Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Sheriff stands up for Sunshine Law

Something did not look right from the moment some Dunedin city commissioners abruptly moved to fire the city manager one night in January. Now Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is investigating whether any of the commissioners violated the Sunshine Law that requires the public's business to be conducted in public. This state has a strong commitment to open meetings and public records, and it's encouraging to see the sheriff take these concerns seriously.

Shortly before midnight at the Dunedin City Commission's Jan. 7 meeting, Commissioner Heather Gracy suddenly moved to fire well-regarded City Manager Rob DiSpirito without warning or explanation. Vice Mayor Bruce Livingston and Commissioner John Tornga voted with Gracy, but the move failed on a 3-2 vote because it required a super-majority vote to fire him. Two weeks later, the commission voted 4-1 to accept DiSpirito's offer to resign immediately in return for a generous severance package.

DiSpirito served as city manager for nine years, and his evaluations were generally positive. A late-night, surprise motion to fire him immediately and without explanation that gains three commissioners' votes looks suspicious on its face. No wonder Dunedin residents complained and two former city commissioners went to the sheriff.

State law generally bans two members of the same city commission from privately discussing public business, which helps ensure the public's business is conducted in the open. Gualtieri says he has received information that warrants an inquiry, and his office plans to conduct some interviews. There is plenty of smoke here, and the sheriff should find out if there is something more. His interest also sends a message to all elected officials about the importance of following the Sunshine Law.

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Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

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Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/15/18
Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

The Tampa Bay Rays’ purchase of the Rowdies soccer team adds some stability to the region’s roster of professional sports franchises. It also guarantees that the Rowdies, who have amassed an enthusiastic fan base in a short time, will k...
Published: 10/12/18
Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

When the sun rose Wednesday, Mexico Beach was a sleepy town of 1,200 people on Florida's northern Gulf coast. By sundown, it was gone. The pictures show the heartbreaking devastation left by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle. Entire neighbor...
Published: 10/12/18
Shortsighted opposition to TECO

Shortsighted opposition to TECO

The destruction from Hurricane Michael is only the latest reminder of Florida's growing vulnerability to extreme weather, rising sea levels and other impacts of a warming climate. But the Sierra Club's opposition to Tampa Electric Co.'s plans to retr...
Published: 10/12/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Florida sheriffs have long hand-plucked their successors from within the ranks. While he is a product of this tradition, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is uniquely qualified to be elected on his own merits.Then-Sheriff David Gee surprise...
Published: 10/11/18
Updated: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

One justice on the Florida Supreme Court faces a merit retention vote in November, essentially an up-or-down vote of confidence allowing him to remain on the bench. Merit retention votes occur at least one year after the justice’s initial appo...
Published: 10/11/18
Times recommends: Yes on retaining 4 appeals judges

Times recommends: Yes on retaining 4 appeals judges

The 2nd District Court of Appeal judges are on the Nov. 6 ballot for merit retention. Voters are being asked whether the appellate judges should be retained for another six-year term.Two pieces of information are helpful in deciding. First, the Flori...
Published: 10/11/18
Times recommends: Vote no on Clearwater strong mayor

Times recommends: Vote no on Clearwater strong mayor

A handful of influential business leaders are understandably frustrated with Clearwater’s failure to rejuvenate its downtown and eager to duplicate the rebirth of downtowns in Tampa and St. Petersburg. But they have focused on the wrong soluti...
Published: 10/10/18
Updated: 10/11/18