A responsible Florida Republican speaks up. Good for Jeb Bush. Current elected Republicans — including 126 in the U.S. House alone, Rep. Gus Bilirakis among them — backed a ridiculous Texas lawsuit that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the presidential election result in four battleground states that President-elect Joe Biden won. But Florida’s former two-term governor was having none of it. On Twitter, Bush was succinct: “This is crazy. It will be killed on arrival. Why are smart people advancing this notion? Let it go. The election is over.” We’re still waiting for other prominent Republicans to show this kind of no-nonsense backbone. The court rejected the case Friday night.
In plain sight. Body cameras continue to show their value to the public and law enforcement alike. On Tuesday, a body camera caught Hillsborough sheriff’s Deputy Timothy Miskell as he pleaded with Dylan Ray Scott to show his hands as deputies attempted to arrest Scott on outstanding warrants. Scott can be heard in the video saying he had a gun in his waistband. For four minutes, the deputies tried to reason with Scott. “It’s not worth it,” Miskell says. “I know you’re hurting right now. We’ll get you help.” But moments later Scott appears to make a sudden movement and the deputies fire; Scott was later pronounced dead at Tampa General Hospital. Investigators did not find a gun in Scott’s truck after the shooting. That alone would have raised public suspicions about the deputies’ actions. But the video showed the lengths the deputies went to avoid any violence. In more good news, St. Petersburg police officers finally started wearing body cameras in the field this week. The cameras are an invaluable tool for all sides, holding law enforcement accountable but also giving the public a fuller picture of how officers react at a scene.
Curbing the global pandemic, here at home. Hillsborough County is conducting a survey to maximize the local benefit of the emerging coronavirus vaccines. The anonymous survey, offered in English and Spanish, will query residents about their exposure to COVID-19, their attitudes about being inoculated and their preferred locations for the shots to be offered. The results will help officials address any concerns about the vaccines, and enable them to better target where the vaccines should be offered. This is a smart communications strategy that will make for a safer, healthier county and Tampa Bay region. To participate, visit the county’s Web site at HCFLGov.net/COVIDVaccine.
Cleaning up someone else’s mess. This week’s Homer Simpson award goes to the crew of an engineering firm that inadvertently sliced into a 3-foot water main Monday at Tampa’s water treatment plant. The pipe gushed millions of gallons of drinking water, flooding area streets and leading the city to issue a boil-water notice as water pressure plummeted through transmission lines. D’oh!
Equally impressive, though, was the speed and sense of order in the city of Tampa’s response. Within hours, crews were able to isolate the main and restore pressure through the system, and by early Thursday, the city had completed tests to show the water was safe, rescinding its boil notice hours before expected. The city also distributed hundreds of thousands of bottles of water to businesses, nonprofits and residents inconvenienced by the break. So much for government indifference.
Profiling students is still a bad idea. Parents and teachers balked at the Pasco Sheriff’s Office practice of profiling schoolchildren as potential future criminals, providing another reminder of how creepy the agency’s secret program really is. Students are added using data including grade-point average and attendance records and whether the Sheriff’s Office considers their friends to be “delinquents.” And the students and parents aren’t told who’s been targeted, nor does the agency make it easy to see who is on the list. It’s like George Orwell’s “1984″ meets Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” but the targets are school children, some of who have not committed any crimes. And it’s not fiction. It’s actually happening and some powerful people think it’s a good idea.
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