Wednesday, January 09, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST January 9, 2008

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Washington Post

Florida Appears to Be Losing Its Sunny Magnetism

By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 9, 2008; A03

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The vast flow of people into Florida from elsewherein the United States has been the defining feature of the Sunshine State's20th-century history, draining swamps and spurring development, swelling theeconomy and shaping politics.

Now, the migration has stalled, according to new census figures. Withhurricane fears and the soaring costs of housing and storm insurance, manyhere have begun to fret that Florida, long a mecca for tourists andsnowbirds, has lost its allure.

"The word has gotten out about Florida. It is not the paradise that manypeople once thought it was," the lead editorial in the Miami Herald warnedMonday.

Whether the decline in people moving from other, usually chillier, U.S.locales is temporary or a sign of long-term decline is a matter of debate.But its outlines and economic effects are increasingly clear.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of people moving from otherstates to Florida has declined from 268,000 in 2005 to 35,000 last year --by far the most precipitous drop since such records started being kept in1990.

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Let Democratic candidates campaign here

January 9, 2008

ISSUE: Florida presidential primary looms.

With the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary in the history books, it's apropitious time for the Democratic National Committee to let the party'sWhite House candidates out of their pledge to not campaign in the SunshineState. It would be wise for the DNC to use this window and rethink things.

For starters, the pledge is part illusion. The candidates have not been ableto attend rallies or public events, but they've sure done a lot offundraising. If you're going to ban a state, then ban it completely, notjust to what does or doesn't suit you.

Beyond that hypocrisy, the ban on Florida campaigning is counterproductive.While the Democrats stay away, Republicans are crisscrossing the state,bashing the Democrats' front-runners and building organizational machineryfor the fall election.

One would think that, having lost two presidential elections in large partbecause they lost Florida, the Democratic Party's chieftains would thinktwice about ceding the state's airwaves and town halls to the GOP for anyamount of time, let alone an entire primary season.

The third reason - and a third reason ought not be needed - is the ban hurtspeople who had no role in the offending decision. It wasn't FloridaDemocratic voters who picked the Jan. 29 date. It was the GOP-controlledstate government with, yes, support from Democratic state lawmakers.

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Miami Herald

Florida fundraiser fined more than $209,000

Posted on Wed, Jan. 09, 2008

A veteran fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party has agreed to pay morethan $200,000 to settle charges that a fundraising organization he once ledcommitted numerous election-law violations.

State House Democrats, led at the time by former Rep. Chris Smith of FortLauderdale, set up Florida House Victory in 2003 to raise moneyindependently of the state party during a time when legislative leaders wereat odds with the party chairman, Scott Maddox.

But the Florida Elections Commission ruled last year that the fundraisingcommittee, which has since been shut down, accepted campaign contributionsabove legal limits. The commission found enough evidence to charge FloridaHouse Victory with 209 violations of election law.

Instead of challenging the charges, which Democrats say were the result ofroutine paperwork mistakes, Jeff Ryan, the brother of former State Rep. TimRyan, agreed to pay $209,000 in fines. Ryan, the chief fundraiser for HouseDemocrats, was the official chairman of Florida House Victory even though itwas set up at the urging of legislators.

''It's a recognition that those who were accused don't want to fight andthose who made the accusations were willing to resolve the issue,'' saidMark Herron, an attorney who represented Ryan and Florida House Victory.

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Miami Herald

Fresh airing of evolution draws crowd

Posted on Wed, Jan. 09, 2008

To hear some Floridians tell it Tuesday night, introducing the word''evolution'' into state science-education standards would be a needed stepinto the 21st century.

Others at a meeting at Everglades High School in Miramar urged stateeducation officials to give other theories of the origin of life equalspace -- and let students decide what to believe.

''We don't teach science in Sunday school,'' said Ken Loukinen, president ofthe Atheists of Broward County. ``Please don't teach religion in scienceclass.''

