Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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.

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Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít 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 Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís 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 wonít 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, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís 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
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17