Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The New St. Pete Pier is starting to look like a financial train wreck

If  St. Pete has to put another $5, $10 or even $20 million into the project to get something workable, it is time to step up to the plate.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

John Romano the Tampa Bay Times converted sports writer has an interesting and insightful piece in the Tampa Bay Times Romano: The St. Petersburg Pier is too important to get all cheap now

Reality has set in and what was carefully manipulated through the "public process" cannot be built for the amount available.

I don't know about you, but I am not surprised. I had a bit of the same sensation this weekend as my wife and I, who are looking for a new home, found this really lovely one for about $400,000, which seems a bit out of reach.

Romano comes up with the perfect solution: increase the budget.

I agree.

If  St. Pete has to put another $5, $10 or even $20 million into the project to get something workable, it is time to step up to the plate and do it. (I hate baseball metaphors, but it seems to work here.)

Romano takes exception to the bait and switch argument see my post Bait and Switch? Entice and transfer? Deflect and deceive? The New New Pier design is here.

Need more? Check out my Post The stampede to the new pier

I doubt if John knows what a bait and switch really is, but I did 10 years with Sears Roebuck 5 in management in the 80s and believe me, I know bait and switch when I see it.

The real issue is when Kriseman, and his crack dream team decided to turn Mike Connors lose to derail the public process, so they could tear down a $20 to $30 million asset they had no clue that they were being hoodwinked by the designers they were pushing. Or did they?

Sort of brings up the question did this design team know in advance they were a shoo in? Maybe Mike Deeson can take a look at that one.

Since I am waxing metaphorical, the horse is out of the barn, the die is cast, the chickens have come home to roost, or add your own the St. Pete Pier has become the expected mess.

All you folks in the arts community had better start tightening your belts and before those of you working on South, St. Pete programs funded by the City start spending, I would make sure you have the promised money in the bank.

The thing I really like about the City pitching in extra millions of dollars to build something most people do not want is that it makes a great Kriseman scoreboard.

Every dollar Kriseman has to squeeze out of somewhere to build the Pier is another reason not to vote for his reelection.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Survey Millennials Now And Then They Grow Up

The one consistency about our local media is false narratives they continue reporting about. Today's Tribune does not disappoint with their front page above the fold article titled Tampa wants millennial workers; survey will explore how to lure them

As reported by the Tribune, 
The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. has commissioned a survey of millennial CEOs and workers in competing markets to ask what would persuade them to relocate here for a job or to move their company to Hillsborough County.
The EDC is investing $35,000 to conduct the survey, which will be completed in May. Bauer said the EDC hopes to create a plan based on the results.
Who is the EDC? A public-private partnership we posted about in 2013. Many of their "investors" are taxpayer funded entities or organizations that receive taxpayer monies. Hillsborough County taxpayers handed the EDC $700K in 2015 and $600K for 2016. Last year the city of Tampa provided the EDC with $538K of city tax dollars. 

There is some very good news in the Tribune article regarding Florida and the Tampa Bay area:
The Kauffman Foundation, which focuses on entrepreneurship and education, ranks the Tampa metro area sixth in startup density behind Miami, New York City, Orlando, Austin and Denver. 
Florida is also listed in the top 10 states for startup density.
We are not surprised. This, however, should make one pause about spending billions on transportation options that may become irrelevant in the next decade or two. Better to stay flexible and nimble and able to take advantage of new technology and innovation than be tied down forever or decades with costly projects such as high cost rail.  

Of course the Tribune cannot help themselves as they must bring in the transportation issue by citing a two year old 2014 Rockefeller Foundation survey. 
Studies, including one by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2014, say many millennials want access to better transit options and the ability to rely less on their cars or to give them up altogether. 
More than half surveyed rank transportation options as one of their top three criteria for deciding where to live. 
They want walkability and parks and stores and restaurants near their homes. 
That is the kind of information needed for this area to create the right atmosphere to draw and keep millennials, Bauer said. 
Why did the Tribune cite this particular two year old study? Which Tribune "handler" handed them this study? A simple Google search will bring up lots of information and more current information regarding millennials. We can certainly speculate who the "handler" is…….

