From the transcript or you can watch the video of the May 28 meeting (any emphasis is mine and well worth the entire reading or viewing):
BUT NEXT MONTH, IN JUNE, WE'RE GOING TO BE ASKING YOU TO CONSIDER A DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN.
IT'S DRAFT BECAUSE WE WANT TO HAVE A PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS TO GET INPUT, BUT THE BUSINESS PLAN WILL HAVE PROPOSED PROJECTS, MANY OF THE ONES THAT WE'VE BEEN PRESENTING; PROPOSED FUNDING; AND PROPOSED GOVERNANCE SOLUTIONS, AND WE WANT TO TAKE THAT OUT IN A RIGOROUS FORMAL PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS WITH ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES THAT WE NEED TO DO.
SO WHAT WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO RECOMMEND IS A BALANCED DIET OF TRANSPORTATION SOLUTIONS, AND THAT INCLUDES INTERSECTIONS, TRAFFIC -- INTELLIGENT TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS, BUS RAPID TRANSIT, CIRCULATOR BUSES, WATER FERRIES, ROAD EXPANSIONS, AND RAIL, SO THAT THERE'S A BALANCED APPROACH TO GET EVERYONE A LITTLE BIT OF SOMETHING THAT THEY NEED.
AND THE ONE THING THAT WE DID HEAR LOUD AND CLEAR IS THAT IF FOLKS ARE GOING TO PAY FOR SOMETHING, THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO USE IT SOON
SO THE DECISIONS THAT YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE IN JUNE ABOUT PROJECTS, FUNDING, AND GOVERNANCE ARE REALLY NOT THE END, IT'S REALLY THE BEGINNING OF THE NEXT PHASE OF THIS THING,
THEN JULY THROUGH SEPTEMBER WE'LL BE TAKING THAT DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN I TALKED ABOUT OUT TO THE PUBLIC IN A REALLY THOROUGH, RIGID ENGAGEMENT PROCESS TO GET INPUT.
WE ARE GOING TO FOCUS ON TRANSIT SPECIFICALLY NEXT MONTH, BUT WE'RE RECOGNIZING THAT IT'S A CHICKEN AND THE EGG.IF WE DON'T HAVE THE DENSITY, IF WE DON'T HAVE THE PROPERDEVELOPMENT PLANNING, THEN WE CAN'T CREATE THE KIND OF TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM THAT WE NEED TO SUPPORT ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WE WANT TO COME LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY IN OUR DOWNTOWN AREA.
BOB BUCKHORN: I THINK IT WOULD BE SOMETHING THAT -- BECAUSE IF -- OBVIOUSLY, EVERYONE HAS SEEN THAT WE PUT A RAIL PROJECT ON THIS LIST, SO NO SURPRISE TO ANYBODY, IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN, WE'RE GOING TO GET THIS DONE.
WE WERE PLANNING FOR MORE OF A FOCUS ON TRANSIT IN OUR NEXT WORKSHOP
AS THE MAYOR SAID, WE'VE GOT MASS TRANSIT RAIL ON OUR LIST.
A TRANSPORTATION SOLUTION FOR THE ENTIRE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY AREA AND THAT ADDRESSES CONGESTION RELIEF, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND ENCOURAGES TRANSIT RIDERSHIP, MULTIMODAL TRANSIT RIDERSHIP, EMPHASIZING, AS WAS SAID BEFORE, THE CHOICE RIDER.
LET ME JUST PREVIEW, AGAIN, OUR JUNE MEETING.WE'LL BE PRESENTING TO YOU THE FIRST PARTS OF THE BUSINESSPLAN, WHICH WILL INCLUDE ALL THE KEY ECONOMIC SPACES AND WHAT THOSE PROJECTS WILL COST; TRANSIT; AND A FURTHER MORE DETAILED DISCUSSION OF GOVERNANCE
BUT OUR PLAN IS AS SOON AS YOU GIVE US AN ENDORSEMENT ON THAT BUSINESS PLAN, WHICH, AGAIN, WILL HAVE PROJECTS, FINANCING, GOVERNANCE, WE'LL GO OUT AGAIN TO A MORE DETAILED PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS WITH THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND THE REST OF THE COMMUNITY, SO THAT'S OUR PLAN FOR MOVING FORWARD WITH THIS.
