Friday, June 22, 2018

The 16 annual St. Pete Pride kicks off this weekend – here is a look back


The weekend starts with a free concert from Friday in North Straub Park, followed by the parade downtown Saturday.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author
: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
St. Pete Pride is back for its 16th year. Things got started with an LGBT flag raising at city hall with Mayor Rick Kriseman and city council. Check out the details  from Caitlin Johnston Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer: Mayor Rick Kriseman raises rainbow flag over St. Pete City Hall.
For a look at the calendar of events click this link from Kelly A. Stefani, Times Staff Writer: St. Pete Pride calendar: Parties, art exhibits, the big parade and more events for Pride week.
I though you might like to take a look at some past PRIDE celebrations so here are some photos and links to my Pride photo galleries.


 
 


 

 

Before you download them all, which you are free to do, there are a lot of pictures here.

St. Pete is home to the largest Pride Celebration in the South and possibly in the nation. So welcome to all our visitors for the event.
Don’t miss the street festival in the Grand Central District Sunday.
Enjoy yourselves and be sure to check out the beaches and those one-of-a-kind Florida sunsets.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at 
Bay Post Photos.  
Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

St. Pete water bills going up, and they will continue to do so


While you may not like the rate increase, you have to give Mayor Kriseman and his administration some credit for taking the problem head on.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
After a couple of frustrating years and a big judgement related to the St. Petersburg Wastewater and Storm Water systems the financial impact of years of infrastructure neglect is coming home to roost.
You can get the detail from: Caitlin Johnson, Tampa Bay Times: St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills.
The City’s consultant indicates the average increase is about 7%, which means if you live in St. Pete and use 4,000 gallons a month in potable and reclaimed drinking water your bill will go up about $10.96.
The typical method of funding water infrastructure has been with deficit financing using utility bonds. According to the Johnson article the City funded 10% and used bonds to cover the remaining 90% with a portion of utility revenue dedicated to pay off the bonds. A very expensive way to build infrastructure.
The City will now fund 50% up front reducing the amount raised from the bonds and saving significant amounts on interest charges.
All of this puts the City in sounder financial position, but the impact of the change flows directly to the customer. The prediction is rates will rise about 10% each year over the next five years.
While you may not like the rate increase and the long-term prognosis, you have to give Mayor Kriseman and his administration some credit for taking the problem head on.
After some initial carping about the lack of effort on the part of previous administrations and some serious encouragement from the State via a fine, Kriseman and his team have settled into the problem, and it looks like they have a viable plan that reaches into the future.
It doesn’t hurt that Kriseman term limits out in three years, so he won’t have to defend the water rates in a reelection bid, but he is also not sitting on his hands and passing the problem to the next Mayor.
In a longer view, putting the City’s water system on a sound financial and maintenance program may be a legacy piece bigger than the Pier and almost as big as the Tropicana site.
There will be a public hearing on the water rates on August 23, you can check the City calendar for time and location.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at 
Bay Post Photos.  
Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Beware the Blue Wave

This is not the election to vote by color (Red or Blue), or mascot (Donkey or Elephant), or because you have an issue with the guy in the White House.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
As we roll into mid-June, the State and local political races are really starting to heat up. Beginning with the Governor’s race and right down to your local County and municipal elections, there are plenty of candidates and plenty of money.
If you believe the old adage “follow the money” when it comes to who is trying to influence elections from the State house to City Council Chambers, I have a WEB site for you: Florida Politics.
Peter Schorsch and his staff of writers and sources at Extensive Media follow almost all the state-wide races gathering information on fundraising as well as political and issue positions. Key local races, especially in the Bay Area are included.
It is my go to site.
Most interesting to me in this election cycle is the concept of the Blue Wave where Democrats are trying to establish a state-wide game plan to take back at least one house of the legislature and the Governor’s Mansion.
The problem I see with all of this is that other than a Donkey as a mascot and a “D” beside their name it is difficult to get a group of Democrats to agree on anything. Kind of like herding cats.
When the Dems all start to talk alike and look alike common sense tells us someone is not playing straight. So, listening carefully and following the money are good ideas.
I am a Republican as you can see from the disclosures below, and on some levels, I can see how Republicans may be uncertain about the midterm elections and who to vote for.
Before you start buying into the so called “dissident” Republicans who hate Trump because he is rich, doesn’t follow their rules, is unimpressed by protocol and because the “we have always done it this way” is not his mantra, think before you grab board and hop on the Blue Wave.
One of Gwen Graham’s recent television ads tries to make a real negative out of the fact Florida’s Governor’s office has been in the hands of Republicans for over twenty years as has the legislature for a great deal of that time.
Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat look around at where Florida is. Sure, there are some significant challenges, especially in education, but where else would you really want to live?
It would be easy for Republicans to duck and run with all that emanates from the White House, especially if you watch too much CNN. These midterms are extremely important. We all need to do our research, listen carefully and vote for those candidates you believe can do the very best job.
This is not the election to vote by color (Red or Blue), or mascot (Donkey or Elephant), or because you have an issue with the guy in the White House.
These state and local offices and the politicians who are elected to them are most often the ones that affect your quality of life and pocketbook the most.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at 
Bay Post Photos.  
Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

