Sunday, March 31, 2019

Trophy Fish’s 2018 Repeat Noise Nuisance Calls

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff
A resident or individual in a car or on a motorcycle in the City is more likely to be issued a citation than a bar, restaurant or cafe.
Trophy Fished opened in May 2018. There was a noise complaint made to the police every month but October, but no citations for noise were issued. 

  • 8 Noise complaints but Police Records only show 3. The remaining five are for the intersection, where Trophy Fish is named, except one. If you searched the Police call logs or Police CAD Reporting system for noise calls at the address, there would only be three confirmed noise calls. 
  • Six (6) calls are in violation of the Noise Ordinance time requirement. Yet, Police issued no citations.
  • Data proves police lack proper documentation of the source, thus, noise calls are underreported. 
  • Police reported the speakers were seen to be pointing out. Was this reported to Codes? Didn’t the City require a noise plan for establishment before the Trophy Fish opened? 
The Getaway in Maximo Marina was required to submit a noise plan. For past couple months, there has been outdoor music.  The music can be heard on the adjacent property at the Moorings of Maximo Condominium. I have heard the music in my residence. 

The calls highlight an issue the police have managing repeat calls. There is no management. The Police are not tracking the repeat calls. Residents give up calling the police. 

The new noise ordinance requires warnings and penalties for repeat calls. How are the police going to manage this when they currently do not. In the City presentations to Public Services & Infrastructure, there was no discussion on this. The City Council needs to address this before voting on the new noise ordinance revision.  

The calls identify another issue. The police do not properly identify the the source and address, thus repeat calls are under counted. Initial search for "2-6- Central Av" revealed three calls when there were more calls. If police do not properly manage the source address, how are repeat calls to be identified? 

However, we know the Police and City are not enforcing the noise ordinance when Police make multiple requests to the location asking them to turn down the noise. 

How do we know? 

The noise ordinance is discretionary and the Mayor and Police are not required to enforce it. See Mayor Kriseman's email to Police Chief Holloway.

We also know City Council Member Kornell worked with the Community Service Officer Kelly, and Flamingo Resort Owner Jack Dougherty, who is Board President for the Skyway Marina District, to develop a strategy to deal with me when I emailed Mayor Kriseman about the noise.   

Penalties are addressed in the revised noise ordinance, reference City's LDR 2019-02 Draft Ordinance, Section 11-50. — Penalty. 
The first violation of any provision of this division shall result in a written warning. The second violation of any provision of this division within 365 days after a written warning is issued is punishable by a fine in the amount of $500.00. Subsequent violations of this division issued within a one year of another a violation resulting in a $500.00 fine, which has been disposed of in any way other than a dismissal or finding of not guilty by a court, shall be punishable by a fine of $500.00. For any additional violation of this division within 365 days of two violations which resulted in a fine of $500.00 as prescribed herein, and which have been disposed of in any way other than a dismissal or finding of not guilty by a court, the City may impose a thirty (30) day suspension of a City issued extended hours permit for establishments serving alcoholic beverages or a sidewalk café permit, or both. Concurrent with or independent of any sidewalk café or extended hours permit suspension imposed by the City following two violations which resulted in a fine of $500.00 fine within 365 days, the City may also require preparation of a noise mitigation and monitoring plan in accordance with Section 16.50.310.3 within 90 days of the violation.

Penalties bring up another issue — the audio of the resident who called. This is evidence the police could use or the resident or bar could use to fight the penalty, but it is deleted after 90 days.

Data, comments, images and Call For Service Reports are Public Record. 

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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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Where to live in St. Petersburg — Downtown or OUTSIDE Downtown?

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion 
By author: Robert Neff

In 2018, the City of St. Petersburg had 2517 noise calls and an additional 413 calls for loud party. If you separate the calls between outside downtown and downtown, outside downtown is 12 times as noisy as downtown. No wonder everyone wants to move downtown!

While that last line is a parody of sorts, the real issue is downtown has had all the press and that is no laughing matter. The City is growing and bars, clubs, restaurants and cafe's with outdoor music are encroaching on residential areas. While neighborhoods outside of downtown are desperate for growth, residents need to start the noise conversation with the neighborhood leads. Or you will "face" the noise.

