Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Decision on lifeguards keeps Clearwater Beach safe

Government can't do everything, but it can make public safety a priority. That's what the city of Clearwater did throughout the recession in keeping its lifeguards on Clearwater Beach. And it proved it again this summer by beefing up its lifeguard schedule in response to growing crowds at the beach. As they have for years, Clearwater officials are putting beachgoers' safety ahead of spending considerations.

Most public beaches in Pinellas County don't provide lifeguards anymore. They erect signs that tell beachgoers that they swim at their own risk.

But Clearwater, which has the county's busiest tourist beach, has always placed a high priority on having a year-round, professional lifeguard staff overseeing the most heavily used sections of Clearwater Beach. The beach patrol has 36 full- and part-time guards and an annual budget of almost half a million dollars.

Visits to Clearwater Beach have exploded with the end of the recession. For example, in 2009 Clearwater Beach had 767,494 visitors. Last year, the number rose to 954,900. And it appears that the 2014 number will be even bigger. New hotels are being built, new restaurants and shops are opening, and crowds flock to the sand every day, not just on weekends.

The city has responded by building taller lifeguard stations to give guards a better view of the crowded swimming areas.

And this year from spring through Labor Day, the hours that guards worked were extended an extra two hours every day, until 6:30 p.m. The guards train year-round, know CPR and all full-time guards are urged to get certified as emergency medical technicians.

The guards do a lot more than watch the water for swimmers in trouble, though that is their highest priority. They also assist swimmers who are stung by stingrays and jellyfish, are often first on the scene of medical emergencies, enforce beach rules, help reconnect lost children with their parents, educate visitors about issues such as rip currents, and act as goodwill ambassadors and vacation counselors to beach visitors. During 2013, the beach patrol recorded more than 37,000 "actions" by guards, including 43 water rescues and responding to almost 5,000 swimming zone violations. There is no doubt that lives have been saved because the guards were there.

Clearwater City Hall had to make a lot of cuts during the recession. It could have joined other beach cities and put out signs that said "No lifeguards. Swim at your own risk." Instead, it kept its beach patrol and now that the crowds are growing, so is the patrol's staff and hours. That is commendable dedication to public safety.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scott’s clemency process isn’t just archaic and cruel — it also wastes enormous public resou...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18