Tuesday, July 17, 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
PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin made inaccurate statements to the media following their one-on-one talks in Helsinki about election meddling, global terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.Hereís a rundown of our fact-checks.Trump:...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

JOHANNESBURG —†Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday took aim at "strongman politics" in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in an imp...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but youíre a hypocrite

Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but youíre a hypocrite

Hypocrisy, thy name is Rick Scott.And, yes, I owe Shakespeare an apology.But I think Floridaís governor owes all of us an apology.This isnít about one manís opinion, and it isnít about philosophical differences. This is about a politician who is publ...
Published: 07/17/18
Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

HELSINKI ó Standing next to Russiaís Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agenciesí conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trumpís benefit and seemed to accept Putinís i...
Published: 07/16/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Hunter, Murphy speak to Democratic ClubThe Trinity Democratic Club will host candidates Chris Hunter (running for U.S. Congress in District 12) and Amanda Murphy (running for state Senate in District 16) as guest speakers at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. ...
Published: 07/16/18
Giant pork pile awaits Americans as trade wars risk exports

Giant pork pile awaits Americans as trade wars risk exports

Donald Trumpís trade wars are making pork a bargain.American production is poised to reach an all-time high this year, and output is forecast to surge again in 2019. The supply boom comes as tariffs from China and Mexico threaten to curb export deman...
Published: 07/16/18
Sacha Baron Cohen still knows how to punk America, but his new show erodes what little trust we have left

Sacha Baron Cohen still knows how to punk America, but his new show erodes what little trust we have left

Sacha Baron Cohenís return to incognito trickery is, in current conditions, a little like pouring rubbing alcohol into the nationís open wounds.Employing the same ingenious commitment and subterfuge that made him famous in the guise of Ali G., Borat ...
Published: 07/15/18
Trump tweets, hits links before high-stakes Putin meeting

Trump tweets, hits links before high-stakes Putin meeting

TURNBERRY, Scotland ó Two days before a high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump played golf and tweeted Saturday from one of his namesake resorts, blaming his predecessor for Russian election meddling and lash...
Published: 07/14/18
March column: Transit petition has

March column: Transit petition has "steep hill"

Leaders of an effort to put a Hillsborough County transportation sales tax referendum on the November ballot say theyíre confident theyíll gather enough petition signatures in time.But they may have to work fast. As of Thursday, All for Transportatio...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/15/18
Scott taps former Pinellas GOP chair to fill commission vacancy left by late John Morroni

Scott taps former Pinellas GOP chair to fill commission vacancy left by late John Morroni

Gov. Rick Scott appointed real estate investor and former Redington Shores Mayor Jay Beyrouti to the Pinellas County Commission on Friday, filling the vacancy created when Commissioner John Morroni died of cancer in May.In a short news release, the G...
Published: 07/13/18