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A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers:

Tampa Bay Times — Honoring those who died to protect us

Like many federal holidays, Memorial Day has become a day that more often is associated with fellowship, food and fun than its founders’ original intent. But we should never fail to remember the sacrifices of servicemen and women who have fallen in American wars. The entire nation should take time to honor and give thanks to those who gave their lives to protect this country’s freedoms and the spread of democratic ideals around the world.

Memorial Day draws its roots from the Civil War. In May 1868, three years after the war ended, the head of an organization of Union veterans established Decoration Day. It was a time intended for the nation to festoon the graves of those killed in the war with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan decreed that the day should be observed on May 30, when spring flowers would be in bloom nationwide. The first observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery, with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his wife presiding over the ceremonies. Orphans and members of the Union veterans group sang hymns and spread flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers.

At least two years before the national ceremony, local observances were held in states from Georgia to New York, each claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, a title eventually bestowed upon Waterloo, N.Y., which held a ceremony on May 5, 1866. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971, designating it as the last Monday in May.

This year Memorial Day takes on special significance as the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, whose participants once numbered 16 million men and women and who are now relatively few in number. We should honor their sacrifices and thank them at every remaining opportunity.

We also should appreciate those who serve in this country’s present-day military, which looks much different than it did in the 19th century and faces far more sophisticated foes. Women, once relegated to supporting troops back home, now serve in combat, though in still small numbers. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed thousands of lives and sent far too many soldiers home with mental or physical disabilities to face the challenges of reintegrating into society.

The Bradenton Herald — Buzz Worthy: Some great films for Memorial Day

It’s an unusual holiday, Memorial Day is. It’s about recognizing sacrifice and loss and grief rather than celebrating achievement.

Besides paying tribute to men and women who have died in war, Memorial Day has always been a harbinger of the beginning of summer. It’s a day for outdoor activities, both solemn and festive, in most of the country. In Florida, of course, summer is usually a time for spending more time indoors, not outdoors.

You can stay in the air-conditioned coolness of your home and still pay tribute to women and men who sacrificed their lives for the rest of us.

Toward that end, here are just a few great movies that can help make for a great and appropriate Memorial Day.

“Glory”: A phenomenal film with a great cast and a fact-based Civil War story of unimaginable honor and bravery. Memorial Day was invented to honor our Civil War dead, and this is one of the greatest Civil Wear films ever. Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman give some of the best performances of their careers.

“The Longest Day”: If not the greatest World War II film ever, certainly the most epic, with a cast of a thousand stars, from Paul Anka to John Wayne. It took five directors to make this three-hour film that details the D-Day invasion from the fighting man’s perspective.

“Tora! Tora! Tora!”: A complicated and distinctive look at the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor that looks at both sides. It puts at least some of the blame on American politicians and top brass, which makes the terror and the loss of American lives all the more tragic.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Boardwalk holds enormous potential

The Daytona Beach Boardwalk can be more than a plaza on the sand. It can be a pathway to the core tourism area’s economic future.

That’s why Volusia County officials are wise to study the potential of extending the Boardwalk along two miles of beach. It represents a bold and expansive vision that will require many questions to be asked and answered before it can come to fruition. But it’s exactly the kind of thinking the community should engage in regarding one of its most valuable resources.

County Manager Jim Dinneen, who unveiled the idea at the end of Thursday’s County Council meeting to approval and interest from members, said he was inspired by the council’s vote two weeks ago to establish standards for removing cars from the beach between University Boulevard and Silver Beach Avenue, which created an “opportunity zone” for development. Although aimed at attracting upscale hotels to that tourism corridor, Dinneen saw an opening to go one major step further — linking the north and south ends of the zone with an expanded Boardwalk, which currently occupies a half-mile stretch of beach on Ocean Avenue.

It features a Ferris wheel, snack bars, gift shops and arcades, and serves as a connector between the Bandshell and the Pier. It’s nice for what it is. But it could be so much more.

The Florida Times-Union — We must learn lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has been in a continuous state of war.

Thanks to a volunteer army and no additional taxes directly connected to these wars, most Americans are not directly affected by this.

Though the number of deaths have been far fewer than previous wars, the numbers who have returned with physical and mental injuries are substantial.

Recently, authors have tried to make Americans come to terms with this issue.

