Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Will Light Rail Get the Greenlight In Pinellas County?

True to form the transportation sales tax revenue effort is getting off to a "hype it up" start with "Greenlight" as a theme by Tampa based PR firm Tucker Hall.
Makes you wonder if they could not find a Pinellas based PR firm that supports the referendum.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is ponying up $300,000 for the effort. I assume that  $300k is from tax payer revenue.
Kind of interesting with all of the talk about PSTA going broke before the end of the year.
It's the stuff PR campaigns are made of: T-shirts, signs, banners and a lot of social media work.
I don't know about you, but it kind of irks me that the County is spending my tax dollars to convince me to vote for something I have absolutely no intention of voting for.
Tucker Hall plans to establish some committees  consisting of  business, civic and government leaders  that ultimately become the Greenlight Committee.
Noticeably, average citizens were left out of the mix.
Maybe we should start the "Yellowlight" initiative to urge caution and request $300,000 from the PSTA to promote the case against the sales tax referendum. Seems fair to me. After all it is our money.
Just the fact that the transit (light rail) planners, PSTA, TBARTA, etc.  feel the necessity to hire a first class PR firm to promote the sales tax referendum, should send a strong message to voters that this is a boondoggle in the making.
If it's such a great idea it should sell itself to voters.
As stated before, I am not against development of public transportation, but I am vehemently opposed to a sales tax, that takes over $100 million dollars a year out of the economy with no specific plan and creates huge public trough where consultants, planners, PR firms and lawyers lap up the money while producing only plans, meetings, committees, pretty pictures, maps and some mildly interesting social media content.  ie, TBARTA.
To say nothing about making the sales tax in Pinellas the highest in the area which could have a chilling impact on new business relocation and some cost conscious tourists.
The County and PSTA should put together a specific first class plan in a very public forum and bring it forward to answer the question:  what will any sales tax revenue be used for?
Right now the attempt is to get the cart before the horse, and get all that money in place so we can fund a never ending  planning effort producing little or nothing while promoting light rail.
Oh, and before you take me to task about focusing on light rail, listen to the presentations and count the number of times words like light rail, rail and alternative transportation are used.
And we will know for sure, if there are little green tracks coming around the green light on those T-Shirts.
Don't be too mislead. There will be busses for a long time and they will need public funding support, but this referendum is all about getting the money in the bank to do light rail.
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