Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Disclosures and understanding what you read in my Posts

You will be amazed at how much more engaged in our political process you become, when you make a simple $5.00 contribution to a candidate, you support.


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

This month (July 2016) I will begin following the upcoming election cycle at the national, state, county and local level.

As I often remind many of my friends, I am a Blogger not a reporter. I Post my thoughts and opinions, you will rarely see any "Breaking News" in my Posts.

In this election cycle, as in the past, I will periodically contribute to political campaigns, PACs or issues. I think it is important that as a reader, you can easily see when I am commenting about a campaign or candidate where I have contributed.

All of my Blog Posts end with the following:
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 and Like on Facebook. 

The tag line will be as shown below with "Disclosures" added. As I contribute to various campaigns, the campaign or candidate will be listed.

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 and Like on Facebook.
Disclosures:

These contributions are not ringing endorsements, and I frequently disagree on specifics with those I have supported and agree with those whom I have not.

I would encourage you to contribute to a candidate or cause you support. Today virtually all campaigns have a WEB site where it is easy and secure to make a contribution.

The amount really is not that important, but you will be amazed at how much more engaged in our political process you become when you make a simple $5.00 contribution to candidate or a cause you support.

Running a campaign, whether it is for city council or president of the United States is an arduous task. Most candidates will tell you they are more inspired by the number of names on the contributor list than the numbers beside the names.

Thank you for the time you invest in reading what I Post. I deeply appreciate all of your comments, Tweets and e-mails.

It will be an interesting election cycle with just a few months until the Presidential election. I hope I pique your interest, make you smile, raise your awareness and move you to comment in the coming weeks.

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 Like and share on Facebook.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:
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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tampa Bay Partnership Reinvents itself

You can toss The Tampa Bay Partnership into the same bucket as the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and TBARTA.


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

The Tampa Bay Partnership (TBP) was formed in 1994 as a regional joint public/private organization to encourage and support major economic issues.

You can read the details of the TBP reinvention in the Tampa Bay Times piece by Robert Trigaux Business Columnist: Tampa Bay Partnership  2.0: To meet regional challenge, economic advocacy group reinvents itself.

The Tampa Bay Partnership is made up of CEOs and government officials, and the primary aim was to support economic development from a regional perspective.

From the Tampa Bay Partnership web site:

About the Tampa Bay Partnership
The Tampa Bay Partnership galvanizes the business and political leadership of Tampa Bay to exert its collective influence on the policies, programs and projects that enhance the economic competitiveness and prosperity of our region.

Through the Partnership’s public policy, political action and research initiatives, a diverse community is united with one shared vision and one powerful voice on issues of regional significance.

Founded in 1994, the regional advocacy organization is today supported by more than 120 private investors, public partners and community stakeholders from the counties of Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota.

You can check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/TBPartnership

In this reincarnation “The Partnership plans to end its public-private structure and instead be run exclusively by a "council of governors" consisting of up to 40 CEOs of major companies based or operating here who would pay $50,000 a year to serve on the board. A second-tier "leadership council" of another 40-plus senior area executives will pay $25,000 a year to participate.”

They will dump their public funding along with the politicians (Public Partners) and the public scrutiny that come with the public money and simply become a regional lobbying club made up of people who can afford the “dues” or feel the investment will be in their best interest.

The TBP has not been all that effective of late, except for the recent TBX effort but there is little to indicate their support made much difference.

You can toss The Tampa Bay Partnership into the same bucket as the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and TBARTA.

The Tampa Bay region is such an alphabet soup of planning organizations, cities, counties and special-interest groups and organizations that it is a wonder that anything gets done.

Once TBP is successful in filling its Board at $50K and $25K, a pop and unfettered by the restrictions that come along with the public funding it will be interesting to see what the Tampa Bay Partnership 2.0 looks like. Will they be a good old boys club, a lobbying group, self-serving special interest group, a Political Action Committee (PAC) or some hybrid combination?

One thing is for sure, if you can’t afford a seat at the TBP table the likelihood they will be supporting anything in your best interest is slim.

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, June 24, 2016

A different take on Trump

What if Trump has decided he does not want to be President?


