Saturday, May 26, 2018
Editorials

Sustain Florida's rebound

There are encouraging signs, however small, that Florida is on the rebound from the Great Recession. Statistics trickling in last week from 2011 find bankruptcy filings down and fewer state banks failing. For the first time in six years, more moving vans headed into Florida than out. And the vacancy rate for office space in Tampa Bay dropped to its lowest rate since 2009. This news comes after several months of slowly descending unemployment rates that still remain at 10 percent. Now the challenge for Florida leaders is to build on that momentum, not derail it with poor policy decisions or shortsighted gimmicks.

Florida, of course, isn't alone in this recovery. Bankruptcy filings are down across the country, for example, and the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in December, the lowest in nearly three years. Florida, a state so dependent on development and growth, will take longer to pull out of this crisis than most.

But there is already a temptation in Florida to assume the best way forward is to revisit the past, with a full-scale resumption of the building industry. Throughout this recession, in fact, state lawmakers have systematically removed barriers to development, making it easier for developers to build homes and strip shopping centers, plan large-scale communities and escape infrastructure impact fees — never mind the huge backlog of vacant and foreclosed properties. Now many of the South Florida building groups are also lining up behind shortsighted plans to build three destination casinos that would hurt efforts to bring high-tech jobs to the state.

A return to uncontrolled growth would impact every Floridian with more congested roads, overrun parks, subpar schools and underfunded public safety. It would be far wiser for leaders, now that the end of the economic collapse may be in sight, to focus on creating jobs across a more balanced spectrum of industries — such as the state's budding biotech community — reviving growth management policies and reinvesting in aging infrastructure and mass transit. Now, too, is the time to reinvest in public schools and higher education, which can contribute more long-term to the state's vitality than almost any other investment.

There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and at this moment it is not an oncoming train. Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators who return to Tallahassee for the annual session on Tuesday will be tempted to look to the past for answers. But Florida's economy is different than just six years ago, and that may be the most exciting prospect of all.

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Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

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Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

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Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18