Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:
The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun on critical mass:
We're inching closer to reaching critical mass.
Gainesville is expecting an official announcement soon on whether Mobiquity Inc. has chosen the city for an expansion that could bring 260 jobs here. The Massachusetts-based company develops mobile applications and advises companies on their mobile strategies.
Last month, Sears Holding Corp. announced the establishment of an internship program with the University of Florida in information technology services. The partnership is expected to pave the way for Sears to open a Gainesville office providing those services.
When India-based Mindtree Limited last year chose UF's Innovation Square development for its first U.S. software development center, the hope was that other technology companies would follow. If Gainesville is going to retain UF graduates as well as attract an educated workforce from elsewhere, there needs to be options for workers to feel confident about establishing roots here.
It seems fairly obvious that those kind of companies have a multiplier effect. Service-industry businesses from dry cleaners to restaurants benefit when good-paid jobs are added to the local economy.
Yet there is some vocal local sentiment that Gainesville is being elitist with its efforts to attract high-wage, high-skill jobs. Mayor-elect Ed Braddy suggested during the campaign that he didn't subscribe to the idea that those jobs have a trickle-down effect and there needs to be more of a focus on creating blue-collar jobs. ...
Companies such as Mobiquity have numerous cities vying to attract them. To win the day, Gainesville needs to play to its strengths as a university town that values culture, diversity and the natural environment.
If we're going to get to a critical mass of those companies, we've got to get over the idea that it's a bad thing to want Gainesville to be the kind of city where educated people want to live and work.
Tallahassee Democrat, on borrowing trouble:
In 2004, Florida lawmakers passed a landmark law to clear the way to build the Wekiva River Parkway and preserve the environmentally sensitive land in the river's basin. Because of the law, Lake County changed its comprehensive plan to adopt critical protections for the area.
Those protections could start to unravel on Tuesday, unless the County Commission rejects a project that would override them.
The project, a borrow pit that would be dug to provide sand to build the parkway, would be on an 83-acre parcel in the Wekiva protection area. The property's owner has applied for changes in Lake's comprehensive plan to exempt the project from requirements to preserve trees, wildlife and open space. The land in question includes trees and wildlife, including 150 gopher tortoises, a threatened species in Florida.
County staff who reviewed the application recommended denying it. Yet the county's planning and zoning panel approved it.
Commissioners should listen to the county staff. The comprehensive plan protections wouldn't rule out all digging for sand on the property, but limit the size of the pit and mitigate its environmental damage. If that's not enough to interest the property owner, there are other sources of sand for the parkway that wouldn't depend on scarring sensitive areas.
County commissioners need to demonstrate a greater commitment to preserving the Wekiva basin than the zoning panel members. If commissioners don't, they'll make it much harder to turn down the next applicant who would rather not be bothered with protecting the environment.
The Miami Herald on human rights abuses in Cuba:
The State Department's latest report on human-rights practices effectively puts the lie to the idea that the piecemeal and illusory changes in Cuba under Gen. Raúl Castro represent a genuine political opening toward greater freedom.
If anything, things are getting worse. The report, which covers 2012, says the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation counted 6,602 short-term detentions during the year, compared with 4,123 in 2011. In March 2012, the same commission recorded a 30-year record high of 1,158 short-term detentions in a single month just before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
Among the many abuses cited by the 2012 report are the prison sentences handed out to members of the Unión Patriotica de Cuba, the estimated 3,000 citizens held under the charge of "potential dangerousness," state-orchestrated assaults against the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), the suspicious death of dissident Oswaldo Payá and so on.
As in any dictatorship, telling the truth is a crime: Independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, the first to report on the cholera outbreak in Cuba, was jailed in September for the crime of desacato (insulting speech) and remained there until last week.
The regime is willing to undertake some meek economic reforms to keep people employed. It has even dared to relax its travel requirements to allow more Cubans to leave the country if they can get a passport.
Both of these are short-term survival measures, designed as escape valves for growing internal pressure. But when it comes to free speech, political activity and freedom of association — the building blocks of a free society — the report is a depressing chronicle of human-rights abuses and a valuable reminder that repression is the Castro regime's only response to those who demand a genuinely free Cuba. Fundamental reform? Not a chance.