Sunday, September 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: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18