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
  
Most of us have watched as Donald Trump's presidential campaign went into a tailspin over the last couple of weeks. As Trump continued his aggressive attack style of campaigning and threatened a federal judge while appearing to use his influence to help one of his personal businesses the pundits went wild.

The commentators rejoiced as Trumps' numbers plummeted. The Republican elite started licking their chops at the growing public support to cut Trump off at the convention.

Trump supporters held on trying vainly to defend their champion while Trump kept Tweeting himself deeper and deeper into a hole.

What is going on the media asked? Has Trump taken leave of senses?

The Republican elite from Paul Ryan right on down started running from Trump as fast as they could. The Dump Trump campaign got new legs as a group of Republican insiders started to develop plans for convention rule changes to deny Trump the nomination.

The stage is set for a contentious convention and Trump has all but assured the TV ratings will be through the roof. It could easily be the largest stage Donald Trump has ever stepped out on.

But what if Trump has decided he does not want to be President?

Being president would be messy for Trump. It would probably take most of his first term just to straighten out the legal mess of his companies. He would lose control of all of his empire and most of his money.

As of now, Trump has proved his point. He won the nomination.

He shoved all of the political elite into a corner and soundly thrashed them. He has dominated the political landscape for almost an entire year and made even the toughest Republicans cringe.

But he can't just quit.

If he were too simply, throw in the towel now he would be forever haunted by the press and the Republican elite as "Trump the Quitter" not something Trump wants to deal with.

Why not back the Republican elite and top brass into a yet another corner and force them to deny him the nomination? What better way than to attack, attack, attack and get the Republican good ole' boys into a frenzy where they fall right into his trap.

When they pull off their dirty little tricks at the convention to thwart the will of the people, Trump supporters will be enraged. The general public will be mystified and Trump will be indignant but watch for that little smile at the corner of his lip.

Trump will cry foul, but not too loudly, threaten and maybe actually sue the Republican National Committee but most importantly he can remain a dominating force in the Republican Party while not having to deal with the issue of a long and difficult campaign and the possibility of  being President.

No matter whom the Republicans go on to nominate, they will be soundly defeated at the polls and when the election smoke clears who will be sitting there Tweeting "I could have won but you guys took it away?"

Donald Trump.

Sound farfetched, re-read The Art of Deal.

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, June 19, 2016

Orlando - Are you misreading it?

If we rationalize our reaction to what happened in Orlando and feel it does not affect us personally we do so at our own peril.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
  
I spent a good deal of time last week watching and listening to the often-hyperbolic media coverage of the events at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

Like many I have talked to, there were moments that I just had to turn off the TV, log off the Internet and take a break.

I think the media coverage was excessive, exploitive, and sometimes vulgar and like a lot of media coverage of major events way to much got ya journalism.

None of that too in any way reduce the horror and misery that were inflicted early Sunday morning.

The real public awareness issue with the Orlando massacre is that responses to it are too easy to compartmentalize. There is the we need more gun control crowd, the 2nd amendment defender crowd, the immigration crowd the homophobic crowd and a few others.

The problem is the average person can easily put this event in the it doesn't affect me pigeon hole because they are not part of the lifestyle group affected, the demographic group affected and  are unlikely to be a similar establishment.

If we as individuals we rationalize, our reaction to what happened in Orlando and feel it does not affect us personally we do so at our own peril.

I saw many people, victims, public figures and average citizens saying we will not change our behavior because that is what these people want us to do. To react in fear.

Actually, we do need to change our behavior. As individuals, we need to think more carefully, about where we assemble, where we let our children go, where we go and evaluate the risks and rewards associated with those decisions.

Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, is author of the forthcoming book: Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home.  She said, "The flow of people and things, the movement to and within cities, the congregation of the masses that makes our lives meaningful, whether at church or at Fenway Park, are inherently risky. Our system (a federal government with limited powers, mayors overseeing police departments, governors directing National Guards) wasn’t designed to produce a seamless shield against every conceivable threat."

If you find yourself feeling bad about what happened in Orlando but thinking, it really does not apply to you - you are wrong.

Like it or not, we are being changed by the events occurring around us. We always have been and always will be.

Those wonderful days of walking out of your home and feeling totally safe are just not part of our society anymore. Every public action and interaction in our society carries some degree of risk, and our best defense is not the government. It is common sense.

