Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Bob Buckhorn focuses on human element in State of the City speech

With two years left in office, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn used his annual State of the City address Tuesday to measure the city's remarkable progress over the past six years. Rather than offer any sweeping new vision for the remainder of his term, he sought to nail down some unfinished business and to implore residents to look beyond the nation's sharp political divide and make a contribution to their community. This is a mayor who knows the clock is ticking and understands the risks a sour national mood can have on a diverse and growing city.

Buckhorn departed from past State of the City addresses by shifting his attention from shiny new baubles downtown to the human dimension. He mentioned the redevelopment plan for the area west of the Hillsborough River, which would be the city's biggest remake in history, the new University of South Florida medical school downtown and a handful of smaller-scale efforts, from driverless vehicle projects to incubators for startups and high-tech industries.

But the overriding theme of the day was unity. A pre-speech video set above the pounding strains of rhythmic rock featured smiling people from all walks of life testifying to Tampa's culture of tolerance and diversity. Stand together and stand united was also Buckhorn's opening pitch and a point he returned to later in the speech. He warned about proposed federal spending cuts to housing, transportation and urban aid — an "unprecedented attack" on cities, he said — and of threats to home-rule powers by state lawmakers in Tallahassee. His point is that cities are more on their own and residents need strong local connections if urban areas are to thrive.

The crowd of several hundred in the midmorning heat at Kiley Garden heard a mercifully brief address that focused more on the nuts and bolts of where the city has come under Buckhorn than where it is going. There was no substantive talk about pursuing a transportation initiative, a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays or a framework for countering the budget cuts and power grab at the state and federal levels.

Still, the call for unity in his first State of the City address since last November's election seems timely. He announced a new campaign to make Tampa more accommodating to those with autism, and he linked the city's economic prospects to its ability to attract people across racial, ethnic and other lines.

Buckhorn's announcement last month that he would not seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018 has freed him to focus on getting several high-profile projects in shape before leaving office in 2019. Tuesday's speech reflected the unique role of mayors in American politics. Rather than highlight downtown development, Buckhorn talked of how afterschool programs improve public safety. He called for civic obligation and stronger ties between citizens and police. Cities can rebuild their cores, but neighborhoods can crumble one flashpoint at a time. Buckhorn seems sensitive to preventing social gaps from growing as Tampa grows. It doesn't make for the most dramatic speech, but it's an intangible that shapes every city for better or for worse.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
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...
Published: 01/18/18

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