Chad Wagner, 47,have indicated they want the job. Another name being widely mentioned isAssistant City Manager Richard Lemack, a former assistant police chief.

Last month, Lemack, 49, was vying for the post of Broward Sheriff, which wasvacated by Ken Jenne. Gov. Charlie Crist named Al Lamberti to that positionlast week.

City officials have not said whether they will do a national search forScarberry's permanent replacement.


Appeals court revives dispute about condo planned near Stranahan House

By Lisa J. Huriash
November 1, 2007

The debate over what's to become of the Hyde Park Market site beside FortLauderdale's historical Stranahan House, which seemed close to resolution amonth ago, was revived by a state appeals court Wednesday.

The 4th District Court of Appeal said a lower court was wrong to dismiss alegal challenge to a condo project slated to go there. The court neverconsidered, as it must, whether the 42-story Icon Las Olas complies with thecity's development plans, the three-judge panel ruled.

Now, attorneys for the Icon developer and for Stranahan House are headedback to court for what Stranahan lawyer Williams Scherer said will be theseventh time. A group called Friends of the Park at Stranahan House has beenpushing for a public park, instead of a condo, at the site.

"We're going to show the Stranahan House is a historic structure, that ithad historic designation since 1976, and you can't build a 42-storybuilding - the biggest building in town - within 10 feet of the mosthistorical structure in the city," Scherer said. "The war ain't over yet."

Wednesday's ruling came as a subcommittee of the National Parks, Forest andPublic Lands considered whether to designate Stranahan House, thecentury-old home of city pioneers Frank and Ivy Stranahan, a federal park ormonument. Don Hall, an attorney for the Icon developer, said the proceduralissue that bothered the appellate court can easily be cleared up and hisclients expect to prevail.

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Gawkers, surfers drawn to beach as big seas roll in

By Elizabeth Baier
November 1, 2007

Gusty winds drew people from thoughout Broward County to coastal citiesWednesday, including intrepid surfers hoping to catch some waves and curioustourists snapping pictures near the rolling sea.

Bursts of sand blasted cyclists and joggers, including John and EstherDodero, who drove from their home in Weston to Fort Lauderdale's beach inthe morning to catch a glimpse of waves and the sand blanketing parts ofState Road A1A before going running.

"We're from California and have never really seen any waves since we've beenhere in Florida," said John Dodero, 44. "It's pretty disorganized stormsurf, but it's nice to see something other than just a flat ocean out here."

"The waves, they're beautiful," Esther Dodero, 46, said.

Powerful gusts spinning from the high-pressure system also forced boaters,construction workers and other outdoor workers to scale back theiractivities.

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Longtime homeowners are big winners in new tax plan

By Josh Hafenbrack
Tallahassee Bureau
November 1, 2007


They're calling it tax reform, but a plan adopted this week by theLegislature still divides Floridians into two separate, and unequal, groupswhen it comes to taxation. In fact, it would perpetuate that division.

Longtime homeowners, who already enjoy lower tax bills, would get an evenbigger break and something many have long coveted: the ability to transferfrom home to home the savings they accrue over the years from the Save OurHomes tax cap.

The other category of property owners - recent home buyers, snowbirds andbusinesses - would get little or no immediate relief, and will carry anever-growing share of the tax burden.

"The homesteaders, the Save Our Homes crowd, don't realize how much weinsulated them from all the higher taxes," said Kevin Mahoney, a winter-onlyresident who pays $5,400 a year in taxes on a small condo in North PalmBeach, and lives the rest of the year in the Chicago suburbs.

Most legislators had wanted to jettison, or at least modify, Save Our Homes,the root cause of the inequities. The 1992 amendment to Florida'sconstitution caps increases in taxable value of permanent residents' homesat 3 percent a year, shielding them from the hefty tax increases that havehit everyone else.

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Property tax relief ready, but middle class might vote with feet

Michael Mayo
News Columnist
November 1, 2007

Which Scion would transition between rush-hour weekdays to lazy weekends?

