Sunday, June 17, 2018
Editorials

Floridians vote for centrist, sensible government

Voters in Tampa Bay and throughout Florida on Tuesday chose moderation over extremism and optimism about the future over pessimism. They preserved the independence of the judiciary and the integrity of the state Constitution. In Tampa Bay, they overwhelmingly voted to continue to invest in public works projects and education. And from the U.S. Senate to county courthouses in Pinellas and Hillsborough, they voted for moderate candidates over those with the most conservative social views. The first election with new redistricting rules also means the incoming Legislature will better reflect the state's more moderate makeup. Florida turned an even deeper shade of purple Tuesday, and it will be better for it.

Even as Floridians returned a strong Republican majority to Tallahassee, they overwhelmingly re-elected moderate Democrat Bill Nelson to the U.S. Senate over a Republican with a famous name, Connie Mack IV. They rejected an unprecedented partisan effort to let Republican Gov. Rick Scott stack the Florida Supreme Court. And they shot down a slew of irresponsible constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature.

The impact of the 2010 state constitutional amendment to ensure more balanced political districts means both legislative chambers are expected to include more Democrats — including three new House members from Tampa Bay. Those wins mean an end to the Republican supermajority that has shut down any meaningful debate in the state Capitol for the past two years.

Voters rejected at least eight of 11 constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Legislature, including those on health care, abortion and opening the door to private school vouchers. And the three amendments that still had a chance for approval late Tuesday — property tax breaks for disabled veterans, surviving spouses of first responders and low-income seniors — reflect an electorate that appreciates the sacrifices of others.

In Pinellas, voters embraced science and public health by turning out two Republican county commissioners — Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield — who had voted to eliminate fluoride from the drinking water. Voters also renewed a much-needed half-mil property tax to enhance art, music and reading education in public schools.

In Hillsborough, voters opted for steady, competent leadership, rejecting overt partisans. Democrat Bob Henriquez, a former state legislator, beat conservative Republican state Sen. Ronda Storms for county property appraiser. Voters promoted Democrat Craig Latimer, the election supervisor's chief of staff, to the office's top job, rejecting Republican state Rep. Rich Glorioso, who had supported the Legislature's ill-advised 2011 voting law.

Hillsborough voters also returned thoughtful Carol W. Kurdell to the School Board, rejecting challenger Terry Kemple, whose poisonous crusades against Muslims and gays made him ill-suited to run the nation's eighth-largest school system.

In Pasco County, voters wisely renewed their optional penny sales tax for local government and schools' infrastructure, an investment that is absolutely essential for its long-term future.

The message to elected leaders from the governor to state lawmakers to county officials is clear. Voters want sensible, centrist leadership, not extreme positions on social issues or fights between branches of government.

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Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Parkland students set example for advocacy

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.The students, all from the school’s drama department, bro...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18