The public forum -- the fourth statewide and only one in South Florida --was the last before the state Board of Education votes on new sciencestandards Feb. 19. Approximately 80 people attended the meeting Tuesdaynight, with about 30 signing up to speak.

In the past few months, thousands have commented on the proposed standardson a state website, which is now closed to public remarks, and hundreds haveturned out at meetings throughout Florida.

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Miami Herald

Water managers plan for worse shortages

Posted on Wed, Jan. 09, 2008

With Lake Okeechobee projected to plunge beneath the reach of existingsupply gates and pipes, South Florida water managers Tuesday approved some$25 million in emergency actions, including new pumps capable of drainingthe lake to unprecedented lows.

Even with the toughest restrictions ever imposed set to take effectTuesday -- limiting Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, Palm Beach and a dozenother counties to once-a-week lawn sprinkling -- water managers said thedriest back-to-back years in at least three-quarters of a century forcedthem to prepare for a crisis that could devastate lawns, crops, theEverglades and life in the big lake.


Eric Buermann, chair of the South Florida Water Management District'sgoverning board, said deeper-drawing pumps were needed to assure suppliesfor surrounding towns and the vast farm belt just southeast of the lake --though some fish might be left ``flipping and flopping.''

In coming months, Buermann warned, the region faces a water shortage ``thelikes of which we have never experienced.''

Water levels in Lake Okeechobee have continued on a slow decline since theend of the summer rainy season. At 10.14 feet above sea level Tuesday, thelake sat five feet below normal and more than a foot below its previousrecord low for the date.

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Miami Herald

Florida's immigrant inmates may be deported

Posted on Wed, Jan. 09, 2008

Florida officials want to send a message to immigrants who are not U.S.citizens and are doing prison time for nonviolent crimes: Go home. Theairfare's on us.

The Florida Department of Corrections and Sen. Mike Bennett, a BradentonRepublican, are discussing the proposal with federal officials as a way torelieve the pressures of immigration and to help curb the explosive growthof Florida's prison population, which could hit 100,000 by year's end.

The go-home offer would extend only to the estimated 2,500 immigrants --whether here legally or illegally -- who are not violent, are not U.S.citizens and who agree to return to and remain in their country of origin.

''It costs something like $20,000 a year to house an inmate, feed him andwatch over him, or we can get rid of these guys for like a $600 planeticket,'' Bennett said. ``Why would anyone oppose that?''

No one did Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate criminal justicecommittee, though assistant Corrections secretary George Sapp noted theLegislature and DOC have to work through some red tape.

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Orlando Sentinel,0,2485991.story?track=rss

Labor, civic groups fight Amendment 1
Opponents say Amendment 1 will indeed compromise public safety.

Aaron Deslatte and April Hunt
Sentinel Staff Writers
January 9, 2008

Meet the face of the opposition to Gov. Charlie Crist's property-taxamendment: your firefighters, emergency responders and teachers.

A coalition of labor unions and civic groups ramped up its battle againstthe Jan. 29 property-tax proposal Tuesday in Orlando, Tallahassee and Miamiby highlighting fears for public safety if voters approve the measure.

The property-tax cut, known as Amendment 1, has pitted Republican-alliedRealtors and businesses led by Crist against Democratic-allied unions thathave formed a political group called Florida Is Our Home.

Last year, Crist urged unions to sit out the fight, pledging that no publicsafety officers would lose their jobs because of tax cuts.

"It's both disingenuous and misleading for the politicians in Tallahassee tosay there will be no negative impact," said Jeff Candage, an agent withTeamsters Local 385, which represents law enforcement in Orange, Seminoleand Volusia counties, at a news conference outside Orlando policeheadquarters. "It has a direct and negative impact on safety for both thecitizens and the employees involved."

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Palm Beach Post

Voter ID law is a fraud
Palm Beach Post Editorial

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Eight years after Bush vs. Gore, the Supreme Court today has a chance tolook better when ruling on an election-law case.

