Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

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 — A bad bet on tying SAT scores to teacher raises

Florida education policy has become even odder, thanks to last-minute budget meddling by lawmakers. The Legislature that preaches fiscal prudence allocated $44 million in the state budget that took effect last week to “reward” teachers for high SAT scores — not their students’ scores, their own. This is another case of good intentions being implemented with bad policy, and the money could have been better spent to promote teaching as a professional career.

Teachers are eligible for a bonus of up to $10,000 this year if they meet the state criteria for being “highly effective” and scored above the 80th percentile when they took the SAT or ACT, a test that they would have taken in high school, if they took it at all. It doesn’t take a highly effective teacher to know that this is not the best way to identify and reward the best teachers.

This bad idea championed by Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, was, like so many ill-considered Florida education policies, a misunderstanding of a good idea. Fresen had read a book by education reformer Amanda Ripley called The Smartest Kids in the World. Ripley points out that it would be wise “to treat the preparation of teachers the way we treat the training of surgeons and pilots — rendering it dramatically more selective, practical and rigorous.”

As an example, Ripley points to Finland, which created a high-achieving school system by valuing teachers and making the profession more prestigious. She wrote: “By accepting so few applicants, Finnish teacher colleges accomplish two goals — one practical, one spiritual: First, the policy ensures that teachers-to-be … are more likely to have the education, experience and drive to do their jobs well. Second (and this part matters even more), this selectivity sends a message to everyone in the country that education is important — and that teaching is damn hard to do. Instead of just repeating these claims over and over like Americans, the Finns act like they mean it. That message has cascading benefits. If taxpayers, politicians, parents and — especially — kids know that teaching is a master profession, they begin to trust teachers more over time. Teachers receive more autonomy in the classroom, more recognition on the street and sometimes even more pay. Without those signals, teachers suffer deep cuts that go beyond salary.”

She is right. But the Florida Legislature, unfortunately, once again misunderstood the message.

The Bradenton Herald — Funding still a challenge for Manatee County school district

While Florida increased spending on education by $780 million for the upcoming school year, this is not largesse on the state’s part. The lion’s share of that amount — $494 million — will come from the boon in property taxes paid on the local level.

Rising property valuations and new construction account for the revenue growth, though the higher tax bills for exisiting homes and businesses are not being greetly warmly, to put it mildly. The 8.1 percent valuation increase, as certified by the Manatee County Property Appriaser’s Office a few days ago, will by painful on many pocketbooks.

The record amount of per pupil spending jumps $207 to a total of $7,097 but that doesn’t solve the budget pressures on administrators, educators and school boards around the state.

The governor and Legislature can boast all they want about the higher level of spending on public education (it’s only a 3 percent increase), but the fact is K-12 classrooms are still being shortchanged.

The Manatee County school district’s chief financial officer, Rebecca Roberts, described the situation succintly to the school board: “They preach a good game up there (in Tallahassee). The increase is local effort. It’s not state funding.”

Manatee’s district continues to struggle with rising costs due to a surging student population, the cost of hiring more teachers to comply with the class-size amendment and past years of financial and administrative mismanagement. Manatee’s meager increase in state funding comes to around $12.2 million, almost all swallowed up by mandated programs.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Police crossed line in lawyer’s office

Even if the law allows police officers to arrest a criminal suspect inside his lawyer’s office, there is no justification for the action that recently occurred in Daytona Beach.

Marvin Ross Innocent, 28, of Palm Coast, was wanted by the Flagler County Sherrif’s Office on two felony warrants on charges of drug possession with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a park or public housing facility. Flagler officials got word that Innocent would be in the Daytona Beach offices of attorney James Crock and asked the Daytona Beach Police Department to arrest him.

On June 22, two DBPD officers arrived at the reception area outside Crock’s office and asked his secretary if a “black guy” was behind the closed door. When the secretary affirmed that, an officer knocked on the door.

Crock, who later said he believed it was his secretary knocking, responded, “Come in.” Officers entered, then handcuffed and arrested Innocent, who had been seated in front of Crock’s desk talking to the lawyer.

