Thursday, February 27, 2014

St. Petersburg Red Light Cameras Second Year Analysis



by Matt Florell 
Summary
This is an analysis of the City of St. Petersburg's red light camera program and the second year report that was released by the City. There are many references to the City's report in this analysis, and it is located here for you to download and look at as you read through the analysis,
http://www.stpetepolls.org/rlc/StPete_20140116_RedLightCamera_Update_report_year2.pdf 

Introduction
If you were just to read the summary of the second year red light camera report, you might think that adding red light cameras was a panacea to traffic safety. The results of which were a massive reduction in crashes, and catching tens of thousands of dangerous drivers traveling on our City's roads. What you would start to notice if you continued to read past the first few pages and into the rest of the report, is that this is a much more complex topic than the summary leads on. It is true that crashes have gone down at red light camera intersections, but just barely(-2.6%), and crashes are still higher than the year before the cameras were installed. Also, the comparison intersections without cameras have had a much greater reduction in crashes(-9.1%) than the camera intersections themselves did. If you look at the crash rate change, the difference is even greater, with the camera intersection crash rate drop at -2.6% and the non-camera intersection crash rate over ten times greater at -28.9%. The intersections without cameras are getting much safer, while the camera intersections have barely changed. 

Analysis of the Data in the Report
The rosy declarations of massive drops in "red light related" crashes mentioned in the summary, in reality, are mostly offset by the near-doubling of rear end crashes and the large increase in angle crashes at the red light camera intersections. It's almost like squeezing a balloon on one side only to see the other side bulge outward. The crash rate is not significantly going down, it's just changing the classification of crashes from "red light related" to other types of crashes. One reason for this is that when you have cameras monitoring an intersection, you can use them to investigate what really happened in a crash. After reading through hundreds of police crash reports from the second year of the program, I did notice several instances where a crash that a witness would claim was a red light running crash, was in fact a failure to yield crash. What surprised me
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Reader Comments on GreenLight Pinellas

This reader Comment was reformatted for Blog Posting the content was not altered.

Jack - commented on your article "Reader Comments on GreenLight Pinellas" in Doc Webb's Bay Post:

Here's another comment for you, Doc:
This is from the Greenlight financial analysis on their website: The train is budgeted at $2.5 BILLION actual cost at time of expenditure (when they actually pay the bills).

The "bus enhancement" is estimated to cost $300 MILLION (only 10% of the total).


 Table 2: LRT Sources and Uses of Capital Funds (millions of year-of-expenditure dollars) Sources of Funds
 Federal New Starts Grants $938M                         37.6%
 State New Starts Transit Program $300M              12.0%
 Local share $1,256M 50.4%
       Pay-go funds from sales tax revenue $250      10.0%
       Senior bond proceeds $156                             6.3% 
       TIFIA loan draws $822 33.0%
       TIFIA loan capitalized interest $27                    1.1%
       Total Sources of Funds $2,493 is                 100.00% train

 (Note that they are planning to get 50% of the money from state and federal grants - still more of our tax dollars at work).

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Short Yellow Signal Problems Investigation Continues in St. Petersburg

by Matt Florell

Note: Before reading this, it would probably be a good idea to take a look at the last two reports on this subject:
Short Yellow Signal Times in St. Petersburg
Short Yellow Signal Problems Reveal Deeper Issues in St. Petersburg's Traffic and Parking Department

Summary
This update goes over what has happened in the last month and a half of my investigation 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
A lot has happened in the last month and a half on this matter, including the January 16th, 2014 St. Petersburg PS&I(Public Services and Infrastructure) Committee meeting. Both before and after the
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday February 23, 2014 The Great Baseball Abyss

Well it looks like Mayor Rick Kriseman may be back peddling a bit on his approach to the Rays. Check out Noah Pransky's report: St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman focused on Rays' future in St. Petersburg, not Tampa.

 I have no idea what happened, maybe Bill Foster left a passionate note and a baseball in the desk and the new mayor was moved continue the Rays saga.

This seeming change of heart from a regional approach to a more parochial approach is a bit of a surprise. Everyone from the MLB top office to the bottom of Stu Sternberg's organization wants out of St. Petersburg. They have made that perfectly clear.

So why keep beating the old dead horse: let's see if we can keep them here in good old St. Pete.

The Rays are going to play here until they or someone in Major League baseball can buy out lease and then they will leave. That's it, that's the bottom line.

