Monday, December 18, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Don't rig the game for FSU's next leader

A public university with ambitions to be ranked among the best should not be run like a private club. Yet the fix appears to be in at Florida State University for John Thrasher, one of Florida's most powerful lawmakers and an FSU alumnus, to become the school's next president. Thrasher may be an attractive option for a university that needs to raise more money, but he should have to compete for the job.

The FSU presidential search committee abandoned all pretense of a fair and responsible search Wednesday when it voted to suspend its effort to attract a pool of candidates until Thrasher is interviewed. The vote came a day after former FSU president Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte nominated Thrasher and the headhunter told the committee he was having a hard time attracting candidates because of the buzz about Thrasher.

This is what happens when state leaders play politics with state universities and search committees don't do their jobs. Thrasher, now a state senator from St. Augustine and chairman of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign, has long been one of the Legislature's most dogged Seminole boosters. He used his 1998-2000 tenure as House speaker to secure a new medical school for his alma mater and to demolish the Board of Regents governance model that many Seminoles felt kept FSU permanently in the shadow of the University of Florida. In this year's legislative session, Thrasher led an unexpected charge to split FSU's joint engineering school with Florida A&M University. He failed, but he planted a seed that will surely return in coming sessions.

Understandably, the negative reaction from faculty and students has been swift. And even D'Alemberte seemed to acknowledge the unseemliness: "In an ideal world, I would not say that John was the best candidate, but in the world we live in I would say he is the best candidate," D'Alemberte told the Tallahassee Democrat.

Thrasher's supporters argue there is precedent. Former FSU president T.K. Wetherell, for example, had been House speaker. Former Florida Atlantic University president Frank Brogan had been lieutenant governor. But both men had also had prominent education careers. Former University of South Florida president Betty Castor had served as the state's elected education commissioner.

But in each instance, search committees required all three to go head-to-head with other candidates. Thrasher, 70, is a lawyer and former chairman of FSU's Board of Trustees who may be a good fit. But the game should not be rigged, and he should be measured against other qualified candidates.

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Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

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Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

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Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17