Monday, February 29, 2016

2/29ers It's your special day

Take advantage of your advantages


2008 - JOHN CORNFIELD WROTE THIS POEM FOR HIS LEAP DAY BABY GIRL

February 29 is a special day to me,
Because this year when I turn 12,
I am really only three.
So when you think of leap year,
Remember something more,
That every birthday that you have,
I need to have three more!

Maile was born in 1996.

To all of you, who share this special date as a birthday have a wonderful birthday and as one my of long ago mentors said, "Take advantage of your advantages"
  
Happy Birthday all you 2/29ers!

Doc and Theresa
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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Kriseman appoints Kenny Irby youth Intervention Director

Irby will be reporting directly to Police Chief Antony Holloway.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

 Kenny Irby to the new position of Intervention Director.
As part of the St. Pete Mayor's plan to address gun violence and ongoing youth problems in South St. Pete, Mayor Kriseman has appointed a former Poynter Institute faculty member

Irby will serve as the "primary liaison" between City Hall and residents in the search for saving at-risk youth, according to a job description.

More details in the Tampa Bay Times article by Charlie Frago City hires Irby to curb youth violence

Irby does not arrive without some controversy. See Maynard Institute and Richard Prince's Journal-isms Fallout Over a Dismissal at Poynter

With the job description and an interesting organizational twist, Irby will be reporting directly to Police Chief Antony Holloway.

Given that the Police and Police relations are a central part of the south side youth problem this would seem like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

If the real emphasis of the job were "primary liaison between City Hall and residents in the search for saving at-risk youth," placing Deputy Mayor Tomalin directly into the reporting chain, would have been a good idea.

Kriseman needs to be careful not to turn his back on the South St. Pete's youth problem leaving the issue up to Holloway, Irby and Assistant Chief Luke Williams while he focuses on those things he likes: Rays Baseball, tearing down old buildings and spending lots of money on downtown.

Irby comes with some credentials but not a lot. He does, according to the Maynard Institute piece, come with some attitude.

There is a lot at stake here. Kriseman and Holloway need to make sure old alliances in the police department do not get rekindled resulting in a restart of the internal racial issues Holloway has been working so hard to resolve.

On the surface, this is a good start, but there are some concerns. Irby's faith-based relationships while certainly beneficial are not part of the job responsibility. Who will he really be working for?

There are many people in south St. Pete that may not share Irby's religious convictions, but who want to be a part of solving the youth problem, and Kenny Irby will need to play well with others.

Getting good information flow from this organizational structure will be subject to the same careful information management that comes from the police department on all other matters.

In order to avoid waking up to exposé headline, Kriseman, Tomalin and City Council will need to keep their collective eyes on this effort.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Go Hillsborough - déjà vu all over again

Posted with Permission

From Eye on Tampa Bay
--by Tom Rask

In this article, I will make the case that local Tampa Bay area elected officials refuse to learn from facts and experience. In doing do, they waste tax dollars and are increasingly viewed as stubborn "do-nothings" by voters eager for better roads and less congestion.

For those who do care about transportation in the Tampa Bay area, but have better things to do than read this post, let me sum it up this way: Go Hillsborough is a tax hike. That is likely all that voters will need to know in order to vote no. Feel free to stop reading here. Really, it won't hurt my feelings.


The seven elected officials that make up the Hillsborough County Commission will decide whether to put the scandal-ridden and corrupt Go Hillsborough plan on the November ballot. Here are is a cheat sheet for them to consider in making their decision:
  • It's a tax hike - we covered that one already.
  • More transit won't reduce congestion - politicians keep hinting that more bus or rail transit will reduce traffic congestion. However, their claim is false.
  • Transit ridership is declining - through the first four months of FY2016, transit ridership in both Hillsborough and Pinellas has dropped by over 5% year over year. These numbers will make it hard to argue that there is a "need" for more transit, or that the public demands more transit.
  • Hillsborough 2010 transit tax - 58% voted NO - the "official" explanation for the defeat was that voters didn't have a clear plan to vote on. 
  • Pinellas 2014 transit tax - 62% voted NO - this time, there was a comprehensive plan (Greenlight Pinellas, as it was called). The economy had improved since 2010, yet the election day results showed that voters were stillin no mood for tax hikes....especially not for slush funds.
  • Bad plans are easily defeated - in this era of social media, bad plans such as Go Hillsborough are easily defeated. The defeat of Greenlight Pinellas proved that. Buzzfeed showed in 2014 that what's said on Facebook moves public opinion more today than ads or news stories. That trend is only increasing.
  • Orlando rail transit failure - Go Hillsborough has money in it for rail transit. But why would we think rail transit will work in Hillsborough when Sunrail has been a failure in Orlando? They set very low ridership expectations for Sunrail, and yet they can't even reach those low goals.
  • The stench of scandal - the 10 Investigates TV team has doing great work inshowing how the public policy process in arriving at the Go Hillsborough. plan was corrupted from day one. It's going to be hard for the public to get that stench out of their nostrils.
  • The payola media - independent investigative journalist Jim Bleyer recently exposed some rather unusual and profitable real estate transactions involving the "conservative" Tampa Tribune. To the public, it looks like the Tribune is being paid to support candidates and causes - including Go Hillsborough.
When those arguments have been made, opponents will have more compelling arguments to make. And more after that, even though the only argument we will need is "it's a tax hike". Meanwhile, the "yes" side will struggle to find good arguments to defend a bad plan.

