Sunday, September 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts

The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

It's hard to choose what was the most disturbing aspect of the crisis. It could be the sheer number of juvenile car thefts, which outpaced metropolitan areas as large as Los Angeles. It could be the anecdotes of children, some as young as 10 years old, getting behind the wheel of stolen vehicles because they don't fear the repercussions. Or it could be the idea that kids were crashing stolen cars, on average, every four days in Pinellas County.

This is why it's so encouraging to see the ideas proposed in recent months to tackle the issue. Since the problem encompasses both societal and criminal justice issues, the solutions should also be varied. So it makes sense for U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, to seek federal money to provide more youth activities in impoverished neighborhoods while the state's Department of Juvenile Justice is considering revamping its risk assessment model to ensure repeat offenders aren't let off the hook so easily. And this is why it was a good idea for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office to hire two new social workers to help families navigate existing services while the Florida Legislature crafted a new law allowing suspected car thieves to be held longer than 21 days. And this is why police have rightly been diligent about reminding drivers that leaving keys in the car is irresponsible.

The stakes here are incredibly high. Think of it in terms of residents who cannot afford comprehensive car insurance and certainly can't afford to lose their vehicle. Think of it in terms of teenagers who do not realize that a simple night of joyriding could leave them with criminal records that will follow them forever. Think of it in terms of public safety with our roads seeing too many reckless drivers and all the hazards that entails.

We should not try to arrest our way out of this problem. Like the war on drugs, that would be a myopic strategy. It might come with some immediate gratification but it is, ultimately, a temporary solution. View this as a societal problem and an economic problem. Law enforcement, politicians and other stakeholders should be commended for recognizing this crisis requires more enlightened solutions than a pair of handcuffs and a slamming jail door.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18