Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Troubling environmental about-face

The governor's environmental chief's rejection thousands of acres of free land along the Peace River for a new state park reflects skewed priorities. Herschel Vinyard's view that the property was substandard is an about-face from what the department was saying only three years ago, and it calls into question again the commitment he and Gov. Rick Scott have to protecting and preserving Florida's natural resources.

The offer stemmed from a legal settlement phosphate giant Mosaic had with environmental groups. The Sierra Club, among others, sued to block Mosaic's expansion of mining on the border of Polk and Hardee counties. To clear the way for the mining, Mosaic agreed to donate the Peaceful Horse Ranch to the state, and to throw in $2 million for upkeep. But to environmentalists' surprise, the Department of Environmental Protection has declined. Vinyard told the Tampa Bay Times' Craig Pittman money wasn't the issue, but rather the ranch did not meet DEP's standards for becoming a state park. Talk about a turnaround.

Three years ago, the state added the property to its list of environmentally sensitive land that it wanted to acquire. The 4,100-acre ranch in Southwest Florida sits along 7 miles of the Peace River, and its woods and wetlands are home to bald eagles, wood storks, sandhill cranes and other wildlife. The DEP was eager to get hold of the property, boasting about its "largely pristine" shore and how the location was ideal for kayaking, horseback riding and other outdoor recreational pursuits.

"The combination of all these factors," DEP wrote, "makes the project desirable as a unit of the state park system.

Vinyard now says that DEP park experts have determined the land is unsuitable, a change in thinking that smacks of the Scott administration and some Republican lawmakers to reduce the inventory of state lands. This looks like a philosophical move to limit the reach of parks and environmental buffers sold as a management decision. And it is a loss for public recreation and the state's natural resources. The only upside is that the ranch will revert to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. It should look for the best possible public use.

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Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
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...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
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