Friday, April 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: No time to waste on Lejeune health claims

The Marine Corps said it wanted to wait on the science before doing right by tens of thousands of veterans and their families affected by polluted drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Now a new study should finally force the government to accept responsibility for the serious health problems these military families have suffered.

A draft of a much-anticipated study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found an increased incidence of birth defects and cancers such as leukemia in children of mothers exposed to tainted water at the North Carolina base. The survey of parents of 12,598 children who were born at the base between 1968 and 1985 found an elevated incidence of neural tube defects, a serious birth defect involving an opening in the brain or spinal cord, in children whose mothers were exposed to contaminants early in their pregnancies.

The findings, released last week, provide the most significant evidence yet that water may have harmed the health of those who lived at the base, including at least 19,350 people from Florida. As the Tampa Bay Times' William R. Levesque reported, the findings provide what one epidemiologist called "the best information we have" on contamination levels in the camp's water system. As many as 1 million people may have been exposed to contaminated water at Lejeune from the 1950s to 1980s, with pollutants ranging from benzene, a component of gasoline, to trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent.

The findings by the agency, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, add to the urgency for the government to provide a much fuller picture of the health history and death rates for former base residents. Nearly 230,000 people have signed up for a health registry and fear they were exposed to harmful pollutant levels at Lejeune; the 19,350 figure from Florida is the second-highest total in the country behind North Carolina.

The Marine Corps should recognize its obligation to these veterans and their families. It should welcome a larger study on the health histories of this population and build on the findings to aggressively address the hundreds of compensation claims by veterans and military family members. Time is not on the side of those who were exposed, and the Marines should not drag out a process that has already left thousands in limbo for decades. A 77-year-old veteran who led the fight over access to disability claims resulting from service at Lejeune died last week in Sarasota.

Members of Congress should keep up the pressure. That's been instrumental in prodding the Defense Department to finally give this veterans' health issue the serious attention it deserves.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
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
Updated: 04/23/18
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: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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
Updated: 04/23/18