Thursday, December 17, 2020

Local politician imposes new COVID curbs…while in Canada on vacation

 Reposted with permission from The Tampa Bay Guardian 

Hillsborough County Commission Chairwoman Patricia Kemp (D) yesterday voted for two new local laws that place additional COVID restrictions on local businesses. People in Hillsborough County may no longer stand at bars to eat and drink, gather on dance floors, and so-called “congregating areas” in nightclubs are prohibited. The new ordinance also requires that businesses make a reasonable attempt to enforce these local orders.

Importantly, Kemp failed to disclose that she was chairing today’s meeting from Toronto, Canada, a city under lockdown due to COVID. Kemp is in Toronto on personal business, and will therefore currently not have to live under or enforce the new restrictions she voted for. Hillsborough county businesses, individuals and law enforcement will.

The timing and optics of Kemp’s trip to Toronto could not have been worse as the City of Toronto today reported a single-day record of 850 cases. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, Toronto currently has 159 active outbreaks of COVID. There is therefore a real possibility that Kemp could bring COVID with her back to the Tampa Bay area.

“The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return,” says the Florida Department of Health in its COVID advice. Kemp’s action also calls in to question whether she actually believes that COVID is a serious public health threat. If she did, why would she travel to a COVID hotspot? And then not disclose it to constituents. Just last month, Kemp was re-elected to another 4-year term on the county commission.

Canada requires all travelers entering Canada to self-quarantine for 14 days. We asked Kemp via e-mail whether she had done so, and also asked some other questions. Kemp did not respond to our email by our publication deadline.

It is also unknown whether Kemp has followed the CDC recommendations for international travel, which call for a COVID test 1-3 days before travel, along with a long list of other steps to take. Should Kemp fall seriously ill with COVID in Toronto, whether acquired there or in the Tampa Bay area, she could add to their already overburdened healthcare system.

Toronto is currently at 86% of ICU bed capacity, and the number of cases continue to increase. On its “COVID Monitoring Dashboard” as shown below, the city reports both its “Virus Spread & Containment” status and “Overall Status” as “Red.”

Kemp voted to prohibit “congregation areas” in nightclubs, without evidence that such restrictions would alleviate COVID, while still allowing people congregate in malls, Costco, Sam’s Club, airports and other places.

As mentioned above, businesses are required to enforce all these new restrictions. However, some fed up businesses may decide that “calling the police” will be their sole enforcement mechanism.

Apart from not really believing that COVID is a crisis, it appears that Kemp also doesn’t believe that we have a “climate crisis.” Kemp spoke of a “climate crisis” during her re-election campaign. Kemp’s 2,190 air mile roundtrip to Toronto and airport transfers puts approximately 1,000 pounds of additional carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere. By comparison, the average person exhales about 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide on an average day.

Had Kemp traveled to Toronto by bus instead of flying, her carbon dioxide impact would have been reduced by 55 – 77%. Yes, the trip would have taken longer, but do we have a crisis or don’t we?

Perhaps Pat Kemp should stay out of the county and out of the country until COVID is completely over? That way, she won’t ever have to comply with the restrictions she imposes on others, and residents won’t have to wonder if she brought back disease from that COVID hotspot she traveled to.

Kemp could also spend her time away learning a new concept: “flight shame.” It’s a sentiment that acts as an antidote to hypocrisy. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Complaint Filed in 13th Judicial Court for Recount in 3 Hillsborough County Races

A Complaint was filed yesterday in the 13th Judicial Court regarding several races in Hillsborough County.

The Plaintiffs are Sally Harris, Candidate for School Board District 7, Christine Quinn, Candidate for Congress District 14 and Scott Levinson, Candidate for County Commission District 1. The Defendant is the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Craig Latimer.

The results of those and all Hillsborough County races can be found at the Supervisor of Elections website.

The Complaint requests the SOE to:

  • Sequester all ballots cast in the recent election, the envelopes in which the mail in ballots were contained and such ballots as were contained in the provided envelopes
  • Order a recount of the ballots with respect to the Plaintiffs
  • Designate class and category of observers for the requested recount, authentication and final tabulation
The Complaint also focuses on mail in ballots requesting refrain from counting mail in ballots received after 7pm on November 3, 2020 and request the mail in ballots be scrutinized for accuracy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

There are Issues with Dominion Voting Systems Software

Image courtesy of NYT 6/22/2020 

Dominion Voting Systems (Dominion), a Canadian company, is the voting system software where a "glitch" switched 6,000 votes from Trump to Biden in Michigan. That glitch peaked our interest to look further into Dominion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Commissioner Pat Kemp Running Again But This Time With Questionable Behavior