James Fallows in “The Tragedy of the American Military” writes in The Atlantic that “the American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously.”

He contends that “careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars that it can’t win.”

A GENERAL’S APOLOGY

Daniel Bolger, a retired Army general, pursues similar lines in his book “Why We Lost: A General’s Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.”

Bolger begins with an apology. We were sucked into long, indecisive counterinsurgencies that suited our enemies, he wrote. They knew they could not compete with the overwhelming American military forces, but they could wait us out.

Florida Today – Could port’s rail bridge help clean river?

What if Port Canaveral’s controversial plan to build a cargo-train trestle across the Banana River actually made the polluted lagoon cleaner?

Port CEO John Walsh says his team is considering several ways to mitigate the proposed bridge’s environmental impact —including cutting a new small inlet on the north side of the port to help flush the lagoon.

And new computer modeling by an expert at the Florida Institute of Technology has found that one minor inlet could be a game-changer in efforts to heal the estuary. It could clarify water for plant and animal life from the northern Banana River into the Indian River, the study found.

“Yes, you can flush the lagoon,” said Gary Zarillo, professor of oceanography and marine systems at FIT. “The question is, how much are taxpayers willing to pay?”

Nothing has been formally proposed. And the Port Authority’s early ideas don’t exactly match the assumptions in Zarillo’s models.

But the combination of solid science and the port’s resources and ambition present an opportunity to solve two of the biggest challenges confronting Brevard County: rescuing our precious estuary; and launching cargo operations at the port, creating a new industry that supports thousands of jobs.

Port revenue from cruise ships, not taxpayers, would pay for an inlet otherwise considered cost-prohibitive. Sport-fishing guides who now protest the bridge would profit from better habitat.

Port commissioners and members of the five-county Indian River Lagoon Council should consider the potential.

The Gainesville Sun – Cheers and Jeers

Florida’s coasts make the state particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to our past and present leaders.

Current Gov. Rick Scott has said he’s “not a scientist” when asked about climate change, while former Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledges that climate change is happening but casts doubts on the cause.

Jeer: Bush, a likely presidential candidate, for claiming at an event this week in New Hampshire that the science that humans are causing climate change is “convoluted.” Actually, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that warming trends are very likely due to human activities such as the release of greenhouse gases from power plants.

Cheer: Eleven local churches, for reviving a group that serves homeless families with children.

Starting this summer, Family Promise of Gainesville plans to allow up to four families to sleep at churches at night and will provide meals and other services to families until they can move into permanent housing.

Jeer: Gainesville City Commissioner Helen Warren, for proposing that the city fire department get into the ambulance service.

Local government needs consolidation, not duplication. There is a need for more timely ambulance service, but the problem would be better addressed by Alachua County’s plan to add ambulances or by cutting back on the business of transporting patients outside the county.

Cheer: The president of the Boys Scouts of America, for calling for an end to its ban on gay adults. The group opened its ranks to gay scouts two years ago but had maintained a ban on gay adults as leaders and staff.

The Lakeland Ledger — Florida Steps Into New Age

Online-voting legislation was supported by all of Florida’s 67 elections supervisors, and by near-unanimous majorities in the state House and Senate.

So you might think the bill — allowing citizens to register to vote and change their voter information at a secure Internet site — would be a shoo-in to be signed by the governor and become law.

But this is Florida, and the issue is voting, and the governor is Rick Scott.

So it wasn’t easy.

Florida has a long history of voting snafus, most notably the hanging-chad controversy of the 2000 presidential election. Changes to the voting system seldom go smoothly.

Scott, in his first term, launched a campaign against voter fraud, though there was no proof that a serious problem existed.

The effort was still underway in February, when the governor dropped an appeal of a federal court ruling that one of his voter-roll purges was illegal.

Also, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who oversees the Division of Elections and is a Scott appointee, adamantly opposed online registration.

He cited cyber-security threats and the potential that a shift from written to computerized forms would overwhelm state elections officials.

So it was a pleasant surprise recently when Scott signed the bill — “with some hesitation,” he said — making Florida the 25th state to adopt online voter registration.

Some hesitation is warranted.

Internet hackers have repeatedly broken into the online information of department store chains, credit card companies, and government agencies.

The Miami Herald — Clinton inevitable? Really?

