Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST - October 22, 2008

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St. Petersburg Times

-Study: Florida's 'Civic Health' Ranks Among Lowest In U.S.
Florida's civic health is among the poorest in the country - ranking 47th among the states - though voters in the state do seem energized by the current presidential election, officials said Tuesday. Former Sen. Bob Graham and officials of The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and the National Conference on Citizenship released a study that shows Florida generally ranks low in its rates of voting, volunteerism and attendance of public meetings.

Equality Florida
Early Voting Has Begun!
Find Out Where To Vote, And Pick Up Your FREE Voter's Guide Today
See Where They Stand! Get your guide today!

Save Dade: Activist groups issue election endorsements
A number of South Florida activist groups have issued their endorsements this week:
SAVE Dade Action Pac (gay group against marriage amendment) Download the guide:
Activist groups issue election endorsements
A number of South Florida activist groups have issued their endorsements this week:
SAVE Dade Action Pac (gay group against marriage amendment)

From Justin Flippen for Wilton Manors City Commission

Under the law, marriage is a contract. Under religion, holy matrimony is a sacrament. Separation of church and state principles do not permit government to regulate a religious sacrament. But the regulation of legal contracts is another matter and rests with the government. A marriage contract grants about 1,000 Federal and 500 state reciprocal rights and responsibilities to the two people who agree to that contract. The Federal government only permits opposite-sex couples to enjoy these 1,000 rights and responsibilities, and most states only permit opposite-sex couples to enjoy these 500 rights and responsibilities. [...] Please consider the ramification and power of your vote this November and vote NO on Amendment 2.
Justin S. Flippen, Candidate for Wilton Manors City Commission Contact Ray's List for the full letter.

A message from Ted Verdone
On behalf of Jerry's Kids - Musculature Distrophy

-I'm proud to tell you that I'm being locked up...that's right, I'm going behind bars to help Jerry's Kids© and MDA. To be released on good behavior I have to raise bail and I need your help! All you have to do is to make a secure, online donation before 11/12/08. Your donation will help families living in our community and help guarantee me an early release. I can't wait to add you to my list of contributors. Thanks in advance for your help. Don't hesitate to call or email me with any questions. Together we'll make a difference, Ted
P.S. I'm counting on you, click here to donate.

Recent pictures of the Four Fort Lauderdale Mayoral Candidates
From the Earl For Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Campaign Office

Steve Rothaus
Go to this link for the following articles:

-HRC 'rewards' Ros-Lehtinen with endorsement, $10,000 contribution
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay-rights group, announced Tuesday it has endorsed the reelection of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami -- and contributed $10,000 to her campaign. "She is a very good friend to the LGBT community on the Hill,'' said HRC communications coordinator Rachel Balick. "She has gone above and beyond what we could ask members of Congress. She was one of the lead Republicans on the Hate Crimes Bill that passed this year." The bill later passed in the Senate, but was removed in conference committee. Ros-Lehtinen, also co-sponsored ENDA, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act which passed last year, and is a member of the House LGBT caucus.

-Florida student who won ACLU gay-rights suit wins Hefner First Amendment
Award ACLU news release:
Senior Heather Gillman honored for "fearlessness" in speaking out for the rights of gay and lesbian students
MIAMI - The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that Heather Gillman has been selected by the Playboy Foundation to receive the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for "her fearlessness in speaking out on behalf of the rights of gay students" at Ponce de Leon High School, located in Florida's Panhandle.
Gillman won a First Amendment case against her school after her high school principal discriminated against her gay and lesbian friends, banned any sort of symbol or slogan supporting gay rights, and suspended at least 11 students. At trial, the principal testified that he believed clothing or stickers featuring rainbows would make students automatically picture people having sex, and he forbade students from wearing any sort of clothing, stickers, buttons, or symbols to show her support of equal rights for gay people.


Go to the links for the following articles:

-Fla. Amendment 2 opponents ask for investigation
Opponents of an amendment that would define marriage in the Florida Constitution said they sent a complaint to the state Tuesday saying supporters have hidden campaign donations and are improperly running television ads ahead of the Nov. 4 election. The opponents, Florida Red & Blue, are asking the Florida Elections Commission to investigate the actions of Amendment 2 sponsor, its chairman, and a group that donated large amounts to the campaign.,0,7647167.story


Miami Herald
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-In South Florida, Obama pledges tax cut for 'Joe the Plumber'
Democrat Barack Obama's two-day sweep across Florida showed he can whip up overflow crowds, orchestrate a massive early-voting blitz and rattle off the state's grim economic statistics to drive home his indictment of the Republican Party. The campaign's reach into nearly every corner of Florida also forced Republican John McCain to hightail it back to a state that once leaned heavily in his favor, with plans to campaign Thursday in Central Florida.


