Tuesday, May 29, 2018

PSTA Proposes Raising Gas Tax, Using Toll Monies & Tourist Tax to Fund More Transit

With PSTA's farebox recovery tanking to about 16% (aka taxpayers subsidize 84% of their operating costs), where will the money come from to fund all this? 




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

All the proposed sales tax hikes for transit in Tampa Bay have gone down in flames. Now there's a new scheme in Tampa Bay for how to get new pots of money to fund more transit.

With transit ridership continuing to decline, even on their busiest route, PSTA (transit agency in Pinellas County) is proposing new funding sources to fund more transit.


At today's PSTA Board meeting, the agenda includes PSTA staff presenting "Funding for Transit Investments". The first source of potential new funds comes from the tourist tax. The state legislature passed HB7087 this year which expanded the use of the Tourist Development Tax aka hotel bed tax. 

With certain conditions that must be met, the tourist tax can now be used as capital funding for infrastructure projects including transportation, sewer, drainage, etc. projects that (supposedly) positively will impact tourist related businesses in the county. At last month's PSTA Board meeting we attended, this tax was brought up by PSTA's State lobbyist (yes - PSTA uses your tax dollars to hire State and Federal lobbyists) and we saw dollar signs flashing in some of the Board members eyes.

Therefore,  PSTA staff with present their "Tourism Focused Transit Projects" that includes: Clearwater Beach to the airport, Mid-County Beach to the airport, Jolley Trolley coastal route, downtown St. Pete to downtown Tampa, Central Ave BRT, Clearwater Beach busway, the proposed regional BRT from Wesley Chapel to downtown St. Pete 

PSTA's Tourism Focused Transit Projects to pursue
potential use of expanded tourist tax funding
As we posted here, PSTA has a funding gap for their proposed Central Ave BRT. City of St. Pete Beach is not a funding partner for the BRT, and may not be, so PSTA must close the funding gap or reduce the size and scope of the project. Note that PSTA's Central Avenue BRT received their medium high rating from the Feds FTA because they used procedures for "entitled" ratings implemented by the Obama Admin. These procedures which allow entitled ratings enable grant requests to be made without having to provide more detailed information about the project - a post for another day.

PSTA is proposing numerous other Central Ave BRT like services all over Pinellas County:
PSTA's Proposed BRT/Rapid Services in Pinellas County

With PSTA's farebox recovery tanking to about 16% (aka taxpayers subsidize 84% of their operating costs), where will the money come from to fund all this? 

PSTA plans to pursue more federal funding for all these new transit services and they must have more committed local funding to pursue the federal funding. 

The "Other Notes" in the presentation outline PSTA's scheme for pursuing more money:
  • New Local Option 1-5 cent Pinellas Gas Tax Revenue = $17.6M total (2018$) Proposed new Routes total $14.7M (2018$)
  • PSTA will require $130M over 10 years to replace our buses that have reached their 15-year lifespan. Our current plan for bus replacements is under-funded by $8M/year and could be supported by Penny for Pinellas, STP Funds, or gas tax revenue
  • Proposed 41-Mile Premium Regional Transit Service to be supported with the toll revenues from the TBNext lanes or tourist development funding
That is right - PSTA wants to raise your gas tax intended for roads, highways and bridges to fund more transit. PSTA wants to use toll revenues, that should be used to maintain and improve the toll roads, to fund more transit.

According to Alltransit.org, 1.76% of commuters use transit in Pinellas County. 

No worries…Transit ridership is always somewhere over the rainbow - the same place as that pot of gold…

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day 2018


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
I never go to a War Memorial Cemetery that I don’t cry.

 As I look across a field of 100’s sometimes 1000’s of graves each with a small flag representing a life given that I might be free it is very personal for me.
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." – President John F. Kennedy
Most enduring for me is the sight of a loved one longingly looking at a grave stone surely thinking of what was and what might have been.
I’ll be out at Bay Pines Monday, probably later after all the hoopla is over to spend some quiet time.
It is comforting to know love never ends because a life is given in service to us all.
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.
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Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Pinellas transit agency proposes new 5 cent gas tax to pay for more transit


Tampa, Fl
From: Tampa Bay Guardian
Edited by: Tom Rask

 on 


In the past six months, the Guardian has reported on PSTA’s plummeting ridership and its declining farebox recovery,  We’ve also reported on PSTA’s increased reliance on free parking shuttles and free special events shuttles to boost ridership. PSTA’s soluiton?  Don’t provide the troublesome data to its politician-packed board anymore.
In the agenda and meeting packet for next Wednesday’s board meeting, PSTA for the first time does not include the so-called “Operating Statistics” report. That report shows total ridership, how many of those were paid rides, discounted rides, ridership change year over year, and much more information.
However, there is some news in the agenda: PSTA is now proposing a new 5 cent Pinellas County gas tax (see page 2) to pay for even more transit. The very transit which there is no demand for.
Specifically, PSTA is proposing several Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes, ignoring the fact that voters overwhelmingly rejected both light rail and expanded bus service in a 2014 referendum (62% NO).
PSTA is also proposing using some bed tax dollars for transit, for example a bus between Tampa Airport and Clearwater Beach. However, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported today that PSTA CEO Brad Miller told them that “the Clearwater Beach business community is pushing back against the route that would connect their area to the beaches.”
For some government agencies, the best defense is to be offensive.
As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish new stories.


