Saturday, November 18, 2017

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.


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


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.


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. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s 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: 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...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17