Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Catching Up on the new Hillsborough County Sales Tax

All for Florida Transportation - What's really going on?

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

Hillsborough County’s new All for Florida Transportation sales tax increase has been drawing a lot of attention. 

Local Blog Eye on Tampa Bay published by Sharon Calvert has been following the new tax and its implementation.

If you have not been following this new tax development you may want to catch up. Here are excerpts and links to the latest Posts:

Posted Thursday November 27

All for Transportation's $16 Billion tax hike was created by a few urbanist transit advocates over drinks. Their campaign funded by special interests sold their creation as a 30 year "plan" to fix transportation in Hillsborough County.

But there is no plan for implementing anything.

At times All for Transportation touted their tax hike was funding Hillsborough MPO's 4 year old outdated 2040 long range plan. But MPO Director Beth Alden told us in September that MPO long range plans are not implementation plans.  Those plans are federally mandated to help forecast future transportation needs.

Read more click: New Tax, No Plan ........

Posted Monday December 3, 2018

Governor-elect DeSantis left the Swamp in DC to run for Governor.

DeSantis supported Trump and he received support from Trump that helped him trounce Adam Putnam in the Primary. DeSantis went on to narrowly beat Gillum in the General.

Unfortunately, while DeSantis promised to keep taxes low and oppose tax increases in Florida, the Tampa Bay Swamp who want higher taxes are already on their way to Tallahassee.

DeSantis ran on his 
economic plan that he will (emphasis mine):

·                     Accelerate Small Business Growth and Development
·                     Oppose Tax Increases and Keep Florida One of Lowest Tax States in the Nation 
·                     Create a Business-Friendly Environment to Expand Opportunity for Floridians
·                     Keep Florida’s Bureaucracy in Check
·                     Invest in Florida’s Economy of Tomorrow
DeSantis economic plan specifically stated:

Governor-elect DeSantis
 opposes tax hikes
DeSantis has been making announcements - his transition team, his inaugural committee and an economic committee that caught the Eye.

Read More Click: Tampa Bay Swamp Goes to Tallahassee .......

Posted Tuesday December 4, 2018

We posted here about how those who want tax hikes were erroneously appointed to an economic committee to advise Governor-elect DeSantis for how to keep taxes low in Florida.

It's bad enough the Tampa Bay Swamp tax hikers were appointed to such position but the optics got worse.

The committee is meeting in Tampa tomorrow. According to this Tampa Bay Times article:

The Transition Advisory Committee on the Economy, led by former state Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, will gather at the university’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation at 1 p, m, on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The public may attend.

The committee to advise DeSantis on how to keep taxes low in Florida has its first meeting in Hillsborough County who will now have the highest sales tax rate in the state of 8.5% And it was the Tampa Bay tax hiking swamp creatures appointed to this committee who are responsible for the tax hike. They funded the $4 million campaign of deception to get the misleading tax hike initiative on the ballot. And they bought off local media to shut down any opposition to ensure their unnecessary massive tax hike got passed.

The Tampa Bay Swamp's tax hike initiative is so egregious that 
WTSP reported yesterday about a lawsuit being filed by Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White.

WTSP's report reflects how Hillsborough County's highest sales tax rate in the state compares to its surrounding neighbor counties. At 8.5% it will be the highest in the entire state of Florida.
Captured From WTSP report about lawsuit
filed by Commissioner White
Hosting this economic committee that is supposed to advise for how to keep taxes low in Florida in the county with the highest sales tax rate in the state is the poster child of tone deafness.

The Republican Party of Hillsborough County Executive Committee voted on and passed a Resolution opposing the egregious rail tax hike. They recommended voting no on the 30 year $16 BILLION rail tax referendum.

Is DeSantis getting bad advice or what?

Did Will Weatherford, the leader of this committee, schedule its first meeting in Tampa?

Posted December 7, 2018

Curiously, the Tampa Bay Times recently started reporting the All for Transportation tax hike will raise $15.8 billion over 30 years, while they consistently called it at $280 million per year, $9 billion tax before and just after the election.

Why was it a $9 billion tax, but now its $15.8 billion?

Here are just few examples from their recent reporting:

But in the prior months, they called it a "$9 billion backlog", or conflating the AFT amendment with the Hillsborough MPO LRTP.

AFT has stated their plan was based on the MPO's 20 year LRTP. The AFT tax is over 30 years. That should have been the first clue that the Times should not have compared AFT with the LRTP. AFT obviously cherry picked their preferred projects from the LRTP for their "plan", such as restricting funding for new road capacity, while the LRTP had included $1 billion over 20 years.

