Monday, December 10, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST December 10, 2007

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Public defender learns lesson
December 10, 2007

By Brian G. Reidy

A few weeks ago in court I made a comment that can only be interpreted asoffensive in nature. While the comment itself does not bear repeating, I dofeel compelled to discuss the consequences it wrought as well as thesubsequent introspection I have undergone as a result.

Initially let me say to anyone who was offended, insulted or hurt by what Isaid that I am truly sorry for any pain I may have inflicted upon you. Youcertainly have a right to expect a much higher standard of conduct fromsomeone who has been a member of our legal community for over 20 years. Eventhough I never intended any harm by my remark, the level of insensitivity itdemonstrated toward the feelings of many people in our society cannot beexcused. Once again, I am deeply apologetic.

As an assistant public defender for over two decades, I have had theopportunity to represent citizens from all walks of life and from everyconceivable background. I have made it my life's work to defend the poor andoppressed, to make certain they received the same quality of representationand legal services afforded the more affluent regardless of their race,color, creed or sexual orientation. The notion that all people should betreated equally is not only the cornerstone of our system of government andthe driving force behind the office to which I have dedicated myprofessional life, it is also an ideal that I have tried to uphold my entirecareer. It is because of these beliefs that I have always held myself to ahigh standard of behavior, and in this case, much to my disappointment, Ifailed to live up to this standard.

Tragically, the gay community is still one group in our society that isopenly discriminated against, even by some of our civic and religiousleaders. I find it impossible to imagine what it must be like to belong to agroup that is constantly criticized, condemned and denied equal treatmentunder the law. How can we as a society claim that all people are createdequal when such blatant prejudice is not only tolerated, but in manyinstances actually encouraged? It has taken this unfortunate mistake on mypart for me to realize how easy it can be to disregard the feelings ofothers.

I hope that by this experience those who read this letter may become moreaware of the fact that no matter how open-minded we might think we are, itis often all too easy to forget that what we say is as important as what wedo.

Brian G. Reidy is an assistant public defender in Broward County.


Forecasters keeping eye on tropical disturbance

6:49 AM EST, December 10, 2007

Just when you thought it was OK to pack up and store all those hurricanesupplies -- along comes another tropical disturbance.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say a system offPuerto Rico has the potential to become a tropical or subtropical storm,though the conditions around it have become less favorable for development.

At 6:45 a.m. Monday, the system was located about 250 miles east of PuertoRico and was moving westward at about 20 miles per hour.

Forecasters warn that even if the system doesn't strengthen, it could stillproduce heavy squalls and gusty winds across the Virgin Islands, Puerto Ricoand Hispaniola.

Tropical storms have winds of at least 39 miles per hour.

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New testing standards devised for severely mentally impaired students
Special assessments will be alternative to FCAT for those with IQs below 40

By Marc Freeman
December 9, 2007

One FCAT milestone in recent years was when some of the exam scores ofstudents with various disabilities began counting toward school lettergrades.

Another significant testing hurdle involving the special needs population iscoming in March. That's when schools will begin administering a new FloridaAlternate Assessment for children in grades 3-11 with the most severe mentalimpairments.

About 22,000 students statewide who are exempt from taking the FCAT,including about 1,600 students in Palm Beach County, will take the specialassessments in one-on-one settings with a teacher. These are studentstypically with an IQ less than 40.

It's a major step for a plan to hold all public schools accountable for thefirst time on how those disabled students perform in reading, math, writingand science, albeit at a reduced complexity.

Scores from this special assessment - designed for children classified bythe state as profoundly mentally handicapped, among other disabilities -will likely count toward school grades in the 2009-10 school year.

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Golden employment opportunities for South Florida's over-50 workers
Many over-50 workers testing South Florida job market

By Marcia Heroux Pounds
December 10, 2007

Finding a new job in South Florida can be a challenge for those over 50,but it also can be an exciting stage in life for a new pursuit or a moreflexible lifestyle.

"We know that people over 55 are going to be working longer. At 62, you canexpect to have 20 more years of life and a lot of that is productive," saidMason Jackson, president of Broward County's employment agency WorkforceOne.

Some over-50 South Florida workers look at work in their mature years as anadventure. Others struggle to find a new job after being laid off orretiring from a long career.

