Monday, December 11, 2017
Politics

Romano: Like him or not, Latvala deserves a fair hearing

At some point, the truth has to matter, right?

Evidence, due process, all of that?

No matter how you feel about Sen. Jack Latvala personally (and I’ve never been a huge fan) or how you feel about the overzealousness of his defense (which I criticized earlier this week), we all have an obligation to follow the facts and truth of the sexual harassment charges brought against him.

So why are so many people rushing to judgment?

For instance, House Speaker Richard Corcoran was calling for Latvala’s resignation within minutes — quite literally — of anonymous allegations hitting Politico last month.

I’m not arguing whether Latvala is innocent or guilty; that’s a matter for the special master appointed to the case to investigate. I’m arguing that justice works for all of us or it works for none of us.

Now, obviously, it’s more complicated than that.

If the past few months have taught us anything, it is that men in power have routinely bullied, harassed, groped and raped without fear of repercussion for far too long.

So the courageousness of the first few women stepping forward has given us all an opportunity to change the course of America, and that’s not remotely an exaggeration.

Men will either behave, or they will be held accountable.

It really should be that clear.

It really can be that revolutionary.

But we must be careful that our enthusiasm for justice doesn’t inadvertently trample the path to justice. It has been said that a lynch mob is still a lynch mob, even if the accused is guilty.

Unlike some celebrities/politicians who have acknowledged at least a version of the accusations against them, Latvala has vociferously denied any inappropriate physical contact with anyone.

And, thus, he has a right to defend himself.

Now, as I pointed out this week, I think Latvala went too far with his defense. At least publicly. If he didn’t come right out and violate his accuser’s confidentiality, he appears to have done it in spirit. And that may eventually prove to be more problematic than the original allegation.

But the more people talk about this case, the uglier it seems to get. And that’s not fair. It’s not fair to the accuser, the accused, the witnesses or the special master in charge. Most of all, it’s an unsettling precedent for every woman watching from afar and seeing what a mess it’s become.

For that reason, Senate President Joe Negron needs to do two things:

1. He needs to tell his members to keep their opinions to themselves until the investigation is completed, and he should request Corcoran do the same in the House.

2. He needs to expedite this process. The special master’s investigation is supposedly completed, and so there is no reason for this not to be resolved by month’s end.

In the end, this is not about personalities. It’s not about how incidents were handled in Hollywood or Washington, D.C., and it certainly should not be about politics. This is about whether Latvala inappropriately touched the woman who made a formal complaint.

There are some people who are outraged by this story and who see Latvala as the embodiment of the shenanigans, and worse, that women have endured in Tallahassee and elsewhere. Others are chagrined that a career in public service is going up in flames even though they see the evidence pointing to exoneration. The difference, I suppose, is in the ways our own lives have shaped our world views.

And that’s why it’s important to let the process play out the way it’s supposed to. Despite our differences, we all seemingly want the same thing.

And that’s justice.

 

Comments
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA — With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In a blur of television ads, conflicting polls and presidential tweets, Doug Jones and Roy Moore raced Monday to make their final pleas in Alabama’s special election for the Senate, with both candidates focused on turning out their...
Updated: 2 hours ago
As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive br...
Published: 12/10/17

Same income, but not taxes, in GOP plan

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it.Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the sam...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Renegade Republican Roy Moore may be plagued by scandal, but it will take more than that to convince the voters of 44th Place North to show up for Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday. In a state where Democrats are used to losing, the m...
Published: 12/09/17
 ‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

WASHINGTON — Around 5:30 each morning, President Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to "Fox & Friends" for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s "...
Published: 12/09/17
Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

  It seems like a distant memory now, but Al Franken’s arrival in the U.S. Senate eight years ago marked the very moment when Democrats’ control of Washington reached its highest point in a generation. After an eight-month recount, the ...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, said Thursday he would resign his seat in a statement where he acknowledged discussing surrogacy with two former female subordinates.Franks...
Published: 12/07/17
Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced Thursday he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and the collapse of support from his Democratic colleagues, a swift political fall for a once...
Published: 12/07/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17