Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Forget term limits, focus campaign on vital issues

Former state legislator Ken Littlefield tossed his hat into the ring for a County Commission seat and immediately tossed out an odd idea as the first plank of his platform: Term limits for commissioners.

Littlefield, who spent seven years in Tallahassee as a legislator and four more as head of the Statewide Advocacy Council for Florida's health and social service clients, suggested that Pasco's commissioners overstay their welcome. "Seemingly, once they get in there, they stay there," he told Times staff writer Rich Shopes.

Currently, Henry Wilson and Kathryn Starkey are first-term commissioners. Commissioner Ted Schrader is serving his fourth four-year term and Commissioner Jack Mariano, his third, but both survived bruising electoral challenges from fellow Republicans in 2012. Littlefield is seeking the seat of Commissioner Pat Mulieri who is not seeking re-election after 20 years on the board. She won her final term, incidentally, by defeating Littlefield in the 2010 Republican primary.

This is not a new suggestion. One of Littlefield's former electoral opponents, Pat Burke, raised the same issue in the late 1990s through a citizens group called Publicats, but there was little public support then. Statewide, voters approved term limits for the Legislature two decades ago.

The sentiment was understandable. Voters, fed up with career legislators who'd grown too chummy with special interests, wanted to churn office-holders, believing fresh blood would be beneficial. Unfortunately, the detrimental results increased the power of unelected lobbyists and fostered a perverted legislative process in which freshman legislators try to round up chits for leadership roles six years away before even filing their first bills.

Littlefield promised his policy plans would be forthcoming as the campaign advances. He has a lot from which to choose. Commissioners are confronting near- and long-term responses to the pending Urban Land Institute report; redeveloping the U.S. 19 corridor; code enforcement; jail crowding; long-range transportation; economic development, tourism promotion, homelessness, and never-ending land-use decisions. Littlefield would do well to focus on more substantive issues rather than trying to sweep effective commissioners out of office through an artificial deadline. That authority correctly rests with voters each Election Day.

Comments

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

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