Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Manatee County Slowly Killing the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs


Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD         

If you are relatively new to Manatee County, you're probably starting to ask yourself who's running the show in this County?

The first thing that grabs your attention, is all the development going on in eastern Manatee County.

Add to all of that, the almost unbelievable number of growing dangerous four way stops, poorly lighted and signed intersections, limited turn lanes, and you have all the ingredients of a road infrastructure nightmare.

It seems, that Manatee County’s idea of road improvement is a two-lane road with a four-lane blow out and a couple of short turn lanes into the latest development, that runs the length of the new development frontage, and quickly necks back down to a dangerous 2 lane road.

No plans to expand the road, to make it safer, or capable of handling more traffic just enough to keep the developer happy. Stop lights and controlled intersections are all but unheard of an unseen. 

Manatee County is faced with the age-old conflict between developers and controlled growth.

Back in 2006/2007 then Manatee County administrator Ed Hunsicker made the decision to stop infrastructure development in light of the economic slowdown.  The County continued to collect property tax as development exploded and has yet to begin a serious infrastructure program that deals with that development from a road improvement, water, storm water, and wastewater perspective.

As the economic downturn of the early 2000s began to subside, development in Manatee County literally exploded. Big developers mean lots of jobs, lots of new property tax, and lots of money being thrown around to garner political influence.

The people building houses in Manatee County now are serious about making money. They want to do it their way and only their way, and they want as little County interference as possible.

There are a lot of indications that the big developers in Manatee County poured a massive amount of money into the most-recent County Commission election. It seems that three of the people elected are staunchly in the development side of the County Commission equation.

That's not uncommon in County elections for County Commission, but it does beg this question: if the developers are going to buy a seat at the table, or in this case, several seats at the table is it time that they supported stepping up and building the infrastructure that is needed for their continued ability to develop and build homes in Manatee County?

If all they're interested in is getting the density per acre increased and the ability to build houses 2 feet apart instead of eight or 10 feet apart and let the people figure out how to get in and out of their developments and survive on the roads, then it's time for the County Commission to have the courage to begin to put some limitations on development in Manatee County.

If things continue to go the way they're going now, it's not going to be too much longer before the closely spaced row houses, the massive traffic congestion on the two-Lane roads that connect them, and the inability for the underground infrastructure to continue to support the growing population will strangle the Golden Goose.

Then this area will become less desirable for home buyers rather than more desirable.

That's a situation that the home builders, the realtors, nor the County wants to occur.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Diaz Means Groundhog Day—or Worse—for FL Dems


Tampa, Fl

Tampa Bay Beat
By: Jim Bleyer

Manny Diaz & Mike Bloomberg

 By Jim Bleyer

You’ll have to indulge key Republican operatives who are salivating and rubbing their hands in anticipation of a  Florida Democratic Party led by former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

The FDP is in ashes following its 2020 debacle under the impotent leadership of Terrie Rizzo.  The Palm Beach politico is expected to either step down gracefully or be shoved out the door after two miserable election cycles for Florida Democrats.

Rizzo has  Mastered the camera not winning elections
An FDP led by Diaz would transform a 2022 turnaround opportunity into a third decade of Democrat torture at the polls. Let’s review the bidding on Rizzo’s tenure before discussing Diaz, a shopworn, out-of-touch elitist.

Under Rizzo’s bungling, incumbent Congresswomen Donna Shalala and Debbie -Mucarsel-Powell lost while Dems failed to pick up two vulnerable Republican seats.  Democrats were also stymied in their bid to flip three Florida Senate seats which would have erased their 23-17 deficit in the upper chamber.  The party lost five seats in the Florida House, completing the thrashing.

In an incredibly destructive move, Rizzo and FDP Executive Director Juan Peñalosa over the summer signed off on the application and acceptance of at least $780,000 in small business loans from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  The illegal transaction came to light after the names of the recipients were published.  The FDP returned the money but the damage was irreparable.

Small businnesses that were shut out of the program harbored resentment and the Republican Party of Florida had a field day.  Every Democratic candidate for the Florida Legislature was forced to play defense up to election day as Republucan attack ads, false but effective, accused them of using PPP funds to win an election.

In total, the Rizzo-Peñalosa blunder cost Democratic candidates millions to defend against the charges. The pair came under heavy criticism from Democrat lawmakers.

State Sen. Jason Pizzo, rumored to be preparing a statewide run in 2022, asserted, “Forget the legality for just a second and consider what should have been a huge ethical dilemma.  They are taking financial resources from someone who might have food or housing insecurity in the middle of a pandemic. I don’t know who possibly thought that was a good idea.”

The Rizzo-led Democrats took a shellacking in  2018 as well when they lost four of five statewide races including sitting U. S. Sen. Bill Nelson.  Andrew Gillum lost the governorship by a hair as loyalists of Gwen Graham, his chief primary opponent, permeated the party apparatus.

A continuation of the Rizzo regime would demoralize political activists as well as grass roots Democrats.  The state party has virtually ignored its backbone: people of color.  After the twin 2018-2020 disasters, good luck finding volunteers and donors with Rizzo still at the helm.

Now for Diaz who is selling himself as a rainmaker with national connections. He’s got the endorsement of  Mike Bloomberg, a putative Democrat who is not a Floridian.

Diaz, who served as mayor of Miami from 2001-2009, says he can bolster state Democrat coffers but adds nothing else to his portfolio. No mention as to his involvement in helping candidates in Miami-Dade let alone statewide.  He’s 66 and hobnobs with the one percent—the antithesis of what the FDP needs to inspire young voters and older progressives.

Jorge Perez, the billionaire “condo king,” also resides in Diaz’ orbit. Perez is a friend and former business partner of Donald Trump, who “wrote” the foreword for Pérez’s 2008 book, Powerhouse Principles

The money-driven Perez parted company with 45 over the border wall.  Perez wanted to build condos in Mexico.

Bloomberg proved there is more to winning elections than throwing money around.  He could begin with himself and the Democrat presidential primary. After spending $1 billion, Bloomberg didn’t come within a parsec of defeating Joe Biden.

Then Bloomberg pumped $100 million into Florida to help Biden win the state.  We know the shameful result; we don’t know whom the largesse was funneled to or how it was spent.

These are the personalities that would lead Florida Democrats further into the wilderness, squandering an opportunity to knock off two vulnerable Republican incumbents, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, in 2022.

The Florida Democratic Party cannot afford Manny Diaz.

 Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

 This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher.