Tuesday, April 24, 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

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18