While the Mayor, City Council, news media are focused on the downtown area, the real issue is outside downtown. No matter how many times the news media interviews a resident or shows a bar, it’s downtown. 
News media may want to look at the data instead of producing softball videos and softball articles. Instead of producing "sensational" work, go old school, investigate and report.
Tampa Bay's news media has forgotten how to produce local investigative reporting and have abandoned Tampa Bay residents.
Up until March 2017, when I provided the data to the City, they thought the noise problem was downtown. The data proved them wrong. City was in the process of revising the noise ordinance, and had not even bothered to look at the data. 
But the data discloses many questions. Where are all those calls? How do you categorize them? In the absence of a City effort and report to understand the location and how to categorize the calls, I have categorized the data based upon the locations provided. The City does provide some of the names for bars, restaurants and cafes, and some apartment and condominium complexes, but, as you can see, there are many more unidentified addresses.

The noise calls assigned to residences, businesses and hotels need to be reviewed to ascertain if the call was properly assigned to that address or if it was for another location, for example, a residence or an intersection. To verify the source, one has to obtain and review the Police's Call For Service Report(s). The table poses more questions, but I do not have access to the City's data and personnel to address the questions. Therefore, the City would need to provide more detail.

Look at patterns for both downtown and outside downtown.  

If you combine the downtown's bars, restaurants and cafe's, they out number downtown residences. The number has increased for some bars, because the Police do not always assign the call to the source. The number of calls can be refined by reviewing the Police Call For Service Reports to determine the call source. Then the report's tally for each location can be fine tuned.

Outside downtown, residences and businesses have far more calls than bars, restaurants and cafes combined. Parks are popular areas for noise calls. 
A resident or individual in a car or on a motorcycle in the City of St.Petersburg playing music too loud is more likely to be issued a citation than a bar, restaurant or cafe. The City may want to check the citations to if some areas have more citations than other areas.

The City of St. Petersburg can reduce the calls if the Police enforce the noise ordinance and the Mayor gives the order to the Police Chief. Unfortunately, the Mayor seems to be enforcing the noise ordinance at his discretion, and so are police. You should read Mayor Kriseman's email to Police Chief Holloway at the end of the article. How many more emails are there like this?

In Mayor Kriseman's email, he mentioned the "broken window" theory. That is, if noise calls can be reduced, then crime can be reduced. In past years, some bars have seen 4 to 7 times as many crime calls than noise calls at multiple bars. The City can easily look into this. The City can easily provide this information to the neighborhood meetings.

When the City does not provide reporting, or provides inaccurate reporting, the City puts residents at risk. Residents have been confronted, trolled online, or identified as a problem. City Council Members has stated they are residents who are, and to paraphrase, problem callers. The news media is not covering this aspect. 
Just by calling the police to report noise, you put yourself at risk, because Mayor Kriseman and Police are not enforcing the noise ordinance. 
The revised noise ordinance maintains the "Plainly audible" standard, and that is just one problem with the ordinance. Residents have stood with police officers and heard the noise or bass, but the police were unable to hear it. Plainly audible is based on time, distance, and zoning. However, sound does not discriminate, yet, the City and Police discriminate against residents who call about the noise, and this includes those over 60.

The noise ordinance's time, distance and zoning work against residents who live too close to a bar.  In one instance, Police have met with a downtown resident and confirmed a downtown bar's noise, but did not issue a citation. According to St. Petersburg Police Department, Incident Report, Case Number: 2017-010636, Officer states, "THERE WAS NO ONE CITED AT THIS TIME, DUE TO THE DISTANCE OF THE BAR TO THE VICTIMS HOUSE NO VIOLATION OCCURRED." 

The noise ordinance and the new noise ordinance is riddled with language that supports bars. This will be discussed in another article.

This email from Mayor Kriseman to Police Chief Holloway will help you understand why the City of St. Petersburg has an abysmal citation rate.   