Commissioner Pat Kemp

Did Democrat Hillsborough County commissioner Pat Kemp violate our Sunshine Laws?  It appears Kemp collaborated behind closed doors last year with fellow Democrat commissioners Kimberly Overman and Mariella Smith to collectively oppose TECO's proposed Big Bend natural gas plant after the commission had already voted their unanimous approval.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Bernie Bro Socialist Running for Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District 2

Politics is local. During this pandemic and the civil unrest in the streets, it is more important than ever to pay attention to local races including the nonpartisan Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District 2 Supervisor race. 

We posted here our interview with Karen Cox Jaroch, a candidate for the non-partisan seat we believe is the most qualified and competent candidate for that position:

Ms. Jaroch is a professional licensed engineer and a former member of the HART Board who governs the local transit agency. Jaroch has the technical expertise, the governance experience and the public service experience required for the Soil and Water Conservation Board position.

There are three other candidates running in that race but Jaroch's biggest competitor appears to be Doug Rivero. Per LinkedIn, Rivero is a Political Science Professor at St. Petersburg College

According to his Facebook feed, Rivero is also an anti-capitalist Bernie Bro Socialist. Rivero has endorsements from Socialist and Far Left organizations including Our Revolution and Tampa Bay Democrat Socialists who are demanding Tampa defund their police department.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tampa Bay Anti-Car Brigade Candidates on November Ballot - Voters Take Note!

Tampa Bay Anti-Car Brigade Candidates
on November Ballot

Voters take note of the Anti-Car Brigade in Tampa Bay because four of them, Pat Kemp, Harry Cohen, Janet Long and Charlie Justice, are on the November ballot. The Anti-Car Brigade agenda is to force us out of the security of our individual vehicles that keep us healthier and safer. Their agenda requires large tax increases to pay for costly rail and transit few will ever use and road diets to make car travel more painful and traffic congestion worse.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Vote for Vasquez and Ahern Because Pinellas County Deserves Better

We obtained this Letter to the Editor submitted to the Tampa Bay Times by Pinellas County resident David Happe. As of this time, it appears the Times has refused to print it.

Letter to the Editor

An open letter to my fellow Pinellas County Residents regarding the upcoming county commission elections.  I am writing in support of the candidacy of Larry Ahern and Tammy Vasquez for County Commissioners to replace Janet Long and Charlie Justice.

Over the past several months, those of us who are politically neutral and focus more on family, faith and future than we do on what politicians are up to have had to pay attention to what’s happening locally and nationally with the CoronaVirus wreaking havoc on our lives, our loved ones and our incomes.  Up until now, I have been negligent of my own civic duty of paying attention and getting involved to help make a positive difference.

In the few months that I have been observing and studying local politics and politicians, here is what I have observed :

The Pinellas County Commissioners have a budget of $2.3 billion dollars.  The seven member commission controls the spending for that budget, but they really don’t like it when people ask questions about how exactly the money is spent at an itemized level.

One example of that would be the $2m that they allocated to a “Visit Clearwater/St Pete” advertising campaign.  A large percentage of that $2m went to an outside of Florida creative agency.  That agency created marketing materials showing visitors wearing masks on paddle boards and at the beach, neither of which are recommended or reflective of the attractiveness of our area to tourists.  So, they recalled part of the materials, at the expense of the taxpayers that paid for this, and claimed they never reviewed it prior to implementation.  They never “reviewed” the marketing materials we spent $2m on

One of the commissioners, Janet Long, who is running for re-election, recently stated that their workload was overwhelming to her.  Between the emails and the meetings she was overwhelmed.  She put forward a motion that passed on a 4-3 split decision, which effectively eliminated residents from participating in the previously scheduled commission meetings, limiting involvement opportunity by Pinellas residents to 50% of what was previously available.  

A few weeks back, Pinellas County commissioners determined that for 2021, they needed to increase the amount of money they had in cash reserves.  So, with the expected increases in income from property tax increases in 2021, the net impact will be a tax increase on every homeowner, renter, and business owner in Pinellas County for 2021.  Moving money from your bank account and mine to the County savings account was passed on a 6-1 split decision.