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:
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Did Rick Kriseman make a strategic political error?

Kriseman was looking to spread the blame as far and as thin as he could while totally excusing himself.


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

As the level of concern about St. Pete's sewage problem rose along with the untreated wastewater and raw sewage, the Kriseman administration struggled to deal with the fall out.

Kriseman reverted to the old political ploy of deflect and divert as reported in a Tampa Bay From the Times piece by Charlie Frago: As sewage dumping ends, Kriseman reverses course on BP money.

After the meeting, Kriseman excused his predecessor, Bill Foster, saying the severe recession tied that mayor's hands. But he stood his ground regarding the culpability of Rick Baker, who served from 2001 to 2010 and is rumored to be considering a run against Kriseman next year.

Hard to tell if this less than brilliant ploy was the brainchild of Kriseman himself, his political pocket mouse Kevin King or Ben Kirby Kriseman's personal blogger who first declared the effluent highly diluted only to retract that inappropriate statement.

Kriseman was looking to spread the blame as far and as thin as he could while totally excusing himself.

His decision to take a shot at former Mayor Rick Baker may not have been Kriseman's brightest political move.

Baker responded, "My recollection is that council and I spent $200-$300 million on water and sewer capital projects," Baker texted the Times late Thursday. "And I know that we replaced sewer pipes throughout the city. That is a substantial investment."

I had a good friend in the City administration that used to say, "Be careful when you poke the bear."

Baker would like to return to public service and a lot of us; me included, would like to see him replace a lackluster Mayor, who operates an administration staffed with inexperienced political cronies powered by doling out city money.

There is no strong indication that Baker is seriously considering another run at being St. Pete's Mayor.

Baker needs motivation to make that decision and Kriseman may have just poured a little gasoline on a smoldering fire.

I don't think anyone was particularly impressed by the Mayor's attempt to pass the blame for the crap in Clam Bayou, or the untreated waste water in the Bay. At times like these if you're the Mayor you're the guy responsible and supposedly the person who can get the fix started.

Kriseman had a 10-month head's up alert on the wastewater problem but then there were   brighter and shiner things to focus on.

Will this "poke" be enough to catapult Baker into a run for St. Pete Mayor? Probably not, but I have been around Baker after he has been "poked" and quite frequently the reaction was surprising.

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.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kriseman up to his neck in sewage

Ben Kirby posted a statement about the nature of the diluted effluent being released, which had to be walked back later.


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

For some background on the latest St. Petersburg wastewater debacle, you can check Mike Desson's Channel 10 Investigates stories below:


From the Tampa Bay Times Charlie Frago:
As sewage dumping ends, Kriseman reverses course on BP money

As tropical storms go, Colin may not be much more than a footnote in the weather records but he has turned out be a major disaster for Mayor Rick Kriseman and his City Hall team.

Watch the videos closely and you will see Ben Kirby, Kriseman communication Director and Kevin King, Chief of Staff, walking in circles as try to figure out what to do and say, while Kriseman looks like deer in the headlights as he tries to spin the situation in real time.

Claude Tankersly Kriseman's recently hired Public Works Administrator seemed to error on the side of honesty when he admitted there was raw sewage going into Clam Bayou, a statement which was then disputed by Kriseman.

Kirby posted a statement about the nature of the diluted effluent being released, which had to be walked back later.

The long and short of it is you could not believe a thing any of the senior staff or the Mayor was saying. There was a great deal more concern about the politics than the event.

Case in point was the decision to not make any form of public announcement or notify the City of Gulfport and refusing to make dump numbers public.

"No public record exists," said Public Works Administrator Claude Tankersley. Actual they did.

Where is Mike Connors when you need him?

All of this should make St. Pete citizens a bit nervous about just how much they can count on or trust the Kriseman team in a real emergency.

Kriseman and his dream team have had a relative easy run up to this point. No major disasters or serious storms up to now. To say they did not handle Colin well is an understatement.

Kriseman's decision to surround himself with a group of advisors in the office of the Mayor who have no practical experience and view everything through the eye of politics is finally coming back to haunt him. Kriseman should be paying more attention to Claude Tankersly and less to Kevin King.

Under no circumstances should a writer/blogger more interested in the Mayors' reelection than the facts issue an un-vetted statement that affects the public's health and safety. In situations like these, "word smithing" is never a good idea.

