Thursday, December 14, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Big shoes to fill at Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa Museum of Art director Todd Smith leaves the museum on solid footing with a strong run of traveling exhibits and commendable efforts to attract more visitors. As Smith prepares to depart for a new directorship in California this summer, the museum's board needs to find a leader who will embrace his initiatives to bring world-class art to Tampa and engage the public, particularly those who might not see themselves as patrons of the arts. The next director should understand the museum's mission and the city's investment and create a vision that grows interest in the museum throughout the region.

Smith arrived at the museum in 2008 after an emotional battle over the institution's future. Three years earlier, the city and the museum's board locked horns over financing for a proposed new facility. The city paid $7 million for design work and pledged $27 million toward the project. But shortly after Mayor Pam Iorio took office in 2003, she postponed groundbreaking until museum leaders could prove that they had secured financing to fund the remainder of the $76 million project. They could not, and plans fell apart in a nasty fight that pit art patrons against city officials bent on protecting taxpayers.

In 2008, a scaled-down, more feasible plan emerged and the City Council approved a contract for the construction of a new museum along the downtown waterfront.

Smith deserves credit for being a stabilizing force after such a fractured period and steering the museum through the $32.5 million project. Designed by architect Stanley Saitowitz, the 66,000-square-foot building opened in 2010. It abuts the Glazer Children's Museum, the Hillsborough River and the renovated Curtis Hixon Park. Not content to rely on the museum's permanent collection of antiquities to attract visitors, Smith secured several traveling exhibits that brought in world-class works by boldface names like Matisse and Degas. He also appealed to the community by offering broader access to the public through "pay what you will" nights, an effort to attract visitors on evenings when traffic downtown and at the museum dwindled.

With its prime location, the museum has taken its rightful place as one of the city's centerpiece attractions, and Smith deserves much of the credit. He also secured an impressive, diverse collection of exhibits for the next two years, including works by Renoir and Chagall and a show of American art by Norman Rockwell in the spring. Now the board needs to find the right person to fill Smith's post in a timely manner. The job description should call upon applicants to build on Smith's good start and find ways to further engage the community, lift the museum's profile and make it a must-visit destination in the bay area.

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Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17