Sunday, June 20, 2021

Biden, Trump and Putin - Where Are We Going?

WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

I watched the summit meeting with President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin with great interest this past week.

However, what I found most interesting, was an interview by Keir Simmons of NBC News with the Russian President.

From the full transcript of the interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin by Keir Simmons of NBC News, which took place in Moscow on June 11, 2021, here is the excerpt I found most interesting.

KEIR SIMMONS: — President Biden. This will not be the Helsinki summit. President Biden is — is not President Trump. You once described President Trump as a bright person, talented. How would you describe President Biden?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well even now, I believe that former US president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual talented individual, otherwise he would not have become US President. He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn't come from the U.S. establishment.

He had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact. President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.

He has been doing it for a great deal of years and I have already said that and that is an obvious fact. Just think of the number of years he spent in the Senate, and how many years he was involved in the matters of international politics and disarmament, virtually at the expert level.

That's a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any knee-jerk reactions on behalf of the sitting US president that we will be able to comply with certain rules of engagement, certain rules of communications and will be able to find points of contact and common points.

You can read the full interview here: Full transcript of the interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin by Keir Simmons of NBC News, which took place in Moscow on June 11, 2021. 

I had always thought that a big part of the Russian president’s general restraint during the Trump administration, had more to do with Donald Trump's unpredictability than it did with his statesmanship.

Reading the above transcript from the Simmons interview, Putin seems to validate this observation by drawing the distinct difference between the two US presidents regarding Trump's political experience and Biden's long-term political indoctrination.

During the Trump administration, Putin seemed unwilling to take major risks either militarily or economically, and I think the real reason may have been that he was deeply uncertain of how Trump might react.

On the other hand, President Biden, has a long track record of actions and reactions to both political and geopolitical events.

In the case of Trump, the possibility of a somewhat unpredictable but violent reaction to some course of action taken by Russia was much more likely than a similar course of action from now President Biden.

By his nature, Biden is a negotiator, a compromiser, and one who searches long and hard for options that involve negotiations and discussions and not overt actions.

I think this is the most revealing part of the most-recent interactions between President Biden and Russian President Putin.

Putin is much more likely to test Biden in the crucible of world events then he was with President Trump.

The question simply is, how will Biden react?

In today's world, if Russia decides to take some military aggression in anyone of the several world hotspots and Biden’s approach is to use the UN, asked to sit down and negotiate, or look for common ground; Russia will likely proceed with whatever action they may take for as long as they can string out the negotiations.

That's how Putin sees it, and I think that puts us all in grave danger.

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Friday, June 18, 2021

Butts In Seats Equal Big Bucks for The Hillsborough County School Board


Opinion by:   
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

The Hillsborough County School Board this past week focused on protecting their own turf, the overgrown, over bloated, poorly managed, school district that they are responsible for, when they denied charter applications from six new charter schools.

A charter school in Florida, operates by a funding source supplied from state and local public education taxes and funds. When a student decides to enroll in a charter school, all the funding from local and state education resources follows the student to the new charter school. Those funds previously went to the Hillsborough County School Board to pay for the cost of operating the Hillsborough County school system.

Here is a breakdown of Florida's public education funding:


Florida receives the third-largest amount of federal education funding. The state government funds education at a lower per-capita rate. Florida ranks 46th in spending and 44th in funding.

  Florida schools spend $9,346 per pupil for a total of $26.3 billion annually.
  That’s the equivalent of 2.6% of taxpayer income.
  Florida schools receive $3.3 billion or $1,191 per pupil, from the federal government.
  The state of Florida divides $11.8 billion, or $4,200 per pupil, among its public schools.
  Local funding totals $15 billion, or $5,324 per pupil.
  State and local funding is 2.7% of Florida’s taxpayer income.
  Florida’s federal education funding is the equivalent of 0.33% of the state’s taxpayer income.
  Funding for education in Florida totals $30.1 billion, or $10,715 per pupil.
  The difference between spending and funding is $3.9 billion, or $1,369 per pupil.

Source: U.S. Public Education Spending Statistics Last Updated: April 22, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

For some additional information on the Hillsborough school board decisions' check out this article from the: Tampa Bay Times by Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey S. Solochek: Hillsborough School Board surprises, saying no to six charters.