The aura of inevitability in which Hillary Clinton basked for so long has smacked up against the reality of the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign. And both she and the Democratic Party are worse off.

She deigned to speak at length to the media last week after about a month of giving reporters, and the public she seeks to represent, the silent treatment. At a time when Republican wannabes are grabbing every microphone, gabbing at length to differentiate themselves from each other, Mrs. Clinton, until last week, had taken another, less winning approach.

Really, the Republican campaign so far, with its cast of seemingly thousands, has been fun to watch, informative and revealing.

Mrs. Clinton, however, has seemed imperious, remote and tone-deaf to the clamor to hear directly from her instead of being defined by the people who hope to oppose her next Election Day. She’s already lost one presidential campaign; it’s up to her now to persuade Americans that she really wants to be president and is not just going through the motions because of …inevitability.

Of course, it’s way early in this campaign, and she may yet find her mojo. Maybe it’s part of her strategy to not expend a lot of energy before it’s clearer who her Republican opponent will be.

Still, it’s no longer too early for Mrs. Clinton to make the case that she’s hungry for this job, that she’s the better choice for the position. So far, though, she hasn’t really moved the needle of her poll numbers since declaring her candidacy. And despite the intimate, unrecorded chats Mrs. Clinton has held with small groups of voters, her 27-day silence let others fill the void and tell the public who she is, and mostly in negative terms.

Thing is, when she engages in straight talk, as she did this week in unequivocally declaring that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a mistake, she plays to her strengths. Yes, it’s past time for her foes to give up on their Benghazi allegations — they have been a nonstarter from the outset.

But, like every other candidate, Mrs. Clinton comes with baggage, the contents of which should be examined, explained. The dubious sources of donations to the Clinton Foundation, for instance, are fair game.

The Orlando Sentinel — Team up to score stadium funds

If there’s one Florida lawmaker who typifies the combative style that cratered this year’s legislative session, it’s House Budget Chairman Richard Corcoran, a Land O’Lakes Republican. Corcoran urged members to “come to war with us” against a bipartisan Senate plan to provide private health insurance to 800,000 poor Floridians.

Now, if lawmakers hope to finish work on a state budget, they’ll need to break their deadlock over health policy when they reconvene on June 1. But there are other unresolved issues tied to the unfinished spending plan, including at least one — sales-tax rebates for sports venues — where Corcoran also is the leading obstructionist.

A year ago, House and Senate majorities voted to set aside $7 million a year for another round of rebates, putting Orlando’s planned soccer stadium in the running for a total of $30 million in state support. City officials and Orlando’s Major League Soccer team, the Orlando City Lions, modified the stadium design in anticipation of the funds.

But Corcoran has been leading the charge against releasing the money, and House members who support the rebates haven’t had the nerve to take him on.

Corcoran has portrayed the rebates as a giveaway to “rich people.” In fact, Orlando would own its stadium, and the rebates would be just a share of the sales taxes it generates. And while skeptics contend sports venues simply take away spending and taxes from nearby activities, Orlando City has drawn more than 50,000 fans from other states and countries, according to the mayor’s office.

Opponents of building a new stadium have argued Orlando City is prospering in the Citrus Bowl. But the team was awarded an MLS franchise on the condition that it play in a soccer stadium. Retrofitting the Citrus Bowl to meet the league’s requirements, including roofs, would cost as much or more than the new stadium.

Florida lawmakers first approved sales-tax rebates to help finance sports venues more than two decades ago. Since then, venues for eight pro sports teams have received more than $250 million — including three in Tampa Bay, Corcoran’s home turf. Would he refund those rebates?

The Ocala StarBanner — Voting in the 21st century

Online-voting legislation was supported by all of Florida’s 67 elections supervisors, and by overwhelming majorities in the state House and Senate.

So you might think the bill — allowing citizens to register to vote and change their voter information at a secure Internet site — would be a shoo-in to be signed by the governor and become law.

But this is Florida, and the issue is voting, and the governor is Rick Scott. So it wasn’t easy.

Florida has a long history of voting snafus, most notably the hanging-chad controversy of the 2000 presidential election. Changes to the voting system seldom go smoothly.

Scott, in his first term, launched a campaign against voter fraud, though there was no proof that a serious problem existed. The effort was still underway this past February, when the governor dropped an appeal of a federal court ruling that one of his voter-roll purges was illegal.

