Monday, November 18, 2019

Stop Proposed $45 Million Central Avenue BRT As Dishonest Transit Agency Is Going Broke

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency (PSTA) is headed towards insolvency. PSTA's operating expenses keep increasing, their ridership and farebox recovery continue declining and PSTA is using their Reserves to keep operating.
Chart presented at May 29, 2019 PSTA Board meeting
Instead of addressing their declining financial position, PSTA is pursuing a proposed $45 million Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (CA BRT) service. PSTA submitted a grant to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requesting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars from the FTA and from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the CA BRT.

PSTA's financial health is deteriorating. The FTA or FDOT should not be handing transit grant dollars for a costly and unneeded new service to a dishonest transit agency going bankrupt.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Pedestrian Safety Panic

The Tampa Bay Times "institutional voice" raised the alarm on pedestrian safety recently.
St. Petersburg has had more pedestrians killed this year than homicides. This troubling trend is also reflected in national statistics: 2018 saw the highest number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed in the United States since 1990. While encouraging more walkers and bikers is commendable and creates a more sustainable transportation system, their safety is paramount. This is a community issue more than a law enforcement issue, and better safety will require more vigilance by drivers, walkers and bikers alike.
The subheading is "It will take a combination of urban planning, enforcement and driver awareness to reverse the trend."

Is that really the full story?

Monday, November 11, 2019

PSTA: Over Half of Fleet is “Life Expired,” Ridership Drops Further, and More

Reposted with permission from Tom Rask, Tampa Bay Guardian


The agenda for PSTA’s October board meeting was packed with costly surprises for the taxpayers. There was a half million dollar cost overrun that went undetected for three years, the revelation that 56% of PSTA’s buses are “life expired,” and also an “unexpected” expenditure in the amount of $554,000 for the proposed Central Avenue BRT project.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Hagan Only Tip of Iceberg in FBI Probe?

Reposted with permission from Jim Bleyer, Tampa Bay Beat


Ken Hagan
The federal investigation into shady land deals in Hillsborough County includes several targets besides County Commissioner Ken Hagan and his family, Tampa Bay Beat has learned.

Those being investigated include private citizens as well as other public officials, according to our source in Tallahassee. No specific names were mentioned but could very well include Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, former Mayor Bob Buckhorn, County Administrator Mike Merrill, Water Street Tampa developer Jeff Vinik, and Ybor City land magnate Darryl Shaw.

All promoted and/or had a significant economic interest in a countywide light rail transit referendum and relocation of a ballpark for the Tampa Bay Rays from St. Petersburg to Ybor City. Constitutionality of the referendum is tied up in the Florida Supreme Court where it is expected to be struck down.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Will Scooters Crash the Tampa Streetcar?

We stumbled upon some interesting data on Facebook recently that raises some questions in our mind about the viability of transit compared scooters.

Scooting in Tampa in a rarely seen helmet
https://www.tampagov.net/sites/default/files/styles/slideshow_full_carousel/public/scooter4.jpg
Will scooters success crash the TECO Streetcar ridership?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Hillsborough MPO's $32 Billion Congestion Creation Plan

As we posted here and here, the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) used a push poll marketing campaign to capture flawed data they wanted as input to the MPO's 20 year 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). This long range plan is for years 2026-2045.

Not only was the data they captured in their push polls flawed, their proposed $32 BILLION 2045 LRTP is seriously flawed with inconsistent data, incomplete information, and false assumptions.

The MPO has scheduled a pubic hearing for tonight at 6pm on the 2045 LRTP. Their 2045 Public Hearing "Draft" document is a marketing brochure with few details and no back up information. We wonder if the MPO Board can decipher and understand this plan much less the general public.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Ethics Be Damned: Tampa Bay Times Protects Its Conflict of Interest

Reposted with permission from Jim Bleyer, Sunshine State News, Tampa Bay Beat


(Pictures Courtesy of Jim Bleyer, SSN, TBB)
The continuing saga of the Tampa Bay Times’ ethics "challenges" inveigled its way into a St. Petersburg City Council race when the newspaper jettisoned its equal-time rule to protect the relationship it has with a local political operative.

That operative, Barry Edwards, is a member of the Poynter Institute of Media Studies Foundation, which owns the Times, still the largest newspaper in Florida. Edwards’ pervasive high-profile presence in political campaigns -- none of which the Times ever opposes -- violates the journalistic ethics its editors have always professed and the Poynter has taught religiously for decades.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tampa Bay Commuting Follies [Part 2]

Continuing some further analysis you won't find anywhere else around Tampa Bay, we have some more data to dissect.

