Friday, November 02, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST November 2, 2007

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The New York Times

Effort to Save Everglades Falters as Funds Drop

November 2, 2007

MIAMI, Oct. 31 - The rescue of the Florida Everglades, the largest and mostexpensive environmental restoration project on the planet, is faltering.

Seven years into what was supposed to be a four-decade, $8 billion effort toreverse generations of destruction, federal financing has slowed to atrickle. Projects are already years behind schedule. Thousands of acres ofwetlands and wildlife habitat continue to disappear, paved by developers orblasted by rock miners to feed the hungry construction industry.

The idea that the federal government could summon the will and money torestore the subtle, sodden grandeur of the so-called River of Grass isdisappearing, too.

Supporters say the effort would get sorely needed momentum from along-delayed federal bill authorizing $23 billion in water infrastructureprojects, including almost $2 billion for the Everglades.

But President Bush is expected to veto the bill, possibly on Friday. Andeven if Congress overrides the veto, which is likely, grave uncertaintieswill remain.

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Sex offender laws need to be precise

November 2, 2007
ISSUE: Georgia teen released from prison.

Finally, Genarlow Wilson is free. Americans could feel relieved if not forthe fact that Wilson, now 21, should never have been imprisoned in the firstplace.

And if Florida doesn't learn a lesson from this travesty in Georgia, then wewill be condemned to relive this injustice over and over again.

This misguided saga began in 2005 when Wilson, then 17, was convicted ofhaving oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. The sex act was consensual, yetWilson was branded a child molester and given a 10-year prison term with noprospects for parole.

Fortunately, four clear-thinking justices on Georgia's state Supreme Courtstepped forward and struck down the sentence as cruel and unusualpunishment. Still, it's unconscionable that Wilson had to go through theordeal of a trial, let alone spend even one day in prison.

There are two cautionary tales to learn from this judicial miscarriage inour neighbor state.

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Miami Herald

Meters come to last free stretch of Fort Lauderdale beach

Posted on Sat, Oct. 27, 2007

Bobbie Mauthner remembers Fort Lauderdale's North Beach before erosion stolemuch of it away, before towering buildings threw it into afternoon shadows.

With all those changes, Mauthner could always count on one thing that wasunchanged -- free parking.

Until now.

On Nov. 5, beachgoers will have to fork over $1.75 per hour to park at newmeters, erasing the last bastion of free parking along State Road A1A inFort Lauderdale.

''I hate the idea. It's inconvenient,'' said Mauthner, who has come to thebeach for more than 40 years. ``I think it's horrible how you are coming tothe beach to relax, but you have to keep an eye on your meter.''

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Express Gay News

Task Force to honor Miami activist at annual dinner
Chasen brokered deal to save Winter Party when its founder folded

Nov. 01, 2007

Miami attorney and certified life coach Jerry Chasen has a knack for timing.That's one of the reasons why he's being recognized at the National Gay andLesbian Task Force annual Recognition Dinner Nov. 3.

Chasen, among the most effective fund-raisers and organizers in SouthFlorida's GLBT community, will be receiving the Task Force's first EddyMcIntyre Community Award.

"I am thrilled," Chasen said. "You don't do this for the awards. I'm verypleased to be singled out."

Among his many accomplishments Chasen is largely responsible for saving theWinter Party, the largest fund-raising event to benefit GLBT political andarts organizations in South Florida.

The Winter Party had been the main fund-raising event for the Gay andLesbian Foundation of South Florida. The weeklong circuit party, along withthe foundation's annual Recognition Dinner, which brought in more than $1.5million to community organizations, could have disappeared when thefoundation folded in 2004.

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Express Gay News

Fla. prison officials move against 'threat' of lesbian weddings
Guards punished for compassion in allowing morale-boosting nuptials

Nov. 01, 2007

The Florida Department of Corrections knows a threat to prison security whenit sees one. It works diligently to prevent escapes, riots - and weddings.

The department has disciplined eight correctional officers for allowing agay wedding ceremony to take place at Lowell Correctional Institution,Florida's largest prison for women.