Dealing with baseball and all the emotions and nuances is difficult and time consuming. We have a deal with the Rays, we know it is iron clad or they would have made a move by now.

Let's let the boys down on 16th street play their game, market their team and let's get on with the issues that are really important here in St. Pete.

Kriseman was right on the campaign trail: let's take regional approach and keep major league baseball in the Tampa Bay region, and wrong on let's keep them in St. Pete.

They are leaving Rick; it's just a matter of time.

Meet with Mr. Sternberg, wish him well this season, offer a little marketing help, enjoy lunch and walk away.

Oh and by the way building a 2.5 Billion dollar train from Clearwater to the Trop to help the Rays is just about the dumbest idea on the planet. They will be gone when the train pulls in.

Baseball in St. Pete will not be solved with a new train, the aging GenXers and Millennials or wooing the folks across the bay.

Baseball does not want to be in St. Pete.

Kriseman would do well to focus on his social and development agendas and let baseball be baseball. His legacy lies in South St. Pete, the Pier and economic development, not in the Boys of Summer.

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.Pete Patch, Gulfport Patch, Clearwater Patch, Palm Harbor Patch, Largo Patch.
Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Comments on GreenLight Pinellas

Since My Posts appear on several Blog, sites reader comments are not all in one place. So here is a compilation of some of the more recent comments to my GreenLight Posts.

JS- I saw this comment after one of the newspaper articles:...... "The Greenlight plan promotes extensive REAL ESTATE development along the tracks of the new $2 BILLION train from St. Pete to Clearwater. The Yes Greenlight promoters are realtors, developers, contractors and politicians. These donors want to remain anonymous because that is who they are. The green in Greenlight is not about transit, it is all about money......." "Ronnie E. Duncan is a Founder and President of THE DUNCAN COMPANIES, INC., a Tampa, Florida-based commercial REAL ESTATE firm with regional offices in Fort Myers and Boca Raton, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; and Atlanta, Georgia." http://www.theduncancompanies.com/president.htm ........." "Our mission is to provide fully integrated REAL ESTATE solutions that will optimize the real estate portfolios of our private and public sector clients." Ann Duncan, President and Founder of Vertical Integration (Ronnie's wife) http://www.vertical-integration.com/ ........." As usual, follow the money."........... That pretty much sums it up for me.

KR - Doc: With all due respect the issue here is not what is in the best interest of Ronnie Duncan. The issue is what will restore the public trust between TBARTA and the citizen taxpayers of the seven
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Let's Put Food Trucks at the Pier

Someone, suggested the other day that the City allow food trucks on the Pier approach. I think this is a great idea.

Let's put five or seven food trucks along the Pier approach and create a festive atmosphere to bring the locals and the tourists back to the Pier, maybe three or four during the week and a couple more on the weekends.

The whole St. Pete food truck thing got hijacked by the Beach Drive barons and our ever "let's take care of the big boys" Chamber of Commerce. With the help of their personal representative on City Council, Jim Kennedy, Beach Drive restaurateurs and the Chamber, the food truck issue got shoved into an endless series of reports, reviews and committees.

The food truck owners, who are all about fast paced business, and don't have a lot of time for politics simply left and took their business elsewhere.

Here is a way for the Kriseman administration to get something exciting going at the Pier with little cost to the City and maximum impact.

Look for a lot of complaining and wanting to set burdensome controls from some of the City Council, but this time around the Mayor just needs to get the permits or whatever is necessary issued and get the trucks in place. If there is enough business there it will work. If not the food trucks will move on.

Oh, and let's not go with the whole "the Pier is unsafe and will fall down if we put those awful food trucks out there". That is an insult to almost everyone's intelligence.

Here are some suggested rules:
1. Maximum number of trucks on any day 7.
2. Monday through Thursday trucks may set up after 8:00AM.
3. Monday through Thursday trucks must be off the Pier approach by 8:00PM.
4. Friday and Saturday Food Trucks may stay open until 10:00PM and can remain over night.
5. Food trucks can open for business at 7:00AM on Saturday and Sunday.
6. All food trucks must be off the Pier approach by 8:00PM on Sundays.
7. Parks and Recreation will handle food truck scheduling and bookings
8. Maybe a small daily fee.

Anything more complicated than this is just an attempt to make this not happen.

It's time for the Kriseman administration to get up on its legs and start running. This is great opportunity to do just that with little or no risk and almost no cost to the City.

