Thursday, January 18, 2018
Editorials

Take a light rail cue from Detroit

It has been decades since Detroit was seen as a forward-looking urban community instead of an inner-city wasteland racked by crime, vacant buildings and government debt. But the federal government last week put the finishing touches on what will soon be a 3-mile light rail system through the heart of downtown. The project is a model partnership between the public and private sectors, and it should stand as an example for how Tampa Bay could get its act together on transportation.

The federal government pledged $25 million Friday to build a streetcar line through Detroit's city center, capping a long, frustrating effort to bring light rail to one of the country's last few major urban centers without it. The $140 million, 3.3-mile line along Woodward Avenue will be funded primarily by a public-private partnership with contributions from companies whose workers commute to the downtown. The nonprofit rail coalition, whose members include foundations, businesses, and public and private groups, plans to fund more than $100 million of the $137 million project.

The venture is a testament to a stick-to-it mentality and to the power of worthy civic cause. Business leaders like auto magnate Roger Penske put their money behind their wish for urban renewal. Michigan lawmakers created an authority to promote regional mass transit projects across the state, laying the groundwork for communities to join together in constructing and operating urban rail. Despite 24 failed attempts in 40 years, state, local and business leaders kept plugging away and found a formula for making rail happen.

The line will connect Campus Martius Park (a vibrant, mixed-use destination downtown), Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers baseball team), Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University. Tens of thousands of office employees and downtown visitors will have an easier way to move around the city center. And for an urban area that has been known most recently for violence, blight and population flight, the project will be a magnet for development and a unifying force in the city's cultural fabric. It marks the start of another era for a city whose better days had passed.

If Detroit can do it, so can Tampa Bay. But political leaders need to show more ambition and urgency. Business needs to step up and make transportation central to the region's economic development strategy. And the public and private sectors in the bay area need to work more in sync to make improved regional transit a statewide priority, just as Central Florida did to get the SunRail commuter rail system under way. Persistence pays off. Ask Detroit.

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...
Updated: 9 hours ago

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