Saturday, October 11, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST - October 11, 2008

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Fort Report
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-Blacks and Amendment 2
Imagine a black man standing on a yacht and pulling up the rope ladder after climbing aboard, even though more people are down in the water. That's the vision I get whenever I hear black people, especially black ministers, promoting Amendment 2, the state's proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage.

-Editorial: Amendment 2 opponents offer valuable symposium
The News-Press Editorial Board has opposed Amendment 2 - the so-called "marriage protection" amendment - since the beginning of the year. We found in our debate that the amendment has no place in the Florida Constitution, is divisive and discriminatory.

Palm Beach Human Rights Council

-Lake Worth vote backs gay unions, opposes marriage amendment
LAKE WORTH - The city commission unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday opposing Amendment 2, the "marriage protection" amendment to the state constitution that will be on the ballot Nov. 4. Because the amendment defines marriage as between one man and one woman and states that no other legal union shall be recognized, Commissioner David Vespo said city employees who have domestic partners could see health insurance or other benefits denied if the amendment receives the 60 percent voter approval needed to pass. "People have become wise to the fact that these types of amendments are getting on the ballot as a way of generating fear in the public," Lake Worth Mayor Jeff Clemens said. The West Palm Beach City Commission passed a similar resolution Monday opposing Amendment 2.

