On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert
The public and voters of Hillsborough County must never forget that All for Transit (AFT) caused a dumpster fire legal mess. AFT's dumpster fire resulted in over a HALF A BILLION dollars being unlawfully collected from taxpayers.
Other proposals include a County sales tax holiday until the over a HALF A BLLION of unlawfully collected transit tax dollars are depleted or a direct check to individual taxpayers based on their IRS income records. But with AFT's big gun lawyers in charge, such refund proposals are being fought through motions filed by the attorneys for the AFT lawsuit loser Defendants.
Judge Rex Barbas made a poor, grammatically incorrect, incoherent and illogical
lower court ruling in June 2019. To his discredit, Barbas allowed the transit
tax itself to stand resulting in the unlawful collection of over Half a Billion
dollars over 2 years. Barbas's ruling was overturned in its entirety by the
Florida Supreme Court in February 2021. If Barbas had properly ruled in
June 2019, he would have stopped the collection of the transit tax and avoided
this refund crisis.
To avoid any perception of a tainted decision or perceived controversy, Barbas should not be deciding the refund remedy nor any judge in the 13th Judicial Circuit. As we posted here, the class action lawsuit requesting a refund remedy filed for a change of venue to Leon County.
After White filed an appeal of Barbas ruling in June 2019, the County's outside legal counsel Alan Zimmet failed to advise the county commissioners of action to stop the tax collection until a final legal ruling was rendered. Perhaps the massive refund crisis could have been avoided. Shouldn't Zimmet be asked about that?
Commissioner White has laid down a marker he will will stand behind and that many many others will support. The voting public will not be lied to again.
The city of Tampa has their own revenue sources available to fund their own trains if that is their priority.
Jeff Vinik's Water Street District was given revenue raising powers by the state legislature in March 2018. Ironically that was right before Vinik began funding AFT's rail tax boondoggle initiative benefitting him that began in June 2018. Vinik has also received at least a $100 million in taxpayer subsidies for his downtown development which is way behind schedule. With his revenue raising powers, Vinik can fund his own rail infrastructure in his wealthy Water Street District enclave.
As we reported here, AFT intentionally rammed their illegal transit tax onto the ballot at the 11th hour before the 2018 election. AFT feared their opposition knowing their illegal transit tax could not withstand public scrutiny. AFT refused to debate their opposition and used their local media allies to shut down all opposition voices.
Again, AFT was surrounded by lawyers. We know they spoke with and reviewed their unlawful transit tax ballot language with numerous lawyers. AFT had to know their transit tax had legal issues. It appears AFT thought they could get away with their unlawful transit tax hike scam because of the deep pockets that funded them. The end justifies the means.
Commissioner White, NoTaxForTracks and others warned of AFT's legal issues in 2018. AFT's local media allies refused to report about them. The Tampa-Centric Five, including lawyers Pat Kemp and Harry Cohen who should know better, ignored the warnings.
After White filed his legal challenge, according to this report "County Commissioner Kimberly Overman said the referendum language was vetted closely and voters clearly spoke. "This is a waste of taxpayers' money and that's a shame," Overman said."
No commissioner should ever support policies that cons the voting public, abuses taxpayers or puts the County at risk of lawsuits. Those commissioners should be voted out of office.
AFT, surrounded by lawyers, put an illegal transit tax on the ballot. AFT is responsible for creating the $512 million refund crisis. AFT should be held accountable. No one should listen to AFT or their allies ever again.
The Tampa-Centric Five remain tone-deaf. They dream of transit ridership somewhere "Over the Rainbow" and push for another AFT 2.0 rail tax boondoggle.
But Hillsborough County taxpayers and voters now know the rail tax "Pot of Gold" Billions goes to benefit AFT's wealthy special interests cronies.
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