Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Go Hillsborough Goes Rogue

The Transportation Policy Leadership Group (PLG) meeting was cancelled for August

At the July 26 PLG meeting, the county commissioners took a ceremonial vote. They voted to continue pursuing the 30 year half-cent $3.5 BILLION sales tax hike proposed by Parsons Brinckerhoff and County Administrator Mike Merrill at the June 11th PLG meeting. 

So what happened in August instead of a PLG meeting?

Go Hillsborough campaign decided to double down. Go Hillsborough decides to pursue a full one-cent $7 BILLION sales tax increase during their last taxpayer funded meetings to buy votes throughout the county. 

The timing was perfect. Many families are focusing on getting their children ready for a new school year not this issue. Great way to entice the transit supporters who support huge tax increases for high cost solutions to get out and voice "their" support for a full cent tax increase.

Was this one-cent sales tax hike ever proposed to the PLG and county commissioners?  No

Did the PLG or the county commissioners ever discuss a one-cent sales tax hike?  No.

Did the PLG or the county commissioners ever take any vote to pursue a one-cent sales tax hike?  No.

The Go Hillsborough PR lobbyist Beth Leytham simply sent out a Press Release Monday announcing their new plan wanting a one-cent sales tax increase. 
Go Hillsborough goes rogue and
wants a full cent tax hike
Leytham had NO governing authority to send out this Press Release.

I have not found ONE elected official or policy maker who authorized this Press Release. 

This decision was orchestrated by the County Administrator Mike Merrill and the cronies behind the green curtain outside of any Sunshine.

As the TBT reported

County Administrator Mike Merrill said officials received strong feedback in support of putting the half-cent option on the 2016 ballot but also recognized that the 1-cent tax would have a more significant impact on solving the county's transportation woes. 
"Now, we want to make sure that our citizens … understand what a half-percent actually can fund," Merrill said, "and the critically important projects it cannot." 
"The idea is to make sure people understand the difference of what you can get with the half and here's what you can potentially get with the full," Clifford said. "We want to make sure there's no expectations or misunderstandings of what a half-cent provides."
This one-cent tax hike was a unilateral decision made by an unelected bureaucrat Mike Merrill, a taxpayer funded consultant Bob Clifford and PR lobbyist Beth Leytham. 

Remember Clifford resigned from TBARTA, part of the 2010 rail cartel, last May. He conveniently went to work for Parsons Brinckerhoff right before Parsons was handed their million dollar no bid blank check last September. Leytham is a political insider who was rail cheerleader Mayor Buckhorn's PR campaign consultant and a close associate of commissioner Ken Hagan.

Go Hillsborough has now gone rogue.

The Eye predicted this when we posted here about the cronies taking over our transportation initiative.

The Go Hillsborough campaign is out of control. Unelected bureaucrats and crony consultants and PR lobbyists are dictating policy changes in the middle of their campaign game. They do not have the authority to do that. 

The county commissioners have lost control of this initiative. 

County Administrator Mike Merrill continues to act as an unelected County Mayor and overstep the boundaries of his unelected bureaucrat authority. His authority, as defined by our County Charter, is only to IMPLEMENT the policies of the elected officials NOT dictate policy. Merrill politicized this issue, awarded contracts to cronies and helped create the mess this campaign is now in.

Who will be held accountable for this corrupted Go Hillsborough process?

Do our county commissioners care? If they do, they will shut down the Go Hillsborough campaign immediately. 

If they don't, at least we now know Go Hillsborough's Plan B: Double down on Failure!

And we'll all be losers.


  1. They have wasted enough money on these "studies" to fix a lot of roads! When does this insanity stop? The people speak and they ignore us! They have decided what they are going to do long before these meetings!

  2. Who "authorized" GoHillsborough?

    Per its website: "all seven Hillsborough County Commissioners, the mayors of Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace, as well as the chair of the HART board".

    Who paid more than $1M for GoHillsborough? Hillsborough County tax payers via their Hillsborough County Commissioners, because they couldn't bring themselves to say "No".

    Since the folks that were "in charge" knew nothing about this 1% approach, did they "go rogue"?

    No, it's much more like GoHillsborough has been officially HIJACKED.

    But worse, it's now very clear the hijackers were in the cockpit long before take-off.

    And our County Commissioners (and ALL OF US) have been played like a fiddle.

    Are deception and manipulation now to be the hallmarks of governance in Hillsborough?

    It's past time for our County Commissioners to grow a pair.