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Digest

Judge chided by Bush awarded for stand

By TIMES STAFF
Published May 5, 2007


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BELLEAIR

It was just six months ago that then-Gov. Jeb Bush accused Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell of having a "judicial temper tantrum, " for fining state officials for not moving mentally ill jail inmates to hospitals.

But Farnell, whose independence was honored by the Clearwater Bar Association on Friday, may have the last laugh.

"All I've got to say is, eat your heart out, Jeb Bush, " Farnell said after accepting the George W. Greer Judicial Independence Award.

"It's incredible what has happened since the turnover, " Farnell said as he accepted the award.

Shortly after Gov. Charlie Christ took office in January, the Legislature allocated $16.6-million to pay for 373 additional treatment beds.

CLEARWATER

Residents warned of lean times coming

Residents will see fewer recreation centers, libraries, beach shuttle services, fireworks displays, special events and concerts, and less landscaping starting in October, the City Council has decided. And also going by the wayside: roughly 90 city jobs. City leaders, who signed off on $7.5-million in budget cuts Thursday night for 2007-08, warned that's just the beginning as they aim to slice $12-million to $15-million from what it would cost next year to continue current city services. The city staff will hunt for another $4.5-million in cuts, possibly including a firefighting squad as well as a few school police officers. The budget cuts come in anticipation of next month's special legislative session during which lawmakers are expected to significantly curtail local governments' property tax revenue.

CLEARWATER

Bar hits a milestone with new president

Gregory K. Showers, a lawyer with Kwall, Showers, Coleman & Barack of Clearwater, was sworn in Friday as president of the Clearwater Bar Association, making him the first African-American to lead the group in its 70-plus-year history.

Showers, 40, a graduate of Morehouse College and Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, is a criminal and personal injury lawyer.

Also...

Conceding they have just a 15 percent chance of winning, Clearwater officials have decided to appeal a court ruling that allows some short-term rentals in a residential north beach neighborhood.

A judge ruled last month that the city had forfeited its right to enforce a short-term rental ban on 31 properties.

[Last modified May 5, 2007, 01:33:56]


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