Friday, January 31, 2020

Democrats and Republicans - Beware of John Bolton

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog. Return
Everybody is extremely interested in having John Bolton testify in the impeachment hearings.
The problem is nobody really knows what John Bolton is going to say.
Recent revelations, reportedly from his new book, would indicate that the testimony he would give at the hearing would be damaging to President Donald Trump.
In reality, nobody really knows for sure.
The Democrats think Bolton would be the nail in Trump’s coffin, but they could be wrong.
Is he going to try to sell his book? Is he going to try to bury President Trump or is he going to offer testimony that will completely explode the Democrats case? I think all of those are viable options.
So, it seems to me to be a risk to both the Republicans and the Democrats to invite John Bolton into the impeachment trial.
Most people believe that Bolton is a true hawk, but he’s also his own person. Read this:
Bolton nominally falls into the realist camp, but he inhabits the extreme end of it – he is a hard-liner and a hawk. He reflexively distrusts diplomacy to settle disputes. He believes that force and coercion are preferable means to advance U.S. interests. Bolton views international relations as a series of nasty, brutish and short” struggles where military force is the deciding factor.”
Bolton served inside a number of administrations always with controversy. Bolton's focus is always on self-serving interest, so is the risk worth it?
I don’t know, but one thing is one thing is for certain if John Bolton takes the stand, and he is questioned by both parties it will be some of the most explosive testimony ever presented in an impeachment hearing.
So only time will tell.
Everybody would be a whole lot better off if John Bolton didn’t testify. Let him promote his book on the talk shows and cable channels.
I think it’s just going to  make people more confused more frustrated more upset and less informed that they are now.
Let’s just read the book and form our own opinions.
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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Canine Trafficking – Hillsborough County taking action

It is the canine version of human trafficking.

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

All across the United States, there are those who breed dogs in horrible conditions shipping them to “puppy stores” who make massive profits from selling these often genetically defective animals to unsuspecting customers for excessive prices.
When we, as consumers, buy these puppies, we immediately begin to love and care for them. Often times what starts out as pure love and joy turns into tragedy.
There are two victims here, the puppy and you the buyer.
Click these links and follow the story of my puppy-dog store puppy - Max.
Check out these stories from the Tampa Bay Times:
County Commissioner Ken Hagan said, “Breeders who all too often turned a blind eye to abhorrent practices.”
Listening to the comments from County Commission meetings shown on news clips from the puppy stores owners brought my blood to near boiling level.
They are without any doubt only interested in making a buck. All the talk about loving dogs is mostly bullshit. It's all about the money - buying cheap and selling high.
If you cannot make a living in the pet business without resorting to selling puppy mill victims in my view, they should be put out of business.
Someone pleading their case to sell the often victims on animal cruelty simply tells you all you need to know. Don’t shop there!
Why not go to reputable local or regional breeders for puppies? Simple there is more profit to be made selling puppy mill puppies.
Franchised puppy stores support the puppy mill business, and the product should always be suspect.
Never believe the claims or the certificates or the warrantees or the smiling face trying to get the sale.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

I’m Dropping Dunkin Donuts

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Dunkin’ Donuts used to be one of my favorite places to catch breakfast in the morning or stop later in the afternoon for an ice coffee and a nice fresh donut.

On Saturday morning, my wife and I used to ride our bikes down to our local Dunkin Donut shop not too far from our house in Pinellas Park and enjoy a donut or a croissant and a cup of coffee.

I have made my last stop at Dunkin. It just seems to me that the donuts have gotten smaller; the selection has gotten worse; the filled donuts are not quite as full, and in general the quality at Bay area Dunkin Donut shops has significantly decreased.

I’m not really sure what happened, but recently I’ve noticed that Dunkin Donuts dropped the “Donuts” and now they’re just Dunkin. Recently, I heard they’re going to drop the double D’s and again as I pointed out before the donuts just seem to be getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller.

I have noticed that Duncan is putting more emphasis on their breakfast sandwiches and their lunch menu in an attempt to build additional business. One can only question whether or not abandoning your core competency, which was donuts, is really the wisest long-range strategy.

I always enjoyed my stops at Dunkin. It was a pleasure to get a nice fresh donut, especially in the afternoon and that’s what is seriously lacking. It seems they bake donuts once a day early in the morning and when they’re gone, they’re gone. If you have a chance to stop in Dunkin Donuts after 5 PM looking for a fresh donut, in most cases at least around here in the bay area you probably going to be wildly disappointed.

I’m not sure where you go to get a good donut these days. St. Pete bagel seems to have great donuts, but they close at 2 o’clock so if you’re looking for a 4 o’clock donut fix your kind of out of luck.

We recently moved down to Manatee County and once again there was a Dunkin Donut shop not too far from our new home. Sure, enough a recent stop revealed no donuts left in the afternoon.

I guess the theory is people just don’t want donuts in the afternoon.  

I do.

I’m still looking for a local donut shop down here in Manatee County that is not a franchise, stays open until at least 5 o’clock and bakes some donuts after 12 noon. If you happen to know of any add a comment below.

