Monday, January 22, 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: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18