Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Leadership lacking on next Pier

The last attempt at building a new Pier in St. Petersburg crashed and burned in part because of weak leadership from the mayor. The new attempt may be headed for the same fate and for the same reason. Only the name of the mayor has changed. If it wasn't obvious after the Lens debacle, it should be clear by now that no amount of public hearings or citizen committee meetings will produce a new Pier that will be universally loved.

Bill Foster became a one-term mayor last year in part because he could not sell the Lens project, which opponents forced onto the ballot and which was killed by the voters. Mayor Rick Kriseman won in part by opposing the Lens and promising a fresh approach and stronger leadership. So far there has been little of either as another appointed citizens group plods along. Consider, for example, that the man who bankrolled the vote that killed the Lens is now advocating that the new pier advisory group ignore the city's $46 million budget. The committee assigned to gather still more public input cannot agree how to do it. And one of the losers in the last pier selection process is now volunteering as a city consultant in advance of a key engineering test.

Kriseman already has acknowledged he will blow his deadline for getting a pier open by the end of 2015 as he promised on the campaign trail. Now that he wants to expand the time for public input, his new timeline of 2017 even looks ambitious, particularly considering the dysfunction in the citizens group he is counting on to lead the way.

There is still time for the pier task force to turn this process around. It can start with taking the time to learn about the five years the city has already invested in this endeavor — from hundreds of hours of public meetings to thousands of dollars spent on consultants' reports. While it is reasonable to hear again from the public, the facts will not change. The inverted pyramid sits at the end of a deteriorating 90-year-old approach that is too costly to replace. The budget is $46 million, period. There will be long-term operating costs that likely will require a subsidy, although it should not be the $1.4 million a year the now-closed inverted pyramid required.

Prediction: There will not be a public outcry to build a new Pier until the closed eyesore is torn down. And there never will be a new Pier designed by committee and loved by every St. Petersburg resident. Moving forward will require fewer committee meetings bogged down by nostalgia for the past and more leadership from the mayor.

Comments
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

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