Rail Debate Tonight: The Lady vs. the Suits. St. Pete College, Seminole Campus, 6 pm.

Sun Beam Times Alert!

hazselden imageThe David vs. Goliath battle for rail continues tonight as the small but mighty “No Tax for Tracks” leader Barbara Haselden squares off in a debate with Don Ewing, Co-chair  of “Yes for Greenlight” (with Chamber President Chris Steinocher).  The Forum will take place at 6 p.m. on the Seminole Campus of St. Petersburg College in the “Digitorium” (UP 160) at 9200, 113th St. N, Seminole, FL. The debate will evaluate the merits of raising the sales tax rate 14% and tax collections by 300% to build a 25 mph train from St. Pete to Clearwater. Online registration is available but a plentiful 365 seats are available.

Yes for Greenlight” is expected to raise over $1million from large businesses, real estate developers, and well-connected political insiders. The failed attempt to pass a rail tax hike in Hillsborough raised $1.7 million from large donors who stood to profit. The current “Yes for Greenlight” campaign is using the Citizens United ruling to conceal its donors – odd for an effort supported by the same “progressive” groups and individuals that have complained about Citizen’s United for so long (Sierra Club, Occupy Wall Street, Unions, and local elected Democrat officials). The Yes for Greenlight money will be added to the taxpayer funded “educational” campaign with $800,000 in PSTA funds.

Barbara Haselden represents the group No Tax for Tracks, a small group of volunteers that will likely raise no more than $50,000. Yet the Hillsborough equivalent defeated the rail there 58% to 42% while spending only about $20,000. The group has a grassroots campaign and has been seen marching in parades, waving signs on street corners and showing up at public meetings.

Come see “the Lady” take on “the Suits” and their green-shirted minions tonight!

14 Replies:

  1. Tom

    This really is not that complicated of a subject. Raises taxes on residents to benefit businesses is the bottom line.
    It’s good for business but bad for tax payers. Although mass transit improvements could be good, there are other means then to tax the people. This is another simply case of can businesses trick the people into paying hire taxes for their benefit. Normally you take a look at the political donors and see which businesses stand to benefit the most. When you look closer, you see tax dollars being used to market tax payers into paying higher taxes. Is this a good way for politicians to spend our money and represent us? Just ask yourself…. how many neighborhood associations or residents in this county are fighting and paying for advertisements to encourage people to vote for higher taxes? How many neighbors and families are getting together and talking about the need for a train? Or is it just businesses that want this? Vote smart people. Do your homework and don’t vote based on the TV commercials.

    1. Ron Thompson


      Your reply is fear. Voters dont support NTFT once they learn the truth, and have time to think.

      …. take a look at the political donors and see which businesses stand to benefit …

      GreenLight is supported by the CofC, a diverse coalition of businesses across Pinellas county. Also a broad coalition of groups including Sierra Club, NAACP, and various church & grass root voters like PBR. “People” want a community with viable transit options besides 100 degree traffic jams, fender benders, and red light cameras. “People” ride busses and “people” vote. NTFT is a small, vocal, minority and can’t accept that fact.

      …how many neighborhood associations or residents … are fighting and paying for …. people to vote for higher taxes? …

      First, it has been explained, hudreds of times, that the TOTAL economic impact to each consumer sector is improved. Transit creates jobs, creates wealth, raises property values, and therefore ends government shortfalls. The fact that voters understand this reality and NTFT denies it says more about NTFT than the GreenLight plan.

      Second, people and assoc all over pinellas support GreenLight. Moreso in south county than north. More where people rely on transit to be their hand up out of poverty and less where the entitled class says “its your fault you’re on welfare”.

      Economic and moral thinkers everywhere understand that for “people” to go back to school, get and keep their first job, move out of subsidized housing and start paying taxes instead of taking them, they will need reliable, affordable, available transit. “People” know that those climbing out of generational poverty aren’t going to walk front out to their 2 or 3 car garage, and get into one of their shiney sedans. Those that say there should be less busses, not more, enjoy that priviledge, and don’t undetstand how those being asked to pay $5/mth while having no gas, tire, ins, or repair bills consider a sales tax increase to be a GREAT deal.

      …… Do your homework and don’t vote based on the TV commercials…

      No, base you vote on comments about “choo-choo” trains and cow farts and websites by a third place council candidate and a tinted window conspiracy theorist.

      NTFT: Quit buying lawn signs and go buy a clue about reality.

      1. Sun Beam Times Post author

        Ron, you say: “Voters dont support NTFT once they learn the truth, and have time to think.”

        Do you have evidence on this? Where are your polls?

        The rest of your arguments are pie-in-the-sky feel good propaganda with no supporting facts.

        1. Ron Thompson

          Actually, when voters recieve a factual poll, not an agenda based push-poll, they support GreenLight 2 to 1.

          Of course, the GreenLight plan came up FROM voters, through hundreds of users meetings. Therefore, plan approval began as the plan was created.

          This fact alone is why the false comparison to the Hillsborough vote 4 years ago is disregarded by informed voters. GreenLight was built in public sunshine, by citizens, and toured around for consensus for multiple years. Hillsborough has already learned from this experience as they launch a new “ground up” voter & citizen based process. If voters don’t like the plan while it’s being written, they won’t vote for it on the ballot.

          As for economic benefits, and transit being a “hand up” for those trying to exit poverty, to train, obtain, and keep their first skilled jobs, you just go keep on regerring that policy “pie in the sky”. Each time NTFT published that stance, another busload of voters decides in favor of GreenLight.

          All of the “people” with 2 cars in their garage and carports will support NTFT 100%. And you can keep on glafly paying for welfare, unemployment, food stamps, medicaid, and a ton of other programs so those least able can be forced to buy, operate, and maintain individual automobiles.

          Oh, and pay for jails, too.

          1. Sun Beam Times Post author

            Ron, please produce the poll that shows the 2:1 support that is not a push poll, is of likely voters and reveals all the demographics. The only such poll was the Sun Beam Times poll which showed 61% opposition

            I very much look forward to that poll showing 2:1 support. Good luck funding it because it DOES NOT EXIST!

            Until you find such a poll or run one yourself, I suggest you not make ridiculous and false assertions. It causes your credibility to go down.

          2. Norm Roche

            Respectfully Mr. Thompson,

            “Greenlight Pinellas” (GP) is not the plan. GP is a marketing brand that cost taxpayers upwards of $400k to create and test market to politicians and select community activists.

            The plan is the “Alternative Analysis”, which did not come up from voters. The AA was a $4-million taxpayer funded transit study that was initiated by politicians, and that was required in order to apply for state and federal grants (roughly 48% of the AA plan costs) in order to help fund the AA plan. The AA plan is a light rail and extra busses to feed it…period. All the extra promises of BRT, dedicated lanes, bike paths, glorious rail stops, et al are not only NOT part of the state and federal funding request structure (ie: the AA) – they are also NOT funded by the new proposed tax. In fact, there is no funding for those promises.

            I suspect that this is why the November ballot iniative will not and cannot “eliminate” the current PSTA property tax. It will merely be set at 0 and remain on your TRIM notice…until needed to fulfill thoses promises and/or cover costs overruns on the rail.

            Again, with respects, I will defer to the public record, not marketing, to validate my statements.

          3. Ron Thompson

            Commissioner Roche

            I return your personal respect, your deference to public documents, and appreciate your courtesy. I also concur with your factual statements.

            I find that voters I talk with generally agree when I characterize much of the NTFT dire warnings and alerts to be a “tempest in a teapot” and “much ado about nothing”.

            GLP is the name of the public campaign after the study that was differently named during that phase? So what? GM refers to “model J” which is released publicly as a “Silverado”. Microsoft worked on projects named “chicago” and “Memphis” which were rolled out to the public as Windows-95 and Windows-98.

            The NTFT’s opinion about the $400k has been repeated, refuted, and adjudicated.Yet, NTFT continues to state this as fact. The $400k has been ruled information, not advocacy. It may seem like advocacy when voters considered the information reliable and use it to support the plan. When voters learn this, NTFT loses more credibility.

            Your dismissive statements about GLP (AA?) Are contradictory. The plan “only covers a rail line” but not stations, and “extra busses” but not BRT. A frightened voter might first believe this, but a long term information campaign will eliminate such misdirections.

            GLP sets the strategic vision of a livable, walkable, future carless urban core. It implements sizeable portion of that strategy and commits all future construction into that vision. NTFT stopped harping on “Agenda 21” when they realized it was marginalizing their standing. GLP insisted that the eventual rebuilding of the Howard Franklin, 10+ yrs in the future, include a planned upgrade for rail compatibility. NTFT insisted that such forward looking transit flexibility be denied.

            You “suspect” the property tax will be kept, and raised, and skyrocket. Smart voters see through such scare tactics. The PSTA board does not now assess its totsl allowed ceiling, but you “suspect” they will do that as well? Help GPL acheive their request to have the unused property millage repealed once the referendum passes, them you can retire your “suspicions”.
            Voters understand that you plant a tree for someone else to enjoy the shade. They understand that individual cars make the Bay Area less desirable, and thus are a daily tax on our property values, incomes, available employers, and lifestyle.

            If you accept the notion that transit is necessary, and sought to create a strategic and consensus driven plan, how would anyone (even NTFT) end up anywhere except GLP?

          4. Sun Beam Times Post author

            Ron, its interesting how you so confidently offer assertions with absolutely no facts to support them.

            Kind of like the entire GLP campaign!

          5. Ron Thompson

            I am glad to be interesting. I find NTFT interesting for the same reason. Hence, it is important that the two opposing viewpoints be resolved into a common truth; not fear mongering, and not each side projecting statements, motives, or secret intentions onto the other.

            The voters of Pinellas deserve that, so they can make an informed decision based on an honest assessment of reality.

      2. Janie

        RE: “Voters dont support NTFT once they learn the truth, and have time to think.”………
        If it wasn’t for NTFT (No Tax For Tracks) the people would never have gotten the truth.

        1. Ron Thompson

          And it is my experience that a typical voter that is exposed to both the GLP and NTFT positions sides with GLP. GLP is able to show a plan, finding, a vision. And it all matches a common sense experience for a typical Pinellas resident. They knoe traffic is bad, cars are mandatory, gas prices only increase, there is little room for extra roads and that new roads immediately are snarled with new traffic. They know that suburban homes wglawns and a garage was a golden era and that while nobody intends to undo that which is there, Pinellas has no room to continue that model.

          When NTFT talks about outrageous wages, btaj mahal” maintenance garages, Agenda 21, tinted windows, and cutting busses while adding cars to already clogged roads, voters discard the rest of their words.

          Without credibility, beyond a few “true believers”, NTFT will not gain the traction they need in the face of an opposition with an organized, well planned, well delivered presentation.

          That’s how people think.

  2. Jon Banner

    Great title! Is says it all, it’s a battle between the people, and the connected special interests of the County.

  3. The Truth

    Mr Roche,

    The AA is only rail. There is nothing about buses in the AA. The Greenlight plan is the plan to implement the AA and the Community Bus Pla. It includes the phasin and financialmodels with updated numbers. With all do respect, from what ive read, If you actually made it to a board meeting you might have known that.

    The Truthsayer

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