“It is so disheartening to see a school board so blatantly put dollars in front of students,” Valora Cole, chairwoman of the board that oversee SouthShore and Woodmont, said in a written statement. “It appears that they are trying to balance their budgets by denying parents the right to make a choice for their child’s education.”

Miss Cole, has it exactly right. This school board is so desperate to get enough money to keep it operating in its incredibly inefficient manner that they are willing to sacrifice anything and everything to retain those dollars that would go to support charter schools.

Hillsborough County was long known for their openness and acceptance of charter school programs, and it has been only recently as money has tightened up that their view of the charter school system has changed.

Over the last few years, the Hillsborough County School Board has time and time again been encouraged to and, in some cases, actually tried to rein in the budget which is over bloated with administration, and special programs, old schools, maintenance problems, and the list goes on.

They have been unable to achieve any significant restructuring of how educational services are delivered in Hillsborough County. This year they just barely avoided a receivership type take over from the state of Florida.

Putting charter schools on the chopping block is not a solution for the Hillsborough County school system. It's just simply throwing good money after poor education, poor management and poor judgment.

Up next, you are going to see a major push for a property tax increase to fund this outdated an unproductive educational system.

You can expect numerous legal challenges to the board's decision to reject these charter school petitions, significantly so, since many of these organizations have already committed hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more in preparing their application and facilities to meet the Hillsborough County School Board requirements for charter schools.

One can only hope, that the courts will recognize the inadequacy of the Hillsborough school district attempt to sustain itself by denying these charter school applications strictly for money and not for education.

It may be time for the Florida Department of education to take a look at one of  Florida's largest school districts, in fact, a state takeover is not a bad idea.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Getting the Ball rolling


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Times Spins a Whopper After Survey Confirms Super Super Majority REJECT Transit


Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay

Posted by: Sharon Calvert

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Blind to their past failures, the All for Transit rail cartel's hamster wheel starts spinning the other way to put another $16 Billion rail tax boondoggle on the 2022 ballot. All for Transit's chief cheerleader and spinmeister the Tampa Bay Times jumped into their assigned role. They published this "Whopper" about a recent transit survey.

 The Times Whopper is so full of spin and nonsense, it reads like the Onion or the Babylon Bee. We will break down the nonsense.

 The Times starts with what we already know:  "Three-quarters of the residents in Hillsborough County wouldn’t use mass transit to commute to work even if it were conveniently available, according to a recent survey." The Eye proved right again!

 For those in Loma Linda, three-quarters or 75% is a super super majority of people who will never use transit.

Then the Times reports 15% of those surveyed said they would "consider" using transit...which means they may or may not ever use transit.

Then the Times dishonestly adds the 9% surveyed who say they use transit with the 15% surveyed who may or may not ever use transit and insinuates 24% of those surveyed "would" actually use transit.

For those in Loma Linda, 9% or even the dishonest 24% is a super super minority of people who "may" use transit. 

The survey confirms very few want or will use transit. As Commissioner White correctly points out, people want their roads fixed first. 

The Times obfuscates the reality very few are for transit by claiming "it means nearly one in four people in unincorporated Hillsborough uses or would use transit if it were more readily available". That is false. "Would" and "consider" are two different words with two different meanings. The Times uses them as synonyms to coverup the actual dismal support for transit.

The Times elevates this single survey of 1300 Hillsborough County residents with a margin of error of 2.7 claiming "The results already are shaping public debate over how to spend the proceeds of a proposed transportation referendum if voters authorize the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax in 2022."

Note there was NO public debate - ever - about All for Transit because All for Transit refuses to publicly debate. 

The Times does not honestly call the transit tax what it is, a ONE PERCENT tax. No one speaks in "penny-on-the-dollar" terms except those who want to downplay how massive the tax actually is. It was an All for Transit ONE PERCENT transit tax that unlawfully collected over a Half a Billion dollars in 2 years. 

There has been no vote by county commissioners to put All for Transit 2.0 rail tax on the 2022 ballot but according to the Times another referendum is a done deal.....before any pubic input, any public meetings or any public discussion by the commissioners. 

Sound familiar? This is exactly how the scandalous and crony Go Hillsborough 2016 rail tax boondoggle effort began. Start with the answer and then force it on the public.

The Times reports Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp thinks a super super minority of people who "may" use transit shows "strong support" for transit. What?? 

