Thursday, January 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: The president acts on immigration because Congress won't

President Barack Obama's frustration with Congress' failure to address immigration reform is understandable, and his only alternative in the face of Republican opposition is to do what he can alone. With tens of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border, and virtually no chance that House Republicans will allow a vote this year on a comprehensive immigration bill, the president has to act to address this humanitarian crisis.

Obama was right that the nation can no longer continue to wait for Republicans to get past another election. Though House Speaker John Boehner blasted the president for not working with Congress, House leaders have only themselves to blame for not putting a viable bill to an up-or-down vote. The bipartisan comprehensive bill the Senate approved in June 2013 would have reformed the broken system in an orderly way. It would have provided billions of dollars in additional border security, tools for attracting foreign labor to meet America's workforce needs and a lengthy path to citizenship to bring the 12 million illegal immigrants already here into American society.

Obama offered no specifics Monday about how he would proceed, declaring only that he would act by late summer. He announced that federal officials would shift some assets of the border and immigration system from the interior to the south. That's a practical step that should improve conditions for thousands of children who have made the dangerous journey and are being held in cramped detention facilities. It should also help overburdened border states such as Texas and Arizona that are bearing the brunt of this challenge to public health and safety.

Congress should approve Obama's request for $2 billion in emergency aid to deal with the border crisis as unaccompanied children continue to stream in from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The total could reach 92,000 children this year, which would further burden an overtaxed enforcement system. The administration needs to move on the diplomatic front to address the poverty, violence and political volatility across Central America that feeds the exodus. And it needs to make clear to parents in Central America and elsewhere that the United States will maintain its borders and that there is no free pass for children who arrive alone at the border.

The lack of a comprehensive immigration strategy sends a mixed message overseas and forces the administration to deal ad hoc with enforcement and hardship cases. Confronting reality is still better than pretending that the border is impregnable, or that states can do Washington's job alone, or that children are not at risk. But a meaningful fix for immigration still will require congressional action — and for that, Republicans need to demonstrate they are as interested in governing as they are in campaigning and attacking the administration.

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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

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18