Monday, January 14, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST January 14, 2008

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South Florida's tougher new water restrictions will start Tuesday
For most lawns, that means once-weekly starting Tuesday

By Andy Reid
January 14, 2008

Once-a-week watering limits beginning Tuesday are intended to trigger whatregulators call a "change in culture" needed to protect South Florida'swater supply.

After the driest back-to-back years on record, South Florida water managersare imposing their most far-reaching restrictions ever, covering most homesand businesses from Orlando to the Keys.

As for whether sprinklers across South Florida will shut down when they'resupposed to, Dorothea Madrigrano, of Boca Raton, said she will believe itwhen she sees it. Madrigrano said she saw too many neighbors watering atwill last year and had too many calls to report violations go unanswered.

"A lot of people just couldn't care less," Madrigrano said. "These peopleare watering their heads off and here we are following the rules."

The South Florida Water Management District contends habits have to changethis year because the strain on water supplies continues to worsen.

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Miami Herald

Campus paper sizzles with controversy

Posted on Mon, Jan. 14, 2008

A budding alternative newspaper at Palm Beach Atlantic University has becomea satirical outlet for student concerns about what some say are increasinglystrict Christian-based policies that control the campus paper and stifleunorthodox ideas.

The Bacon, which plays on the name The Beacon -- the traditional studentpaper -- uses humor to question rules students aren't apt to publiclychallenge at the 40-year-old school in downtown.

One Bacon headline from last year reads, ''Student promises not to be gay byFriday,'' in response to a school policy banning homosexuality.

Although Bacon editors say they don't fear an administrative backlash fromstories lampooning bans on secular music in the school gym and more seriousissues of ''values violations,'' they keep their identities hidden to avoidofficial queries.

Becky Peeling, PBAU's spokeswoman, said she can't respond to concernsbrought by anonymous sources, but that The Bacon isn't a worry to theschool.

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Miami Herald

Early voting begins Monday in Florida

Posted on Mon, Jan. 14, 2008

Early voting begins Monday for the Jan. 29 Florida primary and property tax referendum.Early voting is designated by law to begin 15 days before an election.Residents interested in voting early should check with their local electionsoffice for locations.

Voters who don't want to make a trip to the elections office can alsorequest an absentee ballot from their county's supervisor of elections bymail or by phone. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Jan. 23.

The state Legislature moved up its primary last year to Jan. 29 so that itwould have more effect, even though Democratic and Republican party rulesstate it should take place no sooner than Feb. 5. The national parties havepunished Florida by stripping the state of all Democratic delegates and halfits Republican delegation to the national nominating conventions.

Because Florida is a closed primary state, only Democrats and Republicanscan vote in those primaries. But anyone can vote for the state's propertytax referendum.

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Early voting sites in Palm Beach County for Jan. 29 election

January 14, 2008

More information

WHERE TO GO: Registered Palm Beach County voters can go to any of thedesignated sites to vote early, unlike Election Day voting, when people mustvote at specified neighborhood polling places.

MAKE IT FASTER: Bring your driver's license. Though other forms of ID areaccepted, a license is the one that poll workers can process most quickly.Bring a sample ballot, palm card or newspaper listing with your choicesmarked.

AVOID ERROR: If you suspect an error, summon a poll worker before pushingthe red button to cast a vote. It's too late if you've already pushed thevoting button.

IDENTIFICATION: Voters should bring photo identification that includes asignature. Besides state-issued driver's licenses or ID cards, otheraccepted forms include passports, employer IDs, buyer's club cards, studentIDs and credit cards with photographs. If the photo ID does not contain thevoter's signature, another piece of identification with a signature isrequired. A voter information card, known by many as a voter registrationcard, isn't required.

Sources: Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office, state Division ofElections


Miami Herald

South Florida's economic outlook

Posted on Mon, Jan. 14, 2008

It seems clear that the South Florida economy, like that of the rest of thenation, will be slowing to a tortoise pace in 2008.

Much harder to discern is how bad ''bad'' will be.

Many economists and business leaders note that the region's economy isholding up remarkably well in the face of multiple shocks: the housingdownturn, the credit crunch and sky-high energy prices.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties are expected to slog through the first halfof 2008, with the economy gaining steam in the second half, aided in part bylower interest rates.


The region's big ace in the hole is its strong ties to Latin America andEurope, with robust trade and foreign investment helping offset the domesticsoftening.

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Miami Herald

Caution pays

Posted on Mon, Jan. 14, 2008

It seems such a natural: a people-mover between Fort Lauderdale-HollywoodInternational Airport and Port Everglades, which are less than two milesapart.

Either a monorail or suspended roadway could whisk cruise passengers fromtheir flights to the port's ships. But even after a new study unveiled at ahearing Thursday showed fairly solid numbers predicting a growing need for aseamless transit system between the two facilities, Broward Countycommissioners remain lukewarm. They shouldn't be faulted for being cautious.

Post 9/11 security demands and the project's estimated cost of $1.4 billion,how to pay for it and which system would be better -- monorail or suspendedroadway -- remain to be answered. Commissioners should direct staff togather the answers before it commits to a project that, on second look, isno slam dunk.


Orlando Sentinel,0,4143967.story?coll=orl_tab01_layout

Survey results reveal residents' growing discontent with life in Florida
A survey reveals increasing dissatisfaction with life in Florida. Thediscontent may be an early warning sign, analysts say.

Maya Bell
Sentinel Staff Writer
January 14, 2008

Long a powerful magnet, Florida is losing some of its luster as pessimismabout the quality of life in paradise grows stronger.

