Saturday, February 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Hillsborough's Confederate monument should be removed

The Confederate monument has been outside the old Hillsborough County Courthouse for decades, but it's time for it to go. Hillsborough County commissioners, who will discuss the issue Wednesday, should ignore revisionist history and recognize that a symbol of racial division and discrimination has no place in the public square — certainly not outside a hall of justice. Then the county should focus on the future by expanding opportunities for minorities for better housing, quality schools and high-paying jobs.

Commissioner Les Miller, the only black member of the board, wants the 106-year-old monument removed and calls it a symbol of bondage erected to honor "those who didn't even look at you as a human being." He timed his request to coincide with a renewed national conversation on race, and it follows a decision by New Orleans to take down its four Confederate memorials.

As the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno reported this week, opposition to Miller's proposal was sharp and swift. A mailer was circulated comparing the commissioner — a U.S. Air Force veteran and former state senator — to the Islamic State. And commission chairman Stacy White intends to seek a ban on removing any of the county's war memorials. "This is a part of history,'' he said.

This may be part of history, but it's not deserving of a public memorial in front of a government building. It's understandable that many families in Florida, the third Southern state to secede, would not want to judge their forefathers by the standards of today. But the memorial was christened by city leaders of the day in homage to racial separation.

Southern heritage groups have spent generations attempting to recast the narrative of the Civil War. This not an exercise county government should indulge. The only issue is whether a symbol of discrimination belongs on public property. Hillsborough County has removed the Confederate flag from the county seal and County Center, and it ended official recognition of Southern Heritage Month. Removing the monument would be another step toward promoting greater inclusion rather than honoring past racial discrimination.

The commission's debate comes as the Hillsborough County School Board appropriately considers whether to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Tampa. A former black commissioner, Tom Scott, who also served on Tampa City Council, understands the desire to remove racial symbols from the public sphere. But he adds: "After removing the statue, we still have a problem if we're not addressing the systemic issues."

Scott is right that the county needs to focus on substantive reforms as well as hurtful symbols. Removing the statue should be an easy call. But what are local officials doing to improve the job climate, housing, education and political involvement in minority communities? The Confederate memorial is out of place because it harkens to a time in America when these opportunities were off limits. After removing the memorial, the broader challenge is improving opportunities for all today.

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Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Association’s solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasn’t enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldn’t take months or another tragedy for Florida — which is hot and full of seniors — to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. That’s why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.’’ A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he won’t raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trump’s claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nation’s 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

It’s not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18