Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Giving dignity back to families of Dozier

The state of Florida last week began repaying its debt to the boys it took away decades ago. Researchers with the University of South Florida identified the first boy — George Owen Smith — among 55 sets of human remains unearthed at the state's now-closed reform school, the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. It is too late to erase the pain from that shameful chapter. But the discovery is a reminder that the boys had names, families and lives that were cut short. Now at least their loved ones can bring them home.

Smith's remains were the first to be exhumed a year ago, after USF took the lead following a lackluster effort by the state to account for the horrors. While the state said that 31 boys were buried at the shuttered Panhandle school, the USF researchers, using ground-penetrating radar, found 55 bodies. They are continuing their search for other burial sites.

This month's announcement brought some comfort to Smith's family, who remember the 14-year-old teenager whistling Gene Autry songs near his Auburndale home. And though it doesn't answer the mystery of how Smith died in state custody 74 years ago, his discovery in an unmarked cemetery on school property at least points the finger at Dozier, which operated for 111 years before being closed in 2011.

The USF team deserves credit for handling this responsibility with dignity and determination. Hundreds of men have come forward in recent years with stories of being raped and beaten at the school; nearly 100 boys are reported to have died in custody or while trying to run away. Despite an early effort by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to block the inquiry, USF persevered. Its careful approach in documenting what happened and respectful treatment of the burial grounds has served both the cause of justice and human decency.

Attorney General Pam Bondi has also played a critical role by lending her support to USF's bid to establish a historical record at Dozier. The state should give the researchers the time they need to document all of the deaths and burials on the property. USF has done a service to these families and the public alike by stepping up and confronting a shameful legacy that some Floridians would just as soon keep secret. This was a sensitive and essential task that USF handled well. It doesn't bring the boys back or lessen the pain, but it gives these victims the dignity they deserve.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18