Thumbs up to Stammer. Thumbs down to Castor and the Tampa City Council | Editorial
Also among this weeks highs and lows: Torpedoing an African American studies course and reopening comment in parts of Pinellas school meetings.
Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos raises his stick to the crowd while receiving a standing ovation after he scored against the Vancouver Canucks, his 500th career goal, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday in Vancouver.
Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos raises his stick to the crowd while receiving a standing ovation after he scored against the Vancouver Canucks, his 500th career goal, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday in Vancouver. [ DARRYL DYCK | AP ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Jan. 21

Scoring big. Congrats to Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos for tallying his 500th career goal on Wednesday night. He became just the 47th player in league history to reach the coveted milestone, the 23rd to score that many goals with one team. Only two active players have scored more than Stamkos, who burst onto the local hockey scene as an 18-year-old rookie, leading the league in goals in two of his first four seasons. It has not all been storybook stuff — he suffered serious injuries that curtailed his playing time and threatened to cut short his career. But he kept coming back, eventually helping the team win two Stanley Cups. “Stammer,” as he’s affectionately known, had one of his best individual performances last season and is playing well again this season. He turns 33 next month. Could he reach the even more exclusive 600-goal club? We’ll see, but for now: Well done, Stammer!

Tampa’s silly fight. What did Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and the city council achieve with their fight over proposed city charter changes? The measures were picayune and the standoff was self-serving. Earlier this month, the council approved five proposed changes to the charter that would go to voters in the March city elections. Most were small potatoes — involving, for example, the appointment of city department heads and boards. Castor vetoed the measures this week, calling them rushed and poorly considered. The council responded quickly Thursday by overturning four of Castor’s vetoes. This was an historic confrontation — no Tampa mayor had used the veto power in more than 30 years — over virtually nothing. While the proposals are minor, they relate directly to the operation of Tampa city government, making them legitimate policy choices for the electorate. But they’re aimed at settling scores with the mayor, not with making everyday life better, or plugging serious deficiencies at City Hall. The mayor and council have bigger fish to fry and this episode makes finding common ground on substantive issues even more difficult. They all came away losers this week, just in time for Friday’s qualifying deadline for the March elections.

Phony ‘woke’ war. Gov. Ron DeSantis made national headlines again this week (wasn’t that the point?) when his administration rejected a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies for high school students. The course has been in development for more than a decade, and it would be offered by the College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement program and the SAT exam. The state claimed, without any detailed explanation, that the course would violate state law and that it “lacks educational value.” A syllabus is not yet publicly available, but according to a Times/Herald report, it was apparently leaked to The Florida Standard, a conservative outlet that is friendly with the DeSantis administration. And the news about Florida rejecting the AP course was first covered by the conservative news outlet The National Review. This has all the markings of another political stunt by DeSantis, who is widely seen as maneuvering for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. If this is not merely another attempt by political conservatives to exploit race, then the governor should have the courage to publicly explain his objections.

Pinellas school meetings. The Pinellas County School Board made the right decision to resume livestreaming public comment on nonagenda items at their meetings. The district halted the practice in the fall of 2021 at the height of heavy criticism during the pandemic over the use of masks. That was a nanny-state decision that smacked of censorship and insecurity, and the board was right this week to bring this discussion back into the sunshine. School board attorney David Koperski has begun working on procedures to help combat misinformation and to protect the privacy of minors, but the board was right that it can achieve this careful balance of openness and student safety. Board members Laura Hine and Lisa Cane deserve particular credit for finding a practical solution here, and this step should help strengthen public confidence in the Pinellas school system.

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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 Conan Gallaty. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.