The Rockefeller Foundation is not the bastion of conservatism but has a history of funding and supporting Progressive policies - universal health care, globalism, Smart Growth, costly climate change policies while opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and ironically advocating for eliminating the use of fossil fuels. (Rockefeller owned Standard Oil). They provide grants to other Progressive organizations.

Rockefeller Foundation used the Global Strategy Group to conduct the survey sited. A list of Global Strategy Group clients can be found here. Click on the tabs Politics and Causes.

The survey was done of millennials in 10 major US cities across three tiers of transportation systems - "Mature" (Chicago, NYC, San Francisco), "Growing" (Charlotte, Denver, LA (huh?), Minneapolis-St. Paul) and "Aspiring" (Indianapolis, Nashville, Tampa-St. Petersburg). 

Nowhere are the terms "mature, growing and aspiring" defined so one must make that determination themselves. Could it be based on the amount of public transit? Who knows?

The actual survey done in 2014 by the Global Strategy Group is found hereSeventy-one percent of those surveyed were ages 18-29, including 38% who were 18-24, the most of any age category - that age group is recent high school graduates, college aged, and many who have just started a career or haven't begun to start a career or a family. Only 29% surveyed were in the 30-34 age category - those more likely to have started a career, perhaps started a family, and probably more fiscally responsible as they take on more responsibility for their own and/or their families livelihoods.

What were the political affiliations of those millennials surveyed?
58% leaned Democrat vs 19% leaned Republican
58% leaned Democrat, including 28% who were strong Democrats, vs 19% leaning Republican, including 7% who were strong Republicans and 18% Independents. Does that accurately reflect actual demographics, especially in Hillsborough? We don't think so. 

Read the questions and the statements made whether to agree or not and anyone can determine this was a push poll. 

What were some of the results for "aspiring" Tampa-St. Petersburg?
65% rated their cities public transportation fair to excellent, including 33% who rated it good to excellent. Note that 12% did not know or refused to answer.

95% have access to a car in their household, including 80% who have their own car

87% on any given day use a car 

86% never, once or twice or rarely use public transportation, including 53% who never

Then page 3 they get to the "feel good push questions" 
Importance of services (click to enlarge)
Read through the rest of the questions and remember most of those interviewed are 18-29 year olds. There are contradictions throughout and no indication of the actual cost for these services were provided - other than pushing the attitude that cars are bad, cars are dangerous, cars cost too much and someone else should be paying for their "affordable" public transit - even though 80% have their own cars….

The Tribune must have intentionally missed one of the last questions - or else their "handlers" did not tell them. 
"Aspring" Millennials will not give up their cars

66% disagree, including 33% who strongly disagree, with seriously considering giving up their car even if they "could" count on public transportation…..and other "affordable" options.

That squares with this recent AP story 
Now the largest generation in the U.S., millennials bought 4 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, second only to the baby boomers, according to J.D. Power's Power Information Network, which defines millennials as those between 21 and 38 in 2015. Millennials' share of the new car market jumped to 28 percent.

In the country's biggest car market, California, millennials outpaced boomers for the first time. 
But as they got jobs and started families, millennials headed into car dealerships just like previous generations.
"Millennials are going to be the main generation we will cater to as an industry," says John Humphrey, J.D. Power's senior vice president of global automotive operations. 
The Tribune published some broad statements about the Rockefeller Foundation survey with absolutely "no context" about who was actually polled or about any of the specific questions asked. That enables false narratives to be created. 

