Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Making red-light cameras work

A new report out of Florida's Legislature may offer the best defense yet for keeping red-light cameras, but it also underscores the problems with how they operate. Lawmakers either need to overhaul the moneymaking scheme for local and state governments or consider repealing it all together.

A report released last week by the Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability found traffic fatalities are down 49 percent at intersections with the devices, but rear-end and angle crashes at those same intersections have increased. Those have long been the two competing claims of red-light cameras supporters, who have said lives will be saved, and opponents, who say the presence of the cameras cause drivers to prematurely stop, increasing accidents even as fines line government coffers. Apparently both were right.

Lawmakers gave municipalities the right to use red-light cameras in 2010, largely under the premise that the devices would improve public safety. Today, local governments in 26 Florida counties deploy cameras at a total of 922 intersections. Red-light runners paid $118.9 million in revenue in fiscal year 2012-13, racking up fines of $158 for each violation, state records show. The fines are divided among the municipality where the violation occurred, which pockets $75, and Florida's general revenue fund, which takes in $70. The remaining money is split between two medical funds.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who in the past has tried to standardize the red-light program, is now leading the charge to repeal it, saying it is applied too inconsistently. In some places, for example, drivers get ticketed for failing to make a complete stop before a right turn. The same act carries no fine in other municipalities.

Lawmakers need to find a way to keep what works and fix what falls short. They should start by making sure the types of violations fined don't differ among municipalities. They also should set a standard time for the length of yellow traffic lights. Studies have shown that longer yellow lights protect drivers from accidents. And the public's trust would be strengthened if money raised from fines were earmarked for transportation-related issues, not general use. Without those changes, legislators should make a U-turn and repeal the law.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18