Round-up of Sunday newspaper editorials (8/21)

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The self-described jobs governor says he gets it: Florida’s antiquated sales tax policy leaves the state’s retailers at a competitive disadvantage and costs local jobs in favor of Internet businesses based elsewhere. Now Gov. Rick Scott’s obligation — as the state’s unemployment continues to hover in the double digits — is to do more than commiserate. Scott should join with other independent-minded Republicans in the Legislature and the business community to level the playing field for Florida businesses.
Somebody needs to remind the people who run the James A. Haley VA Medical Center that they operate a public hospital. The hospital’s administration refuses to acknowledge records obtained by the St. Petersburg Times that show the Tampa facility is facing a $17 million deficit. A hospital spokeswoman refused to answer questions — while insisting that no cuts would affect patient care. That sort of doublespeak doesn’t cut it for the more than 116,000 veterans in the bay area who depend on Haley or for the taxpayers who keep the hospital operating.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal – Study should bring changes in beach driving
Volusia County Council members have received their $50,000 report on beach safety, and many of the recommendations therein are worthy of action or further study.
The public should be ready to offer the council input on the recommendations, the worthiest of which include establishing a buffer zone between driving lanes and beach users.
Ordered in response to a number of accidents and fatalities on Volusia County’s 17 miles of beaches that allow driving and parking, the study came up with four tiers of recommendations. Tier 1, for example, has the highest chance of improving safety at minimal cost, according to the report. The lower tiers are more debatable, more complicated and may have higher costs or draw more public opposition.
There is a one-word description for the impressive achievements at Rutledge Pearson Elementary School: “Wow.”
That is what Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said recently before a library full of Pearson staff members.
What’s so impressive? This school is in a high-poverty area in Jacksonville’s Northwest section, yet it has earned three straight A grades from the state.
Florida Today – Cut the red tape
Every city and county claims to be business-friendly. But in a tough new assessment of their red tape for commercial development, just four local governments on the Space Coast performed well enough — or cared enough — to be certified as “simplified, nimble and accelerated.”
That’s not good enough. Not if the Space Coast wants to lure new companies, clear a path for entrepreneurs and put 30,000 unemployed people back to work.
Monday at 6 p.m., the Lakeland City Commission is scheduled to take up the issue of a rate increase for Lakeland Electric during a meeting at City Hall.
Based on the disgruntled responses the City Commission and Utility Committee received last Monday for nearly five hours from residential and commercial electric customers, city commissioners have some serious explaining to do.
As Octavia Peterson’s five children slept, Orange County deputies confronted suspected car thief Torey Breedlove outside their Alta Westgate apartment complex.

Deputies fired on Breedlove 137 rounds. Not all the bullets hit his SUV. Some bullets lodged where Peterson’s children had slept, sending them scrambling for cover.

Meanwhile, Orange Sheriff Jerry Demings was left scrambling for damage control. Community leaders decried his deputies turning the west Orlando residential neighborhood into a shooting gallery.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Speak up for fair voting districts
The people of Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties will have only one chance to to tell a panel of Florida legislators — face to face and close to home — what they think of the state’s redistricting process. We hope citizens make the most of it.
The special panel, which is conducting more than two dozen public meetings across Florida, will have just one in this region. It will be held Tuesday, Aug. 30, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Harry Sudakoff Conference Center on the New College campus.
Outrage that no one was found responsible for the death of Caylee Anthony is understandable. The little girl died under mysterious circumstances, and the state charged her mother with murder.
Caylee’s remains had been discarded in the woods like trash. And authorities were not notified she was “missing” until a month after she was last seen in mid-June 2008. But outrage is a poor basis for lawmaking.

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.