For those who think a rail/transit sales tax hike referendum could not get any worse than the All for Transportation (AFT) ILLEGAL tax perpetrated on voters in 2018, think again.
Who is responsible for putting a more nefarious rail/transit tax hike worse than AFT's on the November ballot? Democrat Hillsborough County commissioners Kimberly Overman, Mariella Smith, Harry Cohen, Gwen Myers and Pat Kemp aka the Tampa Centric 5.
The Tampa Centric 5 put their 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION tax on the ballot with very little to no input from their constituents.
Why? Because the Tampa Centric 5's main focus is Tampa's urban core where a fraction of Hillsborough County residents and businesses reside. Over 50% of their $18 BILLION monster tax will be spent within the city limits of Tampa, including billions on costly Tampa rail.
The Tampa Centric 5's rail/transit tax includes 30 years of specific mandated appropriations and the same earmarked and restrictive spending buckets as AFT used in their 2018 ILLEGAL tax.
The ballot summary language is the only thing every voter is guaranteed to read before they vote.
In regards to a State Amendment on the ballot in 2018, the Tampa Bay Times clearly stated
"Voters should know what they’re voting on, which is why the Florida Supreme Court was entirely correct to strike the deviously worded Amendment 8 from the Nov. 6 ballot."
Like AFT in 2018, the Tampa Centric 5's ballot summary (scroll down to see a pic) includes NONE of their 30 year mandated spending appropriations.
The Tampa Centric 5 intentionally included extraneous and misleading information in their ballot summary and left out the mandated and restrictive spending percentages that is critical information to EVERY voter. This ensures the vast majority of voters are never informed about the Tampa Centric 5's spending mandates. This is nefarious and raises lots of questions.
Below are the restrictive spending percentages which should be included in the Tampa Centric 5's rail/transit tax ballot summary language. It explains why their tax hike must be defeated in November.
This is the Tampa Centric 5's ballot summary language that will be on the November ballot.
|Tampa Centric 5 AFT 2.0 rail tax|
ballot summary language
The only question the Tampa Centric 5's ballot summary language asks is to vote Yes or No on a 30 year ONE PERCENT sales surtax that puts the money in a trust fund. Hmmm.
But the Hillsborough Clerk of the Court sent the entire Ordinance 22-9 to the Florida Department of Revenue and the Florida Secretary of State. That Ordinance passed by the Tampa Centric 5 on April 20 includes all their mandated appropriations.
As the Times said, voters should know EXACTLY what they are voting on and that means ALL voters. Ballot summary language must be clear and concise with no ambiguity.
The Tampa Centric 5's ball summary language fails that requirement.
The Tampa Centric 5 fail to ensure ALL voters understand they are actually voting on 30 years of $18 BILLION mandated appropriations:
- 45% (~$7-8B) is TRANSIT RESTRICTED and must be spent on transit (4 of the Tampa Centric 5 sit on the Board of transit agency HART)
- 54.5% (~$9-10B) is earmarked GENERAL PURPOSE and those funds can be spent on any transportation project including rail/transit
- .5% (~1M) must go to the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) bureaucracy (all Tampa Centric 5 sit on the TPO Board & the TPO's Director Beth Alden is one of the Deceptive Diva's)
The Tampa Centric 5 fails to ensure ALL voters understand the restrictive spending buckets within the transit restricted and general purpose earmarked funds.
When completely informed, voters will clearly understand there is ZERO dedicated funds for new auto-lane capacity...for 30 long years
Commissioner White tried to bring some honesty to the ballot summary language at the April 20th public hearing when he made this motion:
SPEAKERS THAT HAVE SPOKEN TODAY IN FAVOR OF THIS TAX HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT IT'S A TRANSIT TAX.
THE MATHEMATICS WITHIN THE ORDINANCE WITH THE TRANSIT RESTRICTED FUNDING VERSUS THE GENERAL PURPOSE FUNDING AND THEN ALSO THE SO‑CALLED BUCKETS WOULD INDICATE THAT THIS IS A MASS TRANSIT TAX, AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE SEVEN BULLET POINTS LISTED WITH RESPECT TO HOW THIS MONEY WOULD BE SPENT, IT'S CLEAR THAT THE USE TO EXPAND PUBLIC TRANSIT OPTIONS WOULD RECEIVE MORE FUNDING THAN THE OTHER SIX BULLET POINTS HERE.
SO MY MOTION TO AMEND HERE WOULD BE THAT WE MAKE EXPAND PUBLIC TRANSIT OPTIONS THE FIRST BULLET.
When completely informed, it only takes 3rd grade math to know what the Tampa Centric 5 put on the ballot is a rail/transit tax.
After Commissioner Hagan seconded White's motion, the motion failed because the Tampa Centric 5 voted the motion down. The Tampa Centric 5's own actions confirms their dishonesty to mislead voters in Hillsborough County.
Not only did the Tampa Centric 5 include ZERO dedicated funds for new auto-lane road capacity like AFT did in 2018, they mandated more of the total tax than AFT did - making things worse.
The Tampa Centric 5 ensured LESS funds are left unappropriated that MIGHT (OR MIGHT NOT) fund any road widening for 30 years. Those unappropriated funds can also be used for rail/transit, road diets, bike lanes, sidewalks, climate change, etc.
The only place the Tampa Centric 5 uses the words "widen roads" and "build new roads" is in their misleading ballot summary language (see pic above). Nowhere else in their Ordinance do the Tampa Centric 5 mention those words or new road/auto-lane capacity.
That is why the day before the April 20th public hearing, Assistant County Administrator for Public Works John Lyons penned a memo to the commissioners. He said only about 25-30 miles (about one-half to one mile per year) of new lane capacity MIGHT be built over 30 years with the $18 BILLION rail/transit tax over 30 years.
Lyons confirmed this $18 BILLION tax will leave a huge new road capacity deficit in the County, especially in unincorporated Hillsborough.
The Tampa Centric 5 do not care because that is their intention. In their own words and actions, they've said they do not want to build new auto-lane road capacity. They are the same people trying to tear down interstates that 200K people use everyday and are evacuation routes for Tampa Bay.
The primary focus of the Tampa Centric 5 is to fund costly rail in Tampa. Their goal is to force taxpayers in unincorporated Hillsborough to pay for Tampa rail that benefits wealthy downtown special interests.
So much for the Tampa Centric 5's "equity" agenda.
All Tampa Centric 5 Democrats, with Kemp and Cohen lawyers who should know better, were big supporters of AFT's ILLEGAL 2018 rail tax. They have poor judgment helping to create a huge refund mess that has yet to be resolved.
Hillsborough County still owes taxpayers $562 MILLION of ILLEGALLY collected AFT tax dollars. Such mess must never happen again.
In 2018 AFT sold their rail/transit tax under false, deceitful and dishonest pretenses and misled voters with their deceptive ballot summary language. The AFT tax was ruled ILLEGAL and UNLAWFUL and thrown out.The Tampa Centric 5's $18 BILLION rail/transit will also be sold under false, deceitful and dishonest pretenses. And their deceptive ballot summary language also misleads voters.
We've seen this rodeo before. We saw how AFT's shameful shenanigans created a big huge mess that 4 years later has yet to be resolved.
It appears the Tampa Centric 5 drove their rail/transit tax do-over into the Danger Zone.
Do not take any chances. Do not allow the Tampa Centric 5 Democrats to deceive and mislead voters again.
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