Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Press Conference of Whiners

Pro rail lobbyist Connect Tampa Bay (CTB) held a little press conference yesterday.  What did they say? Here's the Times and the Tribune coverage.

Did CTB hold a press conference to support the rail tax? Did they defend their position for Pinellas to have the highest sales tax in the state?  Did they defend spending $2.5 Billion on a rail system that at the most is over a decade out and at the least will never be built? Was it to call out PSTA and it's CEO Brad Miller for misusing PSTA transit security funds that PSTA had to return?  Was it to condemn the big money special interests and transit cronies like Duke Energy, Parsons Brinckerhoff, National Realtors Association, Developers and the banks who will hugely benefit from the train at taxpayer expense? Were they denouncing PSTA for using almost a million dollars of taxpayer money on their Greenlight Pinellas taxpayer funded marketing campaign? Was CTB leadership, including Brian Willis and Executive Director Kevin Thurman announcing they were moving to Pinellas in the hopes that they will be able to pay the highest sales tax in the state? Did CTB provide a detailed analysis of the tax revenues versus the spend highlighting the huge funding gap and the fiscal unsustainability of the Greenlight plan? Was CTB providing ANY productive information to share with the public for why they support the Greenlight Pinellas rail tax?

No. They were reduced to whining to the media to publicly name call their opposition, NoTaxForTracks Pinellas. Is CTB so desperate and so afraid they are losing, their only strategy is to call those who oppose their position "extremists"?  This distraction from the real issue at hand is typical, tired tactics Progressives use right out of the Saul Alynsky playbook:  name it,  personalize it, and polarize it. 

The CTB talking point of the day was "extremists" oppose Greenlight Pinellas.  CTB is repeating it over and over as if repeating it makes it true. 

CTB Tweet
Connect Tampa Bay specifically names Tea Partiers as extremists. What happened to the Koch Brothers? They brought them up recently too.

Let's review the basic Principles the Tea Party "extremists" support:
Limited Government
Fiscal Responsibility
Free Markets
Individual Liberties
Constitutional Governance
Which extremist Principles does CTB disagree with?  

Otherwise, we assume CTB supports:
Unlimited Government
Fiscal Irresponsibility
No Free Markets
No Individual Liberties
Selective enforcement of laws 
So who was CTB talking to at their press conference? They were using the media to help publicize their mudslinging. Does CTB think their rhetoric elevates them on the tax issue? Who deputized CTB into the "thought police"? 

The press conference must have been to try to gin up their base because today CTB sent out this desperate fundraising letter (emphasis mine).
Yesterday, I stood up with Pinellas leaders Johnny Johnson and Freddy Cuevas to call out the lies coming from the Tea Party extremists that are running the campaign against Greenlight.
Reality is Connect Tampa Bay has nothing else to say.  They won't defend their own position except to lob ad hominen attacks against those who oppose them and throw out emotional "feel good" rhetoric about how great the world will be with wasteful, high cost rail systems in Tampa Bay.

Connect Tampa Bay uses the strategy of distraction to avoid the actual issue - the tax. They refuse to discuss why having the highest sales tax in the state would be good. They refuse to talk at all about the cost of anything. They refuse to acknowledge transit Pinellas ridership is too low to qualify for federal funds for the $2.5Billion train.  They refuse to acknowledge that the tax may be collected but the train never built.They refuse to discuss how would the train get built with no or reduced federal monies. 

CTB blindly accepts everything that PSTA, Greenlight Pinellas, the deep-pocketed special interests and the politicians say about the "magic" of Greenlight and they refuse to challenge anything. 

