Friday, November 16, 2018
Politics

Romano: Like him or not, Latvala deserves a fair hearing

At some point, the truth has to matter, right?

Evidence, due process, all of that?

No matter how you feel about Sen. Jack Latvala personally (and I’ve never been a huge fan) or how you feel about the overzealousness of his defense (which I criticized earlier this week), we all have an obligation to follow the facts and truth of the sexual harassment charges brought against him.

So why are so many people rushing to judgment?

For instance, House Speaker Richard Corcoran was calling for Latvala’s resignation within minutes — quite literally — of anonymous allegations hitting Politico last month.

I’m not arguing whether Latvala is innocent or guilty; that’s a matter for the special master appointed to the case to investigate. I’m arguing that justice works for all of us or it works for none of us.

Now, obviously, it’s more complicated than that.

If the past few months have taught us anything, it is that men in power have routinely bullied, harassed, groped and raped without fear of repercussion for far too long.

So the courageousness of the first few women stepping forward has given us all an opportunity to change the course of America, and that’s not remotely an exaggeration.

Men will either behave, or they will be held accountable.

It really should be that clear.

It really can be that revolutionary.

But we must be careful that our enthusiasm for justice doesn’t inadvertently trample the path to justice. It has been said that a lynch mob is still a lynch mob, even if the accused is guilty.

Unlike some celebrities/politicians who have acknowledged at least a version of the accusations against them, Latvala has vociferously denied any inappropriate physical contact with anyone.

And, thus, he has a right to defend himself.

Now, as I pointed out this week, I think Latvala went too far with his defense. At least publicly. If he didn’t come right out and violate his accuser’s confidentiality, he appears to have done it in spirit. And that may eventually prove to be more problematic than the original allegation.

But the more people talk about this case, the uglier it seems to get. And that’s not fair. It’s not fair to the accuser, the accused, the witnesses or the special master in charge. Most of all, it’s an unsettling precedent for every woman watching from afar and seeing what a mess it’s become.

For that reason, Senate President Joe Negron needs to do two things:

1. He needs to tell his members to keep their opinions to themselves until the investigation is completed, and he should request Corcoran do the same in the House.

2. He needs to expedite this process. The special master’s investigation is supposedly completed, and so there is no reason for this not to be resolved by month’s end.

In the end, this is not about personalities. It’s not about how incidents were handled in Hollywood or Washington, D.C., and it certainly should not be about politics. This is about whether Latvala inappropriately touched the woman who made a formal complaint.

There are some people who are outraged by this story and who see Latvala as the embodiment of the shenanigans, and worse, that women have endured in Tallahassee and elsewhere. Others are chagrined that a career in public service is going up in flames even though they see the evidence pointing to exoneration. The difference, I suppose, is in the ways our own lives have shaped our world views.

And that’s why it’s important to let the process play out the way it’s supposed to. Despite our differences, we all seemingly want the same thing.

And that’s justice.

 

Comments
Palm Beach County misses Florida election recount deadline

Palm Beach County misses Florida election recount deadline

This is one of only two counties to miss the statewide deadline.
Updated: 7 hours ago
How did recounts in two large Florida counties turn out fewer votes?

How did recounts in two large Florida counties turn out fewer votes?

Power outages? Different machines? Human error? Here's what we know.
Updated: 8 hours ago
Janet Cruz-Dana Young race heads to manual recount in Hillsborough

Janet Cruz-Dana Young race heads to manual recount in Hillsborough

The results from the machine recount won't be used because officials don't know why 846 votes aren't being counted, so it will stick with the original, unofficial results. The machine recount also wouldn't have changed the outcome of any race. Next stop: A manual recount on Friday.
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida orders first ever statewide hand-recounts as legal fights continue

Florida orders first ever statewide hand-recounts as legal fights continue

Following a five-day machine recount of the more than 8.3 million votes cast in the Nov. 6 elections, Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered hand recounts Thursday afternoon.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Bill Nelson, Democrats win some legal battles on recounts, but will it be enough?

Bill Nelson, Democrats win some legal battles on recounts, but will it be enough?

Despite some courtroom victories, Bill Nelson's deficit grew to 12,603 votes in his race against Gov. Rick Scott for the U.S. Senate.
Updated: 9 hours ago
After all the drama, Broward finishes recount with minutes to spare — but it won’t count

After all the drama, Broward finishes recount with minutes to spare — but it won’t count

The county didn't turn in results until two minutes after the 3 p.m. deadline.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Machine recount confirms: Ron DeSantis is Florida’s next governor

Machine recount confirms: Ron DeSantis is Florida’s next governor

The results of the statewide machine recount which rolled by the Thursday 3 p.m. deadline, solidified what was expected: Ron DeSantis is (probably) Florida's next governor.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Hillsborough County won’t submit recount results after fewer votes tallied in new count

Hillsborough County won’t submit recount results after fewer votes tallied in new count

The recount turned up 846 fewer votes, and Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said he will not accept that votes go unreported.
Updated: 10 hours ago
A man shouted 'Heil Hitler' and 'Heil Trump' during 'Fiddler on the Roof' - and people ran

A man shouted 'Heil Hitler' and 'Heil Trump' during 'Fiddler on the Roof' - and people ran

Several minutes into intermission during a musical about Jewish traditions, a man stood up, raised him arm in a Nazi salute and started to shout.Members of the audience said the man called out "Heil Hitler!" and "Heil Trump!" at t...
Updated: 11 hours ago
St. Petersburg motorcycle crash kills 44-year-old man, shuts down traffic

St. Petersburg motorcycle crash kills 44-year-old man, shuts down traffic

The motorcycle collided with an SUV. The other driver is cooperating with investigators.
Updated: 11 hours ago