The group trying to reform Florida's political reapportionment system has a chance at only two-thirds of the apple in 2006 because it has abandoned, at least for now, a third redistricting ballot proposal.
After losing a round in court in Tallahassee two weeks ago over the wording of the third ballot proposal (its summary is six words too long under Florida law), members of the Committee for Fair Elections and Common Cause decided to rewrite the proposal and shoot for the 2008 ballot.
While the delay has proved a small setback, proponents of redistricting reform say it won't impact the fate or effectiveness of the remaining two proposed amendments, which would create an independent redistricting commission.
"At the end of the day, we'll have a new redistricting process in the state of Florida," said Paul Dunn, campaign manager for the Committee for Fair Elections. "We're moving forward."
Organizers have collected more than 400,000 signatures for the two remaining ballot proposals, almost two-thirds of the way to the 611,000 needed to qualify by Jan. 1. Last week, the language for those proposals was forwarded to the Florida Supreme Court for its review.
The third, flawed proposal dealt with establishing standards in the Florida Constitution that would hamper self-serving gerrymandering of political boundaries. The other two proposals — one that would establish an independent 15-member redistricting commission instead of allowing the Legislature to draw its own political lines, and another that would call for an immediate redistricting by the new commission in advance of the 2008 elections — continue to move forward toward the 2006 ballot.
Kiley Park: New website, Times props
Tampa preservationists are basking in the recognition afforded by a New York Times article about efforts to revive NCNB Plaza Park, the landscape architecture masterwork in downtown designed by the late Dan Kiley.
His geometric creation next to the "beercan building" fell into disrepair almost immediately after its opening in 1988, the victim of expensive maintenance and leaking fountains and canals. The Times story on Sept. 15 used Kiley's gardens as an introduction to preservationist Charles Birnbaum, who is coordinator of the National Parks Service Historic Landscape Initiative.
Meanwhile, the grassroots group trying to restore NCNB Plaza Park has formed a nonprofit, the Friends of Kiley Park. Its board includes Roger Grunke, Sue Thompson, John Howey, Anne Vela and Rachel Rogers. Vela, wife of Chris Vela, co-founder of the young architects group YARD-OPS, said the group continues to do clean-ups in the park and has a new website at www.kileygardens.org.