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A courageous Tampa Bay Republican speaks the truth | Editorial
Plus two more highlights - and a lowlight - from the past week.
Hits and misses from the week.
Hits and misses from the week. [ Times files ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Dec. 5, 2020

A voice of courage in the Republican wilderness

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley [ Times ]

Brian Corley, Pasco County’s supervisor of elections, has the class and courage that too many of his fellow Florida Republican officeholders can’t seem to muster. Corley issued a blistering condemnation this week of the “baseless claims and misinformation” his party — chiefly President Donald Trump — has peddled since the Nov. 3 election.

Corley said he was compelled to speak after a Georgia elections official warned in an emotional plea Tuesday that “someone is going to get killed” if Trump doesn’t stop fanning crazy conspiracy theories. Florida’s top GOP leaders, including Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, could learn something from this brief excerpt from what Corley said:

In the days since the election, I have stood by as political pundits and some government officials have politicized the electoral process with baseless claims and misinformation intent upon undermining the election results. I realized yesterday I could no longer stay silent.

In the words of (second U.S. president) John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things.” To allege that massive voter fraud influenced the 2020 results at a time when our elections have never been more secure is duplicitous.

With every deep state conspiracy and illegitimate claim of fraud our democracy sinks deeper and deeper into divisiveness. As the world looks on, the greatest democracy in the world dares to risk the peaceful and orderly transition of power in favor of propagating unfounded claims of “rigged elections.”

To date, 26 lawsuits challenging the election results have failed in courts of law. In just this past week, we listened to campaign attorney Joe DiGenova suggest that Chris Krebs, formerly with Homeland Security, should be “taken out at dawn and shot.” I believe that history will not be kind to those who are cognizant of the truth and yet choose silence for political expediency.

Well said, Mr. Corley.

Putting dollars where they’re most needed

Kudos to the city of Tampa for finding a creative way to help landlords survive the COVID-induced housing crisis. With so many tenants unable to pay their rent, landlords are at risk of losing their properties to foreclosure. The new program will offer deferred payment loans from $100,000 to $500,000 funded by federal CARES Act dollars that will go to necessary rental repairs for landlords. The loans come with zero percent interest and can be deferred for up to 10 years and possibly forgiven. The program applies to landlords of multi-family affordable housing who can show at least a 25 percent loss in rental income from February to July compared to last year. Tampa has set an example for other municipalities on how to use federal funds to give back to the community they serve.

Masking up for the cause

Wearing masks helps keep the virus from spreading.
Wearing masks helps keep the virus from spreading. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Here’s to all you masked men, women and children in the Tampa Bay area. By wearing masks, you may have prevented 1.4 million COVID cases. That’s the estimate from Dr. Edwin Michael, a University of South Florida professor and an epidemiologist who studies the spread of global infectious diseases.

If no one wore a mask, Michael’s models projected 1.5 million coronavirus cases by Dec. 12 in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties. The actual number of recorded cases in those four counties totaled 138,733 as of Friday. The takeaway: Mask-wearing works, and continues to work. So with state-wide infections surpassing 1 million this week, keep masking up — over your nose. And when a bystander asks, Who was that masked human? Let it continue to be you.

A crash course in what not to say

A 20-year-old Pinellas woman's car was totaled when she collided with a Tarpon Springs officer who drove through a red light while chasing a robbery suspect, the woman's family said.
A 20-year-old Pinellas woman's car was totaled when she collided with a Tarpon Springs officer who drove through a red light while chasing a robbery suspect, the woman's family said. [ Courtesy of Elizabeth Dechen ]

Sgt. Robert Faugno of the Tarpon Springs Police Department forgot the first rule for any spokesperson trying to clean up an employer’s mess: Don’t make things worse.

Some background: A speeding Tarpon Springs police vehicle reportedly ran a red light while chasing after armed robbery suspects and smashed into a Palm Harbor woman’s car. The police department acknowledged the crash and said the officer wasn’t injured, but it failed to disclose that the 20-year-old woman ended up in the emergency room and that her car was totaled.

Asked by the Tampa Bay Times why the department failed to mention that a civilian was involved, Faugno said the crash happened outside Tarpon Springs, and that it was a Pinellas County matter. Besides, he added: “It’s not a big deal. Next question, please.”

Next question? Since when is a crash in a police pursuit not a big deal? Does the department feel that its officers are not accountable beyond the city limits? Would the agency have fessed up if the woman hadn’t come forward? And why does an embarrassing episode call out for a flip remark?

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news