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.

Facts can be proven. There's been multiple attempts asking for Overman to prove her claim.

Tom Rask, owner and editor of the Tampa Bay Guardian, attended the December 5, 2018 Hillsborough BOCC meeting and made a public comment. From the meeting transcript his comment included:
I WOULD ASK THIS BODY TO ASK HARD QUESTIONS OF AFT, ALL FOR TRANSPORTATION. 
THEY HAD A $4 MILLION BUDGET, AND IT APPEARS THEY DID NOT SPEND A SINGLE DIME ON LEGAL OPINION. 
MR. WILLIS, WHO IS IN THE AUDIENCE HERE, TOLD FLORIDA POLITICS YESTERDAY THAT THE REFERENDUM, THIS THING WAS VETTED BY HOLLAND & KNIGHT, YET THEY DON'T SHOW ANY CAMPAIGN EXPENDITURES, ANY PAYMENTS BEING MADE TO HOLLAND & KNIGHT.
I CAN ONLY SEE A CONTRIBUTION FROM HOLLAND & KNIGHT.
IT IS A CASH CONTRIBUTION. IT'S NOT AN IN‑KIND CONTRIBUTION.
SO ASK THEM FOR THE LEGAL OPINION. 
WHAT LEGAL OPINION OR OPINIONS DO ‑‑ DID THEY GET BEFORE THEY PUT THIS ON THE BALLOT?
AND MS., COMMISSIONER OVERMAN WAS QUOTED IN THE TIMES YESTERDAY SAYING THAT THIS REFERENDUM LANGUAGE WAS CLOSELY VETTED.
SO THEREFORE, I'D LIKE TO MAKE A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST TO THE COUNTY HERE AND NOW FOR WHATEVER RECORDS COMMISSIONER OVERMAN HAS TO SUPPORT THAT POSITION BECAUSE AS COMMISSIONERS, OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN'T JUST RELY ON THE ASSERTIONS AND THE CONCLUSION FROM ALL FOR TRANSPORTATION.
I SENT YOU EXCEPT MS. SMITH BUT I WILL GET IT TO COMMISSIONER SMITH, I SENT PROOF YESTERDAY THAT ALL FOR TRANSPORTATION WAS AWARE OF THIS VERY ISSUE THAT COMMISSIONER WHITE HAS SUED OVER BACK ON JULY 5th. POSSIBLY EARLIER. 
SO IF THEY WERE AWARE OF IT HAVING SPENT ALL THIS MONEY ON PETITION GATHERING, WHY DIDN'T THEY BACK OFF AND MAYBE PUT IT ON A LATER REFERENDUM? 
DID THEY EXPLORE THE ISSUE? 
WAS THERE ANY VALIDITY TO THIS ISSUE? 
Tampa Bay Guardian recently posted this:
Overman’s claim was essentially the same as the one made by All For Transportation (AFT) a day earlier, when AFT spokesman told 10 News that their measure was “thoroughly vetted.” AFT is the group that spent $4 million on the citizen initiative to place the tax hike referendum on the ballot.
However, a public records request to Overman for any records to support her “vetted closely” claim turned up no records. In other words, Overman has no evidence to back up her claim and thus made no effort to independently verify AFT’s claim which she parroted. 
Despite repeated requests from multiple media outlets, AFT itself has failed to produce evidence of any legal review of its tax hike effort prior to placing it on the ballot. 
After Overman made her claim on December 4th, I also requested Overman backup her comments with evidence that the charter amendment was "vetted closely". I sent my inquiry directly to Overman that included asking her who legally vetted the referendum language, when did the vetting occur, what was her role in the vetting, were any potential conflicts addressed and who has statutory authority to allocate the sales surtax proceeds. I also asked for any documentation or communication she had related to the vetting process she clearly stated she knew about.

Overman immediately forwarded my questions, sent directly to her because they were related to what she publicly stated, to the County Attorney's office on December 7th. The County Attorney's office turned around and sent my questions back to Overman for "her" response.

On December 28th, three weeks later, the County Attorney's office sent me a reply that Overman could provide no response and no documentation to back up her claim that the All for Transportation tax hike charter amendment had been "vetted closely" by anyone.

If Overman's claim is factual, it could be proved.  If there is no legal issue that needs addressing, then Overman must know who has statutory authority to appropriate the sales surtax proceeds. However, she refused to answer any questions or provide any evidence that the tax hike charter amendment language was legally vetted.

There is irony in Overman's non response.

Overman used time at the December 5th BOCC meeting for her own public comment. After she patted herself on the back for winning her election, she presented to the other county commissioners a bracelet that says "Because I said I would". Overman stated (emphasis mine):
I ENCOURAGE YOU ALL TO WEAR THIS DAILY AS AN ACCOUNTABILITY REMINDER, ESPECIALLY AS IT RELATES TO THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY WE HAVE SITTING ON THIS DAIS.
Accountability begins with being truthful, being transparent, being accountable for what you say or do and providing a timely response to Public Records Requests.  

As the Tampa Bay Guardian reported, it took a threat by Mr. Rask on December 22nd that he would sue the county to compel the public records to finally get a response from the county on December 28th, the same day we received our response.

In an email Mr. Rask sent to all the Hillsborough County commissioners regarding Overman's claim and her lack of responsiveness, Rask informed the commissioners:
It turns out that commissioner Overman had nothing to back up her claim - it was just hot air. 
The fact that Overman did not seek to verify this claim by a Vinik-funded group is appalling. Will she be so trusting when Vinik has business before the commission?
Proper governance must include protecting taxpayers, voters and citizens from any deceit, abuse or unlawful actions.

On Kimberly Overman's website for her county commission campaign, she complains "Citizens are tired of being shut out of the process". She states she wants policy proposals using public input, and full transparency at all times.

Yet Overman supported a 30 year $16 Billion tax hike policy proposal funded by wealthy special interests that had no transparency and no public input. 

Overman supported the massive $16 Billion tax hike initiative with ZERO citizen input. She supported a massive tax hike that shut out all citizen engagement, shut down any opportunity for diverse stakeholders to provide input, shut down the ability for any compromise, shut down the ability to consider any alternative funding solutions including one already presented to the BOCC that does not require a massive tax hike, shut down all debate and abusively used local media to push the pro tax hike agenda. 

Overman may have just begun her 4 year term as a county commissioner but she has already diminished her credibility. She refused to heed her own advice about accountability and transparency.

In less than a month, Overman's "I Said I Would" already turned into "No I Won't".

2 comments:

  1. "Bad beginnings ~ bad end!"

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  2. Must suck being such a loser that this is the only thing you can do with your life. How embarrassing for you to go from talking about how you're going to get elected to the county commission in Hillsborough County, to fleeing the county all together, your tail tucked between your legs, your political coalition left in tatters by angry voters. Have you ever checked the stats for your own website? Virtually nobody even reads this. Just a couple hundred hits a week. Enjoy irrelevancy, this is how the rest of your life is going to go.

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