Thursday, December 17, 2020

Local politician imposes new COVID curbs…while in Canada on vacation

 Reposted with permission from The Tampa Bay Guardian 

Hillsborough County Commission Chairwoman Patricia Kemp (D) yesterday voted for two new local laws that place additional COVID restrictions on local businesses. People in Hillsborough County may no longer stand at bars to eat and drink, gather on dance floors, and so-called “congregating areas” in nightclubs are prohibited. The new ordinance also requires that businesses make a reasonable attempt to enforce these local orders.

Importantly, Kemp failed to disclose that she was chairing today’s meeting from Toronto, Canada, a city under lockdown due to COVID. Kemp is in Toronto on personal business, and will therefore currently not have to live under or enforce the new restrictions she voted for. Hillsborough county businesses, individuals and law enforcement will.

The timing and optics of Kemp’s trip to Toronto could not have been worse as the City of Toronto today reported a single-day record of 850 cases. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, Toronto currently has 159 active outbreaks of COVID. There is therefore a real possibility that Kemp could bring COVID with her back to the Tampa Bay area.

“The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return,” says the Florida Department of Health in its COVID advice. Kemp’s action also calls in to question whether she actually believes that COVID is a serious public health threat. If she did, why would she travel to a COVID hotspot? And then not disclose it to constituents. Just last month, Kemp was re-elected to another 4-year term on the county commission.

Canada requires all travelers entering Canada to self-quarantine for 14 days. We asked Kemp via e-mail whether she had done so, and also asked some other questions. Kemp did not respond to our email by our publication deadline.

It is also unknown whether Kemp has followed the CDC recommendations for international travel, which call for a COVID test 1-3 days before travel, along with a long list of other steps to take. Should Kemp fall seriously ill with COVID in Toronto, whether acquired there or in the Tampa Bay area, she could add to their already overburdened healthcare system.

Toronto is currently at 86% of ICU bed capacity, and the number of cases continue to increase. On its “COVID Monitoring Dashboard” as shown below, the city reports both its “Virus Spread & Containment” status and “Overall Status” as “Red.”

Kemp voted to prohibit “congregation areas” in nightclubs, without evidence that such restrictions would alleviate COVID, while still allowing people congregate in malls, Costco, Sam’s Club, airports and other places.

As mentioned above, businesses are required to enforce all these new restrictions. However, some fed up businesses may decide that “calling the police” will be their sole enforcement mechanism.

Apart from not really believing that COVID is a crisis, it appears that Kemp also doesn’t believe that we have a “climate crisis.” Kemp spoke of a “climate crisis” during her re-election campaign. Kemp’s 2,190 air mile roundtrip to Toronto and airport transfers puts approximately 1,000 pounds of additional carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere. By comparison, the average person exhales about 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide on an average day.

Had Kemp traveled to Toronto by bus instead of flying, her carbon dioxide impact would have been reduced by 55 – 77%. Yes, the trip would have taken longer, but do we have a crisis or don’t we?

Perhaps Pat Kemp should stay out of the county and out of the country until COVID is completely over? That way, she won’t ever have to comply with the restrictions she imposes on others, and residents won’t have to wonder if she brought back disease from that COVID hotspot she traveled to.

Kemp could also spend her time away learning a new concept: “flight shame.” It’s a sentiment that acts as an antidote to hypocrisy. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Complaint Filed in 13th Judicial Court for Recount in 3 Hillsborough County Races

A Complaint was filed yesterday in the 13th Judicial Court regarding several races in Hillsborough County.

The Plaintiffs are Sally Harris, Candidate for School Board District 7, Christine Quinn, Candidate for Congress District 14 and Scott Levinson, Candidate for County Commission District 1. The Defendant is the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Craig Latimer.

The results of those and all Hillsborough County races can be found at the Supervisor of Elections website.

The Complaint requests the SOE to:

  • Sequester all ballots cast in the recent election, the envelopes in which the mail in ballots were contained and such ballots as were contained in the provided envelopes
  • Order a recount of the ballots with respect to the Plaintiffs
  • Designate class and category of observers for the requested recount, authentication and final tabulation
The Complaint also focuses on mail in ballots requesting refrain from counting mail in ballots received after 7pm on November 3, 2020 and request the mail in ballots be scrutinized for accuracy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

There are Issues with Dominion Voting Systems Software

Image courtesy of NYT 6/22/2020 

Dominion Voting Systems (Dominion), a Canadian company, is the voting system software where a "glitch" switched 6,000 votes from Trump to Biden in Michigan. That glitch peaked our interest to look further into Dominion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Commissioner Pat Kemp Running Again But This Time With Questionable Behavior

Commissioner Pat Kemp

Did Democrat Hillsborough County commissioner Pat Kemp violate our Sunshine Laws?  It appears Kemp collaborated behind closed doors last year with fellow Democrat commissioners Kimberly Overman and Mariella Smith to collectively oppose TECO's proposed Big Bend natural gas plant after the commission had already voted their unanimous approval.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Bernie Bro Socialist Running for Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District 2

Politics is local. During this pandemic and the civil unrest in the streets, it is more important than ever to pay attention to local races including the nonpartisan Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District 2 Supervisor race. 