The transit survey is not "shaping" Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers. According to the Times, Myers championing All for Transit 2.0 rail tax for 2022, has already made up her mind. She wants the same onerous spending allocations All for Transit dictated in their 2018 illegal rail tax. According to her campaign filings with the Supervisor of Elections, All for Transit's largest donor Jeff Vinik donated at least $6000 to Myers campaign last year.

Basic math and common sense cannot justify what All for Transit dictates. Forcing taxpayers to spend $7 Billion on costly transit/rail for a super super super minority who will ever use transit is a fiscal disaster. As commissioners, Kemp and Myers should be protecting taxpayers from fiscal disasters not putting taxpayers at risk. 

It is bad governance to just rubber stamp the deceptive All for Transit for a round two in 2022. That smells of "Go Hillsborough" round two shenanigans, this time with County Center "insiders" colluding with All for Transit special interests cronies to deceive the public again.

As Chief cheerleader and spinmeister for All for Transit, the Times went to All for Transit spokesperson Christina Barker for a comment about the survey. Barker works directly for the Times financial benefactor Jeff Vinik and helped author the unlawful All for Transit tax. Vinik "conveniently" hired Barker, who has a degree in political campaigning, 2 weeks before All for Transit petition drive began in 2018. 

Barker, who we can assume also speaks for Vinik, is "all in" for spending billions of taxpayer dollars for a super super super minority who "may" use transit. No surprise because by design, All For Transit is very flawed. It forces taxpayers in unincorporated Hillsborough to fund rail in downtown Tampa that greatly benefits Vinik, and leaves the 98% of those who use roads everyday high and dry of funding needed for new roads.

For those in Loma Linda, 98% is a super super super super majority who are left high and dry of funding for much needed new road capacity.

All for Transit spent over $4 million deceptively selling their rail tax was to fix roads. Now the Times reports Barker claims voters in 2018 wanted more transit. But the transit survey she's asked about where a super super majority reject transit debunks  her claim. Barker confirms why All for Transit refused to ever debate their opponent NoTaxForTracks in 2018. Basic math and telling the truth is foreign to them.

It is unseemly the Times only seeks comments from All for Transit, the people who VIOLATED State law and put an ILLEGAL transit tax on the ballot. All for Transit who has shown no remorse for their violation of public trust and malfeasance causing over Half a Billion dollars to be unlawfully collected from taxpayers, gets their say with the Times. 

It is disgraceful the Times intentionally ignores NoTaxForTracks who CORRECTLY warned voters in 2018 All for Transit had legal issues. NoTaxForTracks knew then what this transit survey reveals - few want to pay for more transit - because a super super super super majority of people will never use transit. Those who are proven right get no say with the biased Times.

When NoTaxForTracks told the Times in 2018 - in writing - that All for Transit had potential legal issues, the Times refused to report about them. But the Times will publish such questionable nonsense from Kemp and Barker.

Transit study after transit study confirms few want to ride transit. Taxpayers should not be dumping gobs more tax dollars into failing transit agencies.

But the Times is incapable of providing any sense of fair or balanced reporting about transit, All for Transit or those associated with them.  

And their latest Whopper is so embarrassing, it belongs on the cartoon pages.

Posted by Sharon Calvert at 3:23 PM 

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, June 13, 2021

Prices are up. Is it inflation, socialism, getting even, or just plain greed?


Tampa Bay, Fl

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

If you have done any shopping lately, you are probably very much aware that prices are going up. In the news, there is a lot of talk about inflation.

We had not heard much about inflation during the Trump administration but now that newly minted President Joe Biden has gone on a cash giveaway spending spree inflation is often leading your local newscast.

Here is a definition of Inflation:  A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.

As more money is pumped into the economy, more money is available to purchase goods and services, so prices have a tendency to increase.

The problem with that is: the more people talk about inflation on the news in all the media and especially on social media, the more people out there began to believe it.

Most people think inflation results when suppliers of basic goods begin to increase prices. 

Inflation can be a two-way street. If the suppliers of basic commodities see retailers such as restaurants, bars, grocery chains, and car dealers raising prices, they will have a tendency to follow. All of this becomes a runaway train.

Businesses start raising prices. Suppliers start raising prices. Producers start raising prices.

