Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Time to rethink greyhound racing

Lawmakers didn't set out to hurt racing dogs when they allowed card games at greyhound tracks. But in propping up a fading racing industry, they inadvertently put the health of dogs at risk by requiring tracks to stage more races than demand supports — just to keep the card rooms open. It's time to reassess the arrangement, acknowledge the rules have produced unintended consequences, and quit propping up an industry that would be gone without the misguided incentives.

In the last seven months of 2013, new public reports show 74 greyhounds died at 10 Florida racetracks. Derby Lane in St. Petersburg and Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room reported a dozen deaths each. The reports of deaths are the first of their kind; a 2010 law required track operators beginning last year to disclose when a dog dies. But the reports generate more questions than answers about the care of dogs and a struggling industry.

As Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reported last Sunday, the accounts of dogs' deaths ranged from a greyhound that was force-fed after not eating for four days to dogs suffering fatal injuries on the track; from a puppy apparently arriving from breeders too ill to survive to an animal put back in its kennel before it had cooled down.

The tracks acknowledge they likely would be closed if the state had not agreed in 1996 to let them add lucrative card games. The agreement required them to maintain at least 90 percent of the live races run in 1996. Yet wagering at the 13 facilities that run greyhound races was $265.4 million in 2012, down two-thirds from the $933.8 million they collected in 1990, according to Spectrum Gaming Group's report for the Legislature. Those same dog tracks reported that dog racing losses totaled $35 million in 2012, prompting several track owners to say they would end racing if they could keep the card games.

The question is how to make that work without giving parimutuels one more loophole. A Jacksonville dog track already has opened an off-site card room. Broward County's Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, a horse track with slot machines, has been trying to convince the state to allow it to use a second parimutuel permit it has in a new location — a Miami site owned by Genting, a Malaysia concern that has pushed for Florida to allow destination casinos.

Regardless of what happens in the legislative session, the state should be doing more than standing by. Tracks should be required to report animal injuries and invest in improvements that could reduce them.

The industry says that would be too expensive. That is a tired excuse. Dogs should not be abused and kept running in so many races just to keep the card rooms operating. If they can't afford to do it right, the tracks should be shut down and their card rooms limited to the size and sites that exist today.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18