It would seem that Duncan is searching for a new identity perhaps the donut businesses just beneath the current management team. I still raise the question of how wise the strategy is to totally abandon your core competency and start competing with the likes of McDonald’s and the other folks that have decades of experience in the sandwich and breakfast business.

Business history is replete with companies that abandon their core competency only to wake up in bankruptcy and wonder why.

Anyhow, for now I guess I’m just going to abandon my afternoon habit of coffee and donuts, and if I want one (a donut) I’m going to have to get up early in the morning probably about 6 o’clock speed up to the Dunkin Donut shop and grab a bag.

Unfortunately, this most-recent version of the Dunkin donut does not seem to hold up to storage too well. At Dunkin Donuts today you’re lucky if the one you get off the shelf is fresh.

When they were nice and big and plump and well filled, they were a true delight.

I’m going to miss my donuts I really am.

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Bankrupt in 2022 - PSTA Seeking Taxpayer Bailout in 2020

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

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency (PSTA) is going bankrupt. Instead of fixing their fiscal crisis, they are seeking bailouts and new revenue sources. PSTA wants another transit tax referendum on the 2020 ballot because they are insolvent in 2022.

PSTA's financial position presented at Pinellas County local
delegation meeting in August 2019
PSTA has not only been fiscally mismanaged. They have been dishonest, previously abused Federal funds, provided misleading false information to the Federal Transit Administration in their federal grant application, are using their Reserves for operating expenses and for years have refused to address their declining financial position.

Listen to our latest podcast (about 15 minutes) highlighting PSTA's fiscal mess and the end game they want - a new transit sales tax.

The Pinellas County Commissioners must vote to place another transit sals tax on the ballot. They are watching closely how the Florida Supreme Court will rule this spring on the fiasco in Hillsborough County - the All for Transportation transit tax legal challenges.

However, it appears the chess board is being lined up and preparations are being made to put another transit tax referendum on the Pinellas 2020 ballot.

The Pinellas County commissioners reappointed Ken Welch to the PSTA Board last month replacing Dave Eggars. Welch was Chair of PSTA in 2014 when PSTA's rail tax was overwhelmingly defeated. Welch was Chair of PSTA when they were caught misusing Federal transit security funds on their failed Greenlight Pinellas rail tax campaign. Welch was Chair of PSTA when they were forced to hand back over $300K to the Feds for their misuse of those federal funds.

The Feds even told PSTA in 2014 they could bring criminal charges against PSTA for their misuse of federal funds. But no one at PSTA was ever held accountable for abusively using Federal transit security dollars on their rail tax hike campaign.

Instead PSTA CEO Brad Miller and his staff continued to receive pay raises even as PSTA's financial position continued declining. And now the Pinellas County commissioners reappoint the person who was Chair of the PSTA Board when PSTA's misuse of federal funds occurred - during a sales tax hike campaign.

Somewhat oddly, PSTA recently selected Joe Barkley, Bellair Bluffs city commissioner as the new PSTA Chair. Bellair Bluffs is one of or is the smallest city in Pinellas County with a population of 2200 and a land size of under 1/2 square mile. Barkley replaces county commissioner Janet Long as PSTA Chair.

Long is up for re-election countywide this year.  She has been one of PSTA's biggest champions for their proposed $45 million Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (CABRT) project. PSTA's financial mess, the CABRT boondoggle and a tax hike could all become election year issues for her.

With PSTA running deficits and using their Reserves to keep operating, the misnamed CABRT boondoggle, that will not even run on Central Avenue, will quickly bankrupt PSTA - without a new funding source.

The CABRT project began as a $16 million project in 2016. It was enabled to proceed under the radar of the general public for years to become a $45 million boondoggle due to PSTA's lack of transparency.

PSTA was never straightforward about nor never clearly informed the public the CABRT project removes valuable parking and general lanes of vehicle traffic along its route from downtown St. Petersburg to St. Pete Beach.

PSTA never told the public this project requires a new transit tax and has issues with being truthful.

CEO Miller and Commissioner Long, Miller's political sidekick, travelled to DC numerous times over the last few years to lobby for tens of millions of dollars of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding for the CABRT transit project that speeds up bankrupting the transit agency.

Miller and Long lobbied the FTA, our Congressional representatives and our two Florida Senators for the CABRT boondoggle. In addition, PSTA uses tax dollars to hire State and Federal lobbyists to also lobby elected officials and the bureaucracies in Tallahassee and DC.

We doubt Miller and Long informed anyone they met with in DC of the widespread opposition to the project. We doubt they informed anyone they met with that the city commissioners of 2 of the 3 cities along the CABRT route (S Pasadena and St. Pete Beach) voted unanimously on Resolutions opposing the project.

Taxpayers and residents from Pinellas County took responsibility to inform those Miller and Long lobbied to about the opposition to the CABRT, PSTA's dishonest behavior and PSTA's rapidly declining financial position.

Therefore, none of these decision makers can say they are not aware of the opposition to the CABRT, PSTA's fiscal mess or some of the shenanigans associated with the CABRT project.

