Thursday, December 14, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Remaining patient after Irma

There is no getting around it. Returning to normal after Hurricane Irma, even in very fortunate Tampa Bay, is going to take a while. Hundreds of thousands of Tampa Bay households on Tuesday remained without power, traffic signals were still out at hundreds of intersections and public schools throughout the region will be closed until Monday. We need to continue to be resourceful, helpful to our neighbors — and patient.

Nearly 6 million households statewide were without electricity Tuesday as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric brought in thousands of workers to help restore power. That sense of urgency will have to stay elevated for days, and the utilities should keep their customers as well-informed as possible about the progress without raising false hopes. Being without lights and air conditioning is an inconvenience for anyone, but it also can be a public health and safety issue for many. The utilities are properly prioritizing repairs that can get power to the most people, but state and local officials should keep watch on their performance.

Sanitation crews on both sides of the bay are working diligently. In Tampa, crews began before dawn Tuesday collecting trash, and beginning Thursday will collect storm debris for the next month. Garbage trucks are rolling in St. Petersburg and brush sites are open. Hillsborough County extended its state of emergency an additional week over concerns about river flooding that was expected Tuesday.

With so many traffic signals still out, accidents at intersections remain a key concern. Motorists blowing through these intersections are endangering themselves and others, and everyone should treat these intersections as four-way stops. The driver on the widest, busiest street does not have the automatic right-of-way.

In other ways, the bay area is getting back on its feet. Groceries reopened Tuesday. So did the area airports and ports. At least three vessels carrying petroleum were expected at Port Tampa Bay late Tuesday, which will help get gas across the bay area and all of Central Florida.

The coming days will also expose the breadth of Irma's destruction. Some 400 shelters are still open in Florida, housing 94,000 people, including 17,000 with special needs. Search and rescue teams began operating in the Keys on Tuesday, and crews across Florida are assessing the strength of roads, bridges, water and sewer systems and other vital public infrastructure. The state has created helpful new online assistance for residents to access disaster aid and apply for insurance claims. With other parts of the state experiencing more serious damage and more difficult challenges, the bay area needs to be patient. It could easily have been worse here.

This is a time for everyone to do what they can. If you don't need those two cases of water, give them to someone who does. Help a neighbor clean up. Make a donation of time or money to charity. It has been incredible to see the outpouring of people in this community helping others. That sense of community spirit, coming second nature, has kept people fed and housed, helped to clear the roads, provided care for pets and brought some order to the chaos. If the pattern continues, every day will get better.

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Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17