The Times editorial page was even worse.

Stay with Eye on Tampa Bay for the real info on the new Hills borough County sales tax increase.

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, December 9, 2018

Tampa Bay Rays - will they cross the Bay or not?

If you were calling balls and strikes on the game of where the Rays will play this was high inside fastball.

St. Petersburg, Fl 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
The ongoing saga of the next home for the Tampa Bay Rays continues with Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill throwing down a gantlet…. er maybe a bat, when he declared, “there will be no ballpark in Ybor City — and no Major League Baseball team in Tampa, continuing: If we can’t come up with term sheet by March of next year we’re basically done anyway.”
Check out more detail from the Tampa Bay Times, Charlie Frago: Hillsborough’s top administrator sets do-or-die deadline for Rays stadium deal.
If you were calling balls and strikes on the game of where the Rays will play this was high inside fastball.

Negotiations for these stadium deals have never been easy, but as the cost has risen and the actual benefits of a major-league team seem to be diminishing packaging a deal for almost a billion dollars is no easy task.
St. Pete and its intrepid mayor have been sitting on the sidelines watching Tampa and Hillsborough county squirm as they try to put together the new stadium pieces most likely with some glee. However, as all of this has been going on St. Pete has been steadily exploring redevelopment options and opportunities for the Tropicana site, and my guess is what they are finding is life without the Rays complicating things would be really nice.
It looks like Hillsborough County will need a little more time to reshuffle their financing line up, and that will require that St. Pete approves an extension of the current agreement allowing the Rays to look for a new home.
If that extension request receives a hearty endorsement from the Kriseman Administration read that as an encouraging slap on the Ray’s fanny and nod to Merrill, Buckhorn, Hagen and all other Hillsborough stadium supporters that St. Pete is pulling for you.
If the Hillsborough deal blows up completely, the Rays will find themselves in an interesting spot. St. Pete and especially the Kriseman administration now understands the real value of the Trop site and while they will probably be OK with the Rays staying, baseball will be a feature of the redeveloped Trop site not the centerpiece.
It has to be that way because major league baseball as a development driver simply does not work, and as former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said decades ago this is just not a major-league baseball market. His words still hang over Tampa Bay Baseball like a dark cloud and especially so if you are being asked to pony up a ton of money for a new stadium.
E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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Friday, December 7, 2018

Residents on the hook paying for 9,000 noise calls

How may Address have Repeat Noise Calls? 

St. Petersburg Fl

Public Opinion by author:
Robert Neff

Residents of St. Petersburg, Florida are on the hook for 9,000 noise calls because the City’s Noise Ordinance has not worked. The Mayor Kriseman, the City, and City Council had not conducted any data analysis or trend analysis to know the noise issue was citywide. They “assumed” this was a downtown issue. Or did they want it to be? They almost got away with it until a resident started diving into the data. Now, the Police have labeled me a reoccurring complainant.

The City Council are poised to revise the Noise Ordinance for the second time in two years. They have refused to implement the decibel standard, and want to keep the plainly audible definition.

Why let the Mayor and City Council continue to keep residents on the hook? Tell the Mayor Kriseman and City Council to stop wasting residents tax dollars on repeat calls that could be prevented with a decibel standard and education program. 

St. Petersburg City Council’s Public Services and Infrastructure (PS&I) Committee does not have an open forum for residents to voice their opinion. However, PS&I Committee Chairman Steve Kornell allowed two downtown lawyers, both former Mayors, to speak on noise ordinance revision. By only allowing downtown to speak before the PS&I Committee, Council reinforced their perception that the City noise issue is only a downtown issue. There has been no representation for the citywide residences, though I have asked to present.

Public Records Requests were used to collect the noise data and police reports, and analyze the data. I have presented my findings to the City at Council and to Planning & Zoning, all of whom were unaware there was a noise issue outside of downtown with bars and residents.

After the 2nd Public Noise Ordinance meeting, I asked the Planning and Zoning Director Goodwin to create a 2016 Heat Map of the noise. He replied that it was too much work. Since I was well versed in the data, I created the heat map and posted online.
City has the ability to generate a Noise Heat Map that can separate the number of calls and location, so the Mayor, Council, and Police Department can see where the noise is. Reports can be generated of the data so Police can be proactive. 
When Planning & Zoning wanted to create the heat map, they asked to meet. I provided insight on the data nuances, and what I learned from building the 2016 Noise Heat Map. To properly count the number of noise calls, I shared the challenges that required refinement of the data collection process. Since they are the City, they could obtain the data and reports for free, whereas, I my scope was limited because the City would charge me for the Public Records Request for data, audio of the calls, and reports.

