Mitch Perry Report 12.11.13: It's official: Pinellas residents to vote on light-rail measure next year

Posted by Mitch Perry on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 7:56 AM

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37 months after Hillsborough County voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the sales tax by a penny to fund the construction of a light-rail system, the Pinellas County Commission late last night approved a measure that would give their residents that same opportunity in November of 2014.

In approving the ballot language last night, Pinellas legislators again demonstrated how much they've learned from Hillsborough's failure in 2010. For one thing, the Hillsborough board didn't approve such language for their ballot measure until May of that year, a little less than six months before voters would go to the polls. Pinellas registered voters won't cast a ballot on the measure for nearly 11 more months.

Also Pinellas Commissioners have spent money (something not everyone in the county approves of) on a marketing campaign with the Tampa PR firm Tucker-Hall. That ultimately resulted into the creation of Greenlight Pinellas, who have created a branding and education campaign that has led to organized support for the measure.

So in effect there's already been a campaign to champion the initiative. But now there's a real live measure on the ballot. Last night's vote on the Commission was 6-1 in favor of the referendum, with Norm Roche the one holdout. That wasn't surprising. Nor is it that there is certainly opposition from Tea Party affiliated groups and other fiscal conservatives who don't want to have their (sales) taxes raised. But how organized will those foes get? They're already behind, but they have plenty of time to spread the word on why they think the measure is ill-advised. But perhaps we are now one step closer to getting construction on some sort of mass transit created in the Tampa Bay area, the 14th biggest media market in the U.S., and by far the biggest without any such system.

Speaking of transportation, remember Louis Miller, the former head of Tampa International Airport who had a sparkling reputation until it all went horribly south in the waning months of his 14-year tenure here? He's only been in Atlanta for three years leading the world's biggest airport, but that gig is ending soon.

Meanwhile while Kathleen Sebelius is now calling for an investigation into the administration's botched rollout of HealthCare.gov., her minions are working across the country to give updates on how the system is working so far. Yesterday Sol Ross with HHS came to Pinellas Park, and got an earful from supporters of the plan who had a number of questions about the rollout.

And remember immigration reform? A coalition of Latino advocacy groups handed out "report cards" to various members of Congress on how they've dealt with the issue in 2013. Both Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson got approving grades from the groups, ostensibly for supporting the comprehensive bill in the Senate this past summer.

Comments (6)

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Ax the Tax Pinellas!

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Posted by Doug Guetzloe on 12/11/2013 at 12:38 PM

Shouldn't you still be prison for income tax evasion Doug?

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Posted by Matt Lyons on 12/11/2013 at 1:55 PM

It always good to know when you've hit a responsive chord with the tax and spend crowd. No Matt Lyons, I should not be in prison for tax evasion, an allegation that I have never been charged with. I did, however, get charged with 2 misdemeanor counts for failing to file 2 tax returns. No restitution ordered because no tax was due. I, like many patriots, have found that the tax codes can be used as a weapon. Not as effective as our Tax Axe though. We look forward to axing the pinellas tax as we did the Hillsborough tax. Waste.

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Posted by Doug Guetzloe on 12/11/2013 at 2:34 PM

Please don't obfuscate Doug. You were charged and convicted of two counts of willful failure to file a tax return (the same charge that Wesley Snipes was convicted of). While this charge is legally defined as a misdemeanor and technically not tax evasion, most people who are not attorneys likely consider it to be a serious tax offense (i.e. a form of tax evasion). While no restitution was ordered, you were sentenced to 15 months in Federal prison and one year of probation. Since you didn't answer my question, I looked up your record on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website. According to the BOP, you were released on 11/12/13 which means you served a little more than 12 1/2 months of your sentence (assuming you were admitted on or about 10/22/12). So, while you were not charged with tax evasion (a felony), you were charged and convicted of lesser tax crimes which, again like Wesley Snipes, resulted in a short sentence in Federal prison. In my book, if you are convicted and serve time in Federal or State prison that you makes you an ex-con and someone to be skeptical about.

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Posted by Matt Lyons on 12/11/2013 at 7:30 PM

No obfuscation here. You made a statement that on it's face and in reality was simply not true. I could have said you were a child porn collector which would have been as truthful and accurate as your statement. I corrected that. Thanks for a review of the record but any comparison to the Snipes situation is apples and oranges. While I owed no taxes Snipes owed over $7 million and had actively participated in tax fraud and tax avoidance. No such case with me. Being a tea party leader and an anti-tax activist being investigated the same time the IRS is under orders to shut down tea party leaders is interesting. There is no such thing as coincidence in politics. Either way, I haven't any citizens who have given it any weight. It's a part of my history but it will not define me. As a pro-tax liberal, I would expect an attack like this. As Socrates said, "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." Ax the Tax will lead this battle and the people will respond by recognizing the lies of the proponents.

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Posted by Doug Guetzloe on 12/11/2013 at 9:25 PM

Why the H&LL should Pinellas County be any different than the State of Florida when it comes to levying more taxes?!? Florida didn't / won't consider applying sales taxes to internet sales UNLESS there is some offset of an equal amount!
relieve me of my property taxes for the PSTA? That's only a few bucks compared to another one percent of my taxable purchases - I say EXCHANGE the proposed tax increase for the "Penny for Pinellas" surcharge!!! When was the last time YOU used one of the $100,000 outhouses in the County parks, anyway????

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Posted by leeroy on 12/12/2013 at 2:09 PM
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