Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Hillsborough County's "Equity" Transformation: $18B Rail Tax, Remove Interstates, Race Conscious Solutions, Unconscious Bias, DEI Training, Bigger Bureaucracy and Ballooning Budget

Hillsborough County admits the Tampa Centric 5 Democrat commissioners put a rail tax on the November ballot. The 30 year ONE PERCENT (NOT ONE CENT) $18 BILLION rail tax is part of the County's "transformation" to use "Equity" in everything the County does and in all the County's decision making including transportation.

Using $175K of taxpayer funds, consultant MGT of America, LLC created a Hillsborough County "Equity" profile. On July 27, 2022 the County held an "Equity" Workshop. The meeting video can be found on the County's Youtube channel here. Commissioners Overman, Cohen, Kemp, Myers and Smith attended the Workshop. 

The Workshop presented the County Administrator's Review and Action Plan for the MGT Community Equity ReportBelow is Recommendation #6 claiming County taxpayers "agree" that more "investment" (they will never call it a massive tax hike) into public transit - including RAIL - "is needed".
Rail Tax is Part of County's "Equity" Transformation

That claim is not true! Hillsborough County in general does NOT agree with that claim.

As reported here and here, a survey done last year reflected:
Three-quarters (75%) of the residents in Hillsborough County wouldn’t use mass transit to commute to work even if it were conveniently available
Only 15% would consider using transit
89% of those interviewed want their roads fixed first
96% of those who reject transit either see no need, already have transportation or believe transit is inconvenient.

Also odd is that rail projects gentrify low income neighborhoods and run out the residents and businesses who can no longer afford to live there. And the Tampa rail projects benefit the wealthy special interests donor class. That's "Equity"?

The Equity Workshop begins with these charts.

According to Overman, Hillsborough County will be "reorganized" in such a way that this "Equity Lens" is created in everything the County does - contracts, hiring, policies, procedures, processes, board appointees, training, etc. 

While we deal with high inflation and a recession, Hillsborough County is growing the size and scope of the county bureaucracy. The cost of Hillsborough government is going up and up and up. The County budget is being put into a never ending upward spiral as "equity" (not equality) becomes the County's priority in everything it does.

To these commissioners and the bureaucrats - they do NOT Spend your tax dollars, they are "Investing" your tax dollars - on an agenda they want.  

The "Equity" transformation will include new programs to target and entice students into new and "Green" Technologies. 

Commissioner Overman commented that women, high school students and minority schools must be told what's possible and made to understand what has been under "Invested" in the past. 

Hillsborough County's HR department is creating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) training. The County believes their employees have "Unconscious Bias" and so prejudiced it effects the work they were hired to do. 

DEI Training will be used to establish a "shared" language and values around DEI. Did you know the County is using your tax dollars to introduce County employees to the Left's "Intersectionality" and "Lived Identity????" agenda? 

Critical race theory (CRT) relies heavily on "intersectionality" that, like CRT, came out of legal academia in 1989.  

"Equity" will be the emphasis of Transportation "investments" that require the use of an "Equity Decision" guide. The County admits "Equity" is forcing taxpayers in unincorporated Hillsborough to to fund costly rail/transit they will never or rarely use. "Equity" does not include "investing" in "much needed" new road capacity in unincorporated Hillsborough that benefits the greatest number of people - everyone.

Why is the Cross Bay Ferry Included in the County's "Equity" transportation "investments". That is a tourist amenity that should be paid by each County's tourist tax. Why is the South County Ferry that benefits those who work at MacDill AFB and already get transportation subsidies from the Federal government part of "Equity" transportation. 

The County admits HART will be bonding out the rail tax. The bonding will keep the tax from ever being repealed when the rail boondoggles fail. That's "Equitable" right?

The County will enforce the use of an "Equity Decision Guide" that will be required for County decision making.

At the end of the Equity Workshop Presentation at about 30:35 in the video, the Presenter's closing remarks include:
We're always thinking about what is good for all but we didn't get here because of policies that were good for all. 
The recommendations and services that are outlined are designed for "race conscious solutions."
We cannot create "race conscious solutions" without talking about race.
The topic of race will be central in some of the efforts as we move forward.
Smiling County Administrator Bonnie Wise said these recommendations are just the "initial" journey forward to achieving greater "Equity". 

The County received about $600 MILLION in COVID relief funds from the federal government in 2020-2021. These one-time emergency funds were the County's pilot for "investing" spending thru an "Equity" lens. These one-time funds are exhausted in 2023 but it appears these commissioners and county bureaucrats want to continue spending as if they still had those funds.

No wonder the Tampa Centric 5 Democrat commissioners want to take $18 BILLION more out of taxpayer wallets. They want to fund costly rail boondoggles and then use existing revenues to keep funding and spend more on what they funded with COVID emergency one-time dollars.

