Wednesday, December 12, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST December 12, 2007

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Don't use marriage amendment to trample rights of homosexuals

December 12, 2007

Steven Vest ("Marriage a foundation that should not be diluted," Dec. 3)takes the argument that marriage is a sacred institution that has changedlittle in thousands of years.

Let's cut to the bone. I had no idea that my marriage, my commitment to mypartner of eight years, would destroy America and all it stands for, likefreedom, tolerance and civil rights for all.

That said, I suggest the following laws be passed by the Republicans, theirChristian right supporters and endorsed by the Republican presidentialfrontrunners:

1. Pass a constitutional amendment banning divorce because more than 50percent of marriages end in divorce. This would protect marriage's sacredstatus far more than my gay marriage ever will.

2. Pass laws mandating prison terms for all convicted of adultery. Adulteryaffects more marriages, even those of our religious and political leaders,than my gay marriage ever will.

3. Pass laws mandating prison terms for all women and men who have childrenoutside of wedlock. This affects society far more than my gay marriage everwill.

4. Pass a law that those with children must pay higher taxes for publicschools and exempt all gays who cannot get married or adopt from payingtaxes to educate others.

A person's or a group's constitutional rightsmust never be up for publicdebate.

Kevin Honeycutt

Boynton Beach


Broward to build new high school at cheapest location

By Akilah Johnson and Kathy Bushouse
December 12, 2007

The Broward County School Board finally decided to let cost determine wherethe county's newest high school will go: a 31-acre site in Davie or a swathof land on the edge of the Everglades in Weston.

The crowd of about 50 applauded when the board voted to negotiate a saleprice with the owners of both sites and buy whichever would be the cheaperhome of the new school, dubbed MMM until a name is chosen.

"Any new school is a great school," said Elizabeth Ward, 41, a Weston motherwith two children at Everglades Elementary. "Any relief is welcome."

Tuesday's decision is a hybrid of the recommendation that SuperintendentJames Notter made last week - to build the school at Flamingo Road andSouthwest 26th Street in Davie. And the choice was a long time coming.

For more than a year, board members and district staff have debated 18possibilities for MMM. A version of the plan to build the school in Westonon 30 acres owned by real estate tycoon Ron Bergeron was recommended in Maybut snubbed when other options popped up.

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Broward may start charging cities for jailing local offenders

By Scott Wyman
December 12, 2007

Thousands of small businesses, landlords and mobile home owners got aslight tax break Tuesday as Broward County commissioners waived tax bills ofless than $30 owed on furniture and fixtures.

At the same time, the county plans to send cities a new bill: one forjailing people charged with violating municipal ordinances such as loiteringand having an open container of alcohol in public.

Commissioners ordered their attorneys to draw up plans to charge the cities$90 a day to house the prisoners or refuse to accept them if the citiesdon't agree.

The twin moves come as the county looks for ways to balance its budget nextyear if the state Legislature or voters require a second round of taxrelief. The county would likely have to cut $75 million from its propertytax collections if voters approve a proposal on the Jan. 29 ballot.

Not collecting tax bills under $30 actually will save the county money -almost $200,000 a year. The county takes in less money from those bills thanit spends to assess the property and collect the taxes.

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Study to look at wireless Internet network in Broward

By Scott Wyman
December 12, 2007

Governments, universities and hospitals across Broward County are uniting tostudy whether they could create a wireless network in the area.

Broward is joining with the Broward County School District, NovaSoutheastern University, Broward Community College, Memorial HealthcareSystem, Broward Health, Florida Atlantic University, Barry University andthe Broward Sheriff's Office to pay for the $90,000 study.

The wireless network they envision, called One Broward, would bring wirelessto all of their buildings and possibly further to the public.

County Mayor Lois Wexler said she has wanted a countywide wi-fi system for along time, but said the questions will be whether it's practical. "I want tosee how much it costs and what the return is for the county," she said.

But whether a network is built is another question because county officialsthink that could prove expensive at a time of budget cuts.

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December 11, 2007

Dear activists and allies,

To date, twenty-two members of the Florida House of Representatives havejoined Rep. Kelly Skidmore in sponsoring legislation to prohibitdiscrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on"sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression."

If your State Representative has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor, pleasecontactyour legislator's office and ask if your State Representative will sign onas a co-sponsor to HB 191 today.

To access the membership roster for the Florida House of Representatives, goto:

H.B. 191


Sponsor: Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton).

