Wednesday, March 20, 2013, the regular meeting of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners will be held from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. 2nd Floor, Tampa, Florida 33602. Beginning at 9:10 am, forty-five minutes have been set aside for public comment. Due to the expected volume of concerned citizens wishing to speak, only two minutes will be permitted for each person. For the entire meeting agenda, click here.
Here we are again, private citizens fighting against our trusted servants who serve on the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to save our county from the unwelcome burden of a sales tax increase to implement light rail. In 2010, our county commissioners voted to place a referendum on the ballot asking citizens if they wanted to raise the sales tax from seven percent to eight percent to fund transit, specifically a proposed light rail line. The citizens voted overwhelmingly against the sales tax increase.
The newspapers on both sides of Tampa Bay are again taking a pro-rail position, as they did leading up to the 2010 election. The reporting was extremely biased before the last referendum and both papers refused to print almost all of the opposing letters to the editor submitted to them.
At a recent HART board meeting, outside consultant Herb Marlowe of Analytica Consulting recommended that the county’s Comprehensive Economic Development Plan be integrated with its Comprehensive Transportation Strategy. Dr. Marlowe co-authored Sustainable Governance: Renewing the Search, which was met with rave reviews such as this one from Lucy Morgan, of the St. Petersburg Times, Tallahassee Bureau Chief (Ret): "Just in time to save us from ourselves, Larry Arrington and Herb Marlowe have given us a roadmap…and a few dire predictions for a state that is running amok. If only our future governors and legislators would read it and respond.” Dr. Marlow is a proponent of developing “sustainable societies.”
In 2010 Moving Hillsborough Forward (and its subsequent incarnations) launched a million dollar advertising campaign to push for the sales tax increase and for light rail. This does not include the free advertising they received by the newspapers printing pro-rail articles on the front page week after week leading up to the election and the free air time offered by local radio stations. After the Pinellas County Commissioners voted to put a referendum on their 2014 ballot for an increase in the sales tax for light rail, an emboldened Connect Tampa Bay is partnering with the Sierra Club to support and encourage the commissioners to put the tax referendum on the ballot in 2014. An earlier article exposed the special interests of the individuals of Connect Tampa Bay which can be accessed at the link below this article. The Sierra Club and Connect Tampa Bay will be offering free bagels and muffins at 7:30 am Wednesday morning before the meeting at Bruegger’s at 501 E. Kennedy Blvd.
The grassroots group Tampa Bay Citizens Organized for Sound Transportation (TBCOST) will be supporting more effective and less expensive transit options for the Tampa Bay area.
The county commissioners have expressed their wish not to replay the fiasco of 2010 (especially those up for re-election), where they were handed their disgracefully ill-conceived and extravagantly expensive light rail proposal and referendum right back to them with a loud and clear NO THANK YOU from the people of Hillsborough County.
Get informed and get ready for round TWO of the rail wars. Come to the meeting on Wednesday, March 20th at 9:00 am. Prepare to be there before 8:30 am to sign up if you want to speak.