Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Janet Long reelected to serve 3 more years on PSTA Board

An example of what's really wrong out at the Suncoast Transit Authority

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog
In what County Commissioners apparently consider a frivolous and unimportant decision, they jokingly re-elected County Commissioner Janet Long to three more years serving on the PSTA Board of directors.

You can read the disappointing example of poor governance in saintpetersblog, by Devon Crumpacker, Finite jest — OR — the 40 seconds it took to approve Janet Long’s three-year term to the PSTA Board.

You can read Janet Long's evaluation of PSTA CEO Brad Miller at Bay Post Internet, PSTA CEO Brad Miller's Evaluation by  PSTA Board Member Janet Long

Long a staunch supporter of all things Greenlight and PSTA CEO Brad Miller gave him a low rating yet would not second a motion to fire the PSTA CEO.

The cavalier approach to selecting PSTA Board members is just one of many examples why PSTA continues to be in a functional and political mess.

Long is one of fifteen or so elected officials on the PSTA Board of Directors that spend much more time being politically correct than they do dealing with the real public transportation issues in Pinellas County.

The PSTA Board is quick to embrace more taxes but short on keeping the PSTA house in order. For example, read my post in Bay Post the Internet: PSTA CEO Continues to Hang on to His Job.

These public transit boards like HART and PSTA are proving to be useless and easily manipulated. It is time for the Governor or the Legislature to step in and remove the issue of public transportation from the hands of the politicians and put its fate in the hands of the citizens.

Until that happens, we are going to get more GreenLight Pinellas and Go Hillsborough initiatives that are more about moving money into the hands of a select few and much less about moving people who need public transportation.

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Contributor: Waterfront Charter Amendment (Vote on The Pier), Carly Fiorina for President

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Death of Go Hillsborough

Posted by Sharon Calvert
Eye on Tampa Bay
The impact of WTSP's Noah Pranksy's ongoing reporting on Go Hillsborough, is still rumbling throughout Tampa Bay like 20 straight days of thunderstorms in July.

Regardless how the audit, investigation, lobbying reforms, hand wringing, etc. turns out, Go Hillsborough is toast. Done. Fini.

But no one has really caught why Go Hillsborough is dead.

Off the tracks.. and dead!
Sure, as Henderson wrote, 
If the review finds no violations occurred, as Merrill has insisted is the case, opponents will scream it’s a whitewash and business as usual. Even if commissioners went ahead with the referendum, imagine trying to convince a skeptical public that this isn’t an inside job where taxpayers get handed the bill.
True that. With good reason.

We agree with with Mitch Perry as well:
This proposed tax was always going to be a tough sell in a county that overall doesn’t seem to believe it needs to pay more for improved transportation. Now it’ll be even tougher.
True that too.

Yet they are all missing the reality that Go Hillsborough is forever tainted by their own doing, and the real downstream impacts. They can't recover from all the mistakes, lack of transparency, and insider dealings.

They could have learned from the mistakes of the 2010 referendum, but they didn't.

They could have learned from the mistakes of Greenlight Pinellas, but they didn't.

They could have heeded the AECOM study, which we the Hillsborough County taxpayers paid for, but they didn't.

They could have awarded the contract in an open and transparent process, but they didn't.

They could have not hired a crony leader of the rail cartel, Parsons Brinkerhoff, but they didn't.

They could have separated themselves earlier from an insider/PR/lobbyist/advisor/friend who always seems to get the business her way, but they didn't.

You get the picture. 

Hillsborough County Commissioners, the transportation Policy Leadership Group, and county Administrator Mike Merrill made a series of decisions.

Each decision was the wrong decision.

Now Go Hillsborough has to live with that legacy.

Will the expected business interests throw the big money at the real campaign? Will the same businesses that got behind Moving Hillsborough Forward in 2010, and Greenlight Pinellas in 2014 get near this thing?

The Tampa Bay Partnership, Downtown Partnership, Chambers of Commerce, Westshore Alliance, real estate developers, land use attorneys, big banks, real estate associations, et al.

Now they won't touch this thing.

If they do, they'll be tainted as well.

Without the corporate money from a multi-million dollar PAC, there will be no campaign, and no corporate support.  