Nearly half of the Floridians polled for the second-annual Sunshine StateSurvey say life in Florida is worse today than it was five years ago, and 37percent think the decline will continue during the next five years. Amongthe chief concerns: high property taxes and homeowners insurance, so-sopublic schools, and ineffective growth management.

As a result, one in three Floridians would tell a loved one or friend not tomove to the once-vaunted Sunshine State, and one in five is seriouslyconsidering moving elsewhere.

"Think about it: Your best friend from college called you up and said, 'Hey,we're thinking about moving to Florida and you said, 'Don't come,' " saidBrad Coker, managing partner for Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., whichconducted the phone survey in late November. "That's noteworthy. Ten yearsago, I don't think you would have seen those kinds of numbers. Everybody wasmoving here. Everyone wanted to be here."

The annual survey was established last year to identify issues of growingpublic concern and, when necessary, motivate policymakers to do somethingabout them. Sponsors plan to ask the same set of core questions every yearto give policymakers an accurate gauge of public opinion.

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St. Petersburg Times

Who can win Florida?
Democrats aren't sure whether Obama or Clinton would have a better shot inNovember.

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published January 14, 2008

If you're looking for Florida Democrats fired up about Barack Obama orHillary Rodham Clinton, you might want to look somewhere besides Florida'sPanhandle.

"Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? You could flip a coin. I'm not too sureeither one of them is going to run very well up in North Florida," saidformer Democratic state Rep. Dwight Stansel, a farmer from Wellborn who isrunning for Suwanee County tax collector.

He prefers John Edwards, a fellow Southerner.

"I could vote for John McCain even," Stansel said, "and there aren't toomany Republicans I could vote for."

The recipe for a Democrat to win statewide in Florida is this: Win big insoutheast Florida, stay competitive along the I-4 corridor loaded with swingvoters, and avoid being crushed in conservative North Florida.

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Miami Herald

Giuliani turns to prayer in Florida

Posted on Sun, Jan. 13, 2008

With his plan for winning the GOP presidential nomination riding largely ona Florida victory at the end of the month, Rudy Giuliani asked anevangelical congregation for prayers instead of votes Sunday and quotedscripture to evoke a message of hope and perseverance.

"I'm not coming here to ask for your vote," he said. "That's up to you andit's not the right place. But I am coming here to ask you for something veryspecial and more important: I'm asking for your prayers."

While other Republican candidates are focused on Tuesday's Michigan primary,Giuliani is following a strategy of pushing for a Jan. 29 victory in Floridahe hopes will propel him toward a dominant showing on Feb. 5, when more than20 states hold primaries and caucuses, and then on to the nomination.

Once a strong front-runner in national polls, the former New York City mayorhas fallen well behind the three candidates jockeying for a victory inMichigan, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

"I've faced odds that were at times seemingly impossible, situations wherepeople had given up hope, but we didn't listen to the doubters, we didn'tlisten to the naysayers," Giuliani told several thousand worshippers at ElRey Jesus church in Miami.

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Florida Today

Our view: Don't gamble with education

Crist, lawmakers should ensure money from gambling taxes really goes toFlorida students and classrooms

January 14, 2008

It feels like déjà vu all over again.

Florida political leaders promise that tax money from gambling will gotoward educating our children at under-funded schools and universities, withthe state reaping billions in revenue.

That makes approving a pro-gambling measure the right thing to do.

Sound familiar?

It should, because that was the pitch from Tallahassee lawmakers that ledvoters to approve the Florida Lottery in 1986. But the two decades sincethen have proven citizens were conned.

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Palm Beach Post

Lake O has its limits

Palm Beach Post Editorial
Monday, January 14, 2008

Water managers say they have no other choice: If the drought continues, theymay have to drain Lake Okeechobee to supply water for farms and groves.South Florida Water Management District Board Chairman Eric Buermannprovides the grim visual: "There may be fish flipping and flopping on thebottom of the lake as the water goes down" - perhaps to an all-time low of 6feet. The board has approved a $25 million emergency plan that includes $1.4million for pumps to drain the lake, which permanently could harm the lake'shealth.

The district is stepping up efforts to complete a treatment plant by Marchinstead of August so that Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay, which now drawfrom the lake, can take water from the deep Floridan Aquifer instead. "We'renot draining the lake irresponsibly," said water district spokesman JesusRodriguez. "We're preparing for the worst possible scenario. The possibilityexists that we could cut agriculture off completely."

That would be extraordinary. The district blames the drought, noting that2006 and 2007 were the driest years since the state began keeping records,though just an inch of rainfall separates those years from the previousrecord low of 85 inches in 1955-56. Then, however, the ditch that replacedthe Kissimmee River north of the lake did not exist. Draining wetlands andwater from the northern chain of lakes causes marshes to dry out completely,killing wildlife. While the district can implant snails that the Evergladessnail kite eats, other wildlife may not reappear for years, and some speciesmay be gone forever.

Dropping the lake as low as 6 feet also would threaten tourism that the lakesupports. While agriculture deserves attention, what has happened toproposals to make farmers store more water on their own land? Many arereluctant to use crop lands for storage when the lake is available as areservoir. But if lake water is restricted, more farmers might considerbuilding reservoirs. The delay in Everglades restoration projects to storeand clean water also has been a problem.

For the future, completing the Kissimmee River restoration and thedistrict's plan for projects to store more water north of the lake couldhelp. For today, however, the district must make the lake's health as high apriority as farmers demanding water for crops.


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