Why did it take so long for Florida to ban invasive pythons? | Editorial
Also over the last week or so, one lucky mayor, two sports franchises stepping up and a bill that would bring some sanity to state contracts,
An invasive Burmese python in a defensive posture.
An invasive Burmese python in a defensive posture. [ KODIAK C. HENGSTEBECK | Courtesy of University of Florida ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Mar. 5, 2021|Updated Mar. 5, 2021

Before the week ended, we wanted to address a few — and very different — developments.

Pushing back on pythons. The state is cracking down on the sale and ownership of certain invasive species. While the move feels at least 20 years too late for some of the damaging reptiles like the Burmese python, it’s better than nothing. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to restrict the possession and private breeding of certain exotic animals, including Nile monitor lizard, Northern African python, reticulated python, tegu lizards, green iguanas, Southern African python, amethystine python or scrub pythons. Too many irresponsible pet owners release these non-native reptiles into Florida’s wilds, where they breed rapidly. Burmese pythons, which can grow to more than 15 feet, have been blamed for killing most of the deer, raccoons and other native wildlife in parts of the Everglades.

A very sweet deal. Dale Massad should thank his lawyers — and given his recent luck, buy some lottery tickets. The former Port Richey mayor once faced life in prison for shooting at SWAT deputies raiding his home. Even the lesser charges he was convicted of could have put him in prison for up to 35 years. But a plea deal netted him just a three-year sentence. He has already served two years awaiting trial. “Quite a deal,” the judge remarked in court on Wednesday. Indeed.

Marketing help during COVID. Kudos to the Tampa Bay Lightning for launching a program that pairs small businesses affected by the pandemic with the team’s marketing department. The idea is to help struggling businesses attract more customers by creating promotional items such as videos, written features, promotions, custom graphics and Lightning radio spots. Vinik Sports Groups, the Lightning’s parent company, will select one business to help each month from now until the end of the year. The program, while small in scope, has the potential to have a big impact on the chosen businesses.

Bucs do good, too. Speaking of sports franchises stepping up, the Tampa Bay Bucs announced Monday that the team will donate an automated external defibrillator (AEDs) to every public high school in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The life-saving devices help aid people who experience cardiac arrest. A classy move from the recent Super Bowl winners.

Vendor sanity. Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, has the right idea when it comes to penalizing companies that perform poorly on state contracts. She sponsored Senate Bill 788 which would bar companies from bidding on new state contracts if they fail to meet the terms of their previous contracts with the state. The move comes after several contracting scandals, including one last year when the governor awarded a $135 million contract to handle Medicaid data to Deloitte, the same company that built the state’s terrible unemployment compensation system. Cruz’s bill has a long way to go before becoming law, but it was good to see a Senate committee pass it unanimously on Wednesday.

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Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.