Monday, January 07, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST January 7, 2008

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St. Petersburg Times

Crist wisely ignores the extremists

A Times Editorial
Published January 7, 2008

Our sensible "live and let live" Republican governor has done it again,governing from the middle rather than allowing himself to be dragged intothe ideological extremes of his party. Gov. Charlie Crist is telling thosewho are intent on pushing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sexmarriage that he isn't interested in their cause. He has the seriousbusiness of the state to attend to.

Florida is facing skyrocketing property insurance costs, a housing marketmeltdown, reduced state revenues and educational challenges as far as onecan see. These are issues commanding the time and attention of the governorand the public. A mean-spirited constitutional amendment that essentiallyrepeats what is in state law is about the last thing this state needs. Acampaign to ban same-sex marriage will only serve to polarize Floridians,distracting the state from the serious challenges ahead.

The so-called Florida Marriage Protection Amendment is ill-advised beyondthe intolerance it communicates to gay and lesbian Floridians. The languagedoes not just outlaw same-sex marriage; it prevents the recognition of any"substantial equivalent" to marriage as well, meaning civil unions andpossibly domestic partnerships.

Under the amendment, Florida's cities and counties that maintain domesticpartnership registries may have to shut them down, with those couplespossibly losing health and other partner benefits. The Florida Legislature'sOffice of Economic and Demographic Research says that terminating theseregistries could mean additional costs to county-run hospitals when patientsno longer enjoy the insurance coverage once provided by their domesticpartners.

Registered partners also typically have rights to visit each other in thehospital and make health care decisions for one another. Elderlyheterosexual couples could be particularly impacted if they aren't marriedin order to protect their Social Security payments.

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Dear Community Activist,

Once again, we are approaching the March celebration of Women's History.The Broward County Women's History Coalition will be inducting several newmembers into the Broward County Women's Hall of Fame. Is YOUR exceptionalwoman employee, volunteer, or colleague going to be recognized??

Women are accepted, and inducted, into the Hall of Fame upon the applicationand recommendation of their friends, co-workers, employers, and employees.Without YOUR input, a deserving woman might never be recognized.

I am attaching an application form to this e-mail. I would request that youtake the time, energy, and dedication to acknowledge a woman in your workenvironment, volunteer organization, or neighborhood who deserves to beenshrined in the Hall of Fame.

We all are in awe of those who go above and beyond the call of duty.Induction into the Broward County Women's Hall of Fame is a community wideendorsement of the inductee's work.

Time is getting short. Please submit an application for a woman that YOUbelieve is deserving of this honor. Our induction ceremonies will be heldon March 9th,at the North Regional/BCC Library in Coconut Creek.

Please share this message with your e-mail lists. We would like to be surethat EVERY woman deserving of this honor is nominated. That is the onlyvehicle available to enshrine these women into the Broward County Women'sHall of Fame. We need your participation.

Thank you,

Patti Lynn, President
Broward County Women's History Coalition



Daytona Beach News-Journal

Same-sex marriage remains hot topic

Staff Writers
January 05, 2008

For Beau McDaniels and many other gay and lesbian Floridians, the politicalbattles about same-sex marriage are about people's rights.

"It's not like we have a choice," said McDaniels, pastor of HopeMetropolitan Community Church in Daytona Beach. "We were born with it. It'sin our DNA. Yet they (supporters of gay-marriage bans) want us to give upour right to love each other."

But John Stemberger, leader of a drive to pass a state constitutionalamendment next year barring same-sex marriages, said he and other supportersare not taking away people's rights. Instead, they are trying to protecthusband-and-wife marriages that they view as a foundation of families andsociety.

"We believe if we have a robust debate in this state about whetherhomosexual marriages are in the best interest of children, families andcommunities and the best for the common good of society, we believe we'regoing to prevail, very simply," Stemberger said.

The debate about same-sex marriage is likely to grow in the coming months asFloridians get ready to vote on the amendment in November.

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Miami Herald

Florida is losing some of its luster

Posted on Mon, Jan. 07, 2008

The word has gotten out about Florida. It is not the paradise that manypeople once thought it was. According to recent data from the U.S. CensusBureau, Florida's population grew only 1.1 percent in 2007 -- compared to1.8 percent in 2006 -- the slowest pace in 10 years. More people, especiallyretirees, are looking to states like Georgia, South and North Carolina andTennessee to spend their golden years.
Fewer people moving in

There is no mystery to why Florida has lost some of the shine in its image:devastating hurricanes, expensive housing, high insurance rates and unfairproperty taxes. These concerns have cast such a negative pall on Floridathat 37 percent fewer people moved here in 2007 than 2006.

