Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Storms for property appraiser

Ronda Storms, Republicans

Property Appraiser Rob Turner's inexcusable behavior in sending pornographic email to an employee he dated and then firing her makes this race for Republicans less about real estate than judgment, integrity and leadership. Turner has lost his credibility and is no longer fit to run an otherwise sound operation.

There is nothing to celebrate about his sudden and surprising fall from grace. Turner, 60, turned around an office he first won 16 years ago, replacing the corrupt and inept operation Ron Alderman had in place and restoring public faith in the appraisal process. Turner brought on professionals and modernized the office. He went after corporations that abused property tax loopholes, and he made the valuations process more efficient and fair. He also created appeals procedures that made it easier for property owners to contest their tax assessments.

But Turner admitted in May that he sent pornographic email to an employee in the office he once dated. He fired her as the Tampa Bay Times was preparing an article, saying he did so because she made false claims against him to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is an unacceptable rationale that only raises larger questions about his judgment and fitness as a manager. He compounds the misconduct by minimizing the episode as a fleeting, insignificant blip on his record, which reflects either a tin ear or a warped sense of entitlement.

State Sen. Ronda Storms is hardly an ideal choice. As a Hillsborough County commissioner, she was a loose cannon, inflaming the cultural divide between urban and rural residents and tuning out or bad-mouthing those who disagreed with her. Storms, 46, seems to have mellowed since moving in 2006 to the Senate, where she thoroughly researched legislation and routinely asked tough questions. There are concerns about her transparency and her ability to act in an executive role. Storms, though, has a reputation for honesty. And her attention to detail is an essential quality for the job.

Turner wants Republicans to accept his abuse of office as the price for having an appraiser with the right technical skills. But there is a difference between ousting Turner and ousting the staff. What the elected appraiser does is set a standard — and the standard Turner has set is not what voters should tolerate in an elected official. In fairness to Storms, the fear of what she might do should not outweigh the damage the incumbent has already done. The appraiser's job also is much more ministerial in nature than the policymaking role of a county commissioner or state legislator.

The winner of the primary will face Democrat Bob Henriquez and two candidates running without party affiliation in the general election.

In the Aug. 14 Republican primary for Hillsborough County property appraiser, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Ronda Storms.

Comments
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18