 Kriseman and his "office of the Mayor" have been running on fumes since they walked through the City Hall doors. They were not ready when they took office and it seems they have learned very little in almost two years.

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.


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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Biggest disaster from Tropical Storm Colin – Local media weather sites

I spent Monday following tropical storm Colin on the local TV weather sites.


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

I spent Monday following tropical storm Colin on the local TV weather sites.

When it became clear early-on Colin was going to be more of a rain event than heavy wind storm; my attention turned to the sites themselves and how well they performed.

Since my primary office is in my home, I spent Monday following tropical storm Colin on the local TV weather sites.

I must say I was disappointed in all the local broadcast media sites and the intrepid Bay News 9.

Colin was the first tropical storm in a while that looked like it might pose a serious threat to the Bay area, and I would guess that there were hundreds if not thousands of people who logged onto channels 8,10, 13 and Bay News 9 to get their weather information.

Many were first-time visitors, and I suspect their first-time impressions may not have been all that good.

The problem with technology these days is it is cheap, and easy to implement and bright flashing websites with ads in every corner seem to be the order of the day.

The local weather sites look like a cross between a bad video game and an equally bad car dealership web site.

First, there were all the ads. Now I spent eight years in broadcasting a number with a big NBC affiliate in Ohio, and I understand revenue.

There were more irritating flashing boxes and auto start ads with difficult to find stop boxes than even begins to be practical when people are scared and trying to get information to make serious and perhaps life-and-death decisions about the storm.

At one point, I had three different computers logged into various local weather sites to see how they were doing. It was like being in a room full of pinball machines.

The good news is there is plenty of information on all the web sites in some cases perhaps too much. I found all the sites to be difficult to navigate and a little jumpy at times.

The weather radar loops are nice, but the refresh rate is too slow for a major storm. If you are trying to use the loop to determine what may be happening at your location the loop can be confusing at best.

 Whatever happened to the continuous scan from the raw radar data? I know not slick enough.

Then there were the ads. The guys up in marketing must have been blurry eyed at the possibility of all those clicks, but really most people are not looking for a new car during the storm, unless they just saw theirs float out of the drive way.

The ad with the old lady and the flashing hair on Channel 13 stayed up all day. Cute at first, it became a real annoyance. I finally switched my primary computer to Channel 8.

The point is this. On a normal day, regular users of the local media weather sites and aps don’t mind, or they just ignore all that crap you guys pack onto the home page. They know where to go to get what they want, and all that jumping, flashing and auto start bullshit is easy to ignore.

When a storm is moving onshore, and you can’t see the street in front of your house or your stuck in your car and don’t know what to do next a weather page that looks like an end of the world video game is neither appreciated nor much help.

So here is a suggestion.

During the next storm, why not really serve the public by taking a lot of the cute stuff your just out of college webmaster has stuck on the weather page off and pull the ads for a few hours so all your infrequent page visitors can actually get the information they need.

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, June 11, 2016

Another Urban Myth Busted

Tampa, Fl
Posted by: Sharon Calvert


Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

We've grown weary of the incessant cheerleading around downtown development for both Tampa and St. Petersburg. We're glad they are developing and improving, but its not the only story in town. All that's hot in the real estate market is not downtown.
Forget Davis Islands, South Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg — Tampa Bay's hottest ZIP codes are two you might not expect.

While wealthier parts of the bay area have seen greater price appreciation since 2004, the areas most sought after by home buyers today are Largo/Seminole (ZIP 33778) and Tampa's Carrollwood-Northdale (ZIP 33624), realtor.com says.
It should not be any surprise as to why.
The main reason for those ZIPs' popularity is simple — both have stable neighborhoods with the kind of roomy yet moderately priced homes that are in increasingly tight supply these days.

In ZIP 33624, "Northdale is affordable square footage for the money,'' says Joe Lewkowicz, a veteran Coldwell Banker agent. "Plus, they've got the YMCA, which a lot of people use, the golf course, a great school right there (Gaither High), and it's close in to downtown.''
Disclosure: Joe Lewkowicz is a neighbor.

Amenities. Good value. Space. Privacy. Yard. Good schools...

