Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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.


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...
Updated: 8 hours ago
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...
Updated: 8 hours ago
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...
Updated: 9 hours ago
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

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18