Monday, December 03, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST December 3, 2007

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Marriage a foundation that should not be diluted

By Steven Vest
December 3, 2007

In regard to William Butte's article on Friday, Nov. 16, " Marriage is aboutlove, not gender:"

I completely understand your, and your organization's, desire for societalapproval of gay marriage. I also completely understand your rejection of thehypocrisy surrounding many of the counter arguments, in particular those ofthe so-called Christian right and of opportunistic politicians such as MittRomney. That being said, I am decidedly unswayed by your position.

Marriage as a cultural and legal institution, with certain minor exceptions(the state of Massachusetts being one), has remained unchanged for thousandsof years. To completely alter its context and definition requires, in myopinion, a far higher standard of justification than you have offered. Toput this another way, the burden of logic falls on your shoulders, not onthose of the straight community and not in the framework of such vacuousquestions as to whether some unsuspecting candidate for president thinksthat gayness is genetically or "choice" based.

For one thing, I do not consider the majority opinion (against gay marriage)as constituting a form of legal discrimination, any more than it isdiscriminatory to deny foreign-born citizens the right to run for president,or to insist that a person be of a certain age and to have a driver'slicense before getting behind the wheel, or that a law school graduate passthe bar before going into practice. We have in this country myriad rules andregulations that pertain to us all; failure to respect and abide by them, inthe absence of compelling reasoning to the contrary, will only lead tosocial chaos.

Now, I am certain that you will immediately leap to the contention that noneof this has anything to do with gay marriage. Actually, it does. No one ispreventing you from "loving" someone of the same sex, or of co-habitatingwith that individual, or of authorizing him to act as your personalrepresentative, or of naming him the trustee of your estate, or of signingan eternal pledge to love and honor that individual. What I am suggesting isthat marriage is at the very bedrock of our society (however badly it hassometimes been treated), that diluting it as you request is symbolically nodifferent from diluting concrete in the pouring of a building's foundation,with all the structural failure which that portends and, that if we were tochange its definition, shouldn't brothers then be allowed to marry (afterall, they can't breed, though they still "love" each other), and whyshouldn't someone be allowed to marry his pet chimpanzee if he wishes? Isn'tthe end result, in fact, simply an invitation - perhaps a directive - toopen Pandora's box?

This country and this world are faced with problems the likes and degree ofwhich we have never seen, from nuclear proliferation, to global warming, tomassive poverty, to terrorism, to skyrocketing energy costs, to crushingdebt. I personally am not interested in adding one more to the list.

Steven Vest is a resident of Boynton Beach.


8 men claim sex with, advances by senator

The associated press
December 3, 2007

BOISE, Idaho

Eight men say they either had sex with Idaho Sen. Larry Craig or weretargets of sexual advances by him at various times during his politicalcareer, a newspaper reported Sunday.

One of the men is the former escort whose allegations disgraced the Rev. TedHaggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, theIdaho Statesman reported.

The newspaper identified four men and reported details of the encountersthey say involved Craig. It also reported the accounts of four other men whodid not agree to be identified but who described sexual advances orencounters involving the conservative Republican.

Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after being accused by anundercover officer of soliciting sex at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport andlater called a news conference to deny that he is gay.

The newspaper acknowledged that its report was not based on definitiveevidence. However, it said its investigation, including a review of traveland property records and background checks, found no evidence to disprovethe accounts of the four identified men.

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Cold front expected to roll into South Florida tonight

By Andrew Tran
8:27 AM EST, December 3, 2007

The same system currently causing winter storms across the Northeast portionof the country will begin to enfold South Florida Monday evening.

A cold front will cross Lake Okeechobee and roll into the area Monday night,according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

Residents may start to feel the drier and cooler weather around 6 a.m.Tuesday, said Roberto Garcia, a meteorologist for the service. Lows arepredicted to be in the mid 60s and the high will be closer to 80 degrees, hesaid. There's a 10 percent chance of showers before 4 a.m.

A more significant decrease in temperature is expected Wednesday whentemperatures in Broward will be in the mid-50 to mid-60 degree range.

"The day you get the coolest temperatures happens two after the frontarrives, usually," he said.

By Thursday, the wind may turn to to the east and the temperature may riseagain, Garcia said. But only temporarily, since a system developing in theCentral Plains could arrive by Saturday or Sunday, he said.

South Florida's outlook for the remainder of the week:
Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers with a daytime high near 82 and anighttime low around 66.
Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers with a daytime high of 81 and adaytime low around 66.
Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a high near 80.


Broward citrus canker trial starts for thousands who lost trees70,000 Broward households that lost trees are part of suit

By David Fleshler
December 3, 2007

The work crews armed with chain saws and search warrants have disappearedfrom Broward County's neighborhoods. The angry confrontations withhomeowners have ended. But the bitter fight over the citrus cankereradication program resumes today, as the trial opens in a class-actionlawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of county residents whose trees werecut down in the failed campaign to stop the disease.