As we reported here, the list of transportation projects got leaked forcing County Administrator Mike Merrill to hastily call a media briefing behind closed doors. Were they told of all the transit projects?
What happened between May 28 and August 12? Not exactly sure but what actually happened at the meeting Tuesday? Not much!
The Transportation Policy Leadership Group Punted, Passed and Blocked.
|PLG Punts on governance and transit projects|
The AECOM transit assessment we posted about here was brought up. It was quickly apparent that some of the PLG members, including county commissioners, did not even know about the study and had just been made aware of it. It was not apparent who did know about the study. What is shameful is that there was no discussion about the content of this study at this meeting. The consultant from AECOM who did the study was sitting in the audience. He's from Cleveland and he could have presented the assessment to the PLG and answered their questions. Instead of doing that, they adjourned the meeting 30 minutes early.
We hope there are no attempts to block the details of the AECOM transit assessment from the public. Most local media have ignored the assessment too. Does it not fit a prescribed narrative? Why was this assessment done in May and not at the beginning of the Transportation and Economic Development (TED) initiative process? Why is the assessment buried in another document on the BOCC TED website in file with a different name? Why wasn't the entire PLG told about it and why hasn't the information been presented to the entire PLG?
The study was specifically done for Hillsborough County and the county paid for it. The public should understand it's findings, especially since the PLG wants a "robust" public engagement. We assume the PLG wants their constituents to be informed.
The PLG punted for now, and put aside, the governance model that included restructuring of HART, so they can solely focus on mobility. Good for them.
Public outreach was the topic of the day Tuesday. We were told numerous times by County Administrator Mike Merrill that there is no plan, we have no transportation plan, just ideas and options. The PLG has a laundry list of different projects proposed and they want the plan to be created thru a public engagement effort where they hope to get a large majority to agree. We hope it's not like the facilitative, delphi techniques used to gain consensus for community plans. This certainly appears different than what was said in May about taking a plan that has projects, financing and governance to the public.
The PLG also punted on presenting a list of transit projects that at the May 28 meeting said would occur at the next PLG meeting.
There were a couple of actions passed by the Policy Leadership Group. They voted to move on to the public outreach stage of their "non plan" plan. Let's hope there is some context included in the conversation with the public because some hard decisions will have to ultimately be made.
The PLG also voted to hire an outside firm, a transportation expert, to help facilitate this outreach effort, NOT a PR firm like PSTA did last year when they branded "Greenlight Pinellas". We hope it is someone from the outside who has no ties to the community so there is no appearance that they could or would benefit from whatever plan gets proposed.
It was interesting that NOT one question was raised by the PLG about how much this public outreach, public engagement was going to cost. This board is the county commissioners and three mayors who all have budget responsibilities but there was no discussion on who is paying for the outreach and how much will it cost. Where's the money coming from since the county and 3 municipalities are represented on PLG? Aren't these the same elected officials they wanted to put on HART to oversee a new huge bucket of tax dollars?
Coincidentally, HART requested $500K at the 7/21 HART board meeting for something nebulously described as outreach and long term planning. Is this where that money is going? Where is this $500K coming from? Will any of this money go to hire a long term planner which HART has not had since the previous planner left several years ago? Should it? We heard that someone wanted to give HART $2 million for outreach. That's absurd. That's almost a third of the $6.5 million county road budget for 2015. We'll leave this funding issue for another post.
There were differences of opinion from members of the PLG on "when" (not if) a referendum may go on the ballot. They seemed to infer with almost certainty that a tax increase referendum was coming by at least 2016. We do look forward to an open discussion regarding ALL funding options.
No governance, no transit projects presented, no transit study presented. We left the meeting not knowing much more than when we got there.
Why was that? It's quite obvious because the next two meetings for September and October are cancelled.
The PLG punted for now because they are all watching the outcome of Greenlight Pinellas in November.