Sunday, October 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida needs to toughen charity laws

This week's arrest of four Florida men accused of hiring felons to solicit donations for a dubious charity in the name of fallen police officers is a step in the right direction toward protecting donors and reputable charities. But the minimal penalty the suspects will face if convicted is a reminder of just how much more needs to be done in Florida. Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose officers made the arrests, has made a start at holding charities to better account, but the Legislature needs to do its part by toughening state regulations.

The arrests of phone room managers for the Police Protective Fund — in Clearwater, Port Richey, New Port Richey and Davie — came three years after the state first got wind the charity was skirting a state law that prohibits charities and professional solicitors from knowingly employing telemarketers who have been convicted of fraud and other financial felonies. As a recent Tampa Bay Times/Center for Investigative Reporting investigation of the nation's worst charities found, back then regulators found at least five employees who had been convicted of fraud, theft and armed robbery. The charity claimed it couldn't afford background checks and regulators dropped it.

Yet between 2001 and 2010, the Police Protective Fund pulled in as much as $35 million, with $15 million of that total going to cover solicitor fees. Tax records show a paltry $260,000 went in direct cash aid to promote officer safety and provide help to the families of slain law enforcement officers.

If convicted, the four men arrested this week would face just $500 per violation. Putnam wants lawmakers to increase such penalties, among many other reforms. The Legislature needs to sign on. There should be no cover for pseudo charities rolling in the dough by bilking well-meaning Americans out of their money.

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Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

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Editorial: FBI should take a hard look at CareerSource

The scrutiny now extends to the state agency that oversees the local jobs centers
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Experts are right that Hurricane Michael should force a review of Florida’s building standards. While newer homes generally fared better than older ones, the state needs to reassess the risks posed by high winds and storm surge.
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

You wouldn't skip a trip to the gas pump, would you?Then don't miss the chance to cast your general election ballot, either, when Hillsborough County opens its many early voting sites Monday morning for a two-week engagement.If you do your homework a...
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: Glazer Children’s Museum quickly regained its step

Jennifer Stancil was terminated from her $169,280 a year job last month as museum president and chief executive, a post she held for three years. Exactly why remained a mystery to those outside the museum.
Published: 10/18/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Twenty-seven journalists have been murdered so far this year just for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number doesn’t even include Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who hasn’t been ...
Published: 10/17/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Published: 10/16/18
Updated: 10/19/18

Editorial: Housecleaning was necessary at Clearwater parks department

The theft of money and a hostile atmosphere show a city department out of control
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/19/18
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...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
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
Updated: 10/19/18