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.Pete Patch, Gulfport Patch, Clearwater Patch, Palm Harbor Patch, Largo Patch.
Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks




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It is Time to Welcome the Kriseman Administration to Reality

The honeymoon may be about to end for Mayor Kriseman and his nearly million dollar Mayors' office.

In the first look at the 2014 operating budget, the Budget Department predicted a $2.1 Million shortfall. The Budget director, Tom Greene, was quick to point out that this is a very early look at the 2014 approved budget, and there are a number of factors that could improve the picture.

He also pointed out that the budget review included all of the Mayor's new hires, while omitting some of the departures from the organization.

Actually, all of this is not real surprising, and the smart move for the Kriseman administration is to file this under "interesting" and keep moving forward.

The problem is the opposition on City Council notably Jim Kennedy and the ever scared Charlie Gerdes and Chairman Dudley will likely panic and start yelling about protecting the reserve, and not making any more aggressive decisions until the budget picture is clearer.

Or simply put any time the Kriseman team wants to make a move they will be getting beat over the head with the budget bat.

While all of this will be frustrating for the Kriseman team, the real battle is going to be in developing the 2015 budget.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Will Obama Care Set the New US Work Week?

This is a repost from September 2013.

For as long as I can remember the 40 hour work week has been the gold standard. It is built into union contracts, and generally accepted that 40 hour work week is the rule that establishes full time employment. 

Along comes Obama Care and establishes the 40 hour week as the benchmark for the point at which employers must provide health care.

The Nevada AFL-CIO unanimously passed a Resolution Condemning the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obama Care.

Not too surprisingly, a number of companies are quickly moving workers from full time to part time and reducing their work hours below 30 hours per week to avoid the health care issue.
Obviously this creates a lot of problems for workers and businesses as they adjust to these new work schedules and pay.

There has been a growing desire to shorten the formal work week. Maybe an unintended consequence of Obama Care will ultimately be a redefining of the work week to 30 hours.

It would take some getting used to, but over time salaried/professional workers will begin to want a 30 hour work week and as health insurance becomes more affordable, it just may be in the
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday February 16, 2014 Newton Frustrated Kids Still Arrested


Wengay Newton St. Pete City Council Member from District 7 has been carrying the mantel of the youth in South St. Petersburg for most of his time on City Council.

Newton has been pushing for a move to civil citations for youth arrested on minor offenses to keep them out of the criminal justice system. He has not gotten a lot of support from some of his fellow City Council members.

It all boiled over in a meeting of the Youth Services Committee, one of those City Council burying holes where ideas someone doesn't want get shuffled to for endless debate. Newton resigned got up and walked out of a recent meeting; you can read Christopher O'Donnell's account in the Tampa Tribune article: Newton and ST. Pete council clash on inaction in youth arrests.

Part of the problem is Wengay himself, as I and any number of other commenters have said Wengay needs to ratchet it down a notch or two and limit the dialog. He really grates on his fellow Council members, and his sometimes very clear cut and simple solutions are difficult for the self assumed great minds of Council members Kennedy and Gerdes to get their brains around.

Gerdes ever willingness to talk about anything some more and Kennedy's deep dislike for Newton and everything South of Central Avenue have kept this and other south side issues bottled up forever. Add to that Council Chair Dudley willingness to go along with the two guys on his left, and at least a mild reluctance to push Southside issues and you begin to see why Newton's efforts have been so difficult.

The game changers can be Amy Foster and Darden Rice.

So far they have tiptoed along the dais, not wanting to "upset" anyone but the time for agreeing with Gerdes babblings about consensus, endless input and all that dribble, and Kennedy's outright disdain for Newton and South St. Pete require some action.

It will be easier for Foster; she has no openly political agenda, so it's time to start objecting too and stop voting for the next round of stall and delay tactics regarding South side issues.

Every day young kids get arrested, taken to jail and their lives are forever ruined. It needs to stop.

Rice who, in my opinion, spends way to much time concocting answers and responses to fit her next campaign, needs to get off the dime leave the comfort fold of flowery rhetoric and niceness and recognize that there are people on City Council who do not want to make things better in South St. Pete and you are either part of that group or you're not.

It's time to step up girls and remember the people who voted for you, or the good old boys are going to trample you into the abyss of stall, delay and most of all don't make a decision.

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.Pete Patch, Gulfport Patch, Clearwater Patch, Palm Harbor Patch, Largo Patch
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Friday, February 14, 2014

GreenLight Yes Off to a Bumpy Start

Right out of the box the whole push to impose a $130 million dollar sales tax on Pinellas County residents and tourists is off to a rough start.

