Tuesday, December 04, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST December 4, 2007

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Tourism chief shares keys to Fort Lauderdale's success

Posted on Tue, Dec. 04, 2007

Broward tourism chief Nicki E. Grossman recalled the unusual day not longago when both the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 were docked at PortEverglades.

''There are never enough queens in Fort Lauderdale,'' Grossman told 200applauding attendees at the eighth International Conference on Gay & LesbianTourism, being held through Wednesday at the St. Regis Resort on FortLauderdale Beach.

Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitor'sBureau, told the group of travel professionals how her town became the No. 1resort destination this year for gay visitors, according to readers ofOutTraveler.com

''This is a big-time market,'' said Grossman, noting that the FortLauderdale CVB was among the first to actively recruit gay tourists to SouthFlorida.

In 1996, the year after Grossman arrived at the CVB, there were fivegay-owned guest houses in Fort Lauderdale and the CVB spent $35,000marketing itself to gay clientele. This year, there are more than 30 gayguesthouses and the CVB will spend more than $400,000 courting gaytravelers, she said.

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Ban on state visits tightens Clinton's grip on Democrats

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Facing a likely drubbing in the game of expectations, is it smarter to giveit your all and hope for the best? Or to walk away and pretend you weren'tinterested in playing in the first place?

Such is the shape of the Jan. 29 Democratic presidential primary in Florida,where a punishment by the national party and a promise by candidates not tocampaign here have left Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York the overwhelmingfavorite.

And just a month away from the Iowa caucuses, the indications from thecampaign best positioned to challenge her are that it will be the latter -that rather than making a play for momentum in Florida's primary, Sen.Barack Obama of Illinois will instead concentrate on winning states in theFeb. 5 round of primaries.

"I think that decision's been made for us," said Frank Sanchez, Obama's leadfund-raiser in Tampa. "Given what's happened with the national party, wecan't campaign."

The last of the Democratic National Committee's four officially designated"early" states holds its primary Jan. 26. If the Obama campaign honors thepledge he signed not to let Florida usurp any of the early states' status,his supporters would have all of three days to organize a voter-turnouteffort in a state he started working only a year ago.

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Orlando Sentinel


Crist signs deal with Google to make public records easier to find

The Associated Press
December 4, 2007


"Googling" something or someone? If the state of Florida has public recordsabout them, they might show up in your search results.

That wasn't always the case. Many state agency Web sites and electronicrecords haven't been indexed by big search engines run by Google, Yahoo andMicrosoft.

Under a new partnership announced Monday by Gov. Charlie Crist and Google,some state information that is on the Web, but sometimes hard to find, willshow up as a result of searches on Google or one of its big competitors.

Google is providing free consulting and software to several states that willresult in some state information recognizable to computers that troll theInternet looking for matches to search queries. Five other states --Arizona, California, Michigan, Utah and Virginia -- already areparticipating.

The records that will show up in search-engine queries are already availableonline -- but many are hard to find.

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Miami Herald


Retired lawman to run for Broward sheriff

Posted on Tue, Dec. 04, 2007

The race to become Broward's next sheriff has attracted a candidate from thenorth when Pat Aahara, a retired Palm Beach County sheriff's lieutenant,filed paperwork on Friday indicating his plans to run.

Aahara, 64, said Monday he decided to run in 2008 because the BrowardSheriff's Office ''looked to me like an agency adrift.'' Former Sheriff KenJenne stepped down in September and was later sentenced to one year and oneday in prison for mail fraud and tax evasion.

As a resident of southwestern Boca Raton, Aahara lives just miles north ofBroward. And he said serving his law-enforcement career outside BrowardCounty could be a selling point for voters. ''I feel like I'm the one personwho could be completely objective,'' he said. ``I don't owe anyone in thatagency anything.''

The other candidates who have filed to run for sheriff are Billy Davison, aplumber; J.M. Evans, a private investigator; S. ''Shak'' Dhanji, a statehuman relations commissioner; Richard Lemak, Hollywood assistant citymanager; Philip Sweeting, former Boca Raton deputy police chief; and WileyThompson III, former administrator under Jenne.




Carlton Moore giving up city seat to run for county commission

By Brittany Wallman
December 4, 2007

Longtime Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Carlton Moore said he'll be giving uphis city seat early to run against another tenured politician, BrowardCounty Commissioner John Rodstrom.

Moore, currently vice mayor, is the third candidate to line up againstRodstrom in the county's District 7, which includes parts of Dania Beach,Davie, Hollywood, Plantation and Fort Lauderdale. The election is inNovember.

County records show that Robert McKinzie Jr., a contractor and brother ofousted Broward elections chief Miriam Oliphant, filed candidacy paperworkFriday in that race. McKinzie, who lives in Plantation, came within 700votes of beating Rodstrom in 2004. Earlier in November, a Davie residentnamed Mark Morales filed to run in District 7.

McKinzie and Morales could not immediately be reached for comment. ButOliphant said Monday that her brother had a strong showing last time, andshe'd be helping him.

