Friday, March 20, 2009

FLORIDA DIGEST - March 20, 2009

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Miami Herald
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-Lift Florida's gay adoption ban
OUR OPINION: Bill allows judges to decide based solely on child's best interests
The fundamental unfairness and illogic of Florida's ban on gay adoptions gets more obvious with every new legal assault on it. The ban has been found unconstitutional in two state court circuits and is the target of two new bills in the Legislature. Whether the Florida Supreme Court will agree that the ban is unconstitutional, or lawmakers will come to their senses this year and end the ban isn't clear. But when momentum for a just cause reaches this point, it is only a matter of time until fairness prevails. We wish that day would come sooner rather than later. The ban hurts Florida's foster children most. Florida is the only state with a complete ban on gay and lesbian adoptions of foster children. But the state thinks it's fine for them to be foster parents. This hypocritical policy means the state considers a gay couple's home perfectly fit for foster kids but not good enough for giving that child a permanent, stable, loving life. Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, has introduced two bills that, in separate ways, would overturn the ban approved by the Legislature in 1977. The first bill would repeal the law. The second would require judges to determine adoptions based solely on what is in the best interest of the child. This is so reasonable that it should be impossible for any lawmaker to reject it. Unfortunately, politics still trumps common sense when it comes to issues involving homosexuality in Florida. While the private sector has kept up with changing times by offering partner benefits, for example, the public sector is still hampered by political expediency. It is time for lawmakers to put Florida's foster children before politics.

2009 PrideFest - Ft. Lauderdale
12-7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22
Holiday Park / War Memorial Auditorium - 730 North Federal Hwy
$8 per person per day
$5 per Student per day (w/valid ID)
Great DJ's! Dance Tent with Dance Floor
Food Court and Cocktails
Outside Stage - Indoor Stage
Florida's Largest AIDS Memorial Quilt Display

Sunshine Community Foundation
Bravissimo Charity Musical Gala March 28
Sunshine Community Foundation hosts a musical extravaganza with trained operatic voices from the Lyric Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Franco Bertacci and exceptional vocal talent from South Florida, singing Broadway favorites under the direction of acclaimed tenor, Kurt Litzenberger. Mark your calendars for BRAVISSIMO 2009! The highly anticipated performance, showcasing 26 volunteer performers, new and seasoned talent from the Lyric Orchestra of Fort Lauderdale and local Broadway voices, will be on March 28th, in the spectacular newly renovated Walt Lawrence & Stephen Lewis Center for Worship and the Arts, 1480 SW 9th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. The performance begins at 8:00 pm. BRAVISSIMO! benefits the Sunshine Community Foundation, Inc., which owns the Sunshine Cathedral campus. The Sunshine Cathedral campus is home to more than 25 other organizations and groups that support a broad spectrum of needs and activities in the GLBT community. Tickets for the concert are now on sale. For more information, please click or contact

ArtsUnited Presents POP! - Ft. Lauderdale
Pop Art - Reception - Monday, April 6 at - 6:30-8pm
Stonewall Library & Archives
Beautiful New Location - 1300 East Sunrise Blvd.
ArtServe Building - Across from Publix


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-South Florida mortgage rates tumble after Fed action
By Mary Ellen Podmolik
How long can they stay this low? Less than a day after the Federal Reserve said it would double its purchases of mortgage debt, fixed rates on conforming 30-year mortgages dropped as much as half a percentage point, to well under 5 percent, and there's belief that rates aren't headed back up anytime soon.,0,4364745.story

-South Florida schools debate volume of homework
'I hold them to a higher standard. Math is like ... a sport. You have to practice.'
By Akilah Johnson
Ask a class full of eighth-graders at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School how many hours of homework they receive each night and hear as many responses as there are students. One thing they agree on is which teacher gives them the most.,0,4484382.story

-South Florida population exodus slowing, census reveals
Poor economy may force more people to stay in Broward County
By Georgia East and John Maines
People aren't leaving Broward and Palm Beach counties at the rapid rate they were just two years ago, according to census data released today. In fact, the overall population is slightly up. The census report looks at net domestic migration, which takes into account the number of people who moved in from elsewhere in the United States, less those who moved out.,0,3162113.story

Fort Report
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-Crist freezes $800 million in state spending
By Steve Bousquet
As Florida's finances continue to unravel, Gov. Charlie Crist froze 15 percent of state spending on Thursday for the rest of this budget year. The effect is to hold back about $800 million that already cash-strapped agencies were expecting to pay their bills for the rest of the budget year ending June 30. State Education Commissioner Eric Smith told school districts that they will continue to get all of their money through early May.

-New Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler: His ideas, his backers
Broward Politics is going to take a look at each of Fort Lauderdale's election winners. Who did you elect, and what are their ideas? Let's start with the mayor, Jack Seiler. He raised $266,705 to win the post, but didn't spend it all. Here's a link to the contribution reports, where you can find out who backed him, and how he spent his money as of mid-February.

-Court hearing leads to no conclusion for Palm Beach mayoral runoff challenge
In a case that could influence the way absentee ballots are handled statewide, attorneys and witnesses spent hours today trying to reconstruct what happened to nine ballots that arrived too late to be counted in a Palm Beach mayor's race that was decided by a single vote. Testimony is scheduled to continue next week.

-Tourist industry pitches Florida to the locals as recession puts brakes on travel
By Steve Huettel
With nervous consumers looking for bargains, local tourist businesses are setting their sights on Florida residents this summer. "People want to travel, but with less expense," Gregg Laskowski, a spokesman for AAA Auto Club South, told representatives from local hotels and attractions Thursday. "They want to stay closer to home."

-For schools, the buck stops in Legislature
OUR OPINION: State lawmakers can't shirk education funding responsibility For too long the Florida Legislature has been reducing its general-revenue contribution to the state's public-education budget and making up the difference by raising a school-board tax called the Local Required Effort. Though school boards had no control over this, it looked as though they were responsible for increasing property taxes when it was really done by state lawmakers.\

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-Miami-Dade Passes Anti-Tethering Law
Pet Owners Can't Leave Animals Chained
Miami-Dade County has passed a law that makes it illegal for pet owners to leave their animals chained while they are not home. In a news release Thursday, county officials said the law, which is an amendment to Chapter V of the Miami-Dade County Code, will go into effect in April. The law says that owners cannot chain their pets unless they are present. Pet owners will be warned at the first violation. If they don't fix the problem, county officials said, the owners will face civil penalties of $100 for cruelty and $500 for additional offenses.


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