Thursday, May 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Gov. Scott skips out on governing

Gov. Rick Scott HAS BEEN missing in action. While the governor spent five days in New York and bounced around the Florida Panhandle and Tampa Bay boasting about bringing new private sector jobs into the state, firestorms were breaking out all over state government. Yet the governor appeared unengaged, uninformed or uninterested in explaining the actions of his administration. Floridians deserve better. Consider the latest developments:

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was appointed by Scott, inexplicably denied University of South Florida researchers permission to exhume bodies at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Detzner claimed he does not have the authority to grant permission, but his double-speak did not make sense. It's unclear how many boys are buried at the now-closed school, and this smacks of avoiding a hot issue. The governor remained silent and absent.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz unexpectedly called on Florida to back out of a national consortium developing the exams to test for the new Common Core Standards. They want Florida to develop its own assessments for students, even though Floridians have lost confidence in the FCAT tests and the school grading system.

Just two months ago, state Education Commissioner Tony Bennett — who was handpicked by Scott and is the state's fourth leader of public schools and colleges since Scott took office -— told the Board of Education that Florida continues to support the consortium as he reviewed the situation.

Weatherford told the Times editorial board last week he still supports the Common Core Standards, which are under attack by conservatives nationwide as too much interference from Washington. But the idea behind Common Core and agreed upon exams is to be able to better compare student performance nationally. Scott would have to agree that Florida should leave the consortium developing the exams, but he remained silent.

Secretary of the department of Children and Families David Wilkins abruptly resigned late Thursday amid controversy over the deaths of four young children and battles with private agencies that provide foster care and adoption services.

Wilkins was the governor's longest-serving agency head and among his most competent. Whether he was pushed by Scott or left in frustration, whether his departure was triggered by the deaths of the kids or the turf fights with nonprofits, is unclear. Scott said little beyond calling Wilkins "a big loss.''

After traveling and staying out of public view in the capital for nine days, Scott suddenly showed up Thursday night to spend a half-hour with some of the young protesters outside his office. Even amid the national controversy over the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict and the "stand your ground law,'' Scott still embraced the law and dismissed the protesters' valid concerns.

Scott has focused on creating more jobs, and the governor has a role in cultivating the state's economy. But the governor is more than a traveling salesman. The governor also has to effectively lead state government, offer a clear mission and explain his administration's policy positions to voters.

At the moment, Scott is failing on all of those counts. Florida needs a hands-on chief executive, not one who is more comfortable flying around in his private jet to take credit for every new job and stage more fake bill signings for legislation that he signed into law weeks ago.

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

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

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Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
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