Sunday, November 19, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Flood rate delay is not strong enough

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Congress is poised this week to address at least part of the problem with the nation's flood insurance crisis by delaying some provisions of a 2012 law in a general spending bill. But don't be fooled. In practice, it only puts into law what was expected to happen anyway this year and won't help those homeowners who have already been hit with exponentially higher premiums. What Congress still must do is delay the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 to allow time for more reasonable reform to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The language in the appropriations bill expected to be approved by the House and Senate this week would delay for a year the elimination of one of two subsidies slated to disappear under Biggert-Waters. The first subsidy — for owners of homes built before federal flood maps were drawn in about the mid-1970s — began being phased out Oct. 1 over the next five years for existing policyholders, and immediately when a home is purchased. The change has been generating headlines ever since, particularly in Tampa Bay, as some new owners faced premiums 10 times higher than what the previous owner paid. The appropriations bill will not fix those problems.

The second subsidy, called "grandfathering," applied to properties that were drawn into riskier flood zones when a flood map was redrawn. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the program, has said it didn't expect to eliminate those subsidies until the end of 2014. The appropriations bill will ensure that by placing the time frame into law, but it really just reaffirms what FEMA already planned to do.

Nonetheless, House and Senate members anxious to appear responsive to constituents' pain trumpeted the language in the appropriations bill Tuesday. But the more important task facing Florida's congressional delegation is to persuade enough colleagues to vote to approve a four-year delay in the implementation of Biggert-Waters. That would give FEMA time to build a more rational plan for returning the flood insurance program to solvency that doesn't create a crisis for homeowners in the process. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled his support for that plan Tuesday. Now House leadership needs to be convinced. It's time for Congress to clean up the mess it has made, not just put into law what was going to happen anyway.

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Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

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New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

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St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

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Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

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Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17