Saturday, December 16, 2017
Editorials

Mayor should end impeachment with resignation

Steve Van Gorden's selfish behavior knows no end.

The Zephyrhills mayor now says he regrets resigning his position as high school principal amid a school district investigation of sexual harassment allegations against him. Likewise, he remains in elected public office and the city faces the expense and embarrassment of an impeachment hearing.

Monday evening, Zephyrhills City Council voted 4-1 to begin the process of removing Van Gorden from office. He should save everyone the trouble and resign as mayor, a largely ceremonial post that includes no voting authority on Council, but has a high profile as public relations envoy.

Van Gorden is putting his self interests before the city's best interests and his contrition from earlier this month has turned to an obstinate denial. He says the school district investigation failed to include his own statements and accounts from other witnesses.

It's a dubious claim that contradicts his own prior commentary. Van Gorden previously said he made mistakes, let his personal life cloud his judgment, and would not quibble with the investigative findings. He also has said he has sought counseling and sensitivity training in the aftermath of his school resignation.

Some sensitivity. By declining to leave his city position, Van Gorden is making the Council move ahead with a full-blown quasi-judicial hearing that will require the city to absorb the expense of retaining a lawyer to act as prosecutor. Council will sit in judgment while being advised by City Attorney Joseph Poblick. It means potential subpoenas and required public testimony from the women who brought their concerns to the school district. In other words, their humiliation at the hands of Van Gorden is not yet complete.

How will he defend himself? That there was a conspiracy of liars running amok at Zephyrhills High School who misunderstood and/or misinterpreted his reported comments on their breast size, availability for private time and willingness to apply lotion to his sexual organ? That he didn't mean to hit the send button when he fired off a late-night text to a female subordinate? That the vulgar synonym for prostitute he used to describe the message recipient was just a typographical error?

The statements contained in the school district investigation are overwhelming. Van Gorden bullied women with inappropriate remarks and crude behavior that created a hostile work environment. Confronted with the evidence, he chose to resign as high school principal. It's a glimmer of good judgment that he needs to repeat.

If Van Gorden truly wants to serve the residents of Zephyrhills, he will hand in his resignation as mayor and avoid further embarrassment for City Hall.

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...
Published: 12/15/17
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 ...
Published: 12/15/17
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 ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
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...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
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 ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
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