Friday, January 31, 2014

Let’s Not Make a 130 Million Dollar Recurring Mistake

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In November Pinellas County voters will be asked to approve a 1 percent hike in the local sales tax. This sales tax increase is estimated to produce 130 million dollars per year.

The new revenue will flow directly to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA).

Currently the PSTA operating budget is just under 70 million dollars. The referendum ordinanceGreenlight Pinellas Tax Ordinance, (Click to Read) allows the new sales tax revenue to flow immediately to PSTA with no controls on the use of these new funds in the Ordinance voters are being asked to approve.

There are no controls, no caps, no guidance, no adjustable rates and absolutely nothing to prevent those desperately pushing for light rail to grab the revenue flow and get it pledged to a bond issue which would render the tax captive for the life of the bonds.

The real issue with this sales tax referendum is not public transportation. Pinellas County needs and must have a robust public transportation system.

The real issue is governance.

The Pinellas County Commission after years of endless presentations by TBARTA (Tampa Bay Area Rapid Transit), HART (Hillsborough Rapid Transit Authority) and PSTA all working to together, finally bought in an Ordinance written by PSTA legal staff that essentially backs a truck full of your money up to the PSTA door dumps it there and drives off.

You have probably heard the old saw “nature abhors a vacuum.” There are no naturally occurring vacuums nature immediately fills them.

Money is government’s equivalent of nature’s vacuum.

When money shows up, Government immediately spends it. I cannot begin to tell you how many hours I spent as a public sector assistant director and manager making sure “all” the money was committed.

You can pretty well bet that the PSTA management team is already hard at work planning what they will spend the first year $60 - $70 Million dollar windfall on.

Chairman Welch and the County Commissioners will tell you since they sit on the PSTA Board the County Commission will still be in control.

Highly unlikely.

It is hard to believe they will be voting against spending money they just asked the tax payers to approve, especially since they have gone out of their way to remove the only dissenting County Commissioner from the PSTA Board.

Once this open ended, broadly drawn, fixed tax Ordinance is approved, it would take another referendum to change things, and some quick and well planned maneuvering by PSTA could totally tie the hands of any future County Commission and the voters.

The decision to vote for or against this Referendum question is not nearly as much about the fate of public transportation in Pinellas County as it is about a massive tax grab ($2.6 Billion) over 20 years, and how those funds will be managed.

It’s your money, what do you think?

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosures: Contributor to
No Tax for Tracks


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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Latest Poll on Green Light Pinellas

The latest Poll on the Greenlight Pinellas sales tax referendum was commissioned by local surgeon Dr. David McKalip.


The poll results are as follows:
The poll started as follows: “This is quick poll on the Greenlight Pinellas sales tax referendum in November.”

Do you support raising sales taxes to build a commuter train from St. Petersburg to Clearwater?
Yes: 38.7%
No: 45.3%
Not sure: 16.1%
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Monday, January 27, 2014

What's Up At St. Pete City Hall?

Things have been a bit quiet at City Hall. Not a whole lot of communication coming from the Mayor's office.

Lot of effort going into getting the entire organization gathered back up and headed in a unified direction. You can see the current St. Petersburg Organizational Chart here. Expect some more changes in the next few months.

We are 25 days into the first 100 days of the Kriseman administration. Key issues on the table are getting the effort started to find a new Police Chief, see my thoughts at Picking a New Police Chief and getting the Neighborhood effort rolling.

Some things to watch this week
Monday
CONA Leadership Meeting with Mayor Kriseman at City Hall Room 100 at 6:00PM.

Thursday
Council Workshop following the 1:30PM Agenda Review, allocating $124,000 for Neighborhoods

On the campaign trail candidate Kriseman indicated he would be taking a seat on the PSTA Board. With the sales tax initiative and the growing opposition it will be interesting to see if and when the Mayor decides to fulfill this campaign promise.

Given the state of mind of the City organization Mayor Kriseman inherited, it is going to take a while to get things really moving.

The Mayor and his inner circle have made some very good calls on staffing changes, and with Gary Cornwell, who is well respected and trusted by City staff, as interim City administrator rebuilding organizational confidence should be a lot easier.

