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Hillsborough Transportation

Emails & Opinions

Joe Henderson: When things don’t go your way, sue ’em — right, Stacy White?

Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White does know his side lost the election, right?

He is aware that 57 percent of voters approved the All For Transportation sales tax increase last month to do what commissioners like White have refused to do for way too long — namely, address the county’s clogged highways and pitiful excuse for mass transit in a real way, right?

Because if he does know these things, then he just made a bush-league move by suing in Hillsborough Circuit Court to void the tax increase because, paraphrasing here, voters didn’t know what they were doing when they approved this and crusaders like him need to save those poor fools from themselves.

The legal language is a bit more formal.

His 28-page filing seeks to stop the collection of a one-cent-per-dollar tax scheduled to begin Jan. 1.

Is this a good time to remind everyone that 57 percent of Hillsborough voters approved of this referendum? Never mind that though. It ain’t over until the last legal brief is filed, will of the people be damned.

His legal beef is with a citizen’s oversight committee that was a key part of the amendment that, how many voters approved? Oh yeah, 57 percent.

He is claiming the committee is against the law because it usurps the County Commission’s right to distribute the tax proceeds, which would be earmarked to pay for a lot of things the Republican-dominated Commission ducked for the last 20 years.

Democrats hold a majority now on the seven-member Board following the election, and transportation was a major issue during the campaign.

It likely led to the decisive defeat two-term Republican incumbent Victor Crist suffered against Democrat Mariella Smith, and I believe the reason is simple: People are fed up with lawmakers dithering on this issue and decided to take matters into their own hands.

That’s why the citizen’s oversight committee was put into the referendum. The tax has been estimated to generate nearly $16 billion over its 30-year life, and people want to make sure it is spent as voters intended. Lawmakers tend to lose focus about the actual intention of voters when that much money is involved and dreams of pet projects dance in their heads.

Put another way, Commissioner White, voters don’t trust you folks to do what is in their best interest.

For about the last 20 years or so, Republican commissioners have given rubber approval stamps to just about any project or development someone wanted to build, but roads and transportation were rarely part of the equation.

It was just build, build, build as unchecked sprawl threatened to choke the quality of life here for decades to come.

Fifty-seven percent said they are tired of that. They want to do something about it and they’re willing to pay what it takes.

And Stacy White’s response?

Sue the majority.

No wonder people lose trust.

Fifty-seven percent of them.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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