The Tampa Centric 5 county commissioners will vote tonight at the Hillsborough County public hearing to put the AFT 2.0 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION rail tax do-over on the November 2022 ballot.
After the Florida Supreme Court threw out AFT's 2018 rail tax as illegal and unconstitutional last year, AFT's largest donor Jeff Vinik said "While today’s court ruling is a setback, we must look ahead and forge a new path forward for 2022..."
But the "new path forward" in 2022 is the "old path backwards" from 2018.
With their timeline soon closing, the Tampa Centric 5 must act hastily to put the "Old Path Backwards" AFT 2.0 on the November ballot. They have the votes, the County held a handful of "their" messaging meetings a measly 257 people attended and the ONE public hearing is simply a "checkbox" to get it done.
The Tampa Centric 5's "Old Path Backwards" AFT 2.0 regurgitates the bad and burdensome policies of AFT's 2018 illegal rail tax. But the campaign coffers of four of the Tampa Centric 5 (Overman, Myers, Cohen and Smith) running for re-election in November are already being filled by Vinik and other AFT wealthy donors.
A real "new path forward" seriously considers alternative transportation funding solutions and how to fund the County's transportation NEEDS within its growing revenues. A real "new path forward" does not always greedily go straight to massive tax hikes.
And we can expect many of the same rail cartel tactics used in 2018 are being used in 2022.
From Public Records Requests, the documents below provide some insight into a group of women inside bureaucrats and special interests who were collaborating in 2018 about AFT's rail tax. They called themselves the "Wonder Women".
April 3, 2018 message from Cassandra Borchers, Chief Development Officer at PSTA (Pinellas County's transit agency) to Janet Scherberger (formerly known as Janet Zink) - who at the time worked for TIA CEO Joe Lopano as his Director of Communications. We redacted their cell phone numbers.
April 27, 2018 message from Zink/Scherberger to Borchers about her meeting with Kevin Thurman, a chief architect of AFT's 2018 illegal rail tax.
As reported here, transit activist Kevin Thurman was coordinating with Scherberger in April 2018 about AFT's proposed rail tax. Thurman admitted they were intentionally ramming their rail tax onto the 2018 ballot at the last minute to "surprise" their opposition.
Thurman wanted buy-in from Joe Lopano who sits on the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization Board (TPO) Board. Scherberger often sat in for Lopano as a voting Board member of the TPO.
April 27, 2018 message from Borchers to Scherberger about Robert Watkins.
Below is an email thread from August 2018 among the "Wonder Women" about the AFT rail tax.
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In October 2018, the "Wonder Women" rescheduled their own group meeting because they planned to celebrate with AFT on 11/15/2018...For Reals!
This is a list of the "Wonder Women" from the documents above and who they are:
- Beth Alden - Director of Hillsborough TPO who would receive a couple hundred million of AFT tax dollars
- Cassandra Borchers - Chief Development Officer of PSTA, Pinellas County's transit agency
- Janet Scherberger - then TIA's Communications Director who worked for Lopano
- Jean Duncan - City of Tampa Public Works Director, Tampa would receive over a Billion dollars of AFT tax dollars
- Susan Chrzan - Director of Public Affairs and Communications with the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority
- Kimberlee DeBosier - then Co-Chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber Transportation Council & works for transportation engineering firms who may get contracts paid with AFT tax dollars, the Chamber endorsed AFT
- Lucia Garsys - then Deputy Hillsborough County Administrator, the County would receive Billions of AFT tax dollars
- Samara Sodos - then Director of Public Relations at Port of Tampa
- Susan Boda - Marketing Director at Tindale-Oliver, a transportation/transit engineering firm who has received many contracts from Hillsborough County and could get many more contracts paid with AFT tax dollars
- Ann Kulig - Executive Director of the Westshore Alliance