Then, lastly they took the seriousness of the local State of Emergency that we operate under, which is causing business restrictions and influencing everything from mask ordinances to emergency funds allocations, and delegated all decision making on the local SOE to an unelected administrative assistant.  They no longer discuss this weekly, and the commission members no longer get briefings from local health experts on a weekly basis. The single largest issue affecting our 1,000,000 Pinellas County residents, but these commissioners who we pay an annual salary of $100,000 each didn't have the time nor interest to maintain their direct supervisory authority over the details that affect the health of our people, the strength of our businesses, and the governance of this real State of Emergency.  They thought this would be best served in the hands of an unelected bureaucrat who now extends this outside of the lens of public dialogue and scrutiny.

So, my vote is for anyone else.  There are candidates who are running for the right reasons.  Tammy Vasquez is a business owner and political newcomer who saw how issues like the above were being managed, and decided she would get involved to strengthen Pinellas County.  Larry Ahern, no stranger to local politics, also thought we deserved a better and more thoughtful representation.  I didn’t know either of these candidates before I started paying attention to what was happening in Pinellas County, but we deserve better.    

Tammy Vasquez, 
Candidate for Pinellas County Commission
District  3

Larry Ahern
Candidate for Pinellas County Commission
District 1
We deserve a government that represents us. We deserve fiscal transparency. We deserve elected officials that are not too busy politicking to see us all the way through this local State of Emergency. And we deserve representatives willing to listen, engage, and work with all of us towards a better Pinellas County. Please join with me, my family and my friends in voting for Larry Ahern and Tammy Vasquez for Pinellas County Commission on November 3rd.

David Happe

Tarpon Springs, FL

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Repost from Tampa Bay Guardian: The open and shut case of Commissioner Pat Kemp’s Florida Bar violations

Reposted with permission from the Tampa Bay Guardian

Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, who is on the ballot, is facing almost certain disciplinary action from the Florida Bar. This after a complaint was filed against her last month. The issue at hand is Kemp has referred to herself as an “attorney” or a “lawyer” at least 17 times during Hillsborough county commission meetings going back to 2018 (list of instances).

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Interview with Karen Jaroch, Candidate for Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor, District 2

All races are important during an election. However, voters sometimes ignore down ballot races, especially during a Presidential election when the focus is the very top of the ticket. 

Down ballot races in Hillsborough County include the election of Soil and Water Conservation Supervisors. These are non partisan countywide races that some voters may be uninformed about or not familiar with.

Karen Jaroch
Candidate for Soil and Water Conservation, District 2 

Karen Jaroch is a candidate for the Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor, District 2. Take about 10 minutes to listen to our podcast interview with Ms. Jaroch. Jaroch will explain why the Soil and Water Conservation Board was created, what its role is and why she is running and the best qualified candidate for the Supervisor position.


Ms. Jaroch is a professional licensed engineer and a former member of the HART Board who governs the local transit agency. Jaroch has the technical expertise, the governance experience and the public service experience required for the Soil and Water Conservation Board position. 

Do not forget this down ballot countywide race. 

To learn more about Ms. Jaroch's campaign and/or want to help Jaroch win her countywide race, go to her website.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Election 2020: Vote Republican Ana Paulina Luna To Defeat Chameleon Career Politician Charlie Crist & More

Ana Paulina Luna
Republican candidate for CD13
challenging Charlie Crist

It's election crunch time with about 50 days until election day and shorter for when voting will start. 

Florida is a swing state with the Tampa Bay Area one end of the key I-4 corridor.

There are a number of important races in Tampa Bay and the Eye will discuss some of them.

The latest Eye podcast talks about several races including the Congressional District 13 (CD13) race in Pinellas County. Republican Ana Paulina Luna, a Veteran, has a great opportunity to defeat Democrat incumbent Charlie Crist in CD13 and help flip the House. 


Charlie Crist is a career politician flip flopper who has changed his party affiliation three times.

CD13 is a barely Democrat leaning District but Crist votes with Progressive San Fran Nancy Pelosi 90% of the time, including voting for the Ukraine partisan impeachment debacle. If voters in CD13 do not know this, they should now. 

Whether Crist is confused, forgetful or simply votes as Speaker Pelosi tells him to, Tampa Bay is not San Francisco Bay.

We've been dealing with a pandemic and witnessing over 3 months of violent riots in Democrat run cities. This is an odd election year and the chameleon career politician Charlie Crist is vulnerable.