Again, using the Tampa Bay Times Graham Brink's article on our increasing commutes as a starting point, Brink states
Pity the 117,000 Tampa Bay workers who spend at least an hour getting to work and then have to do it again going home.
No joy for those folks in their commutes, for sure.

But how are those 117,000 workers getting to work?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Tampa Bay Commuting Follies

Recently the Tampa Bay Times business writer Graham Brink published an article lamenting the increasing commute times in the area.
You’re not going crazy if you feel like your trip to work keeps getting longer. 
Ten years ago, about 1 in 7 Tampa Bay area workers spent more than 45 minutes commuting to work. Now it’s approaching 1 in 5, according to U.S. Census data released last week.
Typical morning commute in Tampa
What is going on with commutes? Did Brink address any of the issues with transportation across Tampa Bay?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Lies, Damned Lies and CO2 Statistics

The Tampa Bay Times recently published yet another misleading editorial blaming cars for all that ails us.
The best thing Tampa Bay leaders can do to fight climate change is simply get more cars off the road. But that’s a hollow hope in a region that still lacks meaningful mass transit, and where building more toll roads is seen as progress. A sense of urgency in solving the transportation problem is no longer just about convenience and economic competitiveness — it’s also now about global warming. Tampa Bay is particularly vulnerable to every aspect of climate change, from sea level rise to more powerful hurricanes. That’s something to ponder while stuck in another gridlock on the Howard Frankland Bridge.
Cars are the problem. Transit will help. Are you sure about that?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

With 2 of 3 Municipalities Opposed to PSTA's Proposed BRT, Feds Must Reject Grant Request

PSTA, Pinellas County's transit agency, submitted a request in 2017 for a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant to fund their proposed Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Project (CA BRT). PSTA has requested about $22 million of federal tax dollars to fund this proposed $45 million BRT.

But it is time for PSTA's federal grant request to be dead in the water and the FTA reject their grant.

Two of the three municipalities along the CA BRT route oppose the BRT project. S. Pasadena and St. Pete Beach passed formal Resolutions earlier this year opposing the CA BRT.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

And Another Hillsborough Misleading Survey

We recently reported on ABC Action News coverage of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Fall 2019 survey results, and how misleading it was. We wondered why ABC was covering a dated survey. Now we know. 

The Hillsborough MPO is due to report on a supposedly more specific survey at the October 1, 2019 board meeting. We can expect more accolades about the survey, but it suffers from similar pathologies as in the earlier survey -- seriously flawed in its construction, unless its goal is to drive to a preferred agenda.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Yet Another Misleading Survey from the MPOs

ABC Action News recently published a gushing article on the success of he latest Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco joint MPO transportation plan survey.
The latest It’s TIME Tampa Bay survey reveals commuters are looking for rapid transit service to get to and from work as well as expanded streetcar access.
Survey results will help the three Metropolitan Planning Organizations create the very first tri-county Long-Range Transportation Plan for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties. The It’s TIME Tampa Bay survey was the most successful MetroQuest survey in the United States ever, according to the survey website.
Yet this "survey" is seriously flawed, clearly intended to drive an agenda rather than seek to understand the transportation and mobility needs of Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

FDOT Public Hearing on I-275 in St. Petersburg

The Florida Department of Transportation held a public hearing for the planned improvements of I-275 in Pinellas County on September 24, 2019. Details of the plans can be found here, which encompass improvements to I-275 from 54th Avenue South north to 4th Street North in Pinellas County. This was the public hearing for review and comment for the Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) study conducted for the 16.3 mile corridor. Operational improvements, location, design, social, economic and environment impacts of the improvements were analyzed in the study.

I-275 Study Corridor

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Commissioners Pursue Ordinance To Shut Down Funding of New Roads To Fund Rail


Some Hillsborough County commissioners want to implement the "will of All for Transportation" by reinstating the All for Transportation (AFT) spending mandates thrown out by a judge,

The four county commissioners pursuing this action are those who supported the $16 Billion onerous and burdensome AFT transit tax - Les Miller, Pat Kemp, Kimberly Overman and Mariella Smith.

These four commissioners want to rush action to reinstate AFT's pre-determined spending allocations and funding prohibitions thru a county ordinance. They know all the legal issues have not been resolved.

