Monday, December 18, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Cases shine a light into Scientology

The judges in two separate lawsuits against the Church of Scientology have made the right call to keep the focus on the church's behavior and reject its efforts to sidetrack the cases. The church should address the accusations of misconduct directly rather than delay and obfuscate by trying to force its accusers to change lawyers.

Judges in Tampa and Texas this week properly rejected the church's attempt to force the plaintiffs' lawyers off the cases, which would have stalled the lawsuits and made it difficult for the church's critics to proceed. In Tampa, U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore ruled that two South Florida lawyers can continue to represent a California couple who accuse the church of fraud. In Texas, a state court judge rejected the church's argument to remove lawyers representing the wife of a former high-ranking church officer who has accused the church of harassment.

The lawsuits go to the heart of some of the most serious accusations against the Church of Scientology. One involves onetime devoted church members who generously contributed to the church. The other involves the family of a former high-ranking staff member who joined former Scientology colleagues in describing in a series of articles in the Tampa Bay Times how the church mistreated staffers, intimidated them and tracked down those who left. The lawsuits could shed further light on the church's activities, so it is no surprise Scientology lawyers are distracting the courts with side issues.

The church continues to operate in unpredictable ways under a cloud of secrecy. In August, in defiance of the city of Clearwater's warning, it cut down two large trees near its downtown headquarters to clear space for a November event and was fined $2,000. This weekend it expected to draw thousands of Scientologists to Clearwater for the opening of its enormous Flag Building, which has been under construction for almost 15 years. That event was abruptly canceled last month without explanation. Without comment, the church also paid $3 million for part of a key city block that had long been considered by Clearwater officials as a key factor in redevelopment.

The Tampa lawsuit could shed more light on how the Church of Scientology raises and spends money. Rocio and Luis Garcia of California accuse the church of fraud and argue the church used deceptive, high-pressure pitches to get them and other Scientologists to donate millions. The Garcias donated more than $420,000 to the Flag Building and claim the church deceptively raised millions more than was needed to build the enormous project.

The Church of Scientology has consistently insisted its fundraising practices and its treatment of its staff are aboveboard and legal. If that is true, then it should instruct its lawyers to drop their stalling tactics and directly address the merits of the legal claims against the church that paint a far different picture.

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Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

The annual Editorial Cartoon Round-Up is a thought-provoking recap of a momentous 2017. The gallery containing 32 cartoons from some of the best editorial cartoonists in the country is made available by the Washington Post News Service & Syndicat...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
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...
Published: 12/14/17

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...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
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