Crock was understandably indignant about police intrusion upon the privileged attorney-client relationship. As can be seen in a police body cam video, the attorney tells the officers that it was the first time in his 35 years as a lawyer that police had come into his office.

“Well, sir, there’s a first time for everything,” Officer Dominic Besse replies.

What made the Innocent situation worthy of being unique? The suspect was not wanted on a violent charge. He was not actively fleeing from police. He was not endangering anyone.

If the police knew where Innocent was, why not just wait until he exited Crock’s office and then arrest him?

Crock told The News-Journal’s Frank Fernandez that he is considering a federal lawsuit against the police for violation of civil rights. He said he could also sue in state court for trespassing and interference with his business.

The Florida Times-Union — The Pledge for America: Physician exemplifies the values in civic service

Jonathan Schneider has terminal cancer. The physician, 67, was asked how much longer he has to live.

“I should have died five years ago,” he said. “There was one miracle after another.”

To understand how he has not only survived but thrived over these last five years, one must flash back to when Schneider was 37.

He appeared to be successful.

“My dad died. I knew I was never going to see him again. I was unhappy at work. I was suicidal to tell you the truth and I just got down on my hands and knees and said, ‘I just can’t do this anymore.’

“My wife was a Christian. She and her friends had been praying for me. I said, ‘I give up. You’ve got me. I’m all yours. Take over.’ And it changed my life.”

FINDING HIS TRUE MISSION

Life at that point had always been about work. It took an unexpected six-month war deployment in 1991 — on two weeks notice — before Schneider realized that he needed to integrate three priorities in his life: God, family and community.

“If I could get those three things right, everything else (would) fall into order. So that’s what I did,” he said.

Schneider left the Navy in 1993 after 20 years and settled in Orlando where he worked with children and adolescents first at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women and then at Nemours Children’s Clinic.

In 2007, he came to Jacksonville to work for the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics.

And since 2004 he has been involved with the St. Vincent’s Mobile Health Unit, providing free health care to needy children and adolescents.

Providing free health care to needy kids has put Schneider in the center of his God-family-community priorities.

And it has helped to give him the strength to survive his cancer. A strength, Schneider said, that has also been fueled by those frequent miracles.

Florida Today – What ACA ruling means to Floridians

The Supreme Court of the United States recently announced a ruling in the case of King v. Burwell, which upholds the subsidies awarded to Floridians who enrolled in coverage through healthcare.gov. Over the last few months, policy makers, health care leaders and media predicted a variety of consequences based on the justices ruling differently. Now that the ruling has been made, it’s important for Floridians to understand what it means for them.

One of the predictions made is that after taking advantage of the insurance subsidies to buy coverage, more than 1 million Floridians would owe thousands of dollars back to the Internal Revenue Service at tax time. With subsidies upheld, this is an obstacle averted for 1.3 million Floridians who would have collectively owed more than $4 billion for the 2015 tax year.

Many observed that without subsidies, coverage purchased through healthcare.gov would become unaffordable for most and result in dropped coverage, rising premiums and market disruption — known as a “death spiral” in the insurance business. With the June 25 ruling, continuing subsidies will mean that recipients will not see a dramatic and unexpected increase in their premium payments. Florida’s participating insurers will be pleased that those policyholders are able to continue their coverage.

Lastly, it was predicted that states that had not already established an exchange would lose all funding for state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University School of Law noted that the phrase “Exchange established by the State” appears 10 times in the Affordable Care Act with the majority of instances applied to the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. He opined that if the plaintiff’s argument about the premium tax credits was accepted and applied consistently throughout the law, it would result in the cancellation of all Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs if a state has not also established an exchange under the ACA.

In light of the court’s decision, Florida’s Medicaid program will continue in its current form and is unaffected, while Florida’s KidCare program federal funding will be revisited by the U.S. Congress in the future. Collectively, these programs serve 3.5 million Florida residents.

Overall, the ruling means that 4.8 million Floridians enrolled in subsidized health care coverage programs can still use their insurance cards.

