Monday, December 18, 2017
Editorials

Fowl play overlooks Hernando's larger issues

A Hernando Commission majority got it right last week when it ruled people can keep a handful of hens in residential neighborhoods. The new ordinance, adopted after four months of debate, mirrors similar laws in Pinellas County and in the city of Sarasota. Hernando's ordinance requires a county permit, written permission from adjoining neighbors and a cap of four birds per back yard.

The reasonable rules, however, failed to persuade some residential Realtors who contended inaccurately that the noise and odors of backyard chickens would depress property values. A commission majority of Diane Rowden, Wayne Dukes and David Russell, wisely ignored the Realtors' unsubstantiated beliefs.

But, the prolonged debate illustrates an unflattering point. The real estate industry — with Commissioners Nick Nicholson and Jim Adkins in agreement, at least on this issue — frequently neglects to address more imperative reasons for depressed property values.

Certainly, the sinkhole problem is well documented and Adkins and other commissioners are seeking a remedy from Tallahassee. A sinkhole home gets an immediate 50 percent discount in its assessments and that has knocked $280 million from the county tax rolls.

Property values, however, also are affected by the neighborhood desirability. How are the schools? Is there a park or library nearby? Are the sides of roads clean or are they littered and overgrown? On these issues, past commissions have fallen down. They reduced public investment in services and facilities and recently rejected the Hernando School Board's plea for a restored impact fee to finance classroom improvements.

The real estate industry shouldn't be worried about chickens, it should be concerned about attracting home buyers to Hernando by ensuring the county's quality of life attributes don't further diminish.

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Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17