But they scheduled a public hearing anyway for their proposed ordinance at tomorrow's September 18, 2019 BOCC meeting at 10am.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

PSTA Hosts Central Avenue BRT "Open House" at S Pasadena

The Eye headed to S Pasadena on Wednesday, September 11th, where PSTA hosted an Open House for their proposed $45.6 million Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

We captured a few interviews from St Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson, a S Pasadena business owner whose business is being impacted by this project and a S Pasadena resident.

Watch the interviews after the break - there is some background noise.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

AFT Spokesperson/Vinik Employee Christina Barker Cited in FL Senate Brief

As reported, a Circuit Court Judge threw out major portions of All for Transportation's transit tax, including their mandated spending allocations, as illegal and unlawful. The judge, who is elected and will probably run again, split the baby and left the tax itself still standing.

Numerous appeals have been filed to the Florida Supreme Court. The appeals include those filed by All for Transportation according to this Times article.

Since the legal appeals were filed, the Florida House and Florida Senate have filed amicus curiae briefs with the Florida Supreme Court requesting the Court to strike the entire All for Transportation charter amendment including the tax.

The Florida House and Senate amicus curiae briefs can be found here and here.

The Senate brief states they are joining the brief filed by the House and also states (we included link to Times article referenced):
On September 4, 2019 the Tampa Bay Times published an article that was entitled Hillsborough's transportation tax has a new opponent: the Florida House.  
The article included the following quote from the organizer for All for Transportation, Christina Barker, the sponsor of the referendum at issue in this case: “Hillsborough County voters exercised a right that the Florida Legislature gave them. The fact that this is being walked back now is incredibly disappointing.”

The Senate wishes to appear in this case as an additional amicus curiae and join in the House brief in order to clarify that both Chambers of the Legislature support the House’s position stated therein. The Legislature is united in seeking a proper interpretation and enforcement of section 212.055, Florida Statutes, and in opposing an expansion of the severability doctrine to include local exercises of legislatively delegated non-ad valorem taxation authority.

The Senate agrees with and supports the House position, which respects and protects the voters. Unlawful referendums that do not follow the clear procedures laid out by statute should not be judicially repaired by the trial court. The result reached by the trial court ignores the premise upon which voters may have supported the referendum, namely how the transportation tax would be administered.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Paying the Baseball Lawyer: A Spending Black Hole Benefitting Private Interests?

How much money has been paid to the expensive New York baseball lawyer for Hillsborough county's pursuit of a new Rays baseball stadium?
Irwin Raij
Baseball lawyer contracted to pursue new Rays stadium
There has never been a transparent discussion publicly disclosing the cost of the baseball lawyer or the total costs associated with Hillsborough County pursuing a new stadium. What exactly have taxpayers been paying for?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Time for Sunshine to Get Rid of the Transit Tax Storm Cloud


The All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax is a storm cloud of dishonesty and deception hovering over Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County must get out from under the AFT storm clouds for the county to begin honestly and transparently addressing its transportation issues.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Raise Gas Tax to Spend Less on Transportation

Historically, ad valorem property tax revenues always funded transportation and road projects in Hillsborough County. However, when the recession hit in 2008, all property taxes that was funding transportation was diverted to other items and areas to balance the budget.

As the local economy recovered, those revenues were not re-diverted back to fund transportation and roads.

That finally changed in September 2016 when that Hillsborough County Commission approved a 10 year transportation funding policy.

BOCC Board Policy 03.05.09.00 purpose was "to establish a fiscal policy of the Board of County Commissioners (“BOCC”) that transportation is one of Hillsborough County’s top priorities and that the proposed annual tentative budget for each fiscal year through FY 26 will reflect increases in funding for transportation uses".

The intent of the policy was to use the growth of existing revenues, including the growth of ad valorem property and sales tax revenues, to fund transportation and much needed new road capacity projects in Hillsborough County. The policy specifically excluded mobility fees and any new gas tax fee if implemented after the policy was in place. Those additional transportation revenue sources were intended to SUPPLEMENT the revenues included in the 10 year transportation funding policy.
BOCC 10 year transportation funding policy - mobility fees
& any new gas taxes were to SUPPLEMENT transportation funding
The $812 million transportation funding plan is still in place but we posted here about the attempt to get rid of that funding plan - even as all the legal issues with the All for Transportation $16 Billion transit tax are not yet resolved.

The attempt to officially begin tearing apart the $812 million funding plan starts at tomorrow's BOCC meeting. On the BOCC meeting agenda is item B-2 Revision to BOCC Transportation Funding Policy to:
Approve by supermajority vote the proposed revision to BOCC Policy Section Number 03.05.09.00 regarding transportation funding to provide that the Five Cents Local Option Fuel Tax, if levied by the BOCC, is an eligible funding source under the policy.
What this change does is raise the gas tax on Hillsborough County residents without providing any additional transportation funding - that the BOCC stated was a top priority of the county.

