Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Documents show why federal gov’t isn’t funding Central Ave BRT project

Tampa, Fl
From: Tampa Bay Guardian

Edited by: Tom Rask

Posted by TBG2016 on  
Formal project assessments made by the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) and obtained by the Guardian appear to show  why PSTA’s Central Avenue BRT (CABRT) project is still isn’t eligible to be funded by the FTA. The documents show also that that PSTA has failed to implement key FTA recommendations three years in a row. PSTA is the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

We showed earlier that the FTA told PSTA in this January 15th letter their CABRT isn’t eligible at this time for federal funding. Recent documents shed light on why that is.

Every year, the FTA performs a formal assessment of the land use and economic development effects of projects in the so called Project Development (PD) phase of its Capital Investment Grant program. The FTA does so for the upcoming federal fiscal budget year.

The FTA e-mailed PSTA its FY21 assessment of the CABRT project on February 12th. The e-mail also referenced the FTA’s “Annual Report on Funding Recommendations” for FY21, a report which did not recommend funding of PSTA’s CABRT project.
Brad Miller (from his Twitter feed)

That e-mail came just one week after immediate past PSTA chair Janet Long and PSTA CEO Brad Miller expressed confidence that the CABRT would be funded.

The FTA’s land use and economic development (LU-ED) assessments for the last three years show the project obtaining a “Medium ” rating for land use and a “Medium-Low” rating for economic development. This is equivalent to grades of C and D, respectively.

Most worrisome for PSTA is that there may not be anything it can do to get those grades up.
“Information for the cities of South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach was lacking,” the FTA’s assessment noted three years in a row in its 3-line “Quality of Submission” notes.

In the “recommendations” section of all three assessments, the FTA noted that “South Pasadena’s zoning map was inaccessible” and urged PSTA to “provide a a zoning map or information on zoning districts in the corridor.” Here are the  FY19FY20 and FY21 FTA assessments.

Those are “recommendations” (a.k.a. “requirements”) that can be met. So is the one to “tie the vacant or underutilized land to zoning designations or current proposals,” although that exercise may not produce a list that PSTA or project supporters want the FTA to see.

The “recommendations” that will be more difficult or even impossible to meet are the following ten,  which have been repeated by the FTA to PSTA in writing three years in a row:
1. Provide updates on population density, employment, and existing affordable housing.
2. More documentation of transit-supportive plans and policies from South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach.
3. More documentation of transit-supportive ordinances in St. Pete Beach.
4. More information on how South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach have engaged stakeholders [on land use].
5. More information on coordination between St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, and South Pasadena [on land use].
6. Show development projects throughout the corridor, not just in Downtown St. Petersburg.
7. Provide a more detailed assessment of [affordable housing] supply and needs in the corridor.
8. Provide information on South Pasadena’s plans to address affordable housing.
9. Identify how the needs of very- and extremely-low income households are being addressed in St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena.
10. Beyond HUD and state funds, identify local funds or programs that support affordable housing.

The FTA noted that St. Petersburg’s plans, policies and ordinances “appear to be significantly more well-developed and transit-supportive than those in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach.” That should come as no surprise to the FTA, which already knows that the cities of St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena have unanimously passed resolutions opposing the CABRT project.

The FTA’s “alternative recommendation” for items #2 and #3 above is for PSTA to “encourage those jurisdictions [South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach] to adopt more transit-supportive plans, policies and ordinances.” Given the formal and unwavering opposition of these jurisdictions, it’s almost impossible for PSTA to achieve what the FTA asks of it.

“Note: Failure to respond to recommendations may cause ratings to be decreased in future evaluations,” the FTA says in all three assessments. This year,for the first time, that note was in highlighted in red. That change could mean that mean the FTA is signaling that time is running out for PSTA to get the CABRT project funded.

For the convenience of our readers, here is a copy of the FTA’s latest (FY21) LU-ED assessment in which we have highlighted key points. On page 2, reader will see that of 2,631 parking spots in the corridor, 231 of those will be removed in order to build bus stations. In additions, one lane in each direction on 1st Avenues North and South in St. Pete would be converted to allow buses and turning vehicles.

Ed Carlson

“It’s insane to lose 11-12 miles of driving lanes on St. Pete’s major east-west thoroughfare to a dying dinosaur like PSTA,” said Ed Carlson.
Carlson, a retired dentist, leads a St. Petersburg grassroots group called Citizens Against Lane Loss (CALL). CALL is opposed to the CABRT project.
“Losing 231 parking places is equally insane and also counterproductive, Carlson continued. “Over 900 people per day move to Florida and most of those people are arriving in vehicles they intend to drive.”
Carlson said that the community has “huge needs” in the areas of traffic flow and parking.

As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.

READ THIS POST AT: Tampa Bay Guardian

This post is contributed by the Tampa Bay Guardian. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet or any publications, blogs or social media pages where it may appear.
Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Guardian

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Are Diamonds Really Forever?