Without that, no Go Hillsborough.

Time to cut our losses.

It gives me no great pleasure to write this, as we have to fix our transportation problems now.  But it is their own doing.

As we've asked before, and now more than ever.

Where is Plan B?

Time to dump Go Hillsborough, and get started on a new plan. We can start now. Work with the current budget, develop quick wins, demonstrate success, and rebuild confidence.

Before we go for the moon shot.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Wheeler-Brown Campaign for St. Pete City Council suffers another blow

Tampa Tribune Pulls Lisa Wheeler-Brown endorsement for St. Pete City Council

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog .

The Tampa Tribune has pulled its endorsement of Lisa Wheeler Brown for District 7 City Council member. Tribune endorsements: Gerdes, Kornell, Newton for St. Petersburg City Council

From the Tribune:

"District 7
Term limits prevented incumbent Wengay Newton from running for re-election, leaving the race to the two candidates who polled the most votes in the August primary.
Lisa Wheeler-Brown is an activist and former president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations who says she supports the Rays stadium deal and will work to improve safety and employment opportunities in the district, which includes some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. She faced petty theft charges as a young adult but says she learned from her mistakes.
Will Newton, the brother of outgoing council member Wengay Newton, is a district vice president of the Florida Professional Firefighters organization and has a solid resume of public service that also includes serving as a neighborhood association president. He is against the Rays stadium deal because he doesn’t think it adequately compensates the city. He says he will work to bring jobs and foster home ownership in the district.

The candidates share similar priorities, and we favored Wheeler-Brown in the primary because of her support for the Rays. But recently revealed discrepancies in her campaign finance reports raise questions about her judgment.

Newton assures us he will work collaboratively with the council and is open to considering a different Rays offer if one is brought forward.
For District 7, the Tribune recommends Winthrop “Will” Newton."

The Wheeler-Brown Campaign began to unravel following a series of Posts by Janelle Irwin in saintpetersblog:

From the Newton Campaign web site: Will Newton for St. Pete City Council:

"How often does a career call for determination, hard work, trust, compassion and the courage to save lives? If you’re a St. Petersburg Fire Fighter, the job demands no less! Will Newton is the real deal, trusted by his colleagues to lead as their association president a dozen years, named Florida’s Fire Fighter of the Year by the Governor and Cabinet, founding a union of professional fire fighters, and serving as an instructor across the U.S. and Canada. But Newton’s commitment doesn’t stop at the end of a long shift.

He’s served as President of his Neighborhood Association, played a leading role with the Community Change for Youth Development (CCYD) program in Childs Park, and volunteered with the Juvenile Welfare Board and the Rays Baseball Foundation too. Respected as a tough negotiator, professionally accomplished, and committed to the people of his home town of St. Petersburg, Will Newton will be a City Council member dedicated to you, your future, and your family’s future!"

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Baseball at the Dump

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog

Would the Rays be willing to play at Toytown?

The Atlanta Braves plan to move their spring training to Pinellas County caught a lot of people by surprise.

For those of you, who don't know where Toytown is it is a 240-acre plot of land at the Roosevelt Blvd/118th exit on I-275.

Most of us who have lived here for a while can remember driving by the land fill and watching hundreds if not thousands of birds chasing the trash compacting bulldozers around the land fill.

Toytown was a garbage dump for about 30 years. It was closed in 1983. Since then it has been setting while the buried trash decays percolating methane.

For all the excitement the prospect of a mega spring training center brings; the reality is reclaiming Toytown for anything will be an expensive process.

For now those proposing to develop the site say the reclamation of Toytown is not a problem. My guess is as the reality of making the old dump safe for habitation becomes clear; the developers will be asking the citizens of Pinellas County to pick up the tab.

Also interesting in all of this was the reaction of the MLB home office claiming they were caught off guard. I personally find that a little hard to believe that the Braves would keep the home office in the dark. The whole thing looks more like a ploy to get the Rays stadium issue moving.

Add to that the whole tourist tax issue. For some insight see Tampa Bay Times Charlie Fargo:  St. Petersburg measures impact of Braves spring training plans on Rays' plans.

Everyone from the Rays to the Kriseman administration will be jumping on this as the reason to let the Rays go look for a new site in the Bay area.

