|Meeting Proceedings for August 20, 1997|
1. KATY SORENSON - Miami (Dade County Commissioner)
Art. V, s. 1: The state must fund Article V costs. The intent of the 1972 Article V revision was to: (1) create a uniform system of courts; (2) eliminate cash-register justice (where judges were constrained by local governments to assess fines and fees to fund their courts and raise revenues); and (3) create and maintain a state-funded, independent judicial branch of government. Counties are still funding the greatest share for the court system. State law requires counties to pay for courtrooms, facilities, equipment and personnel to operate the circuit and county courts; a significant percentage of costs incurred by the state attorney and public defender (office space, utilities, telephone and communication services, transportation, custodial services, library, court costs, such as expert witnesses, travel expenses, court reporters and depositions); costs for private lawyers for indigent criminal defendants where a conflict exists with the public defender. The amounts counties are paying are continuously increasing and counties cannot continue to absorb these costs.
2. ROBERT SHEVIN - Miami (Judge, 3rd DCA)
Art. V, s. 10: Proposes the adoption of merit selection and merit retention of appellate and trial judges. Overall this assures more qualified and independent judges. Merit selection attracts a broader range of prospective judges. Judicial campaigns are meaningless since candidates cannot address the issues. Local option would be preferable to doing nothing, but it would be best to create a statewide system.
3. WILHELMENA MACK - Hollywood (Lay Member, Florida Bar Board of Governors)
Art. V, s.15: Supports keeping regulation of attorneys with the Supreme Court.
4. EDWARD BLUMBERG - Miami (President of the Florida Bar)
Art. V, s. 15: Supports the current system of lawyer regulation.
5. JESSE McCRARY - Miami
Art. IV, s.4: Proposes the cabinet be abolished. Floridaís cabinet system is antiquated. The judicial and legislative branches have been modernized, but the executive branch has not. There is currently no accountability and no uniformity of purpose for the executive branch. Politically, it may be difficult to abolish the cabinet. If a modified system is more politically feasible, the attorney general and comptroller might be elected, but donít elect commissioners of agriculture, education, insurance.
6. DR. STUART STRAHL - Miami (Director, Everglades Campaign for the National Audubon Society/Governorís Commission for a Sustainable South Florida)
Art. XI, s. 1: We need to maintain the right of citizens to address their rights through the ability to make constitutional amendments.
Art. XII, s. 9: Ensure a permanent funding source for the long-term conservation of our natural resources.
Art. II, s. 7: Supports the environmental bill of rights.
Art. II, s. 7(b): Ensure that those who pollute pay the costs of abatement.
7. SARA C. LEON Miami (Dade County Christian Coalition)
Art. I, s. 2: Supports protection of the unborn.
8. JULIA DAWSON - Miami (National Organization for Women, N. Miami Chapter)
Art. I, s. 23: Opposes any change to right to privacy, including a provision that our courts interpret privacy in accordance with federal decisions, and including the exclusion of minors from the protections of the privacy provision, and including a provision that parents would have a broad authority over their children to effect a change in the Florida privacy decisions.
Art. I, s. 2: Supports the passage of an equal rights amendment, either in a separate amendment or by adding sex as a class protected by addition to Art. I, s. 2.
9. CAROL RIST - Miami (League of Women Voters)
Art V: Supports merit selection and retention of all judges.
10. A. WELLINGTON BARLOW - Jacksonville
Art. V, s.10: Maintain the right to elect trial judges. Taking away the right to elect trial judges would disenfranchise the voters of the state. There is just as much politics with the merit selection process as with the election process.
11. STEVE ROSSMAN - Miami (Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers)
Art. 10, s. 13: Sovereign immunity should be abolished. This is an improper infringement on separation of powers. Elimination of the cap would make government accountable in the same way every person and business is held accountable for their actions. Politics, in the form of claims bills, should be taken out of the process.
12. ROBERTO PINEIRO - Miami (Circuit Judge, 11th Circuit)
Art. V: Supports the merit selection and retention of trial judges. The appearance of justice is as important as the reality. Florida governors have ensured a more diverse judiciary than the electorate. Would support an opt-in/opt out system. Judge Pineiro explained that having the right name appears to lead to greater success in judicial elections than other factors.