Best path forward? Kill the rotten-to-the-core Go Hillsborough plan now. If it's placed on the ballot, the whole mess will only end in tears for those who support it.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Florida Republican Politicians –cowards or lemmings?

Most of the elected Republican officials are being good little solders and following the Party lead.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

As Donald Trump continued to tighten his lock on the Republican Presidential nomination, Florida Republican politicians were faced with a growing dilemma. Do they stick to the Party line "anyone but Trump" or recognize the reality that the Republican Party is changing?

Here are some details from the Tampa Bay Times By Adam Smith In Florida, many Republicans are calculating the cost of supporting Donald Trump

Trump's thoughts on endorsements, "I just don't care about the endorsements," Trump said. "I don't waste my time with that."

Most of the state's political elites have thrown their support behind Marco Rubio further proof that it is all about Party and politics. Rubio who has accomplished very little, totally abdicated his responsibility as a US Senator and has no real experience besides running for office is their choice to lead this country.

Fear of the "Party" and its big donors is what is neutering the Republican Party today. What you are observing in this Presidential primary is exposure of the death grip Party Politics has on government. Almost to a person Florida Republican politicians are singing the Party song.

The real question for Florida elected Republicans is who will break ranks with the Party and respect what that Republican voters are telling the Party – it is time for a change.

Trump currently has two backers from the elected Republican rank's State Representative John Tobia of Melbourne Beach and State Representative Larry Ahern of Seminole.

The other elected Republican officials are being good little solders and following the Party lead.

Following the Republican Party of Florida over the cliff makes no sense.

It is time for Florida Republican voters to stop listening to the Florida Republican Party line and start thinking for themselves. In this upcoming primary, vote for the Republican you think can best lead this country not necessarily the one the Republican Party is selling.

If you requested a mail in ballot, you have received it. If you have not already filled it out and returned your ballot, it is laying around the house somewhere probably in that stack of unopened mail on the table.

Go dig it out, read the yellow instruction sheet, fill out the ballot and mail it in.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Trump South Carolina Watch Party in Pinellas Park

People attended from all over the County, there were even a few from Tampa. 


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

 The Republican Party of Pinellas County e-mailed an announcement for the Donald Trump South Carolina Primary Watch Party last week. The event was held in Pinellas Park at Quaker Steak and Lube on 49th Street.

Theresa and I decided to drop by. We arrived about 6:30 PM, and the organizers were already setting up. T-shirts, hats, yard signs and other Trump material were on display.

By 7:15 the large room at Quaker Steak and Lube was full with people standing around the perimeter. Most interesting was the demographic mix. While seniors were in the majority, there was an interesting group of millennials and those just of voting age.

No donations were requested or accepted.

The event organizers led by Trump's Pinellas County Co-Chair Nick LaRosa were informed, pleasant and well organized.

Nick LaRosa's contact information:
727-455-5638

You can see my entire post on the Trump Watch Party in my saintpetersblog Post Observations from the Pinellas County Donald Trump election watch party.

More pictures at Bay Post Photos.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Gondolas-not the water kind-in Pinellas County

Aerial tramways require minimal ground surface compared with other forms of transportation reducing displacement and imminent domain issues.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
  
There has been a lot of chatter in Pinellas County and St. Petersburg about gondolas.

Not the water kind, although the thought of Rick Kriseman paddling a bunch high-tech company executives accompanied by a group of smiling millennials through a newly constructed waterway serving only downtown is fascinating, what we are talking about is the elevated version more commonly called aerial tramways

In St. Pete, the name is Aerial Cable Propelled Transit which I would expect to move to County-wide  status as an authority dubbed the Aerial Cable Transit Authority or the ACTA probably chaired by Darden Rice.

