Friday, June 29, 2018

Some thoughts about Jeff Greene Candidate for Fl Governor

Problem is that “money" he is talking about is yours and not his.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
I have been watching the TV ads for Jeff Greene’s gubernatorial campaign. The first one is a sort of historical background piece emphasizing Greene’s early years. Like many Greene had a shaky start in his life and has overcome adversity to become extremely successful.
You can get a good bio in Wikipedia Jeff Greene.
The TV spot would leave you believe that Greene has a good knowledge of what it’s like to be poor and struggling. That could well be true.
The problem I see is Greene’s net worth is estimated at just over$3.0 Billion dollars, and that is a long way from reality of living in low rent housing and not having health insurance.
Greene asserts he wants to help those who are down and out and wants to pour money into the state’s educational system.
Problem is that “money" he is talking about is yours and not his.
When you have a lot of money it is easy to fall into the “money can fix everything” mode of operation, because it usually does.
The real problem here is Florida with Governor Scott has spent eight years leaning out Tallahassee, cutting budgets and lowering taxes.
Be it Jeff Greene or any other Democrat the cost to move to a more welfare centric state government will be costly and stressful. Even given the balanced budget rtequirement, adding social programs, increasing teacher salaries and moving to Medicaid will put pressure on other state initiatives.
Greene may have the least in-depth understanding of these issues and how to go about putting into place his commitments.
Be sure to watch the TV commercials and the debates and see if there is any substance and planning behind the rhetoric.
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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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Transit Petition Winners: Vinik, Sternberg, Local Fishwrap; Losers: Everyone Else


Tampa, Fl
Tampa Bay Beat
By: Jim Bleyer



 By Jim Bleyer
The proposed $15 billion Hillsborough County transit initiative is primarily designed to rescue two failing private-sector entities and bring to fruition a taxpayer subsidized ballpark for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The fact that those bankrolling the petition effort are hiding behind a “non-profit,” tells voters all they need to know.  The front man for the effort refused to tell us who hides in the shadows.
But the motives are clear despite the group’s gross misnomer: All for Transportation.
It’s a Hail Mary aimed at bailing out former hedge fund manager Jeff Vinik, the Tampa Bay Times and Rays owner Stuart Sternberg.
Other major beneficiaries will be land use attorneys, downtown businesses, and the development crowd that drenches itself in undeserved riches courtesy of public officials like County Commissioner Ken Hagan and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
This is White Power without the robes, raised fists, and burning crosses.
The biggest losers will be those that Tampa’s hypocritical oligarchy say they are trying to help: low income minorities and retirees on a fixed income.  These groups—and everyone else—will be forking over an eight percent sales tax, the highest in Florida along with tiny Liberty County in the panhandle.
Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher.

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Democrats and the separated children not playing well at KFC

Paul Ryan and the Republicans got a complete pass.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
I stopped by my local KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) for lunch on Friday. This particular KFC is a busy store, especially at lunch, a good cross-section of middle class Floridians.
After I got my lunch, Original, mashed potatoes and the fixins’, I found a seat beside three lovely ladies also having lunch. They were senior citizens, all seemingly retired, two white and one African American.
They were discussing a wide range of issues, mostly political when the discussion turned to the recent problems along the border: namely the policy separating children from their parents.
It would not be a stretch to think at least one of these ladies was a retired school teacher.
The conversation was following the direction of what you see on the news, separation is terrible, children should not be used as pawns, etc. when it took a sudden turn.
I was expecting them to light into Trump in a grandmotherly sort of way blaming him for the whole mess, when they exploded, on of all people, Nancy Pelosi.
I dropped my chicken leg into my mashed potatoes and began listening more intently.
The discussion went about three rounds with each making their specific point about what a tragedy this was and agreeing that the real problem, is Congress not Trump and more specifically the culprit in the immigration issue is House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for their unwillingness to compromise and get an immigration bill.
 Paul Ryan and the Republicans got a complete pass.
I was shocked to say the least.
The closing comment of the discussion from the seeming facilitator was, “I think they should just all those kids over to Pelosi’s house.”
While I would quickly agree that three very nice grandmotherly ladies in a KFC in Pinellas County won’t get the child separation problem solved, a new immigration law passed or elect a democrat to the White House, governor’s mansion or the US House of Representatives, it just may be the Democrats are misreading the whole immigration issue as a plum in the upcoming midterms.
Given their knowledge of the political atmosphere, understanding of current issues and willingness to discuss the problems my guess is these three vote at every election.
Is all of wrangling by the Democrats on immigration and a host of other issues enough to get these three or even two of them to vote Republican instead of Democrat? Hard to tell.
One thing does seem clear. Someone in the Democratic Party better be checking with the base. It looks like the “get Trump at all costs” and “everyone hates Trump” concept may not be playing well in places like Pinellas County.
Democrats have always been like lemmings. Once they start over a cliff everyone follows.
Instead of spending all their time trying to get Trump’s head on a platter, the Dems better begin to accomplish some positive legislation they can take credit for and solve some problems like immigration. Otherwise, the midterms will be a real shocker.
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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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 

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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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