Thursday, January 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Get ready now for Irma

Keep an eye on Hurricane Irma. The storm grew quickly into a Category 5 hurricane on Tuesday, and forecast models show it could make landfall in Florida this weekend. While the exact track is uncertain, this is a big, powerful storm that could impact the entire state and mandatory evacuations start today in the Florida Keys. Around Tampa Bay, now is the time to get supplies, finalize plans and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

Irma continued its westward track Tuesday, approaching the Caribbean with 185 mph winds. A hurricane warning is in effect for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other locations, and Irma is expected to move over the northern Leeward Islands by early today. This is a major, dangerous storm that must be taken seriously.

The question for Florida is when Irma will turn northward. Several models show the storm making a sharp right turn south of Key West, heading north through the middle of the state. That track could change in the coming days as Irma crosses the Caribbean. It's important that Floridians use the next several days to prepare for whatever comes.

Gov. Rick Scott made the right move by acting pre-emptively Monday to declare an emergency in all 67 counties. That declaration, and the governor's order deploying 100 members of the Florida National Guard to areas across the state, will speed the delivery of aid and technical resources. The governor's office said all 7,000 Guard members will report to duty by Friday.

But now is the time for all Floridians to prepare. With tropical storm-force winds extending 160 miles from Irma's center, the impact could be felt across the breadth of the Sunshine State. Residents should use these days to stock up on water, nonperishable food, pet supplies, medicines, gasoline and cash. Learn your evacuation zones, and have a plan in place before the storm arrives. Models showing the hurricane moving up the spine of Florida make the decision whether to evacuate all the more confusing, as the storm could span the middle of the peninsula. Monroe County ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Florida Keys beginning today.

Floridians should not forget to secure their yards and to collect their insurance papers and other valuable documents. Residents may need to have these contacts at the ready. Most importantly, stay up on the latest news with Irma, have a plan for keeping in contact with family and friends and plan for being self-sufficient. Listen to the authorities and be responsible if the storm comes. These are the obligations we face living in Florida, and if Irma tests our state, the best defense we have is to be prepared.

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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...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18