How important is age in a job search? Experts say age is no longer an issue,
and in certain occupations can even be an advantage. Some South Florida Jobcandidates disagree.

"I kept going on job interviews and was told I was overqualified," saidDianna Walker, 60, who found a part-time front desk job at a West Palm Beachcondominium. She previously worked as a store manager for 11 years and as acasino cashier until the company was sold.

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Miami Herald

An insult to Florida's voters

Posted on Sun, Dec. 09, 2007

The federal-court ruling upholding the Democratic Party's decision to banFlorida delegates from the national convention is a disappointment. U.S.District Judge Robert Hinkle relied on precedent in deciding that apolitical party has the right to set and enforce its own rules. Even so, theruling doesn't justify the party's decision to deny Florida's four millionDemocratic voters a role in selecting the party's presidential nominee,which is nothing short of an insult.

Earlier this year, Chairman Howard Dean and the party's national bossesissued a decree refusing to seat Florida delegates at next summer'sconvention in Denver, essentially rendering the state party's primary onJan. 29 meaningless.

The reason: Florida jumped the gun and moved its primary to an earlier date,ignoring the nationally ordained schedule in order to give the state a moreprominent role in picking a nominee. Obviously, the Democratic Party has avested interest in avoiding the chaos that would result if states can ignorethe rules, including the primary schedule, but this is a ridiculous outcomefor several reasons:

. The punishment is disproportionate. Florida voters are punished by thisdecision, but they had no say in making the change, which was approved bythe Legislature with little public input. Mr. Dean suggested that this is nobig deal, just ''a fight among politicians.'' Memo to Mr. Dean: Withoutactual voters, you don't have a party; and you and other party hacks wouldbe out of a job.

. The decision assumes that we don't have chaos already. A review of theshifting schedule of primaries and the ridiculously early onset of thecampaign season gives the lie to that proposition. The current timetable didnot evolve from careful deliberation. Having the Iowa caucuses go first wasan accident of scheduling that occurred in 1976. By some estimates, only 10percent of the voting population of this small state turns out for thecaucuses, not a great example of civic democracy.

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St. Petersburg Times

Giuliani duplicates his N.Y. success with Hispanics in Florida
He goes into tonight's presidential debate on Univision with a double-digitlead in state polls.

By DAVID DeCAMP, Times Staff Writer
Published December 9, 2007

MIAMI - In a cigar shop in Hialeah, the clerk pinches his finger to show howlittle English he speaks. But his eyes light up when he hears Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani gets the same kind of reception at a NASCAR race in Homestead andinside the anti-Fidel Castro heart of Cuban-American Miami, the Versaillesrestaurant.

Nowhere is Giuliani's support in Florida stronger than in South Florida,buoyed by high ratings among Hispanic Republicans.

"For Christmas, get me Giuliani on a sled," said supporter Ariel Gonzalez,45, a businessman in Opa-locka who singled out the "strong leadership" ofthe former mayor.

Rival presidential candidate Mitt Romney started wooing Hispanic votersmonths earlier, but Giuliani has capitalized on his celebrity and theperception of him as a forceful leader. No other Republican candidate enjoyssuch strong support, helping Giuliani build double-digit leads in statewidepolls.

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Petersburg Times

Can '08 election be fair?
Experts foresee problems with Florida voter rolls, new equipment, laws andlawsuits.

By STEVE BOUSQUET, Tallahassee Bureau Chief
Published December 9, 2007

ATLANTA - Elections experts from Southern states on Saturday debated thepotential for problems at the polls in 2008, and the Florida contingent didits part to uphold the state's reputation for voting controversy.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning bristled at an election supervisor'scomplaints of inaccurate information in a statewide voter database thatsupervisors rely on to make sure the voter rolls are correct.

The complaint came from Leon County's Ion Sancho and, to a lesser extent,Sarasota's Kathy Dent. Both voiced concern about cases of incorrectinformation on the rolls or cases in which people may be denied the right tovote because of human errors in entering names, addresses and other vitalinformation that does not exactly match a driver license's or SocialSecurity number or misspells a hyphenated surname.

Sancho, an outspoken critic of the state's management of voter information,predicted "mass confusion and chaos" on Election Day in November, whenFlorida voters will help elect the next president.

