Thursday, July 19, 2018

Are diamonds really forever?

Right now, the “recommended” amount you should spend on an engagement ring is two months’ salary.

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

Reposted from April 2018

It is that time of the year when relationships bloom, heart's flutter and bride to be eyes light up with vision's things, that sparkle.

In the print media, electronic media, the Internet and just about everywhere else you look, there are ads promising the best deal on that much needed and desired engagement ring.

Before you plunk down a significant portion of your annual salary for an engagement ring here are a few things to check out.

First take a look at the number of engagement rings for sale on line.

I am not suggesting you buy one on line, although what she does not know probably won’t hurt her, but the real question is. Where did all those rings come from? The answer is they were bought by idiots who got caught up in the "Diamonds are forever" marketing ploy, and things did not go well. They are now for sale and usually NOT by the original buyer.

As one who has had a number of engagement and wedding rings end up in a pawn shop case, the return on your investment is really poor. Example: a lovely blonde who pawned her(our) engagement rings (worth several thousand dollars) to make a $200 car payment. I know she was upset the wedding was off, but if she had called I would have probably made the car payment for her.

The whole engagement ring thing started in the late 1930’s as a marketing effort to kick start diamond sales. Since nothing says "I love you like a diamond" and "diamonds are forever" resonate, guys have been on the hook for ever larger upfront investments in their matrimonial future.

That is kind of interesting given that fact that according to the American Psychological Association 50% of marriages end up in divorce, and subsequent marriages are more likely to fail even if the engagement ring is bigger.

So, if she is sending you all those signals about getting married and suggesting an engagement (read that I want a ring) set down and have a long serious talk.

Right now, the “recommended” amount you should spend on an engagement ring is two months’ salary.

If you make $60,000 dollars per year that’s $5,000/per month or about $10,000 for a ring.

If you make $100,000 per year that is about $8333/month or about $16,700 for the ring.

These days you can finance that amount for up to eight years, and that number is interesting because the average marriage in the United states lasts about 8.2 years.

Think about your student loan. If that upsets you, think about how you will feel five or six years into a marriage that is slipping away, and you still have few years to go pay off what got you into all of this.

So, remember all this engagement and to some degree wedding ring stuff is a marketing creation of people who dig crap up out of the ground, polish it up, claim it is their own, establish outlandish prices in a closed market and take advantage of your situation.

The bottom line on all of this engagement ring hoopla, is it gives your beloved a symbol to wave about in the faces of her less fortunate friends who are still looking forward to reeling in a “ring” of their own.

See From BRIDES by Elizabeth Mitchel, 18 Things to Do as Soon as You Get Engaged

If a ring costing 20% or more of your annual salary is a required pre-commitment of endearing love do a little research, have a serious conversation with your partner and remember this: diamonds are not forever: they're just expensive.

E-mail Doc at 
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Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Rebutting Rhetoric to Reign in Recklessness

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

The transportation issue in Tampa Bay today consists of lots of kabuki dancing, lots of posturing, some street theater, some insider ball game scheming and even an attempted power grab. As taxpayers keep enriching the same consultants over and over for transit study after transit study, the rhetoric soars with dishonesty, deception and misleading information.

And all of this is done at what cost and at what success?

The attempt to extract millions and billions more from taxpayers for transit services that costs too much, does too little and benefits too few continues. Insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome - especially as transportation and traditional transit are being disrupted by innovation and new technology.

Reading local media or attending the too numerous transportation meetings in Tampa Bay, one would think transit is the biggest transportation issue in Tampa Bay. These transportation meetings are mostly attended by special interests and have become an echo chamber of group think. The group think mentality forces their focus to be on costly transit and empowers tone deafness to the reality that the vast majority in Tampa Bay want their roads, highways and interstates fixed and improved.

As a side note, the Orlando area is vastly improving and expanding their roads and interstates all over Central Florida while Tampa Bay has dithered with malfunction junction for decades and a Howard Frankland bridge northbound bottleneck that we bet has caused numerous folks to miss or almost miss their flights.

Just 10 short years ago, the now defunct Tribune published 'Malfunction' Moniker From Past Still Describes Revamped Junction (emphasis mine)

A state priority should be to move traffic faster through the intersection as welcomed improvements to I-275 and I-4 funnel more cars and trucks into the mix. 
Surely if the state can spare hundreds of millions of dollars to help private, profitable railroads improve their freight tracks through the boondocks, it can find enough money to add a few lanes to an urban junction used by tens of millions of cars and trucks a year. 
The constant shortfall of construction money suggests the local legislative delegation needs to do a better job advocating for local transportation improvements. And it suggests that Florida's congressional delegation needs to make more noise about the unfair return on federal gas taxes collected in Florida. For decades Florida drivers have helped pay for highway earmarks in states with much less traffic and growth. But most important, every political and civic leader in Tampa should agree that packing four lanes of high-speed traffic into three lanes is an intolerable way to treat ourselves and to welcome our guests. If, instead of playing petty political games, our state and local leaders would agree on top priorities such as fixing the junction, it wouldn't now face another decade of malfunction.
What happened since 2008? Tampa Bay keeps growing and even more cars and vehicles are using I-275 and I-4.