This article from March 2015 titled Think Millennials Prefer The City? Think Again.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week, 529,000 Americans ages 25 to 29 moved from cities out to the suburbs in 2014; only 426,000 moved in the other direction. Among younger millennials, those in their early 20s, the trend was even starker: 721,000 moved out of the city, compared with 554,000 who moved in.1 Somewhat more people in both age groups currently live in the suburbs than in the city.
The common narrative isn’t entirely wrong about the long-term trend lines. Millennials are moving to the suburbs at a much lower rate than past generations did at the same age. In the mid-1990s, people ages 25 to 29 weretwice as likely to move from the city to the suburbs as vice versa. Today, they’re only about a quarter more likely. But even that slowdown appears to be mostly about people delaying their move to the suburbs, not forgoing it entirely. Today’s 30- to 44-year-olds are actually heading for the suburbs at a significantly faster rate than in the 1990s.
But a survey released earlier this year found that most millennials still want a traditional suburban experience, complete with big single-family homes. The American Community Survey, which provides a more granular look than the data released this week, tells much the same story, said Jed Kolko, chief economist of the real estate site Trulia.
According to this recent Citilabs (a news site that promotes the urban lifestyle) post by Jed Kolko, chief economist for Trulia, an online real estate site.
America’s population growth trends are reverting to pre-2000 patterns as the housing bubble and its aftermath recede.
Kolko has lots of data as it is his business to get it right.

Here's another article published today about the resurgence of the suburbs THE SUN BELT IS RISING AGAIN, NEW CENSUS NUMBERS SHOW.
From 2009-11, Americans seemed to be clustering again in dense cities, to the great excitement urban boosters. The recently released 2015 Census population estimates confirm that was an anomaly. Americans have strongly returned to their decades long pattern of greater suburbanization and migration to lower-density, lower-cost metropolitan areas, largely in the South, Intermountain West and, most of all, in Texas.
The Tribune is acting as the stenographer for the transitarians and urbanistas. The narrative they are selling is already old, stale and out of date. 

We must make decisions and investments based on reality, real data and not opinion surveys or media created myths. 

Perhaps the EDC should use some of their funding dollars to analyze actual data….

Yes, millennials today are a huge segment of the working population, especially as the baby boomers continue retiring. However as they age and the economy has gotten better, they are behaving more and more like previous generations.  

Because millennials do grow up. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sorry no Gondolas for now

Until a serious, graft and corruption free regional transit entity can be created, things are unlikely to change.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

The U. S. Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge pledged $40 million to a City that would integrate modern Technology into its transportation system.

Tampa proposed a bunch of small projects while St. Pete proposed Gondolas (think Ariel tram) connecting Gateway, Downtown and the beaches. Neither City received a nod from U.S. DOT.

You can get some detail in the Tampa Bay Times editorial: Failure to think Big on transit.

The state of public transportation, as pointed out in the Times editorial is a mess. Way too many cooks and nobody can agree on a recipe.

Until a serious, graft and corruption free regional transit entity can be created, things are unlikely to change.

TBARTA is useless, the various MPOs cannot get their act together and the two big players Pinellas County and Hillsborough County seem to keep each other at arm's length on transportation issues.

The issue here is the age-old problem greed.

Everyone in the decision process sees public transportation from his or her economic benefit perspective not from the public's need. Transportation redevelopment is usually the key issue with investors, developers and special interests more concerned about the ability to make money from the opportunities along the route and little concern for the actual user. GreenLight Pinellas being a good example.

The Go Hillsborough Parsons Brinkerhoff/Beth Laythem debacle is a classic case in point. As long as the connected have their hands either in the pot or access to it, the public should not tax itself one dime for these programs. The Hillsborough County Commission should quietly fold up Go Hillsborough, take a deep breath and start all over.

In Pinellas County, the grand plan of light rail seems to be languishing quietly below the surface while PSTA is a least trying to make strides with the bus system.

Pinellas, I am sure, is watching Go Hillsborough but the problem is Go Hillsborough has become so mired in typical Tampa/Hillsborough political shenanigans it is hard to get a real read on how the public would react if everyone was playing straight.

It is going to be a long, long, long time before the guy or gal that drives his/her BMW to work opts to ride on a bus or a train for that matter.

A lot is made that the millennials ride the bus. They may ride the bus from one bar district to the next; but when they want to go shopping at the International Mall or Countryside they do and will continue to drive their electric cars.