The real question is are these price increases due to the cost of commodities going up or are they just someone's opportunity to charge a little more and get some of what they lost during the pandemic back?

The point of all this is: you need to be cautious as you enter back into the marketplace for services and products. Situations like this corona virus and the growing inflation talk provide excellent opportunities for the people and businesses we purchase products and services from to take advantage of us.

Is the former $6 hamburger now really worth $12.00? And has the purveyor of that hamburger actually seen that much of a cost increase?

There's also a lot of talk about, I had to pay my people more money. Did they really? Are they really? Or is this just another excuse to raise the price, pad the profits and smile all the way to the bank.

So here’s the deal, If you go to your preferred restaurant and your lobster bisque, chicken wings, fries or your favorite meal has jumped in price two or three dollars you might want to consider dining elsewhere. There will be a real tendency, especially in small businesses to try to make up lost revenue as quickly as possible.

Do not bother to object. You will be met with indignation and a long-winded excuse about how bad things have been.

I will be happy to patronize my favorite restaurants, bars and other establishments, as long as they treat me fairly. I understand the issue of lost revenue, but I do not see it as my individual responsibility to help them make it up in the short term.        

There’s a lot of this, “We are all in this together” stuff going around. We’re not exactly all in it together if some of us are busily trying to take advantage of the rest of us.

So, beware of the up sell.

One of the best ways we can deal with this problem is just don’t buy the $12 or $14 hamburger, the $16 cocktail or the $8 designer beer.

It might be a dollar here and a dollar there on your favorite menu. It might be those increased charges at your local grocery store. 

If you feel like you are being taken advantage of, you probably are being taken advantage of.

You can either pass or report it to the Attorney General’s office.

If you think, you have been a victim of price gouging, you can call the state's Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226 or file a complaint online here:  Price Gouging Complaint Form.

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Please comment below.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Who Should Run the Tampa Police Department?

WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD

From the beginning, the concept of civilian police review boards has been controversial. There are a number of reasons, but the first thing you have to understand is the law enforcement concept that is widely in place in US domestic police forces.

The concept is, that of a paramilitary organization, with a command structure that controls every aspect of the policing agency's operations.

Generally, law enforcement agencies expect little outside guidance from their jurisdiction on functional operations. The prime responsibility of the city, county or state that the law enforcement organization serves is providing funding and budgetary assistance.

So, the proposal and consideration of an outside agency such as a police review board are generally extremely repugnant to a well-entrenched law enforcement agency.

Compared to the number of policing organizations in the United States the number of citizen review boards or civilian police review committees is relatively small.

Right now, in the Bay Area, we are observing the efforts of the Tampa Police Review Board to expand its authority an actually begin to take control of the Tampa Police Department.

For some background information check out these two articles from the Tampa Bay Times:

Tampa Bay Times By Charlie Frago: Castor remains opposed to independent attorney, subpoena power for police board

Tampa Bay Times By Anastasia Dawson: Civil rights activists push for City Council control of police review in Tampa

If you're unfamiliar with the police citizen's review board concept, here is an explanation of some of the typical models for civilian oversight review boards provided by the Scholars Strategy Network.

Models for Civilian Oversight Boards

Currently, nearly 150 oversight boards or civilian–police oversight agencies operating in the United States are primarily associated with large municipal police agencies. Although these institutions differ in size, responsibilities, and other ways, they follow three primary models:

Investigator-focused models enlist non-police civilian investigators to look into complaints against officers. These agencies tend to have individuals with specialized training.

Review-focused models oversee internal affairs investigations and make recommendations about operations to police. These review boards tend to be staffed by volunteers and community members – an approach that can make the board seem more responsive to the community.

Auditing model agencies fall in between the first two models and focus attention on broad patterns of officer misconduct rather than individual incidents.


As civil rights activists push for more city control of the police review process in Tampa, the current effort to give City Council, more control may seem like a good idea at the outset, but this group is also pushing toward a more aggressive model wishing to hire its own attorney, have subpoena power instated and become a truly investigative arm of the city government and the Tampa Police Department with limited control from the general public.

I think this is a bad idea.

Going back to the concept that police departments are almost universally paramilitary in structure, the real question that the City Council and the public in general in Tampa need to ask themselves is when a police officer is making a decision on the spot who do they want that police officer to be most concerned about?

