Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: End the land-sale charade

Gov. Rick Scott's scheme to sell so-called surplus land that is not really surplus to raise money to buy more environmentally valuable property has been a charade from the start. It's time the governor and Legislature dropped the games and start protecting Florida's natural resources.

The governor proposed and the Legislature approved an ill-conceived plan last year to spend just $20 million on the popular land preservation program Florida Forever while offering another $50 million generated from the sale of property already in public hands but deemed to be less valuable. But the process for determining what to sell has been fatally compromised, with many worthy parcels added to the sale list. The Department of Environmental Protection still hasn't settled on what properties to sell and hasn't generated a dime for buying land. This lack of urgency and thoughtfulness speaks to the governor's lack of regard for conservation.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which owns the largest parcel remaining on the list, asked two months ago that the Hilochee Wildlife Management Area be removed. The Hilochee, in Polk County, is located in the Green Swamp. It is the headwater of four Florida rivers, including the Hillsborough River, the main drinking water source for the city of Tampa. Its value as a recharge area for the aquifer is a reason that Polk County also asked that the property be taken off the sale list.

But doing the right thing would cause the entire foolish idea to collapse. The Hilochee land accounts for all but about 800 acres of the 3,400 acres still under consideration. Removing this land would expose this paper environmentalism for what it is and blow out of the water the DEP's intention to keep pulling this con game.

Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater rightly blasted the program last month during a meeting over the DEP's legislative agenda. He called the initiative a "disaster" and a "charade" and promised to keep it on his radar in the legislative session that begins next week. Rather than rely on shell games and ghost money, Scott and the Legislature should start putting real money into buying and managing the state's environmental lands. The preservation program is one that the public and previous Republican governors have supported for decades. The DEP needs to quit wasting its time drawing up phony lists of land to sell and start refocusing on its job of preserving Florida's most precious resources.

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Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18