All four candidates are Democrats.

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State House candidate criticized for 'white activism'

The Associated Press
September 15, 2007


A state House candidate in the Tampa area is drawing criticism for hisaffiliation with a group that promotes the creation of "white-only livingspaces" and has distributed fliers criticizing the war in Iraq as onlybenefiting Israel.

John Ubele is running with no party affiliation for the Pasco County seat ofRep. John Legg, R-Port Richey.

Ubele (pronounced yoo-bul) is operations manager of the NationalistCoalition. The group promotes "white activism," according to its Web site,which says the organization will "do whatever is necessary to achieve thisWhite living space and to keep it White."

This week the group distributed fliers designed to look like a recruitingpamphlet with Uncle Sam on it, but with a Star of David on his hat. It said:"Now American soldiers are being killed so that Israeli soldiers won't haveto fight their enemies for themselves."

Legg, who is running for re-election, told the St. Petersburg Times theflier was offensive. "It appalled me. Because it's a deliberate thing onRosh Hashana."

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Sarasota Herald Tribune


Frustrated, doctors in the region consider refusing Medicare cases
Health care providers in senior-heavy areas hit hardest by payout cuts


Two out of three doctors in Sarasota County say they will either stopaccepting new Medicare patients, or any Medicare patients at all, if thefederal program's payments do not improve.

The stark arithmetic came in the Sarasota County Medical Society's poll ofits members, released last month as the Medicare program announced its1,481-page preliminary rule for 2008, including a 10.1 overall percent cutto what it pays doctors.

The county poll results mirror what doctors nationwide say about therepeated cuts to Medicare payments.

The problem is serious enough that, for the first time in either group'smemory, the American Medical Association and the AARP have joined togetherto lobby Congress on the issue.

Doctors in this region may be hurt worse than their colleagues anywhere elsein the country.

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St. Petersburg Times


Manatees get a strong ally
The governor asks wildlife commissioners to keep the species on theendangered list.

By CRAIG PITTMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published December 4, 2007

For more than six years, Florida's boaters and builders have pushed for thestate wildlife commission to take manatees off the endangered list.Commissioners are set to vote on the controversial move Wednesday.

To the chagrin of the boaters and builders, Gov. Charlie Crist wants thecommission to reject the change.

"I would not favor that," Crist said in an interview Monday. "It would notplease me. More importantly, it would disappoint the people of our state."

Crist, an avid boater, opposes changing the manatee's designation because"it would put this creature in jeopardy." He has made his position clear tocommissioners, said Crist, who appointed four of the seven members.

Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto said he will give the governor's concerns"a lot" of weight. "He's raised some issues," said Barreto, a Miami lobbyistand developer.

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Tampa Tribune


Everglades Won't Be Saved If Scientists Are Muzzled

The Tampa Tribune
Published: December 1, 2007

Federal officials have some explaining to do about what's going on with therestoration of the Everglades, the hydrological heart of South Florida.

It's bad enough that Washington, which agreed to split the cost of what hadbeen estimated to be an $8 billion project, has fallen far behind. As theTribune's John Allman found, the federal government's dawdling has createddelays, increased costs and forced the state to borrow money to keep theproject going. The overall costs now are expected to exceed $10 billion.

Confidence in the federal government's commitment to the Everglades isfurther undermined by reports that the U.S Environmental Protection Agencyremoved a key water-quality expert from the project because he objected to aplan to pipe polluted water to the coast.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that Richard Harvey's supervisors banishedhim from Everglades restoration work after he objected to the Army Corps ofEngineers' plan to pipe nutrient-rich Lake Okeechobee water into waterwaysthat empty into Biscayne National Park.

The South Florida Water Management District has been dumping excess waterfrom Lake Okeechobee, which would naturally flow into the Everglades, intothe Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. This protects the River of Grassfrom the pollutants, but causes algae blooms and fish kills in the rivers.As an alternative, the corps proposed piping the lake's excess water to thecoast.

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Palm Beach Post


One new water idea: Pay more, but use less
Palm Beach Post Editorial

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

South Floridians may be tired of talking about saving water. Too bad. TheSouth Florida Water Management District keeps the conversational ballrolling with a second water "summit" today in West Palm Beach, seeking waysto cope with prolonged drought.

This month, the district board decides whether to tighten restrictions. InApril, after more meetings, the board votes on districtwide conservationrecommendations. Using less water is the new normal, but crafting a new,year-round conservation policy that paradoxically will cost residents morefor using less water is a challenge.

In addition to starting an education campaign to sell residents on the"pay-more-use-less" idea, the district must address inequities in its ownrules. For example, few can make sense of regulations that limit the daysindividuals can water lawns, but not the amount of water used. The districtcan't allow water hogs to use as much as they are willing to pay for whileothers live with brown lawns and dead plants.