Co-Sponsors: Representatives Mary Brandenburg (D-West Palm Beach), SusanBucher (D-West Palm Beach), Ed Bullard (D-Miami), Keith Fitzgerald(D-Sarasota), Luis Garcia (D-Miami Beach), Joe Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach),Bill Heller (D-St. Petersburg), Evan Jenne (D-Dania Beach), Marty Kiar(D-Davie), Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg), Richard Machek (D-Boca Raton),Matt Meadows (D-Fort Lauderdale), Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs), ScottRandolph (D-Orlando), Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach), Elaine Schwartz(D-Hollywood), Darren Soto (D-Orlando), Priscilla Taylor (D-West PalmBeach), Shelley Vana (D-West Palm Beach) and Jim Waldman (D-Coconut Creek).

For a link to the web page for HB 191 which includes a link to the completetext of the bill as well as an updated list of sponsors, please go to:


Please join us for the next meeting of the Transgender Equality RightsInitiatives.

When: Wednesday, December 18, 2007
Time: 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Where: Gay & Lesbian Community Center of South Florida (GLCC)
1717 North Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

Tentative Agenda:
1. Introductions
2. Transgender Day of Remembrance
3. Community Resources: T-House Project (Nikki Montgomery)
a. Establish a working group to develop referrals
4. "No Place Like Home" - Leadership Broward's Adopt a Room Challenge(March 2008)
5. "Becoming a Man" - The Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce(Friday, January 25, 2008)
6. The Task Force - Creating Change Conference 2008 (February 6-10,2008)
7. Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc.
8. Legislative Update
a. Update on Broward Human Rights Ordinance 16 ½
b. Wilton Manors Ordinance 928 - Motion to File with Broward County
c. FL House Bill 191 - A Bill to Amend the Florida Civil Rights Act of1992 and Florida's Fair Housing Act to Prohibit Discrimination inEmployment, Housing and Public Accommodations Based on Sexual Orientation,Gender Identity or Expression (sponsor: Rep. Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton)9. TERI's next steps

Michael Emanuel Rajner
Transgender Equality Rights Initiatives (TERI)
(954) 272-8131 / (305) 677-3506


The Broward County Human Rights Board will be meeting on Monday, December 17at 1:00 PM to review proposed amendments to the county's Human RightsOrdinance 16 ½. Commissioner Ken Keechl will be speaking on those changesto the Members of the Human Rights Board.

When: Monday, December 17
Time: 1:00 PM

Where: Broward County Government Building
115 South Andrews Avenue, Room 312
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

Michael Emanuel Rajner
Transgender Equality Rights Initiatives (TERI)
Telephone: 305 677-3506 / 954 272-8131
Cellular: 954 288-1999
Compassion without Action = DEATH


The Edge

Local GSA Responds to GSA Attack

by Patrick Berkeley
EDGE Miami Contributor
Monday Nov 19, 2007

For an openly gay teacher in Fort Lauderdale, it's quite a reality check tounderstand that only one county over, in West Palm Beach, they could befired for being gay. It's even more of a reality check to realize that acouple counties over, in Okeechobee county, students at Okeechobee HighSchool aren't even allowed to have a Gay Straight Alliance, a club that actsas a safe haven for LGBT youth and their allies.

This issue has surfaced in the news due to a new lawsuit created by studentsat Okeechobee High School, fighting for their constitutional right to a GayStraight Alliance.

The school board is planning a full scale homophobic attack, calling onwitness testimony that will explain the negative health effects ofhomosexual sex, "serious consequences" of heterosexual teenage sexualactivity, such as teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and "pooreremotional health," how homosexuality lifestyle and relationships are onlyappropriate topics at the college level, and the need to keep kids away fromadults only material.

For students in Gay Straight Alliances in Fort Lauderdale schools, all ofthis seems just ridiculous and nonsensical.

"What the hell are they thinking? We barely bring up the subject of sex? Idon't even know what kind of adult material is here at all," said Shannon, a16 year-old bisexual identified member of one of the local GSA's in FortLauderdale. "Isn't this the same as being racist or being against Spanishpeople? It's bizarre that thirty miles away is totally against us."

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Miami Herald

Voters barred over glitches sue Florida

Posted on Wed, Dec. 12, 2007

His name is Jose Lopez-Sandin, and no one has ever called him Joseph.No one, that is, except for Florida elections officials, who apparentlymis-typed the Pembroke Pines man's name from a registration form in 2006.They then rejected his application for a voting card because his SocialSecurity number belongs to someone named . . . Jose.

''I did everything by the letter,'' said Lopez-Sandin, 20, an engineeringstudent at Florida International University. ``This was simply somebodyelse's error.''