The new Mayor, his new staff and the Office of the Mayor are rapidly burning through that critical first 100 days. Some more information about what's going on at the working level and a win or two even if they're small would be a big help.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosures: Contributor to
No Tax for Tracks


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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday January 26, 2014

Pinellas County
The opposition group to the transportation Sales Tax Referendum on November 4 publicly launched their campaign to defeat the referendum in Largo this week. About 125 people attended. If you're interested in more information you can check them out at No Tax for Tracks and take a look at my posts click on Blogs above.

GreenLight Pinellas
If you would like to read the actual Ordinance you will be voting on in November Click: Transportation Sales Tax Ordinance.

Take a look at what the next generation sees for public transportation in The St. Petersburg Tribune article  Students envision the future of mass transit by Josh Boatwright: In the coastal Florida city of Estrella Kai, 75,000 people travel from their apartments to the beach or shopping malls in pods that shoot through transparent aluminum tubes, hovering with the pull of an electromagnetic current.

Readers Comment on my Posts Green Light Pinellas Post GreenLight Pinellas - The Other view and No Tax for Tracks Launches:
---The first step is to improve the bus system. This is a necessity regardless of what happens later. A vote against the referendum is a vote to delay this important improvement long overdue. Vote for progress and to assist all those who need to get around and need or prefer an option to the automobile. - arthur finegold

--- Hey Bruce, it doesn't take $130 MILLION/YEAR forever to expand bus service. I am voting against Greenlight Pinellas because they failed and over-reached with their plan. I also am not fond of the tea-party screaming "no taxes for anything!!". Why not make some sense like, oh, I don't know, have a referendum for a half-cent sales tax increase for a 10 year period. That will fund the initial startup costs to institute bus rapid transit as well as greatly expanded bus service. Beyond 10 years, the program should pay for itself with little or no subsidy. 19th century light rail will never, ever work here. Embracing 21st century technology is the way to go instead. Self-driving cars, high-tech traffic control systems, lane-shifting like they do on the upper Selmon Expressway, etc. Vote NO on Greenlight Pinellas and make PSTA go back to the drawing board and come up with something that makes more sense. - Johann

I would like to hear your thoughts. Click on either of the Post links above to read more and add your comments.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosures: Contributor to
No Tax for Tracks
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Friday, January 24, 2014

No Tax for Tracks Launches

Tuesday night an enthusiastic crowd of about 125 people showed up in Largo for the formal launch of the No Tax for Tracks campaign.

There were T-shirts, yard signs, bumper stickers, magnetic signs and more available for the No Tax for Tracks supporters.

Attendees heard the No Tracks presentation from Barbra Haselden and some impressive motivation from members of the initiative’s team.

No Tax for Tracks is facing an uphill battle with the Sales Tax referendum being supported by the PSTA, the Pinellas County Commission and numerous high profile groups like the Chamber of Commerce.
In Wednesday’s PSTA Board meeting, the Board was briefed on how to legally spend PSTA dollars “educating” the public about the Sales Tax referendum by the Board’s attorney.

Brad Miller, PSTA CEO, indicated that there was already $150,000 set aside for communications, and Board members asked for the PSTA Budget Department to put together a plan and find some more money to be used in the campaign to get the Sales Tax referendum passed.

Mr. Miller indicated that the real push to get the voters to actually vote for the Sales Tax Referendum will come from private supporters and PACs (Political Action Committees) and that effort is expected to start in February.

The real question is even if the PSTA carefully constructs their “education” efforts so they comply with the law, is it morally acceptable for elected officials to use the public’s tax revenue to support an initiative that recent polls show over 50% of the people don’t want.

Perhaps it is time that some “educating” of public officials begin that indicates there is a political cost for what the public may perceive as an inappropriate use of public funds to push a revenue generating referendum question.

No Tax for Tracks faces as uphill battle as was pointed out in Tuesday evenings’ meeting, but as was also pointed out so have a number of other local government initiatives: the Albert Whitted Airport, the Rays Waterfront Stadium and most recently the St. Petersburg LENS and we all know how those turned out. The public won.

Pay attention to this referendum battle. It is important. Read what you can and get input from both sides. See who supports what and what they stand to gain. If you can, go to some meetings and ask some questions.

Your vote on this critical issue is important cast it wisely.    
                        
e-mail Doc at dr.webb@verizon.net or send me a Facebook Friend Request at Gene Webb Prepared to vote NO on the Transportation Sales Tax Referendum.

Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Picking a New St. Pete Police Chief


The Kriseman administration has been quiet on the selection process for a new Police Chief.

Here is the recommendation from the Mayors’ Public Safety Transition Team headed up by former Assistant Police Chief Cedrick Gordon.

“As a part of the selection process for a new police chief, the selection committee should, at a minimum, include a civilian from the St. Petersburg community with extensive experience in law enforcement. This individual should be reputable reputation within the community, specifically the African American community, which traditionally has experienced discord with the Police Department.”

So who do you think the Committee’s recommendation is referring too?

The first really big question here is why is representation from the African American community any more important than the Hispanic community, the Asian community or any other minority community or any neighborhood in St. Petersburg?

Having Cedric Gordon or any retired member of the St. Pete PD on the Police Chief selection committee is a bad idea on any number of levels.

First, these guys have had a whole career to make a difference  in South St. Pete with little success. Having them part of the selection process is only going to make a new Chief’s job more difficult. 

Second, it would be a real bad move to allow any single individual or group of retired St. Pete police officers or administrators to exert undue influence on the hiring process regardless of their connection to any part of the community. The new Chief will have enough problems dealing with issues inside the PD . He/she doesn't need any outside pressures.

If the Mayor wants some law enforcement input in the hiring process let's look to the Pinellas County Sheriff, former Sheriff Jim Coats, The Florida Department of Law enforcement or the Florida Police Chief's Association for some help.

In fact, in a personal conversation with me, in response to a direct question, candidate Kriseman assured me that Cedric Gordon and the group he is a part off would not have special input into the Police Chief hiring process.

St. Petersburg needs a new Police Chief who arrives with no preconceived notions, no biases, no input from former police officials and no feeling of being dependent of any one individual or group for support in any part of St. Petersburg.

All of St. Petersburg, all of its neighborhoods and communities deserve to represented in the hiring of a new police chief.

Relegating even a small part of the Police Chief hiring process to a group of former police officials who desperately want to hang to some shred of control would be foolhardy at best. 

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. 
Comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

No Tax for Tracks Kickoff meeting

Be sure to put a note on your calendar for tonight 7:00PM.

You need to be fully informed before you vote on this Referendum Issue. The Green Light Pinellas Marketing machine is in full swing this meeting is your chance to hear firsthand the other side of the Pinellas County Sales Tax Referendum.

You can read the actual ordinance you will be approving here: Greenlight Pinellas Tax Ordinance.

See if you can find in this Ordinance the kind of controls, limits or protections you would expect when a taxing authority wants to take $130 million of your dollars out of the local economy.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with public financing of public transportation but in this Ordinance the Pinellas County Commission opens your wallet, invites PSTA in and walks away.

There is a right way to provide for public transportation but Green Light Pinellas is not the way.

Join the effort to defeat the 14% sales tax increase in Pinellas County. Come to the Kick Off Meeting:
Tuesday January 21, 2014
7:00PM
 Abundant Life Ministries,
1550 Belcher Road South, Largo
Click: Railtaxfacts

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request.
Get ready to vote "NO" on the Transportation Sales Tax Referendum.


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David Jolly Responds to Tampa Bay Times' Opinion Columnist, Tim Nickens

Press Release from David Jolly for Florida Congressional District 13
Friends:
Many of you likely read the opinion column by the Editor of Editorials for the Tampa Bay Times

IT is important that our campaign team and those who may read this; however, understand that columnists express opinion, not news – they express viewpoints, not knowledge.  And the Editor of Editorials is entitled to do so based on as little or as much fact and information as he chooses to incorporate into his opinion. 

I am proud to reflect so many of the values and ideals of our Rep. C.W. Bill Young, and yes to consider myself a Bill Young Republican.  Many people were close with Mr. Young, including many editors and writers through the years at the Times.  Everyone who knew our late Congressman assigned their own
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday January 19, 2014 How important are the Neighborhoods - Really?


Arguably Wednesday night's CONA (Council of Neighborhood Associations) meeting was one of the most important meetings in the first 100 days of the new Kriseman administration.

The Neighborhoods and CONA will set the stage and be the true implementers of any neighborhood renaissance that the Kriseman administration and this City Council manage to create.

