Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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: 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...
Updated: 6 minutes ago

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...
Updated: 1 hour ago
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...
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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...
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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 ...
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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...
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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
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