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
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.
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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
 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.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

‘Unity’ Confab Fizzles; Cruz Campaign in Shambles

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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Sunday, June 3, 2018

The smack down in Singapore

Viewing the Trump/Jong-un Summit through the wrong lens.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
The Media scream questions at Trump as he walks across the White House lawn. Correspondents flip and flop as positions changed, the vanes in Wolf Blitzer’s head stands out as he hyper switches from the Muller investigation to North Korean Summit.
The media is completely out of control as quickly as they try to nail down a corner Trump or one of his associates rips it up.
The problem with the summit is all, and I mean all the media are viewing it through the wrong lens.
Trump needs to add one more person to his team. It is his long-time friend Vince McMahon Chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Take a step back and consider all that has happened in the last six weeks as you look at it through the lens of a WWE Monday night spectacular- The Smackdown in Singapore.
Need some help? Think of Trump as Nature Boy Ric Flair and Kim Jong-un as Hiroki Sui.
Consider the plot: Rouge Nation versus the Greatest nation on earth.
Two super egos.
The exotic and sinister back drop of Singapore. Trump’s Right-hand man Pompeo making a secret visit to North Korea and then Kim’s right-hand man Kim Yong Chol   a long US hater comes to Washington.
Only the WWE guys could write this stuff.
It’s game on. The stadium in Singapore is full to the rafters.
 Television screens all over the world are tuned in as the lights go out and that most famous of all sports voices Michael Buffer says, “Are you ready…... to rummmmble?"
The lights come on and there in the middle of, an enormous ring is a 60-foot conference table.
To the right a 100-foot-high wall in glistening silver and gold in the middle a magnificent American flag flanked by the largest American Eagle ever seen.
Buffer’s voice resonates through the hall and explodes your subwoofer…, “Representing the United states of America…The leader of the Republican Party, the Commander and Chief of the United States Military and President of the United States Doooonald Trump!”
The spotlight focuses in on the center of the US Flag and after a dramatic pause President, Trump steps through the Curtin adorned in a sequined American flag robe with Ostrich plums and flowered neck wrap, with a golden quaff of hair, dark suit and blue tie. Following the President his interpreters and adviser's.  Trump proceeds slowly to the ring climbing the stairs to the apron where he pauses raising a triumphant hand – the crowd goes crazy!
To the left a 100-foot-high wall red draped in scarlet from top to bottom in the center North Korean Flag flanked by two intercontinental ballistic missiles and a mysterious gold box.
Buffer’s voice rises to a crescendo…, “Representing the State of North Korea the son of Kim Jong-il former North Korean Chairman, the current Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, Chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea, and Chairman of the Korean Central Military…… Kim-Jong uuuuuuum.
The lights dim; a brilliant spot light hits the Center of the North Korean Flag, the curtains part slowly as three North Korean Military Generals step through the Curtin, followed a few steps behind by the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In a stunning move immediately behind Kim is North Korean President Moon Jae-in. The crowd gasps.
 Kim is dressed in a flowing robe and traditional Korean double-breasted suit, his hair dark black glistens in the bright light rivaling the styling of Trump’s. Kim proceeds about half way to the gigantic ring where he pauses and lifts both hands the crowd erupts in applause.
Kim climbs to the ring apron. His military attaches split the ropes, and he enters the Ring removing his robe to thunderous applause. He pauses at the back of his chair.
Trump nods to Kim as his attendees split the ropes to again thunderous applause. Trump removes his robe, tosses it to the crowd and moves toward the back of his chair. The supporting members of the negotiating teams move to their respective chairs as the lights dim.
Immediately there is the playing of the Korean National anthem, followed by the American National Anthem.
The entire center goes suddenly and completely dark for a few seconds then just as suddenly the ring, and the conference table are ablaze in light.
The sparing begins.
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, June 1, 2018

Bars say they want to work with residents on the noise, but it's lip service in St. Petersburg!

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff

Efforts to work with the bars are temporary at best. Jannus Live is one example. In the April, St. Petersburg's Public Services and Infrastructure Council Committee meeting, Mr. Foster stated Jannus Live wants to  work with the community and is relooking to dampen sound. However, Jannus Live needs to be transparent and reach out to the neighborhoods. 

All bars need to reach out to the neighborhoods! This entails reaching out to not only the neighborhood associations but the individual apartments and condominiums. This is because some neighborhood associations do not include everyone in their community.

If the City is serious about providing a balance in the quality of life, then the City needs to ask Jannus Live to show the public, especially the neighborhoods and Downtown Residents Civic Associationthe Live Nation contract that specifics the decibel levels the band and sound engineers are to maintain. 

If there are not any decibel level contracts, then both the City and residents need to be concerned. The City should survey all the bars to understand if they have decibel requirements in their contracts. This would be a good faith outreach for both the City and the bars.

Jannus Live uses Live Nation to book acts. Live Nation was recently involved in a noise incident in Nashville at the Amphitheater. According to the article in Tennesean, Live Nation: Beck Kept decibels down at Ascend Show that sparked east Nashville complaintLive Nation does have decibel limits in the contract. Live Nation will fine the act if it exceeds the limit. 

It was also stated humidity was high that night and caused the sound to travel. The concert was heard a mile away in a residential neighborhood. The amphitheater experienced the highest call volume since the Janet Jackson performance. 

St. Petersburg’s humidity is worse than Nashville. In St. Petersburg, do the sound engineers consider humidity? 

Police do not understand nor are they trained on how humidity impacts noise. The noise ordinance's "Plainly audible" standard does not provide a quality of life. That is why the decibel standard are the only solution that residents can support.  

If the bars want to work with residents, then the bars need to install sound monitoring equipment on the perimeter and at the sound board AND share the data with neighborhoods. In addition, the City needs to install sound monitoring equipment in the area. 
Instead of ignoring resident's quality of life and gadlighting residents, the city needs to be proactive when it comes to resident's quality of life.
When The Landing at Jannus opened, there 5 calls to report noise with a three month time span. The police was in the resident's bedroom and confirmed the vibration. Police had repeatedly asking Jannus to turn down the music and Jannus did that night. But resident had to call again. The city researched the noise ordinance and found the resident was too close. The Police did not alert City Council to say, this doesn't seem right to you?  For more information, read Noise calls located at 201 1st Avenue North in st. Pete's Downtown Core

Time and time again, Mayor Krieseman, the Police, and city Council have not been looking out for resident's quality of life in their home. 

Why doesn’t the City have sound monitoring equipment like Nashville does. If St. Petersburg wants to compete with Austin, Nashville and Denver, then the City needs to have sound monitoring equipment. Again, bigger question is, Why doesn’t the bars and the City have it now? 

What can you do to ensure City Council changes the Noise Ordinance to provide a better quality of life for residents? 

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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