Sunday, January 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Kriseman pledge on openness at risk

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: 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: 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: 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

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

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18