Wednesday, June 20, 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: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18