Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Pier choice: progress or stagnation

Progress or stagnation. That is the stark choice St. Petersburg voters face in Tuesday's election to decide the fate of the Lens, the city's impressive design for a new pier. Voters should vote against the referendum question that would cancel the architect's contract and trigger another round of fighting over artistic taste. A "no" vote will ensure the pier is built within two years and provide enhanced recreational opportunities for decades.

The Lens would be a natural extension of the city's popular waterfront parks. It's elegant escalating walkways and bike paths would link two restaurants, one over water and one on land. A floating dock marina would offer nonmotorized boat rentals and could accommodate motorized recreation boats. There would be a 285-seat open-air amphitheater, an ice cream shop, areas for fishing, and balconies facing east and west. Half of the half-mile loop would be under shade, and an electric trolley would transport those who preferred or needed to ride.

What the Lens would not have is struggling retail shops with taxpayer-subsidized rents or an aquarium that was already moving to Madeira Beach. Also gone would be about half of the $1.4 million operating subsidy that city taxpayers have spent on the inverted pyramid each year. The new design also would cast a significantly smaller shadow on the water.

Opponents of the Lens have spent months denigrating the project, spreading misinformation and raising one red herring after another. They either don't understand the way the project would be paid for or are intentionally confusing voters. The bottom line: The Lens is financed by the well-established practice of tax increment financing. Property tax money generated from rising property values within the redevelopment district that includes the Pier would pay for the project. The money cannot be spent on other city government programs, and it cannot be spent outside that redevelopment district.

If voters reject the Lens, starting over and designing an alternative will take time and trigger more fighting over what is essentially public art. Opponents of the Lens include those who refuse to accept reality that the inverted pyramid is not worth saving. Even if an agreement is reached on building something new, designing such a complex project takes months, if not years. And that could begin only after officials agreed to a new concept, which could spawn another round of opposition and referendums.

St. Petersburg has spent years reinventing a downtown waterfront that is now the envy of the state. That won't last if the city spends years with a padlocked, derelict inverted pyramid at the end of a deteriorating pier. The Lens will be an asset for both residents and tourists, and the project should move forward.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Updated: 4 hours ago

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...
Updated: 6 hours ago
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. That’s 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 $...
Updated: 8 hours ago
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 general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — 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 Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s 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