Northdale Park
In short, the American Dream does not start and end in a boxed up in an apartment, even if downtown transmogrifies into a Disney-esque entertainment district for the ADHD afflicted in crowd.

Perhaps the high rents downtown contribute. A friend recently moved downtown into a one bedroom apartment for $1700 per month.  He likes it downtown, so great for him. That kind of rent is typical of downtown these days.

Latest downtown Tampa apartment rents on Zlillow.com as of June 9
Compare that to Northdale.
Lewkowicz is negotiating an offer on a 2,400-square-foot home with a new kitchen and golf-course view, listed at $325,000. "In a lot of other areas you cannot get that for that kind of money,'' he says.
A quick mortgage calculation assuming $325,000 purchase price, 30 years, 20% down, 3.75% interest rate terms for that Northdale house can be bought for $1204.10 per month (principal and interest only).

You can decide which is the best for you and your family. Many are choosing Northdale and other affordable areas.

Despite all the news from downtown and other urban developments, people continue to move into the suburbs at a higher rate than the urban districts, as Jed Kolko, formerly Chief Economist for Trulia wrote in March this year.
Today the Census Bureau released its 2015 population estimates for counties and metropolitan areas. After volatile swings in growth patterns during last decade’s housing bubble and bust, long-term trends are reasserting themselves. Population is growing faster in the South and West than in the Northeast and Midwest, and faster in suburban areas than in urban counties; both of these trends accelerated in 2015. 
Again, this is not news for those who follow the issue and seek the facts, or even observe the greater residential development in Hillsborough County suburbs compared to city of Tampa.

As Kolko's further analysis shows this is not an anomaly. He expects this pattern of faster growth in the suburbs to continue.
But it’s not just that population growth patterns today more like they did during early years of the bubble. Rather, local population growth trends increasingly look like they did before the bubble, in the 1980s and 1990s.
There is much more to read from Kolko, so read the whole thing.

While we're piecing urban myths, the luxury urban housing bubble is not looking too good.
One major meme for the luxury developers had to do with well-off retirees—the one domestic population with the money to afford such housing. Newspapers have been crammed with anecdotal stories about this “trend.” Yet analysis of Census trends among seniors shows that the senior percentage share in both the inner core and older suburbs dropped between 2000 and 2010 while growing substantially in the newer suburbs and exurbs. The most recent data show these patterns continue.
Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox further explain much of the run up has been due to foreign buyers and investors, and that well is drying up. It's not a full on crash, but there are higher vacancy rates in many markets. This may not be good news for more downtown residential development.

Especially for the urbanistas.

But they can get a better value for the money in the 'burbs.
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Problem Solutions or Votes – What is Kriseman looking for?

South side CRA is the Kriseman Administration trying to solve the problems or build a political base?


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
  
I took note of a Tampa Bay Times Staff article: St.Petersburg takes grant applications for redevelopment area.

One quote caught my attention; Urban Affairs director Nikki Capeheart cautioned that," No single application is likely to get fully funded."

Why not?

The article indicated 40 grant applications are expected, and it looks like the Kriseman administration is going to divvy up the $400,000 or so in CRA funds from the first round of the CRA Tax collection among a group of the "applicants"

This sounds like Ward politics at its best.

Rather than fund, one or two of the applicants fully so they can accomplish their proposed mission in South St. Pete the Kriseman Administration is using the CRA funds to create a dependent group of providers who will have to support the Mayor politically to keep their funding.

Inadequate funding of a "group" of applicants will result in a series of failed attempts, people back in front of City Council begging for money to support their underfunded effort and once again the real victims of this type of buying votes politics are the citizens of south St. Pete.

Administering the South side, CRA in this fashion will end up with nothing to show for the efforts, wasted tax money collected from the people that can least afford to see their tax dollars wasted.

Kriseman should instruct the team evaluating the grant requests to retain a contingency fund of about $50,000 to help any program that gets in trouble, and to select a number of programs that can be fully funded from the remaining CRA funds.

If that is only one for this round, then so be it, better one program working than a group of programs failing.

We have seen that this type of program frequently underestimates the cost of operation, and they fail mostly because of underfunding not lack of effort. We already have enough Failure Factories in South St. Pete let us not create a group of failed programs that will frustrate the public and City Council.

