A roundup of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers:
Tampa Bay Times — St. Petersburg commits unforced errors on stadium site search
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has a curious way of building public enthusiasm to invest in a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. First his chief of staff insults North Pinellas fans by suggesting Oldsmar may as well be in Georgia. Then the mayor brushes off Sen. Jack Latvala’s request to include county leaders on a committee charged with generating more business support for the Rays. This is no way to create the broad coalition required to build an expensive new stadium and persuade the team to remain in the region.
The stadium site search has gotten off to an uneven start since the St. Petersburg City Council finally signed off on an agreement negotiated by Kriseman and the Rays to let the team explore potential stadium sites in two counties. In Hillsborough, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan and a handful of others are meeting in private and it is unclear how they would come up with the public money to help build a stadium. In Pinellas, county commissioners are conspicuously quiet and the baseball committee created by Kriseman and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is focused on generating sponsorships and ticket sales for the Rays and promoting the Trop site. Some committee members are frustrated, and Rays owner Stuart Sternberg sounds less than thrilled about the progress.
Bradenton Herald — Manatee County impact fee hikes pale in comparison with neighbors
Does this sound familiar? County commissioners declare that developers and builders should pay their fair share for the construction of new roads based on the additional traffic that new developments produce. This scenario is playing out across the state as counties come up with new and higher fee schedules with the attendant push-back from home building, real estate and commercial interests.
In Manatee County in December, developers and builders objected to the commission’s adoption of a fee schedule that implements a consultant’s recommendation at 80 percent the first year, 90 percent the second and 100 percent the third year. In expressing their opposition, the impact fee foes claimed there were “significant failings” in the consultant’s study, this about a company that has conducted more than 900 such studies across the country.
The exact amount of the fee depends on the size, use and location of new residential and commercial construction. The county is only reinstating impact fees close to the levels assessed in 2006 before the real estate industry collapsed, and commissioners reduced fees to help keep builders in business.
Daytona Beach News-Journal — Nightmare attack challenges community
It’s a story out of a nightmare. On April 21, the family of 32-year-old Arenthius Jenkins say they were frantically trying to have him admitted for psychiatric evaluation — describing him as hallucinating and paranoid — only to be turned away by hospital officials.
The next day, family members filled out paperwork to have him taken into custody, but by the time a judge signed off around 3 p.m., it was too late. Two hours earlier, Daytona Beach police had responded to the 200 block of Jefferson Street and found Jenkins holding two bloody hammers. Nearby were 60-year-old Billy Ford and 55-year-old Terrence Gross of Port Orange, both badly beaten. Ford has since died of his injuries.
What happened? The answer to that question — and all the questions packed inside it — should be pursued with no patience for excuses.
Florida Times-Union — Polishing up the downtown Emerald Necklace
A century has passed since architect Henry Klutho began championing the idea of creating an “Emerald Necklace” of parks and waterways that would surround the city’s urban core.
Over the decades, many attempts would be planned and started to create a necklace of greenery that includes Hogans and McCoys creeks.
A new era began in 2014 when Groundworks, an international nonprofit that utilizes private and public partnerships, was enticed into the city by then-Mayor Alvin Brown. Initially sights were set on redeveloping Hogans Creek, but now the vision includes much more.
Like Klutho, Groundworks’ concept is to connect the city’s urban communities with a series of parks that will allow residents access to public spaces and trails.
Florida Today – Crisafulli: Lagoon ‘F’ grades unfair, missed muck efforts
I am deeply disappointed in the approach taken by FLORIDA TODAY in its recent coverage of the Indian River Lagoon. Perhaps that was the goal of the paper: to agitate and incite. Anger sells, as is plainly seen in the daily barbs and insults traded in the presidential campaigns by both parties. Whether for political purposes or commercial gain, insults may grab attention, but they do little to solve problems.
That is not to say that action is not warranted. As a seventh-generation Floridian, the health and well-being of our water and natural resources are matters of great importance to me. This is the community where my family has lived and worked for decades, where I have chosen to raise my family, and where I hope my children will raise their families.
