Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday April 3, 2016 some thoughts

A lot happened this week. Car theft tragedy, St. Pete Pier, PSTA operators and CEO get a raise

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Car Theft Tragedy
Three girls lost their lives when the stolen car they were driving plunged into a pond in St. Pete. The tragedy of their deaths over shadowed by the fact all were their mid-teens. Two had significant criminal records, and one was beginning a criminal career.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had some strong words about the girls and the youth diversion programs.

These events just point out that there continue to be serious problems in south St. Pete and the approaches taken so far are not having much success. I am not sure the diversion process applies here, but the problems are real.

To me, the bigger question was why were the two with long rap sheets still out on the street recruiting a new comrade?

The juvenile justice laws need a major rewrite, and when that is done diversion needs to be part of the statute. There also needs to be a tightening of the incarceration portion of the law that gets repeat juvenile offenders off the street and keeps them off the street.

The State legislature needs to step up to this problem and write some laws that will work.

The new St. Pete Pier
The St. Pete Pier seemed to be imploding this week as the design footprint shrunk considerably while the firm anointed by the Kriseman Administration to build St. Pete’s newest land mark tried to stay within budget.

Kriseman has his foot in a deep bucket since his administration sent Mike Connors out to derail the selection process and ignore the wishes of the public. Had Kriseman simply gone along with the public’s choice the problem of cost and budget, had there been one, would have been the “publics” and coming up with an extra $5 or $10 million to make it work would have been much easier. Plus, the Mayor could blame the public.

The way Kriseman has screwed this thing up it is now his Pier, his problem and under budget and on the cheap or over budget and kind of nice, the Pier will be forever hung around his neck.

Keep your eye on the Pier approach it will probably be a boondoggle also.

As most know, I have not been a big fan of Brad Miller, PSTA CEO, since the whole Greenlight misuse of Federal funds issue. While I am still a bit skeptical about Mr. Miller's ability to play by the rules, I do have to give him a lot of credit for rolling up his sleeves and going to work to make PSTA a better and more effective transportation agency.

Miller and his team get kudos for managing the grid conversion in downtown St. Pete, developing express bus routes and working with UBER and Lyft to create last mile solutions.

Last week's announcement of a new 3-year agreement with Service Employees International union makes PSTA workers the highest transit operators in Central or South Florida. Check out Drew Wilson's Post in saintpetersblog: PSTA strikes pay-increase deal with transit union, toughens rules on missed work.

What makes this a really big deal is Miller, faced with a looming revenue problem, has apparently figured out a way to fit this agreement into already tight PSTA budget.

Last week, Miller received a nice raise from the PSTA Board in a 15-0 vote. I am not quite up to the 15-0 vote, but I have to admit I am coming around.

Thanks for all the hard work Brad.

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Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff

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