Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Put an end to district confusion

RECOMMENDED READING


When the way a city draws its political boundaries threatens the qualification of well-intended, legitimate candidates, the process is flawed and should be fixed. That's the message the St. Petersburg City Council should take from the city's latest redistricting process, which has left three council candidates facing questions about residency requirements. The council should fix this before the next round of redistricting, and this time all three candidates should be allowed to remain on the ballot.

The city charter requires a council candidate to live in a district for at least 12 months before the primary. But this year, redistricting took effect in March, only five months before the Aug. 27 primary.

Two candidates who knew they were in danger of being drawn out of District 4 — David McKalip and Darden Rice — tried to comply with the rules. Both rented homes within the new District 4 before the redistricting took effect.

In the case of Lorraine Margeson, the redrawn district lines around her home of the past 12 years moved her from District 3 to District 2. She filed last week to challenge council member Jim Kennedy in District 2. But she won't have technically lived in District 2 for 12 months since part of the time her address was part of District 3. Got that?

Each candidate has acted in good faith without intending to flout the residency rule and should be allowed to run. Chief assistant city attorney Mark Winn has issued two legal memos suggesting that case law is sparse on these questions. But if an outside challenge makes it to court, judges generally interpret residency rules leniently and may leave discretion to local governments. If that happens, the trio should be allowed to remain on the ballot.

Going forward, the city charter should be fixed. Ideally, the Charter Review Commission could have foreseen this problem in 2011 and recommended pre-emptive changes. But it didn't. Now the City Council should place a charter revision on the ballot during a general election.

There are several options for fixing the problem, from simply requiring that district lines be established at least 15 months prior to a primary to relaxing residency requirements in redistricting years. The council could also do as the Legislature does and in redistricting years place all council seats on the ballot. That would eliminate a conflict that became evident in the recent redistricting when efforts were made to ensure incumbent council members stayed in their home districts to finish serving their terms.

St. Petersburg benefits when more citizens get involved in local politics and run for office. Nonsensical rules that threaten such participation need to be eliminated.

This editorial has been revised to reflect the following correction: St. Petersburg City Council candidate Darden Rice currently lives in a rented house in District 4. An editorial published Tuesday was incorrect.

Comments
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

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