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Scott wants to "redefine' government

At a time when politicians want to "reinvent" and "right size" government, state Senate President Jim Scott has another catchword.

Scott, R-Fort Lauderdale, said Thursday he wants to "redefine" how the state handles welfare, regulation, government spending, criminal justice and education.

"We're going to try to make these slogans some kind of reality here," he told reporters in announcing his priorities for the 1996 legislative session.

Scott said he again will seek to spend more money on criminal justice and public schools without raising taxes.

In rules reform, Scott is taking a cue from Gov. Lawton Chiles in asking agency heads to recommend government regulations that should be repealed and how much money the state will save. Scott gave officials until Aug. 1 to submit their suggestions.

Scott said he wants a plan to require welfare recipients to go to work after two or three years on the public dole. He says it should dovetail with any welfare reform passed by Congress.

Criminal justice will continue to be a major priority although not as much as this year, when lawmakers passed legislation, such as the 85 percent minimum on prison sentences, to keep more criminals locked up longer.

Scott said he wants the Senate to establish a new method for evaluating the deterrent effect of new anti-crime laws.

Stepdaughter finds

skeleton in house

JACKSONVILLE _ Sue Brinson had not seen her stepmother for six years, but she decided to stop by in May to check on the elderly woman.

She and a neighbor used a flashlight to guide their way into Louise Brinson's home and found her dry and brittle skeleton laid out on a quilt on the living room floor.

Now everyone from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to the U.S. Secret Service to the U.S. Postal Service is investigating the 73-year-old woman's death.

The Secret Service and U.S. Postal Service Inspection Service are trying to determine whether Ms. Brinson's mail had been stolen and whether her Social Security checks had been forged.

The Medical Examiner's Office declined to give an estimate on when the woman died.

Jacksonville Electric Authority records show power was shut off to Ms. Brinson's Jacksonville home last Sept. 8, because bills totaling $708 were unpaid.

Louis Eliopulous, chief forensic investigator the Medical Examiner's Office, said the last confirmed time he knows of anyone seeing Ms. Brinson alive was in 1989.

Thelma Mahler, who lives across the street from Ms. Brinson's home, was the elderly woman's caretaker, according to a police report. She told police she had last seen Ms. Brinson on Thanksgiving and thought the woman had left town to visit relatives. Authorities said they could not confirm her story.

Sue Brinson, who lives in the Jacksonville suburb of Atlantic Beach, said she stopped visiting in 1989 because her stepmother would not come to the door and Ms. Mahler told her Louise Brinson did not want to see her.

Couple accused

of stealing dogs

It wasn't Cruella DeVille and 101 Dalmatians, but authorities who stopped a pickup truck crammed with dogs said it was a case of 29 Dalmatians, Pomeranians, Labrador retrievers, Chihuahuas, Pekinese and cockapoos.

A Florida couple driving the truck in Alabama were arrested and charged with first-degree theft in the theft of purebred dogs from people who advertised in newspaper classified sections.

Kevin Whitehill, 29, of Fort Walton Beach and his wife Kristy, 17, were arrested Wednesday, Madison County sheriff's investigator Dwight Edger said. Authorities arrested the couple after receiving a tip.

The dogs, whose plight was reminiscent of the Walt Disney movie 101 Dalmatians featuring dognapper Cruella DeVille, were placed in a makeshift pen behind the jail to await their owners.

In Short

FORMER REPORTER BECOMES PRESS SECRETARY: Former newspaper and television reporter Karen Pankowski was named Thursday as the new press secretary to Gov. Lawton Chiles. Pankowski, 28, who has worked in the governor's office for the past several months, formerly worked for the Orlando Sentinel and WTXL-TV in Tallahassee. Pankowski replaces Jo Miglino, who will be the spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs.

HELPING A HAND: James Woods sands a fiberglass-coated surface of a sculpted hand Wednesday at the Gainesville warehouse of Museum Services. The company uses foam to design props and characters that are used for education and entertainment. The hand is part of an 87-foot-tall girl that will be featured at JFK Health World in Barrington, Ill.