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.

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