Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Carlton: Fiscality of ferry across bay, a Hawkes watching the courthouse, and week that was

Headlines from the week that was:

Tampa-St. Pete ferry gets initial push off the dock

While a ferry is hardly the comprehensive transit plan our cities need, it could still be progress, plus another good use of all this very cool water around us.

If it works, and for now that's a big if, you could get to that city across the bridge — to a hot new restaurant in St. Petersburg, a play at Tampa's performing arts center, a Lightning game, a gallery, a museum, a stroll along St. Pete's waterfront or a rental-bike ride down Tampa's Riverwalk — all without having to drive across those oft-backed-up bridges.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman is making an enthusiastic pitch to cities and counties involved for a six-month pilot project for a cross-bay ferry between the two downtowns, an intriguing idea with critical questions:

Will there really be enough riders to keep it afloat? Would fares be reasonable, how often would it run and how would it be marketed? Biggest of all: Between the numbers and private-sector support, will taxpayers be kept safe from a potential boondoggle?

For now, public officials are sounding the right cautious-but-optimistic note.

But on this there is no question: Those picturesque waters are an asset. Remember how people fell in love with the old Gandy Bridge converted to a recreational trail that brought in hundreds of thousands of people a year? I'm betting interest from both residents and visitors (and their wallets) won't be a problem if ferry supporters come up with a smart, workable, fair plan to make it happen.

Judge who resigned in Taj Mahal scandal to lobby against term limits for, um, judges

The judiciary should be kept far from the whims of politics, which is why I'm all for a big pushback against the current bad idea of term limits for appeals court judges.

But here's the eyebrow-raiser.

Former appellate court judge Paul Hawkes — who resigned in the fallout over construction of a courthouse considered so lavish it was nicknamed the Taj Mahal — has been hired to fight those proposed term limits.

Yes, Hawkes has buckets of political juice in Tallahassee. But he sure is an interesting pick when some might consider him an argument for exactly why judges shouldn't linger too long.

Quote from the week that was:

"One of my favorite sayings is the world is run by the people who show up."

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap on the importance of people showing up to vote.

The Times reported this week that while other states are using interesting ways to get people registered and voting, Florida appears to be more wed to its old-style neighborhood precincts and reputation for long lines.

Elsewhere you can vote at the grocery or register on Election Day. And how's this for making it easy? In Colorado, every registered voter gets a ballot in the mail which they can mail back or else drop off, if they prefer it old-school.

Of course, making it easier to vote — especially for younger citizens and minorities likely to benefit from such options — assumes elected officials actually want everyone voting.

Sue Carlton can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18