13. TOM WARNER - Stuart (State Representative)
Art. IX: Proposes that large school districts, by local referendum, be authorized to break up the districts into smaller, more manageable districts. Studies show that as school district size goes up, achievement goes down. A county with more than 45,000 students could divide into multiple districts, with at least 15,000 students in each district. Very large districts lose the economies of scale; therefore it would not be more expensive to divide.
14. LAWRENCE PLUMMER - Miami (Common Cause)
Art. III, s. 16: Supports a reapportionment commission to redistrict the state. Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are among 13 states that have done this. This should be done by other than members of the Legislature, who have a vested interest in the districts.
15. REVEREND JOHN JOSEPH - Miami (Self)
Art.. I, s. 23: Right of privacy has been extended beyond what was intended. The unborn deserve to be protected. The privacy amendment should not extend to allow for euthanasia. The privacy provision should not extend to protect homosexual acts or allow for same-sex marriages.
16. JUAN-CARLOS PLANAS - Miami (Self)
Art. III, s. 15: Require a 1-year residency requirement in order to qualify to run for the Legislature. We need representatives with a long-term commitment to their constituents.
17. GINGER GROSSMAN - Miami (Wm. Lehman N.E. Dade Involved Democrats)
Art. VI, s. 4: Opposed to term limits.
18. SAM SILVER - Miami (Retired Circuit Judge)
Art. V: Opposes the mandatory retirement of judges. Donít simply increase the age, do away altogether with mandatory retirement.
19. GEORGE SCHULTE - Coral Gables (Tax Cap Committee)
Art. X: Proposes putting the property rights initiative on the ballot.
Art. VII: Proposes putting the tax cap initiative on the ballot.
Art. V: Remove Florida Bar from the control of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has turned into politicians and are legislating from the bench. Bridle the Court. The Court allows amendments on the ballot that it likes, and does not allow amendments it does not like.
20. ENOS SCHERA - Coral Gables (Citizens of Dade United)
Art. XI, s.3: People are losing faith in the Legislature. The voters passed the English Only amendment, but the Legislature has never implemented it.
21. MARIA LUISA ARTZE - Miami (Self)
Art. XI, s. 3: Donít change process for citizens initiatives. This is the only vehicle the regular citizens have is the citizen initiative. If any change is warranted, make it easier.
22. LUCY MARGOLIS - Miami (Self)
Art. II: Revise the constitution to establish the role of school districts among the three branches of state government. Clarify which branch school districts fall in, or whether they are a separate branch apart from the three.
Art. IX, s. 4(a): Delete this provision that provides that each county constitutes a school district. Counties with more than 50,000 students be divided into separate school districts. Look at the needs ten and twenty years from today.
Art. IX, s. 1: Donít revise constitution with regard to providing an adequate education.
Art. IX: Give parents a greater choice in the education of their children.
23. RACHAEL DIAZ - Miami (Community Alliance for the Mentally Ill)
Art. I: Consider a way to ensure that mentally ill people take their medicine. Today, civil rights "protect" the mentally ill from being required from taking their medicines. Get people the treatment that they deserve.
24. PHILIP BLOOM - Miami (Circuit Judge)
Art. V: We should ensure that judges are more qualified. Judges should have been admitted to the bar for at least 10 years prior to service. All judges should go through a committee to judge qualifications, even those who run for office. This committee could also review qualifications for retention and re-election.
25. SALVATORE P. MARTONE, JR. - Miramar (Self)
Art. I, s. 2, 21, and 22: Make changes to these sections so that people cannot be discriminated against because of their age. People are precluded from bringing a wrongful death claim in certain circumstances, based on their age. The word "age should be added to Art. I, s. 2, and "without regard to the age of the litigants" should be added to Art. I, ss. 21 and 22.
26. SUSAN MARIE KAIRALLA - Miami (Self)
Art. IX: Dade County schools are way too big. Change the constitution to make school districts smaller.
27. DAVID FERRAR - Miami (Committee for Voter Participation)
Art. VII: Supports placing the tax cap initiative on the ballot.
