Friday, March 31, 2017

It’s time to get St. Pete City Council some help

In the past many City Council members held full-time jobs. 

St. Petersburg Fl

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
Ten years ago, you could make the argument that being a City Council Member in St. Petersburg was a part-time job.  Not so any more.
The job of being a St. Pete City Council member started getting more complicated and time consuming when the City decided to build a baseball stadium without a team.
From that day, right up to today the City Council job has morphed into a significant challenge. As time moved forward from that fateful decision in the 1980’s the City has continued to take on more and more sophisticated challenges.
In 1992 when the government structure changed from a City Manager who basically ran the day to day business of the city like a corporation where City Council served as board of directors providing overall guidance to a structure where the elected mayor runs the day to day business the City Council role in detailed decision making has appropriately increased.
In the past many City Council members held full-time jobs. Meetings were short, outside demands on Council Member’s time were less.
The rate of change really ramped up in the late 1980’s when City Council meetings went on the local cable television system, and later the City’s broadcast television station. All of this exposure increased pressure on Council members to interact with the public and participate more effectively in the day to day operation of the City.
Today the job is a fifty to sixty-hour week many weeks during the year, and the amount of reading, research and analysis required to properly represent a District are truly overwhelming.
There has been talk in the past about adding some support staff to the City Council. Usually, it seems  just to self-serving and has never been seriously considered.
That changed this week as Darden Rice put forth a recommendation to add four positions costing between $250,000 to $300,000 to provide research, logistical and constituent support.
You can get some detail in the Tampa Bay Times article by Charlie Frago, Times Staff writer; St. St.Petersburg City Council wants to hire some help navigating a sea of paperwork
"I really see this as increasing the efficiency of City Council," Rice said.

I completely agree.

With operating and capital expenditures, the total City Budget is almost a half a BILLION dollars. The issues are complex both technically and structurally, to say nothing of the politics that continues to creep into the City governing process.

This is a budget item that needs to go into the next budget along with a policy outlining hiring, duties, responsibilities and limits on turning these jobs into political appointments.

There will be those who claim loudly this is a waste of money, but to get good decisions, real constituent representation and a City Council that comes to the meetings prepared to the right thing for the City the time has come to add professional support for Council members.

It’s way past time to add functional support the City Council side of the house, and with the proper structure and controls the result will be a better City Council, better decisions and improved constituent support.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Stop Force Feeding A Regional Transit Authority on Tampa Bay Taxpayers

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

Regional bureaucracies an arms length away from voters and taxpayers are not more efficient, especially over time. They become less accountable and more powerful, arrogant, crony and wasteful.

We posted here about Latvala's Senate bill 1672 and its companion House bill 1243 that grows the size and scope of government, takes away local control and enables regional taxing. 

Both bills were presented to their first committee meetings this week and passed.

Senate Bill 1672 was presented Wednesday by Senator Latvala to the Senate Transportation Committee. The video is here and Latvala begins at about 1:01:45. Astonishingly at about 1:02:30 Latvala clearly states for TBARTA "to come back to the legislature next year for clarity on what statutes need to be changed to allow Tampa Bay's transit to become more efficient and grow".

So we have to pass the bill first creating this new regional TBARTA transit authority before we can find out how it is funded, who will pay for it and what is being funded? That sounds eerily familiar.

That is bad governance and not fair to the taxpayers.

We do know who wrote the bill for Senator Latvala. At 1:06:00 of the video where Latvala is making his closing statement he acknowledged Tampa Bay Partnership for putting together the bill and giving it to him to run with it. They were huge supporters of all the sales tax hike referendums in Tampa Bay that were defeated.

Latvala is term limited next year but we know he has wanted to merge HART and PSTA for years. His statement Wednesday confirms this bill is just the first of a multi-step process. We can only assume that the next step is to change statutes to enable TBARTA to become a taxing authority, enable regional taxes and/or merge HART and PSTA without having to go to the voters. Latvala said he would help with legislation to do just that in December 2012 because a regional transit authority is needed to get a train across the Howard Frankland bridge.

House Bill 1243 was presented by Representative Dan Raulerson on Tuesday to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The video of that committee meeting is here and this bill is the second one presented starting at about 4:00. 

