Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: For PTC, let this be beginning of the end

Cesar Padilla finally did something right this week by announcing his retirement as executive director of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. The moonlighting Padilla had become an embarrassment in an already controversial agency. But his departure should only be the first of many changes at the PTC. Created by the 1976 Florida Legislature, the unique standalone regulator of taxis, limos and tow trucks outlived its usefulness long ago.

Padilla resigned amid a wave of disclosures by PTC chairman and Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist. In addition to receiving a $107,000-a-year salary as the commission's executive director, Padilla was moonlighting as a reserve Hillsborough deputy sheriff, earning an additional $10,400 over the past 20 months performing private security services. Particularly concerning was that some of the security work occurred while Padilla was also supposed to be on the clock performing his PTC duties.

Much like the PTC itself, which has never had a clearly defined mission statement or rules governing its management, Padilla had no formal job description. But that didn't prevent him from writing his own glowing performance review in Crist's name earlier this year.

The PTC has long been known for cronyism and corruption. Former County Commissioner Kevin White is serving a federal prison term for bribery during his term as PTC chairman. The agency also has been accused of playing favorites in approving taxi, limo and towing licenses to the detriment of consumers.

Two Tampa Bay legislators — Rep. Jamie Grant of Tampa and Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg — say they anticipate filing legislation during the 2014 session in response to what has happened. They should move to abolish the PTC. Until that can be done, the agency's board should reach outside the commission to choose an interim executive director. The agency needs a pair of fresh eyes to oversee its work and Crist needs a partner in reform, not another moonlighting hustler.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

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Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18