Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Lives depend on updated jail records

Kelly Harding was a career criminal who was neither a model citizen nor a model inmate. That does not excuse Harding's death in the Pinellas County Jail because of a paperwork error. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has been candid about the circumstances that led to Harding's being wrongly housed in a cell with a murder suspect who choked him. Now the sheriff needs to take additional steps to prevent such a fatal mistake.

Harding pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor charge of trespassing. Yet because of a disciplinary infraction, he was placed in the jail's Delta 6 pod for felons under protective custody. Harding never should have wound up in the same cell with Scott Greenberg, who was awaiting trial on a felony charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend. While Harding originally had been charged with burglary, a felony, he had pleaded guilty to the reduced misdemeanor charge. Gualtieri said that change never made its way into the sheriff's inmate records section. If it had, Harding would not have been placed in the pod and would not have shared a cell with the man who killed him.

Gualtieri is investigating how the records mistake was made but told the Times editorial board Tuesday, "We own it, we accept responsibility." A good place to better ensure that prisoners are housed where they belong would be to more vigorously check whether an inmate faces misdemeanor or felony charges immediately upon his return to jail from a court appearance when a plea bargain might have been negotiated.

Two weeks ago, Gualtieri moved quickly to disclose details surrounding the life-threatening beating of a prisoner by another prisoner inside a transport van. The sheriff also deserves credit for posting all completed internal affairs reports online. Accepting responsibility when bad things happen and embracing transparency are positive attributes. The next challenge is to make cost-effective changes to increase the safety of inmates and reduce the possibility for another error that could be deadly.

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Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18