Representative Raulerson is not a member of any transportation committee and is from Plant City, a municipality in the far eastern part of Hillsborough County. Plant City is not a member of HART, our local transit agency. Residents of Plant City do not pay HART's .5 mill property tax that the city of Tampa, city of Temple Terrace and unincorporated Hillsborough County residents pay to fund HART. 

It is odd that the sponsor of a bill to create a new Tampa Bay regional transit operating authority that must be funded lives in a municipality in Hillsborough County that does not fund and is not a member of it's own local transit agency. If Raulerson wants more transit, perhaps he should first start advocating for Plant City to be a member of HART.

An amendment was made reducing the number of non-electeds on the new 13 member TBARTA Board and adding two more electeds - the mayors of Tampa and St. Petersburg. We understand the change was done at the request of both mayors who support costly rail projects.

Of course, electeds want a majority of electeds to run everything.

They tell us that a majority of electeds on all these boards makes the boards more accountable….That reasoning can be questioned. 

PSTA is a transit agency whose Board consists of a majority of electeds and PSTA has been mismanaged for years. PSTA's Board never held PSTA's CEO Brad Miller accountable for misusing federal funds on Greenlight Pinellas. Instead PSTA's Board gave him accolades and a raise last year. How accountable is that? 

Latvala should be cleaning up the mismanaged PSTA in his own backyard. Other counties do not want to be burdened with Pinellas County's PSTA mess. 

The PTC was also created by the state and it's Board was all electeds. The PTC became totally crony, corrupt and archaic.

Raulerson stated they may consider adding a fifth county - Hernando - and that other continuous counties may also join. Like Manatee was included because of Galvano, we surmise Hernando may be part of the deal because the CSX corridor goes up that way. 

So if they add Citrus and Sarasota counties, the new TBARTA will be the same as the old TBARTA but with a different Board and only focused on transit. Makes one wonder about this whole effort because Citrus and Hernando counties share their MPO and Manatee and Sarasota counties share their MPO.

The biggest issue (or unknown) with this bill is money and funding. 

Ironically, the Summary Analysis of HB1243 done by staff states:
The bill does not appear to have a significant fiscal impact on state or local government
That is simply not true. That is not being honest with taxpayers. 

A new regional operating transit authority cannot be created and operated without long term funding. Not one representative questioned why the bill's summary analysis stated there was no fiscal impact when everyone knows the new entity has to be funded - somehow.

TBARTA does has the authority to issues bonds per Florida Statue 343.94No investor will buy bonds that has no long term, sustainable revenue source to pay back the bondholders.

Raulerson was asked what revenue would pay back TBARTA bond financing. His answer was that revenue received from the bus service and light rail. Yes he said light rail…. (Almost all of the light rail boondoggles were pushed by regional transit agencies.) 

There is a huge math problem. Raulerson must know that because he's an accountant.

Transit projects have capital costs and operating costs associated with them. Which costs was he referring to? 

Farebox revenue could never cover required capital costs of large transit projects. Farebox revenue often only accounts for about 20% of the operating costs. Where's all the rest of the money coming from? No representative even asked.

The fact that all the sales tax hike referendums for transit in Tampa Bay have been overwhelmingly defeated was brought up at the committee meeting.

Raulerson stated the bill does not make TBARTA a taxing authority. But this bill may not have to specifically provide for that because Florida Statute 212.055 governing the transportation sales surtax was changed in 2010 to enable putting a regional sales tax for a regional transit authority on the ballot in multiple counties.
Latvala's bill goes right along with the $1.5 million Regional Premium Transit campaign that will identify regional transit projects to enter the pipeline for federal funds. This new TBARTA regional transit authority will be the entity to pursue those funds. 

However, federal funds for transit projects may be eliminated or greatly reduced under the Trump Administration so there should be no reliance on getting federal money. Pursuing any federal funds requires a local committed long term funding source. Where's the money?

We doubt the state legislature would create another SunRail fiscal disaster
…a recent study has found that the cost of SunRail to issue and collect tickets is greater than the revenue from ticket sales.
How more insane can things get? This insanity occurs when any sense of common sense is thrown out.

The bill was orchestrated by a local delegation of one - Senator Latvala - who hastily filed the bill the weekend before the session started. It was never vetted by TBARTA and did not go to any of the local delegations for input by any constituents impacted.

We have a regional transportation issue that needs to be addressed not a sudden regional transit issue requiring another transit authority to fund into perpetuity.

