Gov. Jeb Bush signs Civil Legal Justice Act Gov. Jeb Bush signs Civil Legal Justice Act Senior Editor State funding for legal aid programs moved to the brink of reality as Gov. Jeb Bush on May 30 signed the Civil Legal Justice Act.The only remaining barrier was that Bush must approve the state budget, which was not expected until after this News went to press. But with the signing of the act, it appeared likely its $2-million appropriation would also survive gubernatorial scrutiny.Six days before the signing, the bill was still very much on the minds of Bar leaders as President Terry Russell urged the Board of Governors to begin work now to expand the program next year. And he received an unexpected tribute for his work in conceiving and getting the legislature to approve the program.At the board’s May 24 meeting in Jacksonville, board member Sharon Langer, who also heads the Dade County Legal Aid Society, announced that the state’s legal aid groups had gotten together and created the Terry Russell Equal Justice Fellowship to honor the president’s efforts.“Beginning this summer and every summer, hopefully, for the rest of our existence, an outstanding law student will spend the summer in one of our programs,” Langer reported to the board. “We expect to produce a distinguished core of Terry Russell Fellows who will go on to honor you by being good lawyers.”Langer’s surprise announcement, and the board’s resultant standing ovation for the president, caught Russell off guard.“I am probably for the first time in my life speechless,” he said. “It’s a marvelous accomplishment for all of us. I didn’t do it alone. I am humbled and I appreciate it.”Janet Neris, a student at St. Thomas School of Law, will be the first Terry Russell Fellow, and will work with Broward Legal Aid this summer. Langer said each participating agency is assessing itself a fee to pay for the program.In his president’s report to the board, Russell reiterated that it was a team effort to pass the bill. He particularly cited the effort of Bar General Counsel Paul Hill and outside legislative consultant Steve Metz, adding, “It was well beyond the call of duty what Steve did on that legislation.”The success has brought both more opportunities and challenges, he said. One benefit is that at The Florida Bar Foundation’s Annual Dinner at the Bar’s Annual Meeting several legislative leaders who were key to passing the program will be in attendance. They are, Russell said, House Speaker-designate Johnny Byrd, Rep. Carlos Lacasa, chair of the Fiscal Responsibility Council, and Rep. Dudley Goodlette and Sen. Burt Saunders, who sponsored the legislation in their respective chambers. Others may also attend, he added.He said that would be a chance for Bar members to thank them for supporting the Civil Legal Justice Act — and to seek increased support in the future.“We need to let them know $2 million is not enough,” Russell continued. “One of the things I’ve learned about the legislature is you never stop asking them for more, because if you do, they give you less. I hope to get $10 million.”And that, Metz told the board, is likely to be a tough challenge.“The legislature used $1.2 billion of nonrecurring dollars in recurring programs [in the 2002-03 budget],” he said. “So next year they’ve got to have $1.2 billion of new money just to keep up.”He also said pushing the legal aid program was different than in recent sessions where the Bar was focused on preventing erosions to the independence of the judiciary and of the Supreme Court’s oversight of the legal profession. He recalled that Russell was involved before the 2001 session when Metz was hired as the Bar’s outside legislative consultant.“He said, ‘It’s not good enough to play defense, you’re going to have to pass something when I’m president.’”“When you play offense, you have to be pretty lucky sometimes. . . . Terry was fantastic. If you saw how he would walk into a hostile office and have the passion he did about providing legal services to the poor — it came from the heart and that’s why we won.“It was a year of trying to restore a lot of budget cuts,” Metz said. “It is extraordinary that Terry was able to come through in a tight budget year with a new program that required $2 million.” June 15, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News
Press Association Ticket prices have long been a thorny issue within the modern game, particularly for the away supporters, who often feel they are not being given a fair price especially those of the leading clubs. A recent survey by the FSF showed the likes of Arsenal’s top price for visiting supporters was £64, QPR charged £55 while Sunderland were cheapest at £39. Crystal Palace charged both home and away fans £40 at Selhurst Park. FSF chief executive Miles believes making such a gesture would not only show a level of good will to paying customers, but also maintain the unique live atmosphere which makes the Premier League such an attractive proposition. “The uplift on domestic television rights alone, not including the overseas deal, is the equivalent of more than £40 for every single ticket sold at each game over the three years, so that gives you an idea of how much manoeuvre the clubs have got – and with that much money going into the game, how they could afford to treat people a lot better,” Miles told Press Association Sport. “The Premier League has already set one or two precedents, there are already rules to benefit away fans, like how many seats they have to allocate in the stadium and how they cannot charge away fans more than the home fans for similar accommodation. “They also ring-fence money via the ‘Away Fans Initiative’ to be invested into increasing numbers of away fans. “What we are proposing out of this huge increase in money is they increase the amount of money involved.” Miles continued: “Our ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ idea to be implemented, we believe would cost the clubs around £20million a season, which is £1million per club, then talk to the fans about how they want that money used, it could make a huge difference to the experience of away support. “They could make this contribution easily and relatively cheaply, to guarantee the atmosphere with participation of away fans to keep their numbers up, which have declined over the last 10 years and that is something which needs to be addressed.” Miles believes any moves to increase the travelling supporters at all Premier League stadia could only have a positive impact. “Part of the reason the Premier League is able to generate so much money for the television rights is precisely because of the whole atmosphere and spectacle. It would be short-sighted to think it is just all about what happens on the pitch,” he said. “The battle is sometimes you have to convince the clubs that it is in their best interest as well as ours, and stress the importance of what fans contribute to what they are selling. “The Premier League did a survey of television audiences in Thailand when they were looking at overseas matches, what they found was actually fans did not want to see Manchester United against Liverpool in Bangkok, they would love the chance to go to Anfield or Old Trafford to witness the real thing. “So there are signs the Premier League are starting to look at these things and recognise the importance of it.” Chairmen of English football’s 20 elite clubs met in central London on Wednesday for the first time since the bumper new £5.14billion television broadcasting deal was announced. The FSF presented an open letter to the chairmen, which was co-signed by fan groups from every Premier League club, detailing what it believes are key elements such as the cost of attending live matches, facilities for away fans, more supporter engagement as well a fairer distribution of football’s wealth throughout the domestic game and grassroots. The Premier League can easily accommodate an initiative to limit away fans tickets at £20 to protect the “spectacle” of its product, according to the chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Federation Kevin Miles.