Monday, May 18, 2020

PSTA's Legislative Committee Chair Democrat Commissioner Janet Long Publicly Disparages President Trump at PSTA Meeting

Is there a trend in Tampa Bay with county commissioners disparaging people and alienating their own constituents and voters?

We posted here and here where Democrat Hillsborough County commissioner Kimberly Overman called her constituents "super stupid", was derogatory towards others and instigated others to go after those who disagree with her.

Now Democrat Pinellas County commissioner Janet Long decided to go partisan at a Pinellas transit agency PSTA Legislative Committee meeting held May 6th. Long publicly denigrated President Trump at this meeting. [Can go directly to video clip below to watch]

The Trump Administration should take note.

Commissioner Long, chairs the PSTA (Pinellas transit agency) Legislative Committee. At the May 6 meeting, PSTA discussed their pursuit for more taxpayer dollars with their state and federal lobbyists. The entire meeting video can be found here.

The issue of PSTA's request for tens of millions of federal dollars for their proposed Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (CA BRT) project came up because PSTA did not make the Federal Transit Administration grant funding recommendations announced in February this year for FY2021.

Commissioner Long has doggedly pursued the unnecessary $45 million Central Avenue BRT (CA BRT) boondoggle that 2 of the 3 municipalities (St. Pete Beach and S Pasadena) along its route oppose and unanimously voted to reject the project. The CA BRT project is scandal ridden and the cost has escalated from $16.5 million in 2015 to $45 million in 2019 - a whopping 273% increase.

Committee Chairwoman Janet Long chimed in at the meeting she could personally reach out to Jane Williams, the acting FTA Administrator, to ask her to carve out the FTA grant funding for the CA BRT — "before things get all messed up".

We assume Long's "before things get all messed up" refers to a reasonable assumption that the pandemic could impact some decision making. 

PSTA's federal lobbyist responded that the transit funding already appropriated is at the DOT Secretary Elaine Chao level not at the FTA Admin level.

US DOT Secretary Elaine Chao is an appointee of President Trump and works directly for Trump.

While the FTA Capital Investment Grant program PSTA is seeking funding for the CA BRT from is discretionary and competitive, it is also political.

PSTA should not be partisan or seen as partisan. But Commissioner Long decided to go partisan at the May 6 Legislative Committee meeting.

The clip below displays Commissioner Long stating she does not want to do anything to make the President look good because "it's no secret Trump is in the dumpster in Florida".  Long provides no evidence to backup her claim. Perhaps she also forgot Trump won Pinellas County in 2016.

Watch the faces of the other board members and lobbyists. None of them called out Long for making such an inappropriate, partisan comment in a public meeting.

Watch how state lobbyist Ron Pierce and federal lobbyist Harry Glenn react.
State Lobbyist Ron Pierce reacts to Long's comment

Federal lobbyist Harry Glenn reacts to Long's comment
We doubt lobbyists Pierce nor Glenn appreciate their clients publicly denigrating anyone, especially the President and the very people they are lobbying for PSTA to get taxpayer handouts from.

It is not wise to disparage and slight the very hand one is seeking money from.

Long has a history of putting her foot in her mouth as reported by the Tampa Bay Guardian posts here and here.

Long, who supported PSTA's failed Greenlight Pinellas rail tax, was wrong in 2014 when she criticized State Senator Jeff Brandes who requested an investigation of PSTA's use of taxpayer money on their Greenlight Pinellas marketing campaign.

The Feds found PSTA misused abused federal transit security funds on their marketing campaign and PSTA was forced to return over $300K to the Feds who also issued a "cease and desist" order on PSTA for their malfeasance.

Ironically, Commissioner Long herself finally admits at the May 6 meeting how wrong she was for pursuing costly rail boondoggles for years that would have devastated PSTA's budget and burdened taxpayers even more. At about 40:08 in the May 6 meeting video, Long states it "a blessing that we have not invested heavily in rail or heavy tracks"….

Long was wrong about rail, she was wrong to defend PSTA's malfeasance in 2014 and she is wrong about the CA BRT project that 2 of the 3 municipalities along the route do not support or want.

Long is also wrong with her vision that it is the role of government to force people out of their cars.

The transit "choice" rider has disappeared with the pandemic. People will prefer even more to use their Personal Protection Mobility Platform - individual vehicles - than use transit with multitudes of strangers.

While Long has wasted too much time, resources and taxpayer money on costly, wasteful transit projects, and seeking transit tax hikes, she has refused to address PSTA's fiscal distress.
PSTA's unsustainable operating model
Long has discredited herself and PSTA by publicly denigrating the President with claims she has no evidence to back up.

The Trump Administration, including US DOT and the FTA, must take note of Long's public partisanship and disparagement of President Trump.

Governor DeSantis, a Trump supporter whose FDOT hands out state tax dollars to PSTA, should also take note of Long's public partisanship.

Like Commissioner Overman, Commissioner Long just alienated a large percentage of her own constituents. But Long is running for re-election in November and she needs a challenger.

Long has been wrong for too long and should be gone.

Making November the perfect time to vote often wrong Long out of office.

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