Mitch Perry Report for 8.20.15 — The 1% solution for a Hillsborough County transportation tax

Mitch Perry

The news that the Go Hillsborough campaign has re-introduced the prospect of the Hillsborough transportation tax going from a half-cent to a full penny apparently alienated a few county commissioners who didn’t get a heads-up that County Administrator Mike Merrill was about to do that Monday.

Now that they’ve got that out of their system, I’m curious what will be the magic moment that persuades Merrill and consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff to bring the cent vs. half-cent proposal before the Policy Leadership Group.

“I think there’s a growing realization if we’re going to have a real impact, you might have to look at that full penny,” former County Commissioner Mark Sharpe told me Wednesday. Sharpe was like many pro-transit advocates in Tampa who put on a happy face when the original half-cent proposal, heavy on road-building, was released in June. Their true feelings can be expressed now, though, when they say a full cent is a better idea.

Of course, the reason Go Hillsborough went for the half-cent originally is because it and the entire Tampa Bay area establishment are desperate for a transportation tax to win, after the losses in Pinellas last year and in Hillsborough in 2010.

Sharpe said he thinks a campaign for a full-cent can be successful in 2016.

“I think with the right plan and a solid message and an honest forthright communication with the community, I am absolutely convinced,” he said. “But you’re going to have to be dogged.”

We’re still a ways away from knowing what, if anything, will go before Hillsborough County voters a year from November. The Board of County Commissioners isn’t scheduled to vote on proposed ballot language until December. And then we’ll have a year-long campaign before the November, 2016 elections.

In other news …

Apparently no reporters will allowed into future meetings, so take what you can out of this report on Tampa citizens gathering this week to work on their blueprint of what they’d like a citizens police review board to look like.

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Pro-Life groups are calling on people to protest in front of all Planned Parenthood facilities across the nation this Saturday, including 14 in Florida.

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Tampa Bay area Democrat Kathy Castor insists she’s not feeling a lot of pressure as she prepares to announce whether she supports President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

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There’s apparently room in the budget now, so the Florida Democratic Party is now looking to hire a spokesperson fluent in both English and Spanish.

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Victor Crist apparently thinks the writing may be on the wall for the future demise of his Public Transportation Commission. So the Hillsborough county commissioner asked Administrator Mike Merrill to have staff prepare what the costs may be for the county to take over regulating  taxis, limos and Uber and Lyft as well.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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