I am not sure if this is just poor planning or shameful politics, but Mayor Kriseman or City Council should put a quick end to it, and City Council should reject a cafeteria-style funding proposal should the administration bring it forward.

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.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Watch out Pinellas County here comes the next let's build a train initiative - Forward Pinellas .

Sort of like Go Hillsborough but with a much cooler Logo.


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

One of the ways government attempts to get around those pesky citizens who don’t agree with something the government wants to do is call it something else and float the idea again. They call that “re-branding.”

We often call that putting lipstick on a pig, but re-branding is much more millennial.

WALLA - Forward Pinellas a 2014 Florida legislative action that combined the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Pinellas Planning Council.

From the Pinellas Forward “branding website”: “The role of transportation and land development in Pinellas County took on increased importance with passage of a special act of the Florida Legislature in 2014 unifying a 13-member governing board of local elected officials with responsibility for countywide transportation and land use planning.” 


If you check closely you will find the 13 elected officials who make up Pinellas Forward are, for the most part, the same folks that brought you GreenLight Pinellas. There doesn't appear to be any serious citizen representation on this new transportation redevelopment (read that light rail) task force.

So if the mission has not changed, the players have not substantially changed, and the citizenry has no significant input just what should we expect to change?

Nothing.

They do have a nice new logo, which I am sure you helped pay for, and a noncommittal mission statement: “Forward Pinellas will provide leadership to align resources and plans that help to achieve a compelling vision for Pinellas County, our individual communities and our region.”

Does anyone have any idea what the hell that means?

Let me take a stab at a literal translation: We are going to package up light rail along with some toss-a-ways like road improvement, and a few new buses and try to shame you folks into a sales tax to finance it.

Sort of like Go Hillsborough but with a much cooler Logo.

I am sure that all the folks at Pinellas Forward are waiting with baited breath to see how the second run at getting a sales tax referendum past the Hillsborough County Commission goes.

If it bombs a second-time  look for Forward Pinellas to steal quietly into the background for a while but should the Go Hillsborough machine get the sales tax on the ballot the next hurdle will be the election, and the folks in Hillsborough County should send yet another resounding message with a NO vote.

Then it will time for the Metropolitan planning organization/Pinellas Planning Council/Forward Pinellas to take a serious look at reality.

Sooner or later, it will become clear that these groups of elected officials, the big developers and light rail lobbyists do not a transportation planning organization make.
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.

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday June 5, 2016 A Memorial Day Epilog

The pain and the loss don't stop on the battlefield or in those rows of flags it goes on for a lifetime in those who remain.

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

 Following My Memorial Day Post, I received this e-mail posted here with her permission.

Thank you for your piece on Memorial Day, and drawing attention to the cost of war to families. No one seems to ever get this, instead, assuming every family member is interested only in glorifying the death of their loved one. As a war widow for the past 45 years, I know, first hand, that your words are true; the hurt never does go away.

I was once asked to plan a Veteran's Day parade, but when my town learned I planned to include disabled vets and Gold Star families in the parade, they replaced me with someone who planned a parade full of flags and war-mongering. This was in the late 70s, and I'm glad to see that times have changed a little bit - but not much. People still want to glorify war, which is probably why attention goes to Gold Star moms and dads, but rarely to widows. We're an inconvenient truth. Much easier to accept the effects of war if the emphasis goes only to glorifying the dead; never mind about the frequent cuts to benefits for widows and children, or having to answer the question, "why did Daddy die?"

Are you aware that kids of dead soldiers lose their health coverage at age 18 (or 23 if going to college)? Every other kid is covered under the Affordable Care Act - but not the kids of dead soldiers.

There is a wealth of nasty things our country does to Gold Star families. I wish someone would shine a light on the issue. Are you interested?

Thank you very much for writing your article. I hope people will read it and come to a better understanding of what we create when we create war.

Nancy
(Personal contact information removed at the writer's request)

It is easy to invite some friends over and grill a few hot dogs or burgers or go to the beach for a great day in the sun and forget the terrible cost Memorial Day symbolizes for the people most directly affected.

The pain and the loss don't stop on the battlefield or in those rows of flags it goes on for a lifetime in those who remain.

