Pinellas Suncoast fire tax hike cremated by court

Ed Hoofnagle is an Indian Rocks Beach city commissioner. Politicians in Pinellas County normally “go along to get along”, so suing another government agency to stop a tax hike would be down right impolite. Suing the Pinellas Suncoast Fire Distict (PSFRD) after their tax hike passed on last fall’s ballot, now that would be downright…

Pinellas County refuses to comply with “redundant” state law

Our investigation found that all 25 municipalities in Pinellas county fail to comply with a state law requiring them to notify the property appraiser’s office of real estate they own. The offending government agencies include the municipality within the county with the largest budget, namely Pinellas County itself. There is no indication that the statutory…

Has St. Pete City Council candidate learned from past admitted mistakes?

Barclay Harless, a banker employed by Bank of the Ozarks, wants a seat on the St. Pete City Council. But has the now 32-year old Harless learned from the mistakes that the 22-year old Harless made a decade ago? Those mistakes led to Harless’ resignation as student body president of USF in 2007. Harless, a former aide…

A year later, Sheriff still misstates post-hurricane reentry requirements

One year ago, the Guardian found that all 12 local government agencies we surveyed incorrectly stated that a special permit would be required for reentry after a hurricane. Many of them still do, including the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), the agency responsible for the program. At issue is PCSO’s Emergency Access Permit (EAP) program. The EAP program is PCSO’s…

State rep misstates her past, is accused of abandoning her district

State Rep. Kathleen Peters (R – Treasure Island) announced last week that she was running for a seat on the Pinellas county commission in 2018. In covering this announcement, SaintPetersBlog.Com reported that Peters had campaigned for the state house in 2012 on “repairs and improvements to Pinellas County’s failing sewer system.” However, Peters made no mention of…

Van pool program costs 82% less than buses – but does it reduce congestion?

TBARTA, the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Agency, operates a little known commuter van pool program involving about 100 vans. It’s a form of transit that costs much less per passenger mile than other forms of transit, but there is little evidence that it reduces traffic congestion. All transit agencies that receive funds from the Federal Transit…

Despite lots of free rides, Pinellas transit ridership plunge continues

Multiple and extensive free ridership programs across PSTA’s network in April failed to stem the the ridership plunge at this beleaguered Pinellas transit agency. As the Guardian reported last month, PSTA ridership for its fiscal year is at a 10-year low. PSTA offered “free rides to the beach” from downtown Clearwater during all of April, free rides on…

Pinellas County agency sued over Sunshine Law, meeting notice violations

TampaBayGuardian.Com today filed a lawsuit against the Pinellas Business Technology Services Board (BTS), alleging Sunshine Law violations and other statutory violations. The civil complaint seeks to void three BTS meetings, including tomorrow’s meeting. BTS head Marty Rose resigned on April 27th amid growing criticism from county administrator Mark Woodard. The problems at BTS have a direct impact…

Pinellas Sheriff sued over public records involving post-hurricane re-entry

The Guardian today sued Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri after he refused to provide records detailing the “lawfulness and/or constitutionality of PCSO’s Emergency Access Permit (EAP) program.” That program provides for re-entry to the barrier islands after an evacuation,  e.g. due to a hurricane. Gualtieri’s refusal came in response to a public records from The Tampa…

Congestion-creating Pinellas bus project not funded in federal budget

President Trump’s  “budget blueprint” for fiscal year 2018 calls for halting funding to transit capital projects (so-called “New Starts”), with the exception of projects that already have grant agreements in place. It also appears that no new grant agreement will be signed in 2017. Cato Institute transportation policy analyst Randal O’Toole reported on these budget implications in his…