Ronnie Duncan, who is one of the co-chairs of the Greenlight Yes committee, has been called out for a conflict of interest related to his additional role as Chairman of TBARTA, the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

 Here are some references and  links from the local media: The ST. Petersburg Tribune by Christopher O'Donnell:  TBARTA Chairman, Role with Greenlight draws criticism, From the Tampa Bay Times by Anna M. Phillips: Group says Leader of Transit Tax Campaign has Conflict of Interest and the Sunbeam Times: TBARTA Chair Ronnie Duncan Called Out for Unethical Behavior on "Greenlight" Campaign

Members of the conservative group Citizens Organized for Sound Transportation (COST) sent a letter on Monday to the Board of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, and Governor Scott criticizing authority chairman Ronnie Duncan for leading the Greenlight advocacy campaign and calling for his resignation from TBARTA.

"There is no conflict of interest in this matter," TBARTA lawyer Don Conn wrote in a message to the agency's board. He added: "TBARTA is not and cannot be involved in the Greenlight campaign." If the Chairman of TBARTA is the Chairman of GreenLight Yes, doesn't that sound a little like legal double speak?

You can bet at every meeting where Mr. Duncan speaks in support of GreenLight and asks for donations he will be introduced as the Chairman of TBARTA.  When he calls for appointments with influential County business leaders, he will likely call as the Chairmen of TBARTA.  There is really no way to control that.

If Greenlight Yes is to establish credibility with the voters, while asking for a 130 million dollar sales tax, Mr. Duncan either needs to be replaced as co-chair or he needs to resign from TBARTA.

He needs to decide where his efforts will be in his best interest. That's what this whole GreenLight effort is all about.


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, February 12, 2014

Yes for Greenlight VS No Tax for Tracks

Yes for Greenlight kicked off its million dollar campaign to sell the voters of Pinellas County on the transportation sales tax increase last week.

Interestingly the "public" meeting was conducted by the Pinellas Realtor Organization and held at their facility at 4590 Ulmerton Road.

 Right off the top of your head do you know where that is?

Nothing could have drawn the lines in the battle for the sales tax referendum more than the contrast between the No Tax for Tracks kickoff meeting at a Church in Largo and the Yes for Greenlight kickoff.

At the Yes for Greenlight meeting the room was full of smiling politicians, PSTA staff, TBARTA, developers, real-estate people, power players, the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce and some No Tax for Tracks people.

Notably in much smaller numbers, members of the general public who will actually pay the tax were present.

Contrast the above with the No Tax for Tracks kickoff meeting, where none of the above was present only regular citizens who will pay the tax and use whatever comes of it.

To me, just the location of the so-called public meeting spoke volumes.

The public was "invited" but not really expected to attend. This meeting was big money, power players and special interests getting amped up to put a tax in place that they can well afford and expect to directly benefit from.
 
The Yes for Greenlight people say no slick TV ads and brochures, just a people to people effort. We will see how that works for them.

I would suggest that if you or your civic club, church group, neighborhood association, condo association or home owners association wants to know more, that you contact Yes for GreenLight and No Tax for Tracks and have both groups come to a meeting and make their case. 

I am opposed to the sales tax referendum for a number of reasons that differ slightly from the No Tax for Tracks opposition and you can see some of them here: GreenLight Pinellas the Other View and Let's Not Make a 130 Million Dollar Recurring Mistake

Beginning in mid March if you would like to see my 20 minute presentation on the Pinellas County Sales Tax Referendum, please call my office at 727-545-9269 to schedule a time. I will be happy to come and speak to any group at any location in Pinellas County.

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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Monday, February 10, 2014

CD13 - Carpet Bagger or Lobbyist?

I'll confess I am a registered Republican. In my defense, over the years I have voted for just about as many Democrats as I have Republicans including the current President the first time.

What continues to amaze me is the uncanny ability of the Republicans to end up with candidates that I really don't want to vote for. People I just don't feel comfortable electing.

When I vote for someone I like to feel good about it. I like to think I am making a good choice not just for me but for the City, County or Nation depending on the race. The slick lobbyist just doesn't seem to fit the bill for me.

I didn't vote for Jolly in the Primary for a lot of reasons but mostly because I don't see public service as a family business. I never like dealing with "well connected" politicians.