There were more people at this CONA meeting than any of the recent past. The parking lot at the Sunshine Center was full.

When it came time for the swearing in officers and new president Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Mayor Kriseman was there, Darden Rice was there, Karl Nurse was there and from the City staff so were Mike Dove and Susan Ajoc

Where were Council Members Kennedy, Gerdes, Kornell, Foster, Newton and Council Chair Dudley?
They sure show up when they are looking for votes.

Also notable missing were Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, Chief of Staff Kevin King, Director of Urban Affairs Nikki Gaskin-Capehart and interim Police Chief Dave DeKay.

Kriseman or King should light a fire under the senior staff.

Interestingly there were no major media representatives or reporters, including the St. Petersburg Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times present. This new day in neighborhoods could use some media support.

For the first time in a long time there was excitement on the faces in the room. They believe something really great is about to happen.

Some support from the elected officials and City staff would go a long way in keeping that excitement alive.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet and St.PetePatch.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Matt Florell Takes another Public Beating this Time Thanks To Jim Kennedy

At Thursdays Public Safety and Infrastructure meeting Staff and City Council once again did everything short of denigrating Matt Florell's family linage to make it clear that his efforts on red light cameras and short yellows are "appreciated" but sure not welcome.

Joe Kubicki snipped at and denigrated Mr. Florell, his methods and his information, even though the information Florell uses comes from the City's own data base. Kubicki used snide remarks and innuendo to attempt to belittle Mr. Florell personally and his findings.

Kriseman needs to get on this one now. If the Mayor wants the public to work with him to identify problems and move forward, this type of staff attack on a citizen is going to make that cooperation tough to come by.
In my thirty years with the City I don't think I can ever remember a time, including Kathleen Fords' time on Council when a sitting Council member was as rude and arrogant to a citizen as Jim Kennedy was toward Mr. Florell.

Bullying at its very best.
                                                    
Apparently in Mr. Kennedy's view you, as a citizen, need to be an expert if you plan to challenge anything the City does otherwise you are subject to Mr. Kennedy's wrath.

This type of behavior on the part of City Council members will cause citizens to be reluctant to come to City Council and will isolate the Council from controversial information that they need to make good decisions.
Jim Kennedy owes Matt Florell an apology during a Council meeting and on television, and Council Chair Dudley should strongly consider some form of sanction to make sure this open form of personal attack from the dais does not happen again.

The Kriseman Administration would likely be perfectly fine with City Council becoming the object of public distrust and unhappiness. It is Chairman Bill Dudley's job to make sure that does not happen.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet and St.PetePatch
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GreenLight Pinellas - The Other View

Since I am going to be taking a contrarian position on the GreenLight Pinellas sales tax referendum, I thought it was proper to lay out my general position in some detail so readers will be able to evaluate my comments as they make their decision regarding the Sales Tax Referendum.

Public Transportation
I am not opposed to public transportation. I believe that public transportation is a duty and responsibility of local government. I also agree and support the facts that: a) public transportation will never be a financially self sustaining program, and b) that all tax payers have a responsibility to contribute to the public transportation effort of their community.

Public Transportation Modes
Public transportation comes in many flavors including buses, trolley, trams, high speed rail, light rail and ferries. Intermodal systems use a combination of these specific types of transportation modes to build a
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Short Yellow Signal Problems Reveal Deeper Issues in St. Petersburg's Traffic and Parking Department


Guest Post by Matt Florell
Note: Before reading this, it would probably be a good idea to take a look at the report I wrote and released on January 6th, 2014 on Short Yellow Signal Times in St. Petersburg

Summary
This report goes more in depth into the short yellow signal problems in St. Petersburg, FL. Specifically, the topics of faulty traffic signal controllers and the use of the grade of an approach in determining the yellow signal length.