Also, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who oversees the Division of Elections and is a Scott appointee, adamantly opposed online registration — citing cyber-security threats and worries that a shift from written to computerized forms would overwhelm state elections officials.

So it was a pleasant surprise on May 15 when Scott signed the bill “with some hesitation,” making Florida the 25th state to adopt online voter registration.

Some hesitation is warranted. Internet hackers have repeatedly broken into the online information of department store chains, credit card companies and government agencies. But no such attacks have been reported in the states that have online registration, and some have had the system in place for nearly a decade.

The Pensacola News-Journal — We are losing the American Dream

The American Dream

People of my generation who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s were raised to live by the rules and work hard. Our reward was a solid, middle-class life which allowed us to support ourselves and raise a family.

Today the American Dream is more difficult to achieve because the manufacturing jobs of yesteryear have moved offshore. Good-paying jobs for high-school graduates are almost nonexistent, and many college graduates are working at jobs that do not require a college degree.

Our political leaders need to wake up and focus on ways to bring back manufacturing jobs to America. EPA regulations and high taxes are making us uncompetitive in the world markets. Without a strong manufacturing base America will never be able to create enough jobs to revitalize the American Dream for all.

— William Thomas, Pensacola Beach

Liberal Democrats

If the government built the businesses of Ferguson and Baltimore, as the liberal left Democrats believe, why are the actual owners cleaning up the mess in these government-built businesses after the riots?

Is that why a standdown order was issued in both liberally controlled cities as to sacrifice what is seen by the liberal left Democrats as government property? So now a 100 percent legitimate, legal business that pays its taxes, for which it also receives police and fire services, is no longer protected because of a liberal Democrat ideology that no longer recognizes private property and its own responsibility in protecting it.

Liberal left Democrats have attacked every form of business as being the villain in society, yet if the liberal left government built these business, as they claim, aren’t they to blame for creating these villainous businesses?

You won’t like it when the liberal left decides what you get, even though you were mandated to pay for it! A liberal left Democrat works for them not for you and you may be one of them! You have now been thrown under the liberal Democrat bus.

— Steven M. King, Milton

The Palm Beach Post — Florida hides its HIV, hepatitis problem at our peril

The Indianapolis Star recently called one of its rural counties “The face of the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic” because so many drug addicts were injecting themselves with liquefied painkillers while sharing needles. This led to an unprecedented surge of 150 new HIV cases, and many hepatitis C co-infections, all in one county. It resulted in national news attention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involvement, and a state-of-emergency declaration from Indiana’s governor.

Data obtained by The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board suggests our own community is grappling with a significant number of new cases of HIV and hepatitis C. But instead of rapid action here, health officials in Tallahassee are “locking down” information while planning for more state budget cuts.

Time and again, under Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, health officials have been reluctant to acknowledge serious contagious disease problems, and even slower to tell the public. That’s always a mistake.

The local data:

Newly diagnosed chronic hepatitis B cases in Palm Beach County are up 60 percent, to 181 cases, compared with this time last year.

Newly diagnosed chronic hepatitis C cases in Palm Beach County are up a whopping 73.5 percent, to 1,060 cases, compared with this time last year.

Local HIV cases, meanwhile, are up 27 percent over three years, increasing from 4,593 in 2012 to 5,821 in 2014.

The Panama City News-Herald — We shall not see their like again

As Memorial Day approaches many will turn their thoughts, prayers and goodwill to the men and women who paid the ultimate cost to protect their country.

The honor and gratitude we show them and their survivors is but a small token of what they are owed — a deposit on a debt that can never truly be paid. While there is little we can do for those who gave all there is still much that can be done for those who fought for this country and came home.

This country and her citizens can ensure that the medical facilities that treat veterans are top notch. We can cut the red tape that often frustrates those who served and now simply request the pay, benefits and medical treatment they were promised. We can also have an honest accounting with ourselves and our political leaders about which conflicts in this world require that Americans risk their lives and which conflicts should be left to others.

With enough lives and treasure America’s military might can change the world. But you should not do a thing just because you can. As we move forward, if we are going to risk American lives we must always make certain that the conflict and the outcome is worthy of so great a sacrifice.