Go to the links for the following articles:

-Long waits again plague early voters in Broward County
Booths added; waiting times to be announced
By Scott Wyman | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Lines up to 3 ½ hours long continued to plague early voting across Broward County on Tuesday, leading elections officials to scramble to find ways to cut the wait and ease frustration. More voting booths were added at the 17 early voting locations. Chairs were provided for the elderly. Anticipated wait times will be made public twice a day. Those in line will be reminded they can still request a ballot to vote by mail if they don't want to wait.,0,3958874.story

-Broward County plans convention center bypass to skirt port security
New road would allow access without being halted at gates to port Every time visitors and vendors come to the Broward County Convention Center, they must first show their drivers licenses and file through a security gate that restricts access into Port Everglades.,0,2472302.story

-Broward Charter amendments need careful study before you vote
Broward County voters have to approve or reject 10 proposed amendments and revisions to the County Charter on the Nov. 4 ballot. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board recommends voters choose the following:
..Question 1: Metropolitan Transit Authority - Vote NO
This would duplicate existing efforts. If anything, Broward County transit efforts should be expending time, energy and resources on regional projects. This proposal is also premature. The first step in this process should be to produce a plan with a broad support, and then establish an agency to carry it out.
..Question 2: Non-Interference by County Commissioners - Vote YES
This language is in the Charter already, for the most part. This proposal clarifies some duties, that much is good. What this measure lacks, unfortunately, are penalties to dter interference.
..Question 3 - Voting Conflicts - Vote YES
This proposal would require county commissioners with a conflict of interest in a particular issue to recuse themselves, leave the commission chamber and refrain from communicating on or participating in that issue. That's fair and appropriate.
..Question 4: Creation of Broward Housing Council - Vote NO
Broward County already has agencies to address housing needs. The county does not need another agency to feed at a time of austere budgeting.
..Question 5: Implementation of Regional Focus - Vote YES
The county has plenty of areas with a regional stretch, from transit to public safety. The measure would simply insert language into the charter to detail the county's role as a regional and countywide authority. Vote YES, but understand that it is pretty much a vote to state the obvious.
..Question 6: Parks Preservation - Vote YES
This is a good idea, even if the 60 percent threshold may be too high. This measure would ban the county from selling, transferring or changing the use of such parks without a 60 percent vote of approval from the electorate.
This measure, in part because of the high threshold, may dissuade future efforts to designate park or green space land because of the inflexibility that comes with it.
..Question 7: Right to a Sustainable Environment - Vote YES
Who's against a sustainable environment? This measure inserts needed
language into the Charter, but doesn't go further than that.
..Question 8: Creation of Broward Ethics Commission - Vote YES
It's necessary to do so. But it's critically important that the members
appointed to this group produce a strong county ethics policy with teeth.
Otherwise, it will be a waste of time and money.
..Question 9: Independent Redistricting Consultants - Vote YES
This measure is worth taking a shot at, because an independent analysis is the best way to have fairly apportioned districts. But understand this: A consultant's report is only as good as the consultant. The choosing of the consultant must be accomplished through as dispassionate a process as possible.
..Question 10: Setting an earlier reconvening of the Management and Efficiency Study Committee - Vote YES
Moving the organization of the Management and Efficiency Study Committee isn't a bad idea. But its results have to be taken seriously, especially at a time when budgets are extraordinarily tight.,0,2609304.story

Fort Report
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-Short of stamps for absentee ballot? Never fear
Bigger, beefier absentee ballots technically require more than one stamp -- but they'll get there even without proper postage. Many of the quarter-million-plus absentee ballots already distributed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are too heavy for a single stamp to pay the freight.

-Gay marriage ban tactic questioned
Supporters of a ballot measure that would amend Florida's Constitution to ban gay marriage are encouraging donors to avoid public disclosure by contributing to groups that don't have to list contributions. The campaign tactic, laid out in an e-mail leader John Stemberger sent to supporters last month, was brought to light Tuesday by opponents to Amendment 2.

-Fla. elections officials dealing with long lines
Elections supervisors are adding new equipment, updating Web sites with wait times and handing out fans and water to people standing in long early voting lines. Lines were so long in Broward County on Monday that the last person cast their ballot at 10:20 p.m., hours after the polls closed.


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