Sunday, February 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida needs another Reubin Askew

Florida needs more leaders like Reubin Askew. The former governor, who died Thursday at 85, had a long-term vision for this state and pursued it with integrity, determination and no worries about his political future. He stood up to powerful forces as he tackled difficult issues ranging from school desegregation to tax reform, and Floridians trusted his judgment and followed his lead.

Askew served as governor from 1971 to 1979, and his high ethical standards set him apart in the era of Watergate in Washington and scandals in Tallahassee that eroded the public's trust in government. He ranks behind only LeRoy Collins among the state's greatest governors, and many of his accomplishments remain in place today.

Perhaps most significant is the 1976 Sunshine Amendment, which Askew persuaded voters to approve after the Legislature rejected his call for ethics reform. The constitutional amendment requires elected officials to disclose their financial interests so that Floridians can better recognize when public office is at risk of being used for private gain. Those financial disclosure requirements, combined with strong open meetings and public records laws that Askew championed as a state legislator, are the Sunshine State's best tools for holding government accountable.

Too many of Askew's other successes that served the state well for decades have been eroded. He created the water management districts, and Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature have decimated them. He advocated for stronger growth management and review of large developments of regional impact, and they have been gutted and compromised. He created a nonpartisan system of screening applicants for judicial appointments, and that process has become more politicized.

Progressive tax reform has been off the agenda in this state for years. Askew successfully argued for a fairer tax system and a corporate tax. Scott has been working to kill the corporate tax altogether. It is hard to imagine anyone in Tallahassee today standing up to the lobbyists and explaining to voters why businesses should contribute more to the future of the state rather than constantly demand tax breaks in return for jobs.

Askew served as governor well before the digital age and 24-hour news cycles. He dropped out of the 1988 U.S. Senate race because he could not stand spending so much time raising campaign money, and the amount of campaign cash then sounds quaint compared to the tens of millions raised now. Third-party groups that air countless television ads also could easily drown out a candidate as independent and candid as Askew.

Yet Florida desperately needs more leaders like Askew with the vision, intellect and perseverance to rise above partisan politics and special interests to lead this state in a better direction. It needs leaders who do not fear personal attacks from outside groups. It needs leaders who trust Floridians enough to tell them the truth about what needs to be done and how to do it. They would have to spread their message using modern campaign techniques, from fundraising to tweeting. But Reubin Askew should be a role model for those who still believe in the power and the promise of public office to make a positive difference for future generations.

Comments
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