Please comment below.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

See the noise data Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the Police are not sharing with you

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff


Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway had no idea the noise issue was citywide and included both bars and residences! Nor did they know which bars and residences were responsible for the noise! The City and Police thought the noise was just the downtown bars. 

Planning and Zoning presented the heat map to City Council's Public Services and Infrastructure (PSI) Committee. Everyone was in awe of the cool colors that highlighted the noisiest hot spots. However, the map was useless because it didn't show the bars and residences responsible for the repeat calls. While the City of St. Petersburg has identified many bars and residences with noise calls, the City has not made the data public. This is another example of a Mayor Kriseman's lack of transparency. That is why I am publishing the data. Here are a couple tidbits.
Many residents have stopped calling the police to report noise because the police seem to be protecting the bars. Instead of issuing citations, now the police ask the same bars over and over to turn down the music. However, police have no problem issuing a citation to residents who are playing their music loud. Residents are also not calling because some have been labeled a repeat caller, or re-occuring complainant. In addition, Police HAVE NOT published the geographic location of those calls. 
Last fall, I had met with Planning and Zoning to present my data on how bad the noise issue was. At the 2nd Public Meeting, the City did not know how may noise citations had been issued!
  • In 2017, there were 754 businesses and and residences with repeat calls. 
  • In 2017, twenty-five (25) establishments that serve alcohol with repeat calls had 141 calls out of 754 Calls, or 19%.
After the 2nd Public Meeting the City told me they would not build a heat map to show where the noise hot spots were. It was too difficult, the City said. So I built a map and published it here.

This Spring, we met again to discuss how the data can be used to create a heat map.  I shared what I learned in how the police under reports the noise for an establishment and other data points and concerns I had identified.

Through a Public Records Request, I obtained Planning and Zoning's spreadsheet used to create the heat map. I saw that with the City’s resources, they were able to identify more businesses and establishments than I was. Below is a table I created to list the bars and residences with repeat calls.
  • Note 1. The City's data does not identify every business and residence.
  • Note 2. Hotels and Apartments in gray may have calls from nearby establishments. This requires further analysis.








The opinions here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bay Post Internet or the Blog Publishers where it appears.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fund Transportation and No Tax Hike Is Needed


Transportation planning and progress has been dysfunctional and elusive in Hillsborough County for over 20 years.



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




 After three failed sales tax initiatives, from the committee of 99 to to Moving Hillsborough Forward to GO Hillsborough, and multiple unfunded Long Range Transportation Plans from the Hillsborough MPO, the “Powers” that be may have finally faced reality and the future.

On Wednesday, June 6th the Hillsborough BOCC voted to send a future transportation revenue plan presented to them earlier this year to the county Citizen Advisory Committee for their consideration and advisement. The plan was initially presented by Dr James Davison to the Board on April 4, 2018.


Davison's plan consists of 5 separate revenue sources totaling $8.468 Billion, yes billion with a “B”, over the next 25 years. About $6.2 billion goes towards transportation, but the unique thing about this plan is that for its last 20 years there is no increase in your property tax millage or sales tax rate. There is a small increase of 1/4 percent in the sales tax for the first 6 years until 2026 and then the sales tax returns to its current 7%. There are “No New Taxes” for Hillsborough residents in the plan. 

