Here we go.
Today, we kick off our candidate recommendations in print for the general election by recommending Hillary Clinton for president and Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate. We will work our way through the elected offices, state constitutional amendments and local issues over the next 11 days.
I know many voters received their ballots in the mail last week and are eager to color in the tiny ovals and be done with it. If you are in a hurry, our recommendations generally will be available at www.tampabay.com/opinion at least a day before they appear in print. We posted our Clinton recommendation on the website at noon Thursday, and it immediately took off with thousands of views. We will keep a running list of links to the recommendations on the website, so you can catch up on any you might miss and read them in full....
In a political year unlike any other, there are profiles in courage and profiles in political pandering that will define someone's character long after the election is over.
Last week, the news broke that Sally Bradshaw — former Gov. Jeb Bush's closest adviser — has left the Republican Party and may vote for Hillary Clinton for president.
"This is a time when country has to take priority over political parties. Donald Trump cannot be elected president,'' Bradshaw told CNN in an email, adding that the Republican Party is "at a crossroads and have nominated a total narcissist — a misogynist — a bigot.''...
Richard Corcoran was for Jeb Bush for president. Then he was for Sen. Marco Rubio. Then he was for Sen. Ted Cruz.
Now is the incoming Florida House speaker from Pasco County ready to finally endorse Donald Trump as Trump prepares to accept the Republican nomination for president Thursday night?
Corcoran paused as he decided how to describe his position.
"Encouraged,'' he said this week at the Republican National Convention, adding a few minutes later, "He wasn't my first, second or third choice.''...
Here's some good news.
Beginning Monday, we are expanding our space for columns, graphics and other commentary on the op-ed page. The Monday op-ed page is returning, which will also give us more space that day for editorials and letters on the editorial page. Monday through Saturday, there will be more space on the op-ed page for commentary. And yes, the crossword puzzle will stay right where it is....
The poker game using your tax money is about to get serious in Tallahassee, and you could be the big loser.
Gov. Rick Scott has put all of his chips on the table. He wants $1 billion in tax cuts that primarily benefit businesses and $250 million for a slush fund for a flawed job incentives program. He wants to spend more on public schools, but he wants to do it largely on the backs of local property taxpayers....
Think how long it has been since the St. Petersburg City Council voted on a hot July afternoon in 1986 to take a leap of faith and build a domed stadium in hopes of attracting a Major League Baseball franchise and rejuvenating a dying downtown. It was a risky bet on the future by a stagnant city desperate for a new start, but it was the right decision and it paid off.
Fast forward three decades. The City Council took another difficult vote last week to let the Tampa Bay Rays look for a new home in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, opening the door to redeveloping the Tropicana Field site with or without a new stadium. It was the right decision, and it should pay off for the city and the region....
About 8:25 a.m. Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott's office emailed to reporters his daily schedule, which is a public record.
Surprise. At 8:30 a.m., the governor would sign into law the 2015-16 state budget that the Legislature had just approved four days earlier and announce which projects he had vetoed. The Tampa Bay Times' capital bureau chief, Steve Bousquet, hustled up the hill from the press center to the governor's office on the first floor of the Capitol for the traditional news conference....
Give Rick Scott credit.
The governor's audacity is impressive, his shamelessness is without limits and his disregard for public perception remains strong.
This is the guy who helped build the nation's largest hospital chain, Columbia/HCA. He was the CEO whose empire made $1.5 billion in profit in 1996, awarded big bonuses to top executives and ruthlessly pressured low-performing hospitals to generate more revenue....
It should not have come to this.
Citizens, good government groups and news media organizations should not have to file a lawsuit to force someone to examine whether Florida's highest elected officials violated the Sunshine Law. Yet last week 14 plaintiffs (including Times Publishing Co., which publishes the Tampa Bay Times) filed an amended lawsuit that asks a circuit court judge to find that the governor and Cabinet members conducted public business in secret....
Discouraged but not angry.
That is the general mood of Florida voters heading into Tuesday's election, and it matches mine.
Voters are not outraged like they were in 2010, when Rick Scott spent his millions to ride the tea party wave into the Governor's Mansion. That's bad for Scott, because that wave is not there this year. The mail ballots and early voting numbers suggest Democrats are significantly better positioned heading into Election Day than they were four years ago....
My crystal ball on Greenlight Pinellas is cloudy.
The plan to create a robust transit system with a 1-cent sales tax increase on the Nov. 4 ballot has been in the works for years. You can pick at some of the projections and financial assumptions, just as you can with any ambitious public works project that looks decades into the future. But this has been well-vetted, and a transit system with expanded bus service and light rail is critical to the success of Pinellas and the Tampa Bay region....
Either we are getting soft or the candidates are getting tougher.
Not a single candidate cried this year during interviews with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. I wanted to cry a couple of times because some candidates were so unprepared, but that's another story.
We kicked off our candidate recommendations for the Aug. 26 primary on Friday in the Hernando regional edition, and we start today on the main editorial page with the Hillsborough School Board. The recommendations will run for about eight more days on the main page as we work through nonpartisan races for judge and school boards, and primaries for county commissions, the Legislature, attorney general and governor. The Pasco and Hernando recommendations will wrap up in the regional editions on Aug. 8. We will compile links to all of the recommendations on our website at www.tampabay.com/opinion....
Rick Scott has done more damage to this state than any modern governor.
The Republican has starved public schools and higher education, disregarded voting rights and privacy rights, and dismantled environmental protections. He has little feel for Florida and sides with electric utilities, property insurers, developers and the National Rifle Association over the concerns of families struggling to pay bills, afford health insurance, find quality public schools for their kids and keep their neighborhoods safe....
They talk a good game in Tallahassee about the importance of open government and conducting the public's business in public.
They just don't practice what they preach.
Here's a good snapshot of just how secretive Tallahassee has become.
The former chief of staff for the late Gov. Reubin Askew asked the Florida Supreme Court to force candidates who have blind trusts, such as Gov. Rick Scott, to report the holdings in those trusts in financial disclosure forms filed when candidates qualify for office. Askew persuaded voters in the 1970s to pass the Sunshine Amendment, which requires elected officials and candidates to list their financial assets so voters can judge potential conflicts of interest for themselves. Scott and Republican lawmakers naturally want the lawsuit to be dismissed, and the Supreme Court punted the issue to circuit court....
When politicians cannot run on their record, they change the subject.
That's what Gov. Rick Scott has been doing. It's hard to win re-election by promoting how your administration has eroded environmental protections, suppressed voting, fouled up school accountability and teacher evaluations, starved higher education and failed to protect Floridians from higher rates for electricity and property insurance. Good luck boiling that down to a catchy bumper sticker....