If you need some detail, here are the links:

September 29, 2015 Michael Van Sickler Tampa Bay Times Maybe Darryl LeClair was on to something: San Diego considers gondolas

January 26, 2016 Tracey McManus Tampa Bay Times Bay Buzz Gondolas in Clearwater?

February 4, 2016 Tampa Bay Times Daniel Ruth: Gondolas, or more beach traffic jams?


February 16, 2016 Charlie Frago Tampa Bay Times Gondolas in St. Pete: Let the four winds blow

February 20, 2016 Tracey McManus Tampa Bay Times Tampa Bay weather no worry for gondolas, experts say

While this may seem like a new idea, back in the mid 90s, I was part of a very short-lived  team that put together a plan for a sky tram connecting Tyrone Mall, Cross Roads Shopping Center and the then generally undeveloped area where Best Buy and Marshals and Publix are now located. The plan with three stations would have allowed shoppers to shop all three areas without driving from place to place.

We were quietly but politely laughed off the stage. Do not bother to do a public records search you won't find anything.

You have to give the County staff and the Kriseman team some serious credit for thinking out of the box on this one.

There are significant advantages in the idea. Aerial tramways are much less disruptive to construct. They require minimal ground surface compared with other forms of transportation almost eliminating displacement and imminent domain issues.

The possibility of aerial tramway development around commercial areas in Pinellas County and providing transportation to and from the beaches is intriguing to say the least.  

All of this is part of a federal grant application, so we will have to wait and see how it goes.

For me, I like the idea.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Friday, February 19, 2016

Cruz up Trump down and some local stuff

Dynasty politics continued as the Bush family and the Clintons rolled out family members claiming a rite of passage to the White House


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
  
The media can finally have its field day as a new NBC News/Wall Street journal poll shows Cruz leading Trump nationally. Chuck Todd(NBC) and the rest of the media who have been predicting and praying for Trumps political demise has a glimmer of hope. The numbers were Cruz 28% and Trump 26% all within the margin of error. Nonetheless, the media is taking the moment they have been longing for basking in the glow. Let us see how things look on Monday.

Speaking of Trump the Pinellas County Republican Party has announced some Trump events:  
Saturday February 20, 2016 at Quaker Steak and Lube on 49th Street in Pinellas Park
7:00 PM  Onsite Training for Call Fire and Ground game 2.
8:00 PM you can meet the Trump Team Co Chairs for Pinellas County and watch the South Carolina returns.

Dynasty politics continued this week as the two competing dynasties, the Bush family and the Clintons rolled out their history and family members claiming a rite of passage to the White House. It would all be somewhat funny if it were not so sad. I was never sure what political linage has to do with successful execution of the presidency of the United States. I certainly agree that we learn from the past, I just do not think now is the time to replicate it.

I was a bit disappointed to see South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley endorse Marco Rubio, Tampa Bay Times Alex Leary, Nikki Haley endorse Marko Rubio. Haley, I thought, was a strong Vice Presidential candidate. Throwing her support to Rubio may have short-circuited that opportunity. Let's hope not.

Locally, the saintpetersblog, Janelle Irwin, Pinellas County Charter Review Commission killed the addition of term limits to the Pinellas County Charter. Not surprisingly, all the County's constitutional officers opposed the move as do a number of the members of the Pinellas County Commission. Term limits offset the power of incumbency, encourage new comers to the political process, and help reduce the ability of elected officials to peddle influence and favors to get reelected year after year.

The Charter Review committee did not do Pinellas County or its citizens a favor by not putting term limits on the ballot. All they did was ensure the same tilted political process will remain in place in Pinellas County and made sure the elected political class in this county can stay as long as they want.

All of which goes to affirm that a committee well chosen will usually produce the results desired.   

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Thursday, February 18, 2016

No Case For a Sales Tax Hike, No More Talking About Stalking - Move to Plan B

Tampa, Fl
By: Sharon Calvert

 Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

The Tampa Tribune today published Ken Roberts Letter to the Editor titled ‘No case’ for referendum for sales tax increase. We are reposting his well thought out letter on the Eye and also include some of our own editorial comments.

‘No case’ for referendum for sales tax increase

Should Hillsborough County commissioners vote to put a sales tax increase referendum on the 2016 ballot? Regardless what the specific plan is, should we raise sales taxes to pay for it? A careful look reveals no case for a sales tax increase referendum.

First and foremost: The county already has the money. We have been told for years now that there is no money available to fund transportation improvements, and we must have a new revenue source. But if you ignore what they have been saying and watch what they are doing, you find this is nonsense. During the 2016 budgeting process about $121 million of new money was found. While saying transportation is the top priority for the county, commissioners spent only $8 million of this extra money on transportation.