Numerous times last year PSTA CEO Miller told local media that PSTA "expected" to secure $22 million of federal funding for the project by the end of last year.

Thankfully that never occurred, and hopefully will never occur.

PSTA is in need of reform, a new CEO and a new CFO and not a new revenue source from the wallets of taxpayers.

Taxpayers in Pinellas….Beware! Be Prepared!

Because Pinellas County appears to want to reward PSTA's lack of transparency, dishonest behavior and fiscal mismanagement with putting another transit tax referendum on the 2020 ballot.

Posted by Sharon Calvert at 7:00 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, January 5, 2020

Welcome to 2020

Let me be the one the last to wish you a happy new year.

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

Only a mere five days into the new year and already we have an impeachment process that has stalled, a leader of the House who can’t quite figure out what to do, a president who has started what appears to be the beginnings of a new war in the Middle East, a super-rich billionaire who’s trying to win the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party and a continuing  list of candidates who will try to challenge him.

It looks like 2020 is off to a great start.

We ended on December 31, 2019 with the stock market at the highest level it’s ever been only to have events in the Middle East put us on a catering brink of a collapse.

I think the new year holds a huge amount of promise for the United States. We get the free show of a political presidential campaign that is sure to be entertaining if nothing else, and an ever unfolding drama in the House and the Senate as the politicians try to figure out what to do with each other.

In fact, they spent more time trying to figure out what to do with each other than they spend on trying to figure out what to do for you and me.

I’m looking forward to 2020.

I think the presidential campaign will reveal who should really be the next president of the United States and what the characteristics of that president need to be. I also think there’s a great possibility that the presidential campaign will redefine what a lot of us think about ourselves, what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

What’s disturbing to me about the new year is the lack of civility that continues to grow among us as a people. From the highway to the court room in the houses of Congress to the chambers of local government people just seem to be angry.

In the Congress, it’s anger, in the board room it’s meanness and dishonesty, in the halls of government at the local level and the state level it’s constant arguing, in the schools it’s anger. We just don’t seem to be able to get along with each other.

On the road, it’s road rage, in the home is domestic violence, in the church its lack of faith and faith shattered, on the street it’s drug abuse.

The questions are what do we do, how do we cope, what are the solutions, how do we get our civility back?

I don’t know, but I do know this:

We have to begin to reign it back in. We have to put social media in its proper precept as just another information source not the way we live our lives. That alone will probably do more to make 2020 a good year than anything else we can conceive of.

In the new year look forward to 2020.

Be careful with your investments, watch over your children, love your spouse and most of all when you’re out there on the road and somebody cuts you off stop screaming at the windshield, stop swearing at the guy next to you and most of all if you’ve got a gun get a gun safe put it in their lock it up and kind of forget that you have it.

Happy new year.

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Climate Change - Is it Time to Start Retreating from the Florida Keys?

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

There is probably nowhere in Florida a place more vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise than the Florida Keys.
Warming oceans and melting ice sheets are raising global sea levels. Here is a great overview from The New York Times By Christopher Flavelle and Patricia Mazzei Florida Keys Deliver a Hard Message: As Seas Rise, Some Places Can’t Be Saved
Florida is a state significantly vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise. The Florida Keys, most of which are barely 3 feet above sea level, are especially vulnerable.
As sea level rises in Monroe County home of the Florida Keys, local and county government officials continue the puzzle. What is the best approach?
Recently, Monroe county has requested assistance from the state of Florida. The assistance request includes funding for elevating roads and streets and access to the new Florida fund which provides funding for the purchase of the sea-level rise endangered property.
Obviously, emotions run high for the property owners and everyone thinks the government has the obligation to protect them and their property, but the fact of the matter is the cost for that is just simply prohibitive.
Going forward it’s going to be impossible for state or local officials to protect all the property in the Florida Keys from the sea-level rise if the sea-level rise predictions are even close to being accurate.
It is beginning to look like the Florida Keys may well be the test bed for how Florida's local, county and state governments are going to deal with the pending sea-level rise problem.
Monroe County could be the spot where the basic plans for dealing with rising tides, and sea level are developed.
It is extremely important the State takes the lead and not let individual local and county governments create a patchwork quilt of methods and approaches, which ultimately must be sorted out by the courts.
The Florida State Legislature should develop the legal framework in the form of a statute that will deal with property abandonment, acquisition, imminent domain, buyouts, restoration, and economic compensation for loss.
The question is what to do and who are the prime players. On the players, sides are property owners, insurance companies, relators, developers, mortgage holders, local governments, and the state.
Principal among the provisions of any state statute should be the limitation or elimination of real estate commissions on local, county and state flood prone real property acquisitions. This should not be a realtor get rich program.
The question is what’s the best approach, the best and most cost-effective ways for governments to acquire flood prone real estate and properly compensate owners.
The point is now is the time for the state legislature to act before the methodology and the process to acquire flood prone property becomes a bigger disaster than sea-level rise itself.
Key West Photo Photo:Rob O’Neal/Florida Trend Magazine
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