Harold Lewis, the main architect of Florida's settlement with tobacco companies who was forced to resign once from state government, is being asked to leave again.
Lewis had been working as a senior lawyer in the Division of Retirement at a salary of about $55,000. He got the job about a year ago after being forced out as Florida's chief inspector general under Gov. Lawton Chiles amid an investigation into a loan given him by a lawyer working on the tobacco lawsuit.
Lewis, 62, who was a friend and close adviser of Chiles, who died in December, wrote a letter to the Tallahassee Democrat this week saying he has been let go by Gov. Jeb Bush's administration.
"I was not a Republican and was closely involved with the late Gov. Chiles on many major issues," Lewis wrote. "This is politics."
Lewis' boss said he would be missed. "Harold Lewis was doing a fine job . . . and we hate to see him go," said the division director, Andy McMullian. "It had nothing to do with Harold's performance."
Lewis quit the Chiles administration in November 1997 after being suspended during an investigation of the loan from Tim Howard, a lawyer who served as a liaison between the state and the 11 firms representing Florida in the tobacco lawsuit.
Judge refuses to accept
legislator's plea agreement
JACKSONVILLE _ A federal judge Thursday refused to accept state Rep. Willye Dennis' and her daughter's plea agreement in which they admit converting to personal use federal funds intended for the family's day care center.
U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger said his decision had nothing to do with the recommended sentence in the agreement, which calls for house arrest, repaying $19,700 to the government and the two divesting themselves of FAM-CO Learning and Development Inc.
Schlesinger said it is his policy to reject plea agreements that tie his hands and prevent him from exercising his duties as a federal judge in following guidelines and imposing sentences.
"I am going to reject the plea agreement . . . solely because it has an agreed-to sentence," the judge said. "I express no opinion about what will ultimately happen."
The ruling leaves Dennis, 73, and her daughter, Wilene C. Dozier, 43, facing a big decision.
If they agree to abide by their agreement, but without a recommended punishment, their sentence will be up to the judge. If they decide to withdraw their agreement, prosecutors plan to take the case to a federal grand jury for an indictment, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux.
Arab group seeks Disney
promise on Israel exhibit
ORLANDO _ An Arab-American group on Thursday called on Walt Disney World to guarantee that a soon-to-open exhibit on Israel won't acknowledge Jerusalem as the political capital of the Jewish nation.
The American Committee on Jerusalem also asked Disney to remove any references from the exhibit that politically link East Jerusalem _ the location of holy sites for Islam, Christianity and Judaism _ with the state of Israel.
The exhibit is set to open Oct. 1 at Epcot, part of the theme park's 15-month millennium celebration that is to feature exhibits from more than 35 nations. Israel's foreign ministry contributed $1.8-million to the Israeli exhibit.
Since Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Arabs have considered it occupied territory and objected to Israelis' claim that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state.
Every effort has been taken to make sure the exhibit is balanced, said Disney spokesman Bill Warren. He wouldn't say whether it makes any reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but added that the exhibit isn't political.
Rhea Chiles helps dedicate
school named for husband
TALLAHASSEE _ A $70-million state-of-the-art high school complex named after Gov. Lawton Chiles was formally opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, eight months after Chiles' death near the end of his term.
"It is deeply moving to be here with you today," Chiles' widow, Rhea Chiles, said. "I can just hear you in years to come, telling your grandchildren, "Yes, I was a member of the first class at Lawton Chiles High School.' "
About 1,500 people attended the ceremony in the school's new gymnasium, including many of the ninth- and 10th-grade students who will start classes Monday in one of the nine red-brick buildings on the 70-acre campus.
"If Lawton were here, and I think he is, I think he would say to you, "The spirit of your youth of being a teenager, we'd do well to maintain throughout our lives,' " Mrs. Chiles said.
As she ended her brief talk, Mrs. Chiles looked toward the sky and said: "I just got the message: "Go Timberwolves,' " referring to the school's nickname.
Lawton Chiles High School is on U.S. 319, about 12 miles north of downtown Tallahassee.
_ Compiled from wire reports