Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Main Street demise doesn't need to curb downtown promoters

Boosters of Downtown Dade City Main Street portrayed the group's demise last week as a case of mission accomplished. Certainly, this agency has much of which to be proud, but the end can be more accurately described as resource competition.

Main Street and other non-profit groups find themselves competing for financial support in a still tepid economy that has witnessed a shrinking pool of community philanthropy. Likewise, government subsidies are no longer guaranteed and could even be reversed under an idea floated by Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez. She suggested last year that Main Street, the chamber of commerce and others pay a festival fee to the city to offset the municipal costs of supporting downtown events.

Against that backdrop, Downtown Dade City Main Street closed its doors because it was unwilling to attempt more fund-raising simply to cover its overhead. It is understandable, but still unfortunate considering the group's 25-year track record of success. It helped turn a deteriorating, run-of-the-mill downtown into a destination as an attractive antique district. It persuaded the city to begin a redevelopment agency to keep increased downtown property tax revenues within the business core. It lobbied Pasco County to refurbish the Historic Courthouse and keep its administrative offices within downtown. It stretched the Seventh Street beautification south of Meridian Avenue and, just three years ago, it administered tens of thousands of dollars worth of fix-up grants that brought new paint and exterior improvements to buildings that again were showing signs of age.

Sure, the organization stubbed its toe once in a while. It confronted strong community push-back to proposed mandatory building design standards devised after the downtown movie house was sold and demolished in the late 1990s. But it escaped the grumbling about unaccountability that surfaced from time to time in New Port Richey where City Council members questioned the return on public investment. A similar sentiment recently led the Polk County community of Haines City to shutter its Main Street organization. There, after merchants complained about high downtown vacancy rates, the Haines City Main Street board disbanded in December and the city government assumed the role of business recruiter that formerly had been delegated, along with a $52,500 annual subsidy, to its Main Street group.

The Florida Main Street program calls for a four-pronged approach to downtown improvements: community organizing, promotions, design standards and economic restructuring. Downtown Dade City Main Street can point to multiple successes on all fronts, particularly with its promotions and its community organizing that attracted an influential group of core volunteers that over the years included downtown boosters, business owners and elected officials.

That is key. Even though the Downtown Dade City Main Street charter is now inactive, its supporters don't have to be. They, the chamber and the merchants group should strive for continuing the group's mission of "working to ensure that downtown remains the heart and soul of our community.''

Comments
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
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18