Friday, February 23, 2018

Politicians are a sorry-ass lot

I for one took the anti NRA pledge Wednesday night. If you took money from the NRA, you will not get my vote.

St. Petersburg, Fl Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
 In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog

Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Independents it does not matter, politicians are not fit to run this Country, this State or any City or School board.
How many kids have to die at the hands of some senseless fool before these bastions of all things political realize we as a people we have left it up to them to do something.
Mealy mouthed, self-serving, self-absorbed, the only thing that gives them meaning is the little bit of “special” that being elected to some office provides.
I am far from a CNN fan, but Wednesdays CNN Town-Hall meeting was riveting television news at its very best.
Even Jake Tapper who is usually completely full of himself tried to stay out of the fray and let those who came to speak have the platform.
Check out this article in the New Yorker by Evan Onos CNN’s Town Hall on Guns and the Unmaking of Marco Rubio.
I have never been a fan of Marco Rubio; I never voted for him, and I never will. Wednesday’s Town Hall showed Rubio for the two faced chameleon he really is.
My disdain for Rubio goes all the way back to April of 2010, and my post Republicans Should Be Cautious and in July 2016 Rubio – Why would Florida send Rubio back to the US Senate?
When Cameron Kaskey one of the #NerverAgainmovement leaders asked Rubio, “Would you refuse to accept donations from the National Rifle Association in the future?”
I held my breath as here was the moment for Rubio to completely define himself. After an uncomfortable pause, Rubio slithered up to the NRA and said, “people buy into my agenda, and I do support the Second Amendment.” He added, “I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda”
I was setting on the edge of the couch pounding on the footstool. My two dogs scurried from the room. The day before Florida House Republicans voted down House Bill 219, which would ban the sale and possession of semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity  magazines.  See the Tampa Bay Times article by Elizabeth Koh and Steve Bousquet: Florida House rejects considering ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
I have never been more ashamed to be a Republican.
Read Evan Onos coverage.
If the young people from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, cannot count on a “younger Senator” from their state who can they count on? Certainly not the Republicans in the state legislature who just a few hours earlier voted down an assault weapons ban.
I do not think any of this will change anything, at least not now.
The Marco Rubios of politics, and there are a lot of them, will swill the NRA booze and lap up their money and little or nothing will get done.
But make no mistake. We are raising a generation of children who will quickly become voting-age adults who have seen what the barrel end of the gun looks like and what it can do.
It will take years for them to get educated and experienced enough to run for office, and by the time they do the body count of innocent victims created by the hands of Rubio his elected partners, and his cohorts at the NRA will be large enough to ensure there will be a change.
Let’s hope the upcoming mid-term elections will see the beginning of a change from NRA domination to common sense legislation.
I for one took the anti NRA pledge Wednesday night. If you took money from the NRA, you will not get my vote.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Baseball take two – It’s Tampa’s turn

The money is important but is the long-term support there?

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

The quest for money and support to build Tampa’s new baseball stadium has begun.
Obviously, money is needed to build the $700 to $800 million stadium, but equally important is a significant out pouring of support for from the business community.
The battle to build a baseball stadium in Tampa has gone on for over a generation.
Check out this article from the May 1985  Los Angeles Times: Battle Rages On for Baseball in Tampa, St. Pete.
Here are some quotes:
Former New York Yankees president Cedric Tallis, the executive director of the Tampa Bay Baseball Group, calls downtown St. Petersburg "not the best area, you might say."
"We do have to get our act together," says Cecil Englebert, chairman of the Pinellas Sports Authority. "We have been told by baseball that a bridge, stream or a lake does not separate a marketplace."

But Englebert shares the prevailing view of those working for a team here: this is such a good market, baseball cannot afford to turn its back simply because the two sides cannot agree on which side of Tampa Bay a team belongs.

March 1986 Los Angeles Times article by Bill Shirley Staff Writer: Tampa and St. Petersburg Are Ready for Baseball When the Sport Expands

Here are some quotes:
Tampa is ready to build a $60- to $70-million domed stadium with private funds, Tallis said, but it would be a multi-purpose facility. Nevertheless, Tallis is confident this area will get a franchise. "It is a question of time," he said. "We think we're No. 1."