I agree now is the time to let them look. What will be interesting is if there is any really serious interest anywhere in the Bay area and who might be willing to pony up some private money?

The spring training thing looks a lot more inviting to me than a new Ray's stadium, unless of course the Rays were willing to play ball at the dump.

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Contributor: Waterfront Charter Amendment (Vote on The Pier), Carly Fiorina for President

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Parsons contract is risky business to taxpayers.

Where's there is smoke, there is fire. The schizophrenia of the Go Hillsborough debacle continues.

Posted by: Sharon Calvert
Eye on Tampa Bay

Last Wednesday the county commissioners decided Wednesday to audit how Parsons was handed a million dollar blank check via an umbrella miscellaneous engineering contract. 

The county commission should have voted to shut down or at least suspend Go Hillsborough then. However, County Administrator Mike Merrill, acting in his new role as an unelected County Mayor, stepped in and told them not to. Hmm....Who's in charge?

Suddenly, County Administrator Mike Merrill is sending a letter to Sheriff Gee to investigate the Parsons contract as 10 Investigates Noah Pransky reported earlier this week:
Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill has asked Sheriff David Gee to provide a review of the county's Go Hillsborough procurement following a 10 Investigates report that raised questions about the behind-the-scenes influence of a well-connected consultant. Merrill also suspended work on the transportation project's outreach "until a satisfactory resolution can be reached."
To be totally independent, FDLE should do the investigation and the investigation should not be done by anyone local or who is funded by the county commissioners.

An investigation of the Parsons contract must at least go back to January 2014 when suddenly County Administrator Mike Merrill took over responsibility for the transportation initiative from the facilitator Herb Marlowe. With this new responsibility, Merrill was put in a prime position to be able to direct contracts for this effort. Merrill is also responsible for any financing or bonding of any boatload of new tax dollars. Lots of power in having dual responsibility as County Administrator and also responsibility for the county's critical transportation initiative to be able direct an outcome, perhaps already decided.....

Remember it was County Administrator Mike Merrill who proposed last year after he took over the transportation initiative, that the governing Board of our transit agency, HART, be taken over by all electeds. Can you say PSTA?

We asked when the county commission voted in the Sunshine directing Merrill to takeover responsibility for the transportation initiative. His responsibilities changed and Merrill had to hire numerous high level staff to cover his day job while he focused on the transportation initiative. To date, we have not received an answer.

A full investigation should go back to March 2013 when the BOCC created the Transportation Policy Leadership Group. We wrote about a circular money trail surrounding Go Hillsborough here

An independent investigation must review any and all communications and documents of anyone associated with the transportation initiative and Go Hillsborough, including emails, cell phone messages, text messages, social media messages, memos. We cannot leave it up to the owner of the cell phone to determine if there were messages involved regarding this entire debacle. That sounds eerily familiar to the Hillary Clinton server scandal.

Complaints, questions and public records request began as soon as the County handed Parsons Brinckerhoff the million dollar no bid contract September 5, 2014. Unfortunately, County staff and the electeds refused to take these questions, comments and complaints seriously and address them early on. Now it's a year later and we have this big mess.

The intent of the Consultant's Competitive Negotiations Act (CCNA) procurement process, which is how Parsons was awarded the Go Hillsborough campaign work, is for general

Friday, September 25, 2015

It's all about The Party

St. Petersburg, Fl.
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog

People are simply fed up with the Grand Old Party (GOP).

As Scott Walker bailed out of the Republican herd running for president he suggested maybe even encouraged others to do the same for the benefit of the "Party."

That would be the Republican Party, which is precisely the reason the non-traditional candidates are currently so popular. Walker proposed that the field narrow so the "Party" could more effectively confront the likes of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Cary Fiorina.

People are simply fed up with the Grand Old Party (GOP). The Republicans were elected to take over the House and the Senate to get things done but have not been able to work together, let alone with the Democrats. To many personal agendas, too much ego, it's more of a riot than a Party.

Just the fact they floated 17 candidates for president is a clue that they cannot all get together and set a common direction. As the conservatives drag everyone in the "Party" around by the nose, things get messier and messier.

