Saturday, January 12, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST January 12, 2008

**IF YOU CAN'T ACCESS THE FULL ARTICLE, CONTACT US AT and we'll be happy to send the full article.


Miami Herald

Police chief rebuffs citizens' call to testify

Posted on Sat, Jan. 12, 2008

The scandal surrounding Miami Police Chief John Timoney's free use of aluxury Lexus SUV won't go away.

On Friday, Timoney refused to testify before Miami's Citizen InvestigativePanel, a citizens group created by the City Commission to review allegationsof police misconduct.

The chief's actions forced the panel to abruptly postpone the scheduledhearing. No date has been set for a new one.

The panel had earlier sought a subpoena to have Timoney testify, but he hadrefused, arguing that the panel had overstepped its authority.

That prompted the panel to go to court, where last week a Miami-Dade circuitjudge ordered the police chief to comply with the subpoena.

more . . . . .


Miami Herald

Please send Democratic hopefuls to us

Posted on Sat, Jan. 12, 2008

To: Democratic leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina
From: Florida Democrats

First of all, we'd just like to say that we're sorry. Really sorry. We knowwe ignored party protocol when our state's presidential primary moved fromMarch to Jan. 29 so the candidates would spend less time and money with youand more with us. It was obnoxious and self-serving and maybe not even goodfor democracy.

You all live in smaller, far more charming states where, gosh, even acandidate running a shoe-leather, shoestring operation like Mike Huckabeecan get noticed. We hear voters in your states actually go to see candidateswithout bringing checks or expecting free bagels.

We'd also like to apologize for the tone we used when you made thecandidates ignore us. We used words in anger, like ''selfish'' and''terrorist,'' and we didn't really mean it. Well, we did mean it at thetime. Who do you think you are, telling the presidential candidates not tospeak to voters in the largest, most diverse battleground state in thecountry? Do you think it's more important for you to get all the attentionthan for the party to actually win in November?

Oops. There's that anger again.

So here's the thing. We were just wondering, if it wouldn't be too muchtrouble, would you be so kind as to release the candidates from theirso-called ''pledge'' not to campaign in Florida? After all of your votes areover, of course, so there's no danger of the candidates spending a singleminute or dollar in Florida when they could be spending it on you.

All we're asking for is three days. Just three, short, 24-hour days. Jan.27, 28 and 29 to be exact.

The votes in Iowa and New Hampshire have already come and gone. Nevada votesJan. 19, and South Carolina's primary is on Jan. 26. So we thought it wouldbe really great if we could spend those three days between South Carolinaand our primary with the candidates we'll be voting for.

We can't tell you how much it would mean to us. We've been feeling verydispirited -- dissed, if you will. Do you have any idea how much money wegive to the candidates and the party? Millions of dollars! Frankly, if yousay no to this very humble request, it would be only out of spite.

Sorry, sorry, sorry. We're trying to heal.

What we meant to say is that if you would be so inclined as to do us thistiny favor, it would go a long way toward party unity. And it would alsoshut up those smug Republican party officials and candidates who keeplording this embarrassing spat over us.

Now we know you may be hearing from Barack Obama's campaign on this issue.He's a fine fellow, but a runner-up behind Hillary Clinton in the polls atthe moment, so he might not be keen on the Florida primary looking like areal contest all of a sudden.

So here's what you do. Tell him Florida voters really care about HOPE andCHANGE. And tell him that if he wins South Carolina on Jan. 26, he wouldhave a serious shot at coming close to Clinton in Florida, if not overtakingher. Which would be huge.

In return for your act of kindness, here's what we can offer you: We swearwe won't screw up another presidential election. We've gotten rid of thechads, the touch-screen machines are on their way out, and the designer ofthe so-called ''butterfly ballot'' is long gone.

We can't thank you enough for your consideration of this matter. And if yousay no, we are going to take our new optical scan machines and shove them .
. .

Yikes. We really need to work on anger management.

Beth Reinhard is the political writer for The Miami Herald.


Tallahassee Democrat

Opposition to Amendment 1 grows

By Jim Ash
Article published Jan 12, 2008

The drumbeat of opposition to Amendment 1 grew louder Friday, when theFlorida League of Mayors and the business-backed Florida TaxWatch addedtheir names to the list.

Speaking at a Tallahassee news conference, Sunrise mayor and leaguepresident Steve Ferren accused the $9.3 billion property tax-cutting measureon the Jan. 29 ballot of making a broken tax system worse.

"This proposition takes an unfair, inequitable tax system, as it alreadyexists, and makes it more unfair," Ferren said.

The measure would continue to give long-term homesteaders a bigger tax breakand continue shifting the burden to businesses and second-home owners, hesaid.

Noting that supporters have raised $2.8 million for their campaign largelyfrom industry groups, Ferren took a swipe at Palm Beach millionaire DonaldTrump. Amendment 1's chief supporter, Gov. Charlie Crist, recently met withTrump on a fund-raising trip to New York.

more . . . . .



