The Lightning, Charlie Crist and a former surgeon general make the highs and lows of the week
This article represents the opinion of the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times.
It’s been another busy week of news in Florida and Tampa Bay. Here are three of the high and low lights.
Better late… It was great to see the Lightning at the White House earlier this week. The pandemic and scheduling issues had ruled back-to-back Stanley Cup champions from traditional visits with the president. But they were there Monday smiling and joking with Joe Biden. Even some players from Stanley Cup-winning teams who are no longer with the Lightning made the visit. Biden joked about captain Steven Stamkos’ time in the league. “Steve, 14 seasons?” Biden said. “You’re getting old, man. I do not know. I have to ask Steve for advice on this. Stamkos, 32, played his first game against the Lightning in 2008 and is enjoying one of his best individual seasons. Will the Lightning return to the White House soon as a three-time champion? The playoffs start next week.
A bad look. In recent months, U.S. Representative Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, used the House’s pandemic-era proxy voting rule to avoid trips to Washington while he campaigns for governor in Florida. For the first time in its history, the United States House of Representatives has allowed proxy voting to keep members safe and help prevent the spread of the virus. Both political parties took advantage of the new rule. Crist, for example, voted by proxy 107 times between January and April 7, the sixth highest number of House Representatives, according to the Miami Herald. Politicians take advantage of the rules, sometimes they bend them. But the reason Crist missed the in-person votes is that he is walking on shaky ground. Just this week he sent a letter to the Clerk of the House saying: ‘I continue to be unable to physically attend proceedings in the Chamber of the House due to the public health emergency in Classes.” But the Herald reported, Crist still attended campaign events, sometimes indoors and without a mask, on days when he voted by proxy. So the “public health emergency” is so serious that it prevents him from voting in person, but not so serious that it prevents him from campaigning in person? Hmm.
Rivkees speaks. Scott Rivkees was Florida’s first surgeon general appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis. You would be forgiven for not recognizing his name. Despite a raging pandemic, he was what one might kindly describe as a “behind the scenes” leader. The governor didn’t seem to like some of what Rivkees said at the start of the pandemic. In one example from 2020, an aide to the governor dragged Rivkees out of a briefing after saying the state may have to social distance for up to a year. For months after that, Rivkees was barely seen or heard from publicly. Rivkees left office in the fall and took a job at Brown University. And now he speaks. He recently argued in an evidence-based essay that healthy children should be vaccinated, countering advice from Florida’s current surgeon general who has questioned the merits of vaccinating healthy children. Rivkees also signed a letter that criticizes recent state guidelines advising against hormone therapy, gender-affirming surgery, and social transitioning for transgender children, which may include changing names, pronouns, or clothing. . It’s good to see Rivkees add his voice to these debates, but where was that vocal leadership when he was in charge?
Editorials are the corporate voice of the Tampa Bay Times. Members of the Editorial Board are Editorial Editor Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and President Paul Tash. To follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinionated news.