The people have already donated $121 million. There is no case for us to raise taxes on ourselves for another $117 million a year for the next 30 years. Transportation improvements are expensive enough without paying for them twice.

Second, there are those on the board who say, “We believe in democracy; let’s put it on the ballot and let the people decide.” But, again, if you ignore what they say and watch what they do, this position doesn’t hold water, either. While they are saying they want to let the people decide, what they have been doing is working to deny our right to decide on another important tax item that was scheduled to appear on the 2016 ballot.

State law requires voters to review and re-authorize taxing authorities. In 2016 we were scheduled to vote on whether to continue the taxing authority of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, but supporters of a sales tax increase had that item taken off the 2016 ballot. They thought that two tax issues on the same ballot would spell doom for at least one of them, so they went to our state legislators and asked them to act to get it off the ballot to increase the odds of passing a sales tax increase. Our state legislators quietly passed a law and took it off the ballot.

If the county commission believes so strongly in the people having the right to decide, then why take away the people’s right to decide on continuation of the Children’s Board’s taxing authority? The answer is: They are not interested in our right to decide. They are interested in passing a sales tax increase.

Commissioner Sandra Murman has offered an alternative to a sales tax increase for funding transportation improvements. Three components are involved: a 5-cent increase in the gas tax ($25 million); a new mobility fee to pay for the impact of development on the
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pinellas County mail in Ballots are in the mail

Yours may be laying in that stack of mail on the table or wherever you toss your mail.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Pinellas residents are receiving their mail in ballots for the Presidential primary election.

Yours may be laying in that stack of mail on the table or wherever you toss your mail.

Why not grab that ballot, fill it in and mail it right now.

The supervisor of elections is advising to allow five days for your mail ballot to reach their office, and it must be received by 7:00PM election day at one of the election offices.

The yellow sheet in your Ballot package has all this information and more so be sure to look it over before you vote.


I received my mail in ballot for the March 15, 2016 Presidential Primary over the weekend.
Here are the instructions for completing your mail in Ballot from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Eelections web site.

VOTING YOUR MAIL BALLOT 
  • Completely fill in the oval next to each of your selections on your ballot.
  • Put your ballot in the secrecy envelope.
  • Put the secrecy envelope in the return envelope.
  • Enclose only your ballot in your envelope.
  • Seal the envelope and sign your name on the back where indicated.
  • Print the date under your signature.
  • Affix required postage if mailing or drop off ballot at any Supervisor of Elections office or designated ballot drop-off location.
  • If you make a mistake, call (727) 464-VOTE (8683) to request another ballot.
  • You may receive up to three ballots; however, only the first ballot received in our office will be counted.
  • If you decide to vote early or at your precinct on Election Day instead of voting your mail ballot, bring your ballot with you and ask the poll worker to cancel it so you may vote in person.
  • If you decide to vote early or at your precinct and cannot find your mail ballot, the poll worker will need to confirm that your ballot has not been received and cancel your mail ballot so you may vote in person.

Use the Green Security folder

Be sure to sign and date the outside of the mailing envelope.

Be sure to put a stamp on the envelope. A 49 cent stamp or one forever stamp is all you need.

You may see some local races and some referendum items on your Ballot. Please take few minutes to go on-line and get some information. Your vote on these local races and Referendums is extremely important.

I mailed mine this morning.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

St. Pete's "Art in Transit" has hit a few bumps in the Road

A new approach by the Kriseman administration may benefit everyone.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Back when Bill Foster was Mayor the City as part of the "arts destination" concept developed a plan to convert the mundane PSTA bus stops into a "unified artistic vision" Art in Transit.

Funding was about $2.3 million from the City and a series of grants. That is a lot of money.

City staff began negotiating (no bidding) with Carol Mickett and Robert Stack House, Mickett/Stackhouse Studios, world renown artists located in St. Petersburg.

You can get the detail in the Tampa Bay Times article by Charlie Frago Back to the drawing board for St. Petersburg's Arts in Transit project.

Late in December of 2015, after almost eighteen months of not much happening Wayne Atherholt, the City's Cultural Affairs Director, pulled the plug on the Millet/Stackhouse project.

More from Charlie Frago Tampa Bay Times, Kriseman says canceled "Arts in Transit" project wasn't orphaned.

Millet and Stackhouse sit at or near the top of the elite of the St. Petersburg arts community. The project with their names on it would have garnered national if not international attention.

The stuff "arts destinations" are made of.

So What Happened?

