Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A promising opening to resolve Confederate monument dispute

An effort last month to move a Confederate monument from public property in downtown Tampa failed on a 4-3 vote by the Hillsborough County Commission. But this week, Commissioner Victor Crist reversed himself and now wants the monument moved to a more appropriate site. This is a breakthrough moment that could bring the community together, and commissioners should seize on this opening to find common ground.

Crist voted with the board majority last month in rejecting a request by Commissioner Les Miller to remove the memorial, which was dedicated in 1911 and stands in front of the old county courthouse. Numerous local elected officials, church leaders and activists have asked that it be removed, noting its homage to the racial underpinnings of the South's secessionist cause and the remarks by a speaker at the dedication ceremony who called African-Americans an "ignorant and inferior race."

This controversy has degenerated into revisionist history when the main issue is whether a monument to discrimination belongs outside a hall of justice. Of course it doesn't — and the task now is to find a more appropriate, lower-profile setting where this piece of history no longer opens new racial wounds.

Crist proposed moving the statue to Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa's oldest public burial ground and the final resting place of the city's pioneers, 13 mayors, Confederate soldiers and slaves. Tampa officials, who blasted the county's decision last month, oppose the move, in part because the cemetery is near a historic black neighborhood, and in part because the city has no interest in bailing the county out of its public relations mess.

The city-owned Oaklawn is not the perfect solution. Tampa always has been a melting pot, and with downtown booming why would the city want a symbol of racism in its urban core? The cemetery grounds, though, already feature a marker honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors. At least the city would get the memorial off a major street. Crist also proposed moving the statue to Veterans Memorial Park, which occupies more than 13 acres of state and county land in east Hillsborough. That's a better fit, as the park already has land envisioned as a spot for a Civil War memorial.

The best solution would be to move the memorial to private property. Miller wants to give the statue to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which paid for it, and he plans to raise the issue at the next commission meeting July 19.

That leaves plenty of time to craft a sensible solution. There is no half-ground here; the county can either move it or suffer the protests and the damage to its public image. A relocation would also nix the commission's costly, awkward bid to compromise by installing a mural to diversity behind the statue and spending $250,000 in tax money on a half-baked anti-racism campaign. That was insulting. It's time to address the principled concerns of the opponents, not try to buy them off.

Crist deserves credit for his change of heart. His colleagues on the wrong side of last month's vote — Stacy White, Ken Hagan and Sandy Murman — should join in finding a resolution that is in keeping with today's values and the American ideal that all people are created equal.

Comments
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18