Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Keeping a closer eye on charities

In most American industries, companies that repeatedly fail to deliver on their promises don't last long. But that doesn't apply to a subset of charity work, where some operators pose as do-gooders but ultimately spend little money doing good. Across the country, regulators and industry insiders are stepping up in the wake of a sweeping investigation into the nation's 50 worst charities. Now Florida lawmakers and regulators should ensure the Sunshine State — home to 11 of the worst charities — isn't left behind. There should be no cover for pseudo-charities and the for-profit fundraisers who help them by bilking well-meaning Americans of their money.

The reaction, one month after publication of a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting, looks promising. Regulators in multiple states have said they have started to use the Times/CIR database to screen charities for violations that occurred outside their jurisdiction. A leading watchdog group is reconsidering how it rates charities. And industry insiders sound open to considering what they can do to help.

In Florida, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam said his office is reviewing state laws to consider what changes he will suggest to the Legislature to strengthen or adjust state regulation. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz should make it a priority. Obvious places to start would be increasing penalties and punishments on those who violate state laws; requiring more information on solicitation methods; recognizing sanctions in other states so that those banned elsewhere can't operate here; and requiring far more transparency to donors about how their money is spent.

But the burden is also on the legitimate nonprofit industry to propose commonsense solutions for weeding out those who exploit charities to make money. Some in the industry have taken umbrage at the Times/CIR method for defining the 50 worst charities, which highlights those with the highest percentage of overhead costs. What would be more helpful is helping to devise a transparent accountability system that will enable contributors to know exactly who gets their donations and how they are spent.

It should not be acceptable for people to say they need money to do good work, collect tax-exempt donations under that premise and then spend that money doing little or none of that good work. The search for a better regulatory system is underway. Putnam and the Legislature shouldn't let up until they have built one here.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís 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

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís 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 generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó 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 Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís 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