Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST - June 24, 2008

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-Most Floridians believe in God and pray daily, Pew report says
Although less likely than others in the South to attend church or claimreligion to be important in their lives, most Floridians - like mostAmericans - say they believe in God or a universal spirit and pray daily. Nationally, the survey of more than 35,000 adults released Monday by the PewResearch Center finds most Americans believe in heaven, fewer believe inhell, and nearly seven in 10 think that angels and demons are active in theworld.

-Las Olas Riverfront to be auctioned Aug. 5
The long-struggling Las Olas Riverfront, designed as a shopping andentertainment haven for tourists and locals, is set to be auctioned off.The Fort Lauderdale complex with shops, restaurants and a movie theater onthe New River will be sold to the highest bidder at 11 a.m. Aug. 5 at theBroward County Courthouse, according to court documents.

-Two Broward County deputies accused of aiding drug dealers
A Broward Sheriff's deputy nicknamed "Wingnut" used his badge and expertiseto aid a drug smuggling operation, then recruited a fellow deputy he saidhad a history of drug-dealing to help out, federal prosecutors chargedMonday. Deputy Richard Tauber, a 14-year veteran once fired for cavortingwith prostitutes and unsavory characters - but later reinstated - and twocivilian friends were charged in federal court with smuggling cocaine,diamonds and Krugerrand gold coins. A separate FBI complaint charged DeputyKevin "Tattoo" Frankel with running surveillance for one of Tauber's cocainedeliveries for $3,000.

-Broward candidates use loophole to block voters from primaries
Even in the rough-and-tumble world of Broward politics, it seems odd atfirst. Three days after Property Appraiser Lori Parrish qualified forre-election, she hand-delivered paperwork to the Broward Elections Office onbehalf of a rival candidate for the same post. Parrish was using atechnique - critics call it an un-democratic loophole - that's becoming morecommon in Florida politics.

Miami Herald
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-FRED GRIMM: Energy-greedy Floridians say no to oil wells
To deliver us our sacred oil, residents of the Niger Valley abide alandscape pitted with pools of toxic chemicals and a night sky perpetuallylit by flames flaring from oil derrick smokestacks. Burn-off from oil wellsadds 35 million tons of carbon dioxide and 12 million tons of methane a yearto the air Nigerians breath.

-S. Florida home prices drop to 2004 levels
A closely watched index shows South Florida housing prices dropped in Aprilto levels not seen since 2004. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index for the Broward,Miami-Dade and Palm Beach metro area fell by 26.7 percent in April versuslast year. The index of 20 major metro areas nationwide fell by 15.3percent in April versus last year. That marks the largest drop since itsinception in 2000 and the first time all 20 metro areas posted annualdeclines. Prices nationwide are at levels not seen since August 2004.

-Obama has a lead in South Florida, poll shows
A new Zogby International poll shows Barack Obama sitting on a 16-point lead over John McCain in South Florida. In a sign that Democrat Barack Obama will be competitive in the nation'slargest swing state, he is beating Republican John McCain comfortably inSouth Florida and has a slight edge among Hispanics, according to a newMiami Herald poll. Obama is ahead 46-30 percent over McCain in Miami-Dade,Broward and Palm Beach counties in the survey of 807 people conducted byZogby International. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentagepoints.

Fort Report
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Hard times in state deflate Crist's approval ratings
For the first time in his 18 months in office, Gov. Charlie Crist'spopularity is down, a new poll found. Rising gas prices, the falling real estate market and deep state budget cutshave not only brought South Florida's economy to a crawl, they've deflatedthe once sky-high approval ratings of Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a newMiami Herald poll. The governor is doing a fair to poor job of handlingSouth Florida issues, according to 52 percent of the people surveyed byZogby International in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Thatcompares with 43 percent who say he's doing a good to excellent job.

-Florida to pay U.S. Sugar $1.75B for Everglades land
In a surprise move environmentalists call "breathtaking," U.S. Sugar Corp.plans to announce today a deal to sell the state 187,000 acres in theEverglades for $1.75-billion. If approved, it would be the largestconservation purchase the state has ever made, helping restore theecosystem's natural flow and providing a quantum leap to the effort to cleanup the Everglades.

-Optical scanners get a trial run in West Palm Beach today
System creates paper trail for recounts
A new era in Palm Beach County elections begins today as voters mark paperballots and slip them into optical scanners. It's a history-making moveaway from paperless electronic touch screens to a system that complies withthe state's "paper trail" law.

-Crist signs bill to tighten restrictions on Cuba travel
Ignoring the pleas of dozens of Cuban families and their travel agents, Gov.Charlie Crist signed a bill Monday that will impose tough new regulationsand penalties on companies that arrange travel to Cuba.

-Crist to Announce Landmark Everglades Deal
Still suffering a backlash over his willingness to consider offshoredrilling, Gov. Charlie Crist strikes back at his critics today with alandmark deal to save the Everglades. Crist travels to Palm Beach Countyfor a 10:30 a.m. press conference where he is expected to announce anunprecedented $1.7 billion, 185,000-acre Everglades restoration plan.

-Schiavo II? Please, no
One Terri Schiavo case should be more than enough for Florida. One livingwill should be a priority for each adult Floridian. Karen Weber ofOkeechobee didn't have a living will when she suffered a seizure inNovember. A living will allows someone to specify medical instructions ifshe or he becomes incapacitated. As The Post detailed in a story last week,her husband wants to disconnect the feeding tube that has sustained Ms.Weber for the past seven months. Ms. Weber's mother disagrees.

Oakland Park - Florida House candidate Mark LaFontaine was unanimouslyendorsed Sunday by the Florida AFL-CIO for the vacant seat in District 92.The Florida AFL-CIO represents 500,000 workers, retirees and their familiesin approximately 500 local labor unions and labor councils. "The unanimous
vote in support of Mark shows how seriously we take his candidacy, as wellas his commitment to the issues that matter to our members," said DanReynolds, President of the Broward County AFL-CIO. "Our message to ourmembers -- whether they're teachers, health care workers, or firefighters -is that Mark LaFontaine is our candidate for District 92."



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