Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Kriseman's commitment to openness

St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman is following through on his campaign pledge to be open and inclusive by appointing a large transition team to study city issues and offer suggestions for his administration. The group of about 50 residents reflects the diversity of the city, and it has the potential to help the new mayor get off to a fast start when he takes office in January.

Creating a significant transition team with committees devoted to analyzing specific issues is new for St. Petersburg, which has had just three strong mayors and two transitions. There is no road map, and Kriseman would be wise to leave one for his successor — and some modest public money for a transition office. But transition arrangements like this one are common in Tallahassee for governors and Cabinet members. They can offer new approaches for familiar problems and build public investment in the elected official's agenda.

The first meeting of the mayor-elect's transition team Wednesday night was upbeat and reflected the potential for St. Petersburg to start fresh. The group is diverse in race, gender, religious affiliation and experience. There are grass roots activists and downtown lawyers, a handful of former and current city officials, business leaders and former presidents of homeowner associations. Kriseman established the appropriate tone by declaring that this exercise is about solving problems, not scoring political points.

Some transition committee leaders will take a fresh look at issues they have studied before. The chairman of the committee studying the Pier is Ed Montanari, who was vice chairman of the Pier Advisory Task Force. The chairman of the transition committee studying the Tampa Bay Rays and the stadium stalemate is Craig Sher, the business executive who helped lead the ABC Coalition civic group several years ago that reviewed potential stadium sites. It's reasonable to turn to engaged residents who know the history of these issues so transition team members benefit from an informed perspective and avoid starting from scratch.

The transition team has less than six weeks to work, and Kriseman has instructed that its work be open and transparent. That means following state law on maintaining public records and holding public meetings. Yet as City Attorney John Wolfe explained the law to transition team members, he dismissed government-in-the-sunshine as a "necessary inconvenience.'' It's much more than that, and Wolfe offered a pinched view of the public notice required for public meetings and of when transition team members can meet in private. The team appeared headed toward fact-finding in private and only meeting publicly next month to make recommendations, and it was unclear whether all of the information it collects would be released.

Kriseman reaffirmed Thursday that he wants all transition work to be public. The transition team should embrace that spirit rather than the narrow legal advice from the city attorney who does not share the mayor-elect's enthusiasm for openness.

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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: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

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
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18