Monday, November 19, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST November 19, 2007

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Thanks to Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle for outstanding service

November 18, 2007

Having just met Fort Lauderdale's mayor at the Davie Boulevard grandre-opening, I can understand why he has been elected to serve our city.

I can't imagine a more gracious and charming civic leader. Jim Naugle is oneof the few politicos who seems to know what year it is. It is hard tobelieve he is sometimes painted as a junior league hate-monger.

As a World War II veteran, the mayor straight-away thanked me for my wartimeservice. But it is he who should be thanked.

Harold Flagg
Fort Lauderdale


Teachers, staff at Pines charter schools reap $360,000 in bonuses

By Joe Kollin
November 19, 2007


It pays to perform outstandingly on tests, the city's charter schools havelearned.

Teachers and staff at the city's four charter elementary schools and twomiddle schools will split $360,150 in state bonus money because theirstudents scored well in the FCAT grading program during the 2006-2007 schoolyear.

The city's 1,700-student high school failed to make an A last year so itdidn't qualify. It earned a B, City Manager Charles F. Dodge said. It hadearned an A the previous year.

City commissioners approved the distribution formula in a unanimous voteOct. 31. It was the seventh consecutive year the state has awarded bonusesto city charter schools.

"They are doing a great job and this is their reward," said CommissionerAngelo Castillo.

Total enrollment at the city's seven charter schools is 5,307 and they havea waiting list of 8,800. The total number of teachers is 298, according toAner Gonzalez, the controller for the schools. Each of three elementarieshas 600 students, the elementary operated in conjunction with Florida StateUniversity has 607, and each of two middle schools has 600 students.

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Jenne's sentence

Posted on Mon, Nov. 19, 2007

Ken Jenne was convicted of tax evasion and fraud. His prison term likelywill include doing laundry, cleanup or food preparation. This should not beconsidered punishment -- these are chores that honest, hardworking people doto provide for their families.

I work and perform these tasks daily. But I don't get paid for doing themand, unfortunately, I haven't time to work out at the gym and play on asoftball team, as Jenne probably will.

What would deter anyone from entering our prison system? Not three meals aday, household duties, recreation and, most important, free healthcare. Thisall looks pretty good to me. Ken Jenne is a liar and a cheat. His punishmentshould fit his crimes.

S. WARREN, Coral Springs

Ken Jenne was in a position of public trust and he failed. He should havegotten the maximum penalty instead of one year and a day. Such people onlyfeel remorse after they are caught.



Miami child abuse cases mishandled, state finds


Posted on Mon, Nov. 19, 2007

A 2-year-old girl is beaten so savagely that her skull is fractured from earto ear.

A 15-year-old girl is repeatedly raped by the boyfriend of her mother, whorefuses to believe her.

A psychotic, suicidal 14-year-old boy bounces between a juvenile lockup anda mental hospital after his only caregiver, an aunt, abandons him.

All three Miami-area children, and scores of others, had been reported asvictims of abuse, neglect or abandonment earlier this year to Florida childwelfare caseworkers -- who closed their cases days later without helpingthem, in some instances without ever laying eyes on them.

A state report into the children's cases obtained by The Miami Heraldconcludes there was a ''widespread'' practice among Miami child-abusecaseworkers of closing investigations prematurely, sometimes without evenvisiting suspected victims of abuse or neglect.

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St. Petersburg Times

Governor may have overplayed his hand

A Times Editorial
Published November 18, 2007

Given the open hostility in the Legislature toward Indian gaming, Gov.Charlie Crist had reason to want to avoid a showdown that could leaveFlorida empty handed. But the compact he has now signed with the SeminoleTribe allows for games that are otherwise illegal, and the governor cannotmake law. While there are differing legal opinions, it seems this agreementcould require the approval of the Legislature.

