Tuesday, January 23, 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: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Published: 01/22/18

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Published: 01/22/18
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18