Clearly, there is much that must be done. However, sometimes it’s as simple as saying thank you. News Herald Reporter Amanda Banks caught just such a moment in a story on World War II veteran Jack Eddins. While attending the final reunion of the 30th Infantry Division, he was greeted by a woman his division freed from a Nazi concentration camp.

The woman came up to Eddins and hugged his neck, he said.

“It was worth it,” he told Banks later. “What the Nazis did to the Jewish people is the most terrible thing I’ve ever seen.”

The South Florida Sun Sentinel – Remember those who showed real courage

The idea of military service just doesn’t register with a vast majority of Americans today.

Oh, they’ve heard the war stories from their fathers and grandfathers. They’ve seen “American Sniper.” But there hasn’t been a draft in the U.S. since 1973. With a volunteer military bearing the brunt of war, there is no emotional attachment to the idea of service and sacrifice.

That’s one of the reasons why Memorial Day is so important. It is a time to remember those who fought in all wars — all the way back to the American Revolution — and to reflect upon the sacrifices they and their families made.

It is a time to try to understand the terrible toll wars take, even though the overwhelming majority of Americans won’t ever see active military service. Today, the idea of war has become more of a cheap political talking point than a chance to think about those who gave their lives so that so many generations of Americans could live in freedom.

Earlier this month, in fact, it sounded like a bunch of presidential hopefuls were trying to out-hawk each other, talking tough about war. Not that any of the hopefuls know anything about that because they haven’t served in the military, and have no intention of doing so.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, talking about terrorists, said: “I refer … to the movie “Taken.” ‘We will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you.'”

The Tallahassee Democrat – Public safety worth the cost

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo has submitted a budget request for next year that has raised a few eyebrows. It asks for 16 new police officers, four police investigators and a long list of other items. The additional price tag? About $3.4 million.

With an estimated $4 million deficit looming for 2016, and an environment unripe for a tax increase, it’s going to be tough for the city to manage it.

But we believe it’s necessary to give Chief DeLeo as much of what he’s asking for as possible.

Governing is about choosing, prioritizing. And there can be nothing of greater importance to the city than the protection of its citizens.

“Public safety is my No. 1 priority and I’m supportive of the chief’s request,” City Commissioner Scott Maddox told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I think if the chief says it’s needed, I’m going to get it done in the budget.”

We agree.

Does that mean TPD gets a blank check? Of course not.

But DeLeo, who has been on the job for about a year and a half, seems to be headed in the right direction and now is the time to help him get there.

His budget request is based solidly in facts. His research points to a 25-percent surge in violent crime from 2013 to 2014. It also indicates that Tallahassee has a ratio of 1.94 sworn officers per 1,000 residents, whereas comparable cities have an average of 2.47. That may not sound like much of a difference, but a quick analysis of those numbers says that Tallahassee’s police force is nearly 25 percent understaffed. That’s a huge gap that needs to be corrected.

The Tampa Tribune — A few precautions can avoid waterway tragedies

With roughly 1,800 miles of coastline and nearly year-round warm weather, Florida is a boater’s paradise and the reason it has more registered vessels than any other state, about 900,000.

It is also the reason the state usually leads the nation in boating accidents. Last year it did again with 634 reported accidents, and 73 fatalities. The accident number actually decreased by 102 from 2013; though fatalities increased by 11.

As countless families venture onto the water this Memorial Day weekend, boaters should consider those figures and the fact that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say almost all boating fatalities and accidents could have been averted.

Drowning accounts for the bulk of the deaths, which in most cases would have been prevented with the use of life preservers.

Commission Capt. Tom Shipp tells us investigators usually find preservers on board after a fatality. The victims chose not to wear them. So when someone is thrown from a boat in a collision or simply falls overboard, the situation suddenly becomes far more treacherous than it need be.

At one time preservers were bulky and uncomfortable, and it was understandable that boaters would not want to wear them. But today’s inflatable preservers are light and compact. Some can be worn as a belt. Wearing them is a small inconvenience given the enormous protection they offer.

Another key to safe boating is continually performing what Shipp calls a “360,” looking all around the vessel for potential problems. Alcohol, of course, should be avoided.

Accidents are frequently a result of excessive speed or failure to slow for adverse conditions. Not long ago a boat running in heavy fog ran ashore and crashed into a Ruskin restaurant, injuring two people.

And it is surely no coincidence that 82 percent of the operators involved in fatal accidents had no formal boater education.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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