Expansion talk has virtually stopped in St. Petersburg, too, said Hubert Mizell, sports editor of the St. Petersburg Times. "It has gone into limbo because of the lack of encouragement from baseball. People got tired of waiting

It is this support that gets major league baseball comfortable that the franchise can be a success.
Fast forward a decade to January 22, 1995 and an article from the Washington Post by Mark Maske: PHOENIX, TAMPA-ST. PETE LOOK LIKE LOCKS.
And then in 1998 The Rays played their first game at Tropicana Field. For a lot of Rays history check out this site: Today in 1998, the Rays played their first game in franchise history
Taking a look at a recent Tampa Bay Times article from February 2018 by Charlie Frago: On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community it does not look like a lot has changed other than the names and faces of the innocent and the guilty.
Back in the beginning, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig did not think this was a baseball market, and a big part of the reason was the very lack of support that the Tampa group is trying to muster up. Baseball is a sport and a business of records, facts and statistics and the statistics have proven Bud Selig right.
Will things be any different in Tampa? Hard to say, but a key to the answer to that question will be whether the current baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred looks over the Tampa effort and gives it his blessing or another curse as Selig did.
For now, Tampa and the local baseball elite are charging down a familiar road of trying to buttonhole the big-business players and not so big-business players in the Tampa and Hillsborough community into commitments that will make the move to Tampa look viable from a ticket sales perspective and underwrite the new stadium.
Careful as you commit fellows and gals. We have heard all these songs before.
I was on the team that built the dome. I was on standby to go to Los Angeles when the Giants deal fell through, and I have sat in our 43,000 seat stadium with 3000 other people to watch a game.
After all that money, and all that work, all those sleepless nights, all the worry; all the hope and all the prayers the words of Bud Selig still ring in my ears – “this is just not a major-league baseball market.”
Have things changed? I certainly hope so.
It’s Tampa’s turn to bet the farm; to jump through all the MLB hoops; to promise and commit; to get caught up in the moment.
If you build it will they come and keep coming?
There is only one way to find out.
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

St. Pete – noise or dollars which will it be?

Is Downtown St. Pete really fueled by draft beer and loud noise?

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
The City of St. Petersburg has been wrestling for years with the problem of noise. The arguments, mostly centered around the downtown area, have grown more strident as downtown St. Pete morphed from a simple “downtown” to a craft beer powered juke box.
The assault on any attempt to control or limit noise and the proposed St. Pete Noise ordinance is no exception see Fox News Dan Matics: Proposed noise rule frustrates St. Pete bar owners.

The argument from the bar and brewery owners is the loud music is what attracts the ever precious millennials through the door. Is that really true?

Do the millennials that these bar owners tout really like loud music?

Well, according to Bernadette Hasson writing for NightClub&BAR which bills itself as “The Bar Industry Authority” says, “In an anonymous survey, millennial's listed the following reasons for not going to nightclubs: cover charges, expensive drinks, long lines to get in, long waits for drinks, too-loud music, pretension, rude staff, crowds, getting jostled, meat-market atmosphere, inability to have a conversation."

With massive speakers pointed at the street, and the volume cranked up it is more like a circus midway than a city street. The objective is to get your attention, and nothing about setting a mood. 

Try having a conversation in one of these places.

Then there is the impact on the surrounding businesses and residents and that is what this noise ordinance is all about.

An area like downtown St. Pete is all about quality of live and brew pubs, and bars are just one small part of the quality of life. These businesses would have you think the entire downtown will fold without a mass impact of a loud bass.

Just not so.

There some indication that a little softer on the music just might be better for business.

For now, we need to watch the Kriseman administration and City Council as they balance the sanity of those who live down town, and in other areas of the City plagued by noisy night spots with the claims of those who deliberately make the noise.

The next public meeting on the noise ordinance is scheduled for:

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Friday, February 16, 2018

San Diego Didn’t Fall for Shady Stadium Deal; Will Tampa?