Not only are there no new taxes, but more money is available for transportation/transit than in the recent GO Hillsborough plan

The entire plan revenues are shown below:
1. Mobility Fees on new development passed 2016: 2021-2045 - $600 Million 

2. Restructure current 10 year property tax BOCC Transportation Policy to 25 year program: 2020-2045 - $1.15 Billion 

3. Value Capture (tax increment financing, development rights, etc) along any premium transit line to leverage state and federal money: 2021-2045 - $1.0 Billion

4. County Transportation Sales Tax @ 1/4 percent: 20121-2045 - $3.01 Billion total
  • $ 1.054 billion to HART
  • $ 1.37 billion to HillsboroughCo
  • $ 499 million to Tampa
  • $ 41.1 million to Plant City
  • $ 27.4 million to Temple Terrace
5. Renew CIT @ 1/4 percent instead of 1/2 cent currently levied:  2027-2046 - $2.708 Billion total **
  • $ 894 Million to School Board
  • $ 190 Million Affordable House
  • $ 1.137 Billion Hillsborough Co.
  • $ 414.3 Million to Tampa
  • $ 34 Million to Plant City
  • $ 22.8 Million to Temple Terrace
**Note: The CIT tax is a local infrastructure sales surtax enabled by FL 212.055. The statute currently only accommodates a 1/2 percent or 1 percent tax. The state legislature will need to amend the statute to support 1/4 percent or make it similar to the transportation sales surtax that can be any percentage up to one percent. We believe the state will accommodate when the county (or counties) request the change.

Dr Davison stated that over $2 billion would go to transit or almost 3 times what was being allocated with GO Hillsborough. Plus over $4 billion dollars to the county and cities to pay for repaving, bridge repair, sidewalks bicycle paths, increased road capacity and new technology. All within a shorter period of time and with no new taxes. At 1/4 percent, the renewed CIT will raise more money in 20 years then the present CIT did at 1/2 percent in its last 20 years and over $1 billion dollars more then in its first 20 years.

After Dr. Davison made the presentation to the BOCC on April 4th , Commissioner White requested that the plan be forwarded to the county Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). County Administrator Mike Merrill requested that the administration “vet” the numbers before taking them to the CAC. 

Last month Dr Davison and Commissioner White met with Hillsborough County's Director of Finance, Bonnie Wise, Director of the Budget Tom Fesler and Chief County Economist Kevin Brickley in separate meetings. It was confirmed that the numbers and future estimates in the plan are accurate. Of course they were the county's own numbers to begin with.

Wednesday June 6th the BOCC unanimously voted 6-0 to send the plan on to the County CAC. Conspicuously, Commissioner Ken Hagan and County Administrator Mike Merrill, who keep pushing tax hike referendums, got up and left the room right before Dr. Davison was to speak Wednesday. Commissioner Hagan has a consistent behavior of rudely walking out of meetings when he does want not his vote recorded. Since Hagan is running again, he should be asked by voters/constituents if he supports the county seriously looking at this alternative funding plan. 

Davison stated there is still a lot of work to be done, but he is confident that this plan can be accomplished. “There is no reason to raise taxes when we have growth in our revenue streams going on like we are have in Hillsborough County”, he said. The key is funding priorities.

In addition, Davison could not explain why the MPO has not included “Value Capture” to pay for transit capital costs in the LRTPs like it did prior to 2000. Value capture includes recovering some of the property value gains to finance the transit project. The Trump Administration has stated they want to make federal transit grants conditional on value capture.

The Hillsborough County Citizens Advisory Committee meetings are held the 4th Friday of every month at County Center. We anticipate numerous different groups will be there to weigh in on the matter and we will also be keeping an EYE on it.

We have often asked here at the EYE the same questions. Why has it taken so long to come up with a plan that together with revenues already committed over the next 25 years, will provide Hillsborough county over $17 billion dollars to improve roads, transit and mobility. All without increasing taxes. 

The county commissioners must seriously consider this plan and throw out any plans that would needlessly raise taxes. 

To be continued! 


This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher'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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Sunday, June 10, 2018

How about a Central Park New York Style for the Trop site?


Will the old planning model work for the Trop?

