Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Editorials

Hernando Sheriff's Office must continue to investigate illegal robocalls

RECOMMENDED READING


Illegal campaigners should be held accountable for their blatant attempts to game the political process with deceit and obfuscation. Toward that end, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office must not allow its investigation of anonymous phone calls in a County Commission primary to drift into cold-case territory.

The calls, urging Republican voters to oust incumbent Commissioner John Druzbick, failed to include the state-required disclaimer identifying who had paid for and approved the campaign tactic. Druzbick lost the Aug. 14 primary by eight votes to challenger Jason Sager, who denied any knowledge of the calls.

Florida law requires an identification disclaimer because of a high-profile incident 18 years ago.

Then, the re-election campaign of Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles authorized deceptive calls to seniors, proclaiming Republican Jeb Bush a tax cheat who opposed Social Security and Medicare. The callers falsely told voters they represented two independent organizations, but one was fictitious and the other was a Republican group with no connection to the calls. The Chiles campaign attempted to cover up its role before coming clean a year later under subpoena from a Senate committee investigating the calls.

As Tampa Bay Times staff writer Tony Marrero reported, Hernando sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Kraft traced the anti-Druzbick calls to an out-of-state company, but he is awaiting response to a subpoena. The voice recording, however, could have originated in Hernando County and simply been emailed to the outside entity to process the robocalls to local voters.

The scripted call from a male voice stated:

"I'm a citizen of Hernando County. Please don't vote for John Druzick for another four years. He has voted three times for a tax increase. Hernando County has the second-highest unemployment in the state. John Druzbick has done nothing to help our struggling community. Don't vote for John Druzbick.''

The Sheriff's Office, facing potential personnel reductions due to looming budget cuts, certainly has competing priorities, particularly since an election law violation is only a misdemeanor.

However, if no one is held responsible for circumventing the state election law, it creates the very real threat of an open season of illegal campaigning against all local candidates.

Sager, meanwhile, shouldn't remain silent. One of the cornerstones of his campaign has been criticism of what he calls a lack of transparency of the county budgeting process. If he's sincere about promoting good government, he should extend the same sentiment to the political process and demand transparency from his own supporters.

Accountability standards shouldn't fluctuate just because one of your political benefactors is a law-breaker.

Comments

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise ó for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system ó one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Krisemanís own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17