It takes a super majority to implement any change to the 10 year transportation funding policy. It will take at least 5 commissioners to vote for the change.

And any commissioner who votes for this change is voting to raise taxes and spend less on transportation.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Foolish Power Players Supported Flawed Transit Tax

We continue our "Sunlight" series about All for Transportation's legally flawed $16 Billion transit tax and the insiders who were helping them.

We posted here about the genesis of the All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax. Transit advocate and community organizer Kevin Thurman created his "People's Plan" and shopped his transit tax political strategy to inside power players.

According to public records we received, Thurman targeted power players at Tampa International Airport and sent his transit tax presentations to Janet Scherberger last April.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Bait and Switch Launched To Throw Out $812 Million Policy that Funds New Road Capacity

 Dr. Jim Davison and Sharon Calvert contributed to this post.

The bait-and-switch technique is an old and well-known tool in retail and politics. It is one of the most infuriating situations to be in and it is happening in Hillsborough County.

Critics of the All for Transportation (AFT) 30 year $16 Billion transit sales tax voiced their concern over the possibility of such bait and switch occurring if the tax passed.

Monday, July 22, 2019

As Issues Come Home to Roost, Transit Tax Heads to FL Supreme Court


Many of the issues we raised last year about the All for Transportation (AFT) $16 Billion transit tax are coming home to roost.

Listen as the Eye speaks with Karen Jaroch, who helped lead the opposition to the AFT tax last year and raised warnings about its issues. We discuss how the All for Transportation mess started, what the county commission is doing and the two appeals that have been filed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Our 15 minute podcast can be found here.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Opposition Grows Against Bus Rapid Transit Project as Its Cost Increases to $44 million

Pinellas County Transit Agency PSTA seeks over $21 million from the Federal Transit Administration and additional funds from the Florida Department of Transportation for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. 

But opposition is growing against the BRT project. Two (S Pasadena and St Pete Beach) of the three municipalities along the BRT route formally oppose the project as opposition grows in the city of St. Petersburg.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Who's Paying All for Transportation's Legal Bills?

There are two appeals that have been made to the Florida Supreme Court related to the All for Transportation $16 Billion transit tax so who is paying for All for Transportation's mounting legal costs? 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Breaking News: Commissioner White Has Appealed All for Transportation Ruling

Breaking News from the Eye: Just this morning, Commissioner White appealed the All for Transportation ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.

There are now two appeals, one from the class action lawsuit filed yesterday and one from Commissioner White, to the Florida Supreme Court related to the All for Transportation transit (AFT) tax.

Judge Barbas threw out all of AFT's spending allocations, mandates and constraints as unlawful and illegal. He somehow left the tax itself standing and now there are 2 appeals on his ruling.

Stay tune for the latest as we learn more.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: Ruling on All for Transportation Has Been Appealed

Breaking news from the Eye:  The class action lawyers have filed an appeal regarding the All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax.

Judge Barbas Final ruling on July 9th that enabled an appeal to go forward.

As we reported earlier, yesterday four county commissioners voted to have an ordinance drafted to reinstate AFT's spending mandates and constraints.

Now that an appeal has been made, will they continue to move forward with such ordinance.

Stay tuned as we learn more.

Rewarding the Big Mess Makers

A judge threw out most of the All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax as illegal and unlawful. 

Rewarding All For Transportation who subjected voters to a legally flawed 30 year $16 Billion transit tax last year is unacceptable. 

But Hillsborough County Democrat commissioners Les Miller and his 3 Democrat colleagues decided to reward those who ran amok of State Statutes to get their $16 Billion transit tax passed. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Not Shovel Ready

Right on cue, the Tampa Bay Times editorial commissars are at it again.
Hillsborough County voters spoke loudly in November by approving their first-ever local tax for transportation improvements. Now it’s time for the county commission to begin carrying out those wishes by approving a measure Wednesday that puts the tax money to its anticipated use.
Our self appointed transportation experts order the Hillsborough County Commission to "commit at least 45 percent of the tax proceeds to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit... And the board should embrace the formula that voters agreed to for road, bridge, intersection and safety improvements, which address a number of critical needs countywide and which were instrumental in attracting votes in both urban and suburban precincts."

Have they really thought this through?