"Florida is not going down the crapper when it comes to our voterregistration system, and by the way, you can quote me on that," Browningsaid in a luncheon speech. "I do not foresee mass confusion and chaos as weapproach 2008."

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Florida Today

Florida needs a much better system for treating its mentally ill citizens
Our view: Costly, senseless, cruel

December 9, 2007

Call them psychiatric warehouses.

That's how a report released by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice FredLewis and Gov. Charlie Crist describes Florida's jails and prisons, where asmany as 125,000 people with mental illnesses in need of treatment get housedeach year.

Most state mental institutions were closed in the 1960s and 70s --supposedly a transition to more humane, community-based care.

But funding for local mental health services never materialized.

Since then Sunshine State jails have become de facto mental institutions,says the report.

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Miami Herald

Sour state investments jolt local governments

Posted on Mon, Dec. 10, 2007

The head of the agency that manages billions of dollars for the statedropped a bomb on his bosses in a mid-November meeting: About $2.28 billionin investments were going sour.

Some of the investments, all of which had fallen below purchase guidelines,were in a fund where local governments and school boards stashed operatingfunds until they were needed.

Over the following two weeks, as word got out, Florida municipalities yanked$10 billion from the Local Government Investment Pool in a classicrun-on-the-bank scenario. Only an emergency freeze on Nov. 29 stopped thestampede for the exits.

Last week, the executive director of the State Board of Administration,Coleman Stipanovich, resigned under pressure. The state hired BlackRock, aWall Street investment management firm, to guide the state out of the messby segregating the troubled investments into a separate fund and limitingwithdrawals from the healthy fund while it works out the problems.

And the problem is far from over: Alex Sink, the state's chief financialofficer, who had pressed Stipanovich for the Nov. 14 finacial update thattriggered the run, plans to ask auditors to probe what happened.

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A Message from Roger B.A. Klorese
President, Online Policy Group
Founder, QueerNet Project

Another year has nearly passed, and once again, we seize thisopportunity to look back at what we've accomplished this year, and wherewe've fallen short... and to ask you and your friends and organizationsto help us continue providing services. for another year, and to improvethem.

Online Policy Group and its hosting services, including the QueerNetProject, are supported entirely by donations. As Internet users havebecome accustomed to commercial messages and content restrictions, it'sbecome more difficult for us to fund our activities entirely bydonation. We sought the assistance of foundations this year, but wereunable to find public donations that were willing to fund infrastructurethat supports multiple communities and projects -- they are looking tofund direct delivery organizations and projects, in morenarrowly-defined areas.

And so, this year, for the first time since we started non-profitdonation-supported services in the mid-1990s, we have raisedsignificantly less money than we've spent, and have had to keep theorganization supplying services using significant donations from the OPGboard itself, over and above our usual contributions. And this isdespite the fact that we have cut our operating costs back fromapproximately $40k to under $12k a year, while keeping hosting servicesin operation.

Further, we have not replaced our servers in longer than their typicalservice lifecycle, and we've suffered outages as a direct result.Typical production servers are kept in use for three years; our newersystem is approaching the five-year mark, and the older one isapproaching eight years. Hardware and software errors resulting fromthis extended upgrade cycle are responsible for the vast majority ofdowntime suffered this year. Server replacement would cost us anadditional $5k or so; we could then rehabilitate the existing systems atminimal cost, which would also provide us with standby capacity toreduce downtime even further.

If we can raise $15k to $18k, here's what we can do in 2008:
- Pay our monthly service bills
- Upgrade our servers and provide standby capability
- Update the OPG website and restore online support request capability
- Upgrade our list/community services with newer, easier-to-use software

And if we cannot, here's what we can do in 2008:
- At some point, turn the lights out.

If you're interested in our continuing to provide email, list andwebsite hosting services to yourself, your community, and othercommunities in need of access -- or, as we say, One Internet with EqualAccess for All -- here's how you can help: with a donation by check,money order, credit card (or other payment via PayPal), vested stock, orusable equipment.

For details about stock and equipment donation, see

To donate by check or money order, please make your item payable toOnline Policy Group and mail it to:

Online Policy Group
5212 19th Ave NE
Seattle WA 98105

(Some checks received this year have gone unprocessed and returned, dueto lack of accounting support. It is now possible for us to handledeposits properly. But if it is at all possible, please make donationsvia PayPal, as documented below -- this requires significantly lessprocessing for us, and ultimately, costs us less for typical donations,even once the service fee is withheld.)

