Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Waffling sends wrong message to business prospects

Hernando County needs to send a stronger message to its business development prospects than it's sending to the guy in charge of the industrial recruiting.

A week after commissioners unanimously named County Administrator Len Sossamon as their point person on economic development, Chairman David Russell attempted to reverse the decision Tuesday, telling the board — while quoting Dale Carnegie — that he favored a full-time business recruiter.

Then Commissioner Jim Adkins suggesting Sossamon hold the title only temporarily while the county contracted with a headhunter to conduct a simultaneous job search for the full-time economic development director's job that has been vacant since September. Adkins, the original advocate for giving Sossamon both jobs, didn't articulate a reason for his changed position. His inexplicable flip flops are becoming routine.

Adkins also mismanaged a bumbling attempt at human resources work. He suggested a six-month salary boost for Sossamon of $20,000 and a new management title and corresponding pay increase for the current number two in that office, Economic Development Supervisor Valerie Pianta. He was out of line on both counts. Sossamon's salary is a negotiable item under his soon-to-be amended contract and it is the administrator's role, not the commission's, to determine the duties and compensation of individual subordinates.

That the commission is so easily flummoxed by what should have been a routine appointment doesn't instill public confidence in its ability to set and help execute appropriate economic development priorities in a county trying to shed its reliance on residential construction and low-wage service sector jobs.

The waffling, in the astute observation of current commission candidate and former business executive Jimmy Lodato, reinforces the county's reputation of instability and will leave potential business prospects with the impression the local government doesn't know what it's doing.

Kudos to Commissioners Nick Nicholson and Diane Rowden for attempting to hold firm in their choice of Sossamon and questioning the motives of their contradictory counterparts.

Eventually the commission agreed to give the job to their administrator and to re-evaluate the decision in six months. Nicholson and Rowden had advocated for one-year appointment, and certainly nine months (the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30) would have been a more logical point to review the dual roles.

Sossamon, as Russell pointed out, has emerged as the face of the county government, even riding on a float in the recent Christmas parade through downtown Brooksville. His background in business and airport development in North Carolina is significant asset of which the commission should take maximum advantage.

A commission committed to building a better business environment shouldn't be sidetracked by second-guessing their own decisions or be so easily manipulated by private-sector interests doing likewise. The commission had it right the first time.

Comments
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s 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. ...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
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
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18