Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Polls, Taxes and Trains

A poll was recently conducted in Pinellas County by the blog regarding the Greenlight Pinellas referendum which will be on the Pinellas 2014 ballot in November. This referendum will raise Pinellas sales tax 14% and give Pinellas the distinction of having the highest sales tax rate in the state. Most of the $130 million raised thru this tax will go to build a high cost light rail system in Pinellas. As Sunbeamtimes reported:
A January 22 poll shows the Greenlight Pinellas campaign is on shaky ground with 60.9% of likely voters saying they would not support a hike of sales tax to build a train.  
The Sun Beam Times poll was conducted through the respected polling company St. Pete Polls. 
The Sun Beam Times poll was conducted only among Pinellas County registered voters who voted in the off-year 2010 election – likely voters in 2014.
The Sunbeamtimes poll put the pro railers in a tizzy so the Tribune published this article in an attempt to debunk the poll or perhaps provide an outlet for whining from the pro railers.
But transit supporters say the questions written by McKalip were designed to skew the results. The survey fails to mention that the new sales tax will replace a special property tax that funds Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority operations, they said. It also focuses on the more controversial rail component of the plan and omits that roughly half of the money raised through the new tax is earmarked for a 65 percent expansion of the county’s threadbare bus network.
First of all, those who support Greenlight Pinellas boondoggle continue to call it a tax swap.  It's not! There's nothing in the ballot language that eliminates the property tax, it only increases the sales tax. 

Didn't one of the Pinellas County Commission meetings last summer reveal this deal wouldn't financially make it even with both taxes - keeping the property tax and increasing the sales tax? The Eye previously reported that Greenlight Pinellas has a basic math problem.

Florida Watchdog recently reported Norm Roche, the lone Pinellas County Commissioner who voted in December against putting the Greenlight Pinellas plan on the ballot, stated
Also, eliminating the property tax is not part of the deal. It would simply lay dormant. Written into the Greenlight Plan’s interlocal agreement is the option to impose the property tax later should the county transit authority find it needs more money. 
Roche considered it a red-flag when he couldn’t get a commitment from anyone in Pinellas County’s state legislative delegation to guarantee the state’s 11-percent share of the financing. 
Things got dicier when word came that the federal grants, totaling 37 percent of the project’s cost, could be in question.
Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche
Now it looks like Roche is an opposition target of the Latvala aristocracy in Pinellas that needs to be eliminated as Florida Watchdog also reported
Latvala is reportedly backing state Rep. Ed Hooper against Roche’s November re-election effort. And, Latvala’s Tampa Bay area transit ambitions are well known. He filed a 2012 bill to study the potential consolidation of the Hillsborough and Pinellas transit authorities. 
Latvala’s son, Chris, is running for Ed Hooper’s state House seat now that Hooper is term limited out. Latvala’s ex-wife, Susan, has served on the Pinellas County Commission since 2000. 
“If you don’t bow to (Jack Latvala) then he’s coming after you, it’s that simple,” Roche said. 
“But I won’t bow to the political elites or the editorial powers. I serve the voters who put me in office, and I’m committed to looking out for them,” he said.
The Eye previously posted that Greenlight Pinellas boondoggle is based on a foundation of fraud and deception. The pro railers are now in panic mode. Due to the hullabaloo this recent poll has created, the blog responded with this new post revealing many of the Greenlight  Pinellas deceptions and busts their myths.
given the ridiculous labelling of the Sun Beam Times Poll as misleading, it is appropriate to briefly list the just some of the many misleading assertions of Greenlight Pinellas and their campaign.
The Eye reported previously here about a poll done by Tampa Bay Times and BayNews9.  That poll reflected a year over year drop in support which is an increase in opposition to the Pinellas rail initiative.  We did not see the Tribune immediately publish an article questioning that poll. That poll was a very small sample of 625 registered voters with a high margin of  of error and no breakdown of how many were even polled by county. Regardless of how useless that poll was, it did tell us that as more folks learned about Greenlight Pinellas after Greenlight spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a marketing campaign for the boondoggle, the more they oppose it.

The big difference between the Sunbeamtimes poll and the Tampa Bay Times/BayNews9 poll is the use of real numbers.  The poll question included the amount of the tax increase whereby the Tampa Bay Times/BayNews9 poll just asked about a tax increase as if the amount of the increase did not matter.  Their previous poll done in 2012 simply asked about using public money or tax dollars for light rail - no mention of any tax increase.  It's those polls that are disingenuous and misleading.

The Greenlight Pinellas Campaign can only win by misleading voters and issuing propaganda.
The truth is light rail cost too much, does too little and benefits too few.  The truth is rail is the highest subsidized mode of transportation and light rail is the most highly subsidized rail mode.

Light Rail most highly subsidized transportation mode

Rail is most highly subsidized transportation mode

Rail is most highly subsidized transportation mode
Here at the Eye we are not surprised at the pro rail tactics. Just like in 2010, the last thing pro railers want us talking about is taxes and cost - the actual tax increase and the high cost of light rail boondoggles.  In addition, Pinellas must battle the Latvala regime.

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