Friday, December 15, 2017
Editorials

Iorio a capable hand for child welfare agency

The stalemate over Luanne Panacek's sorry leadership of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County was brought to the best possible end last week as board chairman Chris Brown unveiled a deal to remove her and to hire former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio as interim CEO. The move would accomplish two things: Panacek leaves without adding to the drama that has stigmatized the agency, and Iorio brings a steady hand to an operation that needs to focus on hiring an entirely new leadership team. The board should approve the deal Wednesday and then engage in some soul-searching of its own.

After a critical audit released this month found a widespread loss of staff morale and confidence, the only question was whether Panacek would drag out the inevitable or have the sense to protect the agency and her legacy by clearing the way for new leadership. The deal Brown tentatively arranged calls for Iorio to replace Panacek this week, with Panacek remaining as a consultant until an official departure date of Oct. 1 — a full year before her contract expires. This is an opportunity for the agency to move on and for all sides to save face.

Iorio is a problem solver who has experience cleaning up the messes she assumed from a predecessor. Her commitment to the ideals of the child welfare agency and to the standards taxpayers expect from a publicly financed arm of government offers exactly the principled management that this operation needs. As interim leader, she needs to bring both discipline and cohesion to the rank and file, and single out the weak spots in management that have created such a dysfunctional workplace. The new permanent CEO deserves the opportunity to build his or her own executive team, but Iorio can get the ball rolling by highlighting the talent gap at the top. Her presence even on a temporary basis would raise the bar on what this agency is looking for in a chief executive.

Brown served the community well by confronting the internal crisis head-on as his colleagues on the board sat on their hands and criticized him. The interim nature of Iorio's involvement will leave the governing board plenty of room to shape the executive search. Board members, though, need to clear the air about their own culpability in sleeping through a breakdown in morale and leadership that the auditors found had endured for "nearly a decade." This transition period would be a good time for fresh turnover on the board — and for a genuine dialogue on the mission of this social services agency.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17