Thursday, July 18, 2019

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. 

As we posted before, AFT and their media allies and special interests donors are demanding the commissioners reinstate AFT's spending mandates and constraints that Judge Barbas threw out as illegal and unlawful. 

Miller complied by placing Agenda Item F-4 on yesterday's BOCC meeting agenda requesting the County Attorney draft an ordinance to reinstate ALL of AFT's pre-defined spending allocations and mandates through a county ordinance. 

The four Democrat commissioners who supported AFT must know time is not on their side. More and more people are understanding how deceitful AFTs legally flawed transit tax is.

And the commissioners know that all the legal issues are not resolved. That should not be considered trivial by any county commissioner, especially by Miller who is a former state legislator.

But Miller knew he already had the 4 Democrat votes to pass his agenda item. It passed 4-3, with all 4 Democrats voting yes and all 3 Republicans voting No.

We understand AFT had all their yes votes lined up by Tuesday.

Both sides did show up to speak during public comment. 

AFT's mandated spending allocations forces billions be spent on costly rail/transit in Tampa and overwhelmingly benefits the city of Tampa. 

Almost all those who spoke in support of the AFT agenda item live in the city of Tampa. They included Kevin Thurman who initiated AFT's legally flawed transit tax and he led off speaking for AFT yesterday.
Kevin Thurman, who initiated
the AFT transit tax
Only one woman, AFT spokesperson Christina Barker, showed up to speak in support. Barker is a paid employee of AFT's biggest donor Jeff Vinik. She is legally connected to the All for Transportation PAC as a Director of AFT's connected nonprofit Keep Hillsborough Moving, Inc.

Others who spoke in support of Miller's AFT agenda item were also directly associated with the All for Transportation PAC. They included Kevin O'Hare (who is being paid by AFT according to their campaign filing reports) and AFT's Chair Tyler Hudson.

The Tampa Chamber and Westshore Alliance, who also represent Tampa, showed up to support Miller's AFT agenda item.

The transit dependent did not show up to speak in support of AFT. Perhaps because they are the most vulnerable to AFT's 14% tax hike and they were working.

AFT supporters told the commissioners they had to honor their defined spending constraints. That is totally false because Barbas severed AFT's spending allocations and threw them out as unlawful and illegal. 

Barbas left the tax standing by somehow claiming the tax itself was the only intent expressed by voters and was independent of AFT's spending mandates.  AFT did not include any spending allocations in their ballot summary language, the only thing every voter was guaranteed to have had the opportunity to read before voting.

Those who spoke opposing Miller's AFT agenda item were a much more diverse group. 

The opposition represented various parts of Hillsborough county including unincorporated areas of Northdale/Carrolwood, Apollo Beach, Valrico, Sun City Center, Dover, Brandon as well as the city of Tampa. This group was a varied mixture of men and women. The only paid person who spoke in opposition was a policy director who works for Americans for Prosperity.

For transparency, myself and Karen Jaroch, who are associated with No Tax For Tracks PAC who opposed AFT last year, did speak in opposition to this agenda item.

Those who use roads and support funding new road capacity did show up to speak.

During discussion of the AFT agenda item, Commissioner Hagan called out what he termed AFT's "false narrative" that the county commissioners were obligated to reinstate AFT's spending allocations the judge threw out. He and Commissioner Murman emphasized the vast need to fund new road capacity, especially in growing parts of unincorporated Hillsborough. 

AFT's pre-defined spending mandates they included in their $16 Billion transit tax, created by no transportation expert or governing entity, constrains funding much needed new road capacity for 30 long years.  

Hagan and Murman reiterated what Barbas said in his ruling that most voters never read all the regulatory spending allocations and constraints AFT included in the 5 pages of small print of their transit tax charter amendment. 

Commissioner White made astounding comments about his office getting Robo-called from elderly people who did not know why they were being automatically transferred to White's office number. White gave three examples of what his office was experiencing.

It appears that AFT was Robo-calling elderly people in White's district trying to get the call transferred to White's office to tell him they supported Miller's AFT agenda item. 

First of all that is a horrible tactic to use and as White stated, borders on "elder abuse. But it also reflects AFT's desperation and that they continue to say and will do anything trying to save their transit tax spending mandates.

The meeting video can be found at HTV and click on the July 17th Regular meeting that is 3 hours and 51 minutes or use a direct link to the meeting video. 

Public comment begins at about 39:10.

Discussion on the agenda item begins at about 1:56 in the video.

Miller and all three countywide commissioners, Kimberly Overman, Pat Kemp and Mariella Smith, now have a voting record on this issue. Overman, Kemp and Smith are on record wanting to force their constituents in unincorporated Hillsborough, who will pay 74% of the tax proceeds, to pay billions for costly trains and transit in the city of Tampa where only 27% of the county's population resides. 

These countywide commissioners are also on record wanting constituents in unincorporated to pay the vast majority of AFT's $16 Billion tax for 30 years while NOT receiving the new road capacity they need and want.

Both Commissioner Miller and Kemp are running in countywide races next year. Both of them decided to reward AFT yesterday, the very people who created such a big legal mess.

Voters can take note of that at the ballot box in 2020.

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