Monday, July 15, 2019

AFT's "Bad Tax" Con Was Planned To Surprise Public and Prevent Public Scrutiny

As a recent Circuit Court ruling confirmed, All for Transportation (AFT) put an illegal and unlawful transit tax charter amendment referendum on the ballot in Hillsborough County last year.

If such a big mess was about an issue local media did not agree with, we would see daily headlines shouting out those who were involved with it. But local media refuses to do that with AFT and prefers to filter out information about those who pushed an illegal transit tax onto unsuspecting voters in 2018.

The public deserves to know more. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Defects Keep Swirling Around All For Transportation Tax and Court Ruling

As we posted here, Judge Barbas gutted the illegal All for Transportation (AFT) tax hike charter amendment. Barbas threw out all of AFT's illegal spending appropriations, illegal prohibitions on funding new roads and other illegal regulations they tried to force on the taxpayers of Hillsborough County.

In addition, according to this Florida Politics article, Commissioner Stacy White filed a motion to remove the sentence that required the AFT sales tax to be distributed to the County and municipalities based on their population.
“...any such allocation should be based on the actual transportation needs of the municipality, not on arbitrary, fixed percentages that were created to serve an entirely different tax with entirely different goals.”
White's motion also requests a final judgement be made which then enables an appeal to either the Supreme Court or the Second District Court of Appeals.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

What's Next?

Now that much of the mandated spending constraints All For Transportation tax hike have been found unconstitutional, all the media, business elites, politicians and proponents that were so wrong about the legal issues, are pushing hard to reinstate the "will of the people".

Judge Rex Barbas summary judgement, while preserving the tax, makes it clear why so much of the AFT charter amendment was unconstitutional.

The Honorable Rex M. Barbas

But that's not slowing down AFT and the "mix of interest groups."

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Judge Throws Out Most of AFT Tax Hike Amendment But Lets the Tax Stand

The ruling by Judge Barbas yesterday on the All for Transportation tax hike confirms what Commissioner White and the Eye warned about last year but local media refused to report.

All for Transportation (AFT) never legally vetted their 5 page tax hike charter amendment and now Barbas threw out most of it.

In his ruling of AFT's $16 Billion transit tax hike, Barbas threw out the pre-determined appropriations and he struck out the limitations and prohibitions of funding new road capacity.

Barbas also reigned in the Independent Oversight Committee authority who will no longer have approval authority but can now only function as a glorified citizens advisory committee.

Barbas allows the sales tax to stand but little else does. Thanks to Commissioner White and his lawsuit, we now know that most of AFT's tax hike charter amendment was unlawful and a fraud.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

No Grant Funding Should Go to Dishonest Failing Transit Agency PSTA

PSTA, who is using reserves to keep operating, is going broke.

Instead of addressing their failing transit agency, PSTA is pursuing a proposed $44 million bus rapid transit (BRT) service and pursuing over $30 million in federal and state grant money to fund it.

As we posted here, PSTA's BRT project is on life support. Two of the three municipalities (St. Pete Beach and S. Pasadena) along the proposed BRT route do not want the service in their community and have formally opposed it.

This PSTA project is in such dire straights the Tampa Bay Times felt compelled to write this editorial trying to cover for PSTA's mess:  Move forward with bus rapid transit linking St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach. And stop the sniping.

Friday, June 14, 2019

PSTA's BRT On Life Support As Kriseman Sends "Mafia Move" Letter to St Pete Beach

The wheels are going flat on PSTA's proposed Central Avenue BRT (CA BRT) bus service. The CA BRT is a $42 million new bus service PSTA wants to run from St. Petersburg thru S. Pasadena to the Don Cesar on St. Pete Beach.

But PSTA, whether it was intentional or incompetence or a combination of both, did a lousy job of informing the public, the communities impacted and engaging their stakeholders.

So now the wheels going flat are about to come off this unneeded BRT that duplicates existing bus services, removes a lane of vehicle traffic and parking on 1st Ave N and 1st Ave S, and removes a lane of vehicle traffic on Pasadena Avenue, including right before the Corey Causeway draw bridge.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

I-275 Projects Survive Despite All Democrat County Commissioners Voting Against Them

Common sense prevailed Tuesday night as the Hillsborough MPO voted to keep FDOT's  I-275 expansion/improvement projects in their plans.

According to this Tampa Bay Times article, the vote was 11-5 to keep the projects in the MPO's plans.