Art. VII: Supports placing the voter approval of new taxes initiative on the ballot.
Art. X: Supports placing the property rights initiative on the ballot.
28. BEA KALSTEIN - Miami Beach (Self)
Art. XI, s. 3: Right of initiatives should be protected, and even strengthened.
Art. I, s. 23: Protect the right of privacy; prevent oppression.
Art. I, s. 24: Make sure all public records are open to everyone.
29. EUGENE WINE - Miami (Self)
Art. III, s. 1: Florida should have a one-house legislature.
Art. IV, s. 4: Do away with Floridaís unique cabinet system. The governor should be able to appoint his or her own cabinet, with advice and consent of Legislature.
Art. V, s. 10: Supports merit selection of all judges. Appointment by governor with legislative consent.
Art. VI: A runoff election should only be held where no candidate gets at least 45% of the vote.
Art. VII: No restriction should be put on taxation of.... Burden of taxation should be lifted from landowners and workers. Supports income tax and a sensible intangible tax should be adopted.
Art. X, s. 4: The current protection against forced sale of a homestead is ill-conceived. Suggests that persons be required to sell their homestead if the value of the homestead is more than $5000 greater than the average Florida homestead, and purchase a new homestead of a value no greater than the value of the average Florida homestead.
30. ANNA LEDAN - Miami (Self)
No specific suggestions.
31. REVEREND CRAIG SCULTHORPE - Miami (Citizens of Faith)
Art I, s.3: Include strong language supporting the free exercise of religion. The U.S. Supreme Court has weakened this provision. The Lemon decision has weakened free exercise federally. Bring back religious freedom. Make these provisions apply equally with regard to secular humanism - i.e., public funds should not be used for the promotion of nontheistic religion.
32. ELLEN ABRAMSON - N. Miami (Self)
Art. V: Students in Florida universities should be entitled to be represented by an attorney. It has been held that no constitutional protection exists to not implicate oneself in a university administrative proceeding. Students must be allowed to have representation in university judicial-type proceedings.
33. JACK CONWAY - Coral Gables (Self)
Art. VI: Prospective candidates are kept out of the process by laws that protect political parties.
Art. II: Provide that Florida will no longer enforce illegal laws handed down by the federal government.
34. JOSEPH GARCIA - Bal Harbour (Save Our Everglades)
Art. XI, s. 3: Donít do away with citizen initiatives. Instead, try to resolve the problems that lead to citizens needing to go through this process. The reason is that access to the legislative process is not accessible to ordinary citizens. Members of the legislature must collect money to run and must give access to well-heeled lobbyists. Reform the way we finance political campaigns. Outlaw deceptive political advertisements. Create a cabinet-level office of the public advocate to deal with complaints about state programs, to evaluate law and rule changes, to inquire into the failure of a state officer or agency to comply with any law, to serve as Chair of the Public Service Commission, and to administer the lobbyist registration act. Require lobbyists to file the name of every public official contacted, the governmental policy they seek to influence and the result they are trying to achieve. Strip away the power of money.
35. RON SILVER - Miami (State Senator)
Art. V: Proposes that it be stated in the constitution, exactly what the Article V costs are, and that the State of Florida is committed to pay those costs. There should be oversight to ensure accountability by the counties. Counties are paying over 50% of the costs to operate the state court system. Real property owners bear an undue burden for the criminal justice system. Everyone should participate in funding.
Art I, s.8: The 3-day waiting period to obtain a hand gun should be retained in the constitution.
36. BARBARA SCHWARTZ - Miami (American Association of University Women)
Art. I, s. 23: Keep the right to privacy the way it is.
Art. IX: Donít take money from the public schools and put it in private schools.
Art. I: Prayers belong outside of the school.
Art. I, s. 2: Supports an equal rights amendment for women.
37. CARMEN FERREIRO - Miami (Self)
Art IV, s. 9: Supports the unification of the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission. This offers a long-term protection plan.
38. MARY BENNETT HUDSON - Fort Lauderdale (Hemlock Society of Florida)
Art I, s. 23: Supports right to physician-assisted suicide. However, does not support amending Art. I, s. 23. It canít be improved on. Changes should be made by the legislature.