But then the media, special interests (especially those who would benefit) and some electeds figured out that if local taxes can be raised and a new long term pot of local money provided, they can gain access to another trough of federal dollars - federal transit grant monies. Those federal dollars come from the general fund aka debt. And that's how the tax hikes for rail boondoggles began.

While Hillsborough County overwhelmingly defeated the rail tax in 2010 58-42% and Pinellas County defeated Greenlight Pinellas rail tax by an even greater margin 62-38% in 2014, the media, the same power brokers and some electeds prefer to ignore the consent of the governed. And as we posted here, Hillsborough County's MPO has totally gone over the cliff of reality as they consider tearing down 10 miles of I-275 from downtown to Bearss, they try to use unsubstantiated data to create false narratives and ignore their own data.

As we reported here, the taxpayer funded TMA (which is the MPO's of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco) invited a transit lobbyist to speak on how to pursue a transit referendum, how to deceive by whitewashing use of the word "rail" and how to confront critics. This nonsense alone should have shut the TMA down two years ago.

Remember what Commissioner Hagan said about the tax hike proposed by the Go Hillsborough debacle in 2016 that he supported? 
Hagan said that by design, the ballot question does not mention light rail — a mode of transportation that opponents focused on and that was highly unpopular among suburban voters.
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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Making the Trade War local

All of this money these foreign countries make selling goods in the United states come from one source – YOU.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
You hear about it. You read about it. You hear all the gloom and doom; car prices will go up; canned beer prices will increase everything will get more expensive, and the economy will crash.
And it is all Trumps’ fault. China, Canada, Germany, Mexico and others threaten to retaliate, and some already have.
Why, because we have a terrible trade imbalance with these countries, they sell billions of dollars’ worth of goods here while our businesses and industries are highly restricted by tariffs and other considerations from selling in their domestic market.
As Trump has said time and time again all, we are looking for is a fair deal.
You may find all of this interesting but think it is out of my real control. There is nothing you as an individual can do, the powers from the top have to fix international trade.
Not necessarily true.
All of this money these foreign countries make selling goods in the United states come from one source – YOU.
We all buy their cars appliances, clothes, electronics, pots, pans, in fact most of our consumer goods are imported.
International trade is flow process; goods are made in a foreign country quickly shipped through a distribution channel to the United States moved to market and sold. The pace at which all of this happens is quite uprising.
Let’s start with China.
Next time you go to the store to buy something look at the label to see where it was made. If it was made in China, put it back on the shelf and look for a similar product with a different origin.
It seems like a simple thing, but if enough of us were to do this and Chinese products from clothes to electronics start backing up in the pipeline something will have to give.
If Americans as a group were to boycott Chinese, Mexican, German products the negative flow of foreign trade revenue would slow dramatically if not stop. That is much worse than any tariff could ever be.
So, whether you like Trump or not, you can be a player in the trade war conflict. It is not about winners and losers as much as it is about a level playing field for all our businesses who have exportable products.
Next time you’re in a store checkout that pot, pan, shirt, pair of jeans, and if they're made in a country that’s stiffing us like China or Mexico, put em’ back and look for a substitute.
Now would also be a very good time to start shopping local.
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Friday, July 13, 2018

Transit Tax Hike Petitions Turned In Without Payment to SOE To Start Validating Them

Is there something  odd with the transit sales tax hike petition effort in Hillsborough

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

A citizen (not grassroots) petition effort funded by deep pocketed downtown special interests, including Jeff Vinik and Frank Morsani who also own part of the Tampa Bay Times, is underway. This is another effort to put a massive unnecessary 30 year 14+% transit sales tax hike referendum on the November ballot. The special interests funded PAC orchestrating the effort is All For Transportation.

The effective start date of this tax hike petition effort from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections was 6/15/2018 and the last day to turn in petitions is just 3 weeks away on 7/27/2018. The PAC plans to gather and tun in about 70K signed petitions by 5pm on July 27th to try to get the required 48,745 valid petitions to put the massive transit tax hike on the November ballot.