Introduction
In February of 2013, I told City Council about a problem with red light camera citations and videos showing that some lights were not staying yellow long enough. The videos which I had obtained from the city and which I had posted on my website clearly showed the yellow times were what the citations said they were, and not always what the city said they should be. At the time I presented this, City staff seemed to be unaware of the problem and said they would have to look into it. Councilman Gerdes requested a full report
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Kriseman Administration and Transparency

On December 11, 203 I filed a Public Records Request with the City Clerk requesting the minutes of the Transition Team Public Safety Committee
The e-mail thread is below.
December 12, 2013
Eva Andujar
To MeCathy DavisTish Elston
 Dec 12, 2013
Dr. Webb, 
Your request has been received and forwarded for response. 
Eva

January 5, 2014
To Eva Andujar
Jan 5
Happy New Year Eva:
Any update on this request?
Gene
January 6, 2014 
Eva Andujar
To Me
Jan 6
Dr. Webb, 
I know Cathy spoke with you December 12 concerning your request (we do not have copies of the
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Kriseman Should Suspend the Red Light Camera Program

It is time for the Mayor to step up and put the St. Pete red light camera program on hold until the growing number of questions about its performance and management can be resolved.

Even some of the mayor's former legislative colleges are having appropriate concerns as a Bill limiting red light cameras moves forward in the State legislature.

The two newly elected members of City Council, Foster and Rice, ran on their opposition to the red light camera program and at least two more have voiced concern, Nurse and Kornell, along with the fact that over 50% of the people polled don't want the program.

The Mayors Public Safety Transition Team Report says "Data on red light camera citations suggest that their public safety impact is questionable. While red light cameras are a rich source of added revenue to the City and State, data have shown that two of the top infraction types being incurred by drivers are less dangerous than generally perceived (i.e., “right on red" cause less than% of the crashes,” and “blink-of-an-eye” infractions cause a very small percentage of collisions).It is recommended that the red light cameras be eliminated completely or eliminate the right on red and blink-of-an-eye violations."

 At least a hold on the program should be a no brainer for the new Mayor. 

Why keep issuing tickets when the upcoming workshop and/or legislative action may shutdown or significantly alter the red light camera program?

Add to that the relative disdain which the Parking and Transportation Director focused on Matt Florell for even bringing forth questions and problems with the system. Given the lack of full disclosure of crash information by the Parking and Transportation Department, the Director's mere statements that everything is working just fine should be highly suspect.

Mr. Florell was never allowed to present his case at the Council meeting, even though the administration was allowed a full rebuttal.

 This treatment of citizens, who would question the red light camera program, I find arrogant and disgusting and it should not be allowed by Kriseman nor tolerated from his staff.

Mr. Florell will be allowed, we hope, to bring forth his information at the workshop.

Thankfully several Council members recognized Mr. Florell's efforts and expressed their appreciation.

It is time to put red light camera citations on hold, work out the issues, answer the questions, apply some common sense and if the program is to continue, relocate it somewhere in the organization where it can be properly managed.  The Police Department comes to mind.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. 
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday January 12, 2014 New Season New Team Same Game

It was time for the first game of the new season. The team was assembled. The new Coach (Council Chairperson Bill Dudley) took his seat. They prayed and said the Pledge of Allegiance and then the Coach began his first pre game team pep talk.
He promised a new day. He said he expected collaboration and civility. He even held up the rule book and said "this is what we are going to go by."

Coach asked for some consideration as he entered his new role and the game began.

He did pretty well, some procedural fumbles but it is complicated process, leading these meetings.  Coach had plenty of help from the resident parliamentarians Jim Kennedy and Charlie Gerdes, and some very polite and helpful "points of order" from Steve Kornell.

The wheels started to come off with Item F Reports - the Skyway Marina District Plan Update. Things were going along well, until the discussion began to disintegrate as a battle began to surface regarding the request for funding. Should they pass the funding request or should they wait until the scheduled workshop?

To his credit, Coach rained things back in, only to have Mama T. Lasiter raise some very good points about why her area, 4th, 9th and 16th streets South, which have been waiting for years for a development plan were getting over looked. Once again things began to bubble and civility slipped.
In the end they decided to go to the workshop.

It really got interesting with New Business Item 1, A Request to Refund Red Light Camera Revenue, collected at intersections where the red light camera equipment and installation is suspect.

Considerable wrangling ensued following Transportation Management and Parking Director Joe Kubicki's statement that all of the equipment is fine and working as it should. Surprising that Council would just accept Kubicki's comments since, Mr. Kubicki's department was recently taken to task for leaving critical cash information out of a report to City Council.

In an effort to save the day and the Red Light Camera system, Council member Gerdes made a motion to defer the discussion to a work shop, a motion to defer trumps all other motions.

