Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Rick Kriseman best hope for change in St. Petersburg

The race for mayor of St. Petersburg has been a low-key affair that has not matched the election's high stakes. The campaigns have been predictable, and many voters are uninspired by their choices. The lack of enthusiasm for Mayor Bill Foster provides an opportunity to embrace more aggressive leadership, and voters should take a closer look at Rick Kriseman before Tuesday's primary election.

Kriseman is a former City Council member and state legislator who understands how the mayor of the state's fourth-largest city can be much more than a caretaker. He has fresh ideas about improving neighborhoods and marketing the city. He is familiar with what has worked in cities such as Baltimore and Seattle, and he is eager to bring their successful strategies to St. Petersburg.

At the same time, Kriseman has the negotiating skill to make more progress on issues that have festered, from the stadium stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays to the messy fight over the future of the Pier to curbside recycling. The trial lawyer's legislative experience gives him a broader perspective and a more regional view than the incumbent. That will be helpful as the next mayor navigates the future of the Rays, the 2014 Pinellas transit referendum and other opportunities to build consensus outside the city limits. While Kriseman tends to speak in generalities at candidate forums, he is more specific in other formats. He can bring his vision into sharper focus if he finishes among the top two candidates in Tuesday's primary election.

Foster has spent more time defending his record than sketching an agenda for a second term. He led the city through a recession that forced millions in spending cuts and hundreds of job cuts, and St. Petersburg suffered no major harm. But bad ideas such as closing some city pools and imposing a regressive fire fee, which were not adopted, will receive more scrutiny before the general election. So will his failure to maintain his predecessor's momentum in helping public schools and improving Midtown.

St. Petersburg expects about $500 million in new construction this year, evidence that the economy is improving. Foster takes credit for positioning the city to take advantage of the rebound, but there is little to suggest that city policies rather than broader market forces are driving the resurgence.

Former City Council member Kathleen Ford offers few new ideas, and her harsh criticisms of City Hall staff and the police department echo her two previous unsuccessful campaigns for mayor. So does her carelessness in choosing how she criticizes her opponents or describes how she has helped Midtown. Ford has been attacked in a series of mailings by independent political committees, and it is unfair that donors to those groups won't be publicly reported to the state until October.

More than 26,000 St. Petersburg voters already have cast their ballots by mail, but this election is far from over. Rick Kriseman remains the best choice for voters seeking a viable alternative to the incumbent mayor and a more vigorous general election campaign about the direction of the city.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18