While the City had the ability to create a clear picture of the noise calls, the 2013-2017 heat map did not use all the available data and the project scope was reduced. The City's Noise Heat Map was not made available to the public.

PS&I Committee Chair Kornell commented that he did not see significant hot spots outside of downtown. Planning & Zoning former Director Mr. Goodwin corrected him that there were hot spots outside of downtown. 

While the City presented the 2013-2017 Noise Heat Map to City Council, this was not shared with the Public. This should be posted on Planning & Zoning's web page for all residents to see. 

The Mayor and City Council members should share this with residents. This would serve to educate residents on where the noise is. This message could also share the crime data for the locations. This would provide the City of St. Petersburg government with transparency.

What is the distribution of calls to residents and businesses?

Table 1's data shows 20% of the addresses are residential, and 13% are bars, restaurants and businesses. The City has the ability to identify homes but did not. The residential percentage would be higher if the homes were identified in the City's data table. 

Council should request this data. 

Mayor Kriseman should provide this key missing data that will show exactly how many residents have reported noise at a nearby home. Previous Public Records request show there are far more citations issued for individuals and homes, than bars. The Police should share this data with City Council Members.

TABLE 1. Addresses Identified by the CITY as Having a Noise Call Assigned to a Location 

While Planning & Zoning presented the Noise Heat Map to Council’s PS&I Committee, the important data points were not included. Table 1 provides some of these data points. The 2013-2017 data identified 16,417 noise calls, but only 10,483 locations were identified with business or residential condominiums or apartments. There are 5,934 locations not identified.

What are the nuances that I have learned?

The key findings are: 
  • Police Department is underreporting noise calls to a location.
  • No homes were labeled in the City's data table though there is a significant number that exist.
  • No vehicles or individuals were identified. 
  • Many intersections are identified. Sometime the officer uses the intersection and does not identify the bar location. This data point can be clarified by reading the officer's notes in the Call For Service Report.  
  • Sometimes the officer uses the address of the resident who called instead of identifying the business that was the reason for the call. Therefore, some calls have been assigned to residences when they should be for bars. Here, the Police Call For Service Report’s Officer Notes are needed to determine the exact location. 
  • Police Dispatch has rolled up multiple calls into one event identification.
  • In some bar instances, a high noise call rate can correlate to high criminal activity.

How may Address have Repeat Noise Calls? 

There are 11,204 addresses with repeat calls. This is where the City can use the decibel standard to save resident tax dollars. 
The current plainly audible standard does not work because the Police have not trained officers. 
The current plainly audible standard does not work because the “Plainly Audible” noise standard is subjective to police’s hearing. 
Sec. 11-47. - Definitions.
Plainly audible means any sound produced by a source, which can be heard by any reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities using his or her unaided hearing faculties. Measurement standards shall be the auditory senses. Words or phrases need not be discernible and low frequency sound reverberations are included.
Even though the ordinance states, “which can be heard by any reasonable person,” the police officer must hear it to issue a citation. Therefore the noise must be plainly audible to the police officer, which is subjective. 

Each officer's hearing varies across the sound spectrum. This varies with audible music, high pitches and bass. While one person may react to a baby crying at a restaurant, another person may not be bothered. Officers also report hearing loss due to weapons training.

Responding police officers overlook an important aspect of the definition, 
Words or phrases need not be discernible and low frequency sound reverberations are included. 
Many times the bass is heard or the walls are vibrating, but the police state, this was not audible. This is because the police are not trained on how noise works. Police have commented that the bass is not plainly audible. This is because officers are not differentiating between audible music and bass.  

Officers are not trained on noise's impact to adult and kids health. Loss of sleep, irritability, and anxiety are a few of the health issues. 

The other factor police are not trained on is duration. The police respond but are only there a couple minutes. Thus, the officer, who is there for a very short, thinks this is OK to them. Whereas, the resident may be subjected to the noise or bass for one to six hours or more. 

However, the citation is based on the officer's perspective who does not have to live with the constant thumping or loud music that may ramp up and down. No wonder, residents state that they cannot sleep!

