Monday, January 14, 2019

Newly Elected County Commissioner's "I Said I Would" Turns into "No I Won't"


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

County Commissioner Kimberly Overman
As a county commission candidate, Kimberly Overman supported the All for Transportation 30 year $16 Billion sales tax hike referendum. Commissioner White filed a lawsuit contending the charter amendment language was misleading and violated state statute.

As a newly elected commissioner, she stated in a December 4 Tampa Bay Times article about Commissioner White's lawsuit:
County Commissioner Kimberly Overman said the referendum language was vetted closely...“This is a waste of taxpayers’ money and that’s a shame,” Overman said.
Overman made her public claim about the referendum language being vetted as if it was a fact not her opinion.

Facts can be proven. There's been multiple attempts asking for Overman to prove her claim.

Tom Rask, owner and editor of the Tampa Bay Guardian, attended the December 5, 2018 Hillsborough BOCC meeting and made a public comment. From the meeting transcript his comment included:
I WOULD ASK THIS BODY TO ASK HARD QUESTIONS OF AFT, ALL FOR TRANSPORTATION. 
THEY HAD A $4 MILLION BUDGET, AND IT APPEARS THEY DID NOT SPEND A SINGLE DIME ON LEGAL OPINION. 
MR. WILLIS, WHO IS IN THE AUDIENCE HERE, TOLD FLORIDA POLITICS YESTERDAY THAT THE REFERENDUM, THIS THING WAS VETTED BY HOLLAND & KNIGHT, YET THEY DON'T SHOW ANY CAMPAIGN EXPENDITURES, ANY PAYMENTS BEING MADE TO HOLLAND & KNIGHT.
I CAN ONLY SEE A CONTRIBUTION FROM HOLLAND & KNIGHT.
IT IS A CASH CONTRIBUTION. IT'S NOT AN IN‑KIND CONTRIBUTION.
SO ASK THEM FOR THE LEGAL OPINION. 
WHAT LEGAL OPINION OR OPINIONS DO ‑‑ DID THEY GET BEFORE THEY PUT THIS ON THE BALLOT?
AND MS., COMMISSIONER OVERMAN WAS QUOTED IN THE TIMES YESTERDAY SAYING THAT THIS REFERENDUM LANGUAGE WAS CLOSELY VETTED.
SO THEREFORE, I'D LIKE TO MAKE A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST TO THE COUNTY HERE AND NOW FOR WHATEVER RECORDS COMMISSIONER OVERMAN HAS TO SUPPORT THAT POSITION BECAUSE AS COMMISSIONERS, OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN'T JUST RELY ON THE ASSERTIONS AND THE CONCLUSION FROM ALL FOR TRANSPORTATION.
I SENT YOU EXCEPT MS. SMITH BUT I WILL GET IT TO COMMISSIONER SMITH, I SENT PROOF YESTERDAY THAT ALL FOR TRANSPORTATION WAS AWARE OF THIS VERY ISSUE THAT COMMISSIONER WHITE HAS SUED OVER BACK ON JULY 5th. POSSIBLY EARLIER. 
SO IF THEY WERE AWARE OF IT HAVING SPENT ALL THIS MONEY ON PETITION GATHERING, WHY DIDN'T THEY BACK OFF AND MAYBE PUT IT ON A LATER REFERENDUM? 
DID THEY EXPLORE THE ISSUE? 
WAS THERE ANY VALIDITY TO THIS ISSUE? 
Tampa Bay Guardian recently posted this:
Overman’s claim was essentially the same as the one made by All For Transportation (AFT) a day earlier, when AFT spokesman told 10 News that their measure was “thoroughly vetted.” AFT is the group that spent $4 million on the citizen initiative to place the tax hike referendum on the ballot.
However, a public records request to Overman for any records to support her “vetted closely” claim turned up no records. In other words, Overman has no evidence to back up her claim and thus made no effort to independently verify AFT’s claim which she parroted. 
Despite repeated requests from multiple media outlets, AFT itself has failed to produce evidence of any legal review of its tax hike effort prior to placing it on the ballot. 
After Overman made her claim on December 4th, I also requested Overman backup her comments with evidence that the charter amendment was "vetted closely". I sent my inquiry directly to Overman that included asking her who legally vetted the referendum language, when did the vetting occur, what was her role in the vetting, were any potential conflicts addressed and who has statutory authority to allocate the sales surtax proceeds. I also asked for any documentation or communication she had related to the vetting process she clearly stated she knew about.
Overman immediately forwarded my questions, sent directly to her because they were related to what she publicly stated, to the County Attorney's office on December 7th. The County Attorney's office turned around and sent my questions back to Overman for "her" response.

