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Legislature's economic adviser to change careers

The Legislature's top economist has resigned after 16 years to study to become a Spanish teacher.

"It's time for something different," Ed Montanaro said.

Since 1986, Montanaro has directed the legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research. He was responsible for forecasting how much money lawmakers have to spend each year and report on demands for state services and programs.

His $98,064 job often required him to deliver unpleasant news. In April he told lawmakers a $262-million tax break they were considering and ultimately passed would probably not stimulate the state's economy as supporters argued, but depress it slightly.

Montanaro, 49, said Wednesday the decision to leave is entirely his own. "This is my idea, not anybody else's."

Montanaro, who earned a master's degree in economics in 1977, earned a master's in Spanish in May from Florida State University. Beginning in August he will pursue a doctorate in Spanish at FSU.

Man guilty of luring

Florida teenager to Greece

THESSALONIKI, Greece _ A German man was convicted Wednesday of using the Internet to lure a Florida teenager to Greece and sentenced to eight years, three months in prison.

Konstantin Baehring, 36, was found guilty of abducting the girl, now 15, with malicious intent and on charges of sexual assault.

A German who lives in Greece, Baehring was arrested last year following an international police investigation into the disappearance of the girl who fled Mulberry, in Polk County, for Greece.

She was found in February 2001 in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, and returned from United States with her mother to testify at the two-day trial.

Business leaders support Miami-Dade gay rights

MIAMI _ A group of business leaders voiced support Wednesday for Miami-Dade County's ordinance banning discrimination against gays, saying efforts to repeal the rule could drive away businesses and tourists.

The county's 1998 law that bars discrimination in housing, employment and finance based on sexual orientation "allows us to retain and attract qualified employees to our community," said Jack Lowell, chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

The leaders have organized a fundraiser next week to support the "Business Says No to Discrimination" committee and its efforts to keep the law on the books.

Take Back Miami-Dade and the Miami-Dade County Christian Coalition have collected enough petition signatures to put a proposed repeal of the rule on the Sept. 10 ballot. They say it gives gays special rights.

A gay rights ordinance was struck down by voters 25 years ago following a campaign by former beauty queen and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant.

Ex-caretakers denied

visit with Rilya's sister

MIAMI _ The women who cared for a 5-year-old girl who has been missing for 18 months can't have a final visit with the girl's younger sister, who is about to be adopted by another family, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Juvenile Judge Cindy Lederman denied a request by sisters Pamela and Geralyn Graham, who wanted to visit 2-year-old Rodericka Wilson and talk to her before her adoption is completed. Rodericka is the sister of Rilya Wilson, who was discovered missing.

Lederman's decision was based mostly on a report by a psychologist who wrote that a final visit between the girl and the Grahams would be harmful for Rodericka because she is "in the process of forming bonds" with the prospective parents. "A termination visit would be too confusing for her, as she would not understand the purpose," Lederman read from the report.

Rodericka, who was born to a cocaine addict and is developmentally delayed, had lived with the Grahams since she was 3 months old. She was removed from the home after it was discovered in April that Rilya was missing.

Geralyn Graham, who says she is Rilya's paternal grandmother, has said a woman representing herself as a DCF counselor took Rilya for a supposed psychological evaluation in January 2001 and never returned her.

_ Wire reports

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