Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Next St. Petersburg police chief must heal divisions

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.

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Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
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: 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
Updated: 01/21/18
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: 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