“The Truth will prevail. I think as Board members we should advocate strong and hard, relentlessly without fail to make sure that the people we represent are well informed”. PSTA Board Member and St. Petersburg City Council Member Wengay Newton on 6/23/14 regarding PSTA use of DHS “CARES” grant funds. (14:20 seconds)
The time has come for Brad Miller to resign as CEO of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and for Pinellas county Commissioner to step down from the PSTA Board. Brad Miller and Ken Welch have both betrayed the public trust, failed to properly oversee operations and failed to be good stewards of public dollars. They have both participated in the abuse of anti-terrorism grant funds and lied about the abuse. They have continued to lie about the abuse and refuse to apologize for this abuse. They continue to attack those who have revealed the truth in order to deflect blame from themselves. All of the abuse and lies have been to protect the $100 million Greenlight Pinellas Tax hike that will create the highest sales tax in the state to build a St. Pete to Clearwater train few will ride all to enrich wealthy land developers. When it comes to the corrupt, sacred cow Greenlight Pinellas, there is no amount of truth that will sway Ken Welch. As he proudly says, under all circumstances “Keep Calm and Support Greenlight Pinellas”. The key lesson from this episode is that voters should vote no on Greenlight Pinellas in November since PSTA has demonstrated they can’t be trusted with our tax dollars, will abuse them and will lie about that abuse while attacking those who expose the truth.
This week PSTA CEO Brad Miller returned $345,000 worth of Federal taxpayer dollars to the Department of Homeland security. The return of the funds came nearly three months after an investigation by Sunbeam Times founder Dr. David McKalip revealed that the funds were abused. The Transportation Security Grant Program (TSGP) funds were designed to tell the average members of the public how to spot possible bombs on buses, but were instead used to make feel-good ads promoting PSTA and Greenlight Pinellas. Welch and Miller denied there was any abuse. They publicly ridiculed Dr. McKalip and noted and trustworthy news reporter Mike Deeson of WTSP when he publicized the story on 6/23/14 and kept at it on 7/17/14. They circled the wagons to protect PSTA and the Greenlight boondoggle, because as Mr. Welch says: “Keep Calm and Support Greenlight Pinellas”.
PSTA CEO Brad Miller Must Resign
Mr. Miller’s list of lies and violations of the public trust is long. More will certainly be revealed as the DHS investigation continues and releases the findings of their investigation. Besides the lies, Mr. Miller has not acted properly in his oversight role of his staff to continue to serve as the CEO of PSTA. Dr. McKalip worked with Congressman David Jolly’s office to expedite an investigation by DHS and filed a complaint to the DHS Office of Inspector General. The many lies of Brad Miller (and Welch) and evidence to prove they were lies were detailed on a prior post. But here is a brief list of more Miller lies that are coming out. These repeated lies, and his non-credible claim that there was no way to prevent this problem, indicate a pattern of deception and arrogance that is clear. Miller’s deceptions and arrogance leaves no way for the taxpayers of Pinellas County to trust him as the head of an agency that manages about $60 million a year currently and seeks a $1.4 billion tax hike over the next ten years. (The 6/24/14 PSTA board meeting referred to is here between time marks 1 and 15 minutes and the 8/1/14 Miller email here).
- Miller lies about target audience of “Cares” Brochure: he tells the board on 6/24/14 that they were “intended Mostly for First Responder Organizations”. “We passed out a brochure …that was sort of a standard “see something say something’ thing”. In fact the brochures were specified, under contract, to be passed out not to first responders, but to average citizens through community events. The PSTA has provided images to the Sunbeam Times of the community events where these brochures were distributed. See pictures of community booths in deliverables report.
- Miller Lies to PSTA Board about purposes of TSGP Grant phase II money for TV and other ads, claiming it was not designed to promote the same “community awareness message” contained in the brochure and that the message in the TV ads was appropriate. It is clear that “Phase II” money was designed solely for the purpose of promoting the community awareness message of “see something, say something” through large media methods, like TV, billboards and buses.
- Miller Lies to PSTA Board about communications to DHS. Falsely tells to the PSTA Board on 6/24 that DHS is 1) aware of campaign and 2) approves of it.