Vote for Anna Paulina Luna in CD13.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Podcast: We're Living With the Coronavirus and Opportunity Knocks

Latest podcast from the Eye talks about the coronavirus we currently are living with: from the accuracy of the coronavirus data, thank goodness the golf courses stayed open in Florida, people protecting themselves without need for government dictates because this is not the first pandemic we've dealt with to opportunities knocking to do things you could not do before… the opportunity to empower parents to find alternatives to public schools for their children's education. Provide all parents with more educational options and choices for their children. And the opportunity to eliminate costly bureaucrats and the bureaucracies that are not "essential". Don't let a crisis go to waste! 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Meet Mike Perotti, Republican Running for State Attorney in Hillsborough County

Mike Perotti is running for Hillsborough County State Attorney in November. He is a Republican challenging the Democrat incumbent Andrew Warren who narrowly beat Republican Mark Ober in 2016.

The Eye had an opportunity recently to speak with Perotti to find out more about him and why he is running for State Attorney. Perotti explains the importance of the State Attorney. He states there is a critical need for leadership who wants to be held accountable and leadership who will bring integrity to the position and the entire State Attorney's Office.

Perotti is a third generation Tampa native with strong ties to his community. He has a background in law and law enforcement. Perotti has worked as legal counsel for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO), and as a Colonel with HCSO, he ran the County's entire jail system.

Here are some highlights from our interview.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Progressive Politics Drives Pat Kemp

Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp
Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp is not a member of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group currently addressing the coronavirus pandemic in the County. Kemp, a Progressive Democrat who thinks she knows best, decided to insert herself into the issue and display her hypocrisy.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

"Go Home Jane" Castor is a Disaster

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was the Tampa Police Chief when the city successfully hosted the last Super Bowl in Tampa and the RNC convention in 2012. She clearly understands how to prepare for events that could get unruly and how to prepare for worst case while hoping for best case.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor
As Mayor, how could Castor have allowed all the rioting, burning down of businesses and looting that raged in Tampa Saturday night?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Fiscally Distressed PSTA: No Bailouts, Shut Down the Central Ave BRT Boondoggle and Hire a New CEO

Pinellas County's transit agency PSTA is a fiscal mess. PSTA's financial position has been declining for years and their fiscal distress began long before the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether thru incompetence or willful neglect, PSTA has refused to address their fiscal mess. The pandemic has devastated PSTA's ridership even more causing their financial position to worsen. The State or the Feds should not be handing out bailouts to PSTA that will mask or cover up PSTA's own incompetence and/or neglect.

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.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Pandemic, Plummeting Transit Ridership and the Rail Tax Saga

While waiting for the final ruling by the Florida Supreme Court regarding whether the All for Transportation (AFT) rail/transit tax will remain or be thrown out, the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The AFT transit tax forces 45% of the $16 Billion tax to go to the transit agency HART. The only reason $7 Billion must go to HART is to fund costly rail projects. The AFT rail tax was intended to force taxpayers in unincorporated Hillsborough County to pay for numerous rail projects in the city of Tampa. While billions are not needed to improve HART's bus service, they are needed for rail projects targeted for the "choice riders" always found somewhere over the rainbow.

The pandemic has devastated transit ridership everywhere and the "choice rider" in Hillsborough County may no longer exist. People will prefer to continue using the safety and security of their own vehicles not boarding trains with strangers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Democrat County Commissioner Kimberly Overman "Uncensored" Part 2

We reported here that Democrat Hillsborough County commissioner Kimberly Overman used her Seminole Heights "Uncensored" private Facebook page to call her constituents "super stupid".

It appears Overman has a persona she thought was hidden behind a "Private" Facebook group.

This is a much older post on that page from Overman that reflects she has a history of being condescending and derogatory on the "Uncensored" Facebook page.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Commissioner Overman Calls Constituents "Super Stupid"

Kimberly Overman photo-op with Gloria Steinem
Progressive Democrat Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman, a member of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group (EPG) currently dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, takes to Facebook to express her opinions.

Hillsborough County, with a population of 1.4 million, has 3.19% of all coronavirus cases, 3.27% of all hospitalizations and 1.8% of all deaths in the state of Florida.

Overman and her fellow Democrat EPG member Tampa Mayor Jane Castor have advocated for  draconian measures of curfews and mandatory masks be implemented in Hillsborough.

Some cooler heads on the EPG with more common sense luckily prevailed and the curfew and mandatory masks failed with only Castor and Overman voting for them.

Overman posts on her own Facebook page articles from Al Jazeera. Included with this Al Jazeera article are her own comments about needing serious commitment and buy in to social distancing, face covering and sanitization by individual citizens and businesses BEFORE we are back TOWARD supporting "back to business".