Data Notes: The unidentified category is all the addresses the City did not identify. Sometimes the police assigns noise calls at bar and intersection to residences. Some noise calls are assigned to other events. Some noise calls are categorized as ordinance violations. Some are listed under a traffic citation. As these become known, the data will be updated. For the data reports, downtown is defined as downtown and Central Avenue corridor up to 30th. City has the resources to use their GEO data to refine the results.   
In addition, the City needs an education and outreach program on the noise ordinance and the medical impact on adult's and kids' health. To date the City has not authorized either of these.

 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, March 27, 2019

All for Transportation Ballot Language vs Article 11 Charter Amendment - Deceptive or Legal?

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

All for Transportation (AFT) hit voters mail boxes hard last year with glossy mailers claiming they had a transportation "plan" aka $16 Billion transit tax hike to "cut" traffic congestion in Hillsborough County for 30 years.

But we posted here, when AFT spokesperson Kevin Thurman, one of the authors of their $16 Billion transit tax hike, was challenged on that claim about a week before the election, he was forced to admit that such claims were not true and congestion would actually get worse over the 30 years.

No wonder AFT refused to debate anyone who opposed their tax hike before the election. Their deceptive use of exaggerated claims would be exposed.

While deceptive political campaigns may not be illegal, what about deceptive ballot language?

The ballot summary language All for Transportation (AFT) used in their 30 year $16 Billion tax hike stated their massive tax hike would fund road improvements. In fact, AFT included improving roads and bridges first in their list of projects to be funded  - as if to tell voters that funding road improvements was the highest priority use for the billions in new tax revenues. 

Voters reading the ballot summary language can reasonably and logically construe the 30 year $16 Billion tax hike funds new road capacity.

The definition of road improvements includes "construction of new roads or improvement or expansion of existing roads…" It is common knowledge, and common sense dictates, that transportation projects to "improve roads" includes transportation projects to add new road capacity.

Except for AFT.

In the fine print of the 5 page AFT charter amendment the AFT transit advocates who wrote the transit tax hike charter amendment redefined the definition of "improve roads". AFT redefined "improve roads" to be improvements to intersections of existing roads.

But the ballot language also includes funding to "improve intersections" as a totally separate and different group of projects to be funded by the AFT tax hike than "improve roads".

If that is not confusing enough…In the fine print, not only did AFT intentionally not fund transportation projects to widen roads and add new road capacity, they specifically prohibited the use of AFT tax proceeds to fund new road capacity in Hillsborough County for 30 years - when the county's population is expected to grow by 700-800K.

AFT's ballot summary language may have serious logical conflicts with what AFT specified and prohibited in the fine print of their 5 page tax hike charter amendment.

AFT did everything by design. It appears they intentionally used deceptive and misleading ballot language so voters would logically conclude the $16 Billion tax hike funds much needed new road capacity in Hillsborough County over the 30 years of the tax.

The ballot language is the only piece of text every voter is guaranteed to see and it is the last bit of information voters encounter before casting their ballots.

Therefore, is the use of misleading ballot language legal?

Well...The Florida Supreme Court threw state Amendment 8 off the ballot last year stating the language was misleading. The Tampa Bay Times, who wrote editorials in support of the AFT tax hike and was all in for the AFT tax, weighed in on Amendment 8 with an editorial stating (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.
So…if voters relied on the ballot summary language but that language was misleading, conflicts with the 5 pages of AFT's fine print or as the Times states is "deviously worded" - is that legal?

Hillsborough County commissioners and county staff admitted at the February 21 BOCC workshop that it is AFT's fine print mandating how the tax proceeds must be spent that is creating chaos and confusion. If the agencies receiving the tax proceeds are confused, it is reasonable and logical to assume voters were too.

AFT's $16 Billion tax hike with no funding for new road capacity and specific prohibitions for funding new roads for 30 years is causing big problems at County Center.

As posted here, AFT's big mess is putting the county between a rock and a hard place. Some county commissioners, including those who supported the AFT tax hike, now want to raise the gas tax and take more money from you.

All the commissioners were warned about the serious flaws with AFT's transit tax hike before the election. They refused to inform their constituents and remained silent about the issues except for Commissioner White.

