Friday, April 27, 2018
Editorials

Pasco's dismal recycling requires aggressive response

Pasco County is trying to bolster its dismal recycling rate by allowing residents to use their own containers, rather than store-purchased blue bags, for curbside pickup of glass, metal and plastic.

While any chance to upgrade the 2-decade-old program is welcome, commissioners shouldn't be satisfied with this timid approach. Instead, the county should abandon its free-for-all private garbage collection and establish franchise agreements for trash collection and mandatory recycling.

Such a move should translate to cost savings for Pasco households and greater participation in recycling. In Pasco, only 4 percent of the trash collected from single-family homes is recycled. Other nearby counties served by franchised haulers report recycling rates of 30 to 41 percent.

Twice in the past four years, commissioners agreed to seek franchise contracts for trash collection, only to retreat amid lobbying from haulers satisfied with the status quo. On Tuesday, Commissioner Henry Wilson, the commission's leading advocate for better recycling, briefed the board on the looming change from blue bags. He suggested franchising should be again considered if the recycling rate fails to improve.

Wilson is right, but he shouldn't wait. He and the rest of the commission shouldn't ignore the added cost to their constituents from the county's inertia.

Consider the deal approved just three days ago in Hillsborough County. There, the county awarded contracts to three companies for automated trash-collection systems that will reduce the annual cost to households even with the added expense of issuing new standardized containers for trash and recycling materials.

Ditto for neighboring Hernando County. Despite initial complaints about service, nobody grumbled about the price for the 2011 franchise contracts. Residents there pay monthly bills ranging from $6.14 to $7.72 for twice-a-week trash pickup, weekly recycling and twice-monthly disposal of yard waste.

Contrast that to Pasco, which does not designate franchise areas and allows eight haulers to compete for market share. Households here are charged $12.44 monthly for twice-weekly garbage service and twice-monthly pickups of blue bags for recycling.

Exactly why households on the south side of County Line Road should pay twice as much for inferior service as their neighbors across the street in Hernando County is a question commissioners should be willing to answer.

Pasco households shouldn't be financially penalized by their commission's lack of political will to modernize trash collection.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18