The point is public transportation is a long and difficult struggle in the Bay area. So far, we have seen the two poorly planned and misdirected transit initiatives designed more to line pockets than move people fail. If it makes it to the ballot, Go Hillsborough will be the third.

The politicians need to think carefully. They are actually educating the people to vote against these transit issues with the lies, misinformation and carryings on like Go Hillsborough.

It is time for the serious leaders in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties to jettison the likes of TBARTA, GreenLight, Go Hillsborough, Pasrsons Brinkerhoff Beth, Laythem and their counterparts and begins to develop a long-range comprehensive transit plan for the region that the people trust and believe.

Otherwise, in 2036 you will be setting on the Howard Franklin Bridge at 9:00 AM in your electric powered whatever at dead stop.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Will Nonsense or Common Sense prevail?

Now that the Go Hillsborough law enforcement investigation found no criminal wrongdoing, Tribune reporter Joe Henderson decides it is time to move on to putting another huge sales tax hike boondoggle on the 2016 ballot. His column today Go forth with Go Hillsborough so people can make their choiceIt is almost comical to watch the schizophrenia. 
First, though, the Hillsborough County Commission has to decide whether to proceed with the referendum in November, and it’s anyone’s guess how that will play out. There’s a 3-3 split on the board on whether to proceed, with Commissioner Victor Crist waffling. 
But I say they should go ahead and have the vote. 
I have said, and still believe, that it will get stomped like a bug at the ballot box. Even if my prognostication skills are dead on, though, it’s no reason not to put this before the people. We’ve certainly been talking about it long enough. 
If a transportation tax is whomped at the ballot box again like the one in 2010, leaders will have gotten the message — maybe. They’ll be forced to go to Plan B, just as soon as they can come up with one. 
Joe admits the referendum will fail and it will. 

When I spoke to Joe and asked him what the upside was for putting a referendum that is DOA from the get go on the ballot, he gave the same lame excuse we heard in 2010 - "let the people vote".

There's two huge issues with that excuse now. 

The people did vote in 2010 and overwhelmingly said no. Go Hillsborough is simply 2010 all over again funding high cost trains that highly subsidize the affluent, will do nothing to help commuters or reduce congestion. 

Go Hillsborough may be worse than 2010 because the county revenues continue going up and up and up yet the county has continued to neglect our roads and transportation needs. The county has money but they continue spending our current budget on lower priority items. It is absurd to ask taxpayers to raise our sales tax for revenue the county already has. That will never sell. Since our roads have been neglected for almost a decade, we need the county commissioners to use their own political capital to start funding our roads and transportation needs now within the powers they already have - no referendum needed.

The second big issue with "let them vote" excuse is "they" went to Tallahassee and intentionally got the Children's Board property tax reauthorization off the 2016 ballot. Don't forget the Children's Board had their own scandal just a few years ago. Apparently, the excuse of just "let them vote" is selective of course, as Ken Roberts accurately points out in his Tribune letter to the editor we reposted here. County Administrator Mike Merrill applauded the removal because it would make the way clear……[for the sales tax hike referendum]. Really?

May 2015 text messages between Leytham and
County Administrator Mike Merrill
Go Hillsborough may also be worse than 2010 because it cost taxpayers $1.35 million. As we posted here, what Parsons Brinckerhoff handed to the Policy Leadership Group (PLG) on November 5, 2015 did not deliver what was presented at the October 21, 2014. County Administrator told the county commissioners multiple times that Parsons PRISM tool was needed and a reason they handed them the work.
Parsons Brinckerhoff's PRISM tool presented
 at 10/21/2014 PLG meeting
What did we get for $1.35 million? A proposed 30 year tax for a 10 year list of projects.

Parsons Brinckerhoff handed the county/PLG a 10 year alphabetized laundry list of projects, not a prioritized project list. Where is the benefit and cost analysis we were promised? Where is the output from Parsons Brinckerhoff PRISM tool? What is the benefit for spending all these billions - Improved road levels of service, reduced congestion, better throughput, safety, what? If that information exists, it is in hiding somewhere for the public to never see. No one at County Center can or will provide such information.

