Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ron DeSantis on Florida education

Ron DeSantis: Boost Classroom Spending For Students and Teachers, Expand Choice, Vocational and Technical Education, and Hold the Line on College Tuition 

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

To build a world-class education system & prepare all Florida students for the future, Ron DeSantis will:
  • Boost Classroom Spending for Students and Teachers with the 80% Classroom Spending Plan
  • Emphasize Career & Technical Education
  • Encourage Innovation & Expand Choice in Education
  • Recruit, Reward and Retain Good Teachers
  • Review and Improve Florida’s Curriculum Standards
  • Build an Affordable, World-Class Higher Education System  

Emphasize Career & Technical Education

Ron DeSantis will work to expand vocational and technical education to teach real-world skills to students and help them prepare for the jobs of the 21stcentury.
  • Emphasize Career and Technical Education Courses and Apprenticeship Programs. To improve Florida’s “skills gap”, Ron DeSantis will work with leaders from K-12 schools, postsecondary education, and the business community to better support career and technical education and apprenticeships, and to make sure Florida’s education is meeting the needs of our students and economy. He will make sure that Florida is offering high quality CTE offerings that provide pathways to higher skill and higher wage jobs for Florida’s students. Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to incentivize and recognize schools leading their communities in career and technical education programs.
  • Allow Mastery-Based Curricula in Career and Technical Education Classes. To help students get a job as soon as they are ready, Ron DeSantis will support mastery-based curricula in career and technical education, which will allow students to complete these programs as soon as they demonstrate the proper competency.
  • Expand Apprentice and Pre-Apprenticeship Programs. To expand job opportunities for Floridians, Ron DeSantis will work with the Florida Legislature to find ways to support and expand apprenticeships for jobs in high-demand fields.

Recruit, Reward and Retain Good Teachers

Ron DeSantis will support policies that reward high-performing teachers and reduce teacher shortages while ensuring Florida students learn from the best.
  • Reward High-Performing Teachers. To reward and retain the best teachers, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to simplify and optimize the teacher merit pay evaluation system so it is based reasonably on classroom performance. He will also look to generate financial savings by reducing unnecessary education bureaucracy and will direct the Legislature to use excess funds to provide more funding for merit pay bonuses for outstanding teachers.
  • Address Teacher Shortages. To help recruit the best teachers, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to expand programs that incentivize top educators to teach in Florida and to develop programs that incentivize and reward teachers in more demanding or specialized positions, such as teaching Florida’s special needs students.

Build an Affordable, World-Class Higher Education System

Ron DeSantis will support and expand higher education programs that ensure Florida’s state colleges and universities offer students a world-class education at an affordable rate.
  • Enhance Performance Funding. To encourage the continued performance of Florida’s universities and support the ongoing climb of Florida public universities in major rankings, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to increase performance funding and enhance other programs that have proven effective at improving 4-year graduation rates, increasing student retention rates, lowering student costs, and reducing student debt.
  • Protect Taxpayers’ Investment in Florida’s Higher Education System. To ensure government does not waste taxpayer dollars in Florida’s higher education, Ron DeSantis will hold state colleges and universities accountable for wasteful and inappropriate spending.
  • Hold the Line on Tuition and Student Expenses. To minimize students’ costs and reduce student debt, Ron DeSantis will work with the Legislature to keep tuition as low as possible by looking for administrative spending reduction opportunities while also supporting Bright Futures Scholarships and other programs that reduce the financial burden on Florida’s students. He will also look for ways to curb additional costs for students, such as textbooks and other fees.
  • Support our College System. To support the success of the Florida College System and the important role it plays in our education system, Ron DeSantis will work closely with the Legislature and college system leaders to ensure that it remains one of the most dynamic and effective systems in the country. Ron DeSantis will also work with the Legislature to increase performance funding for our State College System. Hundreds of thousands of students throughout the state expand their opportunities and brighten their futures by enrolling at our state colleges. We must continuously look for ways to make them more efficient and effective.
To Read More:  Check out the Ron DeSantis Campaign Website

