Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Inspired choice for St. Petersburg police chief

It took too long and looked too messy, but St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman made an inspired choice in selecting Clearwater police Chief Anthony "Tony" Holloway as the city's next chief. Holloway has the Tampa Bay experience and leadership skills to turn around the divided St. Petersburg department. The bumpy road to his surprise appointment will be forgotten if he is successful, and voters will hold the mayor accountable if his new police chief falls short.

This is why leadership matters in City Hall. The St. Petersburg mayor's most important appointment is the police chief. Getting it right can improve public safety and create relationships in neighborhoods throughout the city that nurture a common purpose and a positive tone. Getting it wrong can lead to increased crime, further division and a negative image of a city that is on the upswing in so many respects.

Kriseman insisted on a national search led by a private firm. He recognized that choosing another police department insider to be chief was not going to bridge long-simmering divisions that may be defined as much by seniority as by race. While he was initially upbeat about the list of finalists, he concluded none of them were the right fit and privately looked toward Clearwater. The worst outcome would have been for Kriseman to settle for one of the finalists if he did not have complete confidence in any of them.

There is a lot to like in Holloway. He has experience on the street and as a police chief. He was groomed to be Clearwater police chief by his longtime predecessor, universally respected Sid Klein. He has experience in areas Kriseman wants to emphasize, including modernizing technology and community policing techniques aimed at getting officers out of their cars and closer to residents. He has developed solid relationships in Clearwater's Hispanic and African-American communities. St. Petersburg's gain is Clearwater's loss, and it's understandable why Clearwater officials are disappointed to lose him.

It is not insignificant that Kriseman chose an African-American to be St. Petersburg's new chief. That reinforces his campaign message to residents in low-income, predominately black neighborhoods that their voices will be heard, and some of the scars left by the 1996 racial disturbances have not healed. Some black residents have fresh complaints about uneven or unfair policing, and Holloway has experience effectively dealing with such frustrations in Clearwater's North Greenwood neighborhood.

There will be a learning curve. The St. Petersburg Police Department is nearly twice as big as Clearwater's, and there is a historical distrust of outsiders. The public scrutiny of the police chief is greater, and he will have to be more open and communicate more effectively than he has at times in his old job. But a new chief from outside Florida would have faced those same challenges, and Holloway has the advantage of being both an insider in Tampa Bay's law enforcement community and a fresh face for St. Petersburg.

Kriseman will be criticized by those who wanted him to promote popular Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan, and by others for appointing someone who did not apply for the job. But the search process served a purpose. The feedback from police officers and the public clarified the skills the new police chief needed and raised reservations about the finalists, which led Kriseman to recruit Holloway.

Strong mayors seek public input, weigh the options and take decisive action based on their best judgment. Kriseman's selection of Holloway demonstrates he is willing to accept that responsibility, and his choice appears to be a good one for the city.

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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: 9 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