Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: An official, and an agency, no one needs

There's a reason Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission gets bad press: The agency is a mess, a waste of money, riddled with ethical conflicts and virtually unaccountable. Now it turns out agency boss Cesar Padilla has been spending workdays moonlighting as a for-hire security guard at a Tampa auction house. The operation doesn't need him, and the county doesn't need the agency.

Tampa Bay Times staff writer Bill Varian reports that records show that Padilla has cleared $10,400 in the past 20 months working as a private security guard hired through the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, where he is a reserve deputy. County payroll records show that on at least 10 occasions, Padilla reported he worked a full shift of regular hours for the PTC or claimed sick leave while on guard for the private company, Tampa Machinery Auction.

As the executive director of a regulatory agency, Padilla should have the judgment to recognize he can't moonlight as private muscle while he is on the clock for the agency at the same time. Having a chief executive who's paid $107,000 a year take private-paying gigs on the side demeans the integrity of the agency. And this is hardly the only example of Padilla's poor leadership. In January, the new PTC chairman, Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, was alarmed to discover that Padilla routinely filled out his own job evaluation. That exemplifies the wing-it mentality that takes the place of established workplace rules at the PTC. Crist is on the right path with his effort to professionalize the office environment. His plan to put Padilla on contract would be a start toward establishing some basic expectations. But his fellow PTC board members, all elected officials, have shown no real interest in cleaning up the agency.

There is a legitimate need to regulate the taxicab business. The government has an interest in ensuring that for-hire vehicles are safe and operable, and that drivers do not have criminal records or drug histories that endanger the public or passengers. But this function can be performed a number of ways, and it doesn't require tolerating the PTC. This is an agency, after all, that has a seven-member board overseeing a 10-member staff. It has spent thousands of tax dollars over the years on lobbyists in Tallahassee to justify its existence.

The PTC board should follow Crist's lead and quickly come to grips with this administrative fiasco. It also should explore a better framework for regulating cabs, limousines and other for-hire vehicles. The current setup protects the big cab companies at the expense of consumers and preserves a bureaucracy that does not recognize the difference between right and wrong.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18