Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: For TIA chief, time to clear air

Joe Lopano has made a good start in his two years as chief executive of Tampa International Airport. The airport is more of a go-to destination, its bottom line has improved and the facility plays a larger role in shaping the region's economy. But these accomplishments are still a work in progress, and it is far too early for the airport's governing board to consider boosting Lopano's healthy compensation package to try to keep him.

The board will hold a special meeting Friday to discuss its next move now that Lopano's name is circulating as a contender for the top job at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Lopano came to Tampa from Texas in January 2011, winning the job here on his marketing skills and the promise of increasing service to international destinations.

Lopano has moved quickly in the past two years, increasing revenues and passenger traffic, reducing debt and adding overseas flights. He has shepherded the airport's master plan for the next 20 years, putting together a sensible and forward-looking plan that would build on TIA's reputation for excellence without breaking the bank. He has moved the airport away from building an expensive second terminal to the north and made some key improvements to the passenger areas. He is well regarded in the community, and he sees how the airport fits in the region's job-development efforts.

The airport board will discuss whether to renegotiate Lopano's contract to induce him to remain in Tampa. The issue could come down to offering him more money beyond his $355,000 in salary and benefits. The board might also explore ways to sew up Lopano beyond his current contract, which expires Jan. 1, 2015. His supporters say Lopano is a hot commodity in the airport business and that Tampa should be prepared to pay for retaining top talent.

Lopano has clearly brought a new sense of ambition to TIA, but wasn't that the expectation when he was hired? And isn't it more reasonable to assess his achievements over a longer term, once the new flights are established as viable or not? The board has given Lopano everything he's wanted during his brief time here — his salary, his raise, his business plan, his incentives budget to attract new flights. If a job presents itself in Dallas, or elsewhere, the board and Lopano can address the issue then. But there is no reason the public agency should jump the gun when top managers like Lopano are always on the radar of head-hunting firms.

Stable leadership benefits any institution. But board members have a public responsibility to act on more than speculation. If Lopano is interested in pursuing other career opportunities, he can make that known; nothing in his contract prevents him from applying elsewhere. If Friday's board meeting clears the air for both sides, so much the better. But the board already has shown its faith in Lopano and its commitment to having him see through what he's started. For now, his current contract reflects that commitment just fine.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
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. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
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...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

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