$16 billion tax hike effort that now faces lawsuit relied on free legal advice

“I’m a lawyer,” All For Transportation (AFT) volunteer Brian Willis told FloridaPolitics.Com today. “We’ve had attorneys at Holland & Knight vet this. Constitutional law professors. Nobody had any issues with it.” Willis was referencing the tax hike for transit which Hillsborough county voters passed last month after AFT spent $4 million getting it on the ballot…

All For Transportation knew about potential legal snag already in July

Yesterday, 10News reported that Hillsborough County commissioner Stacy White is filing a lawsuit today to kill a recent sales tax hike for transit. The measure adds 1% of sales tax, was passed with 57% of the vote among county voters on November 6th and is set to go in to effect on January 1st, 2019. One of the…

Narrative implodes: Hillsborough bus ridership down 10.3% in one year

Just as citizens vote on a 1% sales tax to fund transit in Hillsborough County, the county’s transit authority reported that its bus ridership is down 10.3% for the fiscal year that ended September 30th (FY2018). The steep plunge calls into question the “need” or market demand for more transit, especially since more transit won’t…

PSTA ridership now 13% lower than a decade ago

In its fiscal year which ended September 30th, so-called revenue passenger trips on PSTA’s network of buses dropped 4.5% compared to the previous year. PSTA’s ridership is thus now 13% lower than it was 10 years ago. Despite a $100 million per year budget, a 34% increase in the tax rate levied on real property,…

Seminole mayor accused of abuse of power by two people, denies allegations

A local citizen journalist claims that Seminole mayor Leslie Waters tried to remove him from city public meetings. In a written statement submitted  to the city, a city firefighter seems to back up the journalist’s story. And the mayor denies all of it. Steve Hirschfield, citizen journalist and owner of the  local news website IonTB.com, filed a…

Anatomy of the rushed Hillsborough transit tax audit, part 1 of 2

It was after 3 P.M. in County Center on a hot Friday in September. The previous evening at 6:15 P.M., Hillsborough County Chief Financial Administrator Bonnie Wise had requested that “errors” be corrected in the performance audit report delivered by the auditing firm McConnell & Jones (M&J). The corrected report arrived at 2:33 P.M. In…

City commissioner e-mails city staff asking for campaign support

Largo City commissioner Samantha Fenger used her city e-mail account to ask city staff to sign petition cards so she could get on the ballot for the November election. On the face of it, Fenger’s actions appear to violate Florida Statutes 104.31 , which governs the political activities of state, county, and municipal officers. “I’m reaching out…

Tampa Bay Partnership membership income down 35% amid restructuring

A review of the Tampa Bay Partnership’s (TBP) 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 tax returns shows a 35% decline in membership dues in just three years. In the last year, it dropped 11% from the year before, despite a deep restructuring of the organization in 2016. The TBP is a non-profit 501(c)(6), which is the same…

State agency says public not allowed to see audit work plan for tax hike

Voter support for the 14% hike in the Hillsborough County sales tax is already unlikely. If the statutorily required audit of the government agencies receiving the money was supposed to increase voter support, a state agency may have just reduced the likelihood of that happening. OPPAGA, the state agency responsible for performing the audit, claims…