We will note that all four Democrat Hillsborough county commissioners, including countywide commissioners Pat Kemp, Kimberly Overman and Mariella Smith, voted to remove those vital projects from the MPO's plans. They were joined by Democrat BOCC Chair Les Miller along with Democrat Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

St. Pete Beach Stymies PSTA ... For Now

At another standing room only St. Pete Beach City Commission meeting last night, residents and council members took a stand against more PSTA buses from the proposed Central Avenue BRT project on congested Gulf Boulevard. The Eye was there.

St. Pete Beach City Commission

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

All For Transportation is MIA on I-275 Expansion

All For Transportation (AFT) were the media darlings of transportation last year.

Local media gave AFT spokespersons gobs of free earned media to shout out their message we must spend more money on transportation in Hillsborough County.

AFT spent $4 million telling Hillsborough County voters that traffic congestion in the county was in dire straights. Their massive campaign emphasized "road improvements" to relieve congestion to get you home for dinner quicker.

So where in the world is All for Transportation (AFT) on FDOT's I-275 planned interstate expansion and safety improvement projects?


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Tell the Hillsborough MPO: We Want Our Interstates Expanded Not Torn Down

I-275 is used by over 250K people everyday and serves as a major evacuation route in Tampa Bay.

I-275 is part of Florida's Strategic Intermodal System (SIS). The SIS is Florida’s high priority network of transportation facilities important to the state's economy and mobility. The Governor and Legislature established the SIS in 2003 to focus the state's limited transportation resources on the facilities most significant for interregional, interstate, and international travel. The SIS is the state's highest priority for transportation capacity investments and a primary focus for implementing the Florida Transportation Plan (FTP), the state's long-range transportation vision and policy plan.

The Transportation Management Area (TMA) leadership group, that includes the MPO's of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, include the interstate expansion projects (including the northern corridor of I-275) as top Tampa Bay regional priorities for the TMA.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Costly Disaster! Tearing Down Interstates, the AFT Rail Tax and Train Rides for "Free"

Sunshine Citizens is registered in Florida as a “501c3 nonprofit" and has a federal tax exempt status from the IRS. 

Sunshine Citizens website reflects they are a transit "advocacy” group who wants to reduce "our dependence on the automobile". And in reality, they are an activist group who advocates for their urbanist agenda.

Sunshine Citizens has been “actively” opposing FDOT’s plans to expand and improve I-275 and fix malfunction junction since they were created in 2015. They were successful in causing FDOT to delay planned and funded interstate improvements in 2017. 

That delay caused Hillsborough County to "lose" hundreds of millions of state/federal gas tax dollars  slated to go to Hillsborough County interstate improvements, to go elsewhere. FDOT redirected those millions already paid by taxpayers, to Orlando and Central Florida for their massive interstate expansion projects. 
Now, Sunshine Citizens not only opposes interstate expansion projects, they are “advocating” to tear down the north corridor of I-275 and replace it with a street level Boulevard with a train. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

SOS! Stop the CA BRT and Save Our Streets


The SOS distress signal on PSTA is out.

PSTA ridership has declined 20% over the last 5 years. PSTA has been fiscally mismanaged for years and is currently bleeding its own reserves to keep operating.

But PSTA CEO Brad Miller, his staff and the governing PSTA Board have refused to responsibly address PSTA's failing financial position.

While PSTA is on its way to insolvency, PSTA is pursuing transit grants for a proposed $42 million Central Avenue BRT (CA BRT) that removes lanes of vehicle traffic and parking along its route for bus only lanes. This costly and unnecessary project duplicates existing routes and is a boondoggle and a bailout to financially distressed PSTA.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

State Asks Vinik to Explain Non-Registration of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment

Reposted with permission from Jim Bleyer, Tampa Bay Beat


The Florida Department of State has notified Jeff Vinik that his corporation, Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC, may be in non-compliance with state statutes and, therefore, subject to fines.

The company has been doing business in Florida since 2010 but never registered as a foreign corporation. By not registering, Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment has been able to shield its officers and directors from public scrutiny.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Wheels Come Off Hillsborough Transit Planning

Cross post by permission of Jim Bleyer, Tampa Bay Beat and author Dr. Jim Davison


Hillsborough County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization has concocted an impractical transit scheme that involves tearing down 10 miles of Interstate-275 in favor of a boulevard concept, a plan ranked last by a survey of Tampa Bay citizens.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

All for Transportation's Pervasive Dishonesty

All for Transportation (AFT) has been dishonest from the start. They tried to create a false narrative last June that their tax hike ballot initiative was a "grassroots" initiative launched by everyday citizens.

That was quickly debunked.