Tampa, Fl
Posted From: Tampa Bay Beat
Author: Jim Bleyer

Rendering of stadium/convention center combo rejected by San Diego voters
By Jim Bleyer
Fifteen months ago the people and politicians of a major American city stood up to protect their region’s economic health and integrity by rejecting a shakedown from a billionaire owner of a big-league sports franchise.
But the citizens of San Diego had three major advantages over their counterparts in Hillsborough County where special interests are intent on bilking taxpayers to build a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.
—Public funding of a new stadium for the NFL Chargers was put to a referendum with passage requiring a 67 percent supermajority;
—The political will existed to push back against a blackmailing bully, in this case Dean Spanos, scion of real estate magnate Alex Spanos;
—Access to accurate, complete information from the San Diego Union-Tribune which reported all facets of the issue.
San Diegans killed public financing, 57-43 percent, not even a majority let alone the required threshold.  The ballot measure asked voters whether they wanted to increase the city’s hotel room tax rate from 12.5% to 16.5%, with the proceeds to fund a new $1.8 billion stadium and convention center. The tax increase was to repay $1.15 billion in bonds, leaving the Chargers and NFL to pay the remaining $650 million.
What’s happened since the ballot defeat?  The Chargers moved to a temporary facility in Costa Mesa playing the 2017 season to a fraction of the audience they drew in San Diego.  Half the fans rooted for the opposition.  The Rays are used to that; the Chargers weren’t.  When the Chargers move to a larger, modern stadium in Inglewood for the 2020 season, the facility will be shared with the Los Angeles Rams.
Meanwhile, life goes on without the Chargers in San Diego.  Most citizens are bitter at the Spanos family; a tiny minority actually trek to Charger games.  The city is still a hotspot for high-tech innovation, an incubator for Broadway-bound theatre, home of the historic Gaslamp Quarter, culturally diverse and harmonic, an attractive beach and surfing destination and much more.
Despite offering a specific plan that had adequate access, didn’t destroy neighborhoods, and meshed with a convention center, San Diegans saw through the bamboozle of transferring wealth to a billionaire and shot down the proposal by a healthy margin.
The stadium scheme in Tampa has nothing to recommend it.  A new playpen doesn’t guarantee Rays owner Stuart Sternberg will spend more than a pittance on payroll, reduce the abominable number of food safety violations,  or ditch players coming into their prime to cut costs.  It does guarantee to increase the value of the Rays franchise by a half billion. That’s the name of the game.
Look at the above rendering.  The combo stadium-convention center in San Diego blends with the neighborhood and has adequate access.  The proposed Rays stadium in Ybor City (below) is shoehorned into a unique, celebrated district.  Access and parking are difficult if not laughable.
San Diego also had one definitive financing source; Tampa’s revenue origins are uncertain as special interests and their toady politicians are scrambling to cobble together a taxpayer-funded sports subsidy.
As for the plan, San Diego actually had a specific one.  The Union-Tribune ran factual balanced accounts about the stadium campaign, its pros and cons.  Hillsborough County residents, the few who subscribe anyway, are not as fortunate with the Tampa Bay Times publishing slanted articles and omitting important facts.
The Times is rolling over for Sternberg, real estate interests, and the investors who temporarily bailed it out of bankruptcy.
Politicians love hotel taxes because this levy is the embodiment of taxation without representation.  Prancers to the pork barrel polka, such as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan,  look for any means to leverage tax dollars to fund their “legacy.”  They abhor referendums that allow the public to interfere with their gifts to special interests.   They would find a super majority requirement lethal to their indulgences.
Taxpayers in other cities that paid for stadiums often discover they are still on the hook long after the team departed. In New York when the Giants bolted the Big Apple for New Jersey, taxpayers were still paying off $110 million in debt on the old stadium. St. Louis lost the Rams, but they didn’t lose $144 million in stadium debt the team bequeathed.
Philip K. Porter, Professor of Economics at the University of South Florida, terms sports subsidies as a “transfer of wealth” and competition for funding with more needed municipal services regardless of the revenue source.
Of the 38 metropolitan areas with at least one major professional sports team, Tampa ranks fourth in per capita subsidy, according to Porter.  That number will only increase if the Ybor City boondoggle comes to fruition.
His report, “Public Subsidies and the Location and Pricing of Sports,” can be found here.
According to Michael Leeds, an economist at Temple University, “If every sports team in Chicago were to suddenly disappear, the impact on the Chicago economy would be a fraction of 1 percent. A baseball team has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store.”
Victor Matheson, a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross, is dubious of the economic hype surrounding professional sports facilities.
“A good rule of thumb that economists use is to take what stadium boosters are telling you and move that one decimal place to the left, and that’s usually a good estimate of what you’re going to get,” Matheson says.
Economists say the biggest reason sports teams don’t have much impact is that they don’t ignite new spending. Most people have a limited entertainment budget, so the dollars they shell out for a game is money they would have spent elsewhere such as a restaurant or small businesses where more money would have stayed in the community.  Matheson added that instead of drawing people to a neighborhood, games can actually repel them.
That certainly applies to Ybor, one of America’s most storied, culturally significant and eclectic neighborhoods.  And how much of the money that absentee owner Sternberg rakes in from his revenue sharing/cheapskate payroll template do you think remains in the Bay area?
When politicians like Hagan and Buckhorn go directly to “how should we fund the stadium” omitting all the intermediate steps and any taxpayer comment let alone vote, they’ve already lubed the public to assume the position that shoveling tax bucks toward a sports facility should be the correct priority. It eliminates discussion of uplifting economically depressed neighborhoods, educating and assisting disenfranchised youth, properly training and retraining law enforcement officers, and addressing infrastructure needs.
Buckhorn and Hagan, abetted in their misinformation campaign by the Tampa Bay Times, obsess with burnishing their legacies, however fleeting, and rewarding their real estate cronies plus Sternberg with hundreds of millions.
Tampa residents are victims of this squeeze play.  
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