READ THIS POST AT: TAMPA BAY GUARDIAN

This post is contributed by the Tampa Bay Guardian. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet or any publications, blogs or social media pages where it may appear.
Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Guardian

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

St. Petersburg Police is GASLIGHTING residents on the noise issue, while supporting bars

What can you do to ensure City Council changes the Noise Ordinance? 



St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff

 The following summary is just one example of how the St. Petersburg Police is gaslighting residents on the noise issue, while supporting bars.  Residents are poorly served by our bureaucrats and Law Enforcement Officers. Bar owners and supporters contribute to gaslighting the residents by telling them to move and bullying them on social media sources, such as, Facebook and NextDoor.  "
While the low frequency reverberations (bass or subwoofer) may not rise to the level of being plainly audible, the reverberations can penetrate residence's walls, such that you hear a thumping inside your residence or your walls will shake. These reverberations need a decibel meter to measure what the human ear cannot. This is why the plainly audible standard does not work and police officers ignore the bass—it is not "plainly audible" to them! In addition, the police are not trained on the difference between audible and low frequency reverberations, nor are they trained on the health impact caused by noise.
Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway are gaslighting residences who call to report noise at a bar, business or a residence. Instead of enforcing the noise ordinance, the Police blame the resident. Frustrated, many residents have stopped calling the police. Mayor Kriseman is on record supporting the police.

How can the current noise ordinance be misunderstood? The City, City Council, and police believe the noise issue is about plainly audible and what an officer can hear. However, the plainly audible includes in the  definition as, "Words or phrases need not be discernible and low frequency sound reverberations are included." 
Low frequency waves are addressed in the City Code, see 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.
While the Police Officer must be able to hear the sound, plainly audible includes low frequency noise, or words or phrases that are not discernible. Unfortunately, the City presentation to City Council does not include "Words or phrases need not be discernible and low frequency sound reverberations"on the slide under plainly audible.


If the officers can hear or feel the thumping inside your residence, this falls under the noise ordinance's low frequency reverberations. On multiple occasions, responding officers have treated bass or thumping the same as audible music. 
On many occasions, police have responded and treated bass (low frequency reverberations) as music and applied the "plainly audible" standard to low frequency reverberations.  
Police Chief Holloway is not properly training his officers on the difference between music and low frequency reverberations. He is not training his officers on the health effects associated with noise. 



The police officers, who have responded to my noise calls, cannot hear the low frequency reverberations. Yet, other people present can hear it, and several have been senior citizens. If police are there for 5 minutes, the low frequency or the words or phrases that are not discernible may not bother them. But, as a resident, you have to put up with the thumping for 2 to 6+ hours. The thumping will interfere with television, conversation, dinner and sleep. The low frequency reverberations impact your health, which may cause stress, anxiety, and your blood pressure to increase. 

When I have called the police to report noise at the Flamingo Resort in the Skyway Marina District, the officers stated that my residence must exceed a certain distance for the noise ordinance to apply. Police have used a laser to measure the distance and I am over 1000'. 

I also discovered an email, dated December 15, 2015, from Police Legal that defines which noise ordinance paragraph applies for the Flamingo Resort. Officer Kelly was asked to provide this to the Flamingo Management. I was not copied or notified, even though I had been working with the then Acting Assistant Police Chief, Major Kovacsev. 

From: Andrea R. Luce
Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 3:10 PM
To: Carl E Watts, Michael J. Kovacsev, Christopher S. Emmert, Larry b. Hordge, Patricia A. Houston

Subject: Noise Ordinance/Flamingo 

Hi Officer Kelly, I met with Lt. Watts this afternoon re: noise complaints at the Flamingo. Attached please find Section 11-53 of the St. Petersburg City Code to provide to management at the Flamingo. Subsection (4)(b), dealing with privately-owned outdoor places, is the applicable portion of the ordinance. I’ve discussed the ordinance with Lt. Watts. If you have any questions about it. please give me a call. I’ve also attached Section 11-53, which deals with the penalties for a violation of Section 11-53.” 

 Andrea R. Luce, Esq.Assistant Police Legal AdvisorSt.
 Petersburg Police Department<redacted>

The noise ordinance subsection states 1000'. The Police have measured the distance with laser, and the distance from the Flamingo Resort to my condo is greater than 1000'. 

I had attempted to give this letter to several officers, but they refused  to accept the letter. One officer stated the noise ordinance paragraph that applied that was over 3000' Another officer stated he would check with legal and get back to me. He never did.  

Another officer stated noise ordinance paragraph that applied that was over 5000'. When I attempted to give him Police Legal's email that stated which noise ordinance paragraph applied, he exclaimed, and I paraphrased his comments, I do not care what Police Legal says, I am out here in the field and I make the rules. 

Both Officer's behavior and comment were witnessed by a resident who had heard the noise.
I am not the only person in the area who has called. 

Residents across the street from the Flamingo Resort have called to report bass or thumping inside their condo or home. While this is low frequency reverberations, and is stated in the noise ordinance definitions, the responding officers never mention low frequency reverberations, nor are they trained to recognize low frequency reverberations. 

The responding officers have never mentioned "low frequency reverberations" to me nor discussed this in the Call For Service Reports. The officers only seem to be concerned if the noise is plainly audible and if the distance meets the criteria. But the different Police Officers cannot get their stories straight.

When the police respond, the officers commonly state, I can't hear it. What exactly does "hear" mean to them. Is it the same as listening to the radio station in their car? According to the noise ordinance, they do not need to understand the lyrics. They need not be discernible.

Officers have told me if a citation is issued, they would be required to defend the citation in court. So they want to make sure they hear it. One officer told me the City will not cite a business because the City doesn't want it to go out of business.

Residents have called dispatch and complained about the thumping inside their condo, or the walls are vibrating. Police have experienced this yet do not issue a citation. Instead, the police respond and issue warnings or ask the manager to turn down the music. This has been going on downtown and in the Skyway Marina District at the Flamingo Resort for years.

The bars only understand one thing, a citation with a fine. Until then, they will continue to crank the music and disregard our quality of life.

City has presented three options to City Council

The City has presented City Council with three options in the Public Services and Infrastructure Committee.

Options 1 and 2 use the same noise ordinance with modifications. These options keep plainly audible, but this does nothing to change the status quo. This helps the bars, not residents whose quality of life has diminished! Instead of the police enforcing the noise ordinance and issuing citations, the trends seem to be asking the bar, business or residence to turn down the music.

The problem with this approach is there are repeat calls and the request to turn down the noise becomes meaningless, because there is no solution. The music may be turned up after the police leave or turned up the next time. There are more repeat calls than one time calls to a bar, business, or residence in the City. These repeat responses cost taxpayers dollars.
If Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway had only identified the issue with the noise ordinance and sought to change the ordinance, the city could have save taxpayer dollars, repositioned resources and not targeted residents.
Both Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway have not been proactive, which has allowed their officers to target repeat noise callers.

When you call the Police to report noise, Police Dispatch may or may not tell you that you need to be seen by an officer in order for the bar or residence to be cited for noise. If you do not want to leave your name, you may be resident refused. Dispatch may also interpret the noise ordinance without knowing how far away you are from the noise. While I am over 1000’, dispatch told me, the noise ordinance does not apply to 11 PM. This is incorrect. Dispatch is making decisions that are not for them to make.

Option 3 requires noise to be measured with a decibel meter and sets a standard. The decibel standard can measure audible and low frequency noise. This removes plainly audible. Decibels are the best method to ensure residents have a quality of life.

What can you do to ensure City Council changes the Noise Ordinance? 

Call or email the Mayor Kriseman and your Council Member and tell them, Choose Option 3, We want decibels measured, and say no to 85 dB!
You can also share the flyer below. Right click to download the flyer and share! Or share this article!
WARNING: When former Mayor Foster presented at the April Public Services and Infrastructure Committee, former Mayor Foster stated that he represents Jannus Live and other nearby businesses. Mr. Foster did not disclose other businesses. 
No resident was allowed to speak.
Mr. Foster said the current plainly audible noise ordinance is working, and there is no need to go to a decibel standard. However, Mr. Foster failed to disclose the Jannus Live owner and Mr. Foster do not live downtown. They do not have to live with the noise and thumping inside their home for 2-6+ hours, whenever the bars decide to crank the music!

While St. Petersburg may want to be the next live music venue and boost tourism, residents need to let the City of St. Petersburg know that the noise issue isn't just about downtown, but the entire city. Austin overtook Denver as #1 Live Music City and noise calls increased 3x to over 15,000 calls per year!

St. Pete needs a city vibe for all residents!