The Gainesville Sun – Cheers and Jeers

This patriotic holiday provides a good opportunity to celebrate the institutions that make our country great — even when we disagree with them.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week issued decisions on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage that made us cheer, but this week released rulings that gave us mixed feelings.

Cheer: The Supreme Court, for upholding the constitutionality of Arizona’s independent redistricting commission.

In Florida, lawmakers continue to draw districts that favor particular parties or incumbents despite a state constitutional amendment intended to stop the practice. An independent commission would be a good way to finally put an end to gerrymandering.

Jeer: The Supreme Court, for refusing to ban a controversial lethal injection drug.

The execution method is used in Florida and other states. The drug was used last year in executions in three states in which prisoners groaned, struggled or writhed in apparent pain, as USA Today reported.

Cheer: State Sen. Rob Bradley, for helping pass legislation that legalized growlers at craft breweries.

Bradley, chairman of the committee that advanced the bill, visited Gainesville’s First Magnitude Brewery on Wednesday to celebrate the first day that the 64-ounce containers were being sold.

Jeer: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, for joining seven other states in suing the federal government over rules designed to better protect our nation’s wetlands.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported, Florida has more wetlands than any state other than Alaska and rarely denies a permit to dump fill in them.

The Lakeland Ledger — Birth of Our Nation — Adams Had It Right From Start

Today we offer a view of America’s birthday from one of its founders.

The following was excerpted, in the original, from two letters John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776. Adams penned his thoughts a day after the delegates to the Second Continental Congress voted to sever from Britain, but before the Declaration of Independence was actually adopted.

“I am surprized at the Suddenness, as well as Greatness of this Revolution. Britain has been fill’d with Folly, and America with Wisdom, at least this is my judgment. Time must determine.

It is the Will of Heaven, that the two Countries should be sundered forever. It may be the Will of Heaven that America shall suffer Calamities still more wasting and Distresses yet more dreadfull. If this is to be the Case, it will have this good Effect, at least: it will inspire Us with many Virtues, which We have not, and correct many Errors, Follies, and Vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonour, and destroy Us. The Furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals.

And the new Governments we are assuming, in every Part, will require a Purification from our Vices, and an Augmentation of our Virtues or they will be no Blessings. The People will have unbounded Power. And the People are extreamly addicted to Corruption and Venality, as well as the Great. I am not without Apprehensions from this Quarter. But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable [as] the Faith may be, I firmly believe.

The Miami Herald — Mangrove massacre

The cost of moving the Miami International Boat Show to the Marine Stadium site on Virginia Key continues to mount.

First, the city of Miami appears to have reached a deal with boat-show promoters circumventing the required public approval of usage of such prized city-owned waterfront property.

With no community input, the city opened its arms to the boat show in February. Sponsors were seeking a new location while their usual locale, the Miami Beach Convention Center, undergoes renovations.

In anticipation, the city is spending $16 million on the dormant, long-neglected stadium grounds. The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which hosts the show, has given the city $3 million for electrical upgrades and spent another $3 million on temporary docks.

Already, Key Biscayne residents are up in arms about the event’s move into environmentally sensitive Virginia Key — and, mainly, the lack of a commitment from the city that this is a one-time deal. They are suspicious of the city’s future plans for the site where it wants to develop an $18 million “flex park” — that’s a public park that doubles as event space. Such plans would forever affect traffic and the environment on or near the island enclave, Village of Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Lindsay told the Herald Editorial Board.

“The city will not give us assurances of what their future plans for the flex-park will be,” Mayor Lindsay said. Understandable concerns for residents of an island with only one way in, and one way out.

The city has said that the village has no legal standing or say in deciding how the site should be developed — and that is true. However, traffic that backs up on the island has a direct and deleterious effect on that in the city, so Miami officials can’t altogether dismiss such concerns.

The Orlando Sentinel — Jacobs’ focus on the future is welcome

Two very different visions of leadership were on display in Tallahassee and Orange County this past month. It boils down to the difference between focusing on the next election and the next generation.