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Friday, September 28, 2018

The Grossly Cynical, Hypocritical Campaign of Janet Cruz

Tampa, Fl
Tampa Bay Beat
By: Jim Bleyer 

By Jim Bleyer
When State Rep. Janet Cruz jumped into a Florida Senate race against incumbent Republican Dana Young, she told Tampa voters she was motivated to run because of the February school shootings in Parkland.
The term-limited House minority leader had previously filed to run for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.
Her (in)action during the 2018 legislative session screams the ultimate hypocrisy.
Within three weeks of the Parkland shooting, Florida’s Legislature and conservative governor had done something Republicans had resisted for more than 20 years: they voted to defy the National Rifle Association.
Legislators, including Young, who had sworn allegiance to the Second Amendment voted to raise the age to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21, extend the waiting period for all gun purchases, and ban bump stocks. But they also used the tragedy to patch together a plan to address weaknesses in the mental health and school security safety nets, budgeting $400 million to accomplish that.
While the House debated the proposal, parents who lost children at Stoneman Douglas lobbied the governor, lawmakers and the media to get the bill approved, saying, “There is enough good in the middle of this bill that everyone can agree on.”
Despite the pleas of Parkland parents to pass the legislation as a first step, Cruz and all but nine of the House Democrats voted no on the measure. Young, on the other hand, heeded the aggrieved parents and voted for the compromise.
Gun control advocates deemed the legislation a definite improvement though falling short of a ban on assault weapons that have been used in most recent mass killings. For the NRA, it was an unconstitutional abridging of the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Moments after the bill became law, the NRA’s Washington lawyers filed a federal lawsuit.
Then there is Cruz’ alliance with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn who mused publicly about killing journalists as he fired blanks from a machine gun turret on a navy vessel.

Buckhorn’s  remarks were widely circulated in the national media.  Buckhorn’s hate-fueled rhetoric made headlines in the Washington Postthe Washington TimesCNN, and Raw Story.
A year later a crazed shooter massacred five newsroom workers at the Annapolis Capital Gazette.
But Buckhorn, who boasted he would relish being the triggerman  mowing down journalists is a major patron behind Cruz, the politico that was so moved by the Parkland shooting.

The shots heard ‘round the country
Cruz still uses the massacre of 17 students at  Stoneman Douglas as the reason for her decision to try and remain in the legislature.
Cruz has disappointed fellow Democrats on other fronts as well.
She accepted campaign contributions from a well-known predatory lender that victimizes a significant portion of her constituency.
Cruz alienated an influential segment of her own party when she conspired with failed gubernatorial and Congressional candidate Alex Sink to shove progressive favorite Bob Buesing out of the race.
Sink used the carrot and stick approach with Buesing: no support from the state Democratic Party if he remained in the race, but a possible appointment (with a Democratic governor) if he bowed out.
The punchline: an appointment possibility was viable as long as one of the Party ‘s handpicked choices — Gwen Graham or Phil Levine — won the primary. Both are sitting at home musing about “what ifs.”
Then there was the ultimate insult to Cruz.
During the first Democratic gubernatorial debate, candidate Phil Levine could not identify Cruz as the outgoing minority leader of the Florida House.  Her undistinguished record may have something to do with that knowledge gap.  
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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Voters Should Know What They're Voting On Before They Vote

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

Voters should know what they're voting on before they vote.

The Tampa Bay Times begins a recent editorial about the Florida Supreme Court striking down Amendment 8 from the November ballot (emphasis mine):
Voters should know what they’re voting on, which is why the Florida Supreme Court was entirely correct to strike the deviously worded Amendment 8 from the Nov. 6 ballot.

We agree. Voters should not be forced to rely on any deviously worded amendment that could deceive them. 
So what about the massive transit tax hike charter amendment that is on the November ballot?