Long before the horrendous fish kill captured headlines, I was working with lawmakers within this delegation and across our state to increase funding to restore the Indian River Lagoon and surrounding water bodies and address the water quality and supply challenges facing Florida in a comprehensive, science-based manner.
Gainesville Sun – More work needed on rape kit law
Gov. Rick Scott shared a rare moment of personal experience the other day when he signed the legislation intended to help whittle down Florida’s large backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
The governor mentioned that his daughter, when a college student in Dallas, had once called him after being slipped a mickey at a party. She wound up hospitalized, Scott recalled, but fortunately was not sexually assaulted. “That was a scary time,” he said. Indeed. Let’s hope no parent ever has to entertain such angst.
But we know, unfortunately, some low-lifes like the one who drugged Scott’s daughter will succeed in violating victims, and the best we can do in those situations is to get rape kits into the hands of state crime analysts more quickly and put perpetrators behind bars sooner.
The new law seeks to accomplish that by requiring law enforcement agencies to send such kits to the labs within 30 days of the assault being reported, with the results reported back within 120 days.
Lakeland Ledger — Hard to define but, once gone, easily understood
During a speech to the House of Commons at the dawn of the Cold War, Sir Winston Churchill, one of the most skillful rhetoricians of his or any other era, defended the people’s right to demand that their lawmakers submit to their will, and not vice versa. “Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe,” Churchill told the House in 1947. “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Truly, democracy as practiced in America, and much of the West, is flawed. But considering the alternatives, we’ll take it.
Churchill, were he with us today, might say the same for economic systems. Capitalism is not always perfect, fair or ever-growing, but surely it is far superior to whatever ranks second.
Yet as The Washington Post reported earlier this week many young Americans disagree. Citing a poll by Harvard University, the Post announced that the so-called millennial generation has, apparently, issued a “rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy.”
Miami Herald — Foreign policy by Donald Trump
First, Donald Trump, the clear Republican front-runner, accused President Barack Obama of a “reckless, rudderless and aimless” foreign policy that has weakened America.
Then, he gave a rambling, vague and incoherent speech Wednesday full of platitudes and contradictions, and suggested he would undermine international alliances that have helped keep America safe since World War II.
Three days after he gave what was billed as a major foreign policy address, what Mr. Trump uttered is still troubling.
Voters looking for reassurances about Mr. Trump as commander in chief can’t feel that much more comfortable. Our longtime allies certainly won’t be reassured. In fact, both allies and enemies should be concerned.
Orlando Sentinel — Don’t block limits on payday loans
Florida’s congressional delegation is in rare bipartisan accord on an issue. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong position.
The issue is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s plan to regulate payday loans. Since 7 percent of Floridians must resort to this predatory form of small-dollar credit — nearly the highest rate in the nation — the state delegation should back the push for regulation. Instead, Democrats and Republicans are backing the industry.
The issue has attracted attention in South Florida recently because Tim Canova, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston in the Democratic primary, has criticized the incumbent for her support of House Resolution 4018. It would delay federal regulation for two years and could prevent federal regulation in states like Florida that have created rules for payday lenders. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wasserman Schultz has received $68,000 in contributions from payday lenders.
Ocala StarBanner — Election line-up sends a message
Time and again we read and hear about how the 2016 election campaign is unlike any in memory, largely because of Donald Trump’s unexpected success in winning support from disenchanted, disenfranchised voters who are tired of government not addressing the nation’s major problems.
But the voter displeasure is not only aimed at those representing us Washington. That came through loud and clear Wednesday night in Ocala at the community’s first major candidate forum of the election season. The forum, sponsored by the new Marion Coalition for Effective Government, featured 21 candidates running for countywide office — School Board, County Commission, superintendent of schools and sheriff.
The sheer number of candidates for these local seats is impressive. It is hard to remember when Marion County last saw so many incumbents faced with so many challengers. Both School Board seats are contested. The three County Commission contests — in District 1, 3 and 5 — each have at least four candidates. The superintendent of schools post is being sought by three candidates, while four men are running for sheriff. And in every race, except County Commission District 3, which is being vacated by Stan McClain, an incumbent is trying to hold on to his or her job at a time when there is widespread disaffection for “insiders.”