A special session of the Florida Legislature belatedly produced a $78 billion state budget that featured a package of tax cuts worth $429 million. The centerpiece of the package, a 1.73 percentage-point reduction in taxes on cellphone and cable bills, is projected to return about $20 a year to the average Floridian.

After signing the budget, Gov. Rick Scott barnstormed the state on a “tax-cut victory tour.” Count on reruns if rumors about his plans to run for U.S. Senate in 2018 turn out to be true.

Meanwhile, Orange Mayor Teresa Jacobs unveiled a proposal to spend $300 million on a series of capital projects — more than half for roads, but also parks, pedestrian-safety improvements, fire stations and affordable housing. Jacobs’ plan wouldn’t raise taxes, but rather than cut them, she’d dedicate a share of current revenues for long-term investments to keep pace with the county’s growth and maintain its quality of life.

In another sharp contrast with state leaders’ approach, Jacobs’ plan contemplates financing some of its construction projects by selling bonds. Interest rates remain historically low, and the leading financial analysts recently upgraded Orange County’s credit rating, which would further reduce the county’s cost of borrowing.

But in Tallahassee, a proposal from Florida House leaders to take advantage of low interest rates to sell bonds to buy environmentally valuable land was quashed by Senate leaders. “B-O-N-D is a four-letter word,” said Alan Hays, the Umatilla Republican who is the Senate’s top agriculture and environment budget writer.

While governments at all levels should be selective when borrowing, critical long-term investments — whether construction projects to keep up with growth or land buys to guard environmentally sensitive acreage against encroaching development — are worth considering. The cost of construction and land aren’t likely to go down in the future. And though future generations will inherit the burden of repaying the debt, they’ll reap the benefits of the investment, too.

The Ocala StarBanner — ‘What July 4 means to me’

The following editorial was authored by President Ronald Reagan on July 4, 1981.

For one who was born and grew up in the small towns of the Midwest, there is a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July.

Somewhere in our [youth], we began to be aware of the meaning of [important national] days, and with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today, that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth.

The day of our nation’s birth in that little hall in Philadelphia, [was] a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words “treason, the gallows, the headsman’s axe,” and the issue remained in doubt.

[On that day] 56 men, a little band so unique we have never seen their like since, had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Some gave their lives in the war that followed, most gave their fortunes, and all preserved their sacred honor.

What manner of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants and tradesmen, and nine were farmers. They were soft-spoken men of means and education; they were not an unwashed rabble. They had achieved security but valued freedom more. Their stories have not been told nearly enough. …

The Pensacola News-Journal — UWF Center for Entrepreneurship: ‘we’re all in’

What promised to be a revival in vision for the Community Maritime Park just became the epicenter of downtown Pensacola’s burgeoning economic renaissance. Welcome to the University of West Florida Center for Entrepreneurship.

Officials from UWF, Quint Studer and Mayor Ashton Hayward gathered at the News Journal last week to deliver the exciting news. The university and Studer have partnered to create the center that will focus on “community building, education, research, supporting small business and professional development.” UWF is in the process of developing the curriculum, degree and nondegree programs that will take place at the center.

As reported by the PNJ’s Carlos Geiseken, the physical home of the center will be a $10 million, 55,000-square-foot building Studer will build on parcel 6 which fronts Main Street on the northwest corner of the park. The campus-like headquarters will stand as an iconic welcome point on the park’s western entryway. Construction of the center awaits final approval of the ground lease from the Community Maritime Park Associates and the Pensacola City Council.

In addition to the brick and mortar, Quint and Rishy Studer have given $1 million in seed money to help UWF launch its expanded new downtown presence. Gieseken reports that the center will also include a number of other entities and initiatives that will support UWF’s College of Business and the larger mission of helping our community grow economically.

Studer told the PNJ that the vision for this has been in the works for some time. It extends from economic research into the crucial elements that make downtowns thrive. The Center for Entrepreneurship will manifest three of those crucial elements — a place for young businesses to learn and grow, a specific funding source for those young businesses and entrepreneurs when Studer establishes the Greater Pensacola Entrepreneur Fund and, of course, a university/academic presence downtown.

