Sunday, February 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Email bill undermines open government

For those weary of spam in their in-box, the idea could sound appealing: Don't let state government provide voters' email addresses to anyone. But this simple idea has far-reaching consequences that would dramatically undermine Floridians' ability to hold their government to account. Such secrecy has no place in a democracy.

The problems with HB 249 and SB 1260 are both logistical and philosophical. The plans would require any agency that holds a voter's email address to cloak the email address from public view. The exemption would create a bureaucratic nightmare in fulfilling public records requests. Just how are non-elections agencies supposed to know that [email protected] belongs to a registered voter? And the potential is also ripe for cloaking who is communicating with government officials. That is unacceptable.

Under Florida's Constitution, lawmakers must provide compelling public reasons why such information should be cloaked. The bill sponsors fail on those points, too. Their tortuous argument claims that since voters can use email to request an absentee ballot, public access to the addresses could encourage voter impersonation. Never mind, apparently, that actual cases of voter interference now being prosecuted came about because political operatives have access to the cloaked names of all voters requesting absentee ballots. Yet there has been no move to change that law.

The other flawed argument is that eventually county supervisors of elections hope to save money by sending sample ballots via email and that if email addresses are public, voters won't be willing to provide email addresses for fear they will be mined via public records requests for commercial purposes. But there are laws to prohibit that. And potential voter resistance to a government cost-cutting scheme is no reason to abandon the state's commitment to open government.

Lawmakers have crafted a solution in search of a problem. But Florida's tradition to open government is not the problem.

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Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís 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
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18