We continue to post on how orchestrated and corrupt the taxpayer funded Go Hillsborough campaign is.
From Eye on Tampa Bay
By: Sharon Calvert
This is an update to our post "The Crony, Phony, Baloney Go Hillsborough campaign".
Let's review the timeline:
1. August 12, 2014 - The Policy Leadership Group voted to hire a "transportation expert" to conduct public engagement to create a transportation plan.
2. September 2014 - The County created a presentation and videos touting another 30 year sales tax increase. County Administrator Mike Merrill begins taking this presentation out on the road presenting to numerous organizations and so-called "stakeholders".
3. September 5, 2014 - Parsons Brinckerhoff was awarded a million dollar no bid contract to conduct public outreach for a transportation plan.
4. October 21, 2014 Parsons Brinckerhoff Brinckerhoff presented to the Transportation Policy Leadership Group their proposed 4 phase process for public outreach to create a transportation plan. How to fund the transportation plan created was to come at the end of the public engagement process.
At the October 21 PLG meeting, Parsons never publicly disclosed they had already engaged crony PR lobbyist Beth Leytham. Parsons never publicly disclosed Leytham had already started her effort to micro target voters most likely to oppose a sales tax increase. Parsons never publicly disclosed Leytham was actually leading the public engagement effort with her PR work to conduct targeted focus groups, polling and market analysis. Parsons never publicly disclosed that the results of Leytham's PR work was to be used for a campaign message to sell another 30 year tax increase.
This document dated October 16, 2014 confirms that Beth Leytham, the crony PR lobbyist and Frederick Polls, were already orchestrating the focus groups BEFORE Parsons publicly presented their public engagement process to the October 21, 2014 Policy Leadership Group meeting.
|Leytham Focus Groups initiated October 16, 2014|
prior to Parsons Brinckerhoff presenting at October 21, 2016
Policy Leadership Group meeting
All of this confirms:
What did we get out of this campaign? A backwards process. A proposed huge sales tax hike for a transportation plan that does not exist.
Only ONE proposal was presented at the June 11 Policy Leadership Group meeting by Parsons Brinckerhoff and County Administrator Mike Merrill: another CIT-like 30 year $3.5 Billion sales tax hike to be placed on the 2016 Presidential election year ballot. No transportation plan was proposed.
The county could never have gotten away with directly handing crony PR lobbyist Beth Leytham, who is a political insider closely associated with Mayor Buckhorn, Commissioner Ken Hagan and other local electeds, a $1.5 million no-bid blank check for public engagement.
Instead, the County handed Parsons Brinckerhoff the million dollar blank check for public engagement last September by simply creating work orders against an umbrella "Miscellaneous Engineering Services" contract. No bid, no RFP, no documented requirements, no transparency, little oversight. In addition, the county kept amending theoriginal work order to increase the amount being paid to Parsons as their costs ballooned.
This process was unethical at the very least, perhaps illegal.
Once Parsons was engaged, they immediately laundered our tax dollars to PR lobbyist Leytham to figure out how to create a campaign message to get voter support for another huge sales tax increase. The County and Go Hillsborough had to manipulate the process from the start to get to the answer that had already been decided long ago, another 30 year sales tax hike.
The manipulated, corrupt Go Hillsborough process politicized the county's transportation initiative.
The result of this manipulated, corrupt backward process is a bad product.
Now the Go Hillsborough campaign is embarking on a 2 month sell job for the 30 year tax hike, costing taxpayers another $350K, to buy votes for a bad product.
Not another dime should go to Parsons Brinckerhoff, Beth Leytham or anyone else associated with Go Hillsborough's bad product.
The County created this mess that is beyond the who knew what when stage.
It is time for the county shut down Go Hillsborough immediately!