Why isn't Joe and the Tribune asking these questions? It's not rocket science.

Back to Joe's sales tax hike schizophrenia. Here's Joe's Oct 2, 2015 column It’s time for Plan B on Go Hillsborough effort (emphasis mine)
The effort is not exactly overflowing with public goodwill right now, given that the sheriff’s office is investigating how $1.3 million of taxpayer money was funneled to a contractor involved in the project. 
Was it an inside deal and ethically shaky, as a recent TV report made it out to be? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it’s all about credibility. A skeptical electorate tends to tune out after hearing words like “tax” and “investigation” used in the same sentence. 
That leaves the county with two options. Officials can wait until the morning after the election to get the message that voters don’t trust them, or they can go to Plan B.
We’ve been talking about traffic solutions around here for years, and all we ever do is vote down referendums and build more roads. The goal of Go Hillsborough is to address that with a comprehensive plan and then sell it to the public, but it’s not working.  
That doesn’t mean the plan is bad, but the execution has been. I think people understand the need to address this problem and they’ll be willing to pay for it, but they have to trust the process first.  
Right now, they don’t. 
It’s time for Plan B.
As I told Joe when we spoke the other day, the PLG was ironically created in March 2013 because former county commissioner Mark Sharpe correctly stated there was a lack of trust in Hillsborough County. The Urban Land Institute told the county commissioners that back in 2012 when Commissioner Murman brought them in during her Economic Prosperity Stakeholder Committee initiative. Gee - What happened to that initiative? 

Does the Go Hillsborough debacle and mess create more trust or distrust? I think Joe answered that question in his October 2nd article.
It also raises the question that if the county can’t even handle a relatively small amount of money like that without controversy, what will officials do with a pot of dough in the billions? 
I was on Rob Lorei's Florida This Week on PBS with Joe on Sept 25, 2015. The segment can be found here.  

Go to 16:58 of that segment and listen to what Joe said about Go Hillsborough then: 
"What part of no do they not understand", 
"yes they should have had a plan b, c, d, e and f",  
"people aren't going to vote to approve this stuff, they are just not".  
Talk about speaking in exclamation points (which Joe said I do) - too funny.

In Joe's article Tribune today, he states
"So for the love of congestion, can we please move on?" 
If he or the Tribune were truly serious about addressing our roads and congestion, they would stop pushing a sales tax hike referendum that is DOA and they know it will fail. 

If they were truly serious about addressing our roads and congestion, they would start holding our electeds accountable for the mess that's been created and demanding they start fixing the problem now.

If they were truly serious about addressing our roads and transportation, why do they want to kick the can down the road and lose another year and another budget cycle neglecting our roads and transportation needs. That is fiscally irresponsible. The longer our roads continue deteriorating the costlier it becomes to fix them.

Throwing another sales tax hike on the ballot that has no natural base of support and will fail is not good governance and then we all lose. That is not smart politics nor an indication of any common sense.

Yes Joe we need to move on…..move on from nonsense to common sense.

And Common Sense demands we move on to a Plan B NOW!


Bait and Switch? Entice and transfer? Deflect and deceive? The New New Pier design is here

No one should be too surprised given the Kriseman efforts to push this disaster through the process and get the old Pier torn down.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

The long-awaited  St. Pete Pier Design proposal is here, and I bet you thought it would actually resemble the design the Kriseman administration crammed down your throat.

Boy were you wrong.

My original graphic was closer than I ever dreamed.

This thing looks like an outhouse on stilts.

No one should be too surprised given the Kriseman efforts to push this disaster through the process and get the old Pier torn down.