39. THOMAS W. TALMADGE - Miami (Self)
Art. I, s. 21: Consider overturning the decision in State v. Coleman, which provides that the court will not pass on the constitutionality of a statute if the case can be fully determined on other meritorious grounds.
Art. IX: Provide that school districts are in the executive branch.
Art. IX: Section 230.023(2), Florida Statutes, grant to school boards any power except as expressly prohibited by the constitution or state law. This is so broad as to unlawfully delegate legislative power to school districts. The Attorney General has opined (Opinion 83-72) that it is doubtful that the legislature has the power to enact such a grant.
Art. IX, s. 4: Retain the provision that each county shall constitute a school district.
Art. IX, s. 4: Clarify this section. There are some who argue that the 1968 revision made school boards constitutional bodies.
40. KARL WICKSTROM, Miami (Save Our Sealife & Unify the Wildlife)
Art. X, s. 16: The net ban has worked extremely well. Keep it.
Art. IV, s. 9: Support the wildlife agency unification.
41. DAN GIVENS - Miami (Miami Firefighters Pension Trust)
Art. X, s. 14: Protect the pension rights of firefighters and police as provided currently in the Florida statutes so that it cannot be changed.
42. J. TYNAN - Coral Gables (Self)
Art. XI, s. 3: If there are changes to the initiative process at all, it should be made easier, not harder. People are able to understand the issues.
43. DOMINICK DUNBAR - Plantation (Libertarian Party)
Art. VI: The established parties are provided advantages not enjoyed by others.
Art. XI, s. 3: Citizen initiatives should be encouraged. Allow for statutory initiatives, and there will be a decrease in the need for constitutional initiatives. The legislature and judiciary have been shutting themselves off from the voters; this is the reason there has been an increase in citizens initiatives.
44. RICHARD FRIEDMAN - Miami (Self)
Art. V, s.15: The Florida Bar should remain under the Supreme Court.
Art. V, s.10: Supports present system of election of trial judges. You canít take the politics out of the system with merit selection.
Art. V, s.12: Need a stronger judicial qualifications commission. The legislature can fix this.
Art. XI, s.3: Donít change the initiative process
Art. VI, s.4: Donít change term limits
Art. I, s.23: Donít change the privacy amendment
Art. VI: Consider a recall provision for all offices after one year in office.
Art. VI: Allow voting on weekends; allow two days for voting.
Art. X, s.13: Increase the cap for sovereign immunity and adjust for inflation
Art. VII: New taxes imposed by a city or county should require voter approval.
Art IX: We spend too much for too little on our public schools. Give parents a tax credit if they choose to send their children to private schools.
45. KEVIN EMAS - Miami (County Judge)
Art. V, s. 10: Supports merit selection and retention of trial judges. The election of trial judges in Dade County is not a workable system. The costs of campaigning are prohibitive. Contributions are almost exclusively from lawyers, which creates a conflict of interest.
46. CHARLES LANKFORD - Miami (Self)
Art. I, s. 5: Proposes an amendment to assure maximum participation of all party affiliations. "The rights of electoral participation and political association are fundamental; any law burdening this exercise is subject to strict judicial scrutiny and must be supported by clear and convincing evidence." Our concept of democracy is inconsistent with our treatment of political parties.
Supports the 12 proposals of the Constitution Liberty Coalition.
47. JOHN THORNTON - Miami (Self)
Art. V, s.10: Supports merit selection and retention of trial judges
48. ANTHONY VERDUGO - Miami (Christian Coalition)
Art. V, s.10: All judges should be elected. It is arrogant to presume the people are not intelligent enough to elect their judges. Supports doing away with the gag rule that prohibits judicial candidates from addressing the issues, to some extent. The candidate should at least be able to air general judicial leanings, such as whether the candidate is a strict constructionist, whether he or she believes law is evolving or static, etc.
Art.V: Judges should base decisions on the rule of law, not on their opinions. Judicial activism was never part of the design of our government.