We are six weeks into a shelter at home shutdown that has thrown 30 million people out of work, including hundreds of thousands in Florida. Overman does not think we have made a serious commitment. How out of touch is she?

Ironically Overman posted this on April 28th, the day before Governor DeSantis announced the beginning of reopening of businesses in Florida. Overman looks even more out of touch.

Overman, who continues receiving her $100K salary and golden benefits courtesy of the taxpayers, does not think we have yet been personally responsible enough - for her. Trust is a two way street but Overman does not trust her own constituents to be personally responsible.

Overman, a countywide commissioner, has begun taking heat from the public and her constituents. Many are now pushing back against Overman's draconian actions, her condescending comments, and her lack of compassion for those financially devastated by the shutdown.

Overman, who lives in Seminole Heights, took to this "Seminole Heights Uncensored" Private Group Facebook page to vent.

Overman felt comfortable being "uncensored" in her private group of friendlies. She used it to speak her mind about the county commission job she "signed up for".
Overman post on private FB group page
When Overman campaigned for your vote in 2018, who knew that she thought many of you were "super stupid".

People's lives and livelihoods have been upended and destroyed by an economic shutdown we were told was to prevent overrunning medical resources.

We succeeded in that goal but that serious commitment by Overman's constituents has caused great financial detriment to so many individuals, families and businesses in Hillsborough County.

Overman should be applauding Hillsborough County not calling her own constituents stupid.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Hillsborough Commissioner Smith Exploits Time of Crisis for $16B Rail Tax Round 2

As we posted here, Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith's priority, during this time of coronavirus crisis and its economic devastation, is to put a $16 Billion transit tax referendum on the November ballot.

The Federal government began sending rescue checks out to financially struggling Americans this week as businesses remain closed, unemployment has skyrocketed and we are shutdown to stay healthy.

While the Federal government, in one hand, is providing rescue checks and stimulus to devastated businesses trying to keep them from permanent closing, Commissioner Smith wants the county to take away some of those funds with the other hand.

The County has not publicly reassessed the county budget that has taken a huge negative hit and there are still many uncertainties.

But Commissioner Smith's priority is for Hillsborough County to have the highest sales tax rate in the State even as we may be head into a major Recession.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Tone-Deaf: Commissioner Smith To Keep Pursuing $16B Rail Tax During Crisis

Democrat Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith wants to rescind the commission's vote last week that stopped the county's pursuit to put the All for Transportation 2.0 $16 BILLION rail tax referendum on the November ballot.

Smith, a longtime Sierra Club activist and transit advocate, took to the Transit Now Tampa Bay Facebook page to activate her fellow transit ideologues. Smith uses Facebook pages "friendly" to her cause for her own political activism.

When Tampa Bay Sierra Club President Kent Bailey posted his complaint about the commission's vote last week, Smith responded with her plan of action: "It's not over. I'm placing an item on the agenda for our April 15 Board meeting to rescind that vote and schedule the public hearing for May 4, 6pm. Stay tuned. I'll post more soon."

Friday, April 3, 2020

Pinellas County Will Not Pursue Transit Tax on November Ballot

Yesterday Pinellas County Commissioners decided not to pursue putting a transit tax on the November ballot.

Pinellas County's decision followed that of Hillsborough County who decided Wednesday, thanks to four commissioners Miller, Murman, Hagan and White with common sense, to ditch a transit tax referendum as we battle the Coronavirus emergency and its economic devastation.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

4-3 Vote: No $16B Transit Tax on November Ballot in Hillsborough

Hillsborough County Commission will not be putting any proposed All for Transportation 2.0 $16 Billion transit tax on the November ballot - if the Florida Supreme Court throws out the All for Transportation tax passed in 2018.

Go here to listen to today's Special Meeting that was a virtual meeting with audio only. Note the meeting starts at about 15:15 on the Youtube recording.

The Special meeting was called by Commission Chair Les Miller. Miller began the meeting with his Motion to defer pursuing any proposed transit tax hike until 2021. To his credit, Miller compassionately and eloquently stated the many reasons why he was making the motion that would stop the pursuit of putting a massive tax hike on the ballot during this time of crisis.

Will Pinellas County Keep Pursuing Transit Tax Hike During Crisis?

As posted here yesterday, the Chair of Hillsborough County Commission Les Miller called a virtual "Special Meeting" for 1pm today with little public notice, to reschedule a public hearing for putting the All for Transportation 2.0 $16 Billion transit tax hike on the November ballot.

