Saturday, February 17, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Chairman's bluster harms own credibility

Pasco Commission Chairman Jack Mariano overstepped his authority when he sought gubernatorial intervention with federal environmental regulators over the denied permit for channel dredging in Aripeka.

Mariano, in an ill-advised and heavy-handed letter dated Nov. 27 to Gov. Rick Scott, accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff in Jacksonville of having a "personal bias that has continued unabated for 18 months.'' The Corps rejected the dredging permit application in May and Mariano asked Scott to help push an appeal to a separate Corps office in Atlanta.

Absent favorable federal action, Mariano threatened, "our only recourse to get an objective review will be through the courts, an alternative that will certainly stress our limited finances.''

Just one problem: the rest of the commission was unaware of Mariano's unauthorized lobbying as chairman and the county has not threatened litigation because the appellant is a private land owner. Commissioners previously agreed to the appeal only if the cost was borne by SunWest Harbortowne, the proposed upscale community and resort that would share the channel access with an adjacent county park in northwest Pasco.

Mariano had no business going rogue and other board members correctly feared his sledgehammer approach could harm other pending permit applications with the Corps, including for the Ridge Road Extension and for flooding fixes in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood in Trinity. Commissioner Ted Schrader called Mariano's actions surprising, bewildering and offensive. Commissioner Kathryn Starkey told Mariano, "I think you went way over the line in your first week as chairman.''

Mariano apologized for leaving the rest of the commission in the dark, but not for his ill-tempered sentiments. It's unfortunate. The petulance is a familiar and so far unsuccessful tactic for Mariano and Bob Carpenter of SunWest, who helped compile the letter. Whenever someone disagrees or raises environmental concerns about the proposed 4-mile long channel to the Gulf of Mexico, the objectors are accused of prejudice or ignorance.

And Mariano's own credibility would have been helped if he had been more straightforward with Scott. Mariano told the governor "the project has overwhelming support'' but failed to mention that opponents filed more than 9,000 individual comments and petitions with more than 40,000 signatures asking the Corps to deny the permit application.

Mariano also characterized a dredged channel as the cornerstone of the county's redevelopment. In that regard, his zeal to lure significant private investment to the county's aging western edge is understandable. But he needs a new strategy.

Redeveloping west Pasco shouldn't be synonymous with steamrolling legitimate environmental questions, blindsiding the rest of the commission, and damaging permit applications for more imperative public projects.

Comments
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18