Wengay Newton once again tried to get a motion to the floor to shut the whole red light camera program down, only to be out maneuvered by the Gerdes' motion to defer.

In what was almost a major fumble, Coach nearly missed the public input from Matt Florell who is our resident red light camera watcher and some other citizens, but with some help from the dais all was finally resolved. Mr. Florell never got a chance to make his case.

Not a bad first outing for Coach, but he will have to step his game as Amy Foster and Darden Rice come up to speed on the issues and the process.

Through it all, the new Mayor smiled broadly, said little and generally seemed to enjoy the meeting.

It's going to be a long season.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request.


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Friday, January 10, 2014

Transportation Sales Tax Ordinance

Below is the Pinellas County Ordinance voters will be approving if they Vote YES for the transportation Sales Tax Referendum. It has been reformatted for social media pages.

You may not want to take the time to read it all now, but for reference please put a book mark on this page, e-mail the link to your friends, Like it on Facebook and Twitter. This language is what you will approve with a YES vote on November 4, 2014.  

Over the next few months leading up to the referendum I will be looking at the various provisions of this document in a series of blog posts and the "local Agreements" it supports.

ORDINANCE NO. 13- 34 

AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OFPINELLAS COUNTY LEVYING THE CHARTER COUNTY AND EGIONALTRANSPORTATION SYSTEM SURTAX SUBJECT TO ELECTOR APPROVALAT A RATE OF ONE PERCENT; ESTABLISHING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OFTHE SURTAX; PROVIDING FOR ADMINISTRATION, COLLECTION, ANDENFORCEMENT OF THE SURTAX; PROVIDING FOR THE DISTRIBUTION, USE, AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF SURTAX PROCEEDS; CALLING FOR A REFERENDUM ELECTION FOR APPROVAL OF IMPOSITION OF THE SURTAX; PROVIDING A BALLOT TITLE AND SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED REFERENDUM QUESTION; PROVIDING FOR NOTICE OF THE REFERENDUM ELECTION; PROVIDING FOR NOTICE TO BE GIVEN TO THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE PINELLAS COUNTY CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

WHEREAS, Sections 212.054 and 212.055(1), Florida Statutes (the "Acts"), authorize certain counties in Florida, including charter counties, to levy a discretionary sales surtax referred to as the "Charter County and Regional Transportation System Surtax" ("Surtax") subject to elector approval; and

WHEREAS, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners ("Board") previously declared its intent in Resolution No. 13-19 to place a referendum question on the November 4, 2014 ballot seeking approval of a levy of up to one percent Surtax to fund countywide transportation projects; and

WHEREAS, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority ("PST A"), a transportation authority created by a special act to purchase, own and/or operate transit facilities within Pinellas County, has developed a plan for the improvement, construction, equipping, operation, maintenance and financing of public transit
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Monday, January 6, 2014

GreenLight Pinellas Ready to Roll - Maybe



Here is a Press release issued in Mid December from No Tax for Tracks

Greenlight Pinellas Plan does NOT include Rail link to Tampa!

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – December 16, 2013

No Tax for Tracks is offering this clarification because The Tribune and Channel 8 News have broadcast reports stating the Greenlight Pinellas Plan includes a rail link to Tampa over the Howard Franklin Bridge.  Our research has discovered that as late as November 2013, there was confusion within PSTA over whether the Greenlight Pinellas Plan funded a rail line to Tampa.  But the Greenlight Plan does not include any rail, or rail links to Tampa.

At PSTA’s Planning Committee Meeting on November 13, 2013, PSTA’s CEO, Mr. Brad Miller, said there is no funding in the Greenlight plan for any rail link to Tampa.  Listen to him explain what kind of funding projects the Greenlight Pinellas Plan contains by clicking on video.

Based upon Mr. Miller’s statement we are issuing a clarified map of the Greenlight Plan, for the good residents of Gotham

MEDIA CONTACT:             Barbara Haselden, 727-709-7039

Comment:
What I find interesting is the amount of time the County Commission spent talking about trains, bonds and financing for light rail during the final approval vote meeting.  After all the talking they just took the PSTA bait hook line and sinker.

This is a light rail deal. No doubt about it. All of the talk about expanded bus service is just icing on the PSTA cake, something to make the whole deal easier for the public to swallow. And there are no mandates in the Ordinance requiring PSTA to actually follow through on the bus commitments.