Still, the water summit brings the opportunity for exchanging conservationideas, particularly with communities that successfully have cut use. WhileSouth Floridians reduced average daily use between 2000 and 2005, there'splenty of room for improvement. Palm Beach County dropped from 222 gallonsto 215, Martin from 212 to 166, St. Lucie from 145 to 128 and Okeechobeefrom 103 to 90, the lowest in the state. Statewide, Floridians dropped from174 gallons per day in 2000 to 158 in 2005.

Some ideas - low-flow toilets, less frequent flushing, rewards for tearingout thirsty turf grass in favor of drought-tolerant landscaping - are simpleto implement and easy to promote. The Department of Environmental Protectionalready recognizes hotels that reduce water use by not changing sheets dailyfor long-term guests. Golf courses and farms can use more treatedwastewater, and utilities will have to reconfigure their systems to provideit. Other ideas, such as a team of Drought-Buster Priuses that patrol LosAngeles neighborhoods to issue warnings and $150 tickets for untimelywatering, sound enticing but might cost too much.

Despite a wet summer along the coast, Lake Okeechobee remains dangerouslylow, and very little rain fell in November. The best way to deal with apotential drought crisis is to save our way out of it.


Orlando Sentinel


Florida group reveals almost 75 energy-saving ideas
A state group comes up with almost 75 efficiency proposals. But when willchanges actually kick in?

Kevin Spear
Sentinel Staff Writer
December 4, 2007

The Florida Energy Commission on Monday wrapped up a year of crafting ablueprint for how the state can continue to power its homes, businesses andcars, all without causing a climate disaster.

But one nagging question remained after the panel went home: When will thechanges start to show up on utility bills or reduce the threat of globalwarming?

"This is a solid, comprehensive energy policy," said Tommy Boroughs, thegroup's chairman. "It's got vision, goals, and the nuts and bolts for how todo it. What we have set in motion is the process."

The commission was created by the Legislature to come up with ideas forlawmakers to consider next year. So some of the most significant measuresremain months, if not years, away from being put to work.

The panel's work came amid soaring expectations brought by Gov. CharlieCrist, who in July unveiled ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gases,capturing energy from the sun and increasing efficiency in everything fromlight bulbs to entire homes.

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New York Times


American Exception: Serving Life for Providing Car to Killers

December 4, 2007

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. - Early in the morning of March 10, 2003, after araucous party that lasted into the small hours, a groggy and hungover20-year-old named Ryan Holle lent his Chevrolet Metro to a friend. Thatdecision, prosecutors later said, was tantamount to murder.

The friend used the car to drive three men to the Pensacola home of amarijuana dealer, aiming to steal a safe. The burglary turned violent, andone of the men killed the dealer's 18-year-old daughter by beating her headin with a shotgun he found in the home.

Mr. Holle was a mile and a half away, but that did not matter.

He was convicted of murder under a distinctively American legal doctrinethat makes accomplices as liable as the actual killer for murders committedduring felonies like burglaries, rapes and robberies.

Mr. Holle, who had given the police a series of statements in which heseemed to admit knowing about the burglary, was convicted of first-degreemurder. He is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of paroleat the Wakulla Correctional Institution here, 20 miles southwest ofTallahassee.

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Forwarded from Michael Rajner

If you are available, please join us on Saturday to support the affirmativemembers of the school board.

When: Saturday, December 8
Time: 9:00am to noon

Where: St. Lucy County School Board
School District Offices
4204 Okeechobee Road
Fort Pierce, FL

Michael Emanuel Rajner
National Community Organizer
National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA)
Telephone: (305) 677-3506 / (954) 272-8131
Cellular: (954) 288-1999


'Condom field trip' not part of proposed St. Lucie County sex-ed outline

By Keona Gardner
Sunday, December 2, 2007

FORT PIERCE - After months of debate and inquiry, St. Lucie County SchoolDistrict officials Sunday released an outline of the district's proposedsex-education curriculum.

In mid-May, a county Executive Roundtable - a 27-member committee ofcommunity leaders focused on improving children's lives - overwhelminglyrecommended the "Get Real about AIDS" curriculum to the schoolssuperintendent after learning of the high infection rate of HIV/AIDS forblacks in the county.

The proposed plan released Sunday uses selected lessons from this curriculumto be taught to students in grades four through 12.

The public is invited to attend a forum to discuss concerns about thecurriculum from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at School District offices, 4204Okeechobee Road, Fort Pierce. The School Board plans to discuss and possiblyvote on the curriculum at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Missing from the proposed plan are two of the most controversial topicsoriginally presented: the lessons defining different sex acts, and a "condomfield trip," meant for students to purchase condoms at a drug store.

However, the proposed curriculum will include a videotape lecture duringwhich a physician will instruct students how to use condoms. The video willbe shown to students starting in the eighth grade. Parents who do not wanttheir child to participate will have to request an exemption two weeksbefore the planned lesson.



Kindergarten through Grade 3: Germs and how they are spread, proper personalhygiene, peer pressure and how not to get into trouble

Grade 4: Informational talk about AIDS




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