Voucher for FDOT to protect Gandy Beach from our own behavior

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This article represents the opinion of the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times.

Gandy beach cleaning. Just a question about those tall wooden poles that now line Gandy Beach: what took so long? The Florida Department of Transportation is spending about $70,000 to install the bollards in front of the mangroves that line the beach. It was time. People have abused the privilege of parking along the shore for too long. These hideouts may have provided the perfect cover for drinking beer and smoking weed – and were handy for launching kayaks and swimming in the bay. But cars have no place in the mangroves. And food wrappers, plastic bags and all other forms of waste have no place in our waterways. This is a fairly narrow stretch of worn-out habitat, and the state was right to step in to better protect it. That’s what happens when bathers don’t respect their own piece of paradise. We don’t often award DOT points for durability, but here’s a reasonable effort to preserve the beach for generations.

Tampa Lynching Memorial. Robert Johnson was arrested in 1934 on a charge that everyone in Florida knew amounted to a death sentence – that of a black man assaulting a white woman. “The following day, Tampa law enforcement officers confirmed Mr. Johnson’s innocence,” read a marker unveiled Monday on the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa. “However, rather than release Mr Johnson, law enforcement officials handed Mr Johnson to an armed white man in the middle of the night.” His body was found shot near the Hillsborough River. Johnson’s story as Jim Crow-era Hillsborough County’s last known lynching victim is finally being reckoned with, thanks to a civic campaign to commemorate the tragedy. Grateful marker Johnson and four other Hillsborough lynching victims were dedicated this week on the corner of Doyle Carlton Drive and W Laurel Street. The victims, whose lynchings lasted from 1892 to 1934, include Johnson, a man known only as Galloway, John Crooms, Lewis Jackson and Samuel Arline. It is important to remember their life and the inhumanity of man to man.

Don’t say “sure”. This week, Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning instructed employees to remove “safe space” stickers from all schools. The stickers — some of which include the Pasco Schools logo and were paid for by the district — typically have rainbow designs and indicate support for LGBTQ students. But officials feared the stickers would run afoul of a new parental rights law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and fellow Republicans that requires schools to notify parents of any changes in “welfare of their child. So any implication that schools provide a safe harbor had to go. Who didn’t see this coming? The ambiguity of the law, which opens the door for parents to sue school districts, forces districts across the state to err on the side of caution. Of course, schools should be a “safe space” for everyone. But they are not. So live in the real world or be honest about this vehicle of bigotry.

Thank you Hurricane Danielle. Tropical Storm Danielle strengthened on Friday to become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, and for that we thank her. First, thank you for being away from Florida; in fact, National Hurricane Center models show that Danielle is not a threat to land and is expected to move east in the coming days, away from the United States. Thank you also, Danielle, for waking Florida so deep into hurricane season. Danielle is only the fourth named storm in 2022, but forecasters are still expecting an above-normal hurricane season, with 14 to 20 named storms this year. It means it’s time to pay attention. Meteorologists are monitoring two other tropical systems – one east of the Leeward Islands and the other north of the Cape Verde Islands. So enjoy the long Labor Day holiday. But if you’re at the grocery store for hot dogs anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to head to the canning aisle or grab some bottled water.

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Editorials are the corporate voice of the Tampa Bay Times. Members of the Editorial Board are Editorial Editor Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Conan Gallaty. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinionated news.

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