Police Chief Holloway has not provided adequate training for his officers. 

Again, Police Chief Holloway is not ensuring his officers are properly trained on noise. 

Police Chief Holloway failure to provided adequate training for his officers has accounted for an 0.57% Citation rate and an high repeat call rate. This is abysmal.

How many repeat calls were there? 

Table 2 shows the number of repeat calls that occurred. Had police implemented a training program, a tracking system for when warnings are issued, and a repeat noise identification report, they could have had not responded 9,000 times. This is based on those addresses with >3 calls.

Table 2. Count of Addresses with 1 Call and Address with >1 Call

What is the distribution of repeat calls per the number of repeat calls?

Figure 1 shows the distribution of repeat calls.

Figure 1. Addresses with 1 Call and Address with >1 Call

What is the cost savings to the Police Department? 

Officers could have been working other crime areas or cases. Mayor Kriseman and Chief Holloway must be held accountable.

What should City Council do?

This data should be sufficient justification for PS&I Committee to scrape the Option 1 recommendation, which keeps plainly audible, current distance and time requirements, and does not have a process in place for issuing warnings. 

A decibel standard is the clear choice to protect resident's quality of life and health, enable officers to focus on crime, and save tax dollars!

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, December 5, 2018

Keeping St. Petersburg Special - Saying no to "Bezu"!

Get the word out and share this post to your social networks to get your friends and family involved!

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog


The Issue 

In these days of boom time growth, it's not easy keeping the city special & getting the city to say no to misplaced development. But, it can be done if we speak up, show up and show we want to preserve the 'Burg.

"Bezu" (reportedly being renamed as "Blue Lotus") is the massive, out of place high rise condo proposed for the corner of 4th Ave. N. & 1st Street, in the heart of the Downtown National Register Historic District. In August, city council voted 4-4 to approve the project's site plan. But council must act again before the project can move forward!

The Latest 

The final city council review for Bezu takes place December 6 and includes an opportunity for public comment. Council must must determine if Bezu will be consistent with the city's Intown Redevelopment Plan ("IRP"). Among other provisions, the IRP requires new development to relate in building scale and mass with the surrounding neighborhood - a far stretch for a high rise towering up from the sidewalk in the midst of a surrounding neighborhood of historic buildings.

Take Action 

Join Our Movement by taking a stand, speaking up and saying YES to keeping St. Petersburg special and NO to Bezu!

· Click here to send your message (pre-drafted) to city council; (please do so even if you have done so in the past) or

· Click here to create your own message (pre-addressed)

· Click here for more info at the PTB Bezu advocacy action page.

· Attend the Public hearing (details below)

City Council Hearing 
Thursday, December 6 
9 AM 
Council Chambers at City Hall 
175 5th Street North 

RSVP below to let us know you'll be joining us at the public hearing 

(we will keep you updated about agenda time, etc.)! 

Get the word out and share this email to your social networks to get your friends and family involved!
E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

City is misleading Council and residents on the noise ordinance revision

Plainly audible hasn’t worked in the past so why did Council choose Option 1?

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff

Residents should be concerned the City is misleading and or misrepresenting the noise ordinance data to the Public Services Infrastructure (PSI) Committee and the Public. Council has been briefed that noise is a citywide issue. Yet, Council has failed to discuss residential noise concerns with the same weight as the downtown bars. Actually, the discussion has been near non-existent, other than a slight mention.

Council members on the PSI Committee have selected Option 1, which has no decibel standard, doesn't change the distance requirements, and relies on the noise ordinance’s “Plainly Audible” definition.

Based upon the data analysis for the TOP 50 locations from the City’s 2013-2017 Noise Heat Map, Council needs to reconsider implementing the decibel standard, because the "Plainly Audible" definition and distance requirement has not worked. In addition, Mayor Kriseman, Council and Police Chief Holloway need to ensure the new noise ordinance has metrics to manage warnings and repeat calls. To date, this has not been done. 

If Option 1 goes forward, the revised noise ordinance will maintain the failed status quo and Council will have again wasted resident’s tax dollars. Thus, Council will be "kicking the can down the road." 

Plainly audible hasn’t worked in the past so why did Council choose Option 1? If Police can’t hear it now, what good will Option 1 be when the Plainly audible standard, and distance requirement has not changed? The City needs the decibel standard. Or is Police Officer’s hearing going to suddenly improve?

Here are the two tables with key findings. These show and discuss the data that the City is not providing Council. Council is making an uninformed decision.