Twenty states now require voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot,even though an estimated 11 percent of voting-age Americans - most of thempoor and minority - have no photo ID. Supporters of such laws tend to beRepublicans, who argue that the laws are necessary to prevent fraud. Criticsof such laws tend to be Democrats, who argue that the laws are designed toeffectively disenfranchise likely Democratic voters.

The test case before the court is Indiana's law, considered the mostrestrictive. It requires a federal (military) or state (driver license) IDwithout allowing the alternatives other states permit. Those without aproper ID can cast a provisional ballot but must verify their vote the nextweek at a county clerk's office. It was upheld by Republican-appointedjudges in the lower courts, with dissent from Democrat-appointed judges. TheBush Justice Department supports the law.

Not to sound cute, but those who favor Indiana's law and others like itcan't ID any case of voter-identity fraud that the law might prevent.Documented fraud problems, such as those related to absentee ballots orregistration, aren't affected. If states really were worried about electionintegrity, the laws would be wider and more on point.

Even the one study supporters cite to make their case is problematic.University of Missouri Professor Jeffrey Milyo said voter turnout in Indianadidn't change between 2002 and 2006, a year after Indianans passed the law.But a look at Professor Milyo's Web site shows a distinct bias in his worktoward positions in line with conservative Republican thought:anti-campaign-finance reform, and liberal media bias.

In 2000, supposedly states'-rights justices ruled that Florida couldn't sortout Florida's election problem. In 2008, the guess is that supposedlystates'-right justices will rule that Indiana can make election law that isneedless at best and unconstitutional at worst. But the court would do muchfor its credibility if it came down the other way.



South Florida: Congressman outlines priorities for his 2nd year
January 9, 2008

U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, promised Tuesday to focus his attentionin Congress on the search for renewable energy sources, children's healthcare and national security.

Speaking to the Broward County Commission about his first year in office,Klein also said he would renew the push for national disaster insurancelegislation to solve the problem of rapidly rising home insurance rates thatSouth Floridians have faced.

Klein cited as accomplishments his votes last year to tighten federal ethicsand lobbying rules, increase veterans' health care coverage, increase theminimum wage and require better fuel efficiency in new cars. On the localfront, Klein noted Congress approved funding for Everglades restoration andheightened security at Port Everglades.


Palm Beach Post

Educators support evolution at hearing

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 09, 2008

MIRAMAR - The theory of evolution is sound science supported by "mountains"of evidence and should not be supplemented by the beliefs of intelligentdesign or creationism in Florida public schools, according to a majority ofspeakers at a public hearing Tuesday evening.

The meeting hosted by officials in the state Department of Mathematics andScience at Everglades High in Miramar was designed to give South Floridiansa chance to comment on new school science standards that, among otherchanges, formally include evolution for the first time.

And it was Darwin's theory that took center stage, with nearly all of the 35speakers touching on evolution and its merits. Those in support of teachingonly evolution outnumbered opponents by 2-to-1.

"I'm extremely against the teaching of intelligent design," said InaAlterman, a former college professor from Delray Beach. "You're talkingabout imaginary beings up in the sky."

The proposed standards, which would be used as the basis for schoolcurricula and standardized testing, identify evolution as the "fundamentalconcept underlying all of biology." The current standards only refer tobiological "changes over time."

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Challenger seeks to unseat Snipes at elections office

Posted by Anthony Man at 11:38 AM

Citing concerns over a lack of community involvement and glitches in someBroward elections, Democratic activist Adriane Reesey is challengingSupervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes' re-election.

Reesey and Snipes, who plans to seek re-election, will face off in the Aug.26 Democratic primary.

"My concern is basic. It's not that I want to vilify my opponent. It's notthat I wish to take a low road and point out all of the issues that havebeen encountered in the office, because we're all aware of those," Reeseysaid.

Discuss this entry

Dr. Snipes and her staff are aware that they have not performed adequatelywith training for the upcoming election in January. A lack of equipment thatworked, late class starts and were only a few of the problems poll workersencountered in this training session. Older worker with less computer skillswill have a definite problem this round and the public will pay for it. Thisis not new information to the SOE. How can you release classes of 40 or morepoll workers from training knowing that the equipment instruction wasinadequate.

