Saturday, October 27, 2012

Doc's 2012 Ballot


Below is my Ballot for the 2012 General Election. I tend to be conservative, believe strongly in limiting revenue to all government entities including the School Board.

The purpose here is not to tell you how to vote but to tell you how I voted.

Please take the time to inform yourself on all of the issues especially the Amendments and the School Tax referendum.

Do not let the length and complexity of this ballot keep you from voting. Every race is important and many, including the Presidential election, will be very close. If you are going to the Polls to vote on election day, write your choices down or load them in your smart phone.

Your vote will count be sure to have your say.

President and Vice President
• Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan Republican

United states Senator
• Connie Mack Republican

Representative in Congress
District 13
• Bill Nelson Republican

State Senator
District 22
• Jeff Brandes Republican

State Representative
District 68
•Frank Farkas Republican

Sheriff
• Bob Gualtieri Republican

Supervisor of Elections
• Deborah Clark Republican

Board of County Commissioners
District 1 - At Large
• Neil Brickfield Republican

Board of County Commissioners
District 3 - at Large
• Charlie Justice Democrat

Justice of the Supreme Court
R. Fred Lewis
• NO

Justice of the Supreme Court
Barbara J. Pariente
• NO 

Justice of the Supreme Court
Peggy Quince
• NO 

District Court of Appeal
Anthony K. Black
• YES 
District Court of Appeal
Darryl C. Casanueva
• YES

District Court of Appeal
Charles A. Davis Jr.
• YES 

District Court of Appeal
Edward C LaRose
• YES 

School Board Member
District 1 At Large
• Elliott Stern

AMENDMENTS 

AMENDMENT NO. 1 Health Care Services
• YES

AMENDMENT NO. 2 Disabled Veterans Homestead Property Tax Discount
• YES 

AMENDMENT NO. 3 State Government Revenue Limitation
• YES 

AMENDMENT NO. 4 Property Tax Limitations
• YES 

AMENDMENT NO. 5 State Courts
• NO 

AMENDMENT NO. 6 Prohibition on Public Funds For Abortion
• NO 

AMENDMENT NO. 7 This Amendment removed from Ballot 

AMENDMENT NO. 8 Religious Freedom
• NO 

AMENDMENT NO. 9 Homestead Property ax Exemption for Military Surviving Spouse
• YES 

AMENDMENT NO. 10 Tangible Personal Property Tax
• YES 

AMENDMENT NO. 11 Additional Homestead Exemption For Low Income Seniors
• YES 

AMENDMENT NO. 12 Appointment of Student Body President to Board of Governors of the State University System
• YES 

Referendum Question - One Half Mill ad Valorem Tax for School Board
• NO

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The LENS Achieves Its Highest Status - Infomercial Recognition


The arts community must be cringing, Michael Maltzan is probably not returning calls and I can't wait for the City to put a positive spin on the LENS' latest supporter.

The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that TV pitchman Anthony Sullivan is starting an "unpaid" campaign to support the LENS. Not to take anything away from Mr. Sullivan a very successful protégé and partner of Billy Mays, who is without question one of television's most successful pitch men.

From CNN Money: "When     Mays and Sullivan are debating whether to shill for a product, their mental checklist could easily be a decision tree for a new product launch at a major corporation. "First, it's got to have mass appeal," says Mays. "If you can connect to a broader audience, there's just a better shot of making it work. Second, the product needs to solve a common problem. I need to be able to show that it makes one's life easier. And also it gives instant gratification, hits you on an emotional level." Both Mays and Sullivan swear that believing in the product is essential to being able to sell it".

Mays and Sullivan built a very successful business promoting products that we didn't know we needed. The LENS certainly meets some of Mays an Sullivan's requirements. The whole functionality thing and mass appeal seems to be a problem for the LENS.

With their magnificent iconic art piece reduced to a comparison with the Swivel Sweeper, no matter how accurate, it must be a crushing blow to those who have long touted the iconic value of the LENS design. Maybe the Maltzan people can name one of those sweeping loops the "Swivel" in honor of Mr. Sullivan's support.