When Rick Kriseman became Mayor, there was a significant shift in the City's approach to the arts and the arts community. Kriseman wanted to move from a subsidized arts community to a sustainable arts community.

To understand what is going on here you need to read my series of Posts with Wayne Atherholt from May of 2015.


Millet and Stackhouse make the point that they did not get enough help from the City staff on legal, right of way and other non-artistic issues. That statement is probably true, but unknown is how and when they sought out help from the City.

My guess is they were hoping to get the public works support free from the City and hang on to as much of the $2.3 million as possible.

With $2.3 million to develop the project, it would have been wise to seek out some help from public work's professionals to resolve common issues in right of way construction.

Turning over what is as much a public works project, building bus shelters in the right of way, totally to the artists charged with making them "artful" is not a very good plan.

The problem is revealed in two quotes from the Frago Article first, regarding Millet/Stackhouse: "They just weren't able to provide what we normally get from those types of projects," said Atherholt, he added, we didn't get what we needed. City officials decided that it needs a team that has more expertise in public works and engineering. Artists aren't usually in charge of these types of projects."

Most telling is another quote from Atherholt, "The city remains excited about the project, which may or may not involve multiple artists."

Look for the City to divide the Art in Transit Project up into a series of bids or one bid with a project manager requiring multiple artists and make an opportunity for numerous local artists to share a piece of the $2.3 Million dollar pie or what is left of it after the City settles with Millet/Stackhouse.

This approach will put needed revenue into the St. Pete arts community, a primary Kriseman goal, and the public will actually get something in return.

Will Art in Transit be as "artsy" as would have been with Millet/Stackhouse? Probably not.

However, Millet/Stackhouse could come right back and bid on a part of the project.

For now, don't pay too much attention to the balling and whining of the top end of the St. Pete arts community. Kriseman, Atherholt and the city team are taking the right approach.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Friday, February 12, 2016

The Political Media Class

The political media class is no longer journalists they are arbitrators deciding who qualifies and for whom you should or should not vote.


St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

We have heard a lot about the "political class" in this presidential election cycle but not to be over looked is the "political media class."

From the very beginning of Trump's and Sander's campaign the mainstream political media pundits, reporters, anchors, news directors and media outlets have for the most part decried their candidacies.

At first, they treated both of them as a joke, then as political anomalies then as a threat.

The political media class is tied to political insiders as stink is to a skunk. Most of these people make their living from their access to and media coverage of the political class.

What I find so disturbing about all of this is the political media class really believes they know what is best for this country. From NPR to Fox and CNN they are trying desperately to manipulate this presidential race.

A good example is this  NEWSMAX piece.  Dick Morris: Rubio, Fox News Big Losers From New Hampshire.

It is not only how they cover candidates, or what the pundits actually say but it is how the political overage is provided and structured.

Trump figured out the media early on and has manipulated them in a truly magnificent way.

The media is seething about it, attacking Trump on all sides but afraid to drop their coverage of him for fear of losing out to other media outlets in the competitive ratings race.

Several, such as NPR and Fox have scaled back their news coverage of Trump but it has had little effect.

The point of all of this is it is difficult to get a real neutral view of any candidate from social media or any of the networks especially the cable networks.

The political media class is no longer journalists reporting but they are arbitrators deciding who qualifies and for whom you should or should not vote.

The very foundation of this country is based on the fact you do not have to be part of a political class to be elected to govern at any level. The people not the political media class decide who will be elected to public offices.

I am fed up with the political media class crying about Trump, worrying about Sanders and pushing Marco Rubio in my face every time I change channels.

Whether you are watching broadcast news, cable news or reading social media just remember every one of these outlets, reporters, pundits and commentators, including me, have a personal agenda.

As a voter, you are smart enough to see through all of this. Pick out the person you truly believe in and vote for them. It is just that simple.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Taking the temperature of the Rays stadium search

Tampa and Rays did not waste any time setting up the first meeting.


St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

The stadium search deal between the Rays and the City of St. Petersburg is done. In a 5-3 vote, City Council approved the latest Kriseman plans to let the Rays look in Pinellas and Hillsborough County for a new stadium site.

The Tampa Bay Times was all aglow in their Editorial: Rays deal a positive step forward for city, region.

It was time to get this issue resolved, and it was interesting that Pinellas County was not ready to jump into the fray and offer to get with the Rays to look at possible sites on this side of the bay. Kind of makes you wonder if the whole baseball thing in Pinellas County is really up to the City of St. Pete.

Tampa was ready and waiting while St. Pete plans to do a series of "studies" to see what is right for the Trop site.

