Sunday, May 31, 2020

Felon Voting Rights – Are the Republicans Making a Big Mistake?

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

Author:  In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.     
The Republican Party of Florida has long opposed the restoration of felon voting rights.
When the voters passed a referendum restoring felon voting rights, the state legislature passed a bill defining all terms to mean that all fines, fees and restitution connected with a case would have to be paid before a convicted felon regained the right to vote.
Below are a couple of links that should bring you up to date on the Florida voting rights issue.
Florida has already lost a number of legal skirmishes regarding the felon voter rights issue.
This past week US District Court judge Robert Hinkle ruled against a Florida law limiting the scope of amendment 4, which allows most felons the right to vote.
At this point, it is widely suspected that Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis will appeal against the finding.
It seems to me, that the Republicans are chasing the wrong rabbit in the voter rights for felons’ issue.
The people have voted; the constitutional amendment has been approved, and I think the risk the Republicans run is having voters of all parties of good faith begin to see the Republican’s effort as simply a self-serving political gesture.
The Republican political argument is simply a large number of these felons who register, and vote will do so as Democrats. There's no real data to show this or substantiate what is essentially a political fear.
I think it's time for a new Republican strategy. After all, the best political campaign is one that educates the people.
The Florida Republican Party should set up a committee dedicated to educating felons and registering them to vote. This committee should establish mirroring groups at each County GOP organization. The one thing that The Republican Party needs to avoid is driving these new voters to the Democratic Party through a series of efforts to restrict their access to the polls.
It is really time for the Republican Party and the governor to take a big step back from the “approach let's keep them from voting” to a program of “let's get them registered as Republicans.”
If the Republicans don’t change their strategy, the Democratic Party of Florida is going to have a field day signing up and registering Florida's released convicted felons and at the same time probably gaining favor with Republicans, especially sympathetic ones when it comes to voting.
The Republican party's continued efforts to fight felon voting rights for the upcoming presidential election violates one of my grandfather’s primary tenants of life. It simply says, "Never hand them the bat to beat you to death with."
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Documents show why federal gov’t isn’t funding Central Ave BRT project

Tampa, Fl
From: Tampa Bay Guardian

Edited by: Tom Rask

Posted by TBG2016 on  
Formal project assessments made by the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) and obtained by the Guardian appear to show  why PSTA’s Central Avenue BRT (CABRT) project is still isn’t eligible to be funded by the FTA. The documents show also that that PSTA has failed to implement key FTA recommendations three years in a row. PSTA is the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

We showed earlier that the FTA told PSTA in this January 15th letter their CABRT isn’t eligible at this time for federal funding. Recent documents shed light on why that is.

Every year, the FTA performs a formal assessment of the land use and economic development effects of projects in the so called Project Development (PD) phase of its Capital Investment Grant program. The FTA does so for the upcoming federal fiscal budget year.

The FTA e-mailed PSTA its FY21 assessment of the CABRT project on February 12th. The e-mail also referenced the FTA’s “Annual Report on Funding Recommendations” for FY21, a report which did not recommend funding of PSTA’s CABRT project.
Brad Miller (from his Twitter feed)

That e-mail came just one week after immediate past PSTA chair Janet Long and PSTA CEO Brad Miller expressed confidence that the CABRT would be funded.

The FTA’s land use and economic development (LU-ED) assessments for the last three years show the project obtaining a “Medium ” rating for land use and a “Medium-Low” rating for economic development. This is equivalent to grades of C and D, respectively.

Most worrisome for PSTA is that there may not be anything it can do to get those grades up.
“Information for the cities of South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach was lacking,” the FTA’s assessment noted three years in a row in its 3-line “Quality of Submission” notes.

In the “recommendations” section of all three assessments, the FTA noted that “South Pasadena’s zoning map was inaccessible” and urged PSTA to “provide a a zoning map or information on zoning districts in the corridor.” Here are the  FY19FY20 and FY21 FTA assessments.

Those are “recommendations” (a.k.a. “requirements”) that can be met. So is the one to “tie the vacant or underutilized land to zoning designations or current proposals,” although that exercise may not produce a list that PSTA or project supporters want the FTA to see.

The “recommendations” that will be more difficult or even impossible to meet are the following ten,  which have been repeated by the FTA to PSTA in writing three years in a row:
1. Provide updates on population density, employment, and existing affordable housing.
2. More documentation of transit-supportive plans and policies from South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach.
3. More documentation of transit-supportive ordinances in St. Pete Beach.
4. More information on how South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach have engaged stakeholders [on land use].
5. More information on coordination between St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, and South Pasadena [on land use].
6. Show development projects throughout the corridor, not just in Downtown St. Petersburg.
7. Provide a more detailed assessment of [affordable housing] supply and needs in the corridor.
8. Provide information on South Pasadena’s plans to address affordable housing.
9. Identify how the needs of very- and extremely-low income households are being addressed in St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena.
10. Beyond HUD and state funds, identify local funds or programs that support affordable housing.