There is no transportation plan and not one project referenced in the ballot summary language or 5 pages of the All for Transportation (AFT) tax hike charter amendment. AFT did not provide the courtesy of telling the voting public any specific projects the 30 year massive 14% transit tax hike actually funds.

Yet it has been reported in local media that this 30 year 14% massive transit tax hike is funding the MPO's 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). 

When the petition drive began in June the Times published an article titled Petition language reveals details of Hillsborough sales tax transportation initiative reported (emphasis mine):
The priorities are based on a long range transportation plan that was developed four years ago by the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning 
Organization, based in part on responses to a survey of more than 6,000 people.
The Hillsborough MPO admits in their 2040 long range transportation plan (LRTP) that the majority of respondents to their public outreach resided in the city of Tampa. Tampa has less than 1/3 the population of Hillsborough County. 6000 respondents is less than 1/2 percent of the population of Hillsborough County.

Did bias create a flawed MPO long range transportation plan? The MPO 2040 LRTP states:
Based on responses from the to the Imagine 2040 survey, most respondents agreed that the programs should be funded at medium to high levels, and that additional funds should be spent in KES areas with larger employment bases like Downtown Tampa and the USF area as the best way to improve Hillsborough County’s transportation system by 2040.

Is spending additional transportation funds (e.g. tax hikes) in the city of Tampa the best way to improve transportation in Hillsborough County. What about unincorporated Hillsborough, traffic congested Brandon and rapidly growing South County?

While the 2040 plan is still in place, it is now quite outdated. Since it was created, the county commissioners created a 10 year transportation funding plan.

Back to the Times editorial about Amendment 8, they also wrote:
The word "charter" did not appear in the amendment text, title or summary.

The word "rail" does not appear anywhere in AFT's charter amendment. It is not in the text, title or summary of the transit tax hike ballot language. It is nowhere to be found.

But…costly rail is all through the MPO's 2040 LRTP. It is included in the MPO's one-cent funding scenario. Interesting that we find the use of one-cent vs one percent to describe a transit tax hike in the MPO documentation and AFT's ballot language. Is that coincidental? Previous proposed transit tax hike ballot language used percent terminology as that is how the transportation surtax is referred to in state statute.

MPO 2040 LRTP one-cent funding scenario

Beth Alden, Executive Director of the Hillsborough MPO, has told us the MPO will include rail again in their 2045 planning they recently began. The MPO must be planning on AFT's transit tax hike passing in November so their 2045 LRTP will match it.

Ironically, when the MPO was beginning their 2040 plan, they surveyed registered voters in Hillsborough County that revealed (emphasis mine):
...they [registered voters] perceived the 2010 referendum as a “rail” referendum with nothing for roads; that the projects to be funded were not clearly defined

As we stated previously, no transportation plan is referenced and not one project is identified in the AFT tax hike charter amendment language
, ballot title, text or summary language.

The Times editorial about Amendment 8 ends with (emphasis mine) :
Those who so firmly believe in charter schools should be more than happy to let them appear on the ballot by name, not by subterfuge [deceit or deception]. ….Instead, voters were nearly left with no context to suss out [realize or grasp] the schools that shall not be named until the Florida Supreme Court made the correct decision on behalf of clarity and candor.

The Times wanted clarity and candor regarding Amendment 8.

When contacted, the Times stated they were told by someone from both the MPO and AFT, when the petition drive began in June, that AFT's transit tax hike was funding the 2040 LRTP. When we subsequently asked the Times who at the MPO and AFT told them that, we did not get a response back. It is logical to assume it was Beth Alden from the MPO since she was quoted in the Times June article.

Does the AFT massive tax hike fund the MPO's 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan or not?

If so, why did AFT NOT disclose that anywhere in their ballot title, text or summary language and/or reference it anywhere in the Charter Amendment?

