Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Good pick to lead embattled DCF

Gov. Rick Scott made a good choice Monday in appointing Mike Carroll to take over the state's embattled child welfare agency. An agency veteran and straight shooter, Carroll has the institutional history, contacts and people skills to steer the huge bureaucracy in a better direction. The governor should give him the flexibility he needs to be candid about the challenges and realistic about the reforms that are needed, and state lawmakers need to give the Department of Children and Families the extra resources it needs.

Scott announced Monday in Jacksonville that Carroll would take over from interim secretary Esther Jacobo, who has been in charge since her predecessor, David Wilkins, resigned abruptly in July. That should end the uncertainty that comes from the revolving carousel of top-level leadership, at least until the November election. A 24-year agency veteran, Carroll has deep experience across the vast range of social services that the agency provides. As director of DCF for the Suncoast region, which includes the Tampa Bay area and Southwest Florida, he is widely admired by both public and private providers for his attention to detail, urgency and candor. Those are essential traits to foster in a large operation that is failing too many children.

Carroll will need to work quickly to address the systemic failures involved in the deaths of children who had been known to the department. In a series of recent reports, the Miami Herald has documented the deaths of at least 477 children who died after their families had prior contact with DCF. While Scott called for $40 million more for child welfare investigators, the Herald series revealed that the safety net is undermined by fundamental problems — large and poorly managed case loads, shortfalls in mental health and substance abuse programs, poor coordination between providers and inadequate support services for parents and caregivers.

The governor should follow through this last week of legislative session by supporting a broad reform that includes substantial new money for child safety programs. Carroll can put his managerial skills to work by improving child protection plans to better triage the most at-risk families and to plug the gaps between providers that are exposed in many preventable tragedies. Carroll's experience playing a lead role in the privatization of community-based services can help in two ways. He has the ability to create models for collaborations across the state and the experience to know what works and what doesn't. He also understands that child safety is ultimately a public responsibility, and that the buck stops with the state.

Carroll should maintain the open-door approach that has won him support among child welfare advocates in the Tampa Bay area. Regardless of how much money the Legislature commits to child protection this year, the task of improving the system will be a long-haul effort for multiple agencies, public and private. Carroll's appointment puts a committed and thoughtful leader in charge, and it signals a serious interest in addressing the complexity of the issues facing troubled families.

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Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 3 hours ago

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
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: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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
Updated: 04/23/18
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