Wednesday, March 30, 2022

As Hillsborough Pushes $18 BILLION Rail Tax Forward the Tampa Bay Times Admits AFT 2.0 Is To Fund Transit

Hillsborough County Commission Chair Kimberly Overman said the following at last Wednesday's March 23rd BOCC meeting as she pushed to put an AFT 2.0 do-over 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION rail tax on the November ballot

"A transportation improvement plan that requires a single occupancy vehicle for a family to economically survive in this County is irresponsible and will NOT be a policy that will "allow" our communities to thrive, our businesses to thrive and is "in direct conflict to our responsibility towards equity."

The entire county commission discussion about the rail tax is found here starting at about 1:08 of the video. Watch the entire discussion.

Some takeaways from the transit tax discussion with some editorial comments:

  • The amount of AFT tax funds illegally and unlawfully collected from taxpayers the County needs to be refund back to the taxpayers is up to $562 MILLION 
  • Myers gives all her gratitude for All for Transportation (AFT), Christina Barker (works for Jeff Vinik), Rena Frazier, Tyler Hudson (Chair of the AFT PAC). She applauded transit activist Kevin Thurman (his wife works for Jeff Vinik) for helping "us" in 2018. Vinik and his associates bankrolled AFT in 2018.
  • The AFT rail tax restricted new lane capacity - exactly what we said in 2018.
  • AFT worked [behind closed doors] with the taxpayer funded Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization (TPO, formerly the MPO) to craft AFT's spending allocations. We reported about that here. AFT rail tax gives the TPO gobs of money - no conflict of interest there...
  • Not maintaining our roads has increased its cost - the commissioners eliminated the 2017, 10 year $812 MILLION transportation funding plan which stopped a lot of road maintenance while the lawsuit challenging the AFT rail tax was in the courts.
  • Kemp considers the $8.2  BILLION (45% of the 30 year ONE PERCENT $18 BILLION) handed to HART is a "modest" amount - HART's ridership is less than 2%, Hart has a lot of issues, a post to come for why no one with any fiscal or common sense would hand HART Billions of new tax dollars
  • Not worth fussing over millions and billions - perhaps such attitude is why the County's budget is so bloated 
  • The Transportation Open Houses were for the County to present their view - exactly what we said here
  • Meeting the April deadline to put the AFT 2.0 rail tax hike onto the November ballot is the PRIORITY   
  • Want 30 years to bond the tax - eliminates ability to ever repeal the tax and when economic downturns occur, the tax may only cover paying for the financing debt
  • County staff responsible for transportation said they do not know how many lane miles of new road capacity would be built with AFT 2.0 - $18B tax hike and the people responsible for transportation do not know this information?? - a BIG RED FLAG - incompetence or intentionally not wanting to publicly say because AFT funds little to no new road capacity??
  • The Tampa Centric 5 only spoke in 50K foot level abstract gobblygook never mentioning specific projects the massive rail tax will fund
  • When Overman, Smith, and Kemp demanded to put an AFT 2.0 do-over on the ballot with the same spending allocations and most restrictions, Myers, Cohen and Hagan caved when Myers proposed a small compromise.
  • Immediately after Hagan voted to move the AFT 2..0 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION tax forward to meet the April deadline to get it on the ballot, he asked how the County could temporarily provide gas tax relief - it was the Twilight Zone

AFT violated State law period! 

AFT created the big legal mess! AFT caused $562 MILLION to be unlawfully collected from taxpayers in Hillsborough County. AFT rammed their illegal and unlawful tax hike referendum on the ballot intentionally at the last minute in 2018 - because they feared their opposition. 

No one, especially elected officials, should be applauding or rewarding AFT. AFT should be avoided not rewarded.

But the Tampa Centric 5 Democrats have the votes to put the AFT 2.0 do-over 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION rail tax on the November ballot. Kemp publicly said that in January at Cafe Con Tampa...before any public meetings were held. 

We posted here Monday that Dr. Jim Davison, who has been actively involved with the transportation issue in Hillsborough County for about 30 years, presented a plan to fund transportation without a massive new tax hike.

Some of the rail cartel members were at Cafe Con Tampa last Friday and heard Dr. Davison's presentation. We could bet they were calling other rail cartel members and their biggest media ally, the Tampa Bay Times - who Jeff Vinik financially bailed out. 

Right on cue, the Tampa Bay Times weighed in yesterday. The Times published an editorial pushing an AFT 2.0 do-over 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION rail tax. The Times re-used an old picture from the 2018 road widening of SR60 in Brandon the Times used last year in this article. But at least the Times finally admits the AFT 2.0 rail tax is to fund transit but still refuses to mention rail - because it is so toxic. 

We know, the Tampa Centric 5 commissioners know, Commissioners Hagan and White know and the Tampa Bay Times know - AFT 2.0 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION is a rail tax. It is to fund Tampa rail projects paid for by taxpayers in unincorporated Hillsborough that will benefit wealthy downtown special interests. 

The rail cartel have nothing new to say or offer as they keep running blind in their hamster wheel. When they need to start pushing another old and stale one trick rail tax playbook, they just turn and run the other way.

Hillsborough County will not allow wealthy special interests and/or their local media allies to use bully tactics and censorship ever again to shut down debate or opposition about this latest $18 BILLION rail tax fiasco. 

More to come so stay tuned and please subscribe to keep your Eye on EyeOnTampaBay.

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