Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

New director must keep port thriving

Richard Wainio's departure as chief executive for the Port of Tampa offers a chance to build a broad consensus on the port's future. The port has become a regional force both in seaborne trade and as a guiding hand in the development of downtown Tampa's Channel District. The port authority's governing board should recognize the public's stake in finding a director who can continue moving this community asset in the right direction.

Wainio helped build the port into the economic engine it is during his seven years in charge. He continued to diversify the port's business from cargo to cruise ships, and he oversaw a series of capital improvements that will expand the port's reach for decades. Tampa handles more cargo than any other port in the state, and the terminal, road and other facilities will only enhance what already is one of the most dynamic ports in the country.

Wainio was criticized for not working more openly with the wide range of port tenants. His announcement that he will step down in September caught even his bosses on the governing board by surprise. Still, Wainio was a world-respected director who managed the port during tough economic times, and he will leave it in good position to take advantage of new opportunities stemming from the expansion of the Panama Canal.

The next director needs to have the same business sense and international clout, along with a better sensitivity for the public aspects of the job. Balancing the competing needs of the port's many tenants is no easy task, but that diversity helps the port's bottom line and makes it attractive as a destination. The next director also needs to bring some clarity to the role cruise ships will play. The port is exploring whether to build a passenger terminal west of the Sunshine Skyway to serve the new generation of ships that cannot fit under the bridge. That idea poses many problems, and the new director needs to bring candor to this debate before this idea takes on a life of its own.

The new executive also will be coming on as the port plays a larger role in developing the Channel District. The port owns the land under Channelside, the retail and nightclub complex, and it will have a say in guiding the redevelopment of the entire area. The next director needs to have a vision for entertainment and residential districts in urban settings. He needs to commit the port to be an active supporter of the downtown core. And the new director needs to appreciate the accountability that comes from leading an agency funded in part by property taxes. That may seem like a lot to juggle in the public eye, but it's inevitable for a port and a region whose profile is only growing.

Comments

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