The whole engagement ring thing started in the late 1930’s as a marketing effort to kick start diamond sales.

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

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 on E-Bay 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.

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 are just expensive.

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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Thursday, May 21, 2020

PSTA's Legislative Committee Chair Democrat Commissioner Janet Long Publicly Disparages President Trump at PSTA Meeting

Long has been wrong for too long and should be gone.

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay

Posted by: Sharon Calvert
Is there a trend in Tampa Bay with county commissioners disparaging people and alienating their own constituents and voters?

We posted 
here and here where Democrat Hillsborough County commissioner Kimberly Overman called her constituents "super stupid", is derogatory towards others and instigated others to go after those who disagree with her.

Now Democrat Pinellas County commissioner Janet Long decided to go partisan at a Pinellas transit agency PSTA Legislative Committee meeting held May 6th. Long publicly denigrated President Trump at this meeting. [Can go directly to video clip below to watch]

The Trump Administration should take note.

Commissioner Long, chairs the PSTA (Pinellas transit agency) Legislative Committee. At the May 6
Janet Long
meeting, PSTA discussed their pursuit for more taxpayer dollars with their state and federal lobbyists. The entire meeting video can be found 

The issue of PSTA's request for tens of millions of federal dollars for their proposed Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (CA BRT) project came up because PSTA did not make the Federal Transit Administration grant funding recommendations announced in 
February this year for FY2021.

Commissioner Long has doggedly pursued the unnecessary 
$45 million Central Avenue BRT (CA BRT) boondoggle that 2 of the 3 municipalities (St. Pete Beach and S Pasadena) along its route oppose and unanimously voted to reject the project. The CA BRT project is scandal ridden and the cost has escalated from $16.5 million in 2015 to $45 million in 2019 - a whopping 273% increase.

Committee Chairwoman Janet Long chimed in at the meeting she could personally reach out to Jane Williams, the acting FTA Administrator, to ask her to carve out the FTA grant funding for the CA BRT — "before things get all messed up".
We assume Long's "before things get all messed up" refers to a reasonable assumption that the pandemic could impact some decision making. 

PSTA's federal lobbyist responded that the transit funding already appropriated is at the DOT Secretary Elaine Chou level not at the FTA Admin level.

US DOT Secretary Elaine Chou is an appointee of President Trump and works directly for Trump.

While the 
FTA Capital Investment Grant program PSTA is seeking funding for the CA BRT from is discretionary and competitive, it is also political.

PSTA should not be partisan or seen as partisan. But Commissioner Long decided to go partisan at the May 6 Legislative Committee meeting.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

HOAs Looking to Cash in on COVID-19

Tampa Bay, Fl Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:  In Search of Robin
, So You Want to Blog.     
If you live in an HOA, building with a condo association, development with a homeowners association, or have recently purchased a home in a development with a homeowners association, here is the news you need to know.
Soon to come before the US Congress is potential legislation regarding a moratorium on debt collection. This new legislation if passed will prohibit debt collection until the president’s National Emergency Declaration is lifted.
This new legislation expands the definition of a debt collector to include creditors such as homeowners’ associations, condo associations, and community associations.
The bill also includes civil liability provisions that can be enforced against community associations and homeowners’ associations with penalties and fines up to 10 times the damage.
While, it may be hard to conceive that homeowners’ associations would proceed with debt collection activities on association fees at a time like this, g the Nature of community associations and their leadership the possibility of proceeding against homeowners who might be suffering economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is not hard to perceive.
If you are a member of the Board of Directors or an officer in your community association or HOA, please note that this legislation is pending and make sure that your board and officers are fully aware of the consequences should this legislation become law.
There will be a lot of opposition to this legislation from lawyers and community association organizations since a great deal of their revenue from community association practices comes from filing liens and debt collection activities.
If you live in a controlled community, you should contact your House of Representatives member and your US S and urge them that the restrictions on community association debt collection be included in this legislation. 
Things to watch for:
If your home or condo has a mortgage, and the association fees are paid from escrow it would be a good idea to check regularly to ensure these fees are being paid.
If your home or condo has a mortgage, and you are behind in your mortgage payments don’t assume that your mortgage company is paying your homeowners or condo association fees. If they are not, and the association files a lien or proceeds with a debt collection you may have no argument against their action.
If you are the person who the president of the homeowners or condo association has it in for or the person who was in a disagreement with a member of the board or even a neighbor be extra aware that your condo association or homeowners association fees or dues are paid.
Unfortunately, community association management is often as much about retribution as it is about Property Management. So the rule is resident beware, resident be informed and resident be careful.
Finally, regardless of your politics, it would be a good idea to support this legislation going forward. You should contact your US senator and US house of representatives member and ask them to support this legislation and the provision preventing debt collection from community associations.
Not sure how to find them? Just put in My US senator your ZIP Code, and to find your member of the House of Representatives enter My member of the US house of representatives and your ZIP Code enter either or both  into Google, and you should get the information.
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.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.  
Please comment below.