Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: End nonsensical public records ploy

They need a history lesson at New Port Richey City Hall. Twenty-five years ago, the city wasted $50,000 fighting an indefensible public records lawsuit from two residents objecting to a bridge construction project. Later, the city had to pay $220,000 to settle a federal civil rights claim after bullying and intimidating Terence Brennan and Erin Sullivan, who had tried to preserve their neighborhood from increased traffic.

The faces have changed since 1988, but the shameful tactics haven't. The city is now facing a 2013 public records lawsuit after slapping an exorbitant charge on a request to review veterinary records by a critic of the city's Animal Protection Unit.

Instead of handing over the documents, the city sent Jessica Caplette a demand for $2,300 so the city's legal staff could read the paperwork before releasing it. The excuse? The veterinary records might contain information protected by federal patient privacy laws. What nonsense. Even if the address of Fido's owner is protected — a stretch by any reasonable standard — exactly why would the Animal Protection Unit be providing veterinary care to pets with identified owners? The focus is supposed to be on stray animals. And Caplette excluded from her request information about animals surrendered by owners or involved in quarantine cases — instances where personal information about the owners may be available.

Certainly somebody needs to check the records for an animal control operation that has dodged public accountability since its inception last year. The demand for an expensive deposit is an outrageous abuse of authority by a city trying to discourage public scrutiny. New Port Richey should turn over the records to Caplette immediately to end this avoidable litigation, the cost of which will be borne by city taxpayers. Then city leaders should go read the case file on Sullivan and Brennan vs. the city of New Port Richey.

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Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18