Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:
The Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat on fired trooper was victim of favoritism practices:
A state hearing officer's recommendation that a fired Florida Highway Patrol trooper be reinstated is the correct response in a case that brought to light the fact that law-enforcement agencies have long-standing policies of treating elected officials differently from the way they treat everyday citizens.
State Hearing Officer Gregg Riley Morton's recommendation followed testimony during an appeal by FHP Trooper Charles Swindle. Swindle was fired by FHP in March after an investigation into how he handled incidents involving two members of the Florida Legislature and another motorist who had been flagged for speeding on Interstate 10.
Things got dicey for Swindle after he clocked state Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, driving 87 in a 70 mph zone. During that stop, Swindle discovered that McBurney was a member of the Legislature. After conferring with his supervisor, Swindle wrote McBurney a citation for not providing insurance registration, which amounts to a slap on the wrist compared with the more significant fine that comes with a speeding ticket.
A civilian motorist who was stopped at the same time also got a break.
Later in the day, also on I-10, Swindle provided the same pass to another member of the Legislature, Rep. Mike Clelland, D-Longwood.
These acts of favoritism came to light after McBurney took his complaint over receiving even the citation to FHP, saying he insisted to Swindle that he did have his insurance card with him.
FHP fired the trooper, who had enjoyed strong evaluations from his supervisors for his work in DUI arrests and other duties.
But here's the catch. ...
This is a painful lesson for all. But ultimately, Morton's recommendation should force FHP to ensure that everyone is treated the same, regardless of what they do for a living.
Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on easing travel restrictions to Cuba to boost freedom:
There is a quick way for our nation to help overwhelm Cuba's censorship and propaganda.
Simply allow Americans - the most effective ambassadors for democracy and free enterprise - to travel more easily to Cuba.
Having more Americans visit Cuba would almost surely boost capitalism in a country that is cautiously experimenting with property rights and private enterprise.
This can be done without the political firefight of eliminating the 50-year-old Cuban embargo, which greatly restricts trade and travel to Cuba.
We think the embargo no longer serves a useful purpose. Indeed, it gives the Cuban government a scapegoat for its failed economic policies. As John Caulfield, chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, says, Cuba's financial woes are a result of "Cuba's choice of an economic model."
But eliminating the embargo or allowing unrestricted travel to Cuba will require congressional approval, a political challenge.
In contrast, President Barack Obama by executive order can require general licenses be issued for all approved travel to Cuba.
Americans now can receive a visa to travel for such specific purposes as education and cultural studies. A people-to-people visa, for instance, allows Americans to have direct but limited interactions with Cubans to learn more about them and their culture. These trips must be guided by licensed travel services that are required to follow a strict agenda.
Everything is tightly regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control to ensure there are no violations of the sanctions against Cuba. (Cuban-Americans appropriately have no restrictions on traveling to visit family.)
The approval process for the specific visas can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Obtaining general license is far less complicated, so expanding its use would eliminate red tape and diminish barriers to travel.
It could, depending on how the executive order was written, give travelers more flexibility in what they do in Cuba. It might allow Americans to travel outside of tours. This would likely benefit those Cubans trying to establish private businesses, such as small hotels or restaurants. ...
The United States' tough trade and travel prohibitions unquestionably were necessary after Fidel Castro's communist takeover, when he confiscated property, ruthlessly suppressed opposition, sought to export revolution to Latin America and provided a base for the Soviet Union.
But the Cold War is over and the Soviet Union is gone. Cuba remains an authoritarian state, but its grip seems to be slipping. That control would be further eroded should Americans be allowed to spread the seeds of capitalism and freedom in a country whose people badly need them.
The Miami Herald on there is no place for ICE:
Perhaps it's time for Homeland Security to take a lesson from the old Kenny Rogers hit and simply walk away from dreams of building an Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection processing center in the heart of Tavernier's historic district.
Since 2011, a Tampa-based developer has been hoping to convert the former Florida Keys Electric Cooperative building at mile marker 91.6 into a home for federal agents.
The developer paid $1.4 million for the property in May 2011 with Homeland Security already lined up as the exclusive tenant.
But that was before opposition to the project began to gain traction, led by members of the Tavernier community and joined by the Monroe County Historic Preservation Commission, the county Planning Commission and the County Commission.
In Friday's Reporter, the developer's latest defeat was detailed when a state administrative law judge upheld the Planning Commission's decision last September to deny Hoover Properties' application. As the commission noted in its denial, the proposed use does not fit the property's suburban/commercial zoning. To be in compliance, the building would have to serve residents in the immediate area.
Few supporters can be found for converting the old FKEC office building into a law enforcement outpost, with holding cell, to serve the needs of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. ...
Opposition grew so strong last year, that U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose district then included the Florida Keys, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to find another location to house her Upper Keys agents.
Given the tortured history on this project, it's time for Homeland Security to move on and let Hoover worry about what developers do now with their $1.4 million investment. It's not too late to follow "The Gambler's" advice and know when to run.