Connect the Bay, Connect the Dots

We need to come to grips with the growing traffic problems and public transportation in the County. What we don't need is a Pinellas version of TBARTA funded by a never ending source of revenue.

Whenever a new advocacy group pops up for a potential major project effort, especially if the project is in  Pinellas County and the Group is mostly headquartered in Tampa, it gets my attention.

In my Post:1% Sales Tax Increase for Busses and Trains Good Idea or Not?  I hinted that The proposed property Tax referendum being nudged toward the Pinellas County Commission would bring outsome interesting and perhaps highly motivated players.

The newest entry Connect Tampa Bay.

Here are the players, you can find some more detail  in Anna Phillips Tampa Bay Times article: As transit talk builds in Pinellas, a new advocacy group arrives.

Brandi Miklus:

Works for Jacobs Engineering whose website says: Our strength in this industry includes transportation, aviation, water infrastructure, and telecommunications. Jacobs provides full life-cycle capabilities, including planning, design, consulting, engineering, design-build, and construction and program management services to clients engaged in civil construction projects throughout the globe.

Brian Willis:

Brian is an attorney with Shumaker, Loop &Kendrick, LLP. He  represents individuals and corporations involved in business, contract and real estate disputes. He has assisted clients from a wide variety of industries including real estate, manufacturing, health care, construction, state and local government, community associations, banking and finance, and venture capital and start-up companies. Member Citizen advisory Board Tampa Bay Regional Transit Authority.

Brian Steel:

An engineer with the Beck Group which was founded in 1912 and is a full service builder with an international footprint. Local projects include Tampa International Airport - Airside C, University of Tampa Kennedy Place and the Salvador Dali Museum. Whose mother just happens to be Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Steel.

Kevin Thurman:

Consultant and political operative worked for Hillary Clinton as Deputy Internet Director, currently Executive Director Connect Tampa Bay.

So we have a Planner, an Engineer an Attorney and a political operative, at least three of whom work for companies that just might play in the Big Pinellas Transit pie.

Notwithstanding the heartwarming stories about mass transit from this group, my bet is you will have better luck meeting these folks at the BMW dealership than in the seat next to you on a PSTA or HART bus.

Just the thought of a never ending source of revenue like a 1% sales tax has those who might benefit salivating in the wings. A never empty public trough is a Planner/Consultant/Engineer/Attorney's dream come true.

Just look at TBARTA millions spent, mostly on Planners, Engineers, Consultants and Attorneys and not a whole lot to show for it.

So far Commissioner Steel is on record as not favoring moving the sales tax question to the ballot, we will see if Junior has any influence at the dinner table.

I am not anti public transportation, we need to come to grips with the growing traffic problems and public transportation in the County. What we don't need is a Pinellas version of TBARTA funded by a never ending source of revenue.

Pinellas County politics is kind of unique. My advice to the big law firms, train manufacturers, Engineering and Planning company's and real-estate speculators would be lay low for now.

All that hype didn't work so well in Hillsborough County, and it's a pretty good bet it won't work in Pinellas County, even if your mom is a County Commissioner.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

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S. Ripley February 18, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Nice research. Unfortunately, most will simply consume whatever propaganda is produced for us by those for and against light-rail. Make no mistake… light-rail is BIG business which will summon very powerful forces to shape public and political opinion. And while the concept of light rail can be very appealing, it is only suitable and sustainable in areas that have a very specific set of attributes. These attributes include a special combination of population density/distribution, lack of competitive transit options, climate, culture, and economics. The afore mentioned powerful forces will ultimately determine how we view of these attributes. Combine that with pervasive “light-rail envy”, and the deck is stacked from day one.
Babak February 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM
The end justifies the means. Sure there are all sorts of shady players with their own agendas. If however that means we can leap-frog to the 21st century and FINALLY get light rail, then so be it!
David Conkle February 19, 2013 at 01:28 PM
I have traveled extensively in Europe and love the ease of use and choices available to travel through their countrysides and in their cities. The last time my wife and I were in Ireland we bought first-class rail passes for a great price and used them extensively to travel around the beautiful green countryside. We also enjoyed the very efficent bus and light rail system in Dublin to travel all over the city with ease. When developing their transportation infastructure the countries in Europe took a long term view as opposed to the short term veiw taken by our country. Sure it takes a lot of money to initially develop good transportation infasturcture, however, it pays off in the long term. Unfortunately, we are now so shortsighted in our thinking, we can barely see pasts our noses.
Rider February 19, 2013 at 03:10 PM
enhanced mass transit is a must....yet a train to Clearwater? Oh please, what a big waste of limited resources.....our priority is to get across the bay...period.
Babak February 19, 2013 at 03:51 PM


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