Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

Familiarity breeds acceptance in Hernando elections

Hernando County voters opted for familiarity in their local governing Tuesday, while simultaneously ratifying a new taxing district that indicates a willingness to pay for valued services even if it means another expense on the annual property tax bill.

Fiscally conservative Republican Jim Adkins easily won re-election to a second term with the biggest plurality of the three commission races. Former Commissioner Diane Rowden, a Democrat, will join him on the commission later this month, as will local engineer and longtime community volunteer Nick Nicholson, a Republican.

Returning Rowden to office after a four-year absence was not a voter endorsement of her prior performance, but the result of a divided electorate that chose from among three candidates in District 3. Independent candidate Gregory Lewis Sheldon pulled 8.5 percent of the turnout, allowing Rowden to complete a stunning political resurrection and reclaim her former seat with less than half of the overall vote.

Republican Jason Patrick Sager's inability to win — after admitting an adulterous affair with his campaign consultant —- mirrors the tea party failings in U.S. Senate races in Indiana and Missouri, where Republican candidates were doomed by insensitive comments about rape. Sager ousted moderate Republican Commissioner John Druzbick in the low-turnout August primary, but could not overcome Rowden, Sheldon and his own hypocrisy.

Nicholson also won a three-way contest for the open District 1 seat being vacated by Commissioner Jeff Stabins. Nicholson, like Rowden, is well-known and well-versed on county issues. He had the ability to campaign almost as if he was an incumbent and he grabbed more than half the vote even with a conservative-thinking third-party candidate in the race.

The final result is a 4-1 Republican majority on the commission that will be tested almost immediately. It must develop spending priorities to close a projected $10 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year. The propensity to dip into reserve accounts is not a long-term solution and the new commission should weigh carefully the huge plurality for the mosquito control district tax. It demonstrates overwhelming public support for investing in a government operation that just two years ago commissioners considered worthy of reduction.

Sometime next year, the commission also will be required to reconfigure its impact fees to allow schools and roads to meet future demands from expected growth. It's a key decision that can't be abdicated as a political favor to special interests. Adkins and the two commissioners-elect all claim to be pro-business. But, there will be little reason for new commerce to come to Hernando County if the commission continues to ignore basic infrastructure to serve those businesses, their customers and their employees.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18