Wednesday, September 26, 2018
News Roundup

Treasure Island decides not to ban plastic straws on the beach

TREASURE ISLAND — Commissioners took a step back Tuesday from an outright ban on plastic straws on the city's beaches, instead opting to see how voluntary compliance will work.

The idea of outlawing plastic one-time-use straws was initiated by Treasure Island resident Julie Featherston, who pushed for a legal way to protect sea life from harmful plastics littering the beach.

She provoked social media interest last year after posting a picture on Facebook of dozens of straws she and her son had collected from the beach. A petition to ban plastic straw use in the city garnered hundreds of signatures.

But in a first debate over an ordinance that would have restricted plastic straw use on the beaches and in nearby restaurants and stores, commissioners thought the proposal went too far.

They decided to give businesses six months to voluntarily abide by the no-plastics rule before deciding whether to rework and adopt an ordinance.

Mayor Bob Minning said that in recent months, many restaurant owners had switched to paper straws and adopting an ordinance could have "many, many unintended consequences."

Commissioner Phil Collins agreed.

"I think it would be ridiculous to arrest someone for having straws on the beach," he said. "It could do more harm than good."

But police Chief Armand Boudreau explained that under the law, a person in violation would be given a warning and future violations would mean a fine.

"They wouldn't go to court unless they were contesting the citation," he said.

City Manager Reid Silverboard said the ordinance was designed to address plastic straw use mainly in restaurants and retail stores where customers take out food and beverages. Under the proposal, even straws in children's juice boxes would be banned.

"Under this ordinance, Publix would be in violation," Commissioner Tim Ramsberger said. "I do think we need to have this on the books, but this is too broad."

Commissioner Alan Bildz, while agreeing that the proposed ordinance "goes a little too far," said he still supported a legal ban against businesses offering plastic straws to patrons.

"I have a hard time understanding that if a voluntary ban is working, how can it still be a hardship?" he said in reference to business owners and chamber officials who decried the impact an ordinance could have.

The proposal drew differing opinions from those in attendance at Tuesday's City Commission meeting.

Resident Richard Harrison said a recent beach cleanup by the Sunset Beach Civic Association found significantly fewer plastic straws.

"The voluntary ban is working. Let's give it a chance," he said.

Ken Halpern from Caddy's on the Beach restaurant said his business is now exclusively using paper straws.

"Our costs are slightly up, but we expected that," he said. "We want this to be voluntary. We are in it for the long haul."

Featherston, however, said unwanted plastics are a huge problem everywhere and quoted a new study that predicts the plastic pollution in the ocean will outweigh fish by 2050.

Commissioner Patrick Jeffares said plastic straws should just be added as an illegal item to the city's litter ordinance.

"I don't think this would be a law enforcement problem," he said.

Commissioners decided not to move ahead on the proposed ordinance but instead revisit the issue in July to see how voluntary compliance was going.

After the meeting, Featherston said she thought the delay "gives us an opportunity to prove that a voluntary ban will not be 100 percent effective" and that an ordinance is "the only viable solution to our overwhelming plastic pollution problem."

Comments
Rays’ Jake Faria might have saved his own life with this catch

Rays’ Jake Faria might have saved his own life with this catch

The sight of 6-foot-7, 282-pound Yankees slugger Aaron Judge in the batter's box is scary enough for any major-league pitcher.Imagine seeing a line drive off his bat headed straight for your head.That's the position Rays starter Jake Faria found hims...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Port Richey council wants to make it easier to fire a city manager

Port Richey council wants to make it easier to fire a city manager

PORT RICHEY — The Port Richey City Council wants to make it easier to fire its city managers, but will let voters decide whether to give the idea the green light.The council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for a referendum on the April 9,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Crash ties up northbound traffic on Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Crash ties up northbound traffic on Sunshine Skyway Bridge

A crash Wednesday morning has traffic congested on the northbound Sunshine Skyway Bridge.Traffic cameras around 8 a.m. showed the bridge's left lane blocked just before its main hump, which has increased the drive-time for commuters attempting to cro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
20 people busted in Pasco County contracting sting

20 people busted in Pasco County contracting sting

Nearly two dozen people have been arrested in Pasco County for a variety of cases involving contracting without a license and failure to secure worker’s compensation insurance, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Sheriff Chris Nocco will a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Gulf’s John Jessup just runs his worries away

Gulf’s John Jessup just runs his worries away

NEW PORT RICHEY — On the starting line Saturday morning at Starkey Park, Gulf High senior John Jessup said he felt pretty good and optimistic, but then he started running, and well, Jessup said, "I didn't feel so good."Down the soggy trails he ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Bucs’ starting quarterback will be …

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Bucs’ starting quarterback will be …

Jameis Winston returned to One Buc Place on Tuesday, and head coach Dirk Koetter informed him and Ryan Fitzpatrick which quarterback will start this weekend against the Bears. But, Koetter isn't letting the cat out of the bag.Rick Stroud discusses th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Organizers inviting candidates, East Hillsborough residents to 'Wakanda The Vote' on Sunday

Organizers inviting candidates, East Hillsborough residents to 'Wakanda The Vote' on Sunday

With the mid-term elections quickly approaching, local organizations have come together to spur African-American participation in the election process by hosting a get-out-the-vote party inspired by the film Black Panther.The event, dubbed “Wa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Largo woman seriously injured after crashing into fire truck

Largo woman seriously injured after crashing into fire truck

INDIAN SHORES -- A Largo oman was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon when she drove into the side of a fire truck, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.Deputies say the crash occurred around 5:15 p.m. after Johanna Costello, 56, failed ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: St. Petersburg pedestrian struck by SUV while crossing road

Deputies: St. Petersburg pedestrian struck by SUV while crossing road

SOUTH PASADENA -- A St. Petersburg man was seriously injured Tuesday night when he was struck by a vehicle while crossing Pasadena Avenue S.According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, there was evidence that 25-year-old Todd Hall had been drin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
What a Fed rate hike means for you, at any age

What a Fed rate hike means for you, at any age

No matter your age, what the Federal Reserve does to interest rates will most likely affect you.Economists say the central bank is nearly certain to raise what's called the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point Wednesday to a range of...
Updated: 3 hours ago