Will Pinellas County also try to schedule a public hearing to put a proposed transit tax hike on the ballot?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

County Commission Chair Pursues Picking Your Pockets During Crisis.

While everyone is on lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic crisis, Hillsborough County Commission Chair Les Miller astonishingly displays where his priorities lie.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Miller had cancelled the April 1 public hearing about putting another All for Transportation (AFT) $16 BILLION rail tax hike on the November ballot. Miller had scheduled the April 1 public hearing weeks ago that now seem like an eternity ago.

With little notice at 7:51 AM this morning, the county sends an email announcing a "SPECIAL MEETING" scheduled for tomorrow at 1:30pm. The meeting notice to discuss rescheduling the public hearing for putting the AFT 2.0 $16 Billion tax hike on the ballot was sent out to the public about 30 hours before tomorrow's meeting.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Injustice? Tampa Homestead Property Seized by Court

The State of Florida has a Constitution, so does the United States of America. A Constitution, whether State or Federal, is the embodiment of the rights of the citizens.

Our Pledge of Allegiance ends “with Liberty and Justice for All”.

We want to believe our legal and judicial system is fair and will always ensure there is justice for all. But at times it appears there is a double standard where certain people or certain groups of people seem favored or disfavored in our legal system over others.

The people of the State of Florida, when they created the Florida Constitution, were committed to the concept of the inviolability of the Home, hence what is called the Florida Homestead Exemption found in Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The family home is as close to sacred as can come under the Florida Constitution.

But there is a legal case in Tampa that may shake the sacred foundation that homesteaded property cannot be seized to pay another party's creditors.

The case involves residential property purchased in 2009 by Tampa tax attorney Terri Gaffney from her father John Gaffney who passed away in 2011. The property never lost its homestead and the property has always been homesteaded.

A lawsuit was filed in 2014, which Ms. Gaffney claims was after the relevant statute of limitations had expired, attempting to reclaim the property as part of her father's estate to pay legal expenses incurred by another family member.

In October 2017 a 13th Judicial Circuit Court judge ruled to seize the homesteaded property. A Hillsborough County sheriff knocked on the door of the property one morning and told all who were there to vacate the property in 15 minutes.

Since then the property has gone into a state of disrepair. Two vehicles and family keepsakes were forced to be abandoned and the property subsequently became subject to county code violations. The county pursued massive fines against Gaffney and her family while a circuit court had removed their legal rights to the property.

The county code violations fines were recently tossed out by a county court judge but there continues to be a number of twists and turns with Gaffney's case.

The Eye recently had an exclusive interview with Terri Gaffney. Below is a clip of that interview and a statement from Gaffney's attorney Sheldon McMullen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

County Center: Stop Waging War On Small Business, Taxpayers and Move County Center Out of Downtown Tampa

The Eye headed to the Hillsborough County Commission meeting last week. Downtown Tampa is one big logistical headache to get to anywhere in downtown, park in downtown and get around in downtown.

Hillsborough County government needs to move out of downtown Tampa and provide much better access to County services. Downtown Tampa has become a mobility and parking nightmare. That is not fair to residents in unincorporated Hillsborough who need better access to County Services but are forced to go to County Center in downtown Tampa.

Residents of unincorporated Hillsborough should start demanding the County move out of the mausoleum building in downtown Tampa aka County Center.

Here is one suggestion. Hillsborough County owns the MOSI property on Fowler Avenue and MOSI is moving downtown. Swap places. The county could move county services to the MOSI property they own which is more centrally located with access between 2 interstate highways. The County can sell the County Center building. We know the city of Tampa wants more office towers - here's one ready to rent.

When we finally got to County Center, the March 4 BOCC meeting was a plethora of actions to shut down small business and raise taxes.

Listen to our latest podcast as we discuss how the county needs to get out of downtown Tampa and  stop waging a war on small business and the taxpayers.

According to Hillsborough County, more than 90% of all commercial ventures are small businesses. However, if this commission does not like your industry or business or they find one bad apple, they will punish everyone instead of addressing the bad apple.

Higher taxes hurts small businesses the most and having the highest sales tax rate in the state will hurt them even more.
Sales Tax Map Courtesy of WTSP
At just this one meeting, the Hillsborough County commission took actions to punish the entire pet retail industry, take choices away from their constituents, put another one percent 30 year $16B transit tax on the November ballot, eliminate clarity and transparency to voters and hold county roads hostage to funding costly rail in the city of Tampa

Considering the commissioners meet every 2 weeks, what other harm is this county commission doing to their own constituents and the residents/taxpayers of Hillsborough County?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

With $16 Billion AFT Transit Tax There's No New Road Capacity Planned for 38 New Schools in Hillsborough County

All for Transportation (AFT) never told voters their new $16 BILLION transit tax will not fund needed increased road capacity for any of the new schools planned in Hillsborough County.

