Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Hillsborough's chance to take a step toward tolerance

Hillsborough County should act this week to end a shameful history of discrimination. County commissioners on Wednesday will consider whether to adopt a proposal banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Striking a note for tolerance and equality would go a long way toward signaling that Hillsborough has become a more tolerant community and make the county a more appealing place to live, work and visit.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner will ask his colleagues to support a motion calling on the county attorney to draft an amendment to the county's human rights laws that would prohibit bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Gays and people who identify with a gender other than the one they were born with would have protections against discrimination in housing, jobs, public accommodations and county contracting.

The measure would mirror similar ordinances already in place in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, and Hillsborough would join nearly 200 cities and counties that bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. While state and federal antidiscrimination laws already exist, local ordinances have helped to plug the gaps by creating practical tools for enforcing these statutes and by making the public more aware so that some disputes can be avoided altogether. This is an area where local government can make a real difference in the everyday lives of residents.

Beckner's proposal should be a rallying point for a county with an embarrassing history on civil rights. The commission repealed local protections for gays in the 1990s, setting the stage for votes in 2005 that banned the county from recognizing gay pride events. It was a low point for the commission and a gratuitous slap that showed the disconnect between a government and its people.

Thanks to pressure from civic and business groups, the board overturned the gay pride ban last year. The move recognized that discrimination was as bad for business and the county's image as it was morally indefensible. Commissioners also appeared intent to move beyond social issues in the aftermath of the recession.

There's no reason in 2014 why this change should not happen. The ordinance would not give gays or transgender people extra protections — but rather, merely work to guarantee that they are treated equally with others. The move would send a message that Hillsborough's political leaders have evolved, and it would open a new chapter on civil rights for a county that has ground to make up. The board should follow Beckner's lead and join communities across the nation in declaring that all are equal under the law.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the stateís 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice theyíve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Childrenís Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institutionís lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburgís 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18