There was a flurry of activity over in Hillsborough County with the Rays calling Tampa, Tampa calling the Rays and the baseball "group" in Tampa ready to meet before the ink was dry on the St. Pete/Rays deal.

Tampa and Rays did not waste any time setting up the first meeting.

Despite Sternberg's impassioned comments in St. Pete City Council about the Bay area and St. Pete, Major League Baseball and the owners want the Rays out of St. Petersburg.

So how do you tell what is really going on.

The Raysometer may tell the story.

In the past, the Rays have cited April and the home opener as the cut off for discussions and negotiations with the City of St. Pete about the Stadium and pretty much anything else. The rational has always been we need to focus on "the game."

If the Rays follow the history and pretty much put negotiations with Hillsborough/Tampa on hold, then it is a pretty safe bet stadium negotiation will follow a rational process.

However, if the red line on the Raysometer continues into the baseball season with negotiations at even a mild pace, then the rules for the Rays Second Season have changed. People over on the Pinellas County side of the Howard Franklin better get it in gear fast if they want to keep the Rays on this side of the bridge.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Carly Fiorina for President, Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kriseman/Tomalin plan for South St. Pete approved


There are people in St. Pete, who make a lot of money from the area defined by the TIF.

St. Petersburg, FL

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
  
Thursday's St. Pete City Council meeting consideration of the South St. Pete CRA and TIF and the plan to implement them was a high-water mark in the City's long running struggle with south St. Pete. Mayor Rick Kriseman and his team deserve a lot of credit for getting the City to this point.

Not all went smoothly as the President of the local NAACP president spoke against the plan.

You can get a good sense of the plan and the issues in these two articles by Tampa Bay Times writer Charlie Frago:



After an intense debate and agreement to modify, the plan slightly by making more of the funds available for workforce training City Council adopted the plan unanimously.

During the discussion on a number of occasions, speakers referred to the plan as a multi generational change. Current thinking puts a generation at 20 to 25 years.

The plan looks solid, if it works, as it should it would be self-funding through the life of the TIF.

Assuming it takes a generation and a half to affect serious change that is over 30 years. What does the City do in the meantime?

There are serious questions.

Unrest and discontent run deep in South St. Pete.

In the midst of the discussion, the meeting was interrupted by a protest from the UHURUs

See my Post from one year ago The Two Faces off South St. Pete.

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch commented that the plan was a good strong foundation and now "it is time to build the house."

If you buy into the general fact, a generation is 20 years, then the current generation is probably the easiest group to get to with the plan's elements.

Can the plan provide training and create jobs for this group more attractive than drug dealing and more acceptable than having babies and living on ADC, food stamps and Welfare programs?

Moreover, not to be overlooked is a group of people who will not want these programs to succeed.

Poverty is big business.

There are people in St. Pete, who make a lot of money from the area defined by the TIF.

The easy ones to pick out are the drug dealers, pimps, gang leaders and the crime lords, but equally egregious are the slumlords, absentee property owners, payday loan operations, social service groups and even some churches that would exploit the very programs meant to break the circle of poverty.

The subset of our society that lives off south St. Pete's poverty is neither small nor powerless.

Plans that plant trees, pave streets and put up streetlights do not bother them much, but plans like Mayor Kriseman's strike at heart of their enterprises.

Lisa Wheeler-Brown said it best when speaking about accountability, "So that people who have their own agenda will not be able to pocket what is really the community's. I have lived here my whole life, and it is no secret what I'm saying."

Ken Welch is right we have the foundation now let's build the house. Everyone in St. Petersburg has a stake in seeing things improve in south St. Pete. The resistance will be subtle at first, perhaps like the comments from the NAACP President, and stronger as the programs begin to roll out and become successful.

Mayor Kriseman, Deputy Mayor Tomalin and the team need to be diligent in their implementation of this plan and not afraid to call out those who would pervert the process.

This plan is a long road. Those starting it will not be the ones that finish it. It is up to the people to stay the course.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.
Disclosures:
Contributor: Carly Fiorina for President, Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Trump cruising, Cruz surging, Rubio giddy

Ken Welch and Janet Long running yet again for County Commission

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Nationally
It has been a few days since the Iowa caucus, and the media have enjoyed painting Trump as a loser. 

Cruise is now a bigger media target, and Marco is the media's darling.

I am sure I would not vote for Rubio in the Florida primary or the general election. Clinton is totally out of the question, and Sanders leaves me completely cold.

My initial favorite was Carly Fiorina, but she has become almost a footnote in the campaign. Is there a glimmer of hope for Fiorina? Fiorina has repeatedly tried to focus on Clinton, but with the high profile competition, she has not been able to get any traction. The fact that she looks pissed off most of the time probably does not help much either.