The mask is falling off of AFT's tax hike masquerade…even by AFT.

Recently AFT spokesperson and chief architect of the transit tax hike Kevin Thurman posted this comment on a Times article about the tax.

Thurman is not a transportation expert or a traffic engineer. Thurman is a transit advocate who works on rail/transit advocacy campaigns.

The comment from AFT's tax hike chief architect confirms that AFT's $16 Billion tax hike was never intended to fund road widening or new road capacity in growing Hillsborough County for 30 years.

But AFT used ballot language (see above) for voters to reasonably conclude the 30 year AFT $16 Billion tax hike funded road widening and new roads.

Therefore, if AFT used ballot language that was misleading and the ballot language did not sufficiently inform voters of what was actually in AFT's 5 pages of fine print, is that legal?

This looks like another serious legal question regarding the AFT tax hike that must be resolved.

And as the Times editorialized "deviously" worded ballot language that prevents voters from sufficiently being informed about what they are voting for should be struck.

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, March 24, 2019

Noise Citation rates are abysmal

No wonder City of St. Petersburg residents have complained about the noise so much. The noise citation rates are abysmal, and getting worse!

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff

From 2017 to 2018, the repeat calls increased while the number of calls dropped by 18 and percentage of citations dropped. Also, the City is not addressing Loud Party calls, and should.

If anyone has to wonder why there are so many calls and so little citations, the police VERY RARELY issue citations, according to the data. 

Then again, residents who complain about bar noise already know this. For those who need proof, just read Mayor Kriseman's email to Police Chief Holloway. Then you will understand. What a waste of resident tax dollars to have police officer respond to a noise call knowing the Mayor is not enforcing the noise ordinance! 

The new noise ordinance revision does not change the distance or times, just penalties. Residents need a noise ordinance with a decibel standard, but that won't happen with this Mayor and City Council, as long as the bars have so much influence. Remember, the Mayor and City Council members do not live near a bar, and cannot relate to listening to noise for 6 hours, not being able to watch television, or having the walls shake!
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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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Sound doesn't discriminate and residents have no rights in St. Petersburg!

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion
By author: Robert Neff

There has been no real discussion on the noise ordinance from Mayor Kriseman. Considering Mayor Kriseman emailed Police Chief Holloway to ask him to enforce the noise ordinance for two weeks, the time for an honest noise discussion is way past due. The Mayor, and City Council Members do not live near a noise source. Mayor Kriseman is noticeably absent on the noise issue, unless there is a camera so he can say something non whimsical about getting along. No one on City Council is asking the hard questions. Seems they just want this to go away? My response is, "Sound doesn't discriminate but Mayor Kriseman and City Council are discriminating against residents when it comes to noise." Residents have no rights in St. Petersburg!

1. Every resident needs to ask themselves, 

a. Why is the noise ordinance standard for violation different for sound between a residence to another residence, vehicle to a neighborhood, or a business to a residence? Sound pressure could care less if you are in a residential or non-residential zone.

b. If sound is impacting a person in the home or on the street, what difference does the time of day make? Time does not discriminate.

c. How can someone live too close to a bar and there be no violation? The sound pressure is much greater if you live closer to the source. The City’s noise ordinance does protect residences in their home if they live too close. The City is responsible for residences who were forced to move, especially when their health and welfare were at risk. What about the people who cannot afford to move and have to suffer?

The current and revised noise ordinance state different distances for residential, non residential, motor vehicle, and boat. A violation should not have a different distance for a resident call on another residence or resident call on a bar?

That is, a resident who calls the police in a residential area for noisy neighbor has a lesser distance requirement than a resident who calls the police to report noise for a bar, restaurant or cafe, who may be much louder than a resident. The time, day or night, should not be a consideration, because the sound pressure does not change whether its afternoon or night?

Noise does not discriminate and does have a negative medical impact on adult and kids health.  Why has the City refused to hire a medical expert to present to City Council’s Public Services & Infrastructure Committee?