If AFT's transit tax hike is not funding the MPO's 2040 long range transportation plan, then what transportation plan and projects is their 30 year 14% transit tax hike funding?

Why would AFT keep such information secret?

The MPO confirmed that voters want to know clearly defined projects that any additional funding would be spent on.

So where is the clearly defined list of projects that will be funded by AFT's 30 year 14% transit tax hike? Voters want to know this information BEFORE the election.

This is especially important with this massive tax hike because the 5 pages of tax hike regulations prohibits and greatly restricts changes - even when there is failure or an economic downturn. Taxpayers are stuck for 30 long years.

The Times wanted clarity and candor regarding Amendment 8 and they applauded the remedy of the Florida Supreme Court striking Amendment 8 from the ballot.

The Times should hold AFT's charter amendment to the same level of accountability, clarity and honesty to ensure voters are not subject to any ballot language deceit and deception.

If AFT cannot be honest with the voting public about specifically what their $16 Billion tax hike is funding, the remedy for voters is to vote No.

Voters should not have to pass the transit tax to then find out what exactly it is funding.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Gillum - DeSantis Will either one make a good Governor for Florida?

Of all the people running for Florida Governor in the Primary, we got the
two most feckless in the lot.

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

Disclosure: I am a registered Republican. I will be voting for Ron DeSantis and for every other Republican running for statewide office.

I am not sure what the people of Florida were thinking in the primary election. Maybe it was the green algae in the air or the Red Tide or too much CNN or some of those mysterious electronic waves from Cuba but of all the people running for Florida Governor in the Primary, we got the two most feckless in the lot.

Ron DeSantis
For a non-biased view check out Ron DeSantis Wikipedia. Here you will find DeSantis’s views on everything from Cannabis to voting rights.

DeSantis graduated from Yale University and the Harvard law school. DeSantis went from college to the Judge Advocate Generals Corps US Navy. From there pretty much straight to politics.

The problem here is DeSantis has few if any credentials to run a governmental entity the size of the state of Florida.

Propelled by an endorsement from President Trump, DeSantis managed to parlay the endorsement along with a noncommittal and limited detail platform into a successful campaign and a Primary victory.

What would a DeSantis victory mean to Tampa, St. Pete and the rest of the bay area? Probably not much. Not much good, not much bad.

DeSantis will be playing to the national spotlight keeping Trump’s attention.

If Trump manages to avoid impeachment or removal from office efforts by the Democrats and run for a second-term DeSantis will likely be a prime candidate for Vice President.

Andrew Gillum
For a non-biased view check out Andre Gillum Wikipedia.

Virtually all of Andrew Gillum’s life has been tied up in politics. He is north Florida centric and has served the City of Tallahassee as a Commissioner elected in 2003. In 2014, he became Mayor of Tallahassee.

Gillum described himself as a progressive while others consider him a democratic socialist along the lines of Burnie Sanders.

Gillum has no experience outside of politics and his run as Tallahassee Mayor.
Gillum makes no excuses for his far-left socialist agenda, and much of his support comes from outside of Florida by organizations supporting the democratic left and far left agendas.
Much of what Gillum proposes in his television ads and print promotional; material should scare Floridians to death.

An openly socialist approach to health care, promises to raise the corporate and business income taxes, along with salary commitments to teachers that are all but impossible to create.

Gillum’s lack of any business acumen, his long-time residency in a non-tourist industry part of the state, no experience with agriculture and other key elements of the Florida economy makes Gillum a serious risk for Florida’s economic future.

What would a Gillum victory mean to Tampa, St. Pete and the rest of the bay area?

A Gillum victory would embolden mayors like Rick Kriseman and other left-leaning mayors to move toward sanctuary Cities; welfare programs would expand; Government would grow; business taxes would go up if Gillum could get them through the legislature.

The general business environment would quickly decline, and those over-inflated real-estate prices could come crashing down.