The Senate to Rubio was just a springboard to this Presidential campaign.

Rubio just does not seem to me to be ready for the White House. He has been on a crusade for the Presidency since he left the Florida Legislature. It is not clear that Marco ever wanted to be a US Senator and his attention to the job really shows it. What happens if he gets bored with the Presidency and decides he wants to be God?

Our other Florida hopeful Jeb Bush got his hat handed to him in Iowa. I have never been convinced Jeb wanted anything to do with this presidential race. See my Post Jeb Bush officially but maybe not so willingly in the Race for the White House. I am not so sure it is a case of low energy I think it is a genuine lack of desire.

Locally
Ken Welch is launching his fourth reelection campaign, although many feel that under the law, he term limited out before his last reelection. See the details in a Post from saintpetersblog by Janelle Irwin: Ken Welch to launch fourth re-election campaign. It must be nice to be able to make laws while you are ignoring them.

Janet Long is also up for re-election to the County Commission, so far she has not drawn a challenger. Ms. Long is another who has long over stayed her time on the County Commission. Let's hope someone with credentials steps up to challenge her.

I noted with interest Bob Buckhorn is up in New Hampshire to campaign for Hillary Clinton details in the Tampa Bay Times Richard Danielson article: Bob Buckhorn to campaign for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. I am surprised that Rick Kriseman did not go along, but there is still time.

So if Marco really rises to the top and gets the Republican nomination, and Clinton squeaks by and gets the Democratic nod I guess I'll look for Bloomberg to get in and throw away a vote there.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
Contributor: Carly Fiorina for President, Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Chamber's Political Cavalry Ponders a Poll With the Wizard of Oz of County Center

Tampa, Fl
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

Sunday's Tribune reported the Greater Tampa Chamber is "pondering" doing a poll on the sales tax hike referendum. 
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is considering polling Hillsborough County voters to gauge their appetite for a half-cent sales tax to finance road, trail and transit projects.

The chamber’s money and influence would be crucial in selling the transportation tax to voters if county commissioners put the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. That support will likely depend on the results of the poll, if there is one.
Start by asking those polled if we should first begin appropriately funding our roads and transportation within our existing tax revenues as we know the county has $123 million of new revenues in 2016, including $40-50 million of new recurring revenues as our county revenues stream continues going up.

Of course poll results are only as relevant as details such as the specific questions asked and the demographics of who is actually polled is known.

Instead of pondering whether to do a poll, the bigger question is will a valid poll officially drive a stake through any proposed sales tax hike? Voters are restless and more upset than ever this election cycle. Putting a sales tax hike wanting billions more on the 2016 ballot going to "placate" them? And yes the billions more is for a plan that includes high cost trains that will benefit few  - again. Deja Vu?

According to the Tribune, the Chamber sent their political cavalry to County Center to help their poll pondering:
The chamber is serious enough about a poll that it sent former Florida Gov. Bob Martinez and former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis to meet with county officials about possible poll questions. 
Martinez and Davis met with County Administrator Mike Merrill and County Attorney Chip Fletcher several weeks ago and brought along a draft of some possible questions, Merrill said.
The Tribune neglected to mention that Martinez and Davis are now lobbyists with Holland and Knight. In 2010 Holland and Knight donated at least $25K to the pro rail PAC Moving Hillsborough Forward and were big supporters of the rail tax. Davis was not just "involved" in the 2010 rail tax referendum, he was a public spokesperson for Moving Hillsborough Forward.

Why did the Chamber send in their political cavalry to meet with unelected bureaucrats if they want to gain insights regarding the transportation policy issue? Merrill and Fletcher are not policy makers and they are not accountable to any voters. Why wasn't the Chamber's political cavalry talking with the actual policy makers, the county commissioners? And what role was County Attorney Fletcher playing in a discussion about a poll?

Martinez and Davis met with the wrong people because on the transportation issue - Merrill is tainted. He is a big problem and a big liability - whether of his own doing or enabled by others. Merrill is a staunch supporter of another huge sales tax hike, is smack in the middle of the crony Go Hillsborough debacle and has been the public and media face throughout the flawed Go Hillsborough campaign. And the law enforcement investigation may be so narrowly focused that we may never know the true extent of the crony mess Merrill helped create.

The Chamber knows how to do polls. There's a good possibility they've already done some polling about Go Hillsborough and a sales tax hike. So what was really going on and what was really being discussed with bureaucrats Merrill and Fletcher?

