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No Tax for Tracks Launches

Light Rail opposition gets under way

Tuesday night an enthusiastic crowd of about 125 people showed up in Largo for the formal launch of the No Tax for Tracks campaign.

There were T-shirts, yard signs, bumper stickers, magnetic signs and more available for the No Tax for Tracks supporters.

Attendees heard the No Tracks presentation from Barbra Haselden and some impressive motivation from members of the initiative’s team.

No Tax for Tracks is facing an uphill battle with the Sales Tax referendum being supported by the PSTA, the Pinellas County Commission and numerous high profile groups like the Chamber of Commerce.

In Wednesday’s PSTA Board meeting, the Board was briefed on how to legally spend PSTA dollars “educating” the public about the Sales Tax referendum by the Board’s attorney.

Brad Miller, PSTA CEO, indicated that there was already $150,000 set aside for communications, and Board members asked for the PSTA Budget Department to put together a plan and find some more money to be used in the campaign to get the Sales Tax referendum passed.

Mr. Miller indicated that the real push to get the voters to actually vote for the Sales Tax Referendum will come from private supporters and PACs (Political Action Committees) and that effort is expected to start in February.

The real question is even if the PSTA carefully constructs their “education” efforts so they comply with the law, is it morally acceptable for elected officials to use the public’s tax revenue to support an initiative that recent polls show over 50% of the people don’t want.

Perhaps it is time that some “educating” of public officials begin that indicates there is a political cost for what the public may perceive as an inappropriate use of public funds to push a revenue generating referendum question.

No Tax for Tracks faces as uphill battle as was pointed out in Tuesday evenings’ meeting, but as was also pointed out so have a number of other local government initiatives: the Albert Whitted Airport, the Rays Waterfront Stadium and most recently the St. Petersburg LENS and we all know how those turned out. The public won.

Pay attention to this referendum battle. It is important. Read what you can and get input from both sides. See who supports what and what they stand to gain. If you can, go to some meetings and ask some questions.

Your vote on this critical issue is important cast it wisely.

e-mail Doc at dr.webb@verizon.net or send me a Facebook Friend Request at Gene Webb Prepared to vote NO on the Transportation Sales Tax Referendum.

Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Northern transplant January 24, 2014 at 03:51 AM
These poor backward souls have never visited a real city like Chicago, San Francisco or even Orlando. Today you must have public transportation to stay in the running. Orlando has already passed us as the destination area of Florida.
ferlin getty January 24, 2014 at 08:39 AM
It is past time for Pinellas to step into the TWENTIETH century, let alone the Twenty-First! This area is fifty years behind the curve on public transportation. Don't be fooled by these blind anti-tax for any reason teabaggers! "A poll conducted in December and sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and AM 820 News Tampa Bay, found that 55 percent of respondents in Pinellas would support a sales tax increase for expanded bus service and passenger rail; 36 percent said they would oppose it; and 9 percent were unsure." - Tampa Bay Times, 01-11-2014 Greenlight all the way!
Dennis Raymond January 24, 2014 at 09:09 AM
The most densely populated county in Florida must have a robust mass transit system if we want to attract the businesses and tourism that fuel our economy.
Howard Warshauer January 24, 2014 at 09:59 AM
If a rail line existed from Clearwater to St. Pete today, would you use it? If not, "Don't Waste Your Money" on it.
Mark Rutstein January 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM
No tax for tracks is a good idea. Just think of how much this is truly going to cost. Then this will be run by PSTA. I have to say they have made some improvements, but it's time to make bus routes that work and are simple for all to use. Then we can think about a rail system. think about all the money for an empty train. The PASTA bus line as I call it with routes that run like spaghetti needs to be made simple so we all can figure out where they go! Lets face it its pretty simple in most of Pinellis big buses go north and south and little buses go east and west(except major east west ie route 60). With one free transfer to catch a crossing bus route. Now we have a grid system that you can figure out and people can use. We don't need little buses picking people up at there house unless there is a special need. Lets get a transit system that works, And is over loaded then let's build a rail that connects with the bus system. Lets not waist our money on this right now.
Northern transplant January 24, 2014 at 10:23 AM
Rail line from Clearwater? I have a fine car -- but use the bus to between 4th St and Tyrone Mall to save gas. I would never use the US19 corridor to Clearwater if I had a light rail.
Heidi Thompson January 24, 2014 at 11:07 AM
I will NOT drive to St. Pete from Dunedin, but would love to catch a train to spend the day down there. I would also go to Tampa a lot more if there were a train. Instead of a pedestrian path crossing the bay, why on earth wasn't there a light rail bridge put in instead? Light rail would open up a huge employment marketplace as people could get to jobs outside their current search areas. Coming from the northeast, the lack of rail down here amazes me. Each passing year ups the cost of putting the rail line in and EVENTUALLY it will be a necessity. I say, "Start now."
Leroy Haggard January 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Those who say NO TAX FOR TRACKS probably never rode the PSTA bus between Largo, Fl and St Pete. A 12 mile or so ride takes an 1-1/2 hour just one way. A three hour round trip nightmare
Howard Warshauer January 24, 2014 at 11:44 AM
Instead of new rail systems with all the planning and infrastructure costs, cities around the world are implementing BRT systems. Makes more sense for Pinellas too. See it here: http://www.streetfilms.org/mba-bus-rapid-transit/.
Bruce Nissen January 24, 2014 at 12:45 PM
One interesting thing about these posts is that even the opponents of the Greenlight Pinellas initiative are calling for some of the very things it will do. If the Greenlight Pinellas initiative passes, most of the effort will be to improve and expand the bus system, including Bus Rapid Transit routes. If the initiative fails, bus service will have to be cut back even further than it now exists, really decimating what little public transit we presently have. While the only thing opponents want to talk about is rail, apparently, a rail system under Greenlight will not be here for at least 10 years -- the real payoff is immediate with expanded and more rationally structured bus service. The light rail will be great, but it is a longer germ project, and won't start until sufficient funds have been built up. The real payoff there will be connecting the Clearwater-St. Pete light rail to light rail over the bridge to the Tampa Airport and Tampa downtown. I'm fairly confident the Hillsborough side will wake up and pass a referendum to see that that happens. THEN, we'll have a real mass transit system, multi-modal, with everything from walking, biking, bus, bus rapid transit, light rail, and getting us to key destinations throughout the Tampa Bay Area. We definitely need to pass this referendum, despite what Doc Webb and the Tea Party say.
Johann January 24, 2014 at 04:03 PM
Hey Bruce, it doesn't take $130 MILLION/YEAR forever to expand bus service. I am voting against Greenlight Pinellas because they failed and over-reached with their plan. I also am not fond of the tea-party screaming "no taxes for anything!!". Why not make some sense like, oh, I don't know, have a referendum for a half-cent sales tax increase for a 10 year period. That will fund the initial startup costs to institute bus rapid transit as well as greatly expanded bus service. Beyond 10 years, the program should pay for itself with little or no subsidy. 19th century light rail will never, ever work here. Embracing 21st century technology is the way to go instead. Self-driving cars, high-tech traffic control systems, lane-shifting like they do on the upper Selmon Expressway, etc. Vote NO on Greenlight Pinellas and make PSTA go back to the drawing board and come up with something that makes more sense.
Johann January 25, 2014 at 01:52 AM
Light rail is usually constructed for future growth, not present density. Before you add more residents (future growth) to this equation, you may want to consider this peninsula is effectively built-out sprawl, and we don't have the evacuation or water resources to handle many more people. More business? Yes...people? not so much.
Charlie Holzler January 26, 2014 at 09:26 AM
I think Doc Webb is right on the mark! The "No Tax for Tracks" link is very informative. Makes me wonder what the PSTA agenda really is.

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