Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Skirmish and a sideshow at state park

The Legislature has more important things to do than take sides in a fight over Civil War monuments at a state park in North Florida. That battle has prompted legislation that would require lawmakers to approve historical monuments in the state park system. There is no need for lawmakers to micromanage park monuments, and Gov. Rick Scott should direct state parks officials to continue to determine what is appropriate — regardless of which side in the Civil War is honored.

It was Feb. 20, 1864. Union soldiers marched on Olustee, a town 45 miles west of Jacksonville that was desirable to the North for its potential to disrupt transportation and food supplies and to serve as a recruiting station for black soldiers. Aided by a swamp on one side, a pond on another and reinforcements from Georgia on the front line, Confederate soldiers beat back the Union Army's advance. It was a small battle but likely the largest in Florida during the Civil War. The casualties included 1,861 Union soldiers, twice as many as among the Confederate soldiers.

Fast forward 150 years. The Sons of Confederate Veterans have lined up against the Sons of Union Veterans over the same ground, now the 3-acre Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. The Union supporters have raised money to erect a monument inside the park to honor the Union's dead. The progeny of the Confederate soldiers say those efforts represent revisionist history and would duplicate what is already there. If the Union supporters must have a monument, they say it can be built on federal parkland, just outside the original park where the historic battleground sits.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, has filed legislation to provide cover for the Confederate position. It would require legislative approval for all monuments in state parks, stripping what has been the responsibility of state parks officials. But Baxley is off base when he argues that supporters of a modest monument for Union soldiers are engaging in revisionist history, and there already are three monuments commemorating Confederate soldiers in the park.

Next month, the Battle of Olustee will mark its 150th anniversary, complete with an annual re-enactment of the fight that draws attendees by the thousands. The modern-day skirmish over who should be honored and where is a trivial sideshow. Settling such a disagreement has no place in the Legislature, which should allow the parks department to do its job. For parks officials, this decision does not require Solomonic wisdom, but courage and common sense. Allowing a modest monument to honor the Union dead inside the original park does not revise history. It accurately reflects it.

Comments
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18