Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Civil service rules due for update

Hillsborough County's civil service system helps keep politics out of hiring and firing decisions and gives county employees a formal process for contesting any disciplinary action. But the system also has an archaic side that can keep workers from reaching their potential while making it more difficult for the county to attract the talent it needs in this fast-changing economy. A reform effort by Tax Collector Doug Belden deserves a serious look.

Belden wants to examine whether the 21 separate county agencies covered by civil service should have the option of peeling away some workplace rules. While the proposal is still in the formative stage, Belden said the rules are too restrictive when it comes to classifying jobs and establishing pay scales. County Clerk of Courts Pat Frank agrees. She and Belden say the rules that establish job descriptions and pay are cumbersome and not reflective of the experience, skill sets and job responsibilities that employees must have in today's market. The two elected officials and County Administrator Mike Merrill have begun discussing possible changes.

It's important to be clear about what's not being proposed. Nobody wants to weaken the grievance procedure, cut pay or benefits, or change the process for performance reviews. And civil service still would play an overarching role, operating a centralized jobs bank and testing center for available county jobs. The focus here is on eliminating the many job classifications that have become meaningless in the modern workplace, replacing them with job descriptions that more accurately describe the work and the technical abilities that county employers need. These officials also want the civil service system to speed the process for hiring. Delays have resulted in internal and outside candidates for new jobs being lured away by other employers.

Civil service has a legitimate role in ensuring that applicants for jobs in local government get a fair shake, and in protecting staff in this political environment from retribution. But workplace rules also need to recognize that the office environment has changed, and that employees are taking on duties that don't fit neatly within the confines of old job descriptions. Belden and Frank say they have no intention of acting rashly, or of moving to gut civil service. That's the right attitude. The county should explore this idea with the goal of preserving the purpose of civil service while making it more productive for employees, the agencies and taxpayers.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18