Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Downsizing MOSI good move to save brand

Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry made a difficult but necessary decision Thursday in announcing it would significantly downsize its campus in advance of relocating to downtown Tampa. The move will save MOSI money while preserving its presence and educational mission, and it signals that museum leaders are willing to confront the reality of the marketplace. This is a good move that should bolster public confidence in MOSI and better position it to succeed at its new location.

MOSI will consolidate its exhibits at its longtime home in north Tampa, across from the University of South Florida. It will close the IMAX theater and shut down some low-performing attractions, reducing the facility to less than one-sixth of its current size, from 300,000 square feet to about 40,000 square feet. The smaller footprint will help MOSI reduce overhead costs, with the goal of sustaining the operation until 2022, when it expects to move into a new home as part of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's housing, office and retail development on the south end of downtown Tampa. Hillsborough County, which owns the museum, will decide how to use the surplus property.

While a dramatic change in course, MOSI is making the right move even if it's by necessity. Its struggling finances, flagging attendance and high fixed costs called for a strategy that would keep the museum afloat and visible for the near term. MOSI also needs to stay strong enough institutionally to attract the civic support needed to make a healthy addition to the Vinik project. Paring back the operation makes financial sense, and it enables MOSI to maintain its valuable name brand in the community. No other local venue offers a similar experience.

The museum will close in mid August and reopen in the fall in the reconfigured space. As a sweetener, MOSI will lower ticket prices (currently $26.95 for adults and $20.95 for kids), though officials have yet to decide the amount. MOSI also will give members additional passes for guests. It should work to keep its strong relationships with other local attractions and maintain its marketing budget.

Hillsborough County should be open to continuing financial support for MOSI. The publicly owned museum serves a unique educational role, and with a lively remake it could remain a signature attraction and a key element of Tampa Bay's larger effort to build the region into an entrepreneurial center for science. This transition is in good hands; the new board chairman, Robert Thomas, has been a strong advocate for MOSI for years. He should foster public confidence in MOSI's ability to see the strategy through. While this new look for MOSI may be a retreat to regroup, it's a tactical one that has the best chance of preserving this valuable institution over the long term.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18