On December 28th, three weeks later, the County Attorney's office sent me a reply that Overman could provide no response and no documentation to back up her claim that the All for Transportation tax hike charter amendment had been "vetted closely" by anyone.

If Overman's claim is factual, it could be proved.  If there is no legal issue that needs addressing, then Overman must know who has statutory authority to appropriate the sales surtax proceeds. However, she refused to answer any questions or provide any evidence that the tax hike charter amendment language was legally vetted.

There is irony in Overman's non response.

Overman used time at the December 5th BOCC meeting for her own public comment. After she patted herself on the back for winning her election, she presented to the other county commissioners a bracelet that says "Because I said I would". Overman stated (emphasis mine):
I ENCOURAGE YOU ALL TO WEAR THIS DAILY AS AN ACCOUNTABILITY REMINDER, ESPECIALLY AS IT RELATES TO THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY WE HAVE SITTING ON THIS DAIS.
Accountability begins with being truthful, being transparent, being accountable for what you say or do and providing a timely response to Public Records Requests.  

As the Tampa Bay Guardian reported, it took a threat by Mr. Rask on December 22nd that he would sue the county to compel the public records to finally get a response from the county on December 28th, the same day we received our response.

In an email Mr. Rask sent to all the Hillsborough County commissioners regarding Overman's claim and her lack of responsiveness, Rask informed the commissioners:
It turns out that commissioner Overman had nothing to back up her claim - it was just hot air. 
The fact that Overman did not seek to verify this claim by a Vinik-funded group is appalling. Will she be so trusting when Vinik has business before the commission?
Proper governance must include protecting taxpayers, voters and citizens from any deceit, abuse or unlawful actions.

On Kimberly Overman's website for her county commission campaign, she complains "Citizens are tired of being shut out of the process". She states she wants policy proposals using public input, and full transparency at all times.

Yet Overman supported a 30 year $16 Billion tax hike policy proposal funded by wealthy special interests that had no transparency and no public input. 

Overman supported the massive $16 Billion tax hike initiative with ZERO citizen input. She supported a massive tax hike that shut out all citizen engagement, shut down any opportunity for diverse stakeholders to provide input, shut down the ability for any compromise, shut down the ability to consider any alternative funding solutions including one already presented to the BOCC that does not require a massive tax hike, shut down all debate and abusively used local media to push the pro tax hike agenda. 

Overman may have just begun her 4 year term as a county commissioner but she has already diminished her credibility. She refused to heed her own advice about accountability and transparency.

In less than a month, Overman's "I Said I Would" already turned into "No I Won't".
Posted by Sharon Calvert at 8:32 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  

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Medical Up Sell


Have you ever found yourself being sold more medical services than you planned on?

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Have you had the experience of going to a dentist, eye doctor, chiropractor or other medical provider and been given a reasonable looking estimate of the cost of the procedure you need or are interested in only to have that cost rise dramatically as the process begins?
There are a lot of names for this type of business practice: bait and switch, entice and transfer, trade up, up sell, move up more; or as I like to call it “lie and cheat.”
Now, there are certainly times that a medical, dental or eye procedure may require additional services, but what I am talking about is a deliberate attempt to lure you in and get you in a position where you have little option but continue with escalating costs.
My wife and I have recently experienced this process, me with a dentist and her with a Lasik process.
In my case, a large dental practice with multiple locations in the bay area that I had been using for years recommended I have an implant where a tooth had been removed.
I agreed and was referred to their traveling oral surgeon.
What started out as an estimate of about $1000.00 for the implant quickly ballooned into a nearly $6000.00 process of deep cleaning, periodontal process, oral gum surgery, tooth extraction (the tooth was on the other side of my mouth) and finally an implant.
Fortunately, they provided estimates prior to any work being performed and I have called a halt to the process.
In my wife’s case one of the larger Lasik/eye centers you see advertised in the Bay area examined my wife, who already knew she needed eye surgery but was looking for services closer to our new home.
Following the examination, she was taken to a “scheduling room”, where a non-medical professional recommended a more expensive lens and other services that “your insurance will not cover.” The cost rose to levels considerably higher than her original Lasik procedure in her other eye. She has decided to go back to her original provider even though the drive will be much longer.
The point of all of this is simply when you walk into a specialty medical facility that looks like a cross between a medieval castle and a new car dealership remember someone has to pay for all of that and that someone is you. The primary reason they don’t accept your medical insurance is that if they do in many cases the insurance provider sets the procedure rates and that limits revenue.
It used to be you could trust your doctor to be fair and honest, and I believe that is still true in many cases. But large practices are often owned by medical businesses and run by non-medical professionals. Their objectives are revenue and return on investment.
So, if you find yourself in a closing room as opposed to an examination room being hustled for expensive procedures and add ons, especially those “your insurance” doesn’t cover, it may be time for you to do some shopping around.
These days caveat emptor (buyer beware) is just as applicable in the medical clinic, vision center or dental practice as it is at the car dealership.
These days you are more of a customer than a patient.
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Monday, January 7, 2019

