A Times Editorial

Six resolutions for Florida and Tampa Bay for 2011

1 Create jobs. Tampa Bay's unemployment rate, 12.6 percent, is even higher than a year ago and remains above the statewide average. Gov.-elect Rick Scott should deliver on his promise to make job creation the top priority of his administration and not become distracted by other controversial agendas.

2 Move on mass transit. Florida should break ground on the federally financed Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail. Pinellas and Hills­borough counties need to keep planning for the light-rail system to connect to it. The defeat of last year's Hillsborough transit referendum cannot derail the creation of a 21st century transit system.

3 Think creatively on homeless. Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats' new jail diversion program, set to open this month, should help those homeless in Pinellas who run afoul of the law with frequent ordinance violations. But local leaders need to keep working together on multiple fronts, including helping the growing number of homeless public school children. Nearly 8,000 students are homeless in Tampa Bay, a 150 percent increase in five years.

4 Promote real education reform, not gimmicks. Hillsborough County has blazed the trail for improving teacher training and evaluation. Pinellas has sharpened its focus on serving all levels of students. Those reforms are a wiser path than radical overhaul, such as universal school vouchers. Reform works best when families and teachers buy into it.

5 Campaign on Tampa's future. A crowded field of candidates to succeed Mayor Pam Iorio isn't the ideal recipe for encouraging substance over sound bites in campaigns. Tampa voters deserve a serious discussion about how to fill the void left when the region's most visible and progressive mayor steps aside.

6 Keep Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay. 2011 should be the year that the city of St. Petersburg sheds its parochial blinders and joins the Tampa business community and others in a conversation about how to best pursue a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays can offer incentives to break the stalemate, and the franchise should open its books to inform the discussion.

Six resolutions for Florida and Tampa Bay for 2011 12/31/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 31, 2010 3:30am]

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