Sunday, May 27, 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.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18