In their zeal to get this to pass on November 4, PSTA and their supporters are going to pull out all the stops. Take all of that stuff that will be showing up in your mail box and on your TV screen with a grain of salt as pointed out in the press release.

Let's all hope the political fact checkers do their job.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet and St.PetePatch.

Get ready to vote "NO" on the Transportation Sales Tax Referendum.
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday January 5, 2014

St. Pete
The swearing of council members and the new mayor was a resounding success. By all accounts it will set a new tone for the City administration and future administrations. Having a clear direction will make a big difference for both the City staff and for the community in general.

I heard a little carping about the use of City workers to set up the outdoor ceremony, but I really think it was worth whatever the small cost may be to make bold and definitive statement that things are going to change.

Police Chief Harmon Retires
Formal retirement ceremonies for Police Chief Chuck Harmon will be Monday 1:30PM at Police Headquarters 1300 First Avenue North.

The Pier
It was exciting to hear the new Mayor indicate that the fence was coming down and the Pier will once more be accessible.  Why don’t you grab a fishing pole or just go down for a walk around the Pier head. It is a great experience and wonderful view.

Congressional District 13 Race

The primary race for Bill Young’s congressional seat rolls along.  David Jolly is the front runner in fund raising. Kate Bradshaw, Tribune Staff,  Jolly far ahead in fundraising among GOP candidates for Young’s former seat provides some additional insight.

Mail in ballot receipts are running ahead of expectations.  Be sure to find your ballot and mail it in, or make plans to vote on January 14.

Looking Forward

In St. Petersburg there is a lot to do and the new administration has said they are up to the task. Some of the new Mayor’s staffing decisions have been very good some have been questionable. In government the old saw “perception is reality” is usually true.

The Office of the Mayor is a new bold move and its staffing could have been a bit more considerate. The Mayor’s choices for his new office have already drawn considerable scrutiny.

The whole concept of the office of the Mayor was Mayor Kriseman wanted people around him he could trust. The fact is the rest of the staff and the public in general need to trust and respect the office of the Mayor for it to be successful. For the most part the real proof will lie in the results.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet and St.PetePatch.

Get ready to vote "NO" on the Transportation Sales Tax Referendum.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Kriseman - Keeping the Team Together

Mayor elect Kriseman recently announced that 3 of his long time aids will hold key positions in his new administration: Mayor Elect Kriseman Names Four to Serve in Office of The Mayor.

Political cronyism is nothing new in politics, but it is a different approach in the St. Petersburg strong mayor form of government. None of Kriseman's predecessors have been quite this blatant in selecting political allies to serve in key positions.

At least two of the mayor's "long time advisors" as they are often referred too, come with some significant baggage.

 Mike Deeson, 10 News, filed a report on Kevin King St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman under fire for the second time this week, Christopher O'Donnell's' article in the St. Pete Tribune, Kriseman's mayoral team grows to 7 and my Post A Not So Casual Conversation with Kevin King  give some background and some potential insight.

David Flintom was singled out in a St. Petersburg Tribune Editorial, Mayor-elect Kriseman should rethink action center hire, seems Mr. Flintom was violating some of the very rules his office is expected to enforce.  According to his Linked in Account his total customer service experience includes about 9 months at his current employer and less than a year at the position prior to that. Hardly in line with the Mayor elect's glowing recommendation.

Ben Kirby, the Mayor elect's Communications Director, first time ever position in St. Pete, has been strangely silent as the issues with the Mayor elect's senior staff continue to swirl.

With the possible exception of Ms. Jessica Eilerman, the Mayor's choices for his inner circle don't seem to be particularly qualified for their presumed roles.

So here are some questions:

1. Did anyone in the City organization do a background check on any of these people?

2. Have they completed an employment application and undergone the routine investigation and background check all the rest of the City's new employees experience?

3. Do they meet the City's hiring criteria?

It looks more like the Mayor-elect has decided to keep the political team in place and let the taxpayers of St. Petersburg feed and water them until the next election comes up.

I have no issue with the office of the Mayor, it just should be staffed with people whose experience goes beyond campaign organizing and asking for political contributions.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet and St.PetePatch.

Get ready to vote "NO" on the Transportation Sales Tax Referendum.
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