Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Watch out Pinellas County here comes the next let's build a train initiative - Forward Pinellas.

Sort of like Go Hillsborough but with a much cooler Logo.

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

One of the ways government attempts to get around those pesky citizens who don’t agree with something the government wants to do is call it something else and float the idea again. They call that “re-branding.”

We often call that putting lipstick on a pig, but re-branding is much more millennial.

WALLA - Forward Pinellas a 2014 Florida legislative action that combined the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Pinellas Planning Council.

From the Pinellas Forward “branding website”: “The role of transportation and land development in Pinellas County took on increased importance with passage of a special act of the Florida Legislature in 2014 unifying a 13-member governing board of local elected officials with responsibility for countywide transportation and land use planning.” 

If you check closely you will find the 13 elected officials who make up Pinellas Forward are, for the most part, the same folks that brought you GreenLight Pinellas. There doesn't appear to be any serious citizen representation on this new transportation redevelopment (read that light rail) task force.

So if the mission has not changed, the players have not substantially changed, and the citizenry has no significant input just what should we expect to change?


They do have a nice new logo, which I am sure you helped pay for, and a noncommittal mission statement: “Forward Pinellas will provide leadership to align resources and plans that help to achieve a compelling vision for Pinellas County, our individual communities and our region.”

Does anyone have any idea what the hell that means?

Let me take a stab at a literal translation: We are going to package up light rail along with some toss-a-ways like road improvement, and a few new buses and try to shame you folks into a sales tax to finance it.

Sort of like Go Hillsborough but with a much cooler Logo.

I am sure that all the folks at Pinellas Forward are waiting with baited breath to see how the second run at getting a sales tax referendum past the Hillsborough County Commission goes.

If it bombs a second-time  look for Forward Pinellas to steal quietly into the background for a while but should the Go Hillsborough machine get the sales tax on the ballot the next hurdle will be the election, and the folks in Hillsborough County should send yet another resounding message with a NO vote.

Then it will time for the Metropolitan planning organization/Pinellas Planning Council/Forward Pinellas to take a serious look at reality.

Sooner or later, it will become clear that these groups of elected officials, the big developers and light rail lobbyists do not a transportation planning organization make.

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