49. ROBERT J. JONES - Miami (Self)
Art. V: Provide for a magistrate system for family law cases, including child support. Currently 80% of the stateís circuits have a magistrate system. These should be made uniform and recognized in Article V. The current system has built-in delays - parties must consent to referral to the master; and there is a period required for exceptions to be filed. Most of these cases are emergencies and should not be subject to these delays.
50. LAURA VARELA - Miami (Dade County Commission on the Status of Women)
Art. I, s. 2: Place an equal rights amendment on the ballot. Add sex or gender to those classes which cannot be discriminated against.
Art. I, s. 23: Opposes any attempt to change the right to privacy.
51. NICK ORTIZ - Biscayne Park (Self)
Art I, s.16: This section should be amended to prohibit criminals from suiting victims for injuries in connection with a crime they have committed. We have right to acquire and protect property; but apparently not the right to protect ourselves. We should protect victims more than criminals. A criminal should not be able to sue the victim if the victim hurts the criminal.
52. RANDOLPH "BOUNCER" SMITH - Miami (Self)
Art. X, s.16: There is a marked increase in fish since the net ban passed. It has worked well.
Art. IV: Supports unification of Marine Fisheries Commission and Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission.
53. JEFF WEAKLEY - Miami (Florida Sportsmens Magazine, Coastal Conservation Association)
Art. X, s. 16: Leave intact the net ban amendment
Art. XI, s. 3: Consider the benefits of the net ban when considering the issue of citizens initiatives.
54. LYNDA BELL - Miami (Florida Right to Life)
Art. I, s. 23: Restore this provision to its original intent. Decisions regarding parental rights have gone beyond the initial intention of this provision.
55. FREDERICK KLINE - Miami (Florida Retired Educators Association)
Art. X, s.14: Ensure the protection of the state retirement fund by requiring the fiduciary to hold and invest all assets for the exclusive purposes of providing benefits to plan members and defraying reasonable expenses of administering the system, and to adopt sound actuarial assumptions for use in conducting regular actuarial valuations.
56. MICHAEL C. PATTY - Coral Gables (Self)
Art. X: Place the property rights amendment on the ballot. Government should provide just compensation when it diminishes the rights of the property owner. Property rights of landowners have been diminished over time. Actions of local government have taken away value of peopleís land.
57. CAPTAIN DAN KIPNIS - Miami (Self)
Art. IV: Supports unification of Marine Fisheries Commission and Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission. The way we regulate fisheries issues is broken. The process is too political to take before the Governor and Cabinet.
58. DAVID LEAHY - Miami (Florida Supervisors of Elections)
Art. XI, s.3: The Florida supervisors of elections are seeking an amendment to allow a random sample signature check on initiative petitions, as is currently permitted on all other initiatives, candidate qualifying and recall petitions. Further, recommends providing that petitions that must be checked name by name be submitted to supervisors at least 151 days in advance of the election, and petitions that may be checked by random sampling be provided at least 121 days prior to the general election.
59. JUDY HERSKOWITZ - Miami Beach (Self)
Art. V, s.15: The Florida Bar is supposed to be a governmental entity, however, bar dues are not appropriated by the legislature.
Art.V, s.12: The judicial qualifications commission needs to be changed. JQC proceedings should not be confidential. The JQC will not consider a case related to the merits of the decision; however, most people do not have the funds to appeal.
60. GLORIA KELLEY - Miami (Self)
Art. V: Improve access to the court system and improve supervision of attorneys and judges.
61. ERIC GOTTLIEB - Miami (Self)
Art. XI, s. 3: Donít eliminate the initiative process, but do modify it. Special interests have too much influence. False advertising and the influx of money adversely affect the process. Since caps are probably unconstitutional, perhaps institute a heavy tax on campaign contributions above $500, or mandate equal contributions to both sides, or mandate purchasing equal media time for both sides. A ban on advertising for some time prior to the election might be considered to eliminate the last minute bombshell.
62. MIRIAM DONNER - Hallandale (Self)
Art II: Proposes creating an agency to look into citizens concerns, including concerns about attorneys and judges, when no other agency can help someone.
63. PAUL ZIENTZ
Art. I, s.22: Proposes that the right to trial by jury be reasserted. In the areas of both workers compensation and infants neurologically injured in childbirth, the right to trial by jury has been taken away.
