Tuesday, February 20, 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: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18