The FTA noted that St. Petersburg’s plans, policies and ordinances “appear to be significantly more well-developed and transit-supportive than those in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach.” That should come as no surprise to the FTA, which already knows that the cities of St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena have unanimously passed resolutions opposing the CABRT project.

The FTA’s “alternative recommendation” for items #2 and #3 above is for PSTA to “encourage those jurisdictions [South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach] to adopt more transit-supportive plans, policies and ordinances.” Given the formal and unwavering opposition of these jurisdictions, it’s almost impossible for PSTA to achieve what the FTA asks of it.

“Note: Failure to respond to recommendations may cause ratings to be decreased in future evaluations,” the FTA says in all three assessments. This year,for the first time, that note was in highlighted in red. That change could mean that mean the FTA is signaling that time is running out for PSTA to get the CABRT project funded.

For the convenience of our readers, here is a copy of the FTA’s latest (FY21) LU-ED assessment in which we have highlighted key points. On page 2, reader will see that of 2,631 parking spots in the corridor, 231 of those will be removed in order to build bus stations. In additions, one lane in each direction on 1st Avenues North and South in St. Pete would be converted to allow buses and turning vehicles.

Ed Carlson

“It’s insane to lose 11-12 miles of driving lanes on St. Pete’s major east-west thoroughfare to a dying dinosaur like PSTA,” said Ed Carlson.
Carlson, a retired dentist, leads a St. Petersburg grassroots group called Citizens Against Lane Loss (CALL). CALL is opposed to the CABRT project.
“Losing 231 parking places is equally insane and also counterproductive, Carlson continued. “Over 900 people per day move to Florida and most of those people are arriving in vehicles they intend to drive.”
Carlson said that the community has “huge needs” in the areas of traffic flow and parking.

As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.

READ THIS POST AT: Tampa Bay Guardian

This post is contributed by the Tampa Bay Guardian. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet or any publications, blogs or social media pages where it may appear.
Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Guardian

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Are Diamonds Really Forever?

The whole engagement ring thing started in the late 1930’s as a marketing effort to kick start diamond sales.

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

It is that time of the year when relationships bloom, heart's flutter and bride to be eyes light up with vision's things, that sparkle.

In the print media, electronic media, the Internet and just about everywhere else you look, there are ads promising the best deal on that much needed and desired engagement ring.

Before you plunk down a significant portion of your annual salary for an engagement ring here are a few things to check out.

First take a look at the number of engagement rings for sale on line.

I am not suggesting you buy one on line, although what she does not know probably won’t hurt her, but the real question is: Where did all those rings come from? The answer is they were bought by idiots who got caught up in the Diamonds Are Forever marketing ploy, and things did not go well. 

They are now for sale on E-Bay and usually NOT by the original buyer.

As one who has had a number of engagement and wedding rings end up in a pawn shop case, the return on your investment is really poor. Example: a lovely blonde who pawned her(our) engagement rings (worth several thousand dollars) to make a $200 car payment.

I know she was upset the wedding was off, but if she had called I would have probably made the car payment for her.

The whole engagement ring thing started in the late 1930’s as a marketing effort to kick start diamond sales. Since nothing says "I love you like a diamond" and "diamonds are forever" resonate, guys have been on the hook for ever larger upfront investments in their matrimonial future.

That is kind of interesting given that fact that according to the American Psychological Association 50% of marriages end up in divorce, and subsequent marriages are more likely to fail even if the engagement ring is bigger.

So, if she is sending you all those signals about getting married and suggesting an engagement (read that I want a ring) set down and have a long serious talk.

Right now, the “recommended” amount you should spend on an engagement ring is two months’ salary.

If you make $60,000 dollars per year that’s $5,000/per month or about $10,000 for a ring.

If you make $100,000 per year that is about $8333/month or about $16,700 for the ring.

These days you can finance that amount for up to eight years, and that number is interesting because the average marriage in the United states lasts about 8.2 years.

Think about your student loan. If that upsets you, think about how you will feel five or six years into a marriage that is slipping away, and you still have few years to go pay off what got you into all of this.

So, remember all this engagement and to some degree wedding ring stuff is a marketing creation of people who dig crap up out of the ground, polish it up, claim it is their own, establish outlandish prices in a closed market and take advantage of your situation.

The bottom line on all of this engagement ring hoopla, is it gives your beloved a symbol to wave about in the faces of her less fortunate friends who are still looking forward to reeling in a “ring” of their own.

If a ring costing 20% or more of your annual salary is a required pre-commitment of endearing love, do a little research, have a serious conversation with your partner and remember this: diamonds are not forever, they are just expensive.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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