64. MICHAEL J. MAGUIRE - Miami (Self)
Art. V: Judges must be monitored in the court room.
65. VIVIEN HIMES - Miami (Self)
People should not have to pay a toll charge to communicate with government agencies.
People are finding government irresponsible.
Public officials should be held accountable and responsible to the people.
The public needs to know the direction the government is going. We are heading toward a police state - arresting young children.
66. CAPTAIN GEORGE MITCHELL - Miami (Self)
Art. X, s. 16: Enforce the net ban
67. DOROTHY SPONHOLTZ - Miami (Self)
Art. V, s. 10: Judges should be elected with public funds.
Art. V: Require mandatory education for judges before they take office, including judicial efficiency. Judges should be required to cite statute, constitution, or case law for all decisions. All discretion of judges should be rescinded.
Art.V, s.15: The Florida Bar should not be under the Supreme Court.
68. RON EUBANKS - Fort Walton Beach (Self)
Art. V, s.15: The Florida Bar is one of the most powerful organizations in the state. The disciplinary records are abysmal. Only about 4% of complaints result in discipline. Lawyer discipline should not be handled by the Florida Bar or the Supreme Court.
THE FOLLOWING DID NOT SPEAK BUT LEFT WRITTEN COMMENTS:
STEVEN HURST - Miami (Self)
Art. X, s. 16: Maintain the net ban in the constitution.
ADORA OBI NWEZE - Miami (Miami/Dade Branch, NAACP)
Art. I: Add the following language: The citizens of the State of Flroida shall enjoy equal opportunity to employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, and other benefits of citizenship, except where otherwise provided by law. Additionally, the State, its agencies, political subdivisions, municipalities, counties, public colleges and universities, community colleges, school districts, special districts, authorities and other government instrumentalities, are authorized to take actions necessary to remedy the present effects of past discrimination in the areas of housing employment, public accommodations, public education, the purchase of goods and services and the expenditure of public funds.
SUSIE SIMMS - Delray Beach (Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, Inc.)
Art. V: Requests the Commission conduct a study on the impact of Article V. Encourages the Commission to recommend overhaul of the present criminal court system.
THE FOLLOWING SUBMITTED APPEARANCE CARDS BUT DID NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK:
Sheila Anderson, Miami (Commercial Property Services)
Jack Schlossberg, Miami Beach (Self)
Ed Brooks, Palatka (Fla. Assoc. Of Court Clerks & Comptrollers)
Captain Randy L. Weaver, Medley (TAC)
Patrick David, Pardue (Self)
Paul Sample, Boca Raton (Self)
Robert Collins, Miami (Self)
Boddie Bevis, Orlando (Self)
Dennis Forgione, Miami (Self)
Cleve Jones, Miami (South Florida Sport Fishermen)
William J. Hartnett, Coral Gables (Self)
William A. McCauley, Miami (S. Florida Sportfishing Club)
Rev. Nick Schubert, Jr., Miami (Sunset Chapel)
Brian Wexler, Miami (Self)
Michael Ozegovich, Miami (S. Florida AFL-CIO)
Logan Smiley, Miami (Self)
Marie Gaudin, Miami (Self)
Paul Singerman, Miami (Self)
Bonita T. Norman (Self)
Harvey Sootin, Miami (Floridians for Health Security)
Errol L. Clark, Jr., Miami (Floridians for Health Security)
Douglas Pile, Miami (Self)
Antonio A. Mateus, Newton, NJ (Local 16-Orlando Chapter)
Carlos Lacasa, Miami (State Representative)
Annette Van Howe, Fort Lauderdale (Florida Womenís Consortium)
Frank J. Cobo, Miami (Self)
J. G. Ferguson, Miami (South Florida Newsweek Newspaper)
Dr. Delores Kory, Coral Gables (Self)
Evelyn S. Shea, Miami (Self)
Douglas Wilson, Miami (Better Justice Bureau)
Robert J. Bertrand, Miami (National Congress for Legal Reform)
Brad Broun, Opa Locka (NAACP)