Monday, August 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Changing the CareerSource Pinellas culture

The Pinellas County Commission sent a clear message Tuesday by removing the board chairman of the troubled CareerSource Pinellas and signaling there has to be a culture change regarding government accountability. Residents appointed to boards overseeing public responsibilities too often become obedient servants to the entrenched bureaucrats they are supposed to oversee. These board members are serving their fellow residents, and they have an obligation to help ensure public money is prudently spent.

The commissioners voted unanimously to remove Aundre Green from the CareerSource board after Green demonstrated he failed to grasp the seriousness of the concerns about mismanagement. CareerSource spends millions in public money to provide training and match workers with jobs, and the Tampa Bay Times’ Mark Puente has reported evidence that suggests the numbers the agency has reported to the state may be padded. Those revelations have triggered multiple federal and state investigations.

Yet last week Green and other members of a CareerSource board committee refused to suspend the agency’s longtime president and CEO, Ed Peachey. When Pinellas Commissioner Pat Gerard, a member of the committee, moved to take action against Peachey, Green cut her off and refused to consider her request. Green’s first loyalty apparently was to Peachey rather than to taxpayers, and he only moved to unilaterally suspend Peachey with pay the following day after county commissioners expressed their unhappiness.

Gerard said Tuesday she has concerns about the CareerSource board’s independence, and commission chair Ken Welch expressed his frustrations with other actions by the board and the agency’s attorney. Commissioner Janet Long’s suggestion that other board members who refused to remove Peachey also be replaced did not get traction, but at least they are on notice that the commissioners expect more due diligence. The board members can start by squashing Peachey’s absurd application to open a charter school in the outdated Pinellas science center where CareerSource is located. With Peachey suspended and so many investigations and questions about the agency’s ability to meet its primary mission of matching workers with jobs, CareerSource is hardly prepared to take on new responsibilities.

Commissioners praised Green’s successor as chair of the CareerSource board, Jack Geller. But Geller did not distinguish himself at Tuesday’s commission meeting. He defended Green and complained about open government laws that prevent two members of the same panel from discussing public business in private. "I hate the Sunshine Law,’’ Geller told commissioners.

That does not build public confidence in a troubled agency that would benefit from more transparency. Perhaps Geller and his colleagues at CareerSource need a refresher course on the importance of government-in-the-sunshine. It will take more openness and accountability to clean up the mess they helped create by failing to provide enough oversight over Peachey and his pals.

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Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Forceful words are coming from the pope’s pen as well as pulpits around Tampa Bay: The sexual abuse of minors, which proliferated for decades within the Roman Catholic Church, were not merely sins but crimes whose repercussions are still being felt b...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Within weeks of taking office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott made one of the worst decisions of his administration and refused $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Within months of leaving office, the governor...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Local governments across the land can find plenty of reasons to go after the drug industry over the crisis of opioid addiction.Hillsborough County can find more reasons than most.• In 2016, the county led the state with 579 babies born addicted to dr...
Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

The environmental crisis in South Florida has fast become a political crisis. Politicians in both parties are busy blaming one another for the waves of toxic algae blooms spreading out from Lake Okeechobee and beyond, fouling both coasts and damaging...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/20/18
Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18

Bumping into GOP cowardice on guns

One small island of sanity in the generally insane ocean of American gun culture is the near-complete federal ban on civilian possession of fully automatic weapons — machine guns.The nation got a bitter taste last year of what we’d be facing on a reg...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

The revelation that three people in Pinellas County have contracted the measles virus should be a wake-up call to everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t been — and to implore parents to immunize their kids. Contagious diseases such as measles can...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didn’t bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump — 27.6 percent — or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18