Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Vote practical, not partisan

Tuesday's election will determine more than who will be the nation's president for the next four years. It also is an opportunity for Floridians and Tampa Bay residents in particular to affirm our commonsense values. Statewide, we can confirm our support for an independent judiciary and protect the integrity of the Florida Constitution. Regionally, we can continue to invest in roads and public works projects. We can renew our commitment to investing in public education and backing progressive reforms. And we can embrace science and public health over scare tactics and partisan ideology.

Florida

Supreme Court merit retention

The Florida Supreme Court justices face an unprecedented partisan effort to oust them. Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara J. Pariente and Peggy A. Quince are accomplished lawyers and jurists, and their impartiality and respect for the law should not be in question. Yet the Republican Party of Florida and outside conservative groups want voters to remove them because they don't like a handful of the thousands of court opinions they have signed.

The court should not be subject to such political intimidation, and the last thing Florida needs is to give Gov. Rick Scott an opportunity to stack the court with three new justices. Voters should vote "yes" to retain these three justices and preserve the integrity of the court.

Constitutional amendments

The Republican-controlled Legislature placed 11 amendments on the ballot, many with misleading titles. Collectively, they would jeopardize access to health care, interfere with the independence of the courts, limit the rights of women to control their own bodies, erode religious freedom and further scramble tax policy.

Voters can send a clear message by voting "no" on every amendment.

Tampa Bay

Pinellas COMMISSION

Incumbent commissioners Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield voted to take fluoride out of the drinking water, ignoring established science and the public health. Their opponents, Charlie Justice and Janet Long, pledge to vote to add fluoride back into the water. Voters should restore Pinellas' image as a progressive place to do business and raise a family by embracing science and the public welfare — and voting against Bostock and Brickfield.

Pinellas school tax

Voters have twice approved a modest half-mill property tax to help pay teachers, add technology in classrooms and enrich the arts and music programs. The tax money is a smart investment, and the positive impact is clear. In an era when the state scrimps on public education, Pinellas voters should continue to support their local teachers and schools and extend the tax another four years.

Hillsborough school board

The District 7 race for a countywide seat is a choice between the future and the past.

Incumbent Carol W. Kurdell has helped the nation's eighth-largest school system prepare students for the modern world. Her strong support for college preparation courses and for reforms aimed at strengthening the classroom experience show her appreciation for the role of public education.

Challenger Terry Kemple is a social warrior whose campaigns against gays, bikini bars and Muslims reflect his divisiveness. He would weaken public education even further with his support for charter schools and his call to micromanage teachers and principals. Kemple would be a step in the wrong direction for a county at the national forefront in promoting academic achievement.

Penny for Pasco

The 1 cent sales tax has served Pasco County residents well, paying for road improvements, land preservation and efforts to reduce school crowding. Former critics are now supporters, and extending the sales tax for another decade will ensure that the county can continue to invest in its future.

The outcome of the presidential election will say one thing about the direction of the nation. The outcome of these half-dozen election decisions in Florida and Tampa Bay will say another about our values, our commitment to preserving our institutions and our optimism about improving our communities.

Comments
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...
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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

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
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...
Updated: 5 hours ago
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...
Updated: 8 hours ago
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...
Updated: 8 hours ago
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...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18