Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Janet Long's Scandalous SANDAG

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

Commissioner Janet Long

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long proposed the Regional Council of Governments Cronies last year and is one of the biggest advocates for regionalism and taking away local control in Tampa Bay. Long used a late midnight rule by the Obama Admin mandating regionalizing MPO's as her excuse for such proposal. However, we posted here her excuse went away with the November election. The mandate rule was eliminated overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis by Congress in early May.

Long's proposed Regional Council of Governments
Regionalism is all about money and higher taxes. Regional entities are the structural mechanism used to ram all the tax hikes thru for costly rail boondoggles. Voila! Long's regional vision for transportation includes regional taxing for transportation in addition to local jurisdiction funding. 
Long's regional vision includes regional taxing
Long's proposed Regional Council of Cronies was modeled after SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments). SANDAG put a 40 year half-cent sales tax hike on the ballot last year that failed.

However, Long thought so highly of SANDAG that she used her position as Vice-Chair of another bureaucracy, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC), to stage an event in February erroneously titled Innovations In Regional Transportation.

The Eye was at the event and there was very little presented about real transportation innovation. Transportation innovation is occurring in the private sector but almost all the speakers at this event were the same recycled taxpayer funded bureaucrats we've all heard before who have nothing new to say. Long needed to stage an event so she could invite SANDAG's Executive Director Gary Gallegos to be the events featured speaker at lunch.

But SANDAG's tax hike referendum not only failed last year, they were caught in a scandal. SANDAG tried to deceive voters by using flawed economic forecasts. They misled voters by overstating the projected revenues and understating the costs of the projects promised. SANDAG then tried to cover up what they had done by skirting California's public records law. (Hmmm sound familiar?)

Last September it was reported that SANDAG was using taxpayer money advocating for the tax hike:

“The San Diego Association of Governments’ repeated use of public funds to promote Measure A is a blatant violation of the law, which clearly prohibits the use of public funds to promote the passage of ballot measures…..Because its communications violate civil and criminal laws prohibiting the use of public funds to support a ballot measure, we demand SANDAG immediately remove all materials from its website and social media, and cease and desist using any public resources that promote passage of Measure A – including the use of publicly paid staff and consultants to do so on the agency’s behalf.
An investigation was launched after the scandal was revealed and KPBS News recently reported:
An investigation has found the San Diego Association of Governments has "forfeited the public's trust" in its response to a scandal surrounding last year's Measure A tax proposal. Executives pressured staff to delete documents and shield them from public records requests.
Voice of San Diego investigative reporting led the way reporting on the scandal and the ensuing investigation. Apparently SANDAG has a history of deceiving voters as Voice of San Diego reported last month SANDAG Misled Voters on 2004 Tax Measure, Showing Pattern of Deception Goes Back at Least 13 Years
SANDAG knew a year before the 2004 election that TransNet wouldn’t collect $14 billion, but it didn’t tell voters. This is now the third instance in which SANDAG either knowingly overstated how much money it could collect to pay for transportation projects, or understated how much projects would cost to complete.
It was reported last week that Long's role model, SANDAG's Gary Gallegos, decided to resign amidst all the mess created on his watch. Of course Gallegos resignation occurs after SANDAG's Board gave him a 4% bonus last December boosting his salary to $310K - even though the sales tax hike failed, lawsuits were filed against the tax hike ballot initiative, SANDAG illegally and unethically used public money on advocacy and the scandal was brewing. 

Long is misguided, misinformed, has bad judgment or cannot Google because scandalous SANDAG is no model to follow.

And as WFLA reported last month, Long is a globe-trotting county commissioner who likes to spend other people's money traveling the world. 

So what does PSTA, already known for its own scandals, bad judgment and mismanagement, do?

Reward Long by appointing her to the new highly politicized TBARTA regional transit agency already stacked and packed with too many politicos.

But Long is just a piece of the puzzle being put together and orchestrated for what's ahead.

Another tax hike referendum(s) in 2020….Stay tuned. 

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

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