District Rays Candidate Hagan Challenged As His Teflon Wears Thin

Career politicians, especially those who park themselves in the same position for 16 years, know how to work and game the system. 

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

After 16 too long years, District Rays Candidate Hagan is violating the spirit of term limits and running again for a single district seat he already held. He doesn't care that he's setting a horrible precedent doing what no other commissioner has done in the 34 years of the county charter.

When asked why, after 16 too long years, he is running again, the District Rays Candidate has said he has "things" he wants to complete. Of course! The candidate for District Rays wants to complete his pursuit of a new Rays stadium - that he's been pursuing for most of his 16 too long years as a county commissioner.

But besides a baseball stadium, what are the other "things" Hagan wants to complete? Hagan must have an earth shattering list of things to complete that he feels entitled to egregiously flip flop back to a seat he already held.

The Times even reached out in December to the county commissioners to ask each commissioner about their priorities. They got crickets from the District Rays Candidate Hagan. As the current longest serving commissioner, District Rays Candidate Hagan was the only commissioner who did not respond. Perhaps the holidays kept Hagan from getting his scripted response from his PR confidante in time to respond.

We checked Hagan's campaign website owned by HCP Associates, a professional marketing/PR firm. No list there either or much of anything else - considering Hagan's been in office for 16 years. The District Rays Candidate Hagan's professionally created website is just a shell to collect some donations of at least $100 (the big donors send checks directly) with a small blurb of political gobblygook.

From Candidate Hagan's website
Hagan may consider himself "experienced", but after 16 too long years, he is a career county commissioner who refuses to respect term limits.

Where did that first bullet about standing firm to manage the budget and growth "without increasing taxes" come from? District Rays Candidate Hagan is living in his own alternative universe, echo chamber or the Twilight zone to make such stuff up.

Did Hagan erase or BleachBit his past?

Candidate Rays campaign website also touts he wants to create high-wage, high quality jobs. Well..

In pursuit of a new baseball stadium, Candidate Rays Hagan has stated it could be more than just a ball park, but about creating an entertainment district - more restaurants, retail and fern bars. Are those high wage jobs? Is that what's needed in Ybor?

According to this article from the Economic Research of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis , 86% of economists surveyed stated state and local governments should ELIMINATE subsidies to professional sports franchises. That article also stated:

In a 2017 poll, 83 percent of the economists surveyed agreed that "Providing state and local subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports teams is likely to cost the relevant taxpayers more than any local economic benefits that are generated."No wonder economists state that...especially when all the shady wheeling and dealing is being done in the dark. And in the case of District Rays Candidate Hagan, he was wheeling and dealing behind closed doors with his campaign donors.

Subsidizing sports stadiums for wealthy sports team owners does not create high wage jobs nor does subsidizing big retailers like Bass Pro. Is creating a place to host bachelorette parties part of Hagan's high wage jobs vision? Who was the local lobbyist for Bass Pro? Surprise! Hagan's cozy, close PR confidante Beth Leytham.

Bass Pro Shops recently sold their Brandon store and two other Bass Pro stores in Florida to Starwood Property Trust for a lease-back arrangement. Hmmm...

Past actions and behaviors are the best indicators of how one will behave and act in the future - not words on a website or some well scripted political rhetoric.

Hagan has been systematically recommending sales tax hikes and cunningly seeking risky financing schemes for years. It was Hagan who got Mike Merrill, former county bond/debt manager, his position as County Administrator in 2010 and the two of them have been pushing tax hikes and a baseball stadium ever since.