Therefore, CTB is left complaining that NTFT sent a picture that may have been the wrong empty parking lot along one of Denver's light rail routes. We notice CTB has NEVER denied there was NOT empty park and rides in Denver nor ever denied there were NOT empty train stations. Since CTB is so worried that the correct empty parking lot picture wasn't posted, below are the ghost town empty train stations at mid morning in Denver from several weeks ago when I was there. We rode the 12 mile West line light rail, which ended up costing almost twice what was estimated. The fare was $4.00 to go 12 miles. My SUV gets better gas mileage. The Light Rail route has 11 stations and 6 park and rides. The roads at that same time were packed with vehicles. It was apparent people had made their choice. 
Ghost town at Union Station (Main station) in Denver 
More empty train stations - they were all empty
CTB's fundraising letter to gin up their base letter also states
NTFT is going to continue to bully, lie, and intimidate.
Really?  Let's check off what the citizens (who actually live in Pinellas and can vote) and totally volunteer NTFT is up against:

  • PSTA uses almost a million dollars of taxpayer monies on a pro rail Greenlight Pinellas marketing campaign.
  • Friends of Greenlight PAC has raised almost another million dollars, much of it from special interests (organizations that can't vote) who will benefit from building a train, for their Yes for Greenlight marketing campaign. 
  • PSTA wraps their buses in their own Greenlight Pinellas ads for which they are not receiving any ad money for but refuse NTFT to PAY for some bus wraps.
  • PSTA Chair and Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and other elected officials all across Pinellas use their elected official's "bully pulpit" advocating for Greenlight.
  • Taxpayer funded entities all line up in support of Greenlight. In St. Petersburg, they even use taxpayer monies to send out a glossy Greenlight Pinellas brochure in your water bill.
  • PSTA's CEO Brad Miller lied about PSTA misusing federal DHS transit security funds for Greenlight TV ads and he was forced to refund those federal dollars back to DHS.
  • PSTA uses taxpayer resources to host Teletownhalls, pay for and hand out Greenlight Pinellas yard signs all over the county and dole out all kinds of other marketing trinkets.
  • Powers of TBARTA's Chairman Ronnie Duncan raising money and directing the pro rail PAC before he was forced to resign from the PAC for conflict of interest.
  • Special Interest group Tampa Bay Partnership, like they did in 2010, provides all the administrative, legal support as in-kind donations (for free) to Yes for Greenlight
  • PSTA, Greenlight Pinellas and other Greenlight supporters falsely insinuate that a future part of the Greenlight Pinellas is for a costly train to go over the bridge.  Below is the Greenlight Pinellas map. That will take boat loads more taxpayer dollars to do that.

There is NO train going over the HF Bridge
Who is the bully and who is doing the bullying using Pinellas County tax dollars and resources?  It's not NTFT!

Why is Connect Tampa Bay attacking concerned citizens of Pinellas County who are bringing great energy and passion to this issue using their own time and money? What next? How low will they go? 

We hope CTB keeps believing the false narrative that it's only Tea Partiers who oppose raising the sales tax 14%, increasing taxes over a $100 million a year for a high cost train few will ride. They may be in for a big surprise on election day.  

If Greenlight Pinellas is defeated, will Connect Tampa Bay then acknowledge that the majority of voters who voted against the rail tax are dangerous "extremists"?


  1. Thank you for this wonderful article. I am about as far from a Tea Partier as you can get and I completely oppose this tax. I can't believe so many kool-aid drinking Democrats are supporting this regressive tax. I wonder if they realize that Republican Latvala is one of the moving forces behind it. But political namecalling and partisanship aside, I want to say that I felt very hopeful after the last telephone town hall. Except for a few obvious 'planted' callers, most of the participants had the facts in hand. There was strong opposition and hard questions were asked. What made me so hopeful was the fumbling, dissembling answers presented by the panel and the tone of desperation in their voices. In the previous tele town hall I'd participated, the pro-Greenlight panel sounded strong and confident. Not so anymore. Looks like David might have a chance to beat Goliath after all.

  2. This is an excellent article and a public service. You calmly focus on the issues and offer information voters can use; as opposed to CTB who must think voters are not very smart by offering the "I know you are , but what am I?" offense. This tactic comes from our first Kindergarten playground experiences and actually pre-dates Alinsky by decades. Your calm and thoughtful approach puts the lie to the extremist label used by CTB that , by now, is tattered and has great holes in it. Thank you for keeping the facts in front of us.

  3. The map you show in this post shows the light rail trolley using the CSX tracks in Clearwater and yesterday Mayor Cretekos had a press conference near the CSX tracks. I thought CSX told PSTA that their land could not be used for a light rail trolley. Why does the PSTA map still show this? Why is Mayor Cretekos misleading his citizens?