The Republican Party is a nice place with lots of money floating around, plenty of loyal consultants and operatives and almost too much individualism.

I am pretty sure the public was really not up for a union busting president who liked to brag about being elected three times in four years. Given the state of the world, we just don't have time for that.

Walker's call for the "Party to attack the outsiders, especially Trump" seems to typify why everyone is so fed up with the professional political class. Whenever all else fails to let's circle the "Party" wagons and try to protect the political class.

Everyone is waiting for the great "fade" to begin as people move from the outsiders back to more traditional candidates. The pundits are predicting it. The Sunday talk-show hosts are praying for it. Editorial pages are screaming for it. Question is: are the people buying it?

With Carson's Muslim stumble this week, and Fiorina rising in the polls; the establishment may have their hands full getting the public to move toward Bush or Rubio as primary days draw near.

For now, it's just good to see all those career politicians, with all of those wealthy donors in a tizzy because they can't get their way.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Kriseman beats a hasty retreat in City Employee Social Media witch-hunt

St. Petersburg, Fl.
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog

The Kriseman administration has made it clear they are more than willing to go after employees who aren't in agreement with them.

The Kriseman administration did an about-face from an ill-conceived decision to suspend one employee for her Facebook comment and "discuss" with another their Facebook comments.

You can get more detail in Janelle Irwin's saintpetersblog Post: Rick Kriseman overturns suspension of employee who called him a ‘clown,’ will pay lost wages.

From the Irwin Post:
According to Kriseman’s communication director, Ben Kirby, the City rescinded the suspension to avoid negativity in the bargaining process currently underway.

“The mayor spoke with Ms. Wynn yesterday. Based on his review of the totality of the situation, in light of the current bargaining process, and in order to avoid negatively impacting the lives of our workers in the bargaining unit, the mayor has withdrawn Ms. Wynn’s suspension,” Kirby said. “He reiterated to her his expectation that we engage in respectful discourse and refrain from name-calling.”

Let me attempt to translate that for you.

The Kriseman team was more worried about looking bad when a major negotiation went bad than reasonable treatment for the City employees.

If the employees union, SEIU Florida, had not stepped in and proposed to make this a negotiating issue, Ms. Wynn would have lost five days pay, and the other unnamed employee would have likely been subjected to a similar if not more dire fate.

According to HR director Chris Guella, the section used for originally suspending Wynn called for employee dismissal for “unlawful or improper conduct either on or off the job, which would tend to affect the employee’s relationship to the job, fellow workers, reputation, or goodwill in the community.”

Unlawful is pretty clear, improper is wide open to interpretation, but I doubt the original writers had social media political comment in mind.

Note the rule, which should be updated to reflect current reality, indicates it is the employee’s relationship to the job, fellow workers, reputation, or goodwill in the community”

The Kriseman administration has made it clear they are more than willing to go after employees who aren't in agreement with them.

The SEIU team is to be complemented for coming to their member's support, and all City employees should be sure they know who they can count on to represent them. It's not the Kriseman administration and certainly not Human Resources and the HR Director.

Think all of this doesn't work? As I write this, my Post Kriseman muzzling City employees  has had over 120 views so far and not one comment.

No matter what the Mayor says in front of the cameras and at those award meetings, City employees now know what he really thinks of you. You are the best as long as you agree with him. If you don't, it appears that your constitutional rights, civil rights and personal opinion mean little.

You might want to consider this come election time. Don't worry about remembering, I'll remind you.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Kriseman muzzling City employees

St. Petersburg, Fl.
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog

 Kriseman team chooses to attack one of the City's most defenseless employees over a Facebook comment.

In what has to be the most childish act yet of the Kriseman administration, they have given five-day no pay suspension to a St. Pete Storm Water employee, Robin Wynn, who referred to the Mayor as a "clown" in a Facebook comment.

You can read the details in the SaintPetersblog post by Janelle Irwin: St. Pete City employee suspended for 5-days for social media dig on Mayor Kriseman

Let me clearly state that everyone should be a bit careful about what they post on social media but this is major over reaction by the Kriseman administration.

As to the "clown" comment, among the people I talk to, "clown" would be a compliment compared to the way they normally refer to the Mayor.

