Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Deck stacked for developers

There is a reason everyone kept quiet about the federal government handing the state the power to grant development permits that could hurt Florida panthers, gopher tortoises and other endangered species. It's letting the fox guard the henhouse, and it's indefensible.

It turns out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year quietly handed its authority to grant those permits to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman reported Friday, there were no public hearings and no big public announcement of this unique giveaway. No wonder.

The state wildlife commission is not exactly aggressive in protecting wildlife from development. Environmental groups say between 2005 and 2007, the commission rarely commented about proposed developments and had little to say when it did respond. Developers like the switch because they complain the federal wildlife service takes too long to issue permits. They also like a stacked deck.

The state wildlife commission's seven members includes two developers, a paving contractor, a land-use attorney, a cattle rancher, a lobbyist and a fellow at a libertarian think tank. Now they are deciding whether to issue permits for developments that could result in injury or death of an endangered species? That hardly seems like a fair fight, even for a Florida panther.

There is a reason the federal government should have the authority to grant these sorts of permits and set nutrient limits to fight water pollution, a responsibility that Washington also has handed back to Florida. States too often can't be trusted to stand up to parochial powerbrokers such as developers and campaign contributors. Florida history is rich with examples of taking the short-term financial profit over the long-term health of the environment.

The transfer of permitting power involving endangered species came to light last week as two environmental groups signaled they intend to file a lawsuit. They argue states are not intended to have the authority and that the switch violates the federal Endangered Species Act. It certainly violates the public trust. And if it is such a good idea, why weren't Floridians invited to share their views about it first?

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Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18