We posted here our interview with Karen Cox Jaroch, a candidate for the non-partisan seat we believe is the most qualified and competent candidate for that position:

Ms. Jaroch is a professional licensed engineer and a former member of the HART Board who governs the local transit agency. Jaroch has the technical expertise, the governance experience and the public service experience required for the Soil and Water Conservation Board position.

There are three other candidates running in that race but Jaroch's biggest competitor appears to be Doug Rivero. Per LinkedIn, Rivero is a Political Science Professor at St. Petersburg College

According to his Facebook feed, Rivero is also an anti-capitalist Bernie Bro Socialist. Rivero has endorsements from Socialist and Far Left organizations including Our Revolution and Tampa Bay Democrat Socialists who are demanding Tampa defund their police department.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tampa Bay Anti-Car Brigade Candidates on November Ballot - Voters Take Note!

Tampa Bay Anti-Car Brigade Candidates
on November Ballot

Voters take note of the Anti-Car Brigade in Tampa Bay because four of them, Pat Kemp, Harry Cohen, Janet Long and Charlie Justice, are on the November ballot. The Anti-Car Brigade agenda is to force us out of the security of our individual vehicles that keep us healthier and safer. Their agenda requires large tax increases to pay for costly rail and transit few will ever use and road diets to make car travel more painful and traffic congestion worse.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Vote for Vasquez and Ahern Because Pinellas County Deserves Better

We obtained this Letter to the Editor submitted to the Tampa Bay Times by Pinellas County resident David Happe. As of this time, it appears the Times has refused to print it.

Letter to the Editor

An open letter to my fellow Pinellas County Residents regarding the upcoming county commission elections.  I am writing in support of the candidacy of Larry Ahern and Tammy Vasquez for County Commissioners to replace Janet Long and Charlie Justice.

Over the past several months, those of us who are politically neutral and focus more on family, faith and future than we do on what politicians are up to have had to pay attention to what’s happening locally and nationally with the CoronaVirus wreaking havoc on our lives, our loved ones and our incomes.  Up until now, I have been negligent of my own civic duty of paying attention and getting involved to help make a positive difference.

In the few months that I have been observing and studying local politics and politicians, here is what I have observed :

The Pinellas County Commissioners have a budget of $2.3 billion dollars.  The seven member commission controls the spending for that budget, but they really don’t like it when people ask questions about how exactly the money is spent at an itemized level.

One example of that would be the $2m that they allocated to a “Visit Clearwater/St Pete” advertising campaign.  A large percentage of that $2m went to an outside of Florida creative agency.  That agency created marketing materials showing visitors wearing masks on paddle boards and at the beach, neither of which are recommended or reflective of the attractiveness of our area to tourists.  So, they recalled part of the materials, at the expense of the taxpayers that paid for this, and claimed they never reviewed it prior to implementation.  They never “reviewed” the marketing materials we spent $2m on

One of the commissioners, Janet Long, who is running for re-election, recently stated that their workload was overwhelming to her.  Between the emails and the meetings she was overwhelmed.  She put forward a motion that passed on a 4-3 split decision, which effectively eliminated residents from participating in the previously scheduled commission meetings, limiting involvement opportunity by Pinellas residents to 50% of what was previously available.  

A few weeks back, Pinellas County commissioners determined that for 2021, they needed to increase the amount of money they had in cash reserves.  So, with the expected increases in income from property tax increases in 2021, the net impact will be a tax increase on every homeowner, renter, and business owner in Pinellas County for 2021.  Moving money from your bank account and mine to the County savings account was passed on a 6-1 split decision.

Then, lastly they took the seriousness of the local State of Emergency that we operate under, which is causing business restrictions and influencing everything from mask ordinances to emergency funds allocations, and delegated all decision making on the local SOE to an unelected administrative assistant.  They no longer discuss this weekly, and the commission members no longer get briefings from local health experts on a weekly basis. The single largest issue affecting our 1,000,000 Pinellas County residents, but these commissioners who we pay an annual salary of $100,000 each didn't have the time nor interest to maintain their direct supervisory authority over the details that affect the health of our people, the strength of our businesses, and the governance of this real State of Emergency.  They thought this would be best served in the hands of an unelected bureaucrat who now extends this outside of the lens of public dialogue and scrutiny.

So, my vote is for anyone else.  There are candidates who are running for the right reasons.  Tammy Vasquez is a business owner and political newcomer who saw how issues like the above were being managed, and decided she would get involved to strengthen Pinellas County.  Larry Ahern, no stranger to local politics, also thought we deserved a better and more thoughtful representation.  I didn’t know either of these candidates before I started paying attention to what was happening in Pinellas County, but we deserve better.    

Tammy Vasquez, 
Candidate for Pinellas County Commission
District  3

Larry Ahern
Candidate for Pinellas County Commission
District 1
We deserve a government that represents us. We deserve fiscal transparency. We deserve elected officials that are not too busy politicking to see us all the way through this local State of Emergency. And we deserve representatives willing to listen, engage, and work with all of us towards a better Pinellas County. Please join with me, my family and my friends in voting for Larry Ahern and Tammy Vasquez for Pinellas County Commission on November 3rd.

David Happe

Tarpon Springs, FL