Saturday, August 2, 2014

PSTA Refunds Homeland Security Grant

We've reported here and here on PSTA's misuse of the FEMA Transit Security Grant Program to pay for feel good advertisements for Greenlight and PSTA.  PSTA Chief Executive Brad Miller has repeatedly stated the FEMA approved the use of the money.

Yet now, after an investigation requested by US Representative David Jolly, he's going to refund $354,000 to DHS/FEMA.
The Department of Homeland Security informed PSTA staff in a conference call that the agency might have to return the money because the radio and television ads didn't promote security awareness, PSTA chief executive officer Brad Miller said in an email to his board of directors Friday.
"After I heard this, I immediately decided not to wait any further while DHS would likely delay a final decision, and we sent the grant funds back in a check on Wednesday," Miller wrote.
In an interview, Miller said DHS staffers said during the call that the commercials did not meet the requirements for an "anti-terrorism" campaign. He said that was the first time the department used that phrase to describe the grant requirements.
If this is the first time he's seen this he should be fired.  We've been able to find the supporting information defining the usage of the TSG.  Why can't Brad Miller and PSTA Board understand it?

As we'ved stated in the past, there was at best passing reference to security in the videos, which have been well reported by Mike Deeson at WTSP Channel 10.
The issue revolves around PSTA "feel good" ad paid for with money from the Department of Homeland Security.
According to PSTA internal documents, the money was supposed to be used to encourage transit patrons to alert authorities if they see anything suspicious and promote awareness of security issues. 
After looking at the spots, 10 Investigates asked PSTA executive director, Brad Miller, "I don't understand how the TV spots do that?"
Miller said: "I understand your question. The DHS program, the public outreach is much more than bombs and terrorism and police force."
Pretty lame excuse.

You can watch this video to further watch the dissembling and misdirection by a Greenlight supporter, PSTA and Brad Miller.  Miller's comments start at approximately 4:00 into the video.

Commissioner Ken Welch defended Miller (around 8:44) "an accusation is not a fact... There's going to be accusations, there'll be misinformation from folks who are not willing to look at his fairly. They're going to use every tactic they have to defeat this, and we ought to be prepared for it."

At around 11:10, Commissioner Begich asked "As far as I know, the Department of Homeland Security is completely aware of the campaign that was run, and has expressed no problems with it.  Is that correct?

Miller responded "That is correct."

With a little digging, your intrepid reporters here at EyeOnTampaBay were able to come up with the guidelines for the grants.

Letter from FEMA Congressional Affairs
It's clear the FEMA TSG program is intended to "protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism, major disasters, and other emergencies."

Not a word about feel good videos or advertising.

If we can find that out, and its very clear, why can't Brad Miller understand?

He's either clueless or intentionally misleading the public.

The PSTA Board is not even trying to understand the issue, only to protect Miller.

Miller got caught.

He immediately wrote a check, trying to put it behind him as quickly as possible, attempting to avoid it becoming a bigger issue closer to the election.

Welch and the others on the PSTA Board would have been better served by engaging with the challengers of Greenlight and understanding their real concerns on this issue, rather than rubber stamping and covering for Miller.

Seems pretty clear to us.

Try telling the truth next time.

Update: Fixed broken link.

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