Sunday, November 19, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Pinellas candidate's blunder is unsettling

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Pinellas County School Board candidate Ken Peluso hopefully learned a valuable lesson this week after his quick and careless answer to a major constitutional question. He has sharply reversed himself from public statements at a Thursday candidate forum in which he appeared to advocate teaching religion-based creationism alongside evolution in public school science classes. On Friday, he said creationism does not belong in science classes and that he misspoke at the forum. Political candidates are held to account for what they say publicly, so it's wise to get it right the first time.

Peluso told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, which earlier this month recommended him in the Aug. 26 election for the District 4 seat, that he was caught off guard Thursday when an audience member at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club asked the School Board candidates if they favored teaching creationism and if they did, if it should be taught in science class. Peluso, responding first, was the only candidate to say yes: "I think creationism and evolution should be taught side by side, and I don't care what classroom."

On Friday, Peluso said he made a mistake. He said he would envision public schools teaching creationism only in the context of a world religion class, where "other alternative religious perspectives were also taught." He agreed creationism, a belief system which he subscribes to, does not have a role in public school science classes. The Florida Board of Education appropriately adopted science standards in 2008 embracing evolution, simultaneously rejecting calls by some Christian advocates to also include creationism or so-called intelligent design.

"Creationism should not come up in teaching evolution,'' Peluso said Friday. "I worded that poorly."

It's an unfortunate error for a second-time candidate who should recognize the need for precision whenever it comes to commenting on religious beliefs and taxpayer-financed education. Peluso, who previously served on the board for Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, made clear in previous interviews with the Times' editorial board that he understood public schools need to serve all students, regardless of background or beliefs, and that families who sought a different environment could opt for private school. Creationism and evolution in public schools did not come up in interviews with the editorial board during his unsuccessful 2008 campaign or this one.

Peluso pledged Friday that he would not advocate for science curriculum changes if he is elected to the Pinellas School Board. That is good news. It's too bad he didn't say that the first time.

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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