You can make a one-time payment via PayPal to But if you can afford to, our operation works best when we can determinean ongoing stream of income -- so we wecome your signing up at for a monthly contribution.

Online Policy Group is a registered non-profit organization undersection 501(c)(3) of the US tax code, and as a result, contributions aretax-deductible to the full extent allowed by the IRS. (And if youremployer offers donation matching, or your organization raises funds fornon-profits, please consider supplementing your donation with thesesources.)

None of our staff is paid (with the exception of some accountingassistance), so nearly every dollar you give goes to keeping us up andproviding services. Please help keep us on the air -- and turning upthe volume -- for another year.

Thank you.
Roger B.A. Klorese
President, Online Policy Group
Founder, QueerNet Project


A note from Ray and Michael:

Please consider a donation to Online Policy Group [above]. Michael and I, as well as Kenneth Sherrill and Victoria Lavin [Daily Queer News] and many others provide our services free in order to motivate and educate our GLBT ommunity. QueerNet allows Ray's List to be distributed without the hassles from AOL and Yahoo that almost forced us to quit several years ago. Ray's List does not need financial support. But, the Online Policy Group does.

Thank you for doing your part!!!


Sent from Paul Harris

Grand Opening of NEW Gallery in Wilton Manors]

December 09, 2007 3:21 PM

South Florida's leading photographer of orchids, Howard Gordon, is formallyopening his gallery in Wilton Manors on Friday, December 21 from 7 to 10pm.I should love it if you could drop by if at all possible.

Howard's place is at 2437 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors FL 33305 justsouth of Five Points in Wilton Manors. When you see his work I think you'llagree with me that you have never seen anything quite like it. Peoplesometimes get intimidated by going to art galleries. Don't be. No one isgoing to ask you to buy ANYTHING. One of the things that attracted me toHoward's work is its affordability. An unframed, matted photograph onarchival photographic paper goes for $95, while an elegantly framed piecegoes for $195.

If you would like to warn us that you are coming please call 866-51-FLORAL,failing that please just drop by even if it is only for 5 minutes.

If I do not speak/communicate with you before may I wish you a great holidayseason.

Paul Harris

Paul Harris Public Relations for all your Public Relations needs. E-mail or call 754 281 7392


St. Petersburg Times

Sorry, Charlie, no veepstakes

In many ways our governor seems a natural to join the Republicanpresidential ticket. Then again ...

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political editor
Published December 9, 2007

On Fox News recently Carl Cameron became the latest reporter who tried butfailed to get Charlie Crist to rule out accepting an invitation to run forvice president. American Spectator's December issue claims that Crist is oneof several Republicans Rudy Giuliani has promised to put on his short list,something the Giuliani campaign denies.

In the last three weeks alone, stories touting Gov. Crist's vicepresidential prospects have run in the Tampa Tribune, SarasotaHerald-Tribune, Kansas City Star and The Hill.

"He is extraordinarily popular early in his term, and Florida is amust-carry for Republicans and a state that I think will be a battleground,"said veteran Republican consultant Roger Stone of Miami. "I do think thiscontinues to be a toss-up state, so Charlie makes sense."

"I can't think of a swing state where you couldn't send Charlie Crist wherehe wouldn't hit it out of the ballpark," said Stuart Stevens, anotherRepublican consultant who has worked for the likes of Crist, Bush-Cheney andnow Mitt Romney. "He'll be on everybody's short list."

The speculation is inevitable given Crist's popularity in America's biggestbattleground, and the fact that lawmakers last year passed a bill that wouldallow Crist to run for vice president without giving up his Florida job.Crist's cheerleaders at the Florida GOP are practically campaigning for VicePresident Crist, and on Thursday fired off an e-mail heralding a quote fromSen. Mel Martinez about how attractive Crist is as a running mate.

Lets get a grip here, people. This vice presidential talk is way toopremature for Charlie Crist. He'll get the attention and the speculation,but not the nod.

Florida's electoral votes are crucial, sure, but at this point the risks ofpicking Crist outweigh the benefits. Three reasons why the Crist won't bepicked:



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