Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

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:

Yawn.

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.

Comments
Atlanta airport power outage cancels 1,000 flights; more Delta cancellations Monday

Atlanta airport power outage cancels 1,000 flights; more Delta cancellations Monday

ATLANTA — A sudden power outage brought the world’s busiest airport to a standstill Sunday, grounding more than 1,000 flights in Atlanta just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush. Authorities announced that electricity would be restored...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

TAMPA — The Bucs and Falcons have each won three straight games on Monday nights as they face each other on a national platform tonight at Raymond James Stadium.How can Tampa Bay continue its streak and stop Atlanta’s? It won’t be easy, but given the...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Bitcoin futures begin trading on CME, price little changed

NEW YORK — Another security based on the price of bitcoin, the digital currency that has soared in value and volatility this year, began trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Sunday. The CME Group, which owns the exchange, opened up bitcoin f...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Woman shot and killed in apparent drive-by shooting in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — A woman was shot to death Sunday night in an apparent drive-by shooting, according to Clearwater police.Authorities said they received an initial call at 8:19 p.m. originating from 800 Belleair Road. The shooting is believed to have occu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

TAMPA — The beers and the "love ya, bros" were flowing Saturday night at the Hooters in Tampa. Jon Gruden, who will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of tonight’s home game against the Falcons, worked the room, greeting family, frie...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

TAMPA — It’s ridiculous that it took this long to give Jon Gruden a night all his own, given the nights he gave Bucs fans. But it will happen this evening at Raymond James Stadium, a salute to the thermonuclear source of that Super Bowl season, that ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nation’s fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nation’s fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts Rolling a fat one — 100 feet longMarijuana aficionados have rolled a 100-foot-long joint. The effort was led by Boston-based cannabis club and advocacy group Beantown Greentown during an exhibition of pro-marijuana vendors and supporter...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Friendly competition

Friendly competition

 
Updated: 4 hours ago

More than 300 cruise passengers fall ill with stomach virus

PORT EVERGLADES — More than 300 passengers on a cruise ship that docked at Port Everglades fell ill with a stomach virus. The Naples Daily News reported that the Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited’s ship Independence docked Saturday in Florida reported ...
Updated: 4 hours ago