Saturday, April 21, 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: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18