The Republicans should have looked around and found a new fresh face that has broad appeal and not a lot of baggage.

Sink doesn't work well for me either. Like many, I was disappointed that Obama turned out to be something less than what a lot of us expected. I am not particular interested in adding another voice to the House of Representatives that will parrot Obamacare, tax and spend and redistribution of wealth.

Add to that the term "carpet bagger" really does seem to apply in this case and I suspect Sink would be representing Alex Sink and the Democratic donors in the House and not Congressional District 13.

Then there is the Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby. I am not much on casting a vote to make a statement rather than win an election, but it is tempting this time.

In the CD 13 race my choice may just be the lesser of two frustrating options.

My ballot showed up in the mail Saturday and I honestly have not made a decision.

Got any suggestions?
 

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, February 9, 2014

Sunday February 9, 2014 The Battle for the South Side

It had already begun in the previous City Council meeting with the discussion about funding the Skyway Marina District Plan, it continued into the Council Workshop where the funding, already more or less agreed too underwent more scrutiny and culminated with a sometimes elevated discussion at Thursday's City Council Meeting.

You can read more in a article in Creative Loafing by Ellen Kirkland, St. Pete City Council moves confirms a shift in direction at City Hall.

Under the guise of being the City's fiscal guardian, Jim Kennedy complained about the Grant and grilled Gypsy Gallardo, and Watson Haynes President of the Pinellas County Urban League.

Kennedy complained the funding request had changed from meeting to meeting and he didn't know what he was voting for and what the Grant was expected to accomplish.

After a long pause in the role call Kennedy voted yes to as he said "show" unified support.

This is not the first time Mr. Kennedy has expressed reluctance at funding south side endeavors.

Karl Nurse, working hard to contain his emotions, said "I just don't know why it is so hard to get help to the south side".  

Mayor Kriseman left the job of defending the administrations south side position to Deputy Mayor Tomalin, who did an outstanding job of articulating where the grant was going.

All of this was an early volley in what will certainly become an escalating battle. This money was already dedicated and so no one's ox was really gored. But as the administration moves to focus on South St. Pete and moves resources in place to accomplish that goal, the money will have to come from somewhere.

Once these changes begin to impact downtown, Beach Drive and old Northeast look for the fire to fly.

Right now Kennedy is basically alone in his outward opposition, but Dudley is not far behind and Gerdes may begin to feel some pressure out West if some of the Administration's campaign promises to look past 34th street are not also in the mix.

The real view will emerge as the Kriseman Administration puts together its 2015 budget.

The supporters of the 2020 Plan, and other Southside efforts should take a lesson from Thursday's meeting. The Administrations heart is in the right place. They want to move forward with a strong Southside initiative that deals with the real problems. But this is not a slam dunk.

There are very powerful forces that will oppose those moves and everyone working on south side issues needs to come to every meeting, every committee, well prepared with facts.

Grants requests, program plans, reports and audits must be rock solid. Leaving Council members confused is an open invitation for them to back away.

I believe the Kriseman Administration will do everything they can to make the Southside initiative work, but they also need all the help they can get.

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, February 7, 2014

Why Are So Many Elected Officials Backing The PSTA Sales Tax Increase?

 
There are several reasons here is a partial list:

1. PSTA, TBARTA and their supporters have spent the last five years lobbying local City Councils, Mayors and County Commissioners that the plan now called Green Light Pinellas is the answer to the County's public transportation needs.

2. Most elected officials believe, and rightly so, that Public Transportation is a necessary service of local government, they just don't want their jurisdictions to directly pay for it in the form of higher property taxes.

3. As politicians, most of these elected officials feel this is not "their" tax increase, so come election time they will just blame the County or PSTA.

4. Few of them have actually read the taxing Ordinance or the Greenlight plan. They have relied on the
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Are the EMS Wars About to Heat Up Again?

It looks like the EMS wars are heating up again. Check out Chris O'Donnell's article Pinellas considers cutting EMS funding In the St. Petersburg Tribune.

The County may be testing the new Kriseman Administration to see where they really stand.

Here is an e-mail from a reader with an opinion about the EMS service.

Dear Doc, 
As you seem to get answers, so I thought I would ask you why the Mayor & Council are not saying anything about the Fire & EMS Department?  All we hear about is the Police Chief, Chase Procedures and Red Light Cameras. 