Instead of this bill, there should be laser focus on getting FDOT's TBX project implemented. That project fixes the Howard Frankland bridge, fixes the chokepoints at 60 and malfunction junction, adds much needed interstate capacity and creates a regional transit corridor. It is funded by user fees, state and federal gas taxes we already pay and tolls by those who individually decide to use the express lanes, not higher taxes. TBX does not require another bureaucracy to build, operate and manage.

Innovation and technology is already disrupting traditional transit as transit ridership is declining in Tampa Bay by double digits. With the federal spending spigot for new transit projects getting turned off or greatly reduced, common sense says the timing of this bill is not good.

Once a bureaucracy is in place and funded, it's almost impossible to get rid of it - just look at the PTC.

The irony of it all… This legislative session is finally getting rid of the unnecessary, crony, corrupt and out of control PTC created by the state legislature in 1976. And in the same session the state wants to create another unnecessary transit authority, an arms length from voters and taxpayers, that would have to be funded and we could never get rid of when it gets out of control.

Besides the elephant in the room - the issue of funding - there are lots of other issues with this bill. There are regulatory requirements regarding transit authorities. Who is looking at how this new regional transit authority would comply and how much it would cost now and in the future to comply?

I attended the TBARTA meeting Friday and for transparency, I spoke in opposition to this bill. TBARTA Chair Ronnie Duncan stated this bill was created and put forward without engaging TBARTA or its Board. The biggest issue the Board agreed on was funding - no one knows how this new transit authority is be funded. We have to assume it will be the taxpayers of Tampa Bay. In addition, TBARTA Executive Director Ray Chiarmonte brought up a host of other issues with this bill. 

This shows the haste of how this bill was introduced without proper vetting.

There is no outcry or demand by citizens and taxpayers of all these counties demanding this new transit authority be created. 

We hope the state will stop this force feeding of regionalism on the citizens of Tampa Bay that will lead to higher taxes, more wasteful spending, more influence by special interests and less accountability.

Instead, let's use common sense, fiscal responsibility and some foresight for where the future of transportation is going in the 21st century, not a new regional bureaucracy to bloat.  

HB1243 must go through the House General Accountability Committee (meets Wednesday) and Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Committee. SB1672 is in the Senate Community Affairs Committee (chaired by Senator Tom Lee, Senator Jeff Brandes is a member) and Appropriations Committee (chaired by Senator Jack Latvala, Senator Jeff Brandes is a member).

Help stop this bill forcing a regional transit authority on Tampa Bay taxpayers by contacting committee members at links above, your state legislators and leadership to voice opposition to SB1672 and HB1243:
State Representatives
State Senators
Speaker Corcoran
Senate President Negron
Senator Galvano (who will become Senate President next year and was the original champion for TBARTA in 2007)

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.
Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's about time someone went after PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The very one-sided approach of PBS and their affiliates should be enough to seal their fate as recipients of any form of public funding.

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

The new Trump Budget takes a major swing at a taxpayer support of the liberal left and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Long a safe haven for those pushing the left wing agenda, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting been attacked before but this time it looks like the new administration is really serious.

Here is some background.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney argued, “Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?” Mulvaney said during a recent interview with MSNBC. “The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

Logan Albright, Conservative Review, Trump is right to cut PBS/NPR funding.

PBS and NPR reflect a single segment of our society, and while they mask themselves in a university climate, and intellectual elitism, they are just a liberal, non-representative megaphone.

This past election and the very one-sided approach of PBS and their affiliates should be enough to seal their fate as recipients of any form of public funding.

Established under the umbrella of Sesame Street, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting quickly morphed into a "news" organization with a significant bias.

Dan Gainor of the conservative Media Research Center, which is opposed to public funding of broadcasters and other news outlets, said on Twitter that "there simply is no legitimate reason for government to fund left-wing media."

For more information see from the Federal Communications Commission: Non Profit Media.

Changes in technology and the way people get their news; information and entertainment have changed dramatically since the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was established in 1967. As a concept, it has out lived its usefulness.

There will be much bleating from those claiming the great value of PBS to our society, but the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is just another governmental honey pot Universities, and the liberal elite dip their fingers into to promote their agendas.

Here is hoping the US Congress will remove this funding item from the budget. Almost all of these public-broadcasting outlets have a loyal following of donors and supporters. I am sure they will be willing to step up and fund those public broadcasting organizations worthy of their support.