Five special interests donors, including Jeff Vinik, Frank Morsani, Vinik's Water Street construction company Coastal Construction, Tampa Bay Partnership and Sykes Enterprises donated $150K each to get AFT's tax hike on the ballot.

The AFT tax hike initiative was a totally paid professional campaign job assisted by some political insiders (more to come on that subject).

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Jeff Vinik Owns Tampa Bay Times—in Case You Hadn’t Noticed

Cross post with permission from post author Jim Bleyer, Tampa Bay Beat


Jeff Vinik, through Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC, owns the major interest in the Tampa Bay Times, according to corporate records obtained by Tampa Bay Beat from Bloomberg, the world’s primary distributor of financial data.

It accounts for the Times’ sheer, unfettered promotion of all Vinik enterprises including the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, obfuscation of his role in meddling with Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry, and the deliberate withholding of facts surrounding the new one percent sales tax for transit in Hillsborough County—a gargantuan financial windfall for Vinik.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Transit Study Reveals AFT Sold Voters Costly Can of Worms


The idiom "can of worms" refers to doing something that creates a litany of other problems and creates more trouble and complicates the situation or problem trying to be solved.

The All for Transportation (AFT) 30 year $16 Billion sales tax hike is now looking like a can of worms. AFT ignored transit reality and the reality is happening now.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Legal Questions Remain As County Admits All For Transportation Gave "Oversight" Committee Overreaching Powers

Legal questions remain about who has the "Rightful Authority" to appropriate All for Transportation's $16 Billion tax hike proceeds for 30 years. Now the county and the agencies receiving the tax proceeds are admitting there are big problems with AFT's tax hike charter amendment.

All For Transportation (AFT) touted in their $4 million marketing campaign that the AFT $16 Billion tax hike was keeping "Political Hands" aka duly elected officials out of their tax hike cookie jar. AFT sent thousands of mailers to voters with that message.
All for Transportation Mailer

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Taxation without Representation For Unincorporated Hillsborough As Tax Hike Committee Stacked With Appointees Who Reside in City of Tampa

Warning signals went out prior to the election raising numerous issues with the All for Transportation 30 year $16 Billion tax hike. Those warnings included what All For Transportation (AFT) touted as their "Independent Oversight Committee" (IOC).

AFT, a political committee, defined enumerated powers in their 5 page tax hike charter amendment to unelected bureaucrats on the IOC who are accountable to no one. AFT empowered the IOC to be the ultimate approver/disapprover for all transportation projects to be funded by AFT's $16 Billion tax hike.

Commissioner Stacy White sounded warnings before the election in his October 18th press release that the IOC can be stacked with members not from the areas where the majority of the AFT taxes will be paid. In other words there was a good chance that the IOC will be stacked with those who live in the city of Tampa when over 2/3 of the population lives in unincorporated Hillsborough.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Amended Complaint Throws Curve Ball to All For Transportation's Tax Hike Mess


As expected, Commissioner Stacy White filed an Amended Complaint on March 22nd challenging the All for Transportation (AFT) 30 year $16 Billion sales tax hike charter amendment.

As baseball season begins, it looks like AFT is thrown a curve ball as White's Amended Complaint brings forth additional information and describes additional issues with the AFT charter amendment.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

All for Transportation Ballot Language vs Article 11 Charter Amendment - Deceptive or Legal?

All for Transportation (AFT) hit voters mail boxes hard last year with glossy mailers claiming they had a transportation "plan" aka $16 Billion transit tax hike to "cut" traffic congestion in Hillsborough County for 30 years.

But we posted here, when AFT spokesperson Kevin Thurman, one of the authors of their $16 Billion transit tax hike, was challenged on that claim about a week before the election, he was forced to admit that such claims were not true and congestion would actually get worse over the 30 years.

No wonder AFT refused to debate anyone who opposed their tax hike before the election. Their deceptive use of exaggerated claims would be exposed.

While deceptive political campaigns may not be illegal, what about deceptive ballot language?

Monday, March 11, 2019

AFT Tax Hike Scam Puts County Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The All For Transportation (AFT) tax hike may turn into one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on Hillsborough County voters and taxpayers.

We predicted the AFT would create a big mess and more evidence of that played out at a Hillsborough County BOCC workshop held February 21, 2019.

The workshop to discuss how the county could spend $110 million of new AFT tax proceeds quickly turned into a debacle. The commissioners darted in all directions when confronted with the reality the $16 Billion AFT tax hike does not fund new road capacity in Hillsborough County for 30 years.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

AFT Train Wreck: Commissioners Sue Their Own Constituents to Take Their Rights Away

The All for Transportation (AFT) tax hike is one big mess.

