Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Water board needs refresher course on its purpose

The developer who chairs the regional water board needs a crash course on the purpose of the agency he oversees. Contrary to what Carlos Beruff believes, the Southwest Florida Water Management District is not "a service industry" for big business. It's a regulatory agency that is supposed to protect the public water supply in the 16-county region. This is exactly why the federal government should not delegate its protection of local wetlands to the state.

Swiftmud's governing board complained this week that the federal government took too long to process development permits for wetland areas. Beruff said it makes sense for Swiftmud to take over the job. Making it faster for developers to get approval to destroy wetlands, he said, would ensure "we don't slow down the economic progress in the 16 counties that we say grace over." A prayer is exactly in order if this agency takes more control of carving up the area's natural resources.

Wetlands play a critical role in the growth, economy and vitality of a region. They are some of the most versatile habitats around, acting as recharge areas for the public drinking water supply, sponges that curb flooding and pollution and natural traps that feed wildlife and ecosystems. Destroying wetlands for a strip mall or parking lot should not be a trivial decision. The Clean Water Act assigns this job to the Army Corps of Engineers, which along with other federal partners ensures that panthers, manatees and other rare animals are protected on any wetlands project.

If anything, the corps already is too good to the building industry. It reviews about 3,200 permits in Florida annually and in the past year has denied only one, for a project in Pasco County. If developers have a problem with the corps, that's a federal matter. Petition the corps or Congress to set hard deadlines for the permits. And developers need to take on this campaign themselves. It's not Swiftmud's job to do the industry's bidding in Washington.

If Swiftmud has so much time, it can prepare for the next wave of development requests as the economy recovers. State and local agencies laid off hundreds of workers due to the recession, and one hard-hit operation was the planning department. These agencies need to get fully staffed, and governments need to adopt more sustainable development policies to prevent a repeat of the housing bubble. That's the sort of "service industry" Beruff should be talking about at Swiftmud: service to protect the public.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18