Round-up of Sunday newspaper editorials

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Pasco County has embraced a new way to pay for transportation that will mean a generous break for developers of employment centers and high-density neighborhoods. But it also offers significant public benefits, including a guaranteed funding source for mass transit and fewer incentives to develop sprawling housing developments in rural areas. While it has its drawbacks, this is a bold experiment worthy of attention from Hillsborough County and other local governments as they wrestle with paying for roads and transit systems in this a new era in which Florida no longer forces developers to pay for roads, schools and other public facilities needed to accommodate their projects.
The budget that Hillsborough County’s mass transit agency has proposed for the coming years comes nowhere close to what’s needed for the fourth-largest county in the fourth-largest state. It is a plan for moving backward that makes it harder for people to hold down jobs and one that tells the business community that real-life considerations like the cost and reliability of transit are beyond the concern of local government leaders. This is the wrong response to the struggling economy and a wrong reading of what residents want.
About 18 years ago, Schroeder Manatee Ranch began to develop a community that ultimately became one of the finest master planned communities in America. We have grown from a small group of 50 pioneers to a community of approximately 17,000 people.
With control of the original developments turned over to residents, we now have the historic opportunity to turn this community into one of the finest master planned cities in America.
This month’s straw poll in Lakewood Ranch only asks registered voters in the growing community one question: “Do you favor submitting a bill to the Florida Legislature to consider the incorporation of Lakewood Ranch as a city?”
This is not a vote on cityhood per se, and only allows incorporation proponents to continue the four-year campaign to put Lakewood Ranch on the map as a municipality.
Should the straw poll win approval, the action moves to the Legislature in next year’s session. Committees would scrutinize the incorporation proposal’s feasibility study and charter to determine legitimacy. Should concerns arise, the Legislature could return the proposal for revisions.
Daytona Beach News-Journal – Volusia County wise to downsize beach vehicles
Volusia County officials took a wise step with a new plan aimed at downsizing Beach Patrol vehicles.
It was becoming crystal clear that the large Beach Patrol trucks were too bulky for the beach. But clarity was a long time coming: Beach Patrol trucks have been involved in six collisions with beachgoers since 2003 — three of them in the past 14 months.
Florida Times-Union – Two schools, two different stories
One school, Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School, owes its origins to educating freed slaves.
William M. Raines High School gained a proud reputation by educating African-Americans in the heady days of the civil rights revolution.
Now the schools couldn’t be more different.
Darnell-Cookman has a waiting list.
Raines is trying to keep its students from leaving.
Florida Today – Fight for NASA
Step by excruciatingly slow step, the contours of the next-generation of manned spaceflight are coming into view.
And that’s cause for hope with the shuttles now parked in the barn and thousands of dedicated workers losing their jobs.
An important advance came Thursday with the announcement The Boeing Co. is teaming with United Launch Alliance to fly its new commercial spacecraft aboard the Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Suppose you’re a concerned citizen of the United States and a longtime resident of Florida. You’ve been registered to vote with one of the two major parties for many years.
And suppose you’re upset about something that just happened in Congress and you’re fed up with how the members of Congress in your own party — it doesn’t matter which one — conducted themselves. You’ve felt it coming on for a long time and you’ve finally decided to act by switching parties. As the old saying goes, you’re not leaving your party, you believe your party left you.
And suppose further that you’re so upset about how your local congressman — whom you once supported — acted that you want to run against him next year in your new party, or even in a party that is yet to be formally organized.
Heck, that’s your right as an American, isn’t it?
The decision by a Cuban court to reject the appeal of American citizen Alan P. Gross sends an unequivocal message that Cuba’s hardliners remain unmoved by humanitarian concerns or Washington’s efforts to establish a better relationship with the regime. This regime isn’t interested in a better relationship.
Gov. Rick Scott suggested late last month that it’s time Florida scrapped its requirement that motorists carry personal-injury protection, which pays medical benefits for injuries suffered in automobile crashes no matter who’s at fault.

The state would be better off if Scott instead worked with the Legislature to reform PIP, while keeping it mandatory. Making it optional or getting rid of PIP would likely cause more problems than it would solve.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Cool reaction to Arctic drilling
The Beaufort Sea is rich in marine life. To the misfortune of those creatures, it is also rich in oil and gas deposits.
Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell wants to drill there to evaluate the potential of leases it holds in that area.
Last week, the company took a big preliminary step in that direction by winning exploration permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
This week, Shell is expected to clear another hurdle by getting approval of its oil-spill response plan, according to the industry websiterigzone.com.
Tampa Tribune – Piling on homeowners
It doesn’t take a CPA to recognize that Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is in a big hole when it comes to providing full sinkhole coverage and has to find a way to dig out.
The taxpayer-subsidized “insurer of last resort” – now the state’s biggest property insurance carrier – last year reported $245 million in sinkhole claim losses while collecting just $32 million in sinkhole premiums. Since 2006, Citizens had nearly $500 million in sinkhole losses stemming from more than 6,500 claims – the vast majority in Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

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.