Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Foster's ill-advised pier scheme

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has failed for three years to deliver on the next pier. Now, just days before the city election, he is pushing an ill-conceived new scheme that wastes taxpayer dollars, contradicts city policy and could further divide the city. The City Council should insist the mayor shelve his plan for a $20,000 public opinion poll until at least after the Nov. 5 mayoral and council elections.

Foster's plan for moving forward on the pier comes nearly two months after voters rejected the Lens, the winner of the international design competition that he failed to sell to the public. The mayor's first step: Pay for a 20-question scientific survey by telephone of up to 1,000 residents about the pier's future. That is basically what the citizen Pier Advisory Task Force did in 60 public meetings in 2009-10. But most troublesome, Foster plans to ask residents about their views on keeping the dilapidated 1973 inverted pyramid. And he said the city is not moving forward with demolition of the structure.

The mayor should review city policy. With Foster's encouragement, the City Council voted in 2010 to demolish the inverted pyramid rather than refurbish or rebuild its crumbling, 90-year-old bridge. The council has not wavered on that decision, for good reason. The inverted pyramid, with its oddly shaped interior space, never reached its potential. When it closed in May, taxpayers were subsidizing operations to the tune of $1.4 million annually, including subsidizing retailers' rents. Over nearly a decade, various consultants estimated that replacing the pier bridge and improving the building would take at least $70 million. That would far exceed the $50 million the city and county set aside for a new pier project. And now the city has just $46 million to cover demolition and construction of a new pier after the Lens debacle.

Foster says the survey question would be worded to reflect how extraordinarily expensive rehabilitating the inverted pyramid would be — apparently hoping supporters would finally realize the cost exceeds the merits of saving a structure that never really worked. But that's a reckless move from a mayor who has failed to convince some pier supporters by using the same information. Suggesting that saving the pier is an option — however far-flung — is irresponsible and will only further divide the city over the path forward.

City Council members should not stand by quietly. They should stop this waste of money that could backfire if the poll questions are poorly worded or if the results suggest a direction that is not financially viable. The city election is less than two weeks away. The next mayor and the next City Council may have a better idea about how to proceed toward a new pier — and the next mayor might not be the incumbent.

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Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Updated: 7 hours ago

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18