Leave it to Kriseman and his crack team of advisers to go after someone they can easily scare and intimidate to set an example.

There may be more to this than the obvious questionable call of City rule.

For example, employees both sworn and non-sworn from the Police Department routinely have interesting things to say on the social media site LEOAFFAIRS, and I don't see any attempt to go after any of them.

Maybe the real issue here is equitable enforcement of a City rule. Or is it a double standard where cops get a pass, Storm Water employees do not? Or maybe it's ok to go after your boss or fellow employees on social media but not hiz honor the Mayor.

This attack on an employee, especially one with limited resources to defend themselves, will put a heavy damp blanket over all City employees and will make all employees more fearful of expressing their opinion and views on what is going on at the City. That type of repression affects your ability to know what's going on and is probably the real Kriseman objective.

Creating a hostile workplace with threats, suspensions, double standards and fear of reprisal that's not what you elected Rick Kriseman to do.
Kriseman should stop having his staff call people in to "discuss" their Facebook page, step up and remove the suspension, apologize to Ms. Wynn and act like a man instead of a wimp.

Most clowns are smart – not stupid.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Public Transportation in the Bay Area why is it such a political mess?

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog  

The backdoor dealing spans the spectrum of Hillsborough and Tampa governments.

Last week brought a scathing review of potential corruption in Hillsborough County and Tampa by News Channel 10's Noah Pransky, Hillsborough County Failing to police lobbyists. After the 10 News report, Pransky filed a follow up:  Hillsborough orders review after 10 News investigation.

All of this was a result of Noah Pransky's report Questions of Influence: Tampa's political kingmaker.

These pieces are a must read or view for all Hillsborough and Pinellas County Citizens.

While these investigations center around one kingmaker/power broker, corruption on this scale is rarely one person deep. 

Much of this is tied to the Go Hillsborough a slick marketing effort in Tampa, which is attempting to raise the sales tax by ½ to 1% in support of "transportation."

From the Go Hillsborough website, they describe themselves as:
"The Transportation for Economic Development (TED) initiative is led by all seven Hillsborough County Commissioners, the mayors of Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace, as well as the chair of the HART board, and referred to as the Policy Leadership Group...... Read more at Go Hillsborough/About us.

What they fail to point out is the Parsons Brinckerhoff Team was handed the Go Hillsborough project without a competitive bid, assisted by political insiders as you will see in the 10 News reports above. They are expected to return a positive report, and you can bet they will.

The Pransky reports show the backdoor dealing and spans the spectrum of Hillsborough and Tampa governments.

You can read more in Sharon Clavert's Eye on Tampa Bay Blog: Go Hillsborough: a Tale of Cronyism, Corruption and Collusion and Circling the Wagons Yet Again

Over in Pinellas County following the GreenLight debacle, the PSTA Board continues to hang on to Brad Miller PSTA CEO even after a federal investigation revealed the mishandling of grant funds. Miller has lied to the Board, mislead them on key issues and yet a recent motion to fire him at a PSTA Personnel Committee meeting following poor performance reviews failed for lack of a second.

Makes one wonder why the PSTA Board would keep someone like Miller around? It's bad for morale, bad for the agency's image and may have cost the PSTA some State funding for express bus service.

So far, no hint of any corruption other than Miller, but the CEO sets the tenor for any organization and given the lack luster involvement of the PSTA Board it is a pretty good bet no one really knows what is really going on.

There are any number of players out there just waiting to start another "transportation initiative" in Pinellas County and start the tax money rolling in. Go Hillsborough was the latest stalking horse, and it looks like it is stumbling badly.

If Go Hillsborough goes down in corruption flames or fails miserably at the ballot box, which it should, look for a renewed transportation tax effort in Pinellas County to begin. 

The point of all of this is public transportation is a big ticket costing millions of dollars to operate and 100s of millions of dollars to improve or build. It is a money pit that far too many people know how to exploit, and we have seen how willing they are to bend the rules to get to the money.

These public transportation efforts and the taxes that go with them must have complete transparency, and the public must be willing to attend meetings,
make suggestions, investigate what is going on and take action when something does not seem right.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Carly Fiorina – The one to watch at tonight's debate

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog

Watch carefully. This debate could easily become the Donald and Carly show.

