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Make the Citizens Review Board better | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan addresses people in the audience during a Citizens Review Board meeting at the Tampa Convention Center on June 23, 2020.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan addresses people in the audience during a Citizens Review Board meeting at the Tampa Convention Center on June 23, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jun. 16

A better way to monitor Tampa police

A political club over Tampa police | Editorial, June 11

The Citizens Review Board, created in 2015 to review cases handled by the Tampa Police Department, currently lacks the independence and tools to be the effective public monitor that other cities across Florida and the nation have. The City Council has an opportunity Thursday to nudge the board in the right direction. We hope they do so by rejecting a poorly designed compromise with the mayor’s office and standing firmly behind their original plan to prevent any single individual from having too much influence on the board.

Last month, the City Council proposed a modest change to make Tampa’s Citizens Review Board more independent, changing the number of appointments from 7-4 in the Mayor’s favor to 7-4 in City Council’s favor.

A compromise currently being considered would create a 5-5 split between the City Council and the mayor, with one additional position being filled by someone from a local civil rights group. This sounds good on paper, but it won’t create true independence in practice, as it still gives the mayor too much influence. To put it in perspective, Gainesville’s mayor appoints only one out of 11, and Fort Myers’ mayor appoints only one out of nine.

Simply put: The City’s Council’s original 4-of-11 was a compromise; 5-5-1 is not. It is a rejection of the community’s call for an independent Citizens Review Board.

No governmental body will ever be perfect. But the Citizens Review Board should be better than it is today. We call on the City Council to have the bravery and integrity to vote Thursday to change how board members are appointed. Then, let’s continue to push for other critical reforms in the future.

David Simanoff is president of the Greater Tampa Chapter of the ACLU of Florida.

One person, one vote

Abolish the Electoral College?

The president of the United States should be elected by popular vote, not the Electoral College.

Hector A. Pol, Seminole

A monument to Florida

Bayshore has a stylish, supersize new neighbor | June 12

The very expensive Fernando Botero sculpture — Mujer Vestida (Dressed Woman) — rising over Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard is a fitting symbol of a billion-dollar developer’s ability to destroy middle-class housing to build housing for the very rich. This is the story of Florida.

Timothy Shea, St. Petersburg

Focus on the issues

Don’t take the culture-war bait to defeat DeSantis | Column,June 13

Mac Stipanovich’s call for Democrats to focus on the issues goes to the heart of what is wrong in today’s politics. This message is an important one for the nation, not just the Florida political wars.

Marc Yacht, Hudson