Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Crumbling infrastructure hampers recovery

Hurricane Sandy's path of destruction in the Northeast is a stark reminder that investing in cities matters. Recovery efforts have been hampered by an aging infrastructure that has not kept pace with the region's explosive growth or its place in the global economy. Those cracks will weigh down on every American in the coming years in the form of disaster relief, redevelopment aid and lost economic activity.

Nearly three weeks after the storm roared ashore on the New Jersey coast, thousands are still without power. Tens of thousands more have either been unable to return to their homes or to resume a normal life because of the damage to offices, schools, transit networks, electrical and telecommunications facilities and other vital infrastructure. President Barack Obama and the governors of New Jersey and New York, Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo, responded well in the immediate aftermath by focusing attention on the human toll of a storm that killed at least 120 people in the United States, left 8 million without power, wiped out entire neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey and impacted more than 50 million people along the Eastern Seaboard.

But the price tag for rebuilding from the Category 1 hurricane could exceed $70 billion — just to replace the aging public works already there without making any additional infrastructure investment. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that 42 percent of New York's bridges are deficient; its roads and major highways are worse. New Jersey is in similarly poor shape. Given that the metropolitan region is responsible for about $3 trillion in output — one-fifth of America's economy — the entire nation has a stake in keeping its densest urban area operating as smoothly as possible. Some economists fear the storm could cut U.S. economic growth by up to half a percentage point in the fourth quarter as businesses and employers struggle to recover.

The New York region, though, is hardly alone in falling behind. The engineers' society estimates the nation's infrastructure needs $2.2 trillion over the next five years, most of it for roads, transit and water projects. Florida's grades for infrastructure have fallen since 2008; the society gives the state a D for energy, flood control and coastal management and C's for most road and water projects. The lack of investment in roads, bridges, ports and airports led the World Economic Forum in its latest competitiveness report to place the U.S. infrastructure 14th among 144 nations, behind much of Europe and Asia.

The presidential candidates did the nation a disservice in the 2012 campaign by putting off a serious debate on urban policy. Cities are not only the nation's economic engines; they are the place more people are calling home. The urban population grew faster in the last decade than did the nation's growth overall. That shift will require a newfound willingness to invest in the basics that residents and businesses expect, from decent roads and airports to rail lines, sewers and schools. America's competitive edge depends on it.

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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...
Updated: 11 hours ago

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

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18