Saturday, September 22, 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: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

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Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18