I have been a fan of Carly Fiorina since well before she decided to run for President. You will note below in the Disclosures Section I have contributed to her campaign.

Some of the pundits are already saying this will be Fiorina's one chance to shine, but I think there will be even more opportunities. Fiorina like the other Republican candidates continues to walk in Donald Trump's shadow.

If the public is really ready to put an outsider in the White House, Fiorina's steady and consistent approach to the "Summer of Trump" may be much more than a single debate appearance.

In her role at Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina has sat across the negotiating table from people like Trump, and she knows how to deal with them. Note how the other "professional politicians" stumble and falter as they try to deal with the Donald, Fiorina brushes off an obvious attempt to rile her up with a steely eyed look into the camera and a simple "I must be getting under his skin."

That's how you deal with the Donald.

Don't let this back and forth between Trump and Fiorina fool you. There is a lot of respect from both sides of the table. Both are big deal players.

Remember Trump said he wished Fiorina had negotiated the Iran deal.

Fiorina does not need to score a Donald knock-out punch tonight, in fact that might just be a bad thing. I suspect Trump may take a gentle swipe at her or maybe even offer a Trump apology and let Carly go after Clinton.

For now if Carly can come out of this debate in third spot in the polls or maybe even pass Carson it will be a big win.

Got a question for Carly? Check out her Get Answers Website.

Watch carefully. This debate could easily become the Donald and Carly show.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

It is time to Start Your Art

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Co-Author: So YouWant To Blog

This week starts SPF 15 (St. Pete Art Festival 2015). It's time to start your art collection or add to it.

This festival is the first in a series of annual events, which will be staged by the City of St. Petersburg to support the City’s growing arts community.

The goal is to attract art buyers and those thinking about starting an art collection, so they can see what our St. Petersburg artists have to offer.

SPF 15 is the brain child of Wayne Atherholt, St. Pete’s Director of Cultural affairs. You can see my six part conversation with Wayne beginning at Part 1 A Casual Conversation with Wayne Atherholt St. Pete Director of Cultural Affairs.

You might also find my two-part Conversation with Rob Davidson of the Davidson Fine art Gallery informative.

There will be numerous events for the next few weeks, and you can see the schedule at Visit St. Pete Clearwater events

During my interview with Wayne Atherholt, he made a very interesting comment. He said, “Most people don’t start their art collection with a $1000 painting. Most people start their art collection with something small, a $5 or $10 dollar coffee cup, or soap dispenser painted or crafted by the artist. It usually comes with a tag telling a bit about the artist. Maybe at the next art show the person buys another piece from that artist, and that’s how an art collection begins.”

That is exactly how my small art collection began.

I was at an art festival in Key West when a porcelain-on-copper plate caught my eye. In those days, money was kind of short but a very good friend encouraged me to take the plunge. That was over 30 years ago, and as I sit here today writing this and looking at that beautiful plate, I am so thankful I bought that first piece of art.

Today the walls of our home have pictures from Florida's artists like Clyde Butcher, R.C. Fulwiler and my favorite: a collection of Haitian artists: J. A. Bernard, one of my favorites, J. Gautier and others along with artists from Tarpon Springs to the Caribbean.

And then there is that fired clay soap dispenser with the blue backdrop and a single white sail out on the horizon that I purchased for $9 at the Tarpon Springs art festival almost three decades ago that sits quietly on the bathroom sink and has greeted every morning since putting a smile on my face as I start my day.

There really is something magical about the art these talented people create. From the wood inlay given me by my father to the hand-crafted  rocking chair that has become my dog Max’s favorite afternoon spot to snooze, art from people whose names you know and have met becomes part of your fabric.

If you have not already started your art collection, it is time to START YOUR ART.

Sometime in the next few weeks of SPF 15 grab just a little cash from the cookie jar and head down to the St. Pete arts district on Central Avenue around 22nd Street and take a stroll.

Find something you like - buy it and get some info on the artist.

Take your new-found treasure home and put it where you will see it every day.

Go to art festivals and add to your “art” collection every time you get a chance. Pretty soon you will find yourself in a reflective moment, and you will remember when and where you bought that picture, statue, cup or soap dispenser, and it will make you feel better – much better.

