Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Bait to lure Bass is still too darned big

A proposal to spend $8 million in tax money to bring a Bass Pro Shops to Hillsborough County is nothing more than a stripped-down version of a bad idea that collapsed earlier this year. It is one thing to make a strategic public investment in an emerging industry to reshape an area's economic base; it is quite another to hand millions in tax dollars to a retail operation that is of marginal benefit to the economy and under terms that hurt competition, increase the public costs of suburban sprawl and establish a new model for tax-funded corporate welfare. The County Commission should reject the proposal when it comes up Wednesday.

Commission Chairman Ken Hagan is taking another run at attracting the sporting goods chain by proposing that the county spend $8.25 million on road improvements to bring a Bass Pro to the Brandon area, west of Interstate 75 and north of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. The big difference between this offer and an earlier $15 million package is that the county is no longer being asked to pay cash to Bass Pro in addition to the road project.

But paying less for the same dubious deal is hardly a bargain. The hype about the customer experience at Bass Pro's megashops cannot mask over that these are not the high-tech or high-income jobs that significantly improve the area's employment picture. The road work would accommodate traffic going in and out of Bass Pro and not serve a larger public purpose. Opening up new land for commercial development in areas unprepared for it is not smart planning or smart investment. And why is the public learning the details of a multimillion deal just before Wednesday's meeting?

Does any commissioner beyond the one championing it think this is a good idea? These are not the jobs Commissioner Mark Sharpe keeps talking about. This is not an example of smart planning that Commissioners Kevin Beckner and Victor Crist have promoted, and it is not a conservative approach toward spending pushed by Commissioners Al Higginbotham and Sandy Murman.

The models showing that the county would make money assume the property will be built out to include a hotel, shops, offices and restaurants — even though that buildout is not a condition for obtaining the county's money. So much for the concept of shared risk.

Bass Pro clearly sees promise in this market, and it should decide whether to invest and compete. Commissioners should be wary about setting the bar so low that almost any retail operation could argue for public subsidies. If the county has $8.25 million lying around for road work or a jobs program, then the public should have a say in how to spend that money, whether for roads that residents would actually use or for more targeted economic development efforts.

Comments
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18