Justices link judges' pay to their own

Published May 18, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Supreme Court justices were sharply divided Thursday over a new administrative rule linking other judges' salaries to their own.

The justices voted 4-3 for the rule designed to give the judicial system a united position when making salary requests to the Legislature. It includes an acknowledgment, though, that lawmakers have the final say.

It says appellate judges should be paid 95 percent of the justices' salaries - currently $161, 200 - circuit judges 90 percent and county judges 85 percent.

Community college system chief resigns

David Armstrong resigned as Florida's community colleges chancellor Thursday to accept the presidency of Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale.

Armstrong, who led the state's system for nearly 10 years, is the third top state education official to leave office since the start of the year, when Gov. Charlie Crist was inaugurated.

Phil Handy, a strong Jeb Bush supporter, left as chairman of the State Board of Education after the new governor withdrew his reappointment by Bush. John Winn, who also had lengthy ties to Bush, then resigned as education commissioner.

Colombian convicted of human trafficking

A Colombian man has been convicted of turning women into sex workers after they had been lured from Central and South America with promises of domestic jobs in Florida.

A federal court jury Wednesday found Jorge Melchor guilty of human trafficking, facilitating prostitution and conspiracy. Defense lawyer Armando Garcia said his client would appeal.

"He's not a smuggler; he's a pimp, " Garcia said.

Melchor could receive a maximum penalty of 67 years in prison and $2-million in fines.

Crist signs bill mandating daily PE

DAVIE - All elementary school students must have at least a half-hour of daily physical education under a bill Gov. Charlie Crist signed Thursday, after tossing a few footballs at the Miami Dolphins training camp.

When school starts in August, a minimum of 21/2 hours will be required each week for students between kindergarten and fifth grade. Middle and high schools are encouraged to provide up to 33/4 hours of gym class weekly.

Florida has historically left curriculum decisions to individual school districts. State law previously encouraged physical education for all grade levels, but there was no requirement except that a single credit be completed before high school graduation.