Tampa police at a strip club, fancy checks for teachers, and a COVID reality check
The good, and not so good, from the last week around the Tampa Bay area
A woman dances at the Gold Club in Tampa in 2012.
A woman dances at the Gold Club in Tampa in 2012. [ FLYNN, KATHLEEN | Tampa Bay Times ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Aug. 1

Your tax dollars at play. A Tampa police sergeant was suspended for a day after he allowed his squad to spend $421 at a local strip club. They went to the Gold Club on Adamo Drive to gather information about a shooting that may have involved one of the club’s dancers. In three hours, the squad rolled up the bill on a “cover charge, drinks for themselves, drinks for the dancers, drinks for the dancer’s friends, shots for the bartender, a pack of cigarettes, cover charge for the ‘lap dance area,’ and one lap dance each,” according to an investigative report. We’re all for good undercover work, but that seems more like an unimaginative bachelor party than anything to do with serving and protecting. The investigation also criticized the sergeant for giving an officer $300 of department money to buy custom gold teeth, and for allowing an officer to write operational plans without proper supervision, a potentially dangerous situation. The punishment seems lenient for such (naked) abuse.

A $2 million publicity stunt. Florida’s teachers are getting well-deserved $1,000 bonuses for their service during the COVID crisis. But instead of the money showing up in their bank accounts like their regular pay, the Department of Education has insisted on mailing the bonuses to their homes. Of course, each check must bear an “office of the governor” design approved by the department. Gov. Ron DeSantis deserves credit for keeping schools open during the crisis and for championing the teacher bonuses. But paying a company $2 million to send checks to teachers when there’s already a well-established and efficient way of distributing the money reeks of unneeded political grandstanding, and is a waste of money. It’s also another kick in the face to the school employees who aren’t eligible for $1,000 bonuses, including counselors and assistant principals. The state would rather pay a private company to cut fancy checks than pay them.

Straight talk on COVID. The delta variant has made Summer 2021 feel too much like Summer 2020, with 10,000 COVID cases a day in recent weeks and a positivity rate of around 15 percent. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor discussed the COVID outlook with Tampa General Hospital Dr. Jason Wilson in a video released by the city. Wilson explained how last year the risk factors were age, weight and underlying conditions like diabetes. This summer the serious cases — the ones that end up in the hospital or the morgue — are among the unvaccinated. Anyone who doesn’t get vaccinated should expect to get the delta variant or the next variant that comes along, Wilson warned. Castor was even more succinct: “Get vaccinated or get COVID,” she said. Good for Wilson and the mayor for sending such a clear message.

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