Saturday, November 18, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Stop charging homeless for ID cards

RECOMMENDED READING


It should not take a yearlong study for Pinellas County Tax Collector Diane Nelson to decide to do the right thing. There is no reason for her to keep charging the homeless a $6.25 processing fee to obtain a state identification card they need in order to find a place to live and apply for jobs. The idea should be to help the homeless become productive citizens, not throw up bureaucratic roadblocks.

The Florida Legislature last year waived the $25 state fee for an ID card for anyone claiming to be homeless, with proof usually provided by a homeless shelter. That was a good first step to help the least fortunate who are trying to rebuild their lives, but Nelson and some other county tax collectors have continued to charge a processing fee. Since the homeless population is also a highly transient one, with a new ID required for each new address, homeless people may need to obtain several different state IDs a year. That $6.25 processing fee can add up quickly for someone who has little or no income and no permanent address.

The Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Board has asked Nelson to waive the processing fees. Board member and Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger noted a number of Florida counties, including Pasco, Hernando, Sumter, Lake, Marion, Sarasota, Lee, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach already have waived the processing fee. And it didn't take these counties a year of study to work out the details.

In Hillsborough County, it took a weekend. Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden said he would consider dropping the processing fee when contacted by the Times editorial board Friday. On Monday, Belden called to say he was dropping the $6.25 processing fee immediately. Nelson should do the same.

Local governments should be taking innovative steps to reduce the homeless population and help them succeed, not making it more difficult by charging them $6.25 every time they need a new identification card.

Comments

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

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17