6/24/14 Pinellas Commission Meeting, Time mark 11:50 of video
Commissioner Deighton: “As far as I know the Department of Homeland Security is completely aware of the campaign that was run and has expressed no problems with it. Is that correct?”
PSTA CEO Brad Miller: “That’s correct”.
An 08/01/14 Email by Brad Miller to PSTA Board reveals that he knew that the DHS had not reviewed or approved the ads. He also told Dr. McKalip in a 5/9/14 meeting that DHS had reviewed and approved the ads.
PSTA CEO Brad Miller: “Once the ads were completed, in June 2013, PSTA repeatedly tried to get DHS to review the ads to make sure they were OK and DHS refused. At this point, I do not think DHS reviewed the ads until last month.” (emphasis added)
4. Miller Falsely tells PSTA board there is no guidance from DHS on how to spend Grant funds.Guidance was present in grant application and PSTA’s own RFP’s (Request for Proposals). This guidance is detailed in this previous reports on PSTA lies and evidence to verify these lies is presented in this previous Sunbeam Times post. The fact that Miller knew the brochure needed a “see something, say something” message indicated that he knew full well that this would also be the goal of the TV ads funded by Phase II money.
8/1/14 Email to PSTA Board: “PSTA tried repeatedly for 6 months to get DHS to provide guidance on how the ads should be developed to meet their grant requirements. DHS provided no guidance because they don’t have any.”
PSTA Board Member and Chair Ken Welch Must Resign
Mr. Ken Welch has gone too far beyond representing all citizens of the County to be a credible member of the PSTA Board. He has also failed in his oversight role of Mr. Miller in refusing to demand more details on the DHS grant that Mr. Miller was forced to return under protest. Welch is far too biased in favor of a vote of “yes” for the Greenlight Pinellas 14% sales Tax hike to honestly and objectively review matters before the board. He refuses to acknowledge the most obvious truths and Welch’s list of lies are also described at the Sunbeam Times. In this case there can be no dispute that the DHS anti-terrorism grants were abused to instead produce “feel-good” ads to promote PSTA and Greenlight Pinellas in the run up to this year’s Greenlight vote. He has publicly stated that at every turn members of the PSTA Board and all elected officials endorsing Greenlight should “Keep Calm and Support Greenlight”. He has been blinded by his own political agenda. He is blinded to the truth and therefore can never make proper decisions to ensure the PSTA is accountable to the taxpaying public. He cannot objectively and fairly oversee the business of the PSTA board. Even now he still points to this episode as merely a “distraction” that won’t distract him from campaigning shamelessly for Greenlight Pinellas using every taxpayer resource at his disposal. He ensured that the PSTA also spent at least $800,000 of taxpayer money for other endless promotional efforts of Greenlight Pinellas and ensure legal loopholes could be found to justify this abuse of taxpayer money. Welch is described as “unrepentant” and attacks those how have revealed simple and obvious truths when they have no taxpayer funding, no staff and much to lose when battling the government and corporate powers behind Greenlight. He has shown nothing but contempt for large segments of the population he was elected to represent and serve and for that reason alone should resign after stating a public and sincere apology for his failures as a PSTA board member.
Will the PSTA Board Demand Welch’s and Miller’s Resignation?
As PSTA Board member Mr. Wengay Newton opined in the 6/24/14 PSTA board meeting “The Truth will prevail “ and he and his fellow PSTA Board members have a job to “advocate strong and hard, relentlessly without fail to make sure that the people we represent are well informed”. The truth has prevailed.PSTA intentionally abused money designed to stop bus bombings to instead promote PSTA and Greenlight Pinellas to help the public think more favorably of both as they approached the vote for the $100 million Greenlight tax hike on November 4. It is clear that Miller and Welch both lied and continue to lie to cover up this abuse. It is clear that both are more interested in their political agenda than in being trustworthy public servants and stewards of tax dollars. Will Mr. Newton work “relentlessly” to ensure people are well informed on this abuse? When the PSTA Board meets on 8/27 will he ask for a full investigation into this abuse and make all details publicly available? Will he demand, like so many citizens, that Brad Miller and Ken Welch resign from PSTA? Or will Mr. Newton, instead, “Keep Calm and Support Greenlight”. Mr. Miller and Mr. Welch should do the right thing and resign now to help begin the slow process of restoring public trust in PSTA.