Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Addiction treatment shouldn't succumb to NIMBY logic

Finally, Hernando County residents fighting drug addiction will have a place closer to home to get help. And county commissioners should learn their lesson about succumbing to not-in-my-backyard arguments when it comes to land-use decisions.

Last week's settlement of a federal lawsuit filed against the county by Operation PAR paves the way for the first methadone treatment clinic in Hernando on property the agency had purchased on Kass Circle. It also rights the wrong done a year ago.

A state court has ruled the unanimous County Commission met the letter of the law in revoking the Planning and Zoning Commission's decision to grant a special exception permit to allow a medical facility at the 5,300-square-foot stand-alone building. But there is no denying that neighborhood objections influenced the commission's action. The elected county commissioners' decision in August 2011 followed a two-hour-long hearing in which neighbors said they feared for their safety from recovering drug addicts, and commercial property owners suggested they could lose tenants if the clinic opened nearby.

The commission's denial, Operation PAR charged in the federal lawsuit settled last week, amounted to discrimination against drug addicts under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The neighbors' arguments before the commission were baseless considering Operation PAR's track record operating four similar clinics in the region. The commission's discriminatory act came from singling out the type of patients to be treated. Would neighbors have complained if a medical clinic had intended to offer cosmetic surgery to the affluent, diabetes treatment to the obese, or vaccines to children?

Operation PAR wants to open in Spring Hill because it has more than 100 patients living in Hernando County who travel to Pasco for treatment at the agency's clinic in Port Richey. A state assessment also determined Hernando needed a treatment program.

Combatting the prescription drug abuse epidemic takes more than a legislative and law enforcement crackdown. It also requires communities to make treatment accessible for residents who need it.

Comments
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18