Sunday, January 07, 2007


This feature is being done a bit differently from now on. In the past, I have featured some of the editorial pages from Florida's major newspapers, but it has grown to the point that it has become a bit of a burden. Since this blog is supposed to be more of a Central Florida based spot, I've decided to reel it in a bit to make it reflect the area. Therefore, this feature will focus on the editorial pages of the major newspapers along the I-4 corridor, so here's what they are saying this first Sunday in January...

We'll start here at home, where the Lakeland Ledger takes note of the Republican minority in Congress crying about their disappointment at having to play second fiddle and now bringing up a "Minority Bill of Rights" --- the very same document that then-Minority Leader (now Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi of California brought fourth three years ago when Democrats were in the minority and was rejected handily.

Today's opinion in the St. Petersburg Times deals with the issue of cloning animals for meat and milk products. Currently it's not widespread, and it's an expensive process. The Food and Drug Administration says products from cloned animals is as safe as conventionally cloned animals, but some are suggesting that such products be labled to give consumers a choice as the idea of cloning is morally and ethically objectionable to some.

It ain't exactly saving money, but it will help save the enviroment: The Orlando Sentinel editorial agrees with the idea of Wal-Mart Stores' push of selling more compact fluorescant light bulbs, which is about eight times the cost an incandencent bulb but saves 75 percent the electricity and lasts ten times longer. The only thing left Wal-Mart needs to do is help consumers recycle the bulbs they sell, as they contain mercury.

Hillsborough Community College is kicking Head Start programmes off it's campus to make room for new buildings, including luxury housing on it's Dale Mabry campus, a move which the Tampa Tribune calls "an egregious decision that flies in the face of serving needy students" as well as a "misguided, shameful move".

And it's time for the Daytona Beach News-Journal to pick it's agenda for 2007: Community Health Care, Conservation, and Higher Education. Today the newspaper touches on all three issues, and during the next three weeks the editorial space will deal with each one more in detail.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following is from a letter Gwendolyn Stephens President of HCC sent in response to the Tampa Trib article.

In response to the editorial that was published in The Tampa Tribune on Sunday,
January 7th, I feel that additional information and clarification is warranted for readers of
the piece. No organization is more aware of the impact of education in breaking a cycle
of poverty or committed towards providing opportunities to the citizens of this
community than HCC. Empowering students to excel is the cornerstone of our mission
and I am disappointed that the story implied otherwise.
Last year, the College completed a master plan for all of the four campuses, including
the Dale Mabry Campus, which will help us respond to the enrollment growth that we
have had over the past several years. Within those plans, the land that is currently
being utilized by Hillsborough County’s Head Start essentially free of charge since 1994
will be developed into additional educational facilities at these campuses. Once the
master plans were approved by our District Board of Trustees, it was necessary to give
notice to the Head Start Board that their current leases would be terminated. The
College provided Head Start two years during which time they could find another
suitable location. In a letter sent to Jan Platt, President of the Hillsborough County
Head Start Foundation on January 4th, and prior to the Tribune’s editorial, I assured
Commissioner Platt that the College was prepared to assist Head Start in finding a
mutually acceptable resolution that will allow both the College to proceed with its master
plan and Head Start to continue to serve their clients. Unfortunately, The Tampa
Tribune did not feel that this information was germane to their editorial and did not offer
its existence as context for the article.
HCC has moved forward and has set up a meeting with County officials to explore
options that hopefully will succeed in providing a solution that will enable both our
College and Hiilsborough County Head Start to fulfill their respective missions and allow
the Dale Mabry Campus to move forward to implement our new master plan.
It is also very important to note that childcare is an issue for many of our students. Five
years ago, we began our own childcare centers to assist our students at the Dale Mabry
Campus and Ybor City Campus. They serve the students enrolled at HCC and also
serve as collaborative learning labs for students in our nationally accredited Early
Childhood Development Program as well as our psychology and sociology programs.
Not surprisingly, the Dale Mabry Campus childcare center has been filled since its first
semester of operation and has a waiting list of 70 students at any given time. The
College subsidizes nearly half of the cost for those using both centers, as we clearly
understand that cost is often one of the biggest challenges in finding quality childcare.
The Head Start Program has unfortunately been unable to meet the needs of the
majority of our students due to federal income requirements, thus compelling us to
proceed with our own plans.
HCC has also taken great efforts to find outside revenue streams to provide additional
services to those that the Tampa Tribune characterizes as the "little people". The
College secured a multi-year Student Support Services grant that annually serves over
200 low-income, first generation in college students. Both the College Reach Out
Program which serves over 350 of our students and the Educational Talent Search with
600 students are HCC programs designed to reach those first generation students to
help them understand at an early age the opportunities that come from continuing their
education. These programs include counseling, scholarships and financial aid to help
provide as many opportunities that we can to the neediest members of our community
to advance their educational dreams.
I also take great umbrage with The Tribune’s characterization of the student housing
apartments that the College is constructing in a public-private partnership as luxury.
These are apartments being built to provide housing opportunities below market value
to our students. It is another commitment that the College has made that recognizes
how important services like affordable housing are for our students.
I firmly believe that it is very important for the community and media to examine
decisions made by public institutions. However, I am disappointed by the Tampa
Tribune’s calling into question HCC’s longstanding commitment of providing educational
opportunities to those that need it the most and hope that the residents of Hillsborough
County feel the same.

1:46 PM  

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