Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Kriseman uses partisanship to get spotlight off sewers

Less than three weeks before the election, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's closing argument is clear. He's making a nonpartisan race partisan by reminding voters former Mayor Rick Baker is a Republican and linking him to President Donald Trump. And he's making crime an issue when the real issue is his mishandling of the sewer crisis. This is an incumbent mayor trying to change the subject because he can't defend his record.

Partisanship has no place in the mayor's race. There should be no Democratic or Republican approaches to ensuring garbage is picked up, police respond when they're called and parks are maintained. Mayors have no control over foreign policy, immigration or social issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage. Political affiliations should not matter in City Hall like they do in the White House or the Governor's Mansion, or in Congress or the Legislature.

Yet Kriseman campaigns as though he's a Democrat running for state or federal office. He has four field staffers from the Florida Democratic Party. The state party is running television ads linking Baker to Trump, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Scott. And a political committee run by a Kriseman consultant has mailed fliers touting Kriseman's support of President Barack Obama and labeling Baker as a critic of the former president.

Baker has nothing to do with Trump, and partisanship has nothing to do with being mayor. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is a Democrat, and he isn't nearly as partisan in tone or substance as Kriseman. Buckhorn has a working relationship with the Republican governor that has benefited Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay and the city. Kriseman's campaign treats Scott as the enemy. With Republicans controlling Washington and Tallahassee, it's not smart for St. Petersburg's Democratic mayor to be so partisan, and it hurts the city in the long run.

When he's not playing partisan politics, Kriseman changes the subject to crime. He points out crime is down significantly since Baker was mayor in 2009. Of course, crime is also down nationally and in Florida since then. If he wants to talk about 2009, Kriseman should note there were fewer murders in St. Petersburg that year than in any of his first three years in office. His administration discounts its own statistics that show crime in the poor, black neighborhoods of Midtown was up substantially during the first quarter of 2017 over the same time last year.

The top issue in this election remains Kriseman's mishandling of the sewage crisis. It was a mistake to close the Albert Whitted sewage plant in 2015 before adding additional capacity. It was a mistake not to reopen that plant before the 2016 rainy season. And it was a mistake to seek a state loan to help pay for the project to convert sewage sludge into methane gas to run garbage trucks when the money should have been sought for sewer repairs. Voters cannot overlook nearly 200 million gallons of sewage that spilled into Tampa Bay and elsewhere.

It remains difficult to get straight answers about the cost of the Kriseman administration's miscalculations. Despite thoughtful questioning Thursday by City Council members Ed Montanari, Amy Foster and Charlie Gerdes, it was unclear how much the cost of the biofuels project has changed or how much money it might save. There was even less clarity about how much water and sewer rates will have to rise to pay for sewer improvements.

St. Petersburg's mayoral election is not about party labels, and voters know Baker well enough to reach their own conclusions about him without being swayed by any ad linking him to Trump. The election is not about comparing crime statistics from different decades. It's about leadership and competence — and there is nothing partisan about that.

Comments
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18