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CATHERINE REHWINKEL TURNS 21

October 29th, 2006 by flanews

My wife’s eldest daughter,Catherine Grace is 21 today. Catherine attends the Film School at Florida State University. As fate would have it, she is showing her F3 documentary at 3 pm today.—Mike Vasilinda

Posted in State News | 2 Comments »

BUSH SAYS ARZA SHOULD STEP DOWN by Victoria Langley

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

Jeb Bush says a state representative who has repeatedly used the n-word should step down. Hialeah Republican Ralph Arza left a profanity and racial-epithet-laced voice mail for another lawmaker over the weekend. He was accused of using similar language during the legislative session last spring to describe Miamis school superintendent. Democrats and Republican leaders in the House have urged Arza to step down, and now Jeb Bush is adding his name to the growing chorus.

Yes, I think he should,” Bush said. “I think he should resign because hes going to be expelled, for starters. He might as well do it gracefully. Its heartbreaking. I know another Ralph Arza. The one whos passionate about education reform and fun-loving. Ive not seen the dark side of Ralph Arza. And I just dont sees how he gets beyond where he is right now without resigning and dealing with these issues in a less public setting.

If Arza steps down before the election, a Republican committee will be able to appoint a replacement to run in the election. Arzas only opponent is a write-in candidate.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

STATE WINS FOLEY SIGN APPEAL

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

Jeb Bush is defending the states decision to appeal a decision barring elections supervisors from putting up signs explaining that a vote for Mark Foley is not a vote for Mark Foley. The ex-Florida congressman resigned last month over sexually explicit emails and instant messages to teenage congressional pages. Now state Rep. Joe Negron has been appointed to replace Foley as the Republican candidate for his seat. But Foleys name is still on the ballot. The governor thinks elections officials should have a right to post notices explaining the situation.. Late Friday afternoon, the First District Court of Appeals agreed with the Governor. Poll workers will be allowed to hand out information saying a vote for Foley is a vote for Negron.

I think its education,” Bush said. “Im not a judge and Im not a lawyer. I try to apply common sense to these things and the fact of the matter is Mark Foley is not running for Congress. Hes a disgraced congressman. Our laws require that his name stay on the ballot. Theres someone else running. To be able to provide information without gearing a candidate one way or another, or a voter one way or another to a candidate seems to make sense but well let an appellate court make that decision. Thats why it was appealed, because at the Circuit level the decision didnt make common sense.

Democrats brought the original suit, arguing that posting Negrons name violates the states own law against electioneering within 100 feet of the polls, even if the supervisors post the names of the other candidates too. Democrats say they will not appeal the court ruling.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

SESSION MAY BE IN DECEMBER By Victoria Langley

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

Jeb Bush says look for a special session on insurance reform in December. The task force chaired by Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings looking into Floridas insurance crisis is due to present a report to the governor by November 15th. He says hed like to see a session the following month.

Yes, I hope,” Bush said. “Well see after the election but well have the recommendations by then.

Among other recommendations, the reform panel would like to see the state make another effort to put uniform building codes in place, and allow insurers to write a broader variety of policies, including higher deductibles and less coverage, in order to bring down costs.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

PLANNING AMENDMENT ON BALLOT by Victoria Langley

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

Voters are being asked to decide this election whether Florida needs a new legislative task force to plan out the future use of your tax dollars. Jeb Bush says Amendment 1 would put an important long-range outlook for state spending into Floridas constitution. But even supporters have some concerns about whether we really need another task force.Jeb Bush wont be in office next spring when lawmakers craft what will likely be about an 80-billion dollar state budget. But hes a big supporter of a proposed Constitutional Amendment to limit the amount of one-time money the legislature can use for ongoing state costs.

The problem with state governments across the country is they use non-recurring money to spend on recurring obligations, Bush said. When the non-recurring money goes away, they say oh, we need to raise taxes. This puts a limit on that availability.

If Amendment 1 passes, lawmakers could only use up to 3 percent of one-time money for ongoing expenses. Theyd have to take a vote if they wanted to raise that limit.