This isn’t just something that sounds like a nice idea. There’s real science behind this. And we’re not the only city that’s figured it out.

The Palm Beach Post — Cities should dump lawsuit, pay their share of IG costs

There are many good reasons why Palm Beach County needs a strong and vigorous Office of Inspector General.

A few of these reasons are named Tony Masilotti, Warren Newell, Mary McCarty and Jeff Koons — the commissioners who faced a parade of charges from 2007-10, resigned their posts in shame and were sentenced to prison or, in Koons’ case, probation.

We mention them as a reminder to the leaders of many of Palm Beach County’s cities and towns, who apparently have forgotten that, just a few years ago, this county had to endure the mocking nickname, “Corruption County.”

To combat that sorry image, and to protect against future abuses of the public trust, county commissioners in 2009 — those not behind bars, that is — voted unanimously to create an ethics commission, adopt a code of ethics and, above all, establish an independent Office of Inspector General.

Such was the fervor to drive out corruption and usher in a new culture of ethical government that voters in all 38 of Palm Beach County’s cities and towns overwhelmingly approved a charter amendment in 2010 that extended the reach of the county’s inspector general and ethics commission to the municipalities.

A whopping 72 percent of voters countywide said “yes” to the reforms. There were majorities in every single municipality.

So where are those cities and towns now that the bills are due? They’re ducking out on their responsibilities, that’s where. Fourteen of them are paying not a dime to support the IG’s office that is the cornerstone of the shiny new ethical culture that so many elected officials professed to want so badly.

As The Post reported last week (June 28), the 14 cities went to court in 2011, arguing that the county was trying to grab cities’ money to pay for a county program. Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Catherine Brunson rejected the claims this year, as well as a request to rehear the case. The cities went to the 4th District Court of Appeal, which hasn’t ruled.

The Panama City News-Herald — We the people

Our first vice president and second president, John Adams, had a vision of what Independence Day in America might look like.

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” he wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

The celebration he envisioned did take place but not on July 2 when the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress but rather on July 4 when it was dated.

Saturday, once again, the bells will sound.

While we should enjoy ourselves, just as Adams hoped, we should not forget the road Adams and the other men who signed the declaration faced. They knew what lay ahead.

While the early battles of the Revolutionary War already had been fought, the most powerful nation in the world was readying its forces to bring an end to the dangerous American notion that citizens could defy a king and decide for themselves what kind of government they ought to allow.

“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States,” he wrote in that same letter to Abigail. “Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

The South Florida Sun Sentinel – Scott’s vetoes make anger level rise

Think of the line-item veto as a process of moving things from one list to another. With a stroke of his red pen, Gov. Rick Scott moves items from “The List of Things That Make People Happy” to “The List of Things that Make People Angry.”

With his recent rash of vetoes, Scott compiled a long, long “angry” list. And in many cases, the governor didn’t just anger people as an unintended consequence of ferreting out turkeys and unnecessary spending. Scott angered people intentionally. He was dealing in political payback. The fact he intentionally angered people makes their anger even more intense.

One act of political payback typically provokes another. In this case, the proper tool would be a series of veto overrides. There is recent precedent. In 2010, Republicans used their legislative supremacy to override a series of vetoes by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who had been elected as a Republican but subsequently shunned the party. The overrides, during what was supposed to have been a largely ceremonial session, were pure payback.

It is ironic that the scenario envisioned by Crist supporters if he had defeated Scott in last year’s election — the Legislature and governor locked in a battle of vetoes — has instead played out under Scott.

The second part of that scenario — a series of veto override attempts — unfortunately is unlikely. While Scott’s vetoes deleted some projects favored by House leaders, Senate leaders took the hardest hits. In the Republican intra-party war that rendered Tallahassee dysfunctional, the House and Scott have been allies. The Senate can’t wage an override raid on its own.

