Thursday, April 26, 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: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
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
Updated: 04/23/18
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: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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
Updated: 04/23/18