Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: New pier gets important boost

It is significant that one of the earliest opponents of tearing down the inverted pyramid on the St. Petersburg pier, who is also the owner of the pier's most successful business, now supports the pier's new design and wants to invest millions to be part of it. Opponents of that new design plan to flood downtown today seeking signatures to stop it, but the more this project evolves, the better it looks for St. Petersburg.

Richard Gonzmart of the Columbia Restaurant Group announced Thursday that the local family chain is ready to spend up to $3 million to build the on-land, anchor restaurant for the new pier. It would sit roughly on the spot of the current Pelican parking lot, with a 10-year lease with the city. Gonzmart also is interested in running a smaller venue over water that will be built under the tiara-like wall of the design, called the Lens.

Other bidders can make offers before the City Council picks winners. But it's particularly significant that Gonzmart — well acquainted in the current pier's positives and negatives — is ready to invest in the new plan. A member of the citizen Pier Advisory Task Force, Gonzmart initially wanted to save the pyramid. But this week it was clear his position had evolved, and he spoke with enthusiasm for building something new.

If only more of the new pier's opponents would accept the facts and commit to improving the plan, rather than spending today on a massive signature-gathering effort aimed at thwarting years of thoughtful work. The reality remains that the dilapidated pyramid and its failed business model cannot be saved for anywhere near the $50 million the city has to spend. The pier approach will be closed to vehicles later this year due to safety issues. The city has spent years studying alternatives for a new pier and soliciting public input — including from an extensive citizens task force — before launching the international design competition that produced Michael Maltzan's innovative design. And there continue to be worthy refinements to the project based on public input.

Gonzmart's evolution embodies the reality of public projects. They are frequently met with initial public resistance, but over time, the best ones can win support as the public learns more facts and gets more comfortable.

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Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17