The LENS project has been recognized for what it is by a true expert in the field of infomercial promotional marketing. Something cheaply made, of limited functionality, with unique eye appeal and limited life expectancy.

Not art, just cheap infomercial junk. Finally a valid definition.

I can't wait to see Danner and Curran schmoozing with Sullivan trying to put positive spin on this one.

There could be a back story here. If Leslie Curran is still thinking about running for Mayor, definitely an uphill battle, maybe Mr. Sullivan can give her some pointers. Mayor Foster may want to jump on the band wagon and try to lure Mr. Sullivan into his camp. Just what very iconic art story needs - a sub plot.

If you don't want the "as sold on TV" replacement for the Pier, be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

e-mail Doc at dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend Request.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Ballot Referendum Question Extending Property Tax Millage for the School Board

This Referendum extends the one-half mill property tax for five more years.

The Pinellas County school system continues to be one of the poorer The new Superintendent may change that, but the entrenched power structure and totally dysfunctional school board have thwarted all efforts up to this point.

Looking at the current School Board candidates and those who will likely win, I would say the new Superintendent is in for a pretty rough ride.

The Pinellas County school system may be looking at serious challenges with more charter schools, more private schools, more home schooling and more on line schools eating into student enrollment. Why? Because the public school system is not working.

My recommendation is you VOTE NO on the Referendum Question continuing the School District millage rate. The last item on the ballot.

Think about this. When was the last time you saw a governmental body willing reduce its size and change its approach when it was getting the money it wanted?

Right. Never.

It just may be, the best thing we can do to help the Superintendent accomplish his goals and deal with the teacher's union is to reduce the amount of money in play and let him use that as the catalyst to eliminate the waste, change the bureaucracy and improve teacher performance.

Don't pay much attention to the cries that education for the students will suffer. Educational performance will only suffer if the Superintendent and the School Board don't make the necessary changes to the organization that will insure kids get a proper education. Those changes are a lot more about management and leadership than they are about money.

History has shown the Pinellas County School Board is one of the best in the State at wasting money.
If you want more monuments to education, more bloated administrative staffs, poor and underperforming teachers carefully nested in their class rooms and poor student outcomes then vote yes.

Otherwise save yourself some money to cover those other tax increases, and VOTE NO on approving the Continuation of One-Half Mill Ad Valorem Tax for School District Operating Expenses.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.
Have your say. Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The LENS - The Inspiration


A lot of thought went into the Pier Visioning process.

In a letter to Mayor Bill Foster dated June 13, 2012, William Ballard, president of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the group trying to stop the LENS, wrote the following:
"The Lens is not a pier. The Pier Task Force knew what a pier was and what a pier should be. I urge you to pick up your copy of the Pier Advisory Task Report of June 2010. Turn to page 13 "Case Studies" which contains photographs of seven successful piers. Please read the case study conclusions on that page. One of those conclusions is "All have either amusement type program or very specialized program as the predominant draw." Our Municipal Pier, all the piers studied by the Pier Task Force, and all of the pier alternatives proposed by the Pier Task Force, have the look, feel and "program" of a real pier. It is immediately obvious that The Lens does not have the look and feel of a real pier and it is equally obvious that The Lens will lack the amusement feature which was touted as the predominant draw. The reef which The Lens was to focus on would not provide much amusement by reason of the natural turbidity of Tampa Bay. It may be there, but people wouldn't be able to see it."

In the Pier Task Force Final Report their Vision of the Pier was:
"Our vision is for a vibrant Pier Complex that appeals to both local residents and visitors throughout the year. It should speak to our city's beautiful aquatic setting, and of spectacular views of our cityscape and the Bay. The Pier should complement the larger downtown waterfront and serve as its front door, centerpiece, and anchor. The architecture of the main building should reflect our history and unique identity as a place and City, and be a worthy symbol of our great City".
 
It sounds to me like the Pier Task Force had it right.

