Sunday, December 10, 2017
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: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasnít enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, itís looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17