Sunday, January 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Climbing out of the Channelside morass

The effort to turn around Channelside Bay Plaza in Tampa was daunting enough before this week's news that its Irish owners have moved the property under the protection of an out-of-state federal bankruptcy court. This is bad news for the Tampa Port Authority, which owns the land under Channelside; bad news for the Channel District, which needs an active retail and entertainment center; and bad news for taxpayers, who have primed that part of downtown for new shops and residents and who have a vested stake in seeing that area succeed.

The Tampa Bay Times' Jamal Thalji reported that the Irish Bank Resolution Corp. filed for federal bankruptcy protection Monday in a move to secure its U.S. holdings from creditors. By adding a new legal layer to the Channelside drama, which will begin next month in a Delaware court, the bank has complicated and likely slowed the process of selling the retail center, renovating it and bringing Channelside under much-needed local control.

Channelside's situation has gone from bad to worse. In the past year, two purchase agreements have collapsed, the center has lost more shops and customers, and the complex has lost valuable time in a recovering economy by failing to repair its brand. The center's two-headed governing structure is a major problem: While the bank owns the buildings, the port owns the land, and both sides must agree on any new operator. That leaves the port and the public as players in the Irish bank's liquidation proceedings.

It's become increasingly clear that the port needs to move the bank out of the picture. Ideally, the port would secure outright ownership of the property and hire a retail operator, or act as go-between to connect the bank with a credible buyer. This month, the port authority board authorized chairman Stephen Swindal to negotiate directly with the bank and any potential buyer. Swindal has the business sense to break the logjam. But the port is suing the bank over the conditions at Channelside, which has caused a breakdown in communication between the two sides. The environment to make a deal could not be worse, even though the bleeding at Channelside is unsustainable.

The port should keep pushing for a breakthrough. It needs an accurate value for Channelside and a plan for incorporating the complex into the port's broader business operation. The board should have a public discussion over a vision for Channelside, and it needs to show a greater sense of urgency in resolving the impasse with the bank. Having Swindal as the point person is a start. But the port must work quickly to establish a new direction for this coveted public property.

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Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

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Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

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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

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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: 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

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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