When are they going to take a hard look at the excessive costs of primarily EMS within the City.  Let's all be honest with each other, we call it theSt. Petersburg Fire Department but is all reality it is the: St. Petersburg EMS Department that occasionally responds to a fire!  82% of all their calls are EMS!

Millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted by the current EMS Operations with the use of Engines, Ladder Trucks, Squads and Rescue Units. The system is one of the most expensive in the U.S. and the taxpayers are oblivious to the money being wasted in St. Petersburg!  We have Sunstar Ambulances
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Take the GreenLight Plan Survey!

Pinellas voters will vote on this proposed massive tax increase on November 4, 2014.
Take the survey!

Here is an e-mail I received this week from Tom Rask

You have previously shown an interest in community affairs, particularly with regard to Pinellas County. This e-mail is addressed to all Pinellas County voters, as well as other interested citizens. Pinellas voters: make sure your voice is heard - take the survey!

On November 4, 2014, you will get to vote on whether to approve a sales tax increase to fund the so called Greenlight Pinellas Plan. It is being sold to you as a plan to fund transit, but it really is just another slush fund to enrich politicial cronies. The more you learn about the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, the less you will like it.

Proponents of the plan are calling it a "tax swap", when in fact they would replace $32 million per year in property taxes with $130 million a year in new sales taxes. That is a massive 300% tax increase, not a "tax swap" !!

Please take this short 10-question survey with all YES/NO answers. Make sure your voice is heard. Then visit these two websites to learn more:
greenlightpinellasfacts.com

railtaxfacts.com < == please join this citizen group to stop the tax increase

As I said before....the more you learn about the plan, the less you will like it.

Thank you for your time.

Tom Rask & family
Pinellas County residents

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, February 2, 2014

Sunday February 2, 2014 Two Law Suits the Kriseman Administration Should Get Off the Table

There are two lawsuits hanging out there from the Foster Administration that don't really seem to make a whole lot of sense. They are both the result of a Mayor who either failed to listen or failed to think.

Save the Pier
Following the highly contentious LENS/Pier debate, and the ensuing lawsuit brought by Kathleen Ford, the City decided to pursue Ms. Ford for the legal fees. The amount, at this point is something less than $20,000, mostly from in house staff time that really did not add any actual cost to the City.

At the time it seemed to me that this was more of a vindictive reaction to the effort to Stop the LENS/Save the Pier effort and also to perhaps send a chilling message to anyone else who would challenge the City in Court.

The City appears to be on good legal ground, as they prevailed in court, but an appeal by Ms. Ford is pending. This whole thing could drag on for some time even spilling over into the new Pier discussions.

The real issue is about a Mayor and a City Council who failed to listen to the public and punishing a citizen who stepped up and challenged them.

The Mayor and the City Council should make this one go away so St. Pete can move on to a new Pier without any baggage, and the public can feel safer in challenging their government.

Christine Lacey
For the record I was working at the Police department the day this all happened and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Christine Lacey is the wife of Hydra Lacey who killed two St. Petersburg Police Officers. You can read more in the Tampa Bay Times article by Kameel Stanley Wife of man who killed 2 officers sues St. Pete for destroying her property.

In the chaos that surrounded those few awful hours then Mayor Bill Foster ordered the home demolished. Mrs. Lacey had no time to remove anything from the home including her car, the home and all of her possessions were destroyed.
 
The Mayor in a very public statement promised the City would make Mrs. Lacey whole for her loss. Two years have passed and that has not happened.

Mrs. Lacey is now forced to sue and the City's response is: "We've been aware of the claim for some time," Assistant City Attorney Joseph Patner, who is head of litigation for the city, said Tuesday. "We believe there to be defenses and were going to explore those defenses. … We have no comment beyond that."

It is easy to let the emotions of those moments boil up again. I personally directed the television coverage of those funerals, and I don't think other than at the passing of my parents have I ever wept as much.

But it's time to end all of this. The top elected official of this City made a commitment and the commitment needs to be honored in an appropriate way and that is not to litigate to somehow teach someone a lesson or extract more punishment.

Either the top official of St. Petersburg's word is good or it isn't. The circumstance should not overrule the commitment.

The New Kriseman administration and City Council needs to resolve this quickly and not put everyone through reliving in yet another Court room one of St. Pete's darkest moments for the sake of the few dollars promised.  There will be a lot of legal talk about setting a precedent, but the precedent that you can't trust the Mayor seems to me to be much worse.

Every citizen of St. Petersburg has the right to believe and expect that the City will honor its commitments.

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.

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