Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Jan Platt’s legacy in Hillsborough County

There was never any question of where Jan Platt stood on an issue. Her sense of fair play and accountability, love for the environment and belief in open government defined her more than 40 years in politics. As a member of both the Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough County Commission, Platt’s high standards and sharp tongue set a bar for a small, clubby town growing into a major metro area. Her death on Friday at age 81 marks the loss of a true public servant who used her time both in and out of office for the good of this community.

By today’s standards, Platt would seem an ill fit for politics. She wasn’t into slapping backs, shaking special interests down for campaign donations or feigning interest in the personal lives of powerful people she met. As Hillsborough boomed in the 1980s, she voted "no" scores of times on rezonings, earning the nickname "Commissioner No" for her opposition to poorly planned developments. She was standoffish to her colleagues out of an abundance of respect for Florida’s Sunshine Laws, which bar collusion between elected officials. The sight of three of five commissioners hauled away in handcuffs in a corruption scandal in 1983 never left her. She was embarrassed for the county and afraid of the impact it would have on public service. Platt turned the experience into a teachable moment, calling on business and political leaders to grow up and clean up. And to a large degree, that happened.

Platt’s support for libraries, the health of Tampa Bay and smart growth made this region a better place to live and work. She also stood as a role model. Platt did her homework, spoke her mind and paid her own way, and if that rubbed anybody wrong, well — that was tough. She didn’t spare the incompetent, the hucksters or the blowhards who appeared before her. But Platt’s criticism was never personal. She saw it her responsibility to protect the institution of government. And she insisted that her colleagues be serious and prepared.

Platt’s death leaves one less trusted voice for this region to turn toward. Her causes are not the same political pet projects that make the front pages today. But she helped lay a foundation for sustained growth and honesty in government that has fueled civic spirit and confidence in the area. Voters were proud to support her, and she repaid the favor by treating elected office as a sacred trust. She was a Democrat with an independent voice who could work (or not) with anybody. Her passing is a reminder of how far the county has come and how much a single politician with conviction can leave as a legacy.

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Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

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This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
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Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

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Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

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Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

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A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
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Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
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