Rick Thompson is the kind of voter who should love the property tax planhatched by the Legislature this week. He's getting married in six months,wants to start a family and move to a bigger home. But he's not feeling muchlove today, because unlike the politicians in Tallahassee, he sees thebigger picture.

"I don't really see this as a way to keep the middle class coming here or toallow the middle class to stay here," Thompson, 43, of Deerfield Beach,said. "What's this going to do for the future of Florida?"

He knows the new tax proposal will mainly help those fortunate enough tohave joined the Homesteaded Club before the real estate boom of the early'00s. He's in that club, having bought a small townhouse for a reasonable$140000 in 2002. His latest property tax bill was a manageable $2,160.

The new proposal will double part of his homestead exemption to $50,000.Under the portability provision, he'd be allowed an additional $102,000exemption if he moves to a more expensive home, but he said he's still goingto vote against the plan come January. So what's the problem?

He knows if he gets a bigger break, it means somebody else will have toshoulder a bigger burden. He knows a fundamentally unfair system will remainunfair. And he worries what that means for business owners, renters, youngcouples looking to buy their first home and workers who want to move herefrom out of state.

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Seminole school mixes technology, tradition

Posted on Wed, Oct. 31, 2007

The school would make any parent drool. Shiny new laptops. Lessons on iPods.Handpicked teachers. Even a cafeteria with the sleek lines of a Starbucks.But this top-of-the-line elementary school isn't located in Weston orPinecrest or some other well-heeled bit of suburbia. The Pemayetv EmahakvCharter School is on the Seminole Tribe's Brighton Reservation, deep inFlorida cattle country, northwest of Lake Okeechobee.

For the Seminoles, proprietors of a gambling empire that includes the HardRock chain, this is the school that slot machines built. It'ssteel-and-concrete proof of how far they've come -- from dismal poverty togreat wealth in less than three decades -- and where they plan to go.

Students at the school, which opened in August and cost $10 million tobuild, are learning how to navigate the 21st century while still retainingtheir culture. So in one classroom, children learn language arts -- bypodcast. Down the hall, others recite words in Creek, the Seminoles'language. Outside, just beyond the school's fence, cattle graze.

Max B. Osceola Jr., Tribal Council representative for the Hollywoodreservation, sketched out the tribe's path in a few short sentences duringthe school's dedication ceremony in October.

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Court OKs new lethal injections
Paul Flemming
News Journal capital bureau

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Supreme Court Thursday unanimously ruledthat the state's new lethal injection methods, revised after a botchedexecution in December, are constitutional.

The decision clears the path for the Nov. 15 execution of Mark Schwab,whose appeals in a separate case were denied Thursday by the state'shighest court.

The rulings will send Schwab, and Florida's lethal injection protocols,to federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued three stays ofexecution since September since it agreed to consider a Kentucky caseand set standards on the constitutionality of lethal injection.

Lawyers for convicted murderer and child rapist Schwab in Octoberargued that Florida's lethal injection methods are unconstitutional.They made oral arguments to the court on the same day justices heardIan Deco Lightbourne's challenge to the state's procedures.

Calls to lawyers for Schwab and to Attorney General Bill McCollum werenot immediately returned.

Schwab's is the first death warrant signed by Gov. Charlie Crist andthe first in the state since a moratorium on executions was liftedfollowing an inquiry into the December lethal injection of Angel Diaz.Diaz took nearly three times as long to die as previous executions.Autopsies showed that the three-drug cocktail Florida uses to carry outlethal injections were injected into tissue rather than directly intohis veins.

The Florida Supreme Court Thursday said new training and proceduresestablished by the Department of Corrections are sufficient.

"This Court's obligation is to ensure that the method used to execute aperson in Florida does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment,"Thursday's ruling said.

Following Diaz's execution, then-Gov. Jeb Bush established a commissionto study the state's methods, as did the Department of Corrections.Lower court hearings in Lightbourne's case on those findings and thestate's response found the new procedures constitutional.

"Our precedent makes clear that this Court's role is not to micromanagethe executive branch in fulfilling its own duties relating toexecutions," the Florida Supreme Court's Lightbourne ruling said.

The court concluded that the state had met its constitutionalrequirements:



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