Here are a few more questions and observations:

2.  City did not conduct a cost analysis for all three noise ordinance revisions and properly model the costs. Request the city develop a cost model and present to PS&I before May’s meeting on the revision.

The City did provide a cost to implement the decibel standard, but the City did not provide provide the current costs to have two officers and a vehicle respond to a noise call. Thus, the $334,852 price tag to implement the decibel standard probably resulted in Council’s sticker shock, and greatly influenced their decision to chose Option #1.

Here is a crude data model I built that suggests the cost saving to implement Option 3’s decibel Standard could be over $86,000 to over $200,000. Certainly the City could refine the data model with a detailed cost breakout.

In addition, the Noise Ordinance Enforcement Unit cost has no daytime scheduled. Many of the infractions are daytime and on weekends. The City’s cost does not consider reduction in repeat calls, and for 2018 would be reduced by 46%.  Here are the City's costs for the Noise Ordinance Enforcement Unit.

3. Why is there no community outreach and education for the current and new noise ordinance? The "Plainly audible" standard and the time and distance are the three main issues with the proposed noise ordinance revision. The decibel standard would correct these issues.

4. When the City approves/rejects the noise ordinance revision, how will the police maintain the warnings and citations? Will this be available to the public on the City web site? Police do not maintain noise reports that dig into the data or conduct trend analysis.

5. How will the new noise ordinance’s performance be measured? This is important for residents to understand how our tax dollars are being utilized. Will there be updates every three months? Six months? 

6. We already figured out the Police undercount the noise calls. City didn't count Loud Party calls in the presentations to City Council's Public Services & Infrastructure committee responsible for the noise ordinance revision

7. Will the Police Department enforce the noise ordinance year-round and not just for two weeks? Read the Mayor Kriseman's email to Police Chief Holloway to understand what the Mayor did. 

8. Will Police Officers work with Council members and bar owners and business districts to develop strategies to deal with residence who call the police to report noise? Internal Affairs is OK with this. Why am I not surprised?

Here is the Mayor's email to Police Chief Holloway.

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, March 13, 2019

AFT Tax Hike Scam Puts County Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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

The All For Transportation (AFT) tax hike may turn into one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on Hillsborough County voters and taxpayers.

We predicted the AFT would create a big mess and more evidence of that played out at a Hillsborough County BOCC workshop held February 21, 2019.

The workshop to discuss how the county could spend $110 million of new AFT tax proceeds quickly turned into a debacle. The commissioners darted in all directions when confronted with the reality the $16 Billion AFT tax hike does not fund new road capacity in Hillsborough County for 30 years.

These commissioners knew this issue before the election. Except for Commissioner White, they all ignored the issue and did not properly inform the voting public. That is incompetence.

Now some of these same commissioners want to raise the local gas tax.

The workshop began with the groundwork that all transportation projects must go thru the "Independent Oversight Committee". What a misnomer! This "Oversight" committee is unelected bureaucrats who are accountable to no one yet have the authority to approve or disapprove all transportation projects that can be funded by the $16 Billion AFT tax.

Note: Oversight committees are created to review, analyze, survey, monitor or make recommendations but are not created to have approval/disapproval authority. This committee was misnamed and should be called the Unelected Bureaucrat's Approval Committee.

John Lyons, who oversees the county's Public Works department, began his presentation and the workshop started going downhill. Lyons presents how 85% of the $110 million the county would receive this year would fund maintenance, safety and some intersection improvements for existing roads and fund new bike paths and sidewalks.

How the County could spend
$110 million of AFT tax revenues
(Click to enlarge)
Lyons states Hillsborough County is 1231 square miles of which 1000 of those miles are located in unincorporated Hillsborough County. Lyons tried to make lemonade out of lemons but his wordy fluff could not cover the reality of the bad policy the AFT tax hike is.

The video of this workshop can be found here and the entire transcript can be found here. It is worth watching the video or reading the entire transcript.

There are some nuggets from this workshop that are interesting.

Commissioner White immediately pointed out that AFT specifically restricts or prohibits any funds in the top 4 categories (of the slide above) from being used for new roads or adding new road capacity. White tells the commissioners that only the last category "Remaining" funds "could" be used to fund additional lane capacity or road widening.