Dominic Calabro heads the fiscally-conservative watchdog group TaxWatch. He says the 3-percent limit doesnt go far enough.

We think you should use zero percent of one-time, non-recurring revenue for recurring expenses, Calabro said. Otherwise, its fiscal mischief.

The Amendment would also create a Government efficiency task force to develop a long-range financial plan for the state. Opponents argue the amendment really isnt necessary as long as lawmakers do their job.

Lawmakers voted to put Amendment 1 on the ballot back in 2004, saying the state needs to do a better job of future financial planning. If Amendment 1 doesnt pass, current budget laws that were originally proposed by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission and approved by voters in 1992 will remain in place.

Posted in State News | 2 Comments »

Suing the Boot Camp Guards

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

The parents of a teenager who died after a beating at a juvenile boot camp in North Florida are asking a federal judge to let them sue the deputies responsible for that beating. 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died in January just one day after being admitted to the Bay County Boot Camp.

Andersons ordeal was captured on videotape and that tape the centerpiece of a 40 million dollar lawsuit filed by Andersons parents. Attorney Ben Crump says they only wanted to sue the Sheriffs office and the Department of Juvenile Justice but a recent ruling by a federal judge forced them to include the seven deputies who can be seen on the videotape.

It makes it more complicated. We had sought to keep it very simple and straightforward. If a jury wants to believe what happened on this videotape was wrong, then they are holding the Sheriffs Department and the Department of Juvenile Justice responsible, said Crump. And we didnt want to have it where we had individual deputies having to point fingers at the sheriff and the sheriff having to point fingers at the deputies. We were hoping to avoid all of that.
The state attorney from Hillsborough County is also conducting an investigation into Andersons death and the deputies could end up facing criminal charges, but it will be several weeks before the inquiry is complete.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

Dozier Investigation Underway

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

The Department of Juvenile Justice is investigating allegations that a 16 year old confined at the Dozier School for Boys was the victim of repeated sexual assaults by a female teachers aide. DJJ Chief of Staff Cynthia Lorenzo confirms the investigation is underway but thats about all she can say right now.
In this particular case, I cant comment because its under investigation. But I can say that we did receive some allegations of improper conduct at the Dozier School for Boys and we immediately sent out a team of investigators and have an open investigation into the incidents surrounding that, said Lorenzo.
The boys mother is trying to get him out of Dozier a maximum security jail in North Floridas Jackson County. She wants his released for outpatient treatment of transferred to a different facility. But Lorenzo says their policy is that no one gets released until court-ordered treatment has been completed.
And if the mother has some concerns than certainly well work with her to see whats in the best interest of her son, Lorenzo said.
The teachers aide is no longer employed at Dozier, but so far she is not facing any criminal charges and her alleged victim is still confined.

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JEB TAKES HILLSBOROUGH OFFICIAL TO TASK by Victoria Langley

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

Jeb Bush is apparently unimpressed with the excuse being given by the Hillsborough County tax collector for his admitted inappropriate sexual advances. Doug Belden now says he has a drinking problem and will seek professional assistance. He originally denied accusations of groping a woman in a bar. The woman filed a battery complaint against him.

SOT, Gov. Jeb Bush

Thats a big deal these days, isnt it. Everybody makes a mistake, which is common, were all human, who hasnt made a mistake here, we all make mistakes. But then to say, well, Ive been drinking, and thats the reason why I have poor judgment. Just take responsibility seems to be the better response.

Jeb Bush ordered Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bruce Bartlett to handle the investigation, after Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober cited a conflict of interest, saying Belden was a close friend.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

Biz Buddies by Rick Flagg

October 26th, 2006 by flanews

The hired guns of big business have come out for Charlie Crist. These Tallahassee lobbyists none of whom are Democrats say the Republican nominee is their choice to be the next governor. Rick McAllister with the Florida Retail Federation says the sunshine state is a great place to do business and theyre afraid of a change in the status quo at the state capitol.

Attorney General Crists opponent keeps talking about change and radical change. And considering the status quo, we all agree that more could be done or should be done. We believe the person who has the best chance of sustaining that is Attorney General Crist, said McAllister.

