Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Buckhorn's ambitious agenda

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn used his state of the city address Tuesday to cast a vision for the region far beyond the end of his first term next year. In plain but powerful language, he presented an aggressive agenda for improving Tampa's urban core, connecting Hillsborough and Pinellas counties with light rail and transforming the area with higher-paying jobs. Buckhorn's energy level elevated an annual ceremonial moment. He set the right goals and offered a fitting sense of urgency.

Buckhorn's third and final such address before his 2015 re-election campaign combined the proper mix of looking backward and forward. To his credit, the mayor focused most of his attention on the future, painting a picture of a city on the move and a region working together. He called for new housing and antipoverty initiatives in struggling east and central Tampa, promised nearly a half-dozen residential towers would break ground downtown, and vowed to move forward on several redevelopments already under way in west Tampa and the downtown-area neighborhoods.

In long-awaited news, the mayor also announced he would keep Tampa police Chief Jane Castor in her post for one year past her May retirement date. Castor, due to leave under the terms of a deferred retirement program, has experienced a few recent bumps. But she has been solid over her tenure, presiding over a steady drop in crime, a trouble-free 2012 Republican National Convention and a department recognized for its openness and professionalism. Bringing Castor back under contract provides the mayor with certainty and stability in the agency as he assembles a leadership team and agenda for a second term.

Buckhorn, though, cast a larger net Tuesday that spoke to the broader challenges of the region. He urged Tampa-area leaders to support the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum in November and called for Hillsborough to schedule a referendum of its own by 2016. He spoke of the need to bring the universities and medical centers across the region together to carve a niche in academic health care. And he underscored the increasing role that urban areas are playing as regions compete nationally for jobs, markets, talent and capital investment.

Buckhorn's message was that cities and mayors are the ones worth watching. That show of confidence should help as Tampa works to complete high-profile redevelopment projects from the downtown riverfront to Ybor City. Buckhorn has also shown that the city can juggle several priorities at once. That is a mark of stable, competent and committed leadership that the private sector likes to see. His remarks Tuesday on regionalism and transit were his most bullish yet, a welcome sign he intends to lead on two pressing local issues.

These annual addresses are a rah-rah occasion. But Buckhorn wisely used his as a launching point to frame where the region needs to go to become a top-tier destination. Tampa still has many challenges, particularly in jobs, wages and housing. But Buckhorn has used his real and rhetorical power as mayor to cast Tampa in a new light. He needs to connect the dots on the parks and other projects he started, and continue to keep his sights on the larger goal of making the region more competitive.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18