As the Sun Sentinel reported, South Florida absorbed about $66 million of the $461 million in line-item cuts that Scott made shortly after the Legislature, meeting in emergency special session, delivered its $78.7 billion budget.

Those cuts included $16.5 million in Broward County and $10.4 million in Palm Beach County. The governor slashed money for quiet zones near rail lines, a new airport terminal in Fort Lauderdale, health programs at Nova Southeastern University, a grant for Scripps Research Institute at Florida Atlantic University’s Jupiter campus and many, many more.

The Tallahassee Democrat – Stop red light camera program

Sometimes, government does the right thing for the wrong reason.

And sometimes, for all the right reasons, government gets it wrong.

That’s what we’ve seen recently with red light cameras in Tallahassee. They went up for the wrong reason – to make money for the city, although nobody at City Hall could say so – and now they’re coming down for the right reason, even if the result is all wrong.

A tangled web? Well, that’s what happens when city officials practice to deceive.

Looking at it one way, red light cameras are victims of their own success. Violations are down, way down, so they put themselves out of business. The city has earned no net revenue from them in two years, and everybody hates the things, so it made good business and political sense to pull the plugs at the seven intersections where cameras are in use.

Assistant City Manager Michelle Bono said an estimated $7.91 million in fines had been collected since December of 2014, with $3.76 million of that going to the state. Another $3.59 million went to Affiliated Computer Services, the company that installed and maintained the computer system that matches license tags with driver names, and the city got about $570,000 since surveillance began.

The contract with ACS – now acquired by Xerox — was costing the city about $87,000 a month. But lately the fees have been piling up into a deficit that’s expected to reach $1 million when the contract runs out next month. Taxpayers won’t be on the hook for that because the contract protects the city from financial liability when revenues don’t exceed fees.

But there are still costs associated with staff time for administering the program, along with police work in reviewing the gotcha pictures and sending out certified notices of violation and traffic citations.

All of that, plus the fact that there’s just something almost un-American about getting fined by a machine, added up to a good reason for taking down the cameras. When you can’t admit you’re practicing cash-register justice, you ought to at least be making money on it.

The result of doing the right thing might turn out all wrong, though, if you look at another set of numbers. The number of red light violations dropped from 20,122 in fiscal 2011 to 8,097 in the fiscal 2014.

“The bottom line is that the red light camera program has been successful in reducing red light running to the point where it is no longer viable,” Bono said.

The Tampa Tribune — The Steinbrenner legacy

It is difficult to believe that it has been almost five years since New York Yankees owner and proud Tampa resident George Steinbrenner died. Yet his influence — and example — continues to benefit the region.

That was evident last month when the Tampa Bay Lightning presented a donation to the Gold Shield Foundation during the first game of the Stanley Cup finals.

The Gold Shield Foundation exemplified Steinbrenner’s approach to good works. He did not just give money to worthy causes — though he did plenty of that. He wanted to directly help people.

After reading about the deaths of a Tampa police officer and two firefighters in 1981, Steinbrenner started the Gold Shield to provide education scholarships to the survivors of public safety officers killed in the line of duty. It now covers seven Central Florida counties.

Such personal involvement was characteristic. When the Florida State Fair appeared near collapse, Steinbrenner took over leadership of the State Fair Authority and promptly revitalized the event with his exacting attention to detail. He could be seen walking the fairgrounds, monitoring visitors’ experience and picking up litter.

He drove a truck to Hurricane Andrew-demolished South Florida and handed out supplies to those left homeless.

The Steinbrenner family continues his legacy, vigorously supporting a multitude of good causes, with a particular interest in those that help youths, such as the Boys and Girls Club. The family still holds Christmas concerts each year for disadvantaged children. Steinbrenner started the concerts, wanting to introduce children to the beauty of orchestra music.

Tampa, fortunately, has many other remarkably generous philanthropists who devote their time and money to improving the community. Their numbers have grown dramatically, as has our community, since Steinbrenner moved to Tampa in the early 1970s.

But on the Fourth of July — Steinbrenner’s birthday — it is worth recalling the indelible impact this dynamic man had on our community.

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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