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Around the state

Ex-state Sen. Kiser may run for attorney general

By Times staff writer, Times wires
Published January 27, 2005


TALLAHASSEE - Lawyer-lobbyist Curt Kiser, a Republican who served Pinellas County in the Legislature for two decades, said Wednesday he is considering a run for Florida attorney general in 2006.

"It's something I'm thinking about," said Kiser, a partner in Florida's largest law firm, Holland & Knight. "The race is wide open."

The Cabinet position is expected to be open next year because Attorney General Charlie Crist plans to run for governor. The only candidate from either party actively campaigning for the post is state Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of the Fiscal Council, which writes the House budget.

Several Democratic legislators also are considering running.

"Nobody that I can see on the horizon has a lock on it," Kiser said.

A Florida State University law school graduate, Kiser served in the House from 1972 to 1982 and the Senate from 1984 to 1994. As a senator he sponsored legislation that created the post of statewide prosecutor in the Attorney General's Office.

Kiser left the Senate in 1994 to run for lieutenant governor as the running mate of Tom Gallagher. The ticket finished a distant third in the GOP primary.

-STEVE BOUSQUET

Abuse claim brings school official's suspension

BRADENTON - An assistant principal at a Manatee County middle school was suspended Wednesday after a group representing people molested by Catholic priests claimed he sexually abused a boy in the mid 1960s.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests notified Manatee schools superintendent Roger Dearing, who said he put Joseph Gilpin on paid leave. Dearing said an investigator will determine if he Gilpin is the man who, while a seminarian in Massachusetts, was accused of molesting the child but never formally charged.

Dearing said Gilpin, assistant principal at Carlos Haile Middle School, has been an employee of Manatee schools for more than 30 years. His name is the same as that of the former seminarian, Dearing said, and there are similarities in their backgrounds.

"We do have this person who made allegations in writing and it's an issue serious enough to bring into mind student protection," Dearing said.

Efforts to reach Gilpin for comment Wednesday were not successful. David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, said an abuse victim came across Gilpin's picture recently on the school's Web site and notified the organization, which alerted the school district.

The victim received an out-of-court settlement after suing the church in 2001 over abuse he claimed took place between 1965 and 1968 when he was between the ages of 9 and 12, the group said.

Businessman gets 31/2 years in cocaine case

PENSACOLA - A co-owner of a real estate school who once served on the Florida Real Estate Commission received a 31/2-year state prison sentence Wednesday for his role in the Operation Sandshaker cocaine ring.

A jury on Nov. 23 convicted David Collins, 52, of Pensacola of trafficking in cocaine and conspiring to traffic. He is among 53 mostly middle-aged and middle class defendants charged with drug offenses. The multiagency investigation was named for the Sandshaker Lounge & Package Store at Pensacola Beach, where some of the illegal activity took place.

Sentencing of one of the most prominent Sandshaker defendants, Charles Switzer, a retired billboard company executive who once served on the board of the Pensacola Junior College Foundation, was postponed Wednesday until March 23.

EPA approves Everglades phosphorus reduction plan

FORT LAUDERDALE - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week approved the bulk of a Florida plan to curb phosphorus pollution in the Everglades.

The EPA found the Everglades plan in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, over objections of environmental groups and the Miccosukee Indian Tribe.

The federal agency approved provisions of the rule that can extend a December 2006 cleanup deadline up to 10 years, provided that pollution controls show continued progress and the best cleanup technology is used. It said it intends to examine, case by case, any requests for variances that come from the South Florida Water Management District, the cleanup coordinator.

The Miccosukee Indians, who have a perpetual lease on 189,000 acres of the central Everglades, have attacked the cleanup rule as too soft on polluters and apt to allow still-dirty water to spread farther through the Everglades.

"Politically what this means is they're punting, and expecting the tribe to protect the Everglades," tribe attorney Dexter Lehtinen said. "They don't have the political will to, but they know the Miccosukees will."

Panel recommends ending ostrich feed tax break

TALLAHASSEE - Ostrich raisers may have to start paying a state sales tax on feed for the flightless birds once touted as the next big thing in lean meat.

When critics talk about Florida's hodgepodge of exemptions to the sales tax, ostrich feed often heads a list that includes horse and dog track admissions, Super Bowl tickets, collectible coins, fill dirt and cattle growth enhancers.

Ostrich feed was made exempt from the sales tax in 1992 in an effort to help a fledgling industry. But more than a decade later, few people are raising ostriches for meat in Florida and a bill to repeal the exemption was approved Wednesday in the Senate Agriculture Committee, which rarely does anything farmers might oppose.

The ostrich farming industry "never really took off and right now it's just an exemption which has outlived its purpose," said Sen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, sponsor of the repeal measure (SB 448). The panel voted for it 4-2.

An effort last year to repeal the exemption was killed by the House Agriculture Committee.

No ostrich farmers have shown up to push to keep the exemption. No one is sure there are any.

"There may be someone with a couple of birds, but in terms of any major commercial operation, we're not aware of any," said state Department of Agriculture spokesman Terence McElroy.

-Staff, Bradenton Herald and wire reports

[Last modified January 27, 2005, 00:40:21]


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