Friday, April 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Kriseman promises, now must deliver

During his first four months in office, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has talked a lot about building a collective vision for the city and changing the closed-door culture of City Hall. Early signs are promising that Kriseman and his administration are reaching out. Kriseman this week unveiled his public process for proceeding on the Pier and he's rightly talking about the city's need to refocus its efforts on fighting poverty. But the mayor's success won't be defined by rhetoric but results. Just building consensus on what's next for the Pier, for example, will require extraordinary skill.

In a meeting with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board this week, Kriseman detailed his progress on a variety of fronts:

A new police chief: Among Kriseman's first acts was reinstating the city's ban on most police chases and now he's looking for the right candidate to take over a department that still suffers from significant racial tension in its ranks and distrust among many residents in predominantly black neighborhoods. Kriseman's team last week released the resumes of two internal and eight outside candidates for the job, and Kriseman plans to involve officers and the public before making a final decision in June. He said his choice will be informed first by finding a leader capable of uniting the department and reaching out to the community. But key to finding the right candidate requires fully understanding the scope of the problem, including complaints by black police officers about the department's promotion process. Kriseman should get the results of an investigation into that promotion process soon.

• Inter-governmental relations: Neither of Kriseman's most recent predecessors, Mayors Rick Baker and Bill Foster, were known for playing well with other local governments. But Kriseman said he believes a resolution on reforming the county's too-expensive Emergency Medical Services program could be imminent and he's hopeful Pinellas County commissioners will help support building a new St. Petersburg police headquarters. He's also a strong proponent of Greenlight Pinellas, understanding that transit is important to regional economic development, and has a personal relationship with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Kriseman, a former state legislator, is also finding help in Tallahassee, where a better budget year has meant potential local funding for a host of projects, including housing for the poor, water projects and upgrades at the Mahaffey Theater.

• Tampa Bay Rays: Kriseman appears to already have a better relationship with Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, whom he began meeting with before he was sworn in. Foster took a public, hard line against the Rays' desire to explore potential new stadium sites in Hillsborough County. The substance of the talks between Sternberg and Kriseman is being kept private for now, Kriseman said, to establish trust. But both men have characterized their conversations as pleasant and productive.

• Transparency in city government: Kriseman raised eyebrows early in his tenure when he decided to tap unspent capital funds to hire a cadre of advisers. Now comes word that a significant amount of such funds may exist in city coffers as staff for years have routinely kept accounts on projects open long after a project was complete. Kriseman promises to provide a full accounting of the city's resources. He shouldn't rest until taxpayers can trace every single dollar the city takes in and spends and there are no balances tucked away in obscure accounts.

Kriseman has brought fresh energy and optimism to leading Florida's fourth largest city. And he evokes the right values — transparency and public engagement — when he talks about how decisions will be made. Going forward, however, the rhetoric will matter less than the results.

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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: 11 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