Sunday, June 24, 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: 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