It is important that you pay attention during this election cycle. The devil is, as they say, in the details.

Gillum as Governor with a command of the Florida House and/or Senate would be a complete disaster for the state. Florida would quickly become the welfare capital of the United States, with a huge government.

DeSantis as Governor with a command of the Florida House and Senate might not be a whole lot better. Special interests will run wild, major problems like pollution, and immigration will go unsolved and the list goes on.

Best possible outcome: DeSantis as Governor (He will probably be gone in two years) Democratic control of the House or the Senate and stalemate.

Not much happens, not many changes, and we get to try and get it right in four years.

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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Disclosures: Contributor to: Rick Scott for US Senate , Ron DeSantis for Florida Governor
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Friday, September 21, 2018

The Weenie Tax

"Every hot dog, beer purchased in that district will go
toward the stadium."

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

Plans to fund the planned new Tampa Bay Rays stadium near Ybor City are emerging.

"Every hot dog, beer purchased in that district will go toward the stadium."

Taxing hot dogs and beer to pay for a stadium? Now you got my attention.

From the TBBJ:
A group of business leaders working on efforts to move the Tampa Bay Rays to Ybor City is evaluating different funding strategies for the proposed $892 million, glass-domed ballpark.
Ambassadors of Rays 2020, led by Tampa attorney Ron Christaldi and Chuck Sykes, CEO of Sykes Enterprises, spoke during a Rotary Club of Ybor City meeting on Sept. 12 and addressed the questions the Rays face, which primarily are concerns with how the stadium would be funded
"[We will be] working with the landowners to create a CDD type of environment for an entertainment district. Every hot dog, beer purchased in that district will go toward the stadium so it's not taxpayer money, it's a fee-based structure," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, the county's chief negotiator with the Rays.

The entertainment district tax will be used to land more funding.
"We have to be extremely creative for the necessary funding. The goal on that is to cast as much of a wide of a net as possible," Hagan said.

We can be creative too, especially when it affects my hot dogs and beer.  I must have a hot dog at every sporting event I attend. I am not making this up.

                                                      Don't tax my weenie!
                                                    (Credit rones,

Just how many weenies will have to be sold to pay for the new Rays stadium?

The latest stadium cost estimates are $892 million, and the Rays, whose estimated value is $900 million, stated they will contribute $150 million to the overall costs. That leaves $742 million to be funded. By hot dogs?

The new stadium plans call for 28,216 seats, which is a reduction in the total capacity of Tropicana field, where attendance average is reported to be 14,700.

Using some simple math (and zero interest rate to keep it simple for now), assuming that every game sells out for 82 home games a year, and everyone is like me, needs a hot dog at every game, and $1 from each weenie "purchased in that district will go toward the stadium", it will take at least 320 years to pay off the stadium.

Or we could pay off the CDD bonds in 32 years... if we charged a $10 fee per hot dog.

Thats a lot of weenies that are bought with "not taxpayers money", which begs the question... exactly whose money is it buying weenies?

Isn't this a reductio ad absurdum argument?

Of course it is. As is the whole notion on funding the stadium with a CDD.

According to Wikipedia,
A community development district (CDD) is a local, special-purpose government framework authorized by Chapter 190[1] of the Florida Statutes as amended, and is an alternative to municipal incorporation for managing and financing infrastructure required to support development of a community.[1]
Florida has hundreds of CDDs, and they are meant to provide an alternative to funding the development of new communities from the traditional municipal governance. The developer takes a lead role in funding and developing the infrastructure, which in turn are paid back in fees from the residents of the development, which has been bonded out by the developer as municipal bonds. The developer is not paying for it. The new residents are.

CDDs can go bad, as they are typically dependent upon a 20 to 30 year payback schedule. Developments don't always go as planned, and Florida has at least 100 CDDs that are some form of financial distress.