To read the past updates, visit the City of St. Peterburg's Planning and Zoning web site.

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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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trump should cap gas prices

If you want to help with all of this consider an electric car.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD 
You're probably watching gasoline prices go up and wondering what’s going on.
Well, the answer is a lot.
The seasonal changeover is in process, the petroleum industry sees a good economy and the chance to gain massive profits while most of us are distracted by our own lives and the machinations of politics, and some of the big geopolitical players in crude oil supply still think they can mussel the United States around by playing with oil supplies, think OPEC.
Trump Tweet:
Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2018
With our economy, humming along these Petro players are trying to cash in while the geopolitical petroleum suppliers can’t get a handle on Trump, so they are trying a power play.
NBC News by Martha C. White:  Trump Adds Fuel to the Fire of Rising Gas Prices
How big is the impact of a rise in gas prices on our economy?
"Every penny rise generally takes out billions of dollars from the economy in other avenues, and discretionary spending is always the first to take a hit," said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.
 “The general rule of thumb is that every 1 cent per gallon more results in $1 billion less in consumption per year.”
What would the impact of gas at $3.00 for the rest of the year? About $45 billion in less spendable consumption for the year which would take a major bite out of the Trump tax cuts.
It is time for action.
The petroleum and gasoline business is a constant throughput industry and relies on a steady flow of product sales to maintain the massive amount of dollars that flow from consumer back up the chain.
Trump needs to issue a series of executive orders capping gas prices, freezing domestic crude oil and refined product exports and diverting them to domestic refiners and suppliers.
Further Trump needs to issue executive orders stopping the sale and shipment of all military hardware, ammunition, repair parts and services to countries holding us hostage with their crude oil prices. Again, think OPEC.
The oil industry from the well to the pump cannot stand even a brief hiccup in the process flow of oil and money. Let’s cause some of that foreign crude start piling up in ships that cannot unload, and OPEC tank farms and see how quick the price changes.
If you want to help all of this consider an electric car.
If you're in the market for a new car and your daily commute is less than 75 miles, there are a number of good electric cars that will meet your need. Every electric car on the road means a decrease in the amount of refined oil products we consume.
For now, it is time for Trump to step up and do what he does best call their bluff. My guess is he will win again, and OPEC and big oil will lose.
If you agree Tweet or e-mail this post to Trump or the White House and let the president know you are with him on this one.

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
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Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate
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Friday, May 18, 2018

School Security a Political Football


Superintendents and school board chair persons sounded collectively like a kindergarten class that had just been told recess was canceled.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
The Florida Legislature could have done a better job setting up and funding the mandates in the school security Bill.
Every school district in the state started screaming the minute the Bill passed.
Was this accident, intention or retribution?
No one knows for sure, but public education does not seem to be the apple of the legislator’s eyes.
I am pretty sure the boys and girls in Tallahassee knew they were poking the bear when they moved funding to support the security mandate, just not enough, from school funding and left school districts hanging. Sort of a double slap in the face.
Superintendents and school board chair persons sounded collectively like a kindergarten class that had just been told recess was canceled.
These “leaders” of public education did what they do best they started looking for someone else to shoulder the burden.
For a while, it looked like the big cities and sheriffs around the state might jump in and help, but then reality set in, and they begin to see that they were being hood-winked into a never-ending funding pit with school boards going on their merry way while Counties and Cites get left filling the bag.
Suddenly, the School districts began to meet some surprising resistance. You can read about it in a Tampa Bay Times article Kathryn Varn: Pinellas commissioners won’t pay for more deputies in schools and from Caitlin Johnson Tampa Bay Times: St. Petersburg will no longer put officers in elementary schools.
Now it looks like The Pinellas County School district will use private security guards; see Tampa Bay Times Claire Mc Neill and Kathryn Varn Staff Writers: Security guards to be temporary fix in Pinellas schools.
It sounds kind of scary to me. If I had a kid in school and wasn’t already looking at Charter schools this would definitely push me over the edge.
The long-term fix being touted by many local school districts is the expansion or creation of their own “Police Departments."
This looks like a recipe for disaster on a number of levels. Most of these Superintendents and school boards can barely run a school system let alone a Police Department.
In an earlier Post, Whining about the cost of school safety, I addressed the real problem facing the Florida Public School system which is an overriding desire to live in the last century with bloated administrations, lavish non educational programs and an abiding desire to spend more money on everything but that the class room.
While the Charter school industry gradually picks the flesh off the skeleton of public education and delivers superior education and results, Public School districts have yet to offer any hint of restructuring, reducing costs or cutting non-core educational programs to help fund school safety.
They are simply playing the heart strings of school safety and hoping a big bag of cash will show up to make the problem go away.
So far, things are not looking too good.
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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