White provides a public service by informing the public at this workshop that the $16.5 million of the "Remaining" funds could only fund one-half to three-quarters of a mile of added lane capacity a year. And that is IF the county used every penny of their Remaining funds on new road capacity. AFT intentionally allows these remaining funds to be used for any transportation project including transit.

White tells his peer commissioners they must be transparent, especially to their constituents in fast growing unincorporated Hillsborough, where 2/3 of the population of the county reside. All the commissioners must be honest to their constituents about how AFT, a political committee funded by downtown special interests and accountable to no one, specifically restricts how they decided to appropriate the tax hike proceeds.





AFT's $4 million marketing campaign claimed their tax hike was "fixing" roads, reducing congestion and ensuring everyone's commute time would be reduced so they would get home for dinner quicker - for 30 years. AFT provided no evidence to back up their exaggerated false claims.

In reality, the AFT tax hike is a transit tax to force county taxpayers to spend $7-8 Billion on costly transit in the city of Tampa and prohibit and limit the funding of new road capacity - for 30 years. AFT's marketing campaign, funded by special interests who will benefit from the transit tax, was a deceptive and misleading facade.

All of these commissioners and county staff knew this. But all of them except Commissioner White went along with AFT's charade.

No wonder the discussion at this workshop went downhill.

Commissioner Overman, who is not a traffic engineer, said "it would be a wise idea for the individuals that need to understand transportation planning what additional capacity means….you actually can create the goal or achieve the goal of congestion reduction without adding lanes to the process." 

Did Overman tell voters that during the election? Would she ever have told her constituents in New Tampa that congestion on Bruce B Downs did not need to include road widening? Did Overman tell voters in South County this tax hike does not fund new roads or additional road capacity?

Overman fails to acknowledge timing of lights and some intersection improvements may increase some throughput on existing roads but they will never relieve traffic congestion for a county that expects 700K or more residents over the next 30 years - not including more tourists. Overman is not being truthful but she is being condescending to her constituents, especially those in unincorporated Hillsborough.

AFT's tax hike ballot summary language clearly states the tax hike will fund projects to "improve roads" as if that is the tax hike's top priority. Common sense and normal assumptions dictates that includes funding new road capacity especially when "improve intersections" is also included as a separate funding category.

All for Transportation Ballot Summary Language
(Click to enlarge)
All these commissioners and county staff knew the fine print in AFT's 5 page charter amendment specifically prohibited funding new road capacity and severely limited any of the $16 Billion being used for new roads or road widening. They refused to inform the public.

Facing reality there is no new road capacity funding for 30 years in the $16 Billion AFT tax hike, Commissioner Murman brought up raising the local gas tax. Overman and Commissioner Smith, both supporters of the AFT $16 Billion tax hike, agreed they want to raise the gas tax.  

Astounding! Taxpayers are handing over $16 Billion of new AFT tax hike proceeds for transportation and some commissioners now want to raise the gas tax because the AFT tax hike does not fund new road capacity.

Why didn't these commissioners tell their constituents this before the election?

Commissioner Smith chimed in she thinks voters voted to put massive amounts of new tax dollars (about $7-8 Billion) to pay for costly transit and not to fund new roads. What evidence is there of that attitude? AFT's $4 million marketing campaign focused on "fixing" roads. Did Smith tell her voters that the vast majority of the transit funds that will be spent in the city of Tampa will be paid for by taxpayers in unincorporated?

According to Smith, instead of road widening the county needs to focus on getting some cars off the road. She prefers pursuing another CSX/SunRail SunFail commuter rail. Smith fails to state what a fiscal failure SunRail is with ridership so bad its fare box recovery only covers 5% of its operating costs - meaning taxpayers are subsidizing the other 95%. SunRail's farebox does not even cover the cost of its ticketing system. SunRail is one of the most accident prone rail systems in the country and it has only been in service since 2014. 

