Monday, June 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Big shoes to fill as top prosecutor

Robert E. O'Neill set the right priorities in his three years as the top federal prosecutor for the Middle District of Florida. His focus on public corruption and tax and health care fraud well served the population of the nation's second-largest judicial district. As the president looks to appoint a successor, the White House should seek a candidate who similarly understands the criminal and consumer issues facing Floridians and who appreciates the office's obligation to be active, fair and transparent.

O'Neill announced this month he will step down this summer to join a private risk management firm led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. His departure after 20 years in Central Florida and three years as the top prosecutor will mark a loss in institutional history for the entire 35-county jurisdiction, which extends from Jacksonville to Naples. Federal prosecutors have a reputation for ham-handedness — a byproduct of the secrecy surrounding federal court — but O'Neill worked well with local law enforcement. His successor should recognize that treating local authorities the same way helps both sides.

O'Neill personally prosecuted public corruption cases over the years, raising the profile of his office's anticorruption practice. These are typically complex and time-consuming prosecutions. But O'Neill's investigations into housing fraud and bribery have cleaned up local government and strengthened public confidence in the political process. The next U.S. attorney needs to devote the same attention and resources to these types of cases. Similarly, O'Neill's successor should stay on top of health care and tax fraud, which have taken off in the Tampa Bay area, in part due to the region's high number of elderly people.

The next U.S. attorney also needs to follow O'Neill's example in answering for his office. The public deserves to know what federal prosecutors are doing and why they make certain cases a priority. O'Neill explained his thinking publicly, and he was not afraid of feedback. That sense of openness is vital for holding the office to account. And it keeps the U.S. attorney plugged into the community he or she serves.

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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

Editorial: Florida needs to explain its own price gouging

In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol. Based on reportin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
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