Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: 6 reasons St. Petersburg City Council should back Rays deal

The St. Petersburg City Council's vote today on a proposed agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays to let the team look for stadium sites in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties is a pivotal moment for the city and the region. Here are six reasons council members should approve the deal negotiated by Mayor Rick Kriseman and move forward:

1. St. Petersburg taxpayers are protected. The Rays would not leave Tropicana Field before 2018. If they left before the lease expires in 2027, the franchise would make reasonable payments to the city for every year remaining on the lease based on a sliding scale. More importantly, the Rays would not receive any money from the redevelopment of the Trop site if they leave.

2. Redevelopment can be pursued. The city can hire a consultant to develop a master plan for the 85-acre Trop site with or without a stadium, and the Rays will pay half of the cost up to $100,000. Any money from redevelopment will be placed into an escrow account, and the team will get its equal share of the money only if it stays. A developer could help pay for a new stadium at the site or partner with the Rays.

3. Local governments can move forward. Pinellas County should know within months whether it should preserve resort tax money that could help pay for a new stadium. Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa finally can make a stadium pitch. St. Petersburg and Pinellas can refocus on how they would replace Tropicana Field and how they would help pay for it.

4. A regional asset can be protected. No region wants to lose a major league franchise, and Tropicana Field is outdated. This deal allows the Rays to work with local governments in both counties and find the best stadium site that would help ensure the team's long-term future. It keeps the franchise focused on Tampa Bay, not looking at other regions with an eye toward leaving in a few years.

5. There's money for nearby neighborhoods. Kriseman has promised that the low-income neighborhoods near the Trop site will receive at least $5 million for redevelopment. The money will come from Trop redevelopment proceeds if the Rays stay or from the team's payments to the city if the Rays leave.

6. It's time. The status quo is not a viable option. With downtown booming, St. Petersburg should pursue redevelopment opportunities now at the Trop site. Every year that goes by is another year that ticks off the Rays' lease, giving the team more leverage and increasing the odds it will leave Tampa Bay. This issue has festered for years under three different mayors. Kriseman has twice failed to persuade the City Council to approve an agreement to let the Rays look at stadium sites in both counties. The revised deal is significantly improved — and neither St. Petersburg nor Tampa Bay can afford strike three.

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Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18