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

By on January 20, 2013
editorial board

A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers

Tampa Bay Times — Fix campaign finance laws with finesse

“Florida’s campaign finance laws are broken. Unlimited special interest money gushes through hard-to-trace third-party committees. Political parties are increasingly irrelevant. And individual candidate fundraising — with outdated contribution limits — is often an afterthought. The result is voters cannot effectively trace the source of big money influencing elections, and a state Legislature beholden to special interests instead of Floridians. For the first time in more than a decade, legislative leaders are considering serious reforms. Their challenge will be to ensure that in fixing some problems they don’t create new ones.” 

Tampa Bay Times — Education chief should step in on testing snag

“By achieving a certain score on either the ACT or SAT, thousands of Florida high school students preparing to graduate are allowed to bypass the state’s dreaded FCAT. But those same students have been thrust into an academic limbo because state education officials still have not settled on what new ACT or SAT score is acceptable for a passing grade. Raising academic standards is commendable, but high school students should not be left in limbo by moving the goalposts and by bureaucratic inertia…” 

Bradenton Herald — Revive decade-old Manatee County trail system proposal

“With dredging of Wares Creek from the Manatee Avenue bridge to the Ninth Avenue West span completed in August, Bradenton residents are enjoying a resurgence in wildlife there — fish, fowl, even manatees. Nature trails along the creek’s banks would be a boon to the quality of life there, even an attraction to bring more visitors to the historic neighborhood. A decade ago, Manatee County developed that vision as part of a countywide trail system. The plan’s three-mile Wares Creek trail went down to Cortez Road and featured canoe and kayak launches, fishing docks and viewing platforms — amenities that can be found in the county’s outstanding collection of nature preserves.” 

The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Decision strikes blow for pension-fund fairness

“Florida Supreme Court ruling upholding a law requiring public employees to contribute three percent of their salaries to the state’s pension plan has been widely portrayed as a victory for Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature. In reality, it’s a win for the millions of workers in Florida’s private sector who support generous benefits for government employees.” 

The Lakeland Ledger — Polk YMCA Membership Rule: Household Approach Helpful

“With the makeup of families changing as the third millennium presses into its second decade, the board of directors of the main group of YMCAs in Polk County has made a useful change in its rules. It allows family households to join with what had been called a family membership prior to Dec. 20. Rather than restrict such a membership to a husband, wife and children, the YMCA of West Central Florida now allows household groupings that include a single mother living with her parents, grandparents with grandchildren and same-sex couples, reported The Ledger’s John Chambliss in an article Jan. 13.” 

The Miami Herald — Common sense on gun madness  

“It’s encouraging to see President Obama pursue comprehensive gun-control in the wake of the Newtown massacre, an event that shocked the conscience of the American people, by offering a package of reasonable proposals designed to put an end to the madness. 

A proper respect for the rights of gun owners doesn’t mean Americans should feel helpless in the face of repeated incidents of mass violence by firearms. There is no legal impediment to an effective response, and there should not be a political impediment, either, NRA or no NRA. For years, opponents have managed to block effective gun control legislation by wrapping themselves up in the Constitution and decrying any restrictive effort as an attack on the Second Amendment. That’s a smokescreen. Courts have made clear that the Second Amendment is not a bar to sensible regulation.” 

Orlando Sentinel — Central Floridian of the Year Deirdre Macnab: League’s leader, inspired by history, fights for voters

“Winter Park’s Deirdre Macnab regularly travels across Florida to talk to groups about her organization’s mission. Sometimes she dresses as Susan B. Anthony, the fearless leader of America’s women’s suffrage movement. The costume is a good fit for Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. She has needed Anthony’s 19th-century qualities — persistence and courage in the face of hostility, along with dedication and skills as an organizer — in 21st-century Florida. After all, this is a state where legislators have at once tried to roll back the clock on voting advances and erect new obstacles. Where voter-registration volunteers were threatened with fines while felons who have paid their debt to society are told their right to vote is subject to the whim of the Cabinet. Where legislators pack the ballot with verbose and unnecessary constitutional amendments, and then feign bewilderment when voters are left to wait in lines for hours.” 

Tampa Tribune — Being smart with Social Security

“When your money begins to run low, you find out your true priorities. It’s the same with the federal government, but politics can obscure the obvious choices. President Obama didn’t really mean it when he said “Social Security checks and veterans benefits will be delayed” if Congress doesn’t soon raise the debt limit. No one wondered why, in household terms, he was going to let the electricity get cut off so he could keep making payments on the motorboat the family hasn’t used in three months. No one expected him to mention obscure or unpopular programs or warn that his own paycheck might be late. If Social Security checks are delayed, and we seriously doubt they will be, many people couldn’t buy groceries or pay their electric and water bills. The public reaction would shake the earth. In mentioning Social Security first, the president is really saying it would be among the very last things to be cut.”

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