State leaders should worry about this for at least two reasons:

. First, the retirees. When all of the pluses and minuses are added up,retirees provide about $4 in revenue for every $3 they cost in governmentservices, according a University of Florida study. Florida may not want torecruit retirees as aggressively as it has in the past, but they still are ademographic group worth having and worth luring -- especially when manyother states are actively recruiting them. Ignoring seniors, as seems to bethe policy now, is a losing proposition.

. Second, Florida's economy is highly dependent on population growth. Thisis a problem. Depending on population growth to fund essential services,such as education, healthcare, prisons and roads, is a poor economic model.Depending on population growth means that Florida relies heavily onconstruction, home-building, real-estate and related industries to keepstate revenues flowing.

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Miami Herald

Florida may face changes to lethal injection

Posted on Mon, Jan. 07, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Kentucky death-penalty case Monday thatcould determine how Florida lethally injects convicted killers and whetherthey should die more like dogs.

Right now, animal-cruelty laws in Florida -- and most of the other 35lethal-injection states, including Kentucky -- prohibit and severelyrestrict the use of painful drugs that paralyze and stop the hearts of dogsand cats when they are euthanized by trained veterinarians andanimal-shelter workers.

The animals are simply overdosed with a barbiturate.

Condemned killers are not. They are first given a barbiturate to knock themout so they feel no pain. Then they are soon injected with a paralyzing drugand, finally, a heart-stopper.

But sometimes mistakes happen, as it did Dec. 13, 2006, when Floridaexecutioners improperly inserted the needles into the arms of Miami killerAngel Diaz. He took 34 minutes to die -- twice as long as usual.

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St. Petersburg Times

Numbers don't lie: Tax system broken

A Times Editorial
Published January 7, 2008

Transplants and tourists have fueled Florida's economy for so long that anydip in either group creates a shock. But the latest population numbers,coupled with the plummeting housing market, ought to awaken politicians whothink state government can keep treading water.

The population grew at an annual rate less than half that of the previousdecade. It is still growing by a large number - 193,735 last year - but instarkly different ways. The number of transplants from other states droppedto 35,301 last year - one fifth the amount of the previous year.

In public schools, the reversal is more pronounced. State economicforecasters now predict that school enrollment will decline next year forthe third year in a row.

These trends could be viewed as entirely welcome in a state withtraffic-choked highways and overcrowded schools except that they alsoundermine a tax system that is so fragile it assures the supply ofgovernment services can never keep pace with the demand for them. Floridianswant great universities, for example, but the Legislature keeps taking moneyaway from them.

Just read from the latest Cornerstone report produced by the Florida Chamberof Commerce: "The ability of Florida's educational system to produce theworkforce of the future remains a greater concern. ... Four out of five newjobs in Florida through the year 2010 (will) require some form ofpost-secondary education and training. Florida's educational system ... isnot producing graduates at that rate."

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Lakeland Ledger

Lawmakers Exploit Fund Loophole

St. Petersburg Times
Published: Monday, January 7, 2008

TALLAHASSEE | State Sen. Jeff Atwater can't accept a free cup of coffee whenhe meets with a lobbyist because of a gift ban intended to lessen theinfluence of special interests on Florida's Legislature.

But the North Palm Beach Republican rakes in donations of up to $25,000 fora political committee under his control.

Roughly a year before he is expected to assume the Senate presidency,Atwater sits atop a $521,000 fund raised from a few dozen donors in the past11 months. Among the $25,000 contributors were AutoNation, political actioncommittees for car dealers and Realtors, and Hartman & Tyner, a gamblingcompany.

Atwater is one of more than two dozen lawmakers who together have amassedmillions of dollars under a continuing anomaly in Florida' politicalfundraising laws.

While state election law limits individual contributions to candidates'campaign accounts to $500, there is no similar limit on committees ofcontinuing existence or CCEs.

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Susan Torres Art Exhibit Opens Monday [Tonight!]

ArtsUnited will feature the paintings of local artist Susan Torres in a soloexhibit at the Stonewall Library and Archives from January 7 through February 1, 2008. The gallery is located at 1717 North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. The exhibit opens with a reception to meet the artist from 6:30 to 8:00 PM on Monday, January 7, 2008.

Born in New York, Susan Torres is a self-taught artist who, only recently,decided to pursue her art as a career. At first, Ms. Torres' paintings werevery traditional in style. Eventually she explored abstracts and felt animmediate connection. Recently, Susan has developed a curious style ofcapturing her characters and personalities on canvas.

Using vivid colors and bold characters, Torres creates a unique and engagingexpression of women. She captures the alter egos of these women in a playfuland alluring way. Susan now makes her home in South Florida. For more infor-mation about the artist, look online at

Admission to the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.Refreshments will be served at the reception. Funding for this art serieshas been provided by Comcast and ArtsUnited.


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