And the AFT train wreck is getting messier and messier. Six county commissioners are digging a deeper hole by intentionally putting taxpayers at more risk and taking actions that will take away the rights of their own constituents and future commission boards.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tampa's Little Swamp

What took so long? Some candidates running for Tampa mayor are concerned or asking questions about Vinik's money and influence.

According to this Tampa Bay Times report, Vinik was the subject of a question asked at a mayoral forum by moderator Mike Deeson, a former investigative reporter. Deeson asked "What "controls" should be put over the city government's interactions with Vinik".
After former county commissioner Ed Turanchik said the next mayor should follow an "arms-length relationship" with Vinik, Straz weighed in. 
"The Vinik question. Ladies and gentleman, we need more transparency. And that is, what kind of money is going into Channelside? Who's behind the St. Pete (Tampa Bay) Times? Who's behind All for Transportation? Who's behind a number of these things around town? Let's get some transparency and find out what's going on. If you look at some of the blogs you can get a feeling that not everything's great. We need to investigate that much more further," Straz said.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Did All for Transportation Unlawfully Appropriate Earmarks for 30 Years?

Earmarks are used to set aside funds for a specific purpose or allocate a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization.

Earmarks in government are often associated with pork barrel spending, hand outs and wasteful spending without due diligence. In government, earmarks are handed out with little to no planning and the general public now has wary eyes on earmarks.

It may be after the election but the big mess All For Transportation (AFT) created is unfolding. While local media continues to ignore what is actually in AFT's charter amendment and all the issues swirling around it, we will continue to expose those issues.

AFT knew their transit tax hike did not fund any existing transportation plan. They knew it because the AFT tax hike is not just a tax hike referendum, it is an appropriations bill full of earmarks.

AFT, a political committee accountable to no one and funded by wealthy special interests, made up their own mandated earmarks with no transparent due diligence, planning or plan.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

An Offer You Can't Refuse: Who is Peter Schorsch?

Crosspost from Jordan Kirkland, Roundtable Politics



Mob and gangster movies are a dime a dozen. From The Godfather to Goodfellas, the genre has taken the U.S. by storm since the early 1900’s.

On a yearly basis, directors like Martin Scorsese churn out mafia sub-genre movies, allowing viewers to peer into a world of crime and corruption and fantasize about an underground world that revolves around power and persuasion.

While some autobiographical films touch on what really happened in the past, many are just speculative works that sprinkle in exaggerated death tolls. So it’s safe to say that these fantasy crime dramas are just that: fantasy. Right?

Well… not exactly. While the Corleones aren’t gunning down unsuspecting victims in crowded streets, there are real “crime lords” that are pulling the strings behind the scenes. One in particular, lives in Florida…

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Confusion Reigns with All for Transportation's Transit Tax Hike

The All for Transportation (AFT) 30 year $16 Billion transit tax hike charter amendment is one big mess. It is 5 pages of misleading spending regulations confusing to all.


Commissioner White's lawsuit is beginning to unravel the big mess AFT created. The unraveling continues as White sheds more light on the big mess at the January 24th BOCC meeting.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Propaganda Protects and Promotes Agenda of the Times Financial Benefactors

The Tampa Bay Times did not provide a link to the All for Transportation (AFT) 5 page charter amendment so they were not compelled to refer to actual language in the tax hike document. This allowed the Times to run with AFT claims with no evidence to back them up and no questions asked.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tax Hike Lawsuit Raises Serious Legal Issues That Must Be Resolved

Commissioner Stacy White filed a lawsuit in December against numerous defendants related to All for Transportation's $16 Billion transit tax hike charter amendment challenging the language used in the charter amendment. It is case #18-CA-011749.

AFT, some county commissioners and others who supported the tax hike have called the lawsuit ridiculous, a political stunt and "nonsense".

But their rhetoric may be the "nonsense".

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Newly Elected County Commissioner's "I Said I Would" Turns into "No I Won't"

County Commissioner Kimberly Overman
As a county commission candidate, Kimberly Overman supported the All for Transportation 30 year $16 Billion sales tax hike referendum. Commissioner White filed a lawsuit contending the charter amendment language was misleading and violated state statute.

As a newly elected commissioner, she stated in a December 4 Tampa Bay Times article about Commissioner White's lawsuit:
County Commissioner Kimberly Overman said the referendum language was vetted closely...“This is a waste of taxpayers’ money and that’s a shame,” Overman said.
Overman made her public claim about the referendum language being vetted as if it was a fact not her opinion.