Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Circle of Money Helps Stack the Deck

As we posted here, Hillsborough County Commissioners have handed Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) no bid contracts totaling almost $900K of taxpayer dollars to write our transportation plan.

It's a cozy relationship between those colluding and coordinating to push rail referendums in Tampa Bay. 

The Tampa Bay rail cartel is led by the Tampa Bay Partnership (TBP). Many of their corporate investors are also the largest donors to the pro rail PAC Friends of Greenlight and also to the pro rail PAC Moving Hillsborough Forward in 2010.

Tampa Bay Partnership developed "their" Transportation vision. TBP's 20/30/40 vision statement states - by 2040 we'll have 60 miles of rail, 60 miles of dedicated lane Bus Rapid Transit and a train going over the Howard Frankland bridge. 

Who helped TBP develop "their" transportation vision plan? Their rail cartel partners -  including Parsons Brinckerhoff....
TBP's partners who helped develop vision plan (click to enlarge)

Conveniently missing are costs associated with TBP's transportation vision. However, they do state that by 2020 "we" will have "secured all the long term solutions to funding, financing, building and operating the regional transit projects identified in the 20/30/40 vision (emphasis mine)."  

Who's the "we"? What happens if Greenlight is defeated next week, which is very likely? What happens when there's no federal funds available, as the AECom study reported, to pay for such projects? 

What about our county roads that have the critical funding gap?

How can a transportation vision plan with no cost estimates secure all of it's funding?  

Sounds like what we heard at last weeks Transportation Policy Leadership Group meeting - 
Pass The Referendum First To Find out What's in It?  

Parsons Brinckerhoff is very skillful in using their political prowess and resources to build a plan that benefits them.

With Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), it's a circle of money:
  • PB is an investor of the rail cartel leader Tampa Bay Partnership (TBP)
  • PB helped TBP develop "their" transportation vision
  • PB contributed $50K to pro rail Greenlight Pinellas
  • PB contributed to county commission campaigns
  • PB contributed $40K to pro rail Moving Hillsborough Forward in 2010
  • Former Executive Director of TBARTA (who also helped develop TBP's transportation vision), Bob Clifford, went to work for PB in Tampa this past June
  • PB creates the cause and then they (and the rest of the deep pocketed rail cartel) can contribute tens of thousands of dollars to the advocacy of the cause they created.
PB circle of money
Now the Parsons Brinckerhoff mercenary force has been called in to lead the transit charge in Hillsborough County. Handed $900K of Hillsborough county tax dollars via no-bid contracts PB will write our transportation plan. How comforting is that?

It appears "stacking the deck" to force another huge comprehensive, long term sales tax referendum for another rail boondoggle has begun.  

Will PB write a plan that looks like the Tampa Bay Partnership transportation vision they helped develop?

We already voted down a costly 30 year comprehensive sales tax for rail in 2010.

Every survey taken since then states roads and bridges are our top transportation priorities.

Innovation in transportation is quickly emerging and that innovation is not based on 19th century rail technology. 

We should be looking at what we can successfully fund and implement in the next 10 years - not forcing taxpayers to pay billions for costly solutions that may become irrelevant, that rely on federal debt dollars that may not exist in the future and probably will never be built.

Taxpayers in Hillsborough should be very concerned.

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