Sunday, May 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Port Richey needs new leader for Police Department

It is time for Port Richey Police Chief Dave Brown to go. Brown, the number two person in the city's administrative hierarchy, has lost the support of his officers as attested to by the near unanimous vote of "no confidence'' from the Police Department's unionized employees.

That 15-1 smack down (only a civilian dispatcher supported the chief) came amid officer complaints about broken promises on requested promotions, transfers and budget items. If that wasn't evidence enough of Brown's management shortcomings, City Manager Tom O'Neill also has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Brown's disposal of surplus city property.

O'Neill's letter to state investigators said there were allegations of improprieties at the city police impound lot and that three police vehicles were traded to a private company absent City Council approval, which is "not in compliance with city code.'' O'Neill doesn't need to wait for a state response. If Brown swapped public property without council authorization, he should be terminated for failing to follow what should be routine procurement procedures.

Brown should have some familiarity with these rules. In 2011, after a critical audit and the dismissal of both the city manager and later the public works director for spending irregularities, Brown, while serving as acting city manager, promised new safeguards to make the "procurement process as transparent as possible thereby increasing public confidence.'' Clearly, O'Neill has lost confidence or else he wouldn't be seeking an FDLE investigation.

Brown, who turns 60 later this year, became chief in 2008, eight years after joining the department. Unfortunately, the current questions about his leadership are not unique. Consider:

• In 2010, recording equipment being used in an unrelated criminal investigation captured a conversation between Brown and another department head commiserating about one of the city's elected leaders. "Maybe somebody needs to swing a 2 by 4 at'' council member Phil Abts, Brown said, adding "there is a solution to the Abts problem. They choose not to do it.''

• Last summer, Brown showed up at the scene in New Port Richey in which an officer found O'Neill passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle idling at a stop sign. The New Port Richey officer never completed a drunken driving investigation and Brown later chauffeured O'Neill home from the hospital. It brought a public rebuke from New Port Richey Chief Kim Bogart who suggested Brown's presence at the scene outside his jurisdiction "I believe was a degree of an influence.'' Prosecutors later charged O'Neill with misdemeanor driving under the influence after medical records showed his blood alcohol content measured 0.367 percent.

It's a pattern of poor judgment that damages Brown's credibility and his ability to serve as chief. The recent "no confidence'' vote further undermines his ability to lead the department in this city of 3,000 residents. Brown should volunteer his resignation. If not, O'Neill should demand it to restore public confidence in the city's law enforcement agency.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18