Comments of support for the County's "Equity" transformation were provided by all 5 Democrat commissioners during the 2nd half of the Workshop.

Some of their comments included:
An Overman word salad: I like the idea of a concerted effort and some of the structure explained to us to understand not only who's on first but who's actually part of what their goal will be is to be part of that process. (Got that...)

Myers: More diversity needed with Board appointments. Diversity is not at the top. (Bonnie Wise, a woman, is the County Administrator and a majority of the commissioners are women)

Cohen was thrilled the rail tax referendum is included: The Board sees clearly that without major "investment" (they'll never call it what it is a massive $18B tax hike) in our infrastructure, we are going to be hamstrung when it comes to improving the "quality of life". Higher gas prices hit the lower income (but an $18B sales tax hike doesn't??) The referendum will make a "meaningful" difference whether it is transit or in terms of road sidewalks, intersections and crosswalk improvements (no new road capacity mentioned because the rail tax does not fund new roads.) The fact that the [rail] tax will be viewed thru an "equity" lens is only going to strengthen the work when we're done doing it. (Equity must include creating more traffic congestion which does not improve anyone's "quality of life".) 

Kemp - Transit is one of the ways besides affordable housing to lift up people and get them to places they need to be. She wants to hire another consulting firm Urban3 to do "value by acre" analysis for public "investment"  spending. She wants the value per acre analysis done over the entire County thru the "Equity" lens.

Smith: (how many times can she say "uh" in one minute): Management positions lack diversity. She wants HR to double down and raise as an issue - to ensure county government employees throughout the ranks reflects the community in proportion to the diversity in "our community". Women makes less than men. Looking at institutional racism, how our infrastructure reflects our racism and discrimination in our history and we must address that. (Quota's?)

Overman: Need to address how we engage with our community when we are "investing" spending tax dollars in our community. Need to meet people where they are. (Does she venture much outside her Seminole Heights backyard?).

A new law passed this legislative session became effective July 1, 2022. HB 7 "includes provisions designed to protect individual freedom and prevent discrimination in the workplace and in public schools":

The bill specifies that subjecting any individual, as a condition of employment, membership, certification, licensing, credentialing, or passing an examination, to training, instruction, or any other required activity; or subjecting any K-20 public education student or employee to training or instruction, that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such individual to believe the following concepts constitutes an unlawful employment practice or unlawful discrimination:

  • Members of one race, color, national origin, or sex are morally superior to members of another race, color, national origin, or sex.
  • A person, by virtue of his or her race, color, national origin, or sex is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • A person's moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, national origin, or sex.
  • Members of one race, color, national origin, or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, national origin, or sex.
  • A person, by virtue of his or her race, color, national origin, or sex bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, national origin, or sex.
  • A person, by virtue of his or her race, color, national origin, or sex should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.
  • A person, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the person played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, national origin, or sex.
  • Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, national origin, or sex to oppress members of another race, color, national origin, or sex.

However, training or instruction may include a discussion of such concepts if they are presented in an objective manner without endorsement.

Is Hillsborough's "Equity" transformation the CRT agenda for the County? 

MGT's detailed Equity Profile Report is after the presentation slides in the meeting agendaCounty Administrator Bonnie Wise stated more "Equity" recommendations for the County to implement will be coming.

Read the report, watch the Equity Workshop video and share the video with others to watch.

Over half of the $18 BILLION rail tax will be spent in the city of Tampa where 1/3 the population of Hillsborough resides
The rail boondoggles the monster tax hike funds are in the city of Tampa 
The rail boondoggles will be paid for by taxpayers in unincorporated Hillsborough
45% (about $8 BILLION) of the rail tax is dedicated to transit and must go to transit agency HART who has a ridership of about 2%
ZERO dollars of the rail tax is dedicated to fund much needed new vehicle road capacity in unincorporated Hillsborough where 2/3 of the population resides. 

The Tampa Centric 5 Democrat commissioners (Overman, Smith, Cohen, Myers and Kemp) want to tear down I-275 north of Hillsborough Avenue. I-275 is a strategic transportation asset in Florida and is a critical evacuation route for Tampa Bay. Such absurd action will really "limit access" for the 200K people who use the interstate everyday.

"Equity" in Hillsborough County.

Take note of who is on the ballot in November and vote very wisely.


  1. In the event of a direct hit of a Cat-5 hurricane....take the trolly!

    1. Rail systems must shut down days or even a week before a tropical storm or hurricane to prepare so they are not used for evacuations. Buses can be used to help evacuate and they need our roads as do the vast majority of those who use a vehicle to evacuate.