In the interest of full disclosure, I once made small contributions to local public radio and television, I recently stopped contributing and ask my name be removed from the solicitation list. They have graciously complied with my request.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Is St. Petersburg stuck with four more years of Kriseman?

There may be an even bigger issue that Baker and any other serious candidate could be weighing.

St. Petersburg Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin
So far, the St. Petersburg race for Mayor has yet to produce any significant challengers for current Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Speculation is any serious contenders are waiting to see what former Mayor Rick Baker is going to do. Baker is currently a key player in the Rowdies Stadium referendum, and it is unlikely anything would come from the Baker camp until after the May referendum.
A Baker run for Mayor seems unlikely to me, given the complex City relationship of the Edwards Group where Baker is a key player, the Rowdies project, Sundial and the Mahaffey Theater (Edward's Big Three Entertainment). 
That being said, I think there are very few people who would want to be caught up in a primary race between Baker and Kriseman. It could be messy and very expensive only to end up in third place.
However, there may be an even bigger issue that Baker and any other serious candidate could be seriously weighing.
Kriseman has the City in a significant mess.
The office of the Mayor, over paid, over populated, totally in effective and not very popular with City staff would take care of itself if Kriseman lost, most if not, all would simply be gone.
The City’s new $80 or $90 million police building now getting under way will probably not be much of a problem but should something go wrong it could quickly become a big financial issue.
The Pier is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and while any new Mayor could blame Kriseman, he or she still must figure out some fix for a series of inexcusably poor decisions by the Kriseman Administration.
There is no way this project can or will go smoothly. Watched over by everyone from the arts community to the environmentalists, this one will be an ongoing nightmare for most of the next mayoral term. The result is likely to typify the ultimate compromise – no one will be happy.
Then there is the whole wastewater/sewage debacle. Kriseman has pledged $300 plus million to a fix, but I am not sure anyone knows where all that money is coming from. Given that, any real problems are likely to occur right around election time who knows what the Kriseman team may be pumping down those new injection wells, assuming they are complete.
Furthermore, looming large is what many consider Kriseman’s complete failure in south St. Pete: lots of words, plans and promises but few results.
The list goes on.
There is a new school of thought emerging that says the best approach a serious mayoral candidate should consider is just setting this one out and let Kriseman stew in his own sewage based mess. There is really no sense in climbing into the hole Kriseman has dug.
 If he manages to fix everything no matter he term limits out.
If, as most expect, things are worse four years from now, then the time is ripe for a strong change agent candidate without the political impact of incumbency.
For now, it is a waiting game, but the drumbeats from anyone with the financial clout, reputation, and desire to take on the current Mayor are very faint not so much due to his success as his failures.
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

How comfortable are you with Federal Judges Managing US Immigration Policy?

Responsibility may be a new concept from some of these judges, as they are rarely held accountable for the decisions, they make.

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

As of this writing two federal judges Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland and U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu, have issued injunctions banning or restricting President Trump's latest executive order regarding immigration.

I for one do not feel overly comforted with the increasing liberal judiciary making blanket decisions that affect the overall security of the Country.

For reference see from the Tampa Bay Times  BEN NUCKOLS and JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER, Trump travel ban in new court setback near nation's capital.

It seems to me that it is easy to put on your black robe, sit on your bench and pontificate about the impact of these executive orders on select groups while totally ignoring the basic concepts of security and immigration control.

One also has to wonder what the judiciary's position would be should an immigrant during this time turn terrorist cause significant harm then came before their court. How would they adjudicate the case?

Reading the article above it seems like the Maryland judge spends a lot of time watching cable news and may be just a bit caught up in the media hysteria of let's get Trump at all costs.

The Judge in Honolulu seems to be concerned about the economic impact of the executive order in his state while  seemingly ignoring the economic impact of one of these immigrants turned terrorist setting off a car bomb in Honolulu.

I have always had great respect for the judiciary, but it seems these days some of them are as interested in making law as they are interpreting the law.

Trump and his methods are not as elegant and syrupy as the governmental establishments are used to, but should something go wildly wrong in this country as a result of this continued effort by the courts to tell the executive branch how to govern then they should be held totally responsible.

Responsibility may be a new concept from some of these judges, as they are rarely held accountable for the decisions, they make. People spend lifetimes in prison or are executed only to be proven innocent later, judges rarely take any responsibility.