We are left wondering what the Wizard of Oz of County Center will pull out next from behind his green curtain.

The Tribune article also reports
The results of the sheriff’s investigation are expected to be made public in the next week or so. If the investigation turns up no wrongdoing, Merrill said, he expects the chamber to support whatever transportation plan and financing mechanism county commissioners approve.
“On February 17th or 18th, we will be able to restart the actual decision-making on the plan and the funding so we can be in a position at the end of March to do a sales tax, if that’s the way the board wants to go,” Merrill said.
Merrill speaks for the Chamber? Merrill tells the county commissioners when he wants them to vote on a sales tax hike? How many times has Merrill told the media since last year when a vote on the sales tax hike was coming? Instead it keeps being delayed. Wasn't it Merrill who kept saying a full year was needed to educate persuade voters to support the sales tax hike? Wasn't that the excuse used after the 2010 sales tax was overwhelmingly defeated - "they" simply did not have enough time?

Like Beth Leytham, Merrill is wearing too many hats and playing too many kingmaker roles down at County Center, some of which blatantly overstep his authority as County Administrator. The county commissioners cannot delegate their policy making authority to an unelected bureaucrat and it is illegal for Merrill and other county or city employees to be discussing a private sector advocacy campaign in private group meetings.

Where did the Tribune get this statement?
A main component of the Go Hillsborough plan — mobility fees paid by developers — is the subject of a commission workshop Feb. 4. The fees are meant to capture more of the true costs of increased traffic from new developments.
Mobility fees are not tied to the flawed Go Hillsborough plan or any sales tax hike. Who told Salinero that? We suspect it was a Merrill again. However, we participated in some of the county's focus group meetings regarding mobility fees. Salinero should ask Lucia Garsys, one of Merrill's deputies who has been facilitating the focus group meetings, if mobility fees are tied to Go Hillsborough and a sales tax hike. She told us mobility fees are NOT connected to any proposed sales tax hike. She acknowledged, as many of the county commissioners are well aware of, mobility fees are totally separate from any sales tax hike, as they should be. Otherwise it looks like a quid pro quo with the development community.

Go here to find the Mobility Fee presentation that will be presented to the county commissioners at a Thursday workshop. Nowhere is there any mention of the mobility fee tied to Go Hillsborough or specifically to a sales tax hike.

How many times are the county commissioners going to tolerate County Administrator Mike Merrill, an unelected bureaucrat accountable to no voter, making misleading statements to the media? How much longer are the county commissioners willing to keep him as the tainted face of our transportation issue? They must send Merrill back to doing the job he was hired to do and remove him totally from our transportation issue.

The quote at the end of this article by Chamber President and CEO Bob Rohrlack is a bit disingenuous almost three years after the transportation initiative began.
“The fact that our community as a whole is talking much more about transportation is good,” Rohrlack said. “There is an overwhelming majority that is saying doing nothing is not an option.”
The county spent over $1.3 million on a taxpayer funded marketing campaign for the sales tax hike that resulted in blatant cronyism and a law enforcement investigation. Yes, the community is talking transportation but it's not talking about support for a sales tax hike.

We have been publicly saying "doing nothing is not an option" since the transportation initiative started in 2013.

We have been publicly requesting the county commissioners have a Plan B for a long time.

Where has the Chamber or the rest of the business community publicly been, especially since this crony Go Hillsborough mess? Sitting on the sidelines as we wait and wait and wait while our local roads continue to crumble and deteriorate as nothing gets done. 

If the Chamber is really serious about the "doing nothing is not an option", the Chamber should have sent their political calvary to tell the elected officials - not unelected bureaucrats - time for a serious discussion about a Plan B - no sales tax hike referendum required. The commissioners do not have to reinvent the wheel, they can start the discussion with Murman's proposal. They have all the data they need and they do not need Mike Merrill, more consultants, studies or crony PR firms.

Instead of pondering another poll, it would be refreshing to hear the Chamber publicly request the county commissioners to actually do something and NOW.

Regardless of the outcome of the law enforcement investigation, Go Hillsborough and any proposed sales tax hike has a dark cloud hanging over it. No $2 million advocacy campaign, funded and supported again by special interests or astroturf, can overcome that dark cloud.

There's a good chance a valid poll will reflect little or no appetite for another huge sales tax hike so the Chamber should just do it - do a poll. We then hope they will honestly publicly provide the results and details.

If the county commissioners vote to put a toxic sales tax hike, created by a flawed and crony marketing campaign, on the 2016 ballot, we believe it will most likely fail - and nothing will get done. We all lose.

Then what will the Chamber say?

Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

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