Rate increases could erase savings from proposed property tax cut

By Scott Wyman
January 11, 2008

Florida homeowners might not save as much as they thought if the proposalon the Jan. 29 ballot to revamp the property tax system passes.

Nothing would stop local governments from raising tax rates to recover anyrevenue they lose. They wouldn't even have to say it's a tax increase.

It's a scenario far from what voters have been told in the lead-up to thevote.

Gov. Charlie Crist and other supporters of the constitutional amendment havetrumpeted that homeowners and businesses will save more than $9 billion overthe next five years, with taxes for the average homeowner dropping $240 ayear. Crist's Vote Yes on 1's Web site says it's "a tax cut - guaranteed bylaw."

It also contradicts the gloomy future portrayed by opponents in which taxcuts force governments to lay off cops and firefighters and close parks andlibraries.

more . . . . .


Miami Herald

Florida Red and Blue Raises More Than $400,000 in Q4

News release: Florida Red and Blue, the bipartisan, statewide campaignfighting the "marriage protection" amendment that will be on the November2008 ballot, raised more than $400,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007 in cashand in-kind contributions. Since its launch last spring, Red and Blue hasraised more than $1.5 million to battle the amendment. "Our campaign is ontarget with our message and our fundraising goals," said Derek Newton,Florida Red and Blue campaign manager. "We're building our statewideinfrastructure, planning our media campaign, and continuing our outreach.

Every major newspaper that has editorialized about the amendment opposes it.Floridians see through this disingenuous initiative." Florida Red and Bluehas also added staff this quarter. Among staff changes: Amy Rose has beennamed Political/Field Director. Rose, formerly on the staff of the BrowardCounty Commissioner Sue Gunzberger, is a noted community and civic activist.She had been working on Red and Blue's finance staff. Chad Thilberger hasjoined the finance staff to focus on Broward, Palm Beach and MartinCounties. He most recently was director of development at the Humane Societyof the Treasure Coast and was formerly director of community relations atFlorida International University. Sam Dorr has also joined the financestaff. Prior to joining Red and Blue, Dorr was the Dade County fieldorganizer for Jim Davis for Governor. He also worked in Washington for Rep.Dennis Moore (D-KS). Additionally, Peter Roulhac, Chief Executive Officer ofthe Orange Bowl Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Orange BowlCommittee, has joined Red and Blue's Board. Before joining the Orange BowlFoundation Roulhac was vice President and Director of Community Developmentat Wachovia National Bank, N.A. in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, from 1992to 2006. Red and Blue's executive committee includes Jon Kislak, formerfinance chair to former Rep. Clay Shaw and current attorney general BillMcCollum; Bob Farmer, national fundraising chair for the John Kerry, BillClinton and Michael Dukakis campaigns; and Heddy Pena, executive director ofSafeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE). On the web:


St. Petersburg Times

A new era, a new song
Sorry, Stephen Foster, but Old Folks at Home just might have a successor.

By DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 12, 2008

TAMPA -- When Jan Hinton heard about Florida's search for a new state song,images of the spiny sawgrass in the Everglades came to mind. And they stuck.

Using the sawgrass as her inspiration, Hinton, an elementary school musicteacher in Fort Lauderdale, wrote a song describing Florida that proved tobe a winner.

Hinton's song, Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky), was named the topvote-getter Friday of a contest to become the new state song, officialsannounced.

The song won't replace Florida's official ballad, Old Folks at Home, justyet. It still needs to be approved by the Legislature.

State Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, who is leading the effort to replacethe song some consider racist and outdated, praised Hinton's song astouching.

"As a born and raised Floridian, that is a powerful song," he said.

Hinton's song was among 243 submissions. Two others -My Florida Home byChristopher Marshall of Orlando and Florida, My Home, by Carl Ashley ofBoynton Beach and Betsy Dixon of Lantana -- were named as finalists.

Officials opened up voting on the Internet, with Hinton's song receivingmore than half the 8,000 votes, said Carmen White, a spokeswoman for theFlorida Music Educators' Association, which managed the contest and selectedthe finalists.

more . . . . .


Sarasota Herald Tribune

Mixed messages on state economy


TALLAHASSEE -- As lawmakers face an additional $2 billion budget shortfalland a plummet in housing prices not seen since the Great Depression, thegovernor and top legislative leaders said Wednesday that all is not asgloomy as it seems.

It is a battle of mixed messages as unprecedented cuts in state spendingseem likely to continue. Lawmakers already cut about $1 billion in October.House budget chairman Ray Sansom, R-Destin, told lawmakers in a memoWednesday that the budget will have to be cut by an additional $2 billionthis year.

"Unlike recent downturns in the U.S. economy, this time Florida seems to beworse off than the rest of the nation," Sansom wrote.

But Gov. Charlie Crist dismissed the darkening fiscal troubles, telling ameeting of newspaper business editors that Florida is better off than therest of the nation.

"There are some people that have some predictions for the future of oureconomy that are less than optimistic," Crist said. "Well, I'm an optimistand I don't buy into that."

more . . . . .


[Send your comments about articles to]

No comments: