Gas prices are high in Europe, largely due to taxes. That is by design to force people to take public transportation. If St. Petersburg City Councilman Charlie Gerdes has his way, that is the way it will be in St. Petersburg too. It makes perfect sense that Gerdes has endorsed Darden Rice for City Council, the Sierra Club activist. The question is will Darden Rice disavow this arrogant position that hurts the poor, remain silent as is typical or embrace it as she may very well want to do?
Gas taxes are already too high in Pinellas County. The city of St. Petersburg already removes $3.2 million from the local economy through gas taxes every year – an economic depressant rather than a stimulus. According to the Tampa Bay Times Reporter Mark Puente, Councilman Gerdes bragged that he was a “Crazy left wing nut” and indicated he wanted to markedly increase the tax on gasoline to ensure it forces people to ride bikes, busses and trains…just like the Europeans. One wonders if he checked with all the taxpayers and local residents living here who are barely getting by on St. Petersburg low median income of $24,500 per year. Perhaps he thinks it will be fine for the poor to ride transit, after all he is a wealthy attorney who can afford to buy more expensive gas.
Meanwhile, the campaign of Dr. David McKalip for St. Petersburg City Council issued a press release calling for Darden Rice to disavow these statements and make it clear that she opposes any increase in gas taxes. “Darden Rice was just endorsed by fellow politician Charlie Gerdes who likes to raise taxes to force people to behave as he sees fit. The citizens of St. Petersburg deserve better.” Dr. McKalip has stated that he will oppose any tax hike for transportation including the 14% proposed sales tax hike to build a light rail system in Pinellas County and has called for cutting taxes of all kinds on his website.