Highs and lows of the week in Tampa Bay and Florida
A good deed, shadow boxing, making St. Petersburg safer and the Tampa airport’s success
Police, acting on a tip, found Christopher Harris' special prosthetic limb and returned it.
Police, acting on a tip, found Christopher Harris' special prosthetic limb and returned it. [ St. Petersburg Police Department ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Jun. 12

Good deed at a terrible time. Christopher Allen Harris was struck and severely injured by a car Monday night as he walked in a crosswalk on Fifth Avenue N in St. Petersburg. To make the tragedy worse, his prosthetic leg was dislodged and stolen. As the Tampa Bay Times’ Natalie Weber reported, Harris has had a prosthetic leg since he was 3 years old, a result of a birth defect. His most recent one was covered in one-of-a-kind Marvel artwork and valued at $15,000. “Turn it in. You’re not going to get in trouble,” his estranged wife, Carrie Harris, implored at press conference Tuesday. “Teach my child that people can do the right thing after they make a mistake.” Her wish came true later Tuesday after police, acting on a tip, found the limb and returned it to Carrie Harris. While both drivers stopped and cooperated with the investigation, police said someone stole the leg from the scene. Carrie Harris said she thinks someone may have taken the leg with the intent of pawning it. But now the limb is back — a priceless possession to Christopher Harris that his family said reflects Harris’ colorful nature. Whether it was conscience or something else that brought the prosthetic back, this was a welcome comfort for the family at a terrible time.

Stop doing what you’re not doing. In a spasm of political posturing, Florida’s Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to bar teachers from doing what they’re not doing anyway. Cue the Republican bogeyman of the moment — critical race theory. That refers to an examination — in schools, and society at large — of how racism shaped and continues to influence American social, economic and political life. Gov. Ron DeSantis got the hysterics going Thursday, saying the concept teaches “kids to hate each other” and “to hate our country.” Such generalizations, of course, are ridiculous. And never mind that school superintendents across Florida have said they do not include that model in their schools. Tapping white angst is red meat for the Trump-era Republican base. And it shouldn’t surprise Floridians that it’s coming from this governor as DeSantis looks more closely at a White House run.

Saving one life at a time. How should St. Petersburg address the rash of gun violence in recent months? There’s no single answer; only an all-the-above strategy will do. That’s why it’s good to see a new public-private venture that seeks to provide ex-offenders with positive resources. As the Tampa Bay Times reported this week, the Hidden Voices Project is a collaboration between the city of St. Petersburg and the nonprofit PERC, or People Empowering & Restoring Communities. A street team of community members will go door-to-door to meet with young people in the city’s predominantly Black community. They will help connect residents with mental health services, jobs programs and other resources in an effort to redirect vulnerable populations away from crime and violence. The hands-on approach also includes involving more people directly impacted by violence and the criminal justice system, which could be a powerful influence in these conversations. The team is scheduled to start making rounds next week. This is a labor-intensive undertaking. But every life it saves will be more than worth it.

Expanding Tampa Bay’s reach out west. Tampa International Airport scored another win for the region and its own recovery Thursday in announcing new cross-country flights to Portland, Ore. Alaska Airlines said it would launch nonstop service from Tampa to Portland International Airport starting Dec. 16. The new route connects Tampa to one of the largest markets without a direct route. Airport CEO Joe Lopano said Tampa International had pursued the route for years and that area residents “have been clamoring for this service.” The airport also announced Thursday that American Airlines would offer daily nonstop service to Los Angeles starting Oct. 7, as well as twice-daily flights to Nashville and the Raleigh-Durham area in November. The flights strengthen Tampa’s connections to the West Coast, reflect corporate confidence in the region and build on the airport’s continued recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

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.