Perhaps it is time for a change and it seems that the current SOE is busytelling us all about her accomplishments yet ignoring the problems that havebeen reported.

A note from Adriane Reesey:

Feel free to post comments and begin a dialogue - try to stay positive,please.


Reminder from: The Dolphin Democrats

General Membership Meeting

TONIGHT - Wednesday January 9, 2008 - 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
At GLCC 1717 N. Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale

A debate on Florida's Property Tax Amendment


Representative Ron Klein will be having a town meeting onWEDNESDAY January 9th - 7-8pm

Wilton Mannors Commission Chambers

Remember Mr. Klein is one of the two fresman members of the house,that convinced Speaker Polosi to pull the original trans InclusiveENDA bill.

This will be your chance to educate Mr Klein on the issues thattranspeople face in their daily existance.

Hope to see a HUGE turnout.

City Hall is located at 524 NE 21 Court, Wilton Manors, FL 33305


Safe Schools South Florida (formerly GLSEN South Florida) Supports Safe
Schools in Jacksonville

"It was great to work with this wonderful team of people concerned withschool safety for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning(LGBTQ) students," said Robert Loupo, co-founder and executive director ofSafe Schools South Florida (formerly GLSEN South Florida) who recentlytraveled to Jacksonville to participate in a day-long "Teaching Respect forAll" conference at the University of North Florida (UNF) - the first everheld in this region.

"We have been doing this sort of work in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties forover 10 years so it's hard to remember there are many locales in the countrywhere little or no recognition or protection is provided to our young LGBTQpeople," said Loupo.

The conference was co-sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center of UNF; the Gay,Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Jacksonville; Parents, Families& Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Jacksonville; the UNF Department ofLeadership, Counseling and Instructional Technology; the Jacksonville AreaSexual Minority Youth Center, and Safe Schools South Florida. It was aimedat helping change how LGBT students are treated in the region's schooldistricts.

JASMYN (Jackson Area Sexual Minority Youth Network) provided a panel ofLGBTQ youth who shared their stories with more than 50 teachers, counselors,social workers and parents from Duval, Clay and St. Johns Counties.

Robert Loupo (from left), Safe Schools South Florida; Emily Rokosch, LGBTResource Center at UNF; Garrett Boardman and Cindy Watson, JASMYN Inc.; BethFighera and Randy Lesson, GLSEN Jacksonville; and Dean Bonilla, UNF student.

The program consisted of plenaries and workshops on a variety of topicsincluding bullying, parents' response to LGBTQ children, LGBT parents andschools, legal issues, counseling tools, support services and more.

"As far as we know, this is the first program of its kind ever inJacksonville," said UNF Education Coordinator Emily Rokosch of theuniversity's LGBT Resource Center "We feel that we made real progress and wehope to offer it on a yearly basis."

"It was well organized and well attended," said Loupo. "Safe Schools SouthFlorida was pleased to be asked to help and we look forward to supportingfuture conferences.


Proposal for aquatic center wows Fort Lauderdale commissioners

By Brittany Wallman
January 9, 2008



That's what city officials said Tuesday in response to the idea of buildinga new aquatics complex and International Swimming Hall of Fame at the beachthat would include a water slide park and marine aquarium.

Acknowledging that there are many details to be worked out, city officialssaid at a meeting Tuesday that they were excited about the prospect of a newwater playground and want to pursue the idea. Among the issues to beresolved are where the money would come from to build the new complex, whowould operate it, how traffic would be affected and whether there would beenough parking spaces.

The proposal for the new family water playground came from Dallas-basedLeisure and Recreation Concepts Inc., hired for $62,000 to analyze thecity's International Swimming Hall of Fame museum and pools, and to suggesthow to stop the massive financial drain there.

