Saturday, May 26, 2018
Editorials

Silence, then Hillsborough school criticism at election time

There's nothing like an election to bring an exacting eye to the Hillsborough County School Board. The school district this week released the board's annual job evaluation of superintendent MaryEllen Elia. It was appropriate that six of the seven board members recognized that Elia needs to do a better job managing the school bureaucracy and a host of academic challenges. But why wasn't this concern expressed publicly over the past year, and why is it coming now only after a majority of the board members are feeling the heat from reform-minded opponents in Tuesday's election?

Elia earned another "above satisfactory" ranking from the board, even as her scores from individual members dropped 20 points from last year. It would not have been difficult for the board to rationalize the drop, given the problems with instituting the new teacher evaluation system and several other high-profile setbacks. But board members barely uttered a peep this year when a scholarship program for inner-city students nearly fell through the cracks, or when the district was embarrassed by the athletics scandal at Armwood High School. Elia should be held accountable for those mistakes, but the board also had an obligation to speak out more forcefully at the time.

The School Board elections this year are de facto referenda on Elia's relationship with the board, as the challengers paint the incumbents — Susan Valdes, Jack Lamb, Doretha Edgecomb and Carol Kurdell — as either out-of-touch politicians or mouthpieces for the administration. It is not surprising, then, that Elia's biggest drop in support came from three of the four members up for re-election Tuesday; the fourth — Lamb — pulled back his support, too, but not as dramatically. And while the board dismissed many of the problems this year as "communication" lapses, all but one board member — Valdes — gave Elia the exact same marks for her communications savvy as last year.

Worse, none of the three who distanced themselves from Elia the most — Valdes, Edgecomb and Kurdell, all of whom the Tampa Bay Times recommended in their races — bothered to offer a written summary of their concerns with Elia's performance. The whole purpose of job reviews is to give employees a sense of where and how they need to improve. This is a critical time for the district, both financially and academically, and the School Board has an obligation to set clear expectations for the superintendent. This evaluation looks more like a fresh set of clothes for board members in the run-up to elections than a fair appraisal of Elia's job performance. She deserved a more thorough and candid evaluation based on her work, not on the state of their election campaigns.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

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

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18