Sunday, January 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Meltdown at Tampa City Hall

An effort in Tampa to build trust between law enforcement and minority residents is fast becoming one of the most divisive issues in years. The City Council's discussion Thursday on creating a citizens review board that would examine complaints against police devolved into a fight of churlish, defensive, personal attacks — not from activists in the audience, but from the people in charge at City Hall. It was a terrible start on an issue aimed at building relationships rather than tearing them down.

Creating a board to oversee allegations of police misconduct is a sensitive discussion that is played out at the intersection of politics and race in any community. The recent reports by the Tampa Bay Times of harassment by Tampa police of black cyclists and the surge in violence across the country against both police officers and those detained by law enforcement makes this debate especially delicate but even more essential.

Yet everyone from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to the City Council members and their staffs seems to have brought power politics and petty issues to a discussion that demands genuine leadership. Buckhorn got off on the wrong foot by pre-empting the council's research into the issue and announcing he will largely appoint and steer a review board on his own. Council Chairman Frank Reddick dropped the ball at the start by proposing the board but handing off the research work to the new police chief, Eric Ward, a mayoral appointee who was caught in the middle.

By Thursday, when dozens of activists crowded the council chamber, the festering power struggle at City Hall siphoned the focus away from what a review board should do to who would control it. By lunch, city lawyers were trading barbs with each other, the council was questioning the advice of the city attorney and the city attorney was asking for outside counsel to clear up any ethical concerns. Later Thursday, the council agreed to resume its discussion later this month, when it will consider grabbing control of the board away from the mayor.

Buckhorn and Reddick set this explosion of ego into motion, and they have a responsibility to get the conversation back on course. Council member Harry Cohen once again was a voice of reason. For the sake of the review board, the professional reputations of the staff, and the relationship between the mayor and council members for the three years they have remaining in their terms, it is time to quit bickering about who has the most power. The question is how to make the review board meaningful and functional at the earliest possible time.

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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