SPF 15 is a good place to START YOUR ART and help our growing art district become a place where artists flourish.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

PSTA CEO Continues to Hang on to His Job

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog

Then there is the whole issue of Miller deciding to fight a termination and what might actually come out.

Brad Miller CEO of The Pinellas County Public Transportation System, PSTA, has a checkered history with the agency.

It seems the PSTA Board of Directors, made up of mostly elected officials, just can't bring itself to deal with their sometimes wayward CEO.

A recent 10 News Investigate Report by Mike Deeson: PSTA personnel committee kicks can down the road on CEO details the latest PSTA attempts to deal with the issue through its Personnel Committee.

There was a glimmer of hope at the Personnel Committee meeting when Dunedin Mayor Julie Bujalski offered a motion to fire Miller, which could not even get a second from any of her fellow Board members.

If you would like to see Miller's evaluations by the PSTA Board Members, you can read them here: Brad Miller PSTA CEO Annual Evaluations

Given Miller's history of misusing Federal funds, lying to the Board and illegally audio taping an employee's telephone conversation about a disciplinary action without the employee's knowledge it seems the transgressions are enough to warrant Millers moving on.

However, apparently not for the PSTA Board.

It could be that the PSTA Board is just trying to wait Miller out hoping he will resign and avoid the severance pay and the hassle.

Flawed thinking on their part.

Then there is the whole issue of Miller deciding to fight a termination and what might actually come out.

The terms for Miller's removal seem to be met. The real question is why has the PSTA Board waited so long to make a decision?

Through a public records Request, I acquired a copy of Miller's employment agreement with PSTA. It's a little long but an interesting read.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

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They are making the link to the camera feed available to Blogs and websites at no cost.
Click on the picture to get to the camera link.

Thanks to all the folks at SquareMouth for providing this opportunity for people in St. Pete and all over the world to watch the progress on our new St. Petersburg Pier.

A special shout-out to Megan Singh, SquareMouth's Director of Marketing, for putting this great idea together and on line.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Trump to CNN which is it profits or our veterans?

St. Petersburg, Fl.
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog

This one of those "have you stopped beating your wife" issues where there is really no good response for CNN.

Donald Trump, the current front-runner in the Republican dash for the White House, dropped the "T" bomb on CNN asking them to donate their profits from next Wednesday's debate to various veterans groups.

It was widely reported that CNN had raised the ad rate for the debate about $5000 to $200,000 for a 30-second commercial. The first debate pulled in about 24 million views making it by far the most watched presidential debate ever.

Trump said, “I believe that all profits from this broadcast should go various VETERANS groups, a list of which I will send to you in the near future,” the letter read. “The veterans of our country, our finest people, have been treated horribly by our government and its ‘all talk and no action’ politicians. In fact, some would say they are treated like third class citizens — even worse, in many cases, than illegal immigrants. It is about time that someone comes to their aid. Let’s start now!”

You can read the details of Trump's letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker in this NPR piece Trump To CNN: Donate All Debate Profits To Veterans.

Trump's ability to look at a situation and see an opportunity is uncanny. While on the surface, this may look like a simple political ploy, it is really near genius.

Trump has made CNN, which was merely the medium for the debate, into an issue surrounding the debate and put a spotlight on their exploitive approach to the political process.

Trump's request takes a major adversary puts them on the defensive, forces them to spend time and effort developing a response strategy and may just poke them where they are really the most sensitive, in the pocketbook.

There are a lot of legal questions, but Trump did not ask CNN to make the donations in his name. He just asked them to make the donations.

This one of those "have you stopped beating your wife" issues where there is really no good response for CNN.

If they donate they will essentially be admitting they were fleecing their advertisers, and if they don't they will be called out for not supporting veterans putting CNN in a box, something no other political candidate has even attempted.

Nice job Donald.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Circling the Wagons Yet Again

Posted by: Sharon Calvert

The Tribune is in full "circle the wagon" mode because the Go Hillsborough campaign is so flawed and full of deception.

Yesterdays Tribune editorial "Tampa’s growth a flawed vision without better transportation" at least admits it is Tom Tom, the maker of GPS devices, who makes the Go Hillsborough claim that we have the 11th worst traffic.

