Monday, November 20, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Kriseman pledge on openness at risk

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Rick Kriseman won't be sworn into office as St. Petersburg mayor for two weeks, and already he is struggling to fulfill his campaign pledge on open government. First his transition team planned to hold meetings in secret. Kriseman stopped that, but now he has held a private conference call with City Council members that skirts the intent of Florida's Sunshine Law. That violates the mayor-elect's promise to be transparent, and council members risk violating the law if they don't draw clear lines now.

State law and the Florida Constitution are clear. Two City Council members cannot talk privately about public business, yet Kriseman invited the entire council to participate in the private call. He exploited a legal loophole that allows council members to speak out of the sunshine if they aren't discussing public business, and he described it as a social call. Two council members who are lawyers, Jim Kennedy and Charlie Gerdes, recognized at least the appearance of a possible sunshine violation and smartly declined to get on the line.

The St. Petersburg mayor is not a member of the City Council and can privately discuss public business with individual council members. Former Mayor Rick Baker used that method to his advantage as he built relationships, lined up support for his initiatives and offered to help council members with their priorities. But holding phone calls or meeting privately with the entire council crosses the line, erodes public confidence and leaves council members vulnerable to violating the law. There is only so much to say about kids and vacations before the social talk turns to the Pier or the baseball stadium stalemate.

Kriseman says his intentions were pure and voters have to trust him. They trust the incoming mayor to fulfill his campaign promises, conduct public business in public and not tempt City Council members to violate the law. A private conference call with the City Council violates that trust. As a former City Council member and state legislator, Kriseman knows better.

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Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17