The Legislature’s actions during its session is the focus of today’s editorials among the five largest newspapers serving the I-4 corridor from St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach. Here is a brief rundown of what the various newspaper editorial boards are opining:
Daytona Beach News-Journal: Dealing in Secrecy – The newspaper notes that the legislative session recently ended was not good for champions of open government and open records. The politicos in Tallahassee passed eight of between 50 and 60 proposals for exemptions to the public records law, twice as many as last year.
Orlando Sentinel: Florida Legislature’s Leaders and Letdowns for 2009 – Today, the focus is on the area’s State Senators. The Sentinel points out three senators it calls leaders, all Republicans: Lee Constantine, Thad Altman, and Andy Gardiner. On the other end, the CSX/SunRail deal was a big part of it’s decision to brand their letdown senators: Democrat Gary Siplin and Republicans Evelyn Lynn, Paula Dockery, Carey Baker, and Mike Haridopolos.
Ms. Dockery came in for special mention due to her leadership against SunRail/CSX:
Ms. Dockery’s district includes Osceola. She couldn’t have cared less about it, however. She led the charge to kill SunRail, ostensibly to spare her city of Lakeland in Polk County some freight trains that consequently would have been rerouted there.
Lo and behold, CSX is routing some trains there anyway — and without the sound and track improvements Lakeland would have gotten had SunRail passed. Way to go, Ms. Dockery.
Lakeland Ledger: Governor Crist’s Senate Campaign: Running While Governing – The editorial points out that Crist is experienced at holding office and campaigning statewide at the same time – this will be his third time – but never with the stakes so high in our state. So the question it asks is wheather “Crist can be a candidate for Senate, and both a positive voice and a tireless advocate for the state, as governor, during the next two difficult years”.
Tampa Tribune: Property Tax Tweaks Won’t Bring Equality – The paper’s position is that the Legislature refused to repair major flaws as to how property is taxes in Florida, choosing to offer a constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot which would give a tax incentive to people who have not owned a home in eight years…which it says does nothing to improve the tax structure.
St. Petersburg Times: Enough Of This – The paper calls on Governor Charlie Crist to stand up to pressures from the business and development community and veto Senate Bill 360, which it says would create more traffic jams and urban sprawl. It notes that “In Pinellas, Hillsborough and a half-dozen other large counties, developers no longer would have to pay for road improvements to accommodate the traffic many of their projects generate. In the Tampa Bay area alone, that would mean the potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for road projects. State and local governments already are delaying road projects because of a shortage of public money, so don’t expect taxpayers to pick up the costs that should be paid by developers.”