Florida editorial roundup

By: The Associated Press
November 19, 2013 Updated: November 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

Nov. 18

Pensacola (Fla.) News on tourism being no sucker's bet:

Former Gov. Charlie Crist visited Pensacola Beach to let the locals know that his "heart still bleeds for Florida" and to convince potential voters in next year's gubernatorial election that Gov. Scott is wrong when he tells us "it's working."

Many months of campaigning will reveal whether or not his fellow Floridians are willing to buy such a claim, but there's at least one thing about Gov. Scott's Florida that's impossible for Crist to criticize: Tourism. The numbers are in and it truly is working.

Not only is it working, it's breaking records. 22.9 million visitors came to Florida between July and September, which is a third-quarter record for our state. The numbers released last week by Visit Florida also report tourist spending at $51.8 billion between January and August, up from $49 billion in 2012. That's a big infusion of out-of-state money. Tourism-related jobs increased as well, up 29,700 jobs over the same period a year ago.

Scott has said he wants Florida to hit 100 million tourists in 2013 and to reign as the top tourist destination in the world. While we've always pointed out that tourism doesn't exactly generate the STEM skill jobs of the powerful, diversified economy that experts say Florida will need to compete in the future, the staggering tourism numbers remain a strong bedrock of our state economy.

And in context of the recent hearings on expanded gambling in our state, counting up the winnings of record-breaking tourism success is cause for further questions.

Specifically, if it's clearly working, then why change the formula?

To tourists, Florida is a brand: our beaches and sunshine, our oranges and alligators, our mouse ears and theme parks. Do tumbling dice and slot machine sirens fit into that brand? Would gambling enhance it? And most important, could it possibly detract from it?

Those are elusive questions, given that contemplating and analyzing our brand is a creative, non-literal endeavor. Concrete and quantifiable answers might be impossible to nail down.

Nonetheless, the maintained health and attractiveness of Florida's thriving tourism brand carries crucial considerations. The laws of marketing, advertising and consumer perception demand we take it seriously.




Nov. 18

Miami Herald on Haitians at risk after unconscionable decision in DR:

The relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti has always been contentious, occasionally violent, but a recent immigration ruling by the Dominican court marks a new low in the unfair treatment historically meted out to ethnic Haitians in that country.

Nearly two months ago, the Dominican Republic's highest judicial body issued a ruling denying citizenship to generations of individuals of Haitian descent born in that country, a decision with disastrous consequences for tens of thousands living on Dominican soil. It cannot go unchallenged by the world community.

Every nation has a right to decide who deserves to claim citizenship, but the Dominican Republic cannot absolve itself of moral responsibility by merely declaring that its constitution does not automatically confer that right on anyone born in that country.

For one thing, the decision goes back to 1929, which means ethnic Haitians born to parents who themselves were born in the Dominican Republic are now in jeopardy of losing their right to remain in the country and enjoy the benefits of citizenship.

These are people who know no other country and don't speak Creole, the main language of Haiti. The Dominican Republic's need for Haitian workers extends that country's responsibility. For decades, Dominican sugar farms and plantations have relied on Haitian labor to make their land profitable.

Haitians were lured by the prospect of jobs, often under horrible conditions. To suddenly turn them away as if they had contributed nothing to the Dominican economy over the years is unjust, not to mention hypocritical.

The court's unconscionable decision effectively codifies the discriminatory treatment that Haitians have received in the Dominican Republic for so long, bordering on outright racism.

There is a way out. ...

The United States and the Caribbean community can help by pressing for an outcome that allows the Dominican Republic to claim that it reserves the right to decide who is and who is not a citizen — but not at the cost of destroying so many lives.




Nov. 14

The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on President Obama should take Clinton's health law advice:

President Barack Obama should listen to former President Bill Clinton, a supporter of the president's health care law and perhaps the country's most astute politician.

Clinton says Obama should consider changing the Affordable Care Act to honor the commitment the president repeatedly made when selling the health law: his promise that people who like their insurance policies would be able to keep those policies.

Now that millions of insured Americans are getting cancellation notices, that promise resembles a bait-and-switch tactic commonly associated with shady businesses.

Clinton sees the moral responsibility to change the law more clearly than Obama, who continues to stick to a line of defense that marginalizes the people affected.

He claims only a small percentage of Americans are being tossed from the plans they like and that most of them will find better plans in the health care exchanges.

But even if that proves to be true, the government still sold them a bill of goods. To make up for that, they should be given the chance to decide for themselves whether to change plans.

With his comments this week, Clinton joins a number of fellow Democrats who are pressing Obama to make concessions. They include Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has proposed legislation requiring insurance companies to reinstate canceled policies, and 10 other Democratic senators calling for an extension of the sign-up period.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House are planning legislation to allow policyholders to keep their coverage, as the president promised.

This mess is wholly the president's making, which might explain the defensive posture. He appears to be grieving Obamacare's disastrous rollout and all of the unintended consequences now being revealed.

The country will be better served once the president moves beyond the denial and anger stages and accepts the growing chorus from within his own party to fix the law.