Saturday, November 18, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Next St. Petersburg police chief must heal divisions

RECOMMENDED READING


Many of the complaints about St. Petersburg's police department overheard this week at a meeting between the city's deputy mayor and more than a hundred members of the black community, including police officers, were familiar. And the decades-old fault lines look even more severe now that two of the department's assistant chiefs — one black and one white — are both interested in becoming the city's next police chief. The entire episode underscores why the city's national search for a new chief must be rigorous and thorough. St. Petersburg's next police leader must be someone of integrity who can unite the department in its mission to serve the entire city.

Mayor Rick Kriseman said Thursday his administration would be researching allegations that Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin said she heard at the Tuesday night meeting at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church: that there had been tampering with the department's most recent sergeants' promotion process that left not a single African-American ranked among the top 20 candidates for four positions. Tomalin said it was those allegations that caused her, late into the meeting after defending the promotion process, to promise the promotions would be halted. An administrative spokesman clarified Thursday that if the investigation found nothing amiss, the promotions could still go forward.

The nature of the allegations, however, are unclear and were not heard by a Tampa Bay Times reporter, who was not allowed into the meeting but was able to sit outside the room and overhear much of the discussion through a collapsible wall partition. The reporter heard repeated comments that the city's police department remains racially divided. Speakers said the department's brass discriminates against black officers, passing them over for promotions and cutting them out of communication. And some in the audience made clear that without action by Kriseman, the black community wouldn't stand behind him at re-election time.

But politics shouldn't be the motivator here. Good government should be, and that starts with Kriseman finding a person of integrity who has the best chance at uniting this department going forward. Racial tensions in the city have little chance of healing until the police department heals it own. That means finding a leader who officers of all colors believe is more interested in rewarding good police work than all other allegiances.

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17