Opening arguments will be heard in Broward Circuit Court on a lawsuit filedon behalf of about 70,000 households whose trees were destroyed because theywere within 1,900 feet of infected trees.

The lawsuit is intended to win compensation beyond that offered by theFlorida Department of Agriculture - a $100 Wal-Mart voucher for the firsttree and $55 in cash for each subsequent tree, payments that many peopleregarded as an insult.

"We intend to show that the state destroyed the private property ofapproximately 70,000 Broward homeowners, whose 133,000 citrus trees werenever determined to be infected with citrus canker," said Robert Gilbert,the Coral Gables lawyer who is lead attorney for the homeowners. "Our caseis intended to prove that the state is obligated to pay these homeownersfull and just compensation for their private property."

The Department of Agriculture will counter that it cut down the trees tokeep an infectious disease from damaging one of the most importantindustries in the state and simply took the steps its scientists said werenecessary to stop it from spreading..

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Epcot's Spaceship Earth to reopen mid-December
Christopher Boyd

Jason Garcia and Scott Powers, Sentinel Staff Writers
December 3, 2007

Epcot's Spaceship Earth ride is expected to reopen in mid-December forsneak previews with a new story overlay, new technology and a whole newsoundtrack -- created by 10-time Emmy Award-winning composer BruceBroughton, a 63-piece orchestra and a 24-voice choir.

Walt Disney Imagineering announced late last week that Broughton's music hasbeen fitted to each scene in the attraction's storyline, which follows thehistory of human innovation from one generation to the next, fromprehistoric times to the 21st century.

The ride was closed earlier this year as the entire system also has beenupdated with new show scenes, lighting, costumes, set decorations,interactive features for riders and a new narrator, Academy Award-winningactress Judi Dench.

For the musical score, each scene was infused with styles and instrumentsappropriate to the time period.

"To have that score transition smoothly as vehicles travel from one timeperiod to the next is extremely difficult," said Walt Disney Imagineeringshow producer Bob Zalk. "The first time we rode through the attractionaccompanied by that music, we were amazed."

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Dear Red and Blue Supporter:

OPPOSITION UPDATE: Sponsors of the dangerous "marriage protection" amendmentare likely just days away from placing the amendment before voters.

As of today, the sponsors have 99.5% of the petitions they need. With morethan two months left before the deadline, amendment sponsors are today just3,000 signatures away from officially qualifying for the November, 2008ballot.

Getting the signatures they need to make the ballot is not unexpected. Infact, they've been collecting them for four years. But knowing it's about tobe official means we need your help now more than ever.

If you haven't scheduled your House Party, made a contribution or signed-upto volunteer, we need you now. The challenge is real and serious. Thisamendment will have real consequences for Floridians - gay or straight.

And since the holiday season is a time to celebrate and reflect, we want tocelebrate what we've accomplished this month and share what lies ahead.

Red and Blue Confronts Amendment Sponsor on TV

The "marriage protection" amendment was the featured topic on Your Turn withKathy Fountain - a live broadcast TV show on WTVT- FOX 13 in Tampa onNovember 27.

The show was our first opportunity for Red and Blue to confrontFlorida4Marriage's John Stemberger - the sponsor of the amendment. Thediscussion was spirited and direct and callers to the show ran 2:1 inopposition to the amendment.

Stemberger, predictably, stuck to the worn out script that the "marriageprotection amendment" would ban "gay marriage" and nothing more. Obviously,that's incorrect.

These Are the Facts:
Banning recognition of all relationships which are the "substantialequivalent" of marriage will raise legal challenges to domestic partnershipsand other existing rights and benefits used by millions of unmarriedFloridians.

So-called "gay marriage" is already illegal in Florida and it will bewhether the "marriage amendment" passes or not.

Red and Blue Has a New Home

Florida Red and Blue has moved into a spacious office in Miami Beach, withplenty of room for campaign volunteers, phone banks and the importantcampaign work ahead. If you're in or near Miami Beach and would like tovolunteer, give us a call at 1-877-FL-VOTE-NO.

On the Road with Red and Blue

Florida Red and Blue held meetings, campaign briefings and volunteertraining sessions all across Florida in November. Separate events were heldin Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.

We also invited supporters and others interested in our campaign to joinregional conference calls hosted by "the first lady of choice" and Red andBlue Board Member Patricia Ireland. On the call, she answered questions andshared her reasons for taking a leadership role in the campaign. Patriciaalso said she is very committed to defeating the amendment because it takesgovernment intrusion to new, dangerous levels.
Advisory Board Continues to Grow

The Central Florida Labor Council (AFL/CIO) passed a resolution to opposethe amendment and join Florida Red and Blue's Advisory Board. Other neworganizations include: IATSE Local 669, Orlando and the Rainbow DemocraticClub, Orlando.