The SOE then has until August 27th to complete all the petition validations and certify whether the required number of petitions was reached to get on the November ballot. Petitions must be collected proportionally in at least 2 of the 4 county commission single districts.

It was reported by local media that the special interests funded PAC had already turned in about 5K petitions last week. The Eye went to the SOE office yesterday to inquire about their process for validating the petitions and wanted to know the current status of those 5K petitions. We were told each petition must be validated - the cost is 10 cents per petition. However, the SOE must first be paid upfront to start the validation process. That makes sense.

But surprisingly the validation process had not even begun for the 5K petitions handed in because the PAC has not provided a $500 check to the SOE to start the process. Until a check is received, the SOE does not consider the petitions "received". Therefore, the petitions must be sitting in boxes somewhere in the SOE's office. How comforting is that?

The SOE had not updated their list of active petition initiatives since January even though this latest petition effort was given a start date by the SOE of June 15th. This is the list where the number of petitions received and validated are transparently tracked by the SOE.

We were able to get the SOE to update their active petition list to include this latest petition effort even if the number of petitions received is "zero" (because no payment has been received).
SOE Active Petition List tracking
(Click to enlarge)
We were told by the SOE that no observers like poll watchers are allowed to observe the validation process. How comforting is that?

A public records request can be made to get access to the petitions.

While at the SOE, the Eye witnessed a stack of petitions being brought in for the Marijuana petition effort number 16-02. They provided a check to get them validated because the SOE's active petition list was updated to reflect that 650 had been received and are in the process to be validated. But the petition effort for the massive 14% transit sales tax hike misnamed "Funding for Countywide Transportation and Road Improvements" (post for another day) still currently shows ZERO received.

It is very odd that the PAC, which has raised over $300K, cannot (or intentionally did not) write a $500 check to cover the cost of validating the petitions they have turned in. We asked the SOE if the PAC could just keep dropping off thousands of petitions with no check and then wait until the last day on July 27th to provide a check to start the validation process for all of them. We were told they could though the SOE preferred that did not happen. Could the SOE even validate 50-70K petitions within the required 30 days?

The normal timeframe provided by the SOE for a citizen petition is 6 months but this effort is trying to cram their effort into 6 weeks. This petition effort could have been started last year or at the first of this year for November. Hmmm…

Did an alternative transportation funding proposal that requires no massive sales tax hike that was presented to the county commissioners in April cause panic with the transit tax hike crowd? The county commissioners voted unanimously (except for Hagan who walked out and refused to vote) on June 6th to ask the Citizens Advisory Committee to look at the proposal and provide an advisement.

While the local media fawns over another attempt at a massive Tampa centric transit tax hike for costly trains, they refuse to report about any other funding plans - even a proposal the commissioners took action on.

We're left wondering what kind of games may be being played by those orchestrating this effort.

The PAC hired Revolution Field Strategies to help direct and manage the petition effort. The PAC was expecting to hire 100 petition gatherers to hit the streets but no one has seen them anywhere with only 3 weeks left to gather and turn in petitions.

Note that petitions gathered by paid petition gatherers must be reported accordingly on the petition form itself after the signature at the end of the form.

All petitions gathered by paid petitioners must
complete this section at end of petition form
From comments we found online from those supporting this petition effort, they are extremely optimistic that they will get the required 49K valid signatures to put this massive tax hike on the November ballot.

If the PAC and their supporters are so confident, why aren't they paying the SOE to start the validation process? With deep pocketed special interests funders, the PAC can certainly afford to pay the $500 to start the validation process.

Does something not smell right? Why hasn't the local media picked up on this part of the story?

Potential for issues with this petition process?

We'll be watching closely over the next few weeks.

 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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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Light Bag is back with private funding

What happens when one of those sudden storms comes up? Lights, sirens racing to Spa Beach to save the Bag?

It looks like Spa Beach in St. Pete will be all aglow with a Janet Echelman Sculpture after all. 