I do not think the public will let the judiciary off the hook on this one.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Trump's new budget or the goring of the Oxen

The whiners, criers and complainers  predict social gloom and doom as these well-padded areas of federal spending are reigned in

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

Politicians are such a predictable lot.

The new Trump Budget, which expands military funding and reduces spending in a number of other areas, has the politicians from mayors to congressional representatives bellowing in response.

Governmental spending exploded under the Obama Administration, especially in the social service and entitlement area.

Here is a snapshot of the Budget reductions:
Health and Human Services down $15.1 Billion about 18%
Environmental Protection Agency down $2.6 Billion about 31%
State Department down $10.1 Billion about 28%

You can see a good visual review at CBC News Winners and losers in Trump's budget.

Now come the whiners, criers and complainers as they predict social gloom and doom as these well-padded areas of federal spending are reigned in.

The real question is are these government officials all that interested in the beneficiaries of these programs, or are they pandering to a media looking for fodder to feed the anti Trump movement?

Bureaucracies, boondoggles and entitlements are never easy to reign in.  The politicians are trotting out the poor, the environment and global handouts that have truly gotten out of control.

The Trump Budget, even when modified will have very visible affects all the way down to the local level. Many large Cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg have numbers of programs tied to federal funding.  Unless cities and counties are willing to adjust their priorities, federally funded entitlement programs and services are going to suffer.

The State legislature is already looking at tightening up the food stamp program, which is ripe with fraud.

For the political take from Florida see Tampa Bay Times Washington Bureau Chief Alex Leary, From Florida, bipartisan bashing of Trump's budget plan.

Are these politicians really that interested in the programs impacted or are they more interested in putting some distance between themselves and Trump while shoring up votes in future elections?

To be sure, some are speaking out of heartfelt concerns but others are self-serving.

Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do during the campaign he is reigning in federal spending and focusing on security.

There are many oxen being gored in this budget, and they will all complain loudly but the fact is the Federal Government needs an overhaul and the place to start is the Budget.

Let us see who in the Congress has the courage to take on the establishment, entitlements and national security and really do something about them.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Kill the Bill! Say No to Regionalism in Tampa Bay

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert 

Watch these two companion bills filed in this legislative session affecting transportation in Tampa Bay. SB1672 was filed by Senator Appropriations Chair Senator Latvala and it's identical House companion bill HB1243 was filed by Representative Dan Raulerson who is not a member of any transportation committee.

These bills re-swizzle and reorganize the Tampa Bay Regional TRANSPORTATION Authority (TBARTA) into the Tampa Bay Regional TRANSIT Authority. No wonder they were filed very late right before the session started last week. They provide the groundwork and foundation for regionalism, for a regional transit taxing authority, pursuit of a bigger pot of money and for taking away local control.

Who supports this change? Were there any surveys conducted of the voters and taxpayers in the counties impacted?  It certainly looks like this change is being pushed without consent of those actually impacted.

We posted about the push for regionalism in Tampa Bay by Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long and Senator Latvala here here and here. Special interests Tampa Bay Partnership also supports a regional transit authority according to this white paper they commissioned by the Eno Center for Transportation and this TBBJ article
The group [Tampa Bay Partnership] also recommends creating a regional transit authority with the ability to approve inter-local agreements in order to work across county lines.
Latvala's bill creates a new Tampa Bay regional transit operating authority by reorganizing TBARTA, changing its mission and how it is governed.

But we do not suddenly have transit issues across county lines, we have transportation issues across county lines that must be addressed.

Currently TBARTA provides TRANSPORTATION planning for seven counties (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Citrus, Hernando and Sarasota) and operates a multi-county van pool service. At TBARTA's website, find their Regional Master Plan, their Transit-Oriented Development Resource Guide and information about their van pool and commuter services.

Latvala's bill changes TBARTA to a four county (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Manatee) regional transit operating authority. The governing board will change from 15 members to 13 members. The new Board would consist of:
  • One county commissioner from each of the four counties 
  • One member  representing HART 
  • One member representing PSTA
  • Two business community members appointed by the Senate President
  • Two business community members appointed by the House Speaker
  • Three business community members appointed by the Governor
These four counties are all very different. We can only assume Manatee was thrown in because Senator Galvano of Manatee championed the creation of TBARTA in 2007 and Latvala wants his support. Why would Pasco and Manatee's transit agencies not be represented and why are all the appointees from the business community not "citizen" appointees?

