Round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers

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A compilation of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers.

Tampa Bay Times — End Florida tutoring scheme

“Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett moved quickly last week, promising to clean up a privatized tutoring scheme two days after the Tampa Bay Times disclosed how the arrangements had enriched criminals and cheats by millions of dollars with no proof it had helped students. But the real solution would be for the Florida Legislature to stop bowing to a disingenuous special interest and abolish the program, as the federal government agreed the state could do a year ago. Lawmakers should redirect the millions flowing to a corrupt, privatized education plan to the state’s 67 public school districts that can best decide how to provide help to poor students. The idea sounded innocuous enough a dozen years ago when it was included in President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law: Use public money to pay for private tutoring for poor students attending failing public schools. But as the Times’ Michael LaForgia reported last week, the federally funded program in Florida has such lax regulation that it enables criminals, cheaters and profiteers to collect millions in taxpayer dollars without even proving they helped a single student learn. Cynically wrapping themselves in the same cloth as civil rights groups, tutoring firms have pushed their cause in Tallahassee and elsewhere. All the while they are collecting inflated payments far more lucrative than what public schools would have received for similar services.” 

Tampa Bay Times — The unspoken problem behind Hadiya’s death

“I stopped celebrating Black History Month many years ago. What is there to celebrate? I am writing about this issue because of the misguided emphasis too many African-Americans are placing on the murder of Hadiya Pendleton. She was the 15-year-old sophomore shot to death a week after performing with her school band at the president’s inaugural. She was allegedly killed by an 18-year-old black gang member in a public park not far from President Barack Obama’s South Side Chicago home. Black people, politicians in particular, avoid discussing the problems at the heart of Hadiya Pendleton’s death, the heavy toll of black-on-black violence and the moral decay that keeps us trapped.” 

Bradenton Herald—Galvano, Boyd craft masterful economic development measure

“Two Bradenton Republican legislators are advancing a simple proposal that begs the question: Why isn’t this already on the books? Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Jim Boyd are sponsoring legislation that gives manufacturers the ability to create multifaceted master plans for future site growth, gain local approval and then be set for years. Companies would not have to return to government agencies to win approvals for every step in the master plan. That lends certainty to a business. The worry, expense and time that separate approvals take would disappear. The political whims of future city councils, county commissions and state agencies would no longer matter.” 

The Daytona Beach News-Journal – Scott should support funding for mental health

“The vast majority of Americans with mental illness are not prone to violence or criminal acts. It’s clear, however, that mental problems affected some of the perpetrators of mass shootings.”

 The Lakeland Ledger – Florida Funding Provisions: Keep Counties Afloat

“Money is tight. As true as that is for so many individuals and families these days, it also applies to the county government overseen by the Polk County Commission. If one funding element of any substance is removed or one requirement is added to take over a governmental function without funding, the county budget and the operations it makes possible will tilt. The resulting scramble to restore equilibrium might curtail or cancel some other service upon which Polk County residents rely. This applies not just to county government, but to government at all levels.” 

The Miami Herald – American, US Airways merger good for South Florida

“After months of courtship, the engagement between US Airways and bankrupt American Airlines is now official. The two carriers announced last week that they’ve reached a deal to combine their operations. If the bankruptcy judge and federal antitrust regulators agree, the merger could take effect as early as September. In South Florida, where American is a major employer, many are relieved that the airline seems to have a strong future. But there’s understandable concern about any negative impact of a potential merger. There are questions about whether the new airline — to our region’s benefit, it will retain the American Airlines name — will cut jobs, routes or increase fares on a public already reeling from the Great Recession.” 

The Miami Herald – Million dollar giveaway

“More than a decade ago, when Florida and the nation sought to help low-income students get the support they need to soar in school, private tutoring subsidized by the government became one way to ensure an equal playing field with middle-class students whose parents can afford to pay a tutor. Unfortunately, experience now shows that the state failed in its most basic duty to protect the taxpayers’ money. In response to a three-month Tampa Bay Times investigation exposing poor state oversight of private tutoring contractors, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett this week vowed to crack down on these private firms. The Times’ investigation found that more than a handful of tutoring firms are run by criminals, corporate lackeys and swindlers trying to make a quick buck. Florida will now require criminal background checks for those who lead these tutoring companies, but much more needs to be done.” 

Orlando Sentinel – State should grab chance to expand, improve care

“Health care is almost always one of the most important issues confronting Florida lawmakers. Their health policies affect millions of state residents and determine how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent. But this year — when lawmakers face a decision on whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program — is critical for health care. Other facets of this issue also cry out for attention in the legislative session that begins next month in Tallahassee. Medicaid: The health care program for the poor, jointly funded by the state and federal governments, currently covers 3.3 million Floridians at an annual cost of $22 billion — almost a third of the entire state budget.” 

Tampa Tribune – Bass Pro a good deal for county

“It will be easy for Hillsborough County commissioners to vote no Wednesday when they are scheduled to decide the fate of a controversial development deal that would bring Bass Pro Shops here. The issue has been framed as a public giveaway to a mammoth corporation that will smother existing small businesses. Activists have launched a petition drive to halt the project. It’s become a cause célèbre. But commissioners would be short-sighted to take the populist stance. The 150,000-square-foot Bass Pro proposed for the Brandon development is a destination retail facility that would attract outdoor enthusiasts from miles around.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.