....TomTom, that listed Tampa as having the 11th worst traffic congestion in the nation.
However, Tom Tom does not provide any source data or methodology they used for making such claim. We understand Tom Tom refused to provide that information when asked.

Go Hillsborough makes the same claim and other claims in their campaign without ever citing any source, source data or methodology for their claims. Transportation experts will always cite their sources. PR lobbying firms creating false narratives don't.

Go Hillsborough's claim that we have the 11th worst traffic in the country is easily debunked with the updated INRIX/Texas Transportation Institute 2014 traffic study. Tampa Bay is nowhere near #11 in traffic congestion and their source data and metrics are included.

We all know our local infrastructure, including our local roads and storm water, need attention, preserving, improving and, of course, need funding. They have been neglected for years. Why hasn't the Tribune asked why the county keeps holding our road funding hostage? Because they don't care about our local roads? Because they want high cost trains?

We also know that the county has money but the county continues refusing to use existing monies on basic responsibilities of local government, funding our infrastructure. The county has $123 million of NEW revenue for FY2016 yet only $2,8 million is going to roads. Does the Tribune ever look at the county budget and ask anything? Apparently not.

We have confirmed over and over that the Go Hillsborough campaign has been deceptive and flawed from the moment County Administrator Mike Merrill "handed" crony Parsons Brinckerhoff a million dollar blank check to create a transportation plan sales tax referendum marketing campaign.

Work Order for no bid contract County handed to Parsons Brinckerhoff 
for "Transportation Referendum Support"
Merrill and others knew exactly what Parsons Brinckerhoff planned to do - subcontract out their phony public engagement work to their crony PR lobbyist sidekick Beth Leytham. Leytham was Buckhorn's PR campaign consultant when she took over the Parsons effort. Buckhorn is a voting member of the Policy Leadership Group who voted to hire Parsons and Leytham.

What a deal for Buckhorn and Leytham. He was able to direct hundreds of thousands of county tax dollars, from the cool million the county handed to Parsons, to his campaign PR consultant. The city of Tampa did not even have to contribute a dime.

As we previously posted here, lobbyist Leytham immediately started micro-targeting voters most likely to oppose a sales tax increase. She didn't even wait for Parsons to present to the Policy Leadership Group last October. These activities were not done in a vacuum. People knew and we know it.

Go Hillsborough is so flawed and deceptive they are forced to display pictures of traffic in LA at their meetings insinuating it is traffic here. Apparently, Go Hillsborough thinks the public will believe anything they say. Who are they kidding? The Tribune?

Go Hillsborough goes rogue when Leytham issues a Press Release unilaterally stating, with NO governing authority to do so, that the 1% sales tax is back. Decisions made behind closed doors outside of our Sunshine laws to double down on the tax is no problem for the Tribune.

We know Leytham and the Tribune editorial board are good buddies. Leytham is a political insider/lobbyist with easy access to electeds and other power brokers. The Tribune also wants access and can get it through her. We're left wondering - does Leytham write the Tribune's editorials on this issue?

Leytham, at taxpayer expense, met with the Tribune editorial board earlier this year about Go Hillsborough. Remember Leytham is getting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from Go Hillsborough. We understand that conversation included Go Hillsborough's message must mute anything from NoTaxForTracks, who led the opposition of the 2010 rail tax.

Is the Tribune that scared that another proposed 30 year $3.5 - $7 BILLION tax increase won't pass again?

Taxpayers are paying hefty "transportation expert" consulting rates, almost $1.5 million taxpayer dollars, for this Go Hillsborough effort that is a deceptive marketing campaign.

The Go Hillsborough campaign has created a $1.5 million taxpayer funded mess of deception, lies and half-truths. The mess is amplified as the Go Hillsborough campaign colludes with others.

Taxpayers in Hillsborough deserve so much better. The only remedy for this mess is for the county commissioners to step in, take responsibility and shut the Go Hillsborough campaign down NOW.

The Tribune should be investigating the Go Hillsborough deceptive campaign. But they won't. They are too invested in the deception so instead they prefer to be complicit in the deception by echoing it.

There is no way the Tribune can circle their wagons fast enough to "hide" Go Hillsborough's deception.