03/17/12 Visual Arts
LAS VEGAS — It's a desert oasis that hangs its priciest paintings on casino walls, where neon signs are a point of a pride. Still, Las Vegas' cultural offerings have long taken a back seat to the glamor and crudity of its most notorious vices. People come here to party, the stereotype goes, not broaden their artistic horizons.
Now a new $470 million arts complex is daring to challenge that. The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a gleaming art deco-inspired jewel in a downtown redevelopment zone, hopes to reintroduce Las Vegas as a cultural destination in its own right. ...
Regardless of who voters name as the state's next chief executive, Florida's latest strategy for countering illegal immigration will likely play out not along its borders, but in its boardrooms.
Florida's four leading gubernatorial candidates want businesses to use E-Verify, a federal online employee verification database, to weed out unauthorized workers.
This would be a dramatic change for some of the state's largest industries and its sprawling immigrant communities....
The National Organization for Women's political action committee endorsed Kendrick Meek in the Florida Senate race Thursday.
"Mr. Meek has been a real friend to women's rights in the House of Representatives," said Terry O'Neill, NOW's president, in a conference call with reporters.
Meek said his rivals in the race, who are all men, did not have "stellar records" on women's issues."My track record is solid and I look forward to working with NOW in years to come in the United States Senate," Meek said. ...
Florida Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum unveiled a sweeping immigration bill Wednesday that in some ways goes further than Arizona's controversial law to apprehend undocumented workers and residents.
The move could propel Florida to the forefront of a national debate over border security.
"Arizona is going to want this law," McCollum said. "We're better, we're stronger, we're tougher and we're fairer."...
Republican gubernatorial contender Bill McCollum reiterated his opposition to gay foster parents Wednesday, after a Florida Baptist publication quoted his controversial views on gay parents. ...
Attorney General Bill McCollum unveiled a proposed bill Wednesday that would require police officers to verify a suspect's immigration status during all lawful stops, detentions and arrests when reasonable suspicion exists.
"Arizona is going to want this law," said McCollum. "We're better, we’re stronger, we’re tougher and we’re fairer."
The law differs from the Arizona law in that it would allow judges to consider immigration status when setting bail. Illegal immigrants would also face stiffer criminal sentences than legal residents who committed the same crime. Unlike the Arizona law, citizens would not be able to sue law enforcement agencies for not enforcing the law. Instead, that watchdog role would fall to the state attorney general. ...
TAMPA — A Republican-led charge to block children of illegal immigrants from birthright citizenship has become a distraction, said Marco Rubio, the Republican front-runner in Florida's U.S. Senate race.
"The fundamental issue we need to focus on is border security. These other things are really not at this moment pressing issues," said Rubio, when asked about calls to revise the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution....
In a remote field awash with 90,000 solar panels, President Barack Obama praised the launch last year of the country's largest solar plant in secluded Arcadia as a watershed moment for Florida's emerging green economy.
Roughly 10 months later, Florida's time in the sun has darkened, with a smattering of renewable energy programs in place and other projects stalled.
Meanwhile, other states are busy promoting renewable energy policies aimed at reducing dirty fuel consumption and stimulating nascent solar manufacturers....
Charlie Crist says he won't endorse in the Republican gubernatorial primary.
But back when Bill McCollum was the only major candidate in the race and Crist was still running as a Republican, Crist gave $500 to the McCollum campaign. Carole Crist, his wife, also gave $500 to McCollum in August 2009. ...
Florida's former top Republican said he won't pick a favorite in the Republican gubernatorial primary. "I am not going to endorse in that race," said Charlie Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent. "I have my hands full with my race."
What about Democrat Alex Sink? "I will have a favorite by Nov. 2," said Crist. Asked if he would share that name with voters, he said, "I doubt it."...
Gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum has been in politics for much of his adult life, charting a wide map of potential minefields for his enemies to use against him.
The Florida Democratic Party, no stranger to partisan warfare, took such aim in a July 26, 2010, press release, using the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act to remind voters of McCollum's initial concerns about the sweeping civil rights legislation: "He urged then-President George H.W. Bush to reconsider his support of the ADA ... McCollum also voted for numerous amendments to weaken the legislation, even voting to make trains less accessible to those in wheelchairs. McCollum then voted for final passage of the ADA, saying 'politically, it's a very tough vote.'"
In fact, congressional records show McCollum voted for several amendments to the bill....
LARGO — The state owes Floridians $52.7 million in unpaid solar energy rebates and has no immediate plan to honor its financial promise.
More than 15,800 people await the rebates, which were dangled before homeowners and businesses to encourage greater investment in solar energy technologies such as solar-power water heaters and electric systems.
The state's new fiscal year, which started in July, marks the second consecutive year that the Florida Legislature has refused to fund the popular program....
TAMPA — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called for a federal investigation Monday of BP's use of chemicals to break down oil as it spread across the Gulf of Mexico.
He called it a "toxic brew" that might result in greater environmental troubles than if the oil had been allowed to sit on the surface until it was collected.
The Democratic senator also introduced a bill to require companies to disclose chemicals used in future oil spill cleanups....
Florida's Senate race is about four men elbowing each other in a fierce bid to join the most powerful legislative branch in the United States.
But behind the candidates' nasty accusations are four spouses with mirror ambitions. They are their husbands' ultimate political accessories, the lapel flag in human form: slim legs, coiffed hair, dazzling smiles, a walking thesaurus of their spouses' winning attributes. ...
TAMPA — LeRoy "Roy" Collins Jr., a retired two-star admiral, successful businessman, champion for veterans and son of one of Florida's best-known governors, died Thursday when a sport utility vehicle struck his bicycle. He was 75.
Hours after Mr. Collins' death, ruled an accident, Gov. Charlie Crist interrupted a Cabinet meeting to announce the news and observe a moment of silence. ...