Rays in Crosshairs of Brash Vegas, Restrained Portland


                                         

          Tampa Bay Beat 
           By Jim Bleyer




Rio All Suites and Casino could be site of new 
Rays stadium in Sin City

The abject failure of Hillsborough County to provide a sensible location and realistic financing for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium has emboldened two western cities that yearn for Major League Baseball.

Both Portland and Las Vegas are rumored to be hastening plans for building state-of-the-art stadiums, even without the awarding of a franchise or commitment for one.  Their tactics mirror the personality of each city: Vegas hasn’t disguised its glee at the Rays’ plight; Portland, publicly at least, is playing its cards close to the vest.
The two cities have reportedly expedited their timetables for stadium construction.
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg asserted last month at Major League Baseball’s winter meetings—held in Las Vegas—that the ephemeral plans for a new stadium in Ybor City, are dead.  Not only was the proposal more flawed than diamonds sold on E-bay, Sternberg was reportedly spooked by associating himself with self-enriching land barons connected to county government cronies.
The Rays owner, a New York resident with no real ties to Tampa Bay, then issued this outlandish statement:
“We’ll continue to look in Tampa Bay and we’ll put our efforts to that,” Sternberg said at a news conference during the winter meetings. “One way or another, we need to figure out where the team is going to be in 2028, if not sooner. Ideally sooner. But absolutely by 2028.”
Don’t buy it.  He knows he will find the best deal elsewhere from cities starving for a MLB franchise that won’t be as attendance-challenged as at Tropicana Field, or very likely, any Tampa Bay location.
For decades, the four major professional sports leagues have shunned Vegas, the world’s number one gambling mecca.  That longtime barrier has fallen with a gigantic thud.
The city is home to the second-year NHL Las Vegas Golden Knights and, along with the state of Nevada, is building a $1.5 billion stadium for the relocation of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in two years.  The NBA’s Phoenix Suns, unhappy with ancient American Airlines Arena, are leveraging a move to Las Vegas to gain a new facility in the Valley of the Sun.  In November, Major League Baseball named MGM Resorts as its first official gambling partner.
The convergence of events is stunning.
There is rampant speculation that the Vegas stadium will be built on the site of the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, owned by Caesars Entertainment, on Flamingo Boulevard.  This would have been heart breaking a dozen or so years ago but the property has been on a downhill slide.  At least I’ll always have the memory of assisting Teller with a card trick.
What makes the rumors so believable is that Sin City would be hard pressed to find a better location.  In my mind, it is perfect.
The Rio sits on more than 100 acres and is 1.2 miles from Las Vegas Boulevard—The Strip.  Close enough but not too close to bottleneck the main drag any more than it is now.  Tropicana Field, home of the Rays for the time being, sits on 85 acres.
Six-lane Flamingo Road can handle the traffic and it is traversed by Interstate-15.  The cross streets surrounding the Rio are more than adequate.  The hotel runs a shuttle to the strip, similar to the one operated between Tropicana Field-downtown St. Pete. That’s easily replicated if the Rio site becomes home to the Las  Vegas Rays.  City buses also serve the property.
Intersate-15 is .6 miles from the projected stadium site.  Vegas insiders are betting that demolition of the Rio is impending.  Land in proximity to the property is being snapped up by speculators.
Portland has pined for major league baseball for years but, unlike the city 762 miles to the southeast, it’s angling for the Rays with more humility.
John Canzano of the Oregonian, following the Ybor City debacle, wrote that Portland’s movers and shakers should  “operate with caution and humility, and great care.” That’s the Portland way.
Spearheading Portland’s effort to land a MLB franchise is a group known as the Portland Diamond Project. The PDP  has garnered land rights, political support, and allegedly, the blessing of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
”Tampa fell flat on its face,” Canzano wrote, “it didn’t just blink, it shut its eyes.” He added that Portland is, by far, he best city for relocation.  Homer.
The scribe is already concocting nicknames for the team. “Rays” would belie Portland’s reputation for wet weather.  His suggestions: Mavericks, Pioneers, Steelhead. Meh!
The loser in the Rays derby can afford to be patient.  The Oakland Athletics  are nursing stadium and attendance woes with no solutions on the horizon.

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.