If you know someone, who has lost a loved one to war put them in a special place in your prayers and not just on Memorial Day but every day.

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.

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Taxpayers Beware! Sales Tax Hike Is For A New Baseball Stadium

Tampa, Fl
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

County Commissioner Ken Hagan, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and unelected bureaucrat Mike Merrill have been the biggest champions of pushing another transportation sales tax hike.

As we posted here, Hagan jumped the shark last April when he came out for a 30 year transportation sales tax hike smack in the middle of the Go Hillsborough campaign before funding options were even being discussed.

Why? 

It must be because Hagan and Buckhorn want the Rays and a new baseball stadium in Tampa and they want some tax dollars to do it. 

After St. Petersburg allowed the Rays look for a baseball stadium in Tampa in January, immediately Mayor Buckhorn and Commissioner Hagan jumped on the new baseball stadium bandwagon
Ken Hagan maintains funding for any new stadium must come primarily from the team. “Any stadium deal is going to have to be primarily funded by the team and the private sector.
Then just a couple of months later in March SaintPetersblog reports Hagan states:
As negotiations continue between Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay Rays about a potential new stadium, Commissioner Ken Hagan said on Wednesday he wants county staff to put out a request for proposal to have an underwriting team ready to sell stadium revenue bonds.
We know Hagan's passion is baseball so let's go back in time and connect some dots.

May 19, 2010 (ironically right after Hagan voted with 4 other commissioners to put the 1% rail tax hike on the ballot that went down in flames) A Baseball Coalition group presented to the county commissioners:  
In Tampa, nearly all the Commissioners who spoke went out of their way to insist that the County had no intention of poaching the team from St. Petersburg, and certainly not with any taxpayer subsidies
Every other commissioner echoed Hagan's comments on the possibility of public financing for a ballpark, such as Mark Sharpe, who said "I don't want to in any way give any indication that I'm supporting funding a new stadium when we're working on emergency services and basic core services."
June 9, 2011 Tampa Bay Times reported:
The approach is called tax-increment financing, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan put it center-stage this week as an idea to help the Tampa Bay Rays make a new home somewhere in the county.

"It's just one of what I'm sure will be, if we get to that point, 20 different financing options that will be available," he said. (The money to build the stadium itself, Buckhorn has said, needs to come from private equity and a "significant" contribution from team owners.) 
Tax-increment revenues, Buckhorn said, would work best downtown, which is where he would hope to see a ballpark built if it ever came to pass. Additional property tax revenue generated by new hotels, restaurants and stores built nearby could repay infrastructure bonds.
Monday, Buckhorn had drinks at a downtown bar with Hagan and Beth Leytham, a public relations consultant who is friends with both, and the three discussed the idea. 
"It was purely a social visit," he said. "Inevitably business comes up, but it wasn't designed for that." 
Two days later, Hagan brought up tax-increment financing for baseball during a County Commission workshop that was partly about finding ways to pay for
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Friday, June 3, 2016

Looking down the 2016 Ballot for Pinellas County

Pinellas County School Board – Probably the most important local election on the ballot.


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

With all the attention to the presidential race, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the local candidates.

The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections has a web page: Candidates for the 2016 Election Cycle where you will find an up-to-date list of those candidates who have announced, qualified, withdrawn, gone inactive and are unopposed.

With all the noise the national race will create, it is going too tough for all local candidates to get much attention.

Most important among the local races is the race for Pinellas County School Board. With the complete disclosure of what the current school board has allowed to happen in South St. Pete it is time for a change.

Here is a candidate list as of May 31, 2016.

School Board, District 1
Announced
School Board, District 1
Announced
School Board, District 1
Announced
School Board, District 1
Announced
School Board, District 4
Announced
School Board, District 4
Announced
School Board, District 4
Inactive
*School Board, District 4
Ken Peluso (NP)
Announced
*School Board, District 5
Announced 
School Board, District 5
Announced
School Board, District 5
Announced
*Incumbents

It takes a lot of courage to step and offer to insert yourself and your family into what is at best a serious mess.

You will hear a lot about, probably not much from most of these candidates. Locally saintpetersblog is one of the several good sources for candidate information along with the Tampa Bay Times.

Follow this one closely because the real future of Pinellas County depends on our ability to educate our children.

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.

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