The aquatics complex stands on a 5-acre, man-made peninsula jutting into theIntracoastal Waterway about a block south of Las Olas Boulevard on thebarrier island.

On Tuesday, the pools were alive with athletes practicing dives, twists andflips. Scores of children have learned to swim at the complex, and the poolsattract swimmers from all over the world to compete in meets. In the museum,visitors can see a vast collection of memorabilia, including a 1936 Olympicchampion's swimsuit.

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A note from Ray,

If you apprecite the work we provide with Ray's List, we hope you willsupport this appeal [below] from Roger Klorese of Online Policy Group - thefree server that allows Ray's List to be distributed to you without hasslesfrom AOL and some of the other internet providers. Certainly, without OPG,we would have given up on Ray's List several years ago. Please do yourpart - a small contribution to OPG will be very helpful!

From Roger B.A. Klorese
Executive Director, Online Policy Group, Inc. - QueerNet

Since it's almost exactly a month since we started our fundraising drive, Iwanted to update you on the progress we've made, and let you know some ofthe things that are in the works.

1.. Fundraising Update: Since December 9, we have received $5813 indonations; while a small portion of this is from ongoing subscriptions, themajority is from new contributions. Our network services monthly billaverages just under $850, so you can see that we aren't in immediatedesperate straits. However, it's desirable for us to have six months ofoperating padding, and you really don't want to see mail like this from meevery month, remember that we still need donations -- information about howto do so can be found at

2.. Fundraising Update, Part 2: If your employer offers matching funds oryour organization supports non-profits via its fundraising efforts, pleaseremember OPG. Our tax ID and address for completion of matching funds formsor grant applications can be found on the same page.

3.. Fundraising Update, Part 3: Especially gratifying is that we've gotten8 new subscriptions for a total of $150 per month; we now receive $435 permonth, more than half our base monthly costs, in subscription payments.Subscriptions, or recurring donations, make it possible for us to have apredictable income stream, helping us to plan operations and growth (as wellas further reducing the begging frequency).

4.. Technology Update: As part of the donation appeal last month, I talkedabout replacing our primary server, and estimated the cost at about $5k --which was what I thought was an optimistic reduction from the $6k+ we spenton each of the previous systems. We have now ordered a new system for $3500which should be more powerful than the existing machine with greater storagecapacity, which should eliminate the recurring downtime issues, and withwhich we will be able to use virtualization again to make it serve thepurpose of more than one server. Which is especially good, because...

5.. Technology Update, Part 2: Believe it or not, we've been using thecurrent Majordomo 2 software for almost six years now. And while it'sserved us much better than its predecessor Majordomo 1 did, and offered usfeatures that the easier-to-use Mailman still does not, the complexity ofuse and administration still proved daunting for many users and list-owners.There has also not been any significant development effort for about threeof those years, leading me to believe that things were not going to getbetter unless we did it ourselves, and our attempt to address that via aproject to duplicate some of the Yahoo Groups functionality petered outafter a couple of years without producing anything. Luckily, there is anewer list manager called Sympa that offers many of the capabilities weneed, with a much simpler user and administrator interface. It also has afeature that can be extremely valuable: the ability to use list membershipto authenticate a website login. So if you have a list here, you could alsoset up a website (here or, perhaps, elsewhere) that allows users in based ontheir being subscribers to your list. Given that, you could have photoalbums, file areas, chat sessions, etc. all secured by your subscriptioninfo. I'm very excited about or ability to implement this -- we should beable to set up a pilot by March. And maybe...

6.. Technology Update, Part 3: There is a project that is underway toimplement full Yahoo Groups functionality, one that uses Sympa. I'm notsure if it can serve multiple domains, so we may only set it up and if it's very complex. Sofar, they only have message posting/ delivery and file areas implemented, andit may turn out to be too slow to use as well, but it's a promising start.You can try it yourself at

Thanks for your support. Please continue to help us continue and update ourservices!

Roger B.A. Klorese
Executive Director, Online Policy Group, Inc.
Founder, QueerNet


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