The individuals involved in the incident at hand, the City Council, the Council Member whose district they may be operating in, or the very strong possibility that regardless of what decision they make they're going to have to justify it through a legal process with the city's Police Review Board.

Having subpoena power, and their own attorney the Tampa Police Review Board will quickly grow to a huge bureaucracy of lawyers, paralegals, investigators, clerical, oversight management, and the list goes on.

In return the Police Department will have to staff up its operation to deal with the barrage of investigations that will certainly ensue, and the ability to manage and control the daily operation of the Police Department could, in fact, be adversely affected to say nothing of their budget.

It's time for the Tampa City Council to take a slight step back and think about what they're doing.

It may make sense to some degree, when it comes to getting votes, but I think the original mix of appointees from the mayor, and the council is a good one, and I'm not really sure why the NAACP has a place at the table at all.

Especially given Tampa’s significant diversity. I can tick off a list of ethnic and diverse groups that I am sure would like to have a seat at the Review Board’s table.

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Disclosures: Retired from St. Petersburg Police Department

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Red Tide Happy Hour


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Tampa Bay Transportation Leaders Cheer Gov DeSantis Veto of TBARTA Funding

 No one will miss TBARTA, even their own members.

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

According to his veto list, Governor DeSantis veto'd the $1.5 million TBARTA funding appropriation.

Gov DeSantis veto's TBARTA funding

 On May 10, leaders of No Tax For Tracks, Save Our Streets Pinellas, and Fix Our Roads First sent a request to Gov DeSantis asking he Veto the TBARTA "Life Support" funding.

These leaders, who have been engaged in the transportation issue in Tampa Bay for many years, cheer the Governor's veto action. They appreciate DeSantis doing the right thing for taxpayers.

 Barb Haselden, a leader with Save Our Streets Pinellas and No Tax For Tracks Pinellas, applauded DeSantis's veto:

This is a victory for the taxpayers! Cutting off funding to TBARTA sends a clear message to special interests that transit boondoggles will not be tolerated, subsidized or encouraged by the DeSantis administration and dismissed as unnecessary.

TBARTA, was created by the state legislature in 2007 as a regional "transportation" agency (Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Agency) at the request of special interests lobbyist Tampa Bay Partnership (the Partnership). The Partnership basically ran TBARTA as if TBARTA reported to them.

TBARTA was not provided a long term funding source when created. The intent was to later give TBARTA regional taxing authority. The 2008 recession hit and the state legislature had no appetite to create another taxing authority. They backed off ever taking such action leaving TBARTA asking begging for state and county funding each year.

TBARTA has no accomplishments but it does have a questionable and crony history with the Tampa Bay Partnership, the biggest pushers of rail tax boondoggles in Tampa Bay.

After Jeff Vinik joined Tampa Bay Partnership, the Partnership demanded TBARTA focus only on costly rail and transit. Vinik funded the 2018 illegal All for Transportation rail tax. The Partnership wrote the bill to change TBARTA's name to Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Agency, handed their bill to then Senator Latvala who championed rammed it through the state legislature in 2017.

Since 2017, TBARTA wasted millions more of taxpayer dollars enriching consultants. They proposed a costly 40 mile regional dedicated lane BRT (bus rapid transit) from Wesley Chapel to St. Petersburg...few would ever ride.

 What a fiscal disaster that transit boondoggle would be. Transit ridership is worse than anemic in Tampa Bay and as we previously posted we should not be dumping more taxpayer dollars into failing transit agencies.

Karen Jaroch, a leader with No Tax For Tracks and Fix Our Roads First also commended DeSantis:

TBARTA is a transit agency that has provided zero transit service in its 14 year existence and wasted millions of dollars. TBARTA is so irrelevant, its own board members do not bother to show up for monthly board meetings. It's time to shutter TBARTA and Gov DeSantis's veto is a good first step.

Senator Brandes had a bill to eliminate TBARTA that did not get thru this session.

 Eliminating TBARTA will not only stop its wasteful spending, it eliminates the possibility of TBARTA ever becoming a regional taxing authority.

The leaders of No Tax For Tracks, Save Our Streets Pinellas and Fix Our Roads First are already looking ahead for another "victory for taxpayers". They want a bill passed next session that eliminates TBARTA once and for all.

 No one will miss TBARTA, even their own members.

Posted by Sharon Calvert at 11:56 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