Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Time for offense on St. Pete pier project

The St. Petersburg City Council took a prudent fiscal and political step this week by scaling back spending on preparations for a new pier in anticipation that opponents will likely succeed in forcing a referendum on killing the project. Now supporters of the New St. Petersburg Pier need to go on the offense. They need to be just as aggressive in spreading accurate information on the project's design as some opponents have been at spreading misinformation or conjecture. If voters are to decide the future of the city's centurylong pier tradition in the Aug. 27 primary election, they need information about the actual options, not just what detractors say they are.

Thursday's 5-3 vote by the council to spend $869,000 is roughly 60 percent of the $1.5 million that would have kept the project 100 percent on track with preconstruction efforts. But heeding opponents' admonishments to not waste more money on a project that voters may reject, the council whittled the spending to specific tasks, including funding wind testing to address one of the critics' frequently repeated but unsubstantiated claims: that the new pier structure will be unsafe.

The council decision came a day after organizers of the Stop the Lens campaign finally made good on their threats to submit enough petitions to qualify for a referendum. The city clerk has roughly two weeks to confirm the validity of the petitions.

Even as the ballot became more assured on Thursday, six of the eight council members reiterated their support for the plan, and Mayor Bill Foster made the most succinct argument in months about why it was necessary to close the deteriorating inverted pyramid and move forward with a new project. Charlie Gerdes, who joined Karl Nurse and Wengay Newton in opposing the plan to spend $869,000, said it wasn't because his support for the new pier had softened, just that he felt the city could spend less in the interim.

All this came against the backdrop of another contentious public forum in which opponents of the plan cast criticism far and wide, with many urging the city to keep the inverted pyramid open until after the referendum instead of closing it at the end of May in preparation for demolition.

But as Foster pointed out, that would mean taxpayers would fork over another $400,000 in operating subsidy for three months, money that has not been budgeted, and would only delay the inevitable need to tear down a structure that would cost an estimated $70 million to renovate. That is $20 million more than the $50 million that has been set aside for both demolishing the old pier and building the new pier that is expected to require half the operating subsidy of the pyramid and have at least a 50-year life-span.

Voters in August won't be deciding to save the inverted pyramid. It will already be shuttered with demolition imminent and no financially defensible reason to save it. Voters can vote to kill the plan for a new pier but without any certainty of what will come next — including the potential for years of stalemate as each new pier effort fails to appease another vocal minority. Or voters can reject the Stop the Lens measure and embrace an innovative design that has continued to evolve over the past year with input from thousands of citizens and a team of experts and shows significant potential.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

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...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
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. Thatís 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 $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
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 generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó 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 Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís 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