Monday, August 13, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?

The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the downtown courthouse. This was a monumental display of cowardice by four Republicans indifferent to the need for moral leadership in this uncertain moment.

It is beyond bewildering that in the shadow of Charlottesville this commission would see any reason to continue this public relations disaster, much less change its position for the third time. It voted in July to reverse course and move the monument, after a Brandon family agreed to host it on private property, and after Tampa attorney Tom Scarritt agreed to remove the memorial with private money.

On Wednesday, four commissioners gave Scarritt 30 days to find the money; otherwise, the monument remains. Victor Crist, Ken Hagan, Sandy Murman and Stacy White have been dangerously playing with the racial politics of this issue all summer, seeking to appease a band of Confederate supporters, who have spun the memorial as an ode to Florida's history rather than as a noxious symbol of racial oppression. And moments after the monument vote, these same four commissioners appointed a key advocate for keeping the memorial in place to the county's diversity council. That's rubbing salt into an open wound.

The commission tried to sugarcoat its initial decision to keep the monument by agreeing to waste $300,000 in tax money for a mural at the site and an anti-racism campaign. Now it doesn't want to cough up $100,000 to move it, and it gave the private sector — which took this lightning rod from the commission's lap — 30 days to raise the money or else. These four showed an astounding lack of leadership and backbone. They pressed and pressed for a way to not do the right thing.

In St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman took less than a day to move a small Confederate marker. In Baltimore, the mayor ordered four statues honoring Confederate heroes to be moved literally overnight. In Hillsborough County, the hand-wringing over removing just one memorial is taking all summer and commissioners still can't get it right.

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Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

It’s time to re-establish a permanent home for the state appeals court that serves the Tampa Bay region.It makes sense to put it in Tampa, the same as it made sense 30 years ago when the court’s operations began moving piece by piece up Interstate 4 ...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

The Hillsborough County transit referendum that has made the November ballot is significantly stronger than two efforts that failed to reach the end zone in the past decade. The one-cent sales surtax would generate enough money to meaningfully improv...
Published: 08/09/18
Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

The fight for medical marijuana in Florida should have ended with the resounding 2016 vote authorizing it in the state Constitution. Instead, the battle for access drags on, with Attorney General Pam Bondi waging the latest round in a lengthy legal b...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

They reach from South Florida to Tampa, from a high school to a college campus, from troubled kids to troubled parents. But there is a common thread connecting these tragedies: Florida has a mental health crisis. Addressing it would require spending ...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

A proposal to use local money to ferry workers to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa always has been a questionable idea. The loss of nearly $5 million in federal money toward the project makes it all the more suspect. It’s time the ferry supporters off...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Blood on the streets of Chicago

Blood on the streets of Chicago

A hot summer weekend, when Chicago should be at its most livable, brings an undercurrent of dread and horror to this city. Summer is block party season, beach season, baseball season. But in some neighborhoods, summer is killing season — when armed g...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: FDA should not penalize premium cigars

Editorial: FDA should not penalize premium cigars

A well-meaning but poorly designed effort to keep tobacco from children could sink a niche industry and end Tampa’s fabled history as a cigar-making capital. The Food and Drug Administration needs to recognize not all tobacco products are alike...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/13/18
Editorial: New St. Petersburg Pier spot for Echelman art better, not perfect

Editorial: New St. Petersburg Pier spot for Echelman art better, not perfect

The St. Petersburg City Council has listened to the concerns of constituents and forged a compromise on where to install a signature public art piece in the new Pier District. Plans had called for an imposing aerial net sculpture to soar above Spa Be...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/07/18
Editorial: Sharpton wrong to call for sheriff’s badge in stand your ground case

Editorial: Sharpton wrong to call for sheriff’s badge in stand your ground case

The Rev. Al Sharpton misfired when he suggested Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri was influenced by racial considerations when he decided not to arrest Michael Drejka for shooting and killing Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot ...
Published: 08/06/18