New individual members in November include:
Suzanne Jacobs, Former State Representative, Delray Beach
Kimberly Bowles, Former Orange County Democratic Party Chair
Robert F. Spohrer, Jacksonville attorney
Jim Pease, Tampa Bay Log Cabin Republicans

With these new members, the Advisory Board now has more than 150 individualmembers and organizations.

To view the complete list, click here.

Cyber-Space In the Know

Florida Red and Blue's MySpace page has nearly 2,000 friends, after onlyeight weeks of existence! Our friends include Democratic and Republicanorganizations, GLBT advocacy groups, civil rights organizations, andhundreds of individuals across the US. Check us out
And we just launched a Facebook page.

If you're a member of Facebook or MySpace, be sure to drop by and add us!

December Campaign Briefing in Tallahassee and Other Events

Campaign Chairman Jon Kislak and Campaign Manager Derek Newton will host acampaign briefing and reception in Tallahassee on December 6th. We'd loveyou to join us if you're in Tallahassee, but please RSVP.
Tallahassee Campaign Briefing and ReceptionThursday, December 6th5:30 pm
Florida Education Association (FEA)
213 S. Adams - Tallahassee

Also in December, the campaign will hold events in Sarasota, Miami and PalmBeach County. For information on these events,

Knowing that the "marriage protection" amendment is about to find apermanent place on the ballot means we need your help now more than ever.

In just a few months, we've laid down an impressive foundation for winningnext year and we have only 31 days to make 2007 truly remarkable.

Click HERE to make an end-of-the-year gift to Red and Blue.

- The Florida Red & Blue Team

Political Ad Paid for by Florida Red and Blue, Inc. Political Committee
12864 Biscayne Boulevard #314
North Miami, FL 33181


The 2nd Annual HRC
Winterfest Boat Parade Party!

Saturday, December 15th

~ Prime WEST SIDE Intracoastal Waterway Location! ~3120 NE 47th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

Please join us for a wonderful evening of hors d'oeuvres', complimentarycocktails, entertainment, gift bags, and of course, the most unique paradearound!
Your ticket is also your HRC annual membership!

PRE-SALE Single Tickets: $95
(Day of Tickets will be $125, available only if event is not sold out)
To purchase Event Tickets (or sponsorship)




ArtsUnited will open its latest group art exhibit "An Eye Full" on December3rd at theStonewall Library and Archives, 1717 N. Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale,
FL. This exhibit will feature the photography of 18 local artists and willbe displayed fromDecember 3, 2007 through January 4, 2008. The exhibit opens with a receptionto meet theartists from 6:30 to 8:00 PM on Monday, December 3, 2007. Admission to theexhibit and receptionare free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served at thereception.

Artists contributing works for "An Eye Full" art exhibit come from a varietyof back-grounds and experience levels.

The participating artists include:
Bob Gilmore Keith Clark Steve Wahl Peter Aymonin
Kelvin Stansberry Shannon McKenna Liz Meyers Robert
Joseph Siebel Carlos Eduardo Greg Lindeblom Randy Fischer
Timothy Leistner Ricki Stuart Jeff Helyer Rob Cauvel
SylvesterQ Stephen Kuttner

This art exhibit series is made possible through the generous support ofComcast.


St. Petersburg Times

Rubio duels with Crist
The House speaker has different ideas on gambling, property taxes and more.

By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
Published December 3, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Charlie Crist has a lot to be happy about: a high publicapproval rating, low unemployment, another hurricane-free season.

But one person keeps chipping away at the governor's image - and he belongsto Crist's party.

House Speaker Marco Rubio is the only powerful politician in Floridaconsistently challenging Crist's middle-of-the-road, let's-all-get-alongagenda.

Rubio wrote an op-ed piece calling Crist's ideas on climate change hurtfulto Florida's economy. He wrote another one saying Crist was expandinggambling. Then, last month, he sued his fellow Republican over a casino dealstruck with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Rubio has pushed for deeper property tax cuts, scoffing at the size of theCrist-backed plan passed by the Legislature.

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Lakeland Ledger

Democrats Missing 'Media State'

By Joe Follick & Lloyd Dunkelberger
Tallahassee Reporter
Dept.: Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE | Political strategists call Florida a "media state," meaningit's so large that the only way to effectively reach voters in a statewiderace is through television advertising.

Gov. Charlie Crist embraced that philosophy last year, airing more than30,000 commercials in Florida's 10 media markets during the crux of the fallelection season, according to Nielsen Media Research.