Here is an e-mail I received:
Speaking of jokes, bad jokes, this new pier design is even worse than the first one.  The Times' blog is so telling, nobody likes it and they are roaring again.  I have heard that there is a petition to take it on via the City Charter.  They are making a royal mess of the waterfront and I remember the people at the Birchwood Hotel objected to the City fostering restaurant development on the pier and how parking is being reduced.  HELP!  Isn't there something that someone of your stature can do?  Nobody listens to us "little people"  You know, when St Pete designed their own piers, they were great.  This one is terrible and will have huge subsidies and reduced attendance.  That picture of the upscale crowd at the proposed restaurant is telling.  They don't want us locals down there.  How dare they?  If you remember, not one restaurant company put in a bid for the proposed restaurant at the end and do you think that they would listen?  nope.  Everyone is calling it Potty Park again as the fresh water wading pool is still in the design and since they are working to get the homeless people out of Williams Park, they will proably gravitate to the wading pool and ample bathrooms.  I hate to say it but this mayor is worst than the last one. - JC

Tampa Bay Times Waverly Ann More asked the $46 million question in her article Is the new pier design what City Council approved?

Will Kriseman's fellow Democrats fall in line with the Mayor praising the new design as what the people want or will someone have the courage to blow the whistle on this mess and go back to the drawing board?

Their answers will be interesting.

Where was the City staff responsible for this project during this process? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out this design is going to be a serious problem with the public and reopen some old wounds.

It looks to me like a lot of money is going into plans and politics that should be going into bricks and mortar...

Unless I miss my guess, Kriseman and his team are in for some rough meetings as the public process goes forward.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.
Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Downtown St. Pete moves front and center once again.

And you thought that Waterfront Master Plan was going to work for all of St. Pete.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Tuesday March 15, yes its primary election day, the St. Pete Pier will move to the top of the Kriseman Administrations' Agenda.

Here is the Announcement from The New St. Pete Pier website:

Barbara Wilks, from W Architecture and the Pier Approach Design team invite you to join them on Tuesday, March 15th at the University of South Florida Student Center. This is a workshop designed to hear from you as the design team presents conceptual layouts for the Pier Approach.

Pier Approach Public Workshop
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Please note: start time for this event has changed to 7:00 p.m.
USF St. Petersburg Student Center Ballroom – 2nd Floor 200 6th Avenue South
Free parking in the USF parking garage at 250 5th Avenue S. Levels 2- 5.

There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a very well done, thoughtful and informative presentation with a detailed public input format. Over the years, City staff has become exceptionally good at putting these types of presentations together.

The timing could have been a little better, but perhaps the Kriseman team hopes the presidential primary will keep the Pier approach a back-story from a media perspective.

Since this presentation deals with the approach and building an elaborate and expensive front yard for the Vinoy and Beach Drive look for most of the usual special interests to be ready with a number of suggestions designed to enhance their property values.

One of the things I find curious is for an administration that seems to be concerned about climate change and sea-level rise, the Kriseman team doesn't seem to be too concerned about spending $20 million on a development that could be underwater if the global warming people are even partially right. The new Beach Drive could be somewhere between 4th and 5th streets if the predictions are accurate.

I have thought from the beginning that this whole uplands project is a waste of money, especially in light of the City's infrastructure problems, failing schools, south side crime problems and the fact that just over 30 blocks away kids cannot get a decent education.

On the other hand, it does meet many of the Kriseman administrations' requirements: it is big, bright, shiny and makes the Chamber and the rich folks happy.

And you thought that Waterfront Master Plan was going to work for all of St. Pete.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Contributor: Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff

Saturday, March 5, 2016

No Sheriff's Report Yet but Tribune Thinks Opponents Are the Real Villains

The Tribune published this article State Attorney’s Office still reviewing Go Hillsborough investigation against a backdrop of the rumor mill that Ober or the Sheriff or someone was going to release the law enforcement investigation this week. The Tribune felt compelled to write an article about the rumor mill being wrong but it enabled them to try to rewrite history and call out who they think are the real villains of this mess.
The investigation opened up Go Hillsborough to a wave of attacks from opponents of the plan, which calls for a half-cent-per-dollar sales tax referendum to pay for more than 400 transportation projects. (emphasis mine)
Salinero cannot rewrite history. So we will remind him.

