Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Redrawing the lines requires transparency

The leaders of the Florida Legislature have responded properly to a judge's order by calling a special session this week to redraw two congressional districts that do not meet the constitutional requirements approved by voters. Now lawmakers should make a good-faith effort to redraw the districts without regard to protecting incumbents or political parties.

Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis correctly gave lawmakers the first shot at redrawing the districts held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat, and Dan Webster, a Winter Garden Republican. The courts should take over redrawing the lines only when the Legislature repeatedly fails to do it legally or when lawmakers abdicate their responsibility.

Brown's district remains a particular challenge, because it winds from Jacksonville to Orlando and was originally drawn in 1992 to give minority voters an opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice. Brown, an African-American, has held the seat since then and is not happy about its boundaries being adjusted. But Lewis correctly ruled that Republican legislators in 2012 packed her district with more minority residents to help protect adjacent districts held by Republicans, which violates the Florida Constitution. Brown has previously demonstrated a minority can win her district when it does not have a majority black voting age population, and now legislators will have to move some of those black residents from Brown's district to adjacent ones.

Equally troubling is the question of timing. The primary election is just three weeks from today, and thousands of voters already have cast their mail ballots. Lewis has scheduled an Aug. 20 hearing to discuss how to proceed, and there are no perfect options. The most reasonable is for the primary and general elections to continue as scheduled with the current congressional districts. Congressional districts in North and Central Florida are certain to be adjusted, and the new districts are likely to face legal challenges even if Lewis signs off on them. Voters in the adjusted districts should not have to wait until 2016 to vote for the candidate of their choice, but special elections should wait until after this November.

First, though, legislators have to draw districts that meet the constitutional requirements approved by voters. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, set the right tone by reminding lawmakers to preserve all redistricting related documents. That did not happen the last time. They also need to keep the political consultants at arm's length this week, which also did not happen in 2012. The best way to ensure voters are able to cast ballots in legally drawn congressional districts as soon as possible is to keep this special session as open and transparent as possible.

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Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

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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. ...
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Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

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Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

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Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

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Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

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Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
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