As Florida's Jan. 29 presidential primary nears, Floridians can expect to beseeing more TV ads from the major candidates. Mitt Romney, who is leadingall of the andidates nationally in early television advertising, hasalready run ads in lorida, as well as Iowa, New Hampshire and SouthCarolina. And other Republicans are expected to follow his lead in Florida.

But don't expect to see any television advertising from the Democrats beforethe primary, said Pat Roberts of the Florida Association of Broadcasters.

"We haven't had a single (media) buy from a Democrat," Roberts said.

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Orlando Sentinel,0,6817109story

Struggle with wealth: Tribe's teens hit hard

Mike Clary
December 3, 2007

For almost 200 years, the Seminole Tribe's struggle was simply to survive.Chased by 19th-century soldiers into Florida's interior, the Indians battledinhospitable wetlands, poverty and governmental neglect to gain independenceand sovereignty.

Now, because of casino gambling, the tribe has grown rich. Health care isfree, college tuition is covered, and each of the tribe's more than 3,300members -- from infants to seniors -- receives monthly dividend checks thatadd up to about $120,000 a year.

The struggle now, say many Seminole leaders, is how to meld the tribe'sprosperity into a life that values and preserves their culture.

"We have so much money that we want to do what the rest of the world does,and some of our folks get in over their heads," said Andrew Bowers Jr., anattorney who served on the powerful Tribal Council in March when theSeminoles completed the $965 million purchase of the Hard Rock Internationalchain.

"I'm not saying that money is something that is not needed. But we need touse it wisely. If you are Indian, you should never forget that you'reIndian."

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Sarasota Herald Tribune

Visitors saving the day for Florida's economy
Many tourism-related businesses are reporting gains over last year as
Canadians and Europeans exploit a weak dollar


If you are looking for a bright spot in an otherwise moribund regionaleconomy, look no further than those folks wearing sunglasses, and with thepasty legs.

Despite the decline in home values, the rise in gas prices, the weak dollarand predictions of strong hurricane seasons, visitors are coming toSouthwest Florida in droves this season.

Sue Culpepper is certain of it. She made $30,000 more during September andOctober from bookings at her Gulf Beach Resort Motel than this time lastyear.

"September and October were unusually busy," said Culpepper, manager of theproperty on Sarasota's Lido Beach. "It was a nice surprise."

The hotel, built in 1950, was the first one on Lido Beach, and it maintainsits retro look. The walls are the peach color of old. There are twoshuffleboard courts. On the beach is a tiki hut.

more . . . . .


St. Petersburg Times

Florida science standards rise as it faces dearth of teachers
Low pay is viewed as the culprit in the gaping shortage.

By RON MATUS and DONNA WINCHESTER, Times Staff Writers
Published December 3, 2007

On a platform 30 feet above the ground, Leslie Pohley and two-dozeneighth-graders gazed into a 17,000-gallon tank of roiling wastewater.

Most people would have seen a big vat of nasty. But Pohley, a 30-yearveteran at Largo Middle School, saw a teachable moment.

Here, at the South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Center in unincorporatedPinellas County, she prodded her students into thinking: Where does thismess come from? Where does it go? Why does it matter?

Before they knew it, Pohley had their brains clicking and whirring.

"This," she said, "is science in action."

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Palm Beach Post

Keep protecting manatees

Palm Beach Post Editorial
Monday, December 03, 2007

In September, Gov. Crist asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife ConservationCommission not to ease protections for manatees, by reclassifying theirstatus from "endangered" to "threatened," until scientists find a better wayto count the sea cows. That better way hasn't been found, but on Wednesdaythe commission again considers reclassification of the manatee.

The commission could be rushing because Gov. Crist appointed too manymembers who are builders and favor more manatee-unfriendly waterwaydevelopment. A spokesman for the governor said he "has confidence thecommission will do the right thing." The right thing would be for thecommission to do as Gov. Crist asked and postpone this vote until there is aproven counting method in place.

But pressure from the marine and development industries is strong. Moreprotection for manatees would mean more slow-speed zones and habitatprotection on waterways that could interfere with boating and development.

As Save the Manatee Club Executive Director Pat Rose points out, thecommission's logic is faulty. When the World Conservation Union declared themanatee endangered, it used the same criteria state officials are using todowngrade its status to threatened. The commission, Mr. Rose notes, saidthat manatees face "a very high risk of extinction" with fewer than 2,500adults, but the agency wants to wait until a species' risk of extinction is"imminent" before deciding it is endangered. Why wait until the populationis in trouble to act?

The commission's first-year management plan for manatees lists everythingthat should be done, before the commission even considers downgrading statusand reducing protections. On the list:

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