Opposition to Go Hillsborough did not suddenly start because the law enforcement investigation was opened in September 2015. There's been opponents, including us, of another huge sales tax hike boondoggle since the sales tax hike referendum in 2010 that went down in flames. We've been skeptics of the transportation initiative from the get go, long before the Go Hillsborough campaign ever started.

We've posted numerous times that lots of issues started in January 2014 when out of thin air County Administrator Mike Merrill suddenly took over the transportation initiative facilitating the Policy Leadership Group meetings. There was never a vote by the commissioners or any transparent discussion by the commissioners in the Sunshine handing Merrill this responsibility. It was obviously orchestrated all behind the scenes. Merrill had to grow the county bureaucracy and hire high level deputies to cover his County Administrator day job while he worked the transportation issue. Merrill has since continuously overstepped the bounds of his authority by running around the county, like an unelected County Mayor, for the last 2 years falsely claiming the county has no money to pay for our roads and transportation and pushing another sales tax hike boondoggle

Merrill is not a transportation expert nor is he an experienced facilitator - he is an unelected bureaucrat with a biased opinion in support of another huge sales tax hike. Facilitation best practices 101 states the facilitator must be neutral - have no skin in the game. As County Administrator responsible for managing the county budget, responsible for county procurement and responsible for any county financing, Merrill is not neutral. Good Facilitators, as truly competent consultants do, always include alternative approaches. They never push just one "take it or leave it" approach like we got out of the very flawed Merrill led Go Hillsborough process.

Handing Mike Merrill the transportation initiative was a fatal mistake for the entire process. We warned the county commissioners so there is lots of blame to go around. They should have listened early on.

The Tribune also reported
The publicity has also paralyzed potential supporters of the plan in the business community. A report that finds no wrong-doing will likely free up those supporters to finance a campaign on behalf of the tax should county commissioners decide to put the referendum on the ballot. They are scheduled to make that vote in April. 
County Administrator Mike Merrill, other county staffers and city of Tampa staffers, have spoken at numerous private business meetings (public not invited) begging them to champion the sales tax hike cause and lead the private advocacy campaign. We understand Merrill told the business leaders they were going to have to cough up $2 million for the campaign. (They spent $1.6 million on Moving Hillsborough Forward campaign in 2010 and we know how that turned out.) This kind of recruiting activity by unelected bureaucrats for a private advocacy campaign is not appropriate and it is not a role of the County Administrator or any unelected bureaucrat paid by taxpayers. This activity  violates the public trust and may even be illegal.

No one in the business community yet has publicly stepped up to lead the Go Hillsborough charge. Salinero insinuates that if no wrong-doing comes out of the law enforcement investigation, it will "likely" free up the business community supporters to cough up their $2 million for a private advocacy campaign. Really? Since he failed to name who those business community supporters were, we're left wondering if he actually talked to any of them, heard it second or third hand or just made it up. If there's no evidence to back up such statement, it is simply his opinion and belongs on the editorial page.

And what is Salinero's definition of "wrong-doing"? Is it the legal bar? Is it the ethical bar? Tip toeing over a legal bar does not equate to being ethical. We expect our local government to be leaping over the ethical bar not tip toeing over and going around the legal one.

Salinero conveniently ignores the ethics complaints also filed regarding Go Hillsborough as if the law enforcement investigation is the only investigation going on. No one knows how long it will take for the ethics investigations to complete. What business leaders want to be associated with a campaign fraught with a series of investigations? What business leaders want to spend their precious time and resources funding and supporting a $2 million campaign that is DOA the minute it starts?
No Go Hillsborough is going nowhere
Salinero is at most of the BOCC meetings as he reports on them. He has heard all our public comments but suddenly he now claims opines that the investigation "opened up" a wave of attacks from opponents.

Salinero is trying to make the opponents of the sales tax hike out to be the villains instead of those being investigated.

Deflect, deflect, deflect. Point the finger at others than the actual perpetrators. That is a tactic straight out of Beth Leytham's PR playbook.

Someone's still pulling strings behind the scenes….and we can bet we all know who it is.