Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Finally, recycling in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg City Council's unanimous vote Thursday to move forward with universal curbside recycling came years after it should have, but — thanks to a new mayor and revitalized City Council — it finally came. Now the focus needs to shift toward reducing the program's anticipated costs and considering financing alternatives beyond simply increasing city residents' garbage fees.

Thursday's vote authorized staff to seek private vendor bids for the service, which is anticipated to provide single-family homes with a 90-gallon rolling trash can that would be pushed to the curb weekly for pickup. The cans would be equipped with a computer chip that could monitor use, a technology the city envisions using as a way to reward participation through discounts at retailers or other means. And the council is expected to pass ordinances to prohibit the information from being used to penalize residents, confirming that St. Petersburg's program will be voluntary, not mandatory as in other municipalities seeking to reduce solid-waste costs.

Thursday's City Council meeting saw the city's public works director, Mike Connors, do a 180-degree reversal from past recommendations under two previous mayors to not add universal curbside recycling. But it came after last November's elections in which Mayor Rick Kriseman, new council member Darden Rice and re-elected council member Karl Nurse all made recycling a signature of their campaigns. But the real victory goes to grass-roots groups spearheaded by the League of Women Voters, who refused in recent years to accept the previous mayor's half-measure of a voluntary, subscription-based curbside service.

"This is an exciting day," reminded Rice from the rostrum after the council had spent more than an hour bogged down in the plan's details, including the anticipated $3 monthly fee residents may be charged to fund the program. But she criticized staff for a lack of "creative thinking" on funding the project and joined other council members in agreeing to seek assistance from Pinellas County revenues from solid waste. Also missing is a plan to serve multifamily residences and businesses more conveniently than the city's 16 drop-off sites, which Kriseman promised staff will continue to work on.

That's good, because the broader reason for the city to add curbside recycling has always been a matter of long-term gains, not short-term costs. Recycling waste has the potential to forestall costly new landfills and reduce demand for traditional garbage service from twice a week to once a week — which would actually reduce garbage fees by $4 a month. And as Kriseman noted, it's a far more efficient use of resources: Recycling glass takes less energy than manufacturing it; recycling paper saves trees.

"It's the right thing to do from the stewardship standpoint," said council member Charlie Gerdes. Precisely.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the stateís 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice theyíve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Childrenís Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institutionís lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburgís 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18