How comforting that the Florida Department of Corrections stands firmagainst clear prison perils like drugs, gangs and lesbian nuptials.

According to The Gainesville Sun, the department's official report on theincident at the Marion County prison states that, "Security staff allowedinmates to perform, decorate and participate in a wedding ceremony."

The date the correctional officers shirked their duty so extravagantly wasMarch 17, St. Patrick's Day. Perhaps gay leprechauns bewitched them.

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Pensacola News

Florida leaders join in tri-state water wars
Representatives urge Congress not to limit water flow to Apalachicola

Eun Kyung Kim
News Journal Washington bureau
Published - October, 31, 2007

WASHINGTON Florida's congressional delegation urged House and Senateleaders Tuesday to block an effort by drought-stricken Georgia to limitwater flow into Florida's Apalachicola River.

Squeezing water flow would severely harm the river and Apalachicola Bay,both of which support Florida's environment and economy, lawmakers wrote ina letter to Democratic and Republican leaders.

Empowering Georgia to "suspend environmental laws unilaterally at theexpense of a downstream state's ecology and economy cannot be justified inany circumstance," they wrote in a letter signed by Florida's two senators,Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Mel Martinez, as well as more than ahalf dozen U.S. representatives.

Earlier this month, Georgia's governor asked the White House and a federaljudge to reduce the minimum flow into the Apalachicola by 60 percent ormore. The water flows from the Chattahoochee River, which supplies drinkingwater for much of Atlanta's suburbs.

The water also is used to cool off a nuclear reactor in Alabama, a coalplant in Florida and helps supports a multimillion-dollar commercial fishingindustry in the Panhandle.

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Miami Herald

1 in 4 in Florida lack health insurance

Posted on Thu, Nov. 01, 2007

One in four Floridians under age 65 have no health insurance, and the numberof Floridians of all ages without health coverage has grown by 38 percentover the past eight years, to 3.8 million.

The troubling trend, part of a new report by the state, may prompt Floridato follow other states that have enacted sweeping health insurance plans.

Ideas under consideration include requiring all college students in thestate to buy health insurance, and giving parents the option of keepingchildren covered up to age 30.

This fall, Florida State University became the first university in the stateto require new students to provide proof of adequate health insurance. TheUniversity of Florida is considering a similar move.

State officials did find one piece of good news in the report, compiled bythe Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board: The raw number of peoplecovered by private insurance did grow from 2005 to 2006.

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St. Petersburg Times

Tax plan foes multiply
Gov. Crist touts the benefit to families, while a teacher union hints at alegal assault.

By JUSTIN GEORGE and ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writers
Published November 1, 2007

TAMPA - Fourteen years ago, the white brick house on a South Tampa cornerwas the perfect fit for bachelor Stan Fields.

Today, the two-bedroom dwelling is home to Fields, his wife, twin1-year-olds, two medium-sized dogs and a parrot named Bo.

"I just want something a little bigger with the babies," said Fields, 44.

On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Crist used the home on Inman Avenue as a campaignprop, touting the tax cut plan the Legislature passed Monday and the savingsthe Fields would get if they move to a bigger home.

But as Crist embarked on the second day of a promotional tour, oppositionwas mounting from educators, organized labor and a state watchdog.

The most vocal dissent came from the state teacher union, which said it isconsidering strategies to defeat the plan when it goes before voters on Jan.29.

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St. Petersburg Times

Florida Governor Charlie Crist headed to Brazil to look at biofuels

October 31, 2007

Florida Governor Charlie Crist is set to embark this weekend on the largesttrade mission his state has mounted to Brazil. A major part of his focuswill be Brazil's booming biofuels industry.

Crist's schedule in Brazil includes a visit to the Barra Bonita ethanolrefinery, the world's largest biofuels production facility, as well as aroundtable with Brazilian biofuels experts.

Crist is keen to learn how Brazil has turned its sugar cane industry into abooming source of ethanol - and whether that model is applicable in Florida,also a large sugar cane producer.

"It is my goal while in Brazil to forge new alliances and develop newpartnerships to promote trade in this hemisphere," Crist said. "Florida andBrazil can collaborate innovatively in both research and development."

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