Tuesday, January 01, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST January 1, 2008

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South Florida home prices continue to slide

By Paul Owers
January 1, 2008

November offered no hint of a housing recovery in Broward County. Themedian price and sales of existing homes fell again, as they have for muchof 2007.

"The story is still the same one we've been dealing with," said Mike Larson,an analyst with Weiss Research in Jupiter. "Southeast Florida is one thetoughest housing markets in the country right now."

Analysts say the housing slump will worsen early in 2008 as moreadjustable-rate mortgages reset higher, sending homeowners into foreclosureand adding to the glut of properties for sale.

Some analysts see an improvement beginning later in the year, while otherssay that might not happen until 2009 or 2010.

Broward's median price for homes sold in November was $348,100, down 4percent from $362,000 a year ago, the Florida Association of Realtors saidMonday. Sales plunged 34 percent, to 401 from 605 last November.

more . . . . .


Palm Beach Post


Unfinished business remains for first-term 'people's governor'

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Tuesday, January 01, 2008

TALLAHASSEE - The slight, silver-haired gentleman shops at Publix, eats atSubway, drives his yellow Mustang with the top down alone along the St.Petersburg waterfront, and parties with the frat crowd in the capital cityof Tallahassee.

And that's a year after Charlie Crist moved into the Governor's Mansion.

The second year in office
Gov. Charlie Crist has several top priorities still unresolved from lastyear and several others to achieve during his next three years as governor.

Property insurance: Crist hopes to force property insurers to further reducehomeowner premiums by possibly filing a class-action lawsuit. He recentlytapped a team of three high-profile trial lawyers to look into it.

Property taxes: Crist is campaigning for a constitutional amendment on theJan. 29 ballot that would, among other things, allow homeowners to take aportion of their Save Our Homes property assessment cap with them if theybuy a bigger house.

more . . . . .


Orlando Sentinel


Florida employs more workers
State Sen. Al Lawson says Gov. Charlie Crist is responsible for theincrease.

The Associated Press
January 1, 2008


The number of state government employees increased for the first time sincea downward trend began in 2001 under former Gov. Jeb Bush, according to datafrom a new state report.

The increase was apparent in final numbers from 2006, the last year ofBush's term, and early numbers from 2007, under new Gov. Charlie Crist.

It includes positions in the state university system, justiceadministration, courts and other areas.

As of June 30, the state had 171,333 employees, up from 167,268 in 2006 and165,198 in 2005, according to the state's year-end Annual Workforce Report.

The report also found that Florida has one of the lowest ratios of stateemployees per capita in the nation.

more . . . . .




Forum to focus on fixing Lake O, preserving water supply

By Andy Reid
January 1, 2008

Lake Okeechobee sits at an all-time low, but the thirst of nearby crops anda growing population continues to pull at what decades ago became SouthFlorida's backup reservoir.

On Jan. 17, federal and state policymakers will gather with local officialsand water users to talk about ways to protect the lake while meeting theneeds of farmers, residents, fishermen and others who rely on the water.

The goal of the Decision Makers Forum is to keep Lake Okeechobee at thecenter of the state and federal Everglades restoration plan, while alsoinsuring that local communities buy into the need to clean up and protectthe lake.

Stemming the flow of phosphorus and other polluting nutrients into the730-square-mile lake must be seen as an economic boon to lakesidecommunities in order to have success cleaning up what's considered theheadwaters of the Everglades, said Martha Musgrove, a retired journalistworking with Florida Atlantic University to coordinate the forum in BelleGlade.

"Can Lake Okeechobee be a reservoir and a healthy fishery? There has to besome give and take there," Musgrove said.

more . . . . . .


The New York Times


Fund Frozen, Florida Towns Feel the Pinch

January 1, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - On Nov. 28, Marcia L. Dedert, finance director ofthis rapidly growing city, called the administrators of Florida's state-runinvestment pool to ask whether it was still safe to park her city's moneythere. She was hearing talk of urgent withdrawals by others worried aboutthe pool's investments in debt related to subprime mortgages.

After the pool's manager told her the money would be all right, Ms. Dedertrecalled, she deposited $135 million in bond proceeds. But less than 24hours later, the administrators froze the pool and blocked withdrawals tohalt a full-blown run.

Now the city cannot touch the money. And rest of the $371 million it has inthe pool is also off-limits unless the city pays a 2 percent penalty.

Port St. Lucie is among hundreds of local governments in Florida that weredrawn to the pool by its air of reliability and the promise of higherreturns than banks offered. They now find themselves grappling with theconsequences of having their money frozen.

Some have had to borrow money to meet day-to-day obligations. Others havehad to shift money around for the time being or consider postponinglong-planned projects.

more . . . . .


Ft. Lauderdale

Free Fiction Writing Workshop Series for Gay and Lesbian Writers

Is starting to write short stories or a novel one of your New Year'sresolutions? Do you want to learn how to get started? Or do you have somedrafts in a desk drawer that need to see the light of day?

A new series of workshops starting in January may be just what you need.Classes meet online and the program is free.

Lavender Writes is sponsoring a series of online fiction writing workshopsto help beginner and intermediate fiction writers expand their skills,refine their craft and develop their critical-analytical skills. Studentswill learn the elements of fiction writing, use those elements andtechniques in their own work and effectively use the drafting and revisionprocess. Meets online every week, but students can participate any time. Objectives include learning about and understanding the elements offiction-characterization, setting, point of view--and how to use theseelements in their own work. Students also learn how to objectively critiqueand analyze a piece of fiction with an eye toward revision. Students withoutcomputer access can use computers for free at any Broward County PublicLibrary. Taught by Karen Dale Woman. Free, but pre-registration requiredat LWrites@mindspring.com


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