Something else unprecedented is Hagan has raised almost a HALF MILLION dollars for a single district county commission race, tons of it from those who cannot vote for him. It's not about District 2 for Hagan, it's about keeping his fingers in the county taxpayer cookie jar.

District Rays Candidate Hagan's campaign donations confirms he must deliver the goods to his special interests donor base.

After 16 too long years, District Rays Candidate Hagan thinks the county cannot live without him.

But the so-called "teflon" that District Rays Candidate Hagan thinks still surrounds him has worn thin or perhaps totally worn off.

Republican voters in District 2 can reject Hagan's arrogance and entitlement attitude.

In the August Primary, they should vote for Chris Paradies.
Posted by Sharon Calvert

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.
Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Kriseman administration to south St. Pete – protection or a message?

The answers to these questions are important for everyone who lives in St. Petersburg. 

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog
An extra visible police presence during the Martin Luther King Parade and the “after party” which follows the parade and lasts into the evening has stirred a continuing dust up between the Kriseman Administration and the citizens of South St. Petersburg.
Here is a revealing VIDEO by John Muhammad from MLK Day. You can get some detail in the Tampa Bay Times from Zachary T. Sampson: Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

The NAACP has weighed in as reported in this article by Tampa Bay Times  Sara DiNatale: NAACP continues to question police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party

Being the good soldier, he is St. Police Chief Tony Holloway has taken full responsibility for the bad feelings in South St. Pete blaming it on a “communications” problem but never really addressing the two key issues. Did Mayor Kriseman or anyone  on his staff see, review and/or ok the plan and why the dramatic change from soft presence to a very visible and aggressive presence as demonstrated in the VIDEO?

Holloway has a history of taking responsibility and fending off responsibility for major police faux pas from his bosses and his somewhat charming way of doing it usually works.

Having worked the MLK event from both the administrative side and the police department side I know that in the past, this event is one previous administrations have taken very seriously and the planning was a joint effort between the Police Department and the Administration.

Mayor Kriseman’s responses so far have been rather lukewarm indicating one of two things. Either he just left the whole thing up to his police chief with no review, follow-up, concern or input to the increased policing plan indicating a complete lack of respect for the event, or he was onboard with the plan and wanted to ensure there were no major issues to cloud his re-election hype.

It could also be that he was just too busy taking a victory lap following his re-election to be involved.   

The real question here is this an ill-conceived MLK Day moment exacerbated by poor “communications” or is this a message to south St. Pete that now I’m back in office and don’t need your votes this is how things are going to be.

The people raising these questions, the NAACP, Brother John Muhammad and others need to press on and not let the Mayor punt this one to his new Deputy Mayor or send her in order to calm the waters. 

The answers to these questions are important for everyone who lives in St. Petersburg. 
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Friday, February 9, 2018

My football boycott – season wrap up

NFL Television ratings continue to tumble. 

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

If you have been following this Blog, you probably know that following the decision by NFL players to protest the National Anthem and the NFL’s totally lame reaction, I decided I had had enough of the minority privileged disrespecting our flag and all it stands for.
The actions were disgusting enough but the NFL, and most of the owners seemed to be like a deer caught in the headlights not knowing which way to jump.
In my most Post, My NFL protest continues – and it’s working I looked at the NFL’s declining TV ratings, arguably the NFL’s pocketbook, and things continued to get worse as the season rolled along.
It appears things got even worse for the Super Bowl, here are some links:
“An estimated 103.4 million people watched the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, the smallest audience for television's biggest yearly event since 2009.”

We did not watch the watch the Super Bowl, so you can count us in the missing viewers.

What has been most interesting is how not watching football on TV has affected some of our buying habits. Making a genuine effort not to purchase products from companies who support the NFL, we have made a surprising number of new discoveries in household products that we buy on a recurring schedule and have permanently switched to them.

We also made a change in local grocery stores and have been avoiding the chain restaurants that support the NFL.

I hope the $5 million or so the advertisers ponied up for the Super Bowl Commercials was worth it.

We kept a loose running total of diverted purchases in house hold goods, retail, restaurant, small ticket and big-ticket items, and it looks like to total added up to about $4500.

I noted with interest some if not all the winning Eagles Team planned to boycott a trip to the White House. It seems like a good idea to me. They have no respect for the country. Why would they have any respect for the office of the President?

I hope they follow through or better yet the White House declines to send or rescinds the invitation.

Why give these people another platform to give us the finger?

As the year goes on we will continue the effort always looking for that little NFL logo on the package or ad and making our buying decisions accordingly.

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