While we continue to oppose the expansion of gambling, the deal itself hassome merit. Crist tried to avoid the mistake made by the late Gov. LawtonChiles, who refused to negotiate only to see the Seminoles build casinoswithout state oversight or revenue sharing. So he agreed to let the Tribeupgrade to high-stakes slot machines, which are now allowed in parimutuelfacilities in Broward and Miami-Dade after local voters approve. Crist alsogranted some exclusivity for payments to the state that would begin at amodest $100-million the first year but are tied to gaming revenues and couldrise toward $500-million in the future. Equally important, the compactprovides a strong disincentive for any future expansion of gambling: Thetribe no longer would be required to share its revenues with the state ifgambling beyond the scope of this agreement is permitted.

The problem is that the governor may have exceeded his authority inapproving the agreement with the Legislature's consent. State law, writtenin the wake of a narrowly approved 2004 constitutional amendment, allowsonly for high-stakes slots. All other forms of so-called Class III casinogambling, including the blackjack and baccarat games Crist approvedexclusively for the seven Seminole Indian facilities, are forbidden.

The governor's chief of staff says that federal law governing the sovereignIndian lands requires only that the U.S. Interior secretary and governorapprove gaming compacts. But that's misleading at best. The Indian GamingRegulatory Act provision for tribal compacts refers only to the approval ofthe "state" and never uses the word "governor." In other words, the stategets to decide who issues final approval and nothing in current law or theFlorida Constitution appears to specifically grant Crist such authority.

The governor walked an admittedly fine line as he sought to limit Indiangaming without losing the opportunity for the state to regulate and profitfrom it. As he tried to bargain in good faith, he also faced public attacksfrom legislators who promised to fight any agreement. Parimutuel operatorswho had persuaded voters to let them have high-stakes slot machines inBroward were livid at the prospect of what they viewed as unfaircompetition.

In the end, Crist dropped his "preference" to work with the Legislature. Hemay have negotiated an agreement with the Seminoles that could result inneither a dramatic expansion in gambling nor extraordinary profit for thestate. But he most certainly threw the issue into the courts by actingalone.


Palm Beach Post

Views split on foster-care drop

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2007

After a push to return children to their birth parents, local leaders havereduced the number of children in Palm Beach County foster care to thelowest level in at least six years.

The number of children living in foster care or with relatives after reportsthat their parents abused or neglected them dropped from 1,503 in June toless than 1,200 this month. Between August and October alone, 123 childrenwent home to their birth parents. Others were adopted or left in thepermanent custody of relatives.

For the first time in nearly two years, workloads are more manageable,foster homes have room, and the county's foster care agency is pulling outof a budget crisis caused by a glut in the number of children.

But some fear that children are being left in abusive and dangerous homes.

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Miami Herald

Seminole Tribes' gain is Florida's loss

Posted on Sun, Nov. 18, 2007

The only thing Gov. Charlie Crist got right about the gambling deal hesigned with the Seminole Tribe last week was calling the agreement''historic.'' But the deal is ''historic'' for all the wrong reasons. Thecompact is a terrible deal, and a major expansion of gambling in Florida.

With this deal, Gov. Crist has reversed the decisions that Florida votershave made at the ballot on at least four occasions since the 1980s. Votershave consistently said No to serious, statewide gambling. Gov. Crist saidYes. He authorized Las Vegas-style gambling, including card games such asbaccarat and blackjack, at seven Seminole facilities across Florida.

Pressure from Interior

Gov. Crist said he made the deal on behalf of Florida residents, ensuringthat they get a cut of the profits to the tune of at least $100 million ayear for 25 years. He said he felt compelled to make a deal because ofpressure from the federal Interior Department to meet a Nov. 15 deadline andbecause federal regulations that say the Tribe has to get something of valuefrom the deal. Neither reason, as we see it, justifies the compact.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said he didn't believe the InteriorDepartment could enforce the deadline. And in a recent opinion, he wrotethat Florida had to give the Tribe something of value, but not necessarilymore than what other pari-mutuels and other gambling concerns have. Mr.McCollum has it right.

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