Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: City manager's treatment needs investigating

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe should thoroughly investigate the curious case of Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill, who was found unconscious behind the wheel of his SUV on July 13. Police officers gave O'Neill a pass on taking sobriety tests, sent him to a hospital by ambulance, drove his vehicle to his house and chauffeured him home after his discharge. It revealed questionable judgment from two small-town police departments and raised questions of favoritism toward the city administrator, who police said smelled of alcohol and was too unsteady to walk without assistance.

McCabe said Wednesday he ordered the investigation to determine if O'Neill should face a drunken driving charge after reading news accounts of the incident that detailed O'Neill's physical condition and a police decision to treat the case as a medical emergency rather than a criminal investigation.

To his credit, the first officer on the scene — New Port Richey police Cpl. William Phillips — recognized the sticky situation of finding O'Neill passed out in a vehicle idling at an intersection. Phillips requested assistance from other agencies to avoid the appearances of impropriety. But the only department available was Port Richey Police, and its officer called in his chief, Dave Brown, an O'Neill subordinate. That only exacerbated the potential conflict of interest.

O'Neill, the retired city manager of New Port Richey who assumed the same job for Port Richey 18 months ago, later caught a ride home from the hospital with Brown. The presence of Brown at the scene "certainly complicates the situation,'' said New Port Richey police Chief Kim Bogart. It creates at least a perception of partiality and could have influenced Phillips into short-circuiting a drunken driving investigation after O'Neill did not respond to verbal commands.

An independent investigation is the best way to restore public confidence that people will receive equal treatment from local police no matter what their job title at city hall.

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Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

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Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

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Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

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Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
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Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18