Today TBARTA is not a regional taxing authority but that was the intent when it was created back in 2007.  However, the recession hit in 2008 and no state legislator was going to vote for another taxing authority during a recession.

Statutorily TBARTA has the ability to bond for capital construction or improvements and does not have a dedicated funding source to operate anything. Today the state and

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Buckhorn passes on Tallahassee - Would you run for political office?

It used to be that running for office, any public office, was a significant calling in one's life.

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

I noted with interest Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's decision not to run for Governor. Mayor Buckhorn cited some of the usual reasons, family, especially early teen kids, and a desire to finish some of what he has started in Tampa.

Mayor Buckhorn's formal statement see:

It used to be that running for office, any public office, was a significant calling in one's life. A challenge to be sure but just the experience was worth the effort.

These days I am not sure that is the case. Today running for any public office puts one's family, career and reputation at risk. There used to be honor surrounding political candidacy it is all but completely gone.

Part of it is driven by a media with an insatiable appetite for ugliness, and a huge amount of airtime and white space to fill.

It is tough to get to the station in life where you feel compelled to enter public service without some baggage along the way. The thought that all about a person could suddenly, and perhaps in a biased or less than a truthful way become public is enough to make anyone have second thoughts.

Some will be quick to blame President Trump for pushing political campaigning all the way to the bottom of the barrel. He did and I still voted for him. However, the fact of the matter is political candidacy; campaigning and political service have been on a slow downward slide for a long time.

In the past, the "family" excuse was just that an excuse, today it is a real concern. Would you want to subject your wife or husband and young children to the scrutiny that a political campaign could bring into your life?

I cannot even tell you the number of office holders or potential candidates I have asked if they are going to run for this or that office only to be told something to the effect, "I have to think about my family."

More and more I think people are quietly saying no and filling their desire to serve and give back in other areas such as church, non-profits and social service.

Fortunately, there are still those who will step up and offer their service to their fellow citizens. For them, we should all be grateful.

In addition to the Governor's race, we have a number of local offices in Florida Counties and Cities that need good candidates. Term limits in Florida have created opportunities for people to run in races where there is no incumbent, significantly leveling the political playing field.

We need good candidates to come forward, and I for one know it is a big decision. The only advice I can offer follow  your heart.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Barclay Harless Running for St. Petersburg District 2 City Council Seat

Barring a new entry in the District 2 race it looks like the view from the District 2 City Council seat may change dramatically

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

Barclay Harless a local banker has signed on to run for Council member Jim Kennedy's District 2 City Council seat.

Here are some comments from the Harless Campaign Website:
" I’m Barclay Harless. St. Pete isn’t just my home, it’s where I chose to have a future. We have so much to celebrate, yet our community faces serious challenges today. I’m ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work. I am running to tackle the tough challenges and provide meaningful results; I am not interested in finger-pointing.

Having worked across the aisle in the Florida Legislature, with local leaders on the Pinellas County Charter Review Board, with the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce and with the small businesses that have revolutionized our urban core, I am ready to take on the issues facing our city"

You can get a look at the Harless style in  the Barclay Harless For City Council You Tube Video.

For some more perspective see Mitch Perry, saintpetersblog, Barclay Harless announces run for St. Petersburg City Council

Harless has already drawn some interesting endorsements from City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Brown and from Pinellas County School Board Vice Chairperson Renee Flowers.

Harless is a manager with the Bank of the Ozarks and has some political experience working for former State Senator Darryl Rouson.

The only other announced candidate is Realtor Brandi Gabbard.

Barring a new entry, it looks like the view from the District 2 City Council seat may change dramatically.

Current District 2 Council member Jim Kennedy, a lawyer, has consistently taken a very legalistic and conservative view of City Council actions. Kennedy is a stickler on process and a staunch fiscal watchdog.

It will be refreshing to have a new perspective on City Council that has a broader view.

The millennials are starting to step up and get involved in local City politics. The face of the St. Pete City Council is looking younger and younger.

 In general, I think that is a good thing; however, it would be beneficial to remember that the diversity of St. Petersburg includes many retired people. Missing that fact in the rush to a millennial City could be a costly campaign mistake.

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