But whats good for business isnt always good for the average Floridian and the number two man on the Democratic ticket Daryl Jones says this endorsement from special interest lobbyists could backfire.

Receiving business support may not be in the interest of the little person. I think it could be a down side for them. I just think that Jim Davis and Daryl Jones are good for business and good for the little person as well, said Jones.

Jones also says their plan to reduce property taxes will do a lot more for business than the plan proposed by Crist.

Business groups backing Crist at Thursdays press conference include:

Florida Association of Realtors

Florida CPA Political Action Committee

Florida Engineering Society

Florida Farm Bureau Federation

Florida Medical Association

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association

Florida Retail Federation

Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association

Florida United Businesses Association

National Federation of Independent Business.

Posted in State News | 3 Comments »

Shelter from the Storm by Rick Flagg

October 26th, 2006 by flanews

The feds have come up with more cash to help Floridians harden their homes to protect them from storms. State lawmakers set aside 250 million dollars this year for the Hurricane Mitigation Fund and now the Department of Housing and Urban Development is adding another 100 million bucks money that can be used to retrofit older homes built before the current building codes were in effect. State Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty says it can make a big difference the next time a hurricane hits the sunshine state.

Kevin McCarty Insurance Commissioner

If we just did the five or six things that were funded by our mitigation program last year, we could reduce Floridas exposure to catastrophic events by sixty percent. Sixty percent is a huge amount of exposure reduction, which means that we can substantially save not only on our homeowners insurance, but on the cost of rebuilding after a storm.

The mitigation program focuses on improving existing homes by adding window shutters and roof anchors and inspecting mobile homes for proper tie-downs. But McCarty admits the extra 100 million dollars in just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the overall cost of the mitigation program. You can obtain a free home-improvement guide containing how-to information along with step-by-step instructions of affordable home-strengthening projects by calling the Department of Financial Services at 1-800-342-2762.


Posted in State News | No Comments »

Charges Fly in Attorney Generals Race by Mike Vasilinda

October 26th, 2006 by flanews

Convergys Corporation is under investigation for sending confidential information about tens of thousands of state employees out of the county. Today two whistle blowers came forward in the case at the side of one candidate for attorney general. As Mike Vasilinda reports, the two are concerned nothing is happening.

TJ Pagano and Kristina Gilmore are whistle blowers. They confronted their employer… which had a contract to outsource state personnel files when sensitive information about 100 thousand employees was sent overseas. One quit. The other was forced out of her job.

SOT: TJ Pagano / Whistle Blower :18 – :24

And we are definitely happy that we pursued this. Its something that we feel wrong that needs to be righted.

SOT: Kristina Gilmore / Whistle Blower :24 – :30

Were asking for some transparency in this case and for some accountability in this case.

The two appeared next to Skip Campbell… the democratic candidate for attorney general. Campbell says hed be on the case like white on rice even if he wasnt running for office.

SOT: Walter Skip Campbell / Attorney General candidate (D) :42 – :50

Unless you have someone screaming in the wind, nothing will be done. Someone has to stand up and start saying we need to have some results.

Mike Vasilinda Standup :50 – :59

The current attorney generals office says it has been investigating Convergys for the last two years and has filed one lawsuit over security breaches.

Campbell did use the occasion to unveil a new spot, blasting his rival in the AGs race for trying to wipe out whistle blower protections.

NATS Why did Bill McCollum try to gut the whistle blower protection act?

And as for they two whistle blowers…theyre just happy someone is publicizing their story…even if it has political overtones.

____________________________________________________________

Posted in State News | No Comments »

ARZA FLAP CAUSES UPROAR By Victoria Langley

October 25th, 2006 by flanews

Lawmakers and leaders in the black community are outraged over a South Florida legislators continued use of racial slurs. House leaders have asked Hialeah Representative Ralph Arza to resign after he left a message laced with profanity and racial epithets on another lawmakers cell phone. So far Arza is refusing to step down, and the uproar comes at a very bad time for Republicans.