But the central planning bureaucrats at the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) did know and they said nothing in 2018. The MPO transportation planners never informed the voting public of this huge transportation issue. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

Hillsborough's Leaders Ride the Train to Failure

Yesterday a group of "Hillsborough leaders" took a tour of SunRail SunFail, Orlando's commuter rail that has been the envy of our "leaders" for years. But the horror! The county commissioners got stuck in traffic, and they missed their train!
People are spending hours sitting on I-4 trying to get from one place to another,” SunRail’s deputy program manager Sandra Gutierrez told the Hillsborough contingent. 
“You talk to these people who have transformed their commute from a highway system to a commuter rail system, and it’s just night and day.”  I think we had that true life experience today,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp quipped, after meeting up with the others later in the morning.
What a nightmare! If we only had SunRail in Tampa Bay we'd never experience traffic jams again. 

Yet the real horror is Hillsborough's leaders plans to replicate SunRail failures in Tampa Bay.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

More talking points they don't want to talk about

As we posted here recently, the MPO has a set of talking points that ripple through their Long Range Transportation Plan, to the transit and urban activist, and into our political and business leadership.

A set of recurring talking points reverberate around our poor transit in Tampa Bay. It's holding us back, we need to invest more in transit, transit riders can't get to jobs, blah blah blah.

What does the data show?


A lot they don't want to talk ... or listen ... about.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Myth Busting the MPO's Talking Points

The Eye recently received "talking points" from Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Executive Director Beth Alden addressed to Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman as a public records request. Beth Alden spoke to many of these points offering support for the AFT 2.0 transportation tax at the February 19, 2020 BOCC meeting, apparently at Overman's invitation.

Beth Alden talking her points.
The complete "talking points" memo is here

There's plenty to digest, but we'll take a few talking points that missed a few talking points.

Monday, March 2, 2020

"Just Trust Us": AFT 2.0 Rail Tax Throws Billions At Rudderless Transit Agency in Chaos

Transit agency HART currently has no leadership at the helm and is in a state of at least semi-chaos due to some poor judgement by its own governing board. But the Hillsborough County Commission keeps pursuing forcing taxpayers to simply "hand" the chaotic transit agency Billions of new AFT transit tax proceeds.

After the November 2018 election, newly elected Democrat County Commissioners Kimberly Overman and Mariella Smith replaced Republican Commissioners Sandy Murman and Stacy White on the governing Board of HART.

The new HART Board felt compelled to continue pursuing a new CEO….even after a lawsuit was filed in December 2018 legally challenging the All for Transportation (AFT) $16B transit tax.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Peak at the Future: CSX jams up South Tampa

South Tampa got a peak at their jammed up future when CSX shut down several roads cross CSX tracks for planned maintenance, allegedly without proper notification to the City of Tampa and residents. It sounded like Armageddon from reading the local press reports. The Eye daughter even called complaining her normal 15 minute commute home from work increased to over an hour. Politicians and bureaucrats weighed in.

Then it got really confused.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Who Knew? HART's Mega Millions Spending Spree Funds Existing Services With New Transit Tax

As we posted in November 2018, transit agency HART has no plans for how to spend Billions of new All for Transportation (AFT) sales tax monies.

So right out of the gate, HART plans to fund their existing services, currently funded by property tax revenues, with the new AFT tax.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Hillsborough County Commissioner White Responds With Facts to Tampa Bay Times Attack

Reprinting Hillsborough County commissioner Stacy White response to a recent Tampa Bay Times editorial:

After reading the Tampa Bay Times’ Feb. 23 editorial, “Leading the way on transportation,'' I was struck by how it seemed long on rhetoric but short on facts. As a commissioner who was mentioned by name, allow me to present some further comments and provide the facts surrounding the “back-up” tax plan.

The voters of the county deserve to know the structural details of this “back-up” plan, which, outside of our Board of County Commissioners meetings, have not been comprehensively discussed. As an elected official, I firmly believe the voters of this county are more than capable of analyzing the facts and making a decision on whether this is a roads investment or a mass transit investment, but they need to see the entire picture.