[Re-posting this excellent summary of the Florida Amendments]
~~~ 1-YES, 2-NO, 3-YES, 4-YES, 6-NO, 8-NO ~~~

Orlando Sentinel
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September 21, 2008

-What we think about Florida's amendments
Sure, the sexiest of Florida's constitutional amendments -- tax reform and vouchers -- got yanked from the ballot by the state Supreme Court. Nevertheless, the state's voters will face an array of six questions on the Nov. 4 ballot, the most notable of which is Amendment 2 -- the cleverly labeled "Florida Marriage Protection Amendment." Who wouldn't want to protect marriage? Trouble is, this amendment is about more than matrimony.

**Amendment 2 -Our recommendation: Vote No.
What it would do: Memorialize marriage as a "legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife . . ." But it also declares that "no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized." Good idea or bad idea? Bad idea. This amendment does more than just target homosexual unions. It puts all manner of domestic partnerships at a possible disadvantage. For example, after a similar measure passed in Michigan in 2004, the state's Supreme Court ruled that public institutions could no longer offer health and other benefits to domestic partners of the same sex. Many institutions found a way around the ruling, but why put people in Florida at risk? Besides, state law already restricts marriage to a man and a woman, and Florida doesn't recognize gay unions performed in other states. This measure seems more like a cynical attempt to bring out the conservative base in a presidential election year.

Here's a look at the other ballot amendments, all of which require a 60 percent "yes" vote to pass.

**Amendment 1 - Our recommendation: Vote Yes.
What it would do: Don't confuse this with last January's tax-cutting measure. This Amendment 1 would strike from the constitution an archaic provision dating back to the early 1900s that allows the Legislature to ban foreigners from owning property. Such laws got their start in California and were aimed at stopping Japanese from buying land. Fortunately, Florida's Legislature never enacted such laws. Good idea or bad idea? Great idea. This is a no-brainer. The Florida Constitution is no place for bigotry.

**Amendment 3 - Our recommendation: Vote Yes.
What it would do: Ensure that people who take steps to harden their homes against hurricanes or install renewable-energy devices don't get hammered by higher property assessments, which translate into higher taxes. This would apply, for example, to people who install storm shutters or who put in solar-energy panels to help power their homes. Good idea or bad idea? Good idea. Florida should encourage homeowners to protect their homes from hurricanes, as it should encourage them to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. It makes no sense for people to take such steps, only to get punished by the tax man. This newspaper often has sided against well-intentioned amendments to the constitution if they can be accomplished through the Legislature. But lawyers say this measure has to go through the constitution.

**Amendment 4 - Our recommendation: Vote Yes.
What it would do: Provide a tax break for property owners who agree to permanently preserve environmentally sensitive land. It has the enthusiastic backing of a wide range of environmental groups. Good idea or bad idea? Good idea. It's gotten more and more expensive for the state and other agencies to outright purchase property for conservation. That's why so-called conservation easements and other preservation deals have become more popular. This gives landowners a powerful incentive. This amendment should not, however, give legislators an excuse to gut state land-buying programs.

**Amendment 6 - Our recommendation: Vote No.
What it would do: Another tax break. This one would make sure that marinas, commercial fish houses, boat-building operations and other "working waterfront" businesses get taxed based on their current use, not for the property's potential use. The goal is to protect these businesses from soaring tax rates based on waterfront real estate's potential for condominiums and resorts. Good idea or bad idea? A good idea, but one that has the potential for abuse. The state's tax exemption for agriculture has long been manipulated by fat cats who put out a few cows or plant some trees to reduce their holding costs. We see this well-intentioned amendment possibly becoming a tax dodge for waterfront developers. The Legislature needs to find another way to help legitimate waterfront businesses.

**Amendment 8 - Our recommendation: Vote No.
What it would do: Pave the way for counties to let voters decide whether they want to impose a sales tax to support community colleges. The sales tax would expire after five years, though voters could authorize it for another five. Good idea or bad idea? Bad idea. Community colleges play a vital role in Florida's communities, and they're a virtual rainbow of people and interests. But we think it's the state's -- not local authorities' -- job to support them. Plus, what happens after a college launches a program based on sales-tax funding, only to see that money vanish after five years? Voters may not be in the mood to renew the tax. This measure has no business in the state constitution anyway.,0,862201.story?track=rss


Scott Newton for Wilton Manors Mayor
From Cindy Newton
As you already know my husband, Scott Newton, is in the middle of a tough re-election campaign to continue as our Mayor of Wilton Manors. We are busy knocking on doors, putting up signs, getting out the message of the hard work Scott has done for our city and going to city events as we always have. Scott and I have made Wilton Manors a priority in our lives since the time our kids were at Wilton Manors Elementary School. [...] One way I thought that I could help was to help raise money for his campaign. My idea is to ask you and the rest of his supporters for a contribution. Your contribution of $15.00, $25.00 or more will help us get the word out and show the support we have in the community. Or, perhaps you would let us use your yard for a sign, or maybe you are willing to host a meet and greet at your home, or volunteer a few hours walking door to door with Scott. [...] Please contact me by email or call me at 954-561-4453. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Contributions can be mailed to our home at 1825 N.E .27th Dr. WM, FL 33306 and made payable to: Campaign of Scott Newton I thank everyone for the tremendous support and encouragement you have given Scott. We greatly appreciate it and look forward to seeing Scott continue to serve our city and remain our Mayor.
Cindy Newton

Washington Post
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-Bush Raises $2M in Florida, South Carolina
Bush attended a fundraiser at the home of Sergio Pino, a developer and entrepreneur in south Florida, where he raised more than $500,000, according to Republican officials. After the fundraiser and a meeting in Coral Gables with Cuban-American leaders, Bush was traveling to South Carolina where he was to speak at an event on Kiawah Island that was to raise $1.4 million for the Republican National Committee.

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-Homeless population growth concerns officials
When a homeless man uses the steps of the Women's Club as a toilet, things have gotten out of control.,0,5959498.story

-Disabled, homeless man robbed of wheelchair in Pompano Beach,0,3028899.story

-Palm Beach County devises plan to open 24-hour centers for the homeless,0,6271118.story

Miami Herald
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Broward leaders tackle water shortage prevention
Broward County leaders will begin making recommendations to prevent a massive water shortage by 2025. The Broward County Water Resources Task Force met Friday to start discussing ways to prevent a future water shortage caused by a combination of a population that's growing -- and a water supply that's not. The goal of the task force, which has 22 elected officials in Broward, is to propose a common water supply solution for the entire county by next September.

Fort Report
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-Some new voters will be shut out under "no match, no vote" law
More voters than ever are expected at Florida polls Nov. 4, but a newly enforced state law could thwart thousands from having their vote count. State election officials have notified more than 800 people in the Tampa Bay area and a total of 10,400 statewide who recently signed up to vote that they aren't yet qualified because of discrepancies between their signup forms and state records.

-Republican firm's Fla. poll: Obama +8
Latest poll by Republican-oriented Strategic Vision (click here to see it) gives Democrat Barack Obama a 52-to-44 percent lead over Republican John McCain in Florida. The 8-point lead equals the largest margin for Obama in Florida polls tracked by McCain had an 8-point lead in a Strategic Vision poll back in June. It's encouraging to learn that the virulent attacks directed at Senator Obama by the McCain campaign or not influencing Floridians (at least right now). The Republican smear machine is appealing to the the basest of human emotions: hate, prejudice, and fear. I hope Floridians continue to think about our economy and not smears about Obama's character.

-Unraveling all those amendments to the state Constitution
Florida voters face a bunch of proposed amendments to the state Constitution. The one that would place the state's existing law banning gay marriage in the state Constitution is probably relatively easy for people to figure out. It's getting a fair amount of attention, making it easier to sort out. No so for the other proposals.

-Squelch one rumor: yes, you can wear a campaign button or t-shirt when you vote
Elections officials are still attempting to stamp out an e-mail rumor about Election Day attire. Contrary to what's being claimed, voters are allowed to wear campaign t-shirts, buttons and similar paraphernalia when they go to vote, either during early voting or in their neighborhood precincts on Election Day. That doesn't count as illegal electioneering at the polls.


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