In a paper entitled "The Lens" - We Can do Better, William Ballard says "Michael Maltzan first set foot in St. Petersburg on September 19, 2011. His contest winning submission was filed by the November 30, 2011 deadline."
That's just 72 days counting weekends.
That seemed like a pretty short time window to come up with such an eclectic design. Surely there had to be some motivation for the concept, so I grabbed my camera and headed to the Pier for some inspiration of my own.

Assuming Maltzan and his team took some time to swing through the Dali museum on the way to the Pier, the pictures above may help explain the motivation and concept.

All of that dripping and looping had to come from somewhere.
City Council, are you really going to build this thing? Really?

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Have your say. Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's Really Going On At City Hall


It's all over the newspaper, the blogs and is a general topic of conversation in St. Pete, what is going on at City Hall?

A lot of the writers, me included, have hung the blame on Bill Fosters' lack of leadership. And, as Mayor that's where the buck stops. It is the Mayors' job to lead, and pretty much everyone agrees that he has come up woefully short in the leadership column.

Bill gets up every morning truly believing there is a lot of good in everyone and if he just waits long enough they will do the right thing. Things just don't work that way. especially at City Hall.
A while back I posted "Does Bill Foster Really Want To Be Mayor of St. Petersburg" on SaintPetersblog. It is still a relevant question.

Mayor Foster has lost the respect of the staff, and more importantly they don't have any sense of fear that they may be held responsible for what they do. City Council sees the Mayor as a wishy washy adolescent who inadvertently got elected Mayor. Virtually nobody on the staff takes Bill Foster seriously. I know I was there.

City staff members have always had their own agenda, from Codes Enforcement to Parking to the Police Department the people running every City Department have their agenda and they work at it quietly all the time. Left without leadership they move in their direction.

The two really strong administrative leaders, Tish Elston and Mike Connors cannot seem to get any traction with the staff, most likely because Mayor Foster won't back them up.

All of this leads to the debacle at last Thursday's Council meeting item regarding red light cameras where staff goes off on its own agenda without any direction or reporting responsibility. Follow that with the LENS team trying to slip a cool $60K past Council so they have some wiggle money and you have a total lack of respect for leadership, or a leader totally in the dark
.
Unprepared and politically motivated, City Council members pounce and the whole organization looks like a very bad joke.

The child like sniping and condescending approach of the Mayor only infuriates Council and gives the public that sinking feeling in their stomachs.

What's Going On At City Hall? You're just seeing the proof that electing an adolescent adult to run a big City just doesn't work. And it's not going to get any better until there is a new Mayor and a couple of new Council members.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request

Have your say. Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information at Stop The Lens.
 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Where is the PD Video Surveillance Vehicle?


It has been just over 1 year since the Brinks Corporation donated an armored truck to the St. Petersburg Police department to be converted into a mobile video surveillance vehicle.

That's right 1 YEAR.  

City Council approved the funding months ago and Police Chief Harmon promised City Council they would "see it" in July.

So where is it?

PD management has stalled, delayed and put off deploying this crime prevention tool. Why?
No one seems to know. Council member Nurse has asked repeated questions but gets the typical Chief Harmon generalities and lame excuses.

I built the first prototype in about 6 weeks so why is this one taking so long?

The simple answer is the Police Chief and his three assistant chiefs just don't want the thing on the street. They are not technology savvy enough to figure out how to use it, and scared to see what it might actually find.

Their approach follows the Chuck Harmon model "if I don't see it, I don't have to act". Or more appropriately, I can't hold the truck accountable for what it might see, so I would actually have to do something.

Mayor Foster promised the expanded use of technology in his campaign, but interestingly not one new piece of significant law enforcement technology has been deployed since his election.

Only two things motivate Chuck Harmon, fear of personal responsibility and boot you know where. That's all you've got work with Mr. Mayor, otherwise it will be at the PD as it has been since you took office - status quo, delay, delay, excuse, delay.

Where is the Brinks Truck? Last sighting it had a nice new white paint job, no Police markings and was sitting peacefully in a bay at the fleet maintenance lot with no one working on it.

Mr. Mayor, it is time to stop grinning widely and start talking to your Police Chief firmly otherwise all of those Public safety campaign promises are just so much smoke.

e-mail Doc at dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend Request.

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