Every commission district, except for the smallest District 3 of Commissioner Miller, includes taxpayers of unincorporated Hillsborough County. All of these commissioners better have an answer for why their constituents, especially those in unincorporated Hillsborough, must pay the vast majority of the billions for transit in the city of Tampa while not getting new road capacity in unincorporated.

The most disturbing comment came from the BOCC Chair Commissioner Miller:

Miller, a former state legislator, apparently does not care whether voters knew what they were voting for or whether what voters were voting on was all legal. The only thing that matters to him is the $16 Billion tax hike passed. 

When the end justifies whatever means, there will be problems.

Commissioner Murman admitted it:
Why weren't voters and taxpayers told this before the election? 
Posted by Sharon Calvert at 11:42 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

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Tampa Mayoral Race Exposes Fractured Community

Tampa, Fl
Jim Bleyer                                                                 
Tampa Bay Beat

By: Jim Bleyer:

The 2019 Tampa mayoral campaign hasn’t brought out the best and the brightest but it has cast a spotlight on the fractured culture and numerous special interest factions fighting for the heart, soul, and wallet of Florida’s fourth largest city.

The seven-candidate lineup resembles a parade of panderers.  They have been appearing at forums ad nauseum hosted by more special interests than the grains of sand on Ben Davis Beach.   All feel obligated to attend the succession of dog-and pony shows to avoid incurring the wrath of these pressure groups.

 Here is a partial list from just the past five weeks:
1/15 – Society of Real Estate Professionals
1/16 – Downtown Tampa Partnership
1/22 – TBBA & South Tampa Dems
1/23 – Westshore Alliance
1/24 – Hyde Park Preservation Inc. 
1/29 – Seminole Heights
1/20 – South Tampa
2/5 – Arts and Culture
2/6 – Davis Island
2/7 – Westshore Palms
2/8 – HIstoric Ybor City Neighborhood Association
2/9 – United Voices
2/11 – West Tampa
2/12 – Forest Hills
2/13 – LGBTA
2/15 – Tiger Bay
2/19 – New Tampa
2/20 – Sierra Club
2/21 – Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Forum
2/21 – NAACP
2/22 – Hispanic Caucus

A comprehensive, integrated community vision is as rare as horse droppings on a carousel.  Instead, the public has been treated to condensed white papers (by only three of the candidates), each on a narrow topic, that go largely unread or undigested.
Rehearsing for these gatherings figured to be a bonzo job for the Unmagnificent Seven because of the special interest aspect.  Yet, it has been more than challenging for the participants.

Having a professional and personal background with the arts, I was particularly drawn to the arts and culture forum three weeks ago.  It proved incredibly embarrassing as none of the candidates appeared to possess a true grasp of the issues faced by the arts community.  Outpromising  opponents with unrealistic plans and policies was the order of the day. 

With the candidates learning nothing, voters are learning nothing.  

Six of the seven candidates haven’t offered anything new or inspirational—only Topher Morrison, owner of a small business and political neophyte, touts unique innovation and total inclusiveness.  Sadly, he is a long shot to make the anticipated two-person runoff despite energizing the youth vote.

The remaining aspirants are intent on perpetuating Tampa’s good ‘ol boy network that chains Tampa to third-rate status among the country’s big cities.  These candidates include a legacy candidate, two city council members with notably unremarkable records, an out-of-touch billionaire who hasn’t grasped the issues but is convinced he can buy the office, a former county commissioner with a checkered record whose rhetoric exceeds his accomplishments, and a former police chief who was castigated by the Department of Justice for racial profiling.

With that ensemble, Tampanians can only pray for the drumbeat of the status quo instead of the bugle of retreat and regression.  Tapping Tampa’s enormous potential and thrusting the city into the national conversation remains a pipe dream.

Except for Morrison attracting the youth vote, there’s no reason to believe Tampa’s traditional 20 percent turnout for municipal elections will increase dramatically.

Term-limited Mayor Bob Buckhorn spent eight years protecting special interests.  Under his stewardship, Tampa garnered an abundance of negative national headlines.

The primary is March 5 with the runoff in April.  Reversing the buildup of adverse publicity will be a monumental task for the eventual winner.

 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.