Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Common sense added to gang database

It took nine months of cajoling and gentle persuasion by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri to convince some of his law enforcement colleagues in the county to adjust their approach to a state law that can wrongly brand people as gang members. But a new countywide database, approved by the Pinellas Police Standards Council, will help keep better track of gang members and protect innocent individuals from being wrongly labeled just for being seen with relatives or friends who might be engaged in gang activity. These are commonsense reforms that should be adopted by law enforcement agencies statewide.

The issue arose in October after a Tampa Bay Times article about the 2011 arrest of Justin Wiley for visiting a Largo public housing complex where his son and grandmother live. Wiley, 23, who was listed as a gang member by the Sheriff's Office, had no prior criminal record, no known gang activity and no gang-related tattoos. He made his way onto the list because deputies had seen Wiley associating with gang members. The state's broad 11-point criteria mean anyone can land on the list as a gang associate if he or she meets just one standard; a person can be tagged as a gang member for meeting only two standards. And there is no way to promptly challenge the gang designation.

Under the more thoughtful provisions still being approved by some city governments, anyone wrongly listed as a gang member can now appeal the designation. There will be a set time frame for names to be removed from the list. Parents or legal guardians must by notified if their children have been listed as gang members or associates. And the new guidelines also create the centralized database on local gangs that is administered through the sheriff's office.

Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board Tuesday that the vague state law was short-sighted and credited the county's law enforcement community support of the new criteria that could be a statewide model. It is appropriate that one of the first steps Gualtieri took to implement the reforms was removing Wiley's mug shot from the county jail's website. A young man's future should not be threatened by a broad state law that makes it too easy to permanently mislabel someone as a gang member or associate.

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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
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: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

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
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18