Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Miami shows way on cross-bay rail

Area leaders frustrated by the construction tie-ups on the Howard Frankland Bridge should look at the excitement in Miami. Last week, the mayors of Miami-Dade, Miami and Miami Beach embraced the concept of connecting downtown Miami and Miami Beach with light rail, marking another step for the megacity in developing a world-class economy, tourism market and quality of life. The Tampa Bay region should be as bold and cooperative in pursuing a plan and a timetable for rail across the bay.

The meeting in Miami was the second since January at which officials discussed a rail link over Biscayne Bay. The mayors moved quickly, agreeing to partner to find $3 million to pay for an early study that could lead to design and development plans. The local governments are looking to contribute $250,000 apiece, with the balance coming from state and federal grants.

The idea of connecting Miami Beach and downtown by rail is nothing new. Neither is the similar goal of connecting Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. That idea got a kick-start recently after Florida's Department of Transportation agreed to spend roughly $25 million to build an underpinning for rail on the structural support of the planned new northbound span of the Howard Frankland. That at least would put the supports for rail in place. But the difference is that officials in Miami are spending time and money to get their dreams moving, working together and signaling to the state and federal governments that the local governments are committed partners in this big-ticket project.

Pinellas has an opportunity to move the needle with the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum in November. Hillsborough is laying the groundwork for another transit referendum after the first one failed in 2010. For both counties to begin building a modern transit system that bridges the bay, a new source of dedicated revenue is essential. Yet neither side has managed to make regional connectivity a front-burner issue even amid the Pinellas vote, the transit talks in Hillsborough or DOT's pledge of $25 million toward cross-bay rail.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has struck a delicate balance by encouraging Greenlight in Pinellas without being overbearing or intrusive. But as the election nears, and as Hillsborough brings its own plan to the decisionmaking stage, officials will need to talk more about how a transit system could benefit both sides of the bay. That should at least involve members of the Pinellas and Hillsborough county commissions and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

The mayors in Miami realize that traffic patterns matter more than political boundaries. And they accept that local governments must eventually invest in planning and promoting transit projects even if construction is years away and involves state and federal governments.

In Tampa Bay, regional leaders face the same dynamics, with tens of thousands of commuters crossing bay area bridges to work every day. Local officials need a transit plan that reflects reality, improves mobility throughout the region and makes the entire area more competitive. If Miami and its neighbors can figure it out, so can Tampa Bay.

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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
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: 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: 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
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
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18