Thousands of other voter registrations have been rejected since Floridabegan comparing applications with Social Security and driver's licensedatabases in 2006 -- and a lawsuit heard Tuesday in Gainesville contendsmany were in error.

''The process of trying to match people is fallible, and not just some ofthe time,'' said Justin Levitt, a lawyer from the Brennan Center for Justiceat New York University's School of Law, which brought the case with theFlorida NAACP and the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition.

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Miami Herald

Report: Fla. relies too heavily on FCAT

Posted on Wed, Dec. 12, 2007

(AP) -- The state relies too much on a standardized test in judging theperformance of public schools, students and teachers, testing experts saidin a report.

The University of Nebraska's Buros Center for Testing recommended that theFlorida Comprehensive Assessment Test should be combined with other measuresin the report scheduled for presentation to the State Board of Education atits meeting here Tuesday.

'While we believe that the FCAT should be employed as a critical `dashboard'indicator, it should not be the only one used to evaluate schools inFlorida,'' the Buros team wrote.

Instead, the report recommends using average test scores as well as FCATproficiency rates -- which show the percentages of students at, above andbelow grade level in a certain subject. The averages ''reflect theperformance of all students to a greater extent,'' Buros officials wrote.

Buros also recommended that average proficiency rates over the most recentthree years be used to make accountability judgments such as rewarding orsanctioning schools and deciding which teachers should get merit pay.

The assessment team wrote that random factors and difficulty in equating oneyear's test with the next makes it prudent to consider results over a longerspan.

The report also confirmed an earlier conclusion by state education officialsthat the improper placement of certain questions most likely caused inflatedthird-grade reading scores on the 2006 FCAT.

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Lakeland Ledger

Judge: Treating the Mentally ill Is Better than Jailing Them

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2007

TALLAHASSEE | A groundbreaking proposal designed to keep mentally ill peoplefrom winding up in jails and prisons will not result in dangerous patientsbeing put back on the streets, a judge assured lawmakers Tuesday.

A subcommittee created by the Florida Supreme Court, but also includinglegislative and executive branch members, has proposed using Medicaiddollars and shifting money spent on treating mentally incompetent peopleafter they are arrested to ramping up care outside the criminal justicesystem.

Such civil treatment would be expected to prevent mentally ill people fromgetting arrested in the first place, but Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach,was worried about the potential consequences of placing more patients incommunity-based facilities.

"Sometimes there's a slip up and they wander," Lynn said. "Sometimes there'sa slip up, they don't take their meds. You end up with them hurtingthemselves, seriously hurting others."

Miami-Dade County Judge Steven Leifman, who heads the Supreme Court's mentalhealth subcommittee, said patients who do have such problems then would behospitalized until they are able to return to community care.

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Miami Herald

Broward judge named to appellate bench

Posted on Wed, Dec. 12, 2007

Gov. Charlie Crist has appointed Broward Circuit Judge Dorian Damoorgian,52, to the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Damoorgian, administrative judge in the civil division, is filling theappeals court vacancy left by retiring Judge Bobby Gunther, whoseresignation is effective at the end of the year.

In 1999, Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Damoorgian to the Broward Circuit Court.

He ran unopposed for the seat in 2002 and was elected to a six-year term.

A graduate of Southwest Miami Senior High, American University andCumberland School of Law at Samford University, he worked as an attorneyfrom 1980-99.

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Miami Herald

Strict water-use rules are likely ahead

Posted on Wed, Dec. 12, 2007

Details were still being tweaked Wednesday on what will be the tightestwater-use restrictions ever imposed in South Florida, but one thing seemedcertain: It's shaping up to be a brown Christmas.

The South Florida Water Management District's governing board will voteThursday on an unprecedented round of restrictions that are expected toinclude a ban on lawn sprinkling more than once a week.

The emergency order is intended to combat a water shortage district managershave warned could be the deepest and most expensive South Florida has faced.Lake Okeechobee stands at historic lows and forecasters are predicting adryer-than-normal winter for a region that never fully recovered from the18-month drought leading up to this summer's rainy season.

''We've basically got what we've got in the system, and we've got to find away to stretch it out,'' said Jesus Rodriguez, a spokesman for the district,which oversees the water supply from the southern suburbs of Orlando to KeyWest.

Though the southeastern coast, particularly Miami-Dade County, receivednormal or above-average rain this summer, the storms didn't replenish LakeOkeechobee and areas to the north and west. The big lake, sometimes calledthe liquid heart of South Florida, has been running low for two years, inpart because state and federal water managers at the time released hurricaneflood waters to reduce risks that the lake's aging dike might fail.

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