Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hurricane Pam sweeps Children's Board

Some things, you just stand back and watch.

Like hurricanes.

And Pam Iorio.

Not that I'm comparing Tampa's previous mayor to what's swirling out there making us all nervous. But what happened over at the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, the site of Iorio's current temporary gig, was a storm of sorts, a seriously destructive PR disaster.

Consider recent Children's Board headlines as reported by the Times' Jodie Tillman: Questionable spending. No-bid contracts. A majority of the staff doubting the ethics and integrity of the bosses.

And a CEO paid $171,330 a year to run a publicly funded agency the public knew little about.

That CEO, Luanne Panacek, could not seem to understand why bringing in a religious friend on a weekend to spread holy oil around the office might scare the staff Monday morning — not to mention make the rest of us wonder what's going on over there on the public dime.

And all of this when voters will decide in 2016 whether to reauthorize using property taxes for the Children's Board, an agency that finances child welfare programs for kids who need them most.

So here comes Iorio, a politician who can't stop to gas up her car without strangers wanting to know what office she's running for next, tapped to clean up the post-storm mess.

Already, she has slimmed 55 agency jobs down to 40. ("Too much staff, not enough to do," she says.) Less for salaries, more for actual programs, the Children's Board being out of whack with similar agencies across the state.

A clearer mission. Focus. Accountability.

And here's a big one: Transparency, even down to using less insider jargon, and enough already with the acronyms. (Did DACCO do an RFP PDQ?)

And does this start to feel kind of like that breeze when the rain's over?

Iorio wants to do her job as interim boss in a few months, with a new and permanent one coming soon, preferably with a title less "highfalutin," she says, than CEO.

When the previous administration has been accused of focusing on building an empire instead of running an efficient public agency, I guess titles do start to matter.

Iorio would also like a more modest top salary — in the $140,000s — instead of one that's more than the mayor of the entire city makes.

And how about letting the public know what they're paying for with those property taxes they'll soon be asked to agree to pay again?

She even wants meetings broadcast on government access TV for the public to see. To which I say:


But in a good way.

Those previous meetings might have made for some great reality TV, but if all goes well, these will be appropriately snooze-inducing, with talk of bids and budgets and nary a bottle of holy oil in sight.

If the calm after the storm can be a storm in and of itself, it's this.

• • •

Speaking of hurricanes, holy oil and such …

What do you suppose the Rev. Pat Robertson thinks God might be punishing Tampa-bound Republicans for with the impending Isaac?

Just wondering.

Hurricane Pam sweeps Children's Board 08/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 9:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB


    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]

  2. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  3. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young


    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  5. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on


    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times