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Joe Henderson: Stacy White’s latest lawsuit shows his disdain for voter mandate

He doesn’t like Hillsborough’s All For Transportation tax, but 57 percent of voters approved it anyway

Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White opposed the All For Transportation charter amendment to raise the local sales tax by one percent and made no secret about that.

White worked with anti-tax crusaders in the buildup to the referendum and his voice was on a robocall opposing the tax. His likeness appeared on mailers opposing the tax and exchanged multiple emails with Sharon Calvert. She is the co-founder of the Tampa Tea Party and traditionally hates things like All For Transporation.

It passed anyway, with 57 percent of voters approving.  My guess is they were sick of the inaction by politicians like White to deal with the county’s chronic traffic congestion.

What to do?

Why, file a lawsuit of course.

He challenged a portion of the amendment that specified spending priorities. He won on that point, but the judge ruled the tax itself is legal.

His fellow County Commissioners then voted to adopt the same spending priorities spelled out in the amendment.

So, once again White showed his disdain for the will of 57 percent of the county’s voters. He filed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the tax, and he isn’t even honest about why.

Let’s refer to a deposition he gave in March about his initial lawsuit to overturn the tax and see the evidence for ourselves.

“Fifty-seven percent of the people could theoretically amend the charter to say that we should segregate our county facilities. And in that context, we would have a real legal problem,” White said.

Or, 57 percent of the people could theoretically believe White has another problem, and it’s that he doesn’t like the tax.

Period.

Just be honest, dude. You hate the tax and will do anything to derail it.

That includes ignoring this part of Circuit Judge Rex Barbas’ ruling in June to White’s lawsuit.

“It is evident that the voters of Hillsborough County desire to improve transportation needs. It is further obvious to this Court that the electorate made their desires clear,” he wrote.

“The Constitution gives the power to apply sales taxes. The legislature has given certain counties the right to issue sales taxes under certain conditions. Therefore, those conditions must be followed if we are to be governed by law.”

Read that last part again: “…those conditions must be followed if we are to be governed by law.”

What part of that is unclear?

There is nothing noble about what he is doing. There are only two ways this can end, and neither is particularly good for White.

One, the Supreme Court swats this nuisance lawsuit like Roger Federer swatting a tennis ball, and White gets another rebuke.

Two, White somehow wins, and it sets the county back untold decades in seriously addressing its transportation crisis.

Either way, Stacy White will have cemented his legacy and will go down as one of the county’s greatest impediments to progress.

Ever.

 

 

 

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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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