Pensacola News-Journal — Help break the cycle of abuse
At least four U.S. children die every day from abuse and neglect.
This sobering statistic breaks my heart.
Despite my 20 years in the child welfare field, I still feel pain, sadness and distress for the babies, toddlers and children who’ve endured far more pain that anyone ever should. Each time I provide comfort to a hurting child, I recommit myself to keeping our community’s children safe.
Alongside my devoted colleagues at Children’s Home Society of Florida, we’re striving to do just that.
You see, not every parent is equipped with a strong support system to lean on. While many of us understand the dangers of physically punishing a small child, or of releasing frustration by shaking a crying baby, others may not.
Palm Beach Post — Clinton and Democratic leaders turn their focus to November swing states
As Hillary Clinton increasingly turns her attention to a general election against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, her campaign and fellow Democrats have begun in earnest to bolster staff and campaign organizations in key battleground states.
In Virginia, Ohio and Florida — the three biggest swing states in the last election — the Clinton campaign is teaming up with state and national Democratic organizations to build voter files, organize thousands of volunteers, register tens of thousands of voters and raise the funds necessary to compete against a Republican opponent.
And in the first concrete sign that Clinton’s general-election effort has gone beyond planning, the Democratic National Committee has begun transferring money raised jointly with the Clinton campaign to state committees to help fund the effort, according to Democrats with knowledge of the financial strategy.
Panama City News-Herald — Mr. Fowhand’s ripple effect lives on
Counting the number of lives touched and enriched by Ellis Fowhand’s 102 years on this earth could be equated to the “butterfly effect,” the idea that every small cause can have a ripple effect that could never have been foreseen or calculated.
Mr. Fowhand’s ripples sometimes turned into waves, there were always new pebbles being tossed into the pond to keep the ripples moving, always a wing aflutter in someone’s life. There are more “Mr. Fowhand stories” than there are people who have met him.
I have three.
South Florida Sun Sentinel – Reveal Saudi details in 9-11 report
You can’t handle the truth.
That’s the message both the Bush and Obama White Houses have telegraphed to Americans regarding a 28-page section of a 2002 congressional report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The section, which addresses whether Saudi Arabia was involved in the attacks, has been labeled classified and has never been made available to the public.
President George W. Bush said releasing it would damage national security by revealing intelligence “sources and methods.” President Barack Obama has kept up that wall of secrecy. But it’s past time for that wall to come down.
The overriding reason for keeping the section locked in a room in the U.S. Capitol appears to be diplomatic sensitivity, not national security. The U.S. has a strategically vital, yet volatile, alliance with Saudi Arabia, whose leaders have angrily denied that they provided any official support for the 9/11 hijackers — 15 of 19 of whom were Saudis.
Tallahassee Democrat – Local politics Zing!s
Bob Graham should retire gracefully with his integrity in tact -every vote his daughter makes takes away from his legacy. It’s like Leroy Collins having a daughter who works undo the ’64 voting rights act.
Obama is on course to become the fourth worst president, in terms of national economies, ever. Don’t know how he avoided rock bottom. Hasn’t had even one year of 3 percent growth! Bet Jimmy Carter’s relieved.
Facebook, the invasive privacy manipulator, spent $16 million for armed guards for Czar Mark Zuckerberg, a guy who doesn’t see the need for the common person to have a means of armed self-defense. OK, I will accept $16 million as an alternative means to that end, Markie.
Why is our governor trying to attract the kind of companies that would come here only because they could pay lower salaries?
Tampa Tribune — Encouraging words from Emera executive
The announcement that a Canadian power company had reached a deal to take over Tampa-based TECO Energy understandably alarmed many residents.
After all, TECO, founded in 1899, is an economic pillar in the region, one with a long history of being a good corporate citizen and supporting numerous good causes.
So it was heartening the other day to hear Rob Bennett of Emera Inc., which is in the process of acquiring TECO Energy, emphasize his company’s commitment to community involvement.
It also was encouraging to hear Bennett, speaking to local business leaders at the Florida Economic Forum Luncheon, stress the importance of transitioning to clean fuels.