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Commission adopts rules on phosphorus in Glades

A state commission voted unanimously Tuesday for technical rules on how to measure phosphorous in the Everglades, a key part of overseeing a cleanup required by a 1992 court agreement.

The Environmental Regulation Commission finished up more than a year of work on a rule essentially spelling out how much of the nutrient is acceptable in the Everglades and how to measure it. Phosphorous runs off of farms and out of suburban sprawl into the wetlands, nourishing undesirable plants that choke off those important to restoring the ecosystem.

Among the issues decided was how to account for variability in measurements caused by taking readings in different parts of the Everglades at different times.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency sent the commission a letter expressing concern that the rule locks into place a certain scheme for measuring phosphorous and doesn't allow for changes in the number of monitoring stations, for example. The commission rejected an amendment suggested by the EPA to address that concern.

Foley officially opens campaign for Senate

MIAMI _ Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley formally opened his campaign for U.S. Senate Tuesday, filing papers to seek the seat held by Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Graham.

Foley, a five-term congressman from West Palm Beach, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission and paperwork establishing a fundraising committee.

Foley's main opposition in the GOP primary is expected to be former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum of the Orlando area, who lost to Democrat Bill Nelson in the 2000 U.S. Senate race. U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Palm Bay and state Sen. Daniel Webster of Winter Garden are exploring candidacies.

Five Democrats have announced plans to run if Graham declines another state campaign.

Bar reviewing attorney's criticism of judge

PENSACOLA _ The Florida Bar is investigating an ethics complaint against attorney Fred Levinfor ridiculing a judge's decision to jail suspended Escambia County Commissioner W.D. Childers.

Levin, who defended Childers during his 2002 trial on charges of violating Florida's open-government Sunshine Law, was quoted in the Pensacola News Journal as saying the judge's refusal to free the former Florida Senate president on bail during his appeal was "unconscionable."

"I've never been so embarrassed or ashamed of the legal profession," Levin told the newspaper in a May 13 story. "I believe the inmates have taken over the asylum."

Levin said Monday the Bar asked him to explain his comments. He said he stands by them and was exercising his right of free speech.

Okaloosa County Judge T. Patterson Maney sentenced Childers to 60 days in jail May 12 for discussing public business in private with other commissioners. Childers was the first public official jailed for violating the Sunshine Law's open meetings section, Levin said Monday.

"I thought it was wrong," the Pensacola lawyer said. "I am outraged."

_ Wire reports