Much like the previous surtax, 40 cents and 1 cent of every dollar of this tax levy, respectively, would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, with the remaining portion split between unincorporated Hillsborough County and the three cities according to a population-based formula. Accordingly, there would be – at most – 44 cents of every dollar spent on roads capacity projects (i.e., road widening or building new roads) that benefit unincorporated Hillsborough County.

The plan allows the commission to allocate more of its share than the dedicated 40 cents of every dollar to HART. The commission could also spend a portion of its share on things like road resurfacing, bicycle lanes and sidewalks. This means that it’s possible for unincorporated Hillsborough County to receive less than 44 cents of every dollar for added road capacity. If this tax is viewed as an investment, that’s a return on investment of 44 cents on the dollar for road capacity projects in unincorporated Hillsborough County – and potentially much lower.

Plant City residents would see little more than 1 cent of every dollar of this tax go toward transportation projects within their city. That’s not a penny of every dollar spent by taxpayers, but a penny of every dollar of the tax placed into the government coffers. That equates to paying the tax on two $50 restaurant tabs for Plant City residents to see just 1 cent spent on projects in their city. It’s also important to note that Plant City does not participate in HART and, therefore, does not receive services from HART. Unless this is changed before the election, it would be unfair to definitively tell Plant City residents they will receive services from HART.

The crux of this is whether the plan is a roads investment or a mass transit investment, and, if the latter – does this mass transit investment go from Lutz to Fort Lonesome? If the citizens of this county are presented with a lawful referendum this November and express that they are happy with the returns on investment listed above by passing it, then so be it. But the citizens should be armed with the objective facts, fair and square.

Stacy R. White is a Hillsborough County commissioner representing District 4, which is comprised of east and south Hillsborough County.

Monday, February 24, 2020

April Fools Day Mischief: The Rail Tax Do Over

The Tax is Back!

Hillsborough County BOCC Chair Les Miller and Commissioner Kimberly Overman proposed at the February 19 BOCC meeting to put All For Transportation (AFT) 2.0, another $16 Billion 30 year 1% transit tax, on the November ballot.

And to top that off, the public hearing for the All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax 2.0 is scheduled for April Fool's Day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Panic in the Air!

Now that the AFT related lawsuit made it to the Florida Supreme Court, its become clear the future of the tax is in jeopardy. Fear and panic is in the air. Rather than calming down, reflecting upon failures and lessons learned, developing a real transportation plan for all constituencies in Hillsborough County, the BOCC wants to double down again on the past failures, starting at tomorrow's February 19, 2020 BOCC meeting.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Anti-Car Brigade: $16B Transit Tax Tied to Tearing Down Interstates and Road Diets

Who knew? All for Transportation is the anti-car brigade who want to force us out of our cars to use public transit.

Our latest podcast (about 20 minutes) identifies some currently proposed transit projects that use major road diets for transit. Listen to the podcast as we discuss the proposed I-275 tear down and other road diet transit projects that will require funding by the All for Transportation transit tax.

Monday, February 3, 2020

No One Should Be Above the Rule of Law, Time to Throw Out the All for Transportation Transit Tax!

The oral arguments on the All for Transportation (AFT) lawsuits will be heard the morning of February 5, 2020.
From FL Supreme Court Docket Schedule
(click to enlarge)
One can watch the arguments livestream on Wednesday or view an archived video recording here.

It is worth reading some of the legal documents related to the case. The documents associated with the original case is found at the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court by searching on case number 18-CA-11749, clicking on the magnifying glass under View and selecting Events/Documents.

We suggest reading White's Amended Complaint, the Depositions of Commissioner White and AFT's Chair Tyler Hudson and the Final Summary Judgment where Judge Barbas strikes major portions, including all the mandated spending percentages, from AFT's charter amendment.

The documents filed regarding the Appeals on the AFT lawsuits to the Florida Supreme Court can be found under Case Number SC19-1250. It is worth reading the Merit Briefs, the Amicus Curiae Briefs, and the Cross Reply Briefs.

A must read is the Cross Reply Brief filed on 11/13/2019 by Commissioner White's attorney Chris Altenbernd.

With the AFT legal process playing out this week at the Florida Supreme Court, it's time for some reminders about the AFT transit tax and why we hope it will be thrown out.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Bankrupt in 2022 - PSTA Seeking Taxpayer Bailout in 2020

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency (PSTA) is going bankrupt. Instead of fixing their fiscal crisis, they are seeking bailouts and new revenue sources. PSTA wants another transit tax referendum on the 2020 ballot because they are insolvent in 2022.