As the Go Hillsborough public outreach process continues, out have come the trolls on the official Facebook page. Yep, you heard right…trolls, and many of them too. In fact, though I am not naming anyone specific, these are the same trolls that consistently trashed PSTA’s Greenlight Pinellas Facebook page last year. These are also the same trolls who support No Tax For Tracks, and who do not want the rest of us to have any transportation choices.
It’s bad enough trying to get a discussion back on track due to these trolls, but try to simply acknowledge that you disagree with their point of view, and that’s when the insults start flying. These trolls often love to insult voter intelligence and will stop at nothing to make you think that they’re right and we’re wrong. Pitiful and childish name calling quickly becomes the Plan B for many of these trolls, and it really is sickening to see then stoop so low to get what they want.
The point of this post today, the folks at Go Hillsborough need to make it clear that such trolling won’t be tolerated. Put these trolls on a very short leash and discourage them from derailing the conversation on transportation choices. If the trolls ignore the warnings, ban them immediately. We cannot afford to have another meaningful discussion on transportation be sidetracked by those who have made it known to us that they only want what suits them, even if what they (the trolls) want causes the rest of us to suffer.
You’ve likely been hearing about it over the past few months, but now the official public outreach process has begun in Hillsborough County. What is this outreach process about exactly? It’s about building a better transportation network throughout the county. Because let’s face it, we’re at a pivotal crossroads right now, and unless we act to fix the situation at hand, things will only get worse from here.
There’s been a lot of talk about what should be included in Hillsborough County’s transportation plan should a referendum be placed onto the 2016 ballot. Although there are many things that I would love to see on the plan, I realize that many components just won’t be able to happen given the current state of the economy and the huge anti-tax sentiment that still looms over many voters. This however should not stop our leaders from coming up with a comprehensive plan that can win the hearts and minds of supporters, the opposition, and the undecideds.
In the next few minutes, I’m going to briefly outline what I would like to see in the county’s plan. Please keep in mind that this first list is a bare-bones minimum, meaning that this is what I see that the plan MUST include regardless of things like a new light rail line to the airport.
Earlier this month, I blogged about the different factors that impacted the Greenlight Pinellas voter referendum. Well, a recent poll has shown that regardless of whether or not light rail was in the equation, many voters simply did not want to be taxed…not even by another penny. That goes into the final point that I made in my last post, which was the overall state of the economy and taxation.
Despite the hard referendum losses in Pinellas, Polk, and Alachua counties last week, Hillsborough County is moving ahead with efforts to place a sales tax referendum onto the 2016 ballot. Seeing an email this morning from transit advocacy group Connect Tampa Bay reinforces why we need better public transportation in the Tampa Bay Area, and why the status quo is no longer acceptable for residents, businesses, and visitors alike.
Today’s post goes more in depth as to why the Greenlight Pinellas referendum failed so horribly on Tuesday, as well as to what’s next for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, and the Tampa Bay region as a whole.
This morning, we are waking up to some sad news in several Florida counties. And no, it’s not just the Governor’s race, for those of you who voted against our current governor. As many will know; Pinellas, Polk, Alachua, and Hernando Counties all had placed sales tax referendums on their respective ballots. Although these referendums were different in scope, all of them would have created better communities by improving aging infrastructure and/or by improving public transit systems.
As many will also know, back in 2010, Hillsborough County attempted to pass its own sales tax referendum, geared at improving and expanding public transit within the county. That measure failed by 58/42% margin. In the wake of that defeat, both Pinellas and Polk counties placed their respective sales tax referendums on the November 4, 2014 ballot in hopes that they would not suffer the same fate as Hillsborough. Unfortunately, neither referendum, along with Alachua and Hernando, passed. In fact, Hernando’s margin was similar to that to Hillsborough’s, and the other three counties fared even worse.
During the past couple of months, my blogging activities here have decreased, but for a good reason. With just 92 days left before the November 4 General Elections, things are heating up between Greenlight Pinellas supporters (including Friends of Greenlight) and the folks at No Tax for Tracks Pinellas (NTFT). From this point until Election Day, the stakes could not be any higher. We need to make sure that Pinellas voters know the benefits of Greenlight and realize that what NTFT is conveyinga about the plan, is misinformation.
Many of you by now have probably read my “No New Funding (equals) A Transportation Disaster” blog post that I put out back in April, which explained the current situation of federal Highway Trust Fund and why it’s running dry. On June 30th, I put out a brief follow-up post stating how time is running out for our elected officials to come up with a longer-term solution to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund (which I will refer to throughout the rest of this post as the HTF), due to the ongoing partisan bickering that continues to stall any significant progress. Then, just Tuesday, July 17, the Republican-led House came up with a short-term measure that would keep the HTF funded through May, 2015, something that both many Democrats and some Tea Party groups aren’t too happy about. The plan is being spearheaded by Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan and is known as HR5021, or The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. The measure passed the House chamber with a 367 to 55 vote.
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) will host a series of interactive telephone town hall meetings to share information and gather feedback about Pinellas County’s transit future.
Residents from all over Pinellas County will receive automated calls inviting them to participate, and anyone can dial in to 877-229-8493 to listen and make their voice heard. Participants will be able to ask questions, both on the call and through social media channels.
The first town hall meeting will take place on Thursday, July 24 at 10:00 AM. The call will feature Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala and will be moderated by PSTA CEO Brad Miller. The call will be open to press; additional dial-in information will be advised early next week.
This will be the first of three telephone town hall meetings in the month of July; the others will take place the following week with PSTA Board Chair