St. Petersburg, Fl 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD  Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Thursday June 7, 2018 City Council approved an Agreement with HKS Architects to proceed with phase two of the master planning agreement for the Tropicana Field property. This effort is to provide master planning input for the redevelopment of the Trop site WITHOUT a baseball stadium.
The objective is to have a preliminary Master plan ready in September of this year (2018) that will provide some guidance for the City as it begins to consider plans and developers for the nearly 85 acres of the Tropicana site.
For some background on the current status of baseball, you can check out: Tampa Bay Times, Charlie Frago, Deadline clock ticking on Rays agreement with St. Pete: What happens next?
For some excellent insight into the Rays and baseball in St. Pete and Tampa see: Tampa Bay Times, John Romano Romano: Instead of fussing, St. Pete should help the Rays pack.
I would like to suggest that the City consider adding some thoughts to the consultant’s plan for the additional 20 acers or so that become available if there is no baseball stadium or sports park.
It is time to reconsider the traditional development model of tall buildings with retail on the first floor some parking above and residential soaring into the sky. As small business gets tougher and tougher, the only likely candidates for this commercial space are small bars, coffee shops and spas. Problem is the rents are so high it is difficult to survive.
First rather than cram more offices, commercial and residential development into the area, how about the City consider carving ten or fifteen acres of the 20 acres now available without baseball and create a Central Park (New York style) space in this magnificent parcel that everyone downtown and throughout the City could use.
There is a ready a water feature (Booker Creek) running through the property and a park could be linear along the Creek or just have the Creek wander through a part of it.
A redevelopment with this type of approach would turn the Trop site into a truly world-class place to live and work, and it would be a major City-wide asset at the same time.
Redeveloping the entire site with the maximum vertical and horizontal density would be a major mistake.
Romano is right – it is time to start helping the Rays pack their bags.
Here is an opportunity for Mayor Kriseman and his staff, who, by the way, I think are doing a great job of managing the entire Rays and Tropicana Redevelopment effort, to make another major statement about St. Petersburg and provided a legacy that will last literally forever.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at 
Bay Post Photos.  
Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

‘Unity’ Confab Fizzles; Cruz Campaign in Shambles


Cruz
Buesing
By Jim Bleyer
By any measure, the Janet Cruz campaign for state senate’s so-called “unity” event last Thursday in South Tampa was a failure.  Worse, it was an embarrassment.
The stunt was necessitated by what Tampa’s progressive community considers reprehensible behavior by Cruz and the Florida Democratic Party.  It was a lame attempt for Cruz to mend fences.
After declaring her intention to file for a Hillsborough County Commission seat, Cruz inveigled her way into the state senate race to unseat incumbent Dana Young.  Using the state party as a club and wanting to avoid a bruising primary, she forced attorney and community conscious Bob Buesing out of the race.  Buesing, a darling of progressives, faced Young two years ago and lost 48-41 percent.
He had already raised an ample war chest and hit the campaign trail, salivating over a promising rematch.  Progressives were ignited.
Not any more.  Many rank-and-file Democrats vowed to pass the race on the ballot.  A handful, determined that treachery should not be rewarded, will vote for Young.

Buesing, incentivized by a possible appointment if a Democrat captures the governorship, has called for unity and says he supports Cruz.
It’s translating even worse than Bernie Sanders’ call for his supporters to vote for Hillary.
The number of attendees according to multiple sources reached 40, including all the ins and outs.  That anemic figure includes Buesing and some close friends, Cruz and her entourage, media, and Alex Sink, the self-styled kingmaker of the Democratic party whose heavy handedness caused the ruckus.
A notable absentee:  Karen Buesing, wife of the screwed-over ex-candidate.
There were virtually no progressive Democrats attending.  They are the segment of voters that Cruz, a term-limited state representative, absolutely needs in her corner to have any hope of unseating Young.
Chances of that are slim and none….and Slim just left town.
One local news entity reported that Cruz and Sink declared at the event that the Democrats are “now united.”  Laughable.  Tampa Bay Beat contacted several in attendance who would dispute that.
Another tell: the Cruz campaign posted one photo of the event on her Facebook page.  It was a picture of her and Buesing. No one else. No crowd shots because there were no crowds.
Neither Sink nor Cruz had the smarts to say they wished more progressives had attended.  Party hacks, it seems, always go for the Big Lie.
Sink’s power is a total disconnect from her (lack of) ability to get elected herself.  In her last two attempts at political office, Sink lost to two neophytes, Rick Scott and David Jolly, who had never before run for public office.  State CFO is virtually ancient history.
Democrats were heartened this year as the 2016 independent candidate, Joe Redner, said he would support Buesing.  With Young held to less than a majority two years ago and Democratic voters determined to vote this midterm, the party, especially progressives, met Buesing’s campaign with enthusiasm.
With a fractured party,  the opportunity to flip the senate seat has faded.   A further irony is that Cruz would have been favored to win the county commission seat.  As of today, it tilts Republican.
One longtime Hillsborough County political observer declared that the Cruz campaign represented a lust for power, not the furthering of progressive principles.  Another pointed out enthusiasm for Cruz is lacking, stating that her candidacy has been met with “collective indifference.”
What was deemed an extremely doable Democratic pickup is now a dubious longshot.
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