South Florida Representative Ralph Arza gave an unprecedented and what many now consider insincere apology from the House floor last spring, after being accused of using the n-word to refer to Miamis black school superintendent.

“I ask for your forgiveness and understanding if I have ever offended anyone by anything I have said,” Arza said last April.

Now the same lawmakers who embraced him are calling for Arzas ouster. The Hialeah Republican left another racial slur and string of profanities on a fellow legislators voice mail over the weekend. Anita Davis with the NAACP says the ugly situation sends a disturbing message to the state and the nation.

“Are we going backward?” Davis said. “Are we putting people in office who shouldnt be there to represent us?”

House leaders are angry too, and considering everything from censure to expulsion.

“The speaker is extremely disappointed in Representative Arzas behavior,” said House spokesman Towson Frasier. “Hes taking it very seriously.”

Ralph Arza is the first sitting legislator in Florida to be threatened with expulsion for racist remarks. The scandal comes at a time Republicans cant afford any negative publicity.

Jeb Bush condemned the remarks. But he downplayed any potential impact on the election, now less than two weeks away.

“You cant cast aspersions on an entire party based on the actions of one person,” Bush said.”

But in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal and other problems, this latest controversy certainly wont help Republican candidates.

The Florida House Democratic Caucus adopted a resolution demanding Rep. Ralph Arzas resignation during an emergency conference call today. If Arza does not resign, they called for his explusion.

Ralph Arza is up for re-election this fall, but his only opponent is a write-in candidate. If he resigns his house seat prior to the election, Republican leaders would be able to appoint his replacement, but Arzas name will still appear on the ballot.

We formally made a public request this afternoon of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review a copy of Arzas cell phone message.

Posted in Politics, State News | No Comments »

Rolling Execution Nears

October 25th, 2006 by flanews

16 years after killing five students in Gainesville and 12 years on death row, the end is near for Danny Rolling. His execution is set for 6 pm this evening and so all of his appeals have been denied. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the killer knew this day would come.

Gainesville and much of the state was in fear for weeks following the murder spree. Students left the University Of Florida until the killer of five was captured. Danny Rolling entered a guilty plea…and got the same sentence for each of the five victims.

<> <>SOT: Stan Morris / Circuit Court Judge :20 – :25

It is further ordered and adjudged that the defendant, Danny Harold Rolling, is hereby sentenced to death for the murder of the victim Manuel Taboda.

At the time, one of Manny Taboadas family members had to be escorted out of the courtroom.

SOT: Mario Taboada / Victims Brother :30-:33

Our childrens names will be remembered over him. I will ridicule him!

Mike Vasilinda Standup :34-:43

Jeb Bush will be on the phone with the prison when the appointed hour comes. He says his only regret is that its taken 12 years from the date of sentencing to get to today.

SOT: Jeb Bush / Governor :44-:57

He is the poster child, if you will, of why there should be a death penalty atrocious crimes committed. Its more than appropriate for him to receive the sentence he received.

<>
If all goes as planned, Rolling will be the third inmate to be put to death in five weeks.
____________________________________________________________

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Web Site Update In Progress

October 25th, 2006 by flanews

Thanks for bearing with us. We’ll soon be posting news on a regular basis and have an all new look soon….Mike Vasilinda

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Today’s News

October 20th, 2006 by flanews

Victoria Langley Package: School Violence. In the wake of another incidence of school-related violence, this time in Orlando, well take a look at the state of school safety in Florida. Turns out there has been progress although violent acts reported in Florida schools went up by a thousand incidents from the 2003/2004 school year to the 2004/2005 school year, when you look at the past 8 years, total school violence reports declined from 6 per 1,000 students to 4 per 1000 students, a 35% decrease, even including last years uptick. Heres a link with the most recent county-by-county breakdowns: http://www.firn.edu/doe/besss/sesir/sesir0405.htm

VO/SOT: School Violence. Break-out of package

VO/SOT: Amendment 3. The fine folks at TaxWatch release their independent analysis showing how limiting citizens ability to pass citizens initiatives is actually good for citizens. Got that?

Posted in State News | No Comments »

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