Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A grass roots revolt does the state's job in Manatee County

Two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature disbanded the state's growth management agency, complaining it hurt the economy. Now it falls to ordinary Floridians to stop even the worst development projects. And last month — in one case, at least — they were successful.

Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff wanted to build a grandiose resort on Sarasota Bay. Named Long Bar Pointe, the 463-acre tract, looking west toward Longboat Key, was designed to include thousands of homes, office and convention space, hundreds of hotel rooms and a marina for 300 boats. As Beruff told the Tampa Bay Times' Craig Pittman, he envisioned the resort to rival the Breakers in Palm Beach. "We were trying to create an icon," he said, something "to lure people there."

But people are already there. And they made themselves heard last month, when the Manatee County Commission sat through a 12-hour hearing on the project, with 1,000 people in attendance at the county convention center. Environmentalists, anglers, local businesses and historians opposed the project for the damage it would cause to the fishing economy and the historic character of Cortez, a century-old fishing village just around the corner.

Before the state eliminated the Department of Community Affairs, the project would not have gotten this far. Joe McClash, who spent 20 years as a Manatee commissioner, said DCA would have objected to the plan. A former agency secretary, Tom Pelham, agreed.

The public outcry was the last, best chance to defeat it. And it was an uphill battle.

Beruff, the man behind Long Bar Pointe, is one of the most powerful people in Florida. He contributed heavily to Scott's campaign, and he and his partner also contributed to the commissioners. But the enormous crowd, the thousands who signed petitions and the collaboration between so many disparate groups with a shared stake in preserving something of Florida won out. Commissioners fashioned a deal that allows the residential portion of the development, but only after the marina was stripped from the project.

Of course, the project is not dead, and the developers can't say if they will try again for a marina. But the episode shows what Floridians need to do now that their state government has abandoned its responsibility.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18