Friday, December 15, 2017
Editorials

A quartet to watch in 2013

As the first work day of the new year approaches, there are a number of people in Hernando County who will have a major impact on public policy and the success of the community. Here are a quartet to watch in 2013:

David Russell

The Hernando County Commission's consummate deal-maker is the only remaining board member who faithfully supported increasing the property tax rate to balance the current budget. Russell will serve as the anchor among the tea-flavored leanings of Commissioners Wayne Dukes and Jim Adkins, populist Diane Rowden and newly elected Nick Nicholson who has offered snippets of both philosophies. Russell's pragmatism, however, has doomed a valuable land preservation program that no longer has its funding source. The eventual end of the environmental lands program also means an eventual end to the money subsidizing park maintenance, effectively creating yet another long-term budget challenge for the county.

Leonard Sossamon

After seven months on the job, the honeymoon is over for Hernando County's newest administrator. Sossamon has confronted mismanagement at Animal Services; a commission trying to micromanage his selection of a public safety director; and anti-government hostility at a recent town hall meeting called to cull budget ideas on county services. Of Sossamon's five current bosses, only two initially wanted to hire him, though Russell acquiesced immediately to make the selection unanimous. Sossamon is seeking to get the commission to look beyond the seat-of-its-pants governing that dominates much of the decision-making at the county building and take a long-range view of Hernando County's ambitions and how the commission can achieve them.

Wilton Simpson

The term-limited Rep. Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, remains the only member of the legislative delegation residing within the county. But, Simpson is the only legislator representing all of Hernando County via his District 18 seat in the Florida Senate. The egg farmer and businessman from the eastern Pasco County community of Trilby, has said improving the area's highway network — a wider State Road 50 on the eastern side of the county and more lanes on U.S. 98 to Lakeland — are priorities for the long-term benefit of the regional economy. He'll get a chance to work on that agenda as a member of the Senate subcommittee overseeing spending on transportation, tourism and economic development.

Mike McHugh

While his bosses on the County Commission can get distracted by the minutia of tweaking airport names and branding schemes, McHugh remains the big-picture guy in the county's economic development efforts. He has correctly identified some of Hernando's most significant shortcomings — a poorly educated workforce and few dollars to match the economic incentives tossed around by other local governments. He is pushing for Hernando to have its own adult vocational education center to boost job training, has recommended commissioners find a way to build an economic incentive fund and suggested the county partner with a four-year college to expand the higher education offerings locally while simultaneously expanding opportunities for research and business incubation within the county. It's a hefty to-do list, but one the commission must whittle away at if it wants to break the stranglehold of having the residential construction industry as its prime economic engine.

Comments
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17