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The good and the bad in Tampa Bay this week | Editorial
Residents stepping up, governor stepping back and look at Mr. Perfect
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady with his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady with his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen. [ XAVIER COLLIN | ZUMAPRESS.com ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Jan. 2, 2021

Paging the governor. The vaccine rollout has been a mess. Since Gov. Ron DeSantis made the surprise announcement that Floridians 65 and older could get vaccinated for COVID-19 as early as this past Monday, there has been little beyond confusion, frustration and virtually no public accountability. Sure, vaccinating 21 million Floridians was never going to be quick or easy. But DeSantis’ office hasn’t answered basic questions asked by Floridians and media outlets seeking details on the early stages of vaccine distribution. The state disclosed an October draft of its vaccination plan but officials — unlike in other states — have not responded to requests for an update. Sure, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott decimated the state’s public health system during his tenure as Florida governor. And it doesn’t help that President Donald Trump has spent the holidays golfing at his resort. But DeSantis risks a crisis of public confidence by over-promising and under-delivering. Senior citizens are waiting outside health centers overnight as infections surge in Florida. Delays are one thing, but residents at least deserve to remain informed.

Donnie Dewey
Donnie Dewey [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

It’s more than a desk. The pandemic has led tens of thousands of school children across the Tampa Bay area to choose distance-learning as a safer option, at least for now. But many children lack even the basic setup of a traditional classroom. They juggle reading and homework from their beds or living room floors, hardly the ideal environment for building strong minds. That’s what prompted Donnie Dewey to channel his passion for woodworking into civic service. From his garage in FishHawk Ranch, an eastern Hillsborough County community, Dewey and his family are building desks, assembly-style, that are provided free to needy children. As the Tampa Bay Times’ Marlene Sokol noted, this is another extension of public service for this Marine Corps veteran. And beyond the comfort and convenience they offer, these desks also provide children with a sense of structure in these disordered times. If you’d like to support his effort, email Kathleen.Dewey@sdhc.k12.fl.us.

Got nothing to say. One reason Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco has managed to employ ham-handed policing tactics is because state and local leaders are too cowardly to criticize him. A Tampa Bay Times investigation in September found that Nocco’s signature initiative — a sprawling intelligence program — uses an algorithm to identify people who might break the law, based on their criminal histories and social networks. The agency sends deputies to their homes, even if there is no evidence of a crime. Former deputies told the Times they had been ordered to make targets’ lives miserable. The Times later revealed that the Sheriff’s Office starts trying to predict who might become a future criminal even earlier in life. It keeps a list of schoolchildren who might “fall into a life of crime” that’s built with data such as grades and child welfare records, agency documents show. National experts who reviewed the programs for the Times called them “morally repugnant” and “everything that’s wrong about policing.” Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition demanding the school district stop sharing sensitive student data with the Sheriff’s Office. Yet leaders in the Republican county and statehouse have been reluctant to weigh in. More than a dozen elected officials did not return phone calls or declined to be interviewed for a Times report last week. This is what happens when politicians confuse support for a sheriff or police chief with support for public safety.

He just looks like Mr. Perfect. For all those (men) who hate Tom Brady, he’s not perfect. Just ask him. Brady notched a “perfect” game Dec. 26 in the Bucs’ rout of the Lions, at least by NFL standards. In the first half of the game (before sitting out the second half), Brady compiled a 158.3 passer rating — perfect per the NFL’s formula, thanks to his stellar completion rate, four touchdowns and no interceptions. But speaking to Westwood One host Jim Gray during a Monday Night Football pregame segment, Brady downplayed the feat. “I don’t feel like you’ve ever mastered the game, and I think part of why I still play is I feel like there’s still (things) for me to achieve, and there’s things that I can dig deeper into,” Brady said. “There’s very, very few times where I can count where I felt like wow, that was quote-unquote perfect.” The Bucs quarterback also made a point of noting that football was a team sport. “Nothing in a team sport can be accomplished without everybody on the team contributing,” he said. Perfect, imperfect, whatever — but a touch of class, for sure.

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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