Field of Schemes noted some inconsistencies with the CDD plans.
There are, however, a couple of problems here. One is that it’s not entirely clear whether a new stadium is the kind of amenity that actually makes nearby land more valuable — and if it doesn’t, you could end up seeing property values plunging as nobody wants to buy land that comes with a whopping surcharge, or even see the CDD go into default, as has happened from time to time. So if this does end up part of a Rays stadium funding plan, it’s going to be hugely important who’s on the hook for those payments if the CDD money falls short.

Then there’s that puzzling statement by Hagan that “every hot dog, beer purchased in that district will go toward the stadium.” He also said “we are not going to raise sales taxes,” so presumably there won’t be an actual surcharge on sales of stadium-district beer, just on property taxes for stadium-district beer gardens. Which is a pretty indirect and hand-wavy way of ensuring that the stadium will in some way pay for itself, probably because without the hand waving, it’d be immediately clear that there aren’t enough windfall hot dog profits to build a near-billion-dollar stadium.
So what happens when a CDD goes bankrupt?

New investors developers may take over. They may be able to buy the defaulted bonds at firesale prices, and develop new properties at much lower costs, reducing the value of other district properties, thus property tax revenues.

Of course, as with most of these schemes with CRA, TIF, and CDD, the ultimate backstop is the taxpayer. City of Tampa and Hillsborough County will be at risk of over a billion dollars to take over a failing CDD as central to the plans of the area as the new Rays Stadium.

Don't be surprised, as the fat cats behind the Rays Stadium are aligned with many other schemes to enrich themselves at the taxpayer expense. If there is one thing that is near unanimous across Tampa Bay, it is the fact that a vast majority of Tampa Bay residents do not what their hard earned taxes spent on sports stadiums.

Yet here we are again, politicians and business leaders ignoring the people the "serve".

Who's among those behind the Rays funding plan?

Chuck Sykes, whom we've documented as one of the lead cronies behind the special interest lead All For Transportation Transit 14% sales tax increase now on the November ballot in Hillsborough.

Then there is this, again from the TBBJ:
"We are talking to businesses that aren't here, tourism-related companies, talking to those kinds of companies, but also because of Brightline and that connection from Tampa to Orlando, we are starting to talk to more businesses along [Interstate] 4 even into Orlando," [Rays 2020 Ambassador Mike] Griffin said.

"The fact that walking distance from here we can [or will] literally walk to a train that's privately funded and be in Orlando in a half hour, that's really exciting," he added.
Griffin, on the thinking track of transit, also mentioned how important it is in general to have different modes of transit for the stadium.

The site already has parking within walking distance. More garages we will be built, but the existing infrastructure is in place, Griffin said. About 18 percent of people who go to ball games use Uber or Lyft, and it's projected that usage will increase to 30 percent by the time a ballpark is built, Griffin said, speaking on available parking spaces as well as ridesharing options.

"The other aspect to this is access to our waterfront. We are very close to our port. I believe we have a great opportunity to really open up our waterways, not just for recreational watercraft, but the expansion of our water taxi service to that vision of being able to get to this ballpark without ever stepping foot in a car is real," Griffin said. "They do it in Miami, I'm sure we can do it here."

Lots of big plans and big talk. This sounds similar to Tampa's nearby Vinikville, Water Street, which has similar big plans and big talk, but little to show, about new business and companies relocating and expanding around downtown Tampa. Now there is more development around downtown Tampa, diluting the market.

Brightline's plans do not include any rail that will "be in Orlando in a half hour". That's not "really exciting". That's a lie.

This passage just confirms the linkage with the All for Transportation Transit Charter Amendment on the November ballot in Hillsborough. There is no parking nearby the proposed Rays Stadium. They won't be selling out those 28,216 seats unless they fix that situation.  They are expecting this transit boondoggle to save the day.

Something tells me more than my weenies are at risk.

You might also ask, who is the weenie?

If you have to ask, you are the weenie.

Posted by EyeOn TampaBay at 8:25 AM

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