Thursday, November 23, 2017
Editorials

Upstart muddies the waters

RECOMMENDED READING


Karl Nurse, who was appointed to the St. Petersburg City Council less than two months ago, has wasted no time becoming a divisive force. On the eve of an important council vote — one that could help determine Major League Baseball's future in the city — Nurse has insulted his more experienced colleagues by trying to undermine their debate today on a ballot question proposed by the Tampa Bay Rays to build a new waterfront stadium.

The council is to take a vote to start the procedures to schedule a November referendum so voters could decide if a $450-million stadium should be built on the site of Al Lang Field. As part of that plan, the Tropicana Field site would be sold for residential and retail development and returned to the tax rolls. This is just the first step in a multistep referendum process, and it is a reasonable move to enable negotiations to continue to progress over the summer. Council members have until August to make a final decision on putting the stadium question on the November ballot, and there is no reason to prematurely end the discussion now.

Now Nurse wants to muddy the waters and confuse voters. He said he would introduce a competing, and potentially conflicting, referendum question today. Nurse is acting at the urging of former council member Virginia Littrell, a vehement stadium opponent who lost her 2005 re-election bid. She wants to rezone the Al Lang site, which has been used for baseball for decades, and restrict development on it.

So if the council lets Nurse and Littrell succeed, voters could be faced with two questions that could cancel each other out. It is an underhanded effort to thwart a straight-up decision by council members and voters. There is no doubt that the Rays need to explain their proposal more fully and that more work needs to be done on the financing of the project, parking and other issues. A vote today to begin the process to put the issue on the ballot would give the Rays and the city time to nail down specifics and St. Petersburg voters time to reach an informed conclusion.

By opposing such clarity, Nurse is reneging on two assurances he gave city residents when he was appointed to the District 6 seat vacated by Earnest Williams after his unsuccessful run for the Legislature. Then, Nurse denied any involvement in antistadium efforts and vowed to help residents understand the Rays' complex proposal. His actions break both promises.

According to a recent poll by the St. Petersburg Times, city voters oppose a new waterfront stadium at the moment — but they also want an opportunity to vote on the issue. It would be a straight-up vote, for or against the stadium, without Nurse's interference.

Both council members and city residents need to keep a clear head when defining the issues in front of them. The outcome is of utmost importance to the city's future. Should the city make a long-term commitment to the Rays, and at what cost to taxpayers? Will development of the Trop site pay the way for the new stadium? Is Al Lang a good spot for a landmark structure?

Those are issues that need further public discussion, and the council can provide that opportunity by moving forward with plans for a clear referendum. Nurse wants to confuse voters with a sneak attack, and he should not get away with it. The council would be foolish to let this upstart take their eye off the ball.

Comments

Another voice: Wall isnít a lifesaver, itís a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trumpís controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction ó and even what type of wall ó remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldnít back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

By now the guest list if not the table is all set, and the house will be warmed with the noise of loved ones and the smell of that dish with cream of mushroom soup. Tucked between the sugar rush of Halloween and the sparkle of Christmas, Thanksgiving...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17