Friday, February 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.

Comments
Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Association’s solid w...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasn’t enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldn’t take months or another tragedy for Florida — which is hot and full of seniors — to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. That’s why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.’’ A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he won’t raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trump’s claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nation’s 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

It’s 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