Table 1. Top 50 Residences, and Establishments that Serve Alcohol with Repeat Calls

Key findings are: 
1. More residence locations (17) in Top 50 than Establishments that Sell Alcohol (15).
2. Nine (9) of 15 Establishments that Sell Alcohol are NOT downtown. 
3. While the noise calls are almost 200 calls more for Establishments that Sell Alcohol, downtown bars only account for 265 calls and are only 40% of the residences count. 
4. Establishments that sell alcohol and are downtown account for 591 calls which is almost double the downtown noise calls, but almost the same as the residence noise calls.
5. Why are the City and the press adamant that the noise issue is downtown and with the bars, when the data shows the issue is not downtown, but more so with residents and bars outside of downtown!   

Table 2. Top 100 Bars, Restaurants, and Businesses Shown with Locations Rolled Up

Table 2’s data is a query for noise at an address, which Major Kovacsev and Officer Kelly have done, when questioning the calls I made through the CAD Reporting system. However, their CAD query for noise calls does not consider the calls to the nearby addresses or account for officer inputting incorrect business name, addresses, or calls assigned to a residence instead of the business. Nor did their "paper" investigation account for the audio of the call.  

The police have not been tracking the repeat calls, nor have they been enforcing the noise ordinance. If the Police were tracking the City noise issue and aware of the hot spots, then logic would be to target the locations with high repeat calls. By addressing this right away, Officers would have more time to focus on other issues, which Council Members have mentioned. In addition, Officers would also not have been so inclined to disparage people who call. But, the Police missed this.

The police officers internal look at the noise also missed listening to the call audio residents made to Police Dispatch. Then Acting Assistant Chief Major Kovacsev (now Assistant Police Chief) and then Community Service Officer Kelly also had the opportunity to ask for and listen to the Dispatch’s call audio. If they had done so, they would have heard the other male and female voices, and felt their pleas for help. I had to pay for the CDs when the Police, Mayor, or Council Member could have asked for them at no cost. But they didn’t. Thus, others and myself were labeled to be a “re-occurring complainant” and disparaged.  

Actually Officer Kelly met with a female caller who heard loud bass but the noise stopped before Officer Kelly arrived. Residents in the Skyway Marina District experienced this “phenomena” all too often. The female stated this was her second call. Officer Kelly wrote an Incident Report for this call. There had been five calls to the Flamingo Resort that day complaining about the loud music. 

Soon after this call occurred Officer Kelly published a statement in the Maximo Moorings Civic Association newsletter that he had examined all 33 calls and there were unfounded. He requested the caller to stop. Obviously, Officer Kelly did not read his own report or other Officer's reports. When is the last time you heard a police officer telling residents to stop calling the police?

Police Supervisors and Officers have the opportunity to read the Call For Service Reports and review the Officer's Notes. If they had done so, they would have seen the Police Officer asked the bar to turn down the music on numerous occasions. The Police CAD Report does not provide that level of detail. 

Had the Police been managing the noise ordinance, they would have discovered officers are not consistent with the addresses, and Police Dispatch rollup addresses into another call, which does not accurately reflect the number of calls. 

While this data is over a 5-year period, the police could easily build this report with the date and time to see the enumerations and calls that were rolled-up. The report could add a link to the audio call, but a recording is only maintained for three months. When locations are identified as having “repeat” calls, the audio needs to be maintained, so supervisors can research the calls.  

Once the report is built, the repeat calls can be identified and investigated. Police supervisors and officers can cross check the calls to residences, intersections, etc. 

If the Police focused on the repeat callers, then the calls would drop and free up the officers for other calls. 

Mayor Kriseman and Council must hold the Police accountable for enforcement and ensure noise training is provided. Currently, the Police Chief Holloway does not require noise training, which is contributes to the issue with the "Plainly audible" standard.

To date there have been no warnings according to a Public Records Request. Police do not document when they ask the bar to turn down the music. The Mayor, Police Chief Holloway and Council must ensure there is a process in place so officers can issue and document a warning, and see this in a report.  

One note, the data covers 2013-17, and some addresses have changed ownership. However, some addresses continue to have calls. What is needed is an analysis of the area around a residence or business that has a high call rate. When there are repeat calls, there should be an analysis of the Police Call For Service Reports, Incident Reports and call audio.

Note: This City data used only Noise Nuisance when Party and other incident codes were suggested to more accurately reflect calls for noise.

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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