Fourteen  or so anonymous “contacts” have pledged about $1.5 Million for the project according to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, by Waveney Ann Moore: Mayor Kriseman: Donors will bring Echelman sculpture to St. Pete.
One must wonder what Kriseman has promised all these “contacts” for their generous contributions.
The project has not been without opposition. The Waterfront Parks Association has expressed its opposition stating "(a project), of this scope on designated waterfront parkland is inconsistent with the great vision of our city’s Founding Fathers ... when they purchased and mandated a downtown waterfront primarily reserved for green space.”
The problems with this effort are legion beginning with the Parks Foundation statement and continuing on through who will be responsible for the cost of maintaining this massive aerial display.
Check out my Post Floating art sinking for lack of funds? In Bay Post Internet.
Also, from the Winston-Salem Journal by Dawn DeCwikel: Echelman sculpture soon will billow again above Greensboro's LeBauer Park
It is one thing to raise a million dollars or so to go along with the City “art” funds to get this thing in place but where will the funds come from to pay for its upkeep every time the Echelman team has to fly back into St. Pete to fix the latest disaster with the light bag?
Then there is the cost of putting up and taking it down.
Without a doubt, there are wind and weather conditions when it is not safe to have this thing up. What City Department will be charged with the responsibility to launch and retrieve the “floating art sculpture”?
Where the money come from to keep a group of people trained to handle this massive piece of “art?”
What happens when one of those sudden storms comes up? Lights, sirens racing to Spa Beach to save the Bag?
This adds yet another expensive and time-consuming issue to getting ready for a hurricane as the light bag will have to put away.
Maybe our anonymous “contacts” would like to pick up the tab for that expense.
Kriseman is still trying to work out a positive legacy for his time as mayor and this mesh of lights dangling over Spa Beach in front of the Vinoy is just the latest attempt.
Too late Rick, your legacy is already set: A Pier no one wanted and a sewer system that still won’t be fixed when you leave office.
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Friday, July 6, 2018

Fl Democratic Party Continues to Alienate Progressives, Jeopardizing Entire Ticket

Tampa, Fl
Tampa Bay Beat

 By Jim Bleyer

The Florida Democratic Party is going all in on its marginalization of its progressive wing, risking its only statewide officeholder U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, any chance of recapturing the governorship, and pickup opportunities in the Florida Legislature.
Ramifications of what are known in state Democratic circles as “the corporatist agenda” can easily filter down to the courthouse.
Progressives are roiling in several counties including Broward, Duval, Orange, and Hillsborough.  All are populous, all have significant communities of progressive Democrats and left-leaning NPAs, all are vital to keeping Nelson in the Senate and being competitive in the other four statewide races including the governorship........
Read full Post at: TAMPA BAY BEAT 

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, July 1, 2018

Kriseman – Trouble on the horizon for the Trop

While the Trop site looks like a plum ready for the picking, it could quickly turn into a real nightmare.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
You may have missed the Post on St. Pete PATCH a hyper local news site if you did check it out. St. Pete PATCH By: Jackson Hollingsworth, This Time 'Til It's Won! Make the Southside Black Again!

By now, you may have forgotten the fiery election rhetoric from the local black activist group the Uhurus. Lead by Akile Anai who ran for City Council and Jessie Nevel who ran for mayor. They had a brief but somewhat spectacular impact on the St. Pete elections in 2017.

It would seem the group is back with a new structure the Conference of Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (CURED).

In a somewhat rambling Post, Hollingsworth lays out what he touts as a new direction, but it is essentially a rehash of the election efforts with one exception.

Quoting Hollingsworth “A major campaign being launched by CURED is the "Take Back the Dome" referendum, where CURED will be going out to the people of the city to win petition signatures to return the land of the baseball dome, known as Tropicana Field Stadium, back over to the black community as an expression of reparations.

I am not sure if they know it, but the CURED folks could be on to something.

Central to their theme has been the issue of “reparations” or payments to the African-American Community for the property acquired to build the DOME (Tropicana Field). This new approach, a return of the land, is something different altogether.

The Kriseman administration could just blow this off as an attempt by Anai and Nevel to raise some funds, so they don’t have to get real jobs but that may be a big mistake.

I was working for the City when the Dome property was being assembled, and the structure was being constructed. Things were moving fast.

Many of the African-American people whose property was “acquired” for the Dome project have passed on, and their children may or may not have copies of the agreements they signed.

Since there were no electronic records during this period public record if they still exist would be hard, but not impossible, to find and the effort would be costly.

What CURED needs is a good law firm that is not issue driven and has enough resources to pursue the information.

If the CURED group can find an instance where the City acted improperly or even questionably in a Dome land acquisition action and get a serious lawsuit with evidence filed that might  grow to class-action status the Tropicana site redevelopment would likely come to a screeching halt.

No developer in their right mind wants to end up in the middle of a fight as potentially ugly as this one might be.

The real problem of the moment is getting Anai and Nevel under control. I have rarely seen people who become more unglued than these two when you hand them a microphone or point a camera at them.

The timing is critical, and CURED be on to something, but actions like those of the Mayoral election cycle will allow CURED to be smothered in a blanket of ridicule as just another nonsense radical effort.

Kriseman would be wise not to simply write this one off. Even a hint of this kind of issue could send Trop developers and financiers running for the woods.

It may be time for the Kriseman administration to sit down with CURED and get an idea of who is involved, who is pulling the strings and where their money is coming from.

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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Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

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