“PSTA will push their agenda to pass Greenlight at any cost even to jeopardize the safety of our population. They have mocked the public who questioned their actions.”, Barbara Haselden, No Tax for Tracks Spokersperson.
Today the group NO Tax for Tracks, called for the Resignation of PSTA CEO Brad Miller (press release below). No Tax for Tracks (NTFT) is a citizens grassroots group working to stop the 14%, $100 million Greenlight Pinellas Sales tax hike. NTFT called for the resignation based on an investigation by the Sunbeam Times revealing that the PSTA abused anti-terrorism grant money to promote itself and Greenlight Pinelas, rather than to protect the public. The Sunbeam Times also called for the resignation of Brad Miller and PSTA Chair Ken Welch after their denials of wrong doing and then attack of those who were simply revealing the truth to the public. Today, the Tampa Bay Times published a letter from Commissioner Welch in which he remains unrepentant and continues to describe the exposure of the abuse conducted under his leadership as a “distraction” and “misdirection”.
Clearly the misdeeds of PSTA will continue. Their continued defiance under the leadership of County Commissioner Ken Welch and CEO Brad Miller indicates they cannot be trusted with an additional $1.4 billion in tax money over ten years to build a train no one wants merely to enrich wealthy land developers. Even the Tampa Bay Times editorialized that the PSTA must take steps to restore the trust of the voters. A resignation from both Brad Miller and Ken Welch would be the FIRST step to restore that trust over several years. Then, re-organizing PSTA to deliver better bus service without a tax hilke would be the next step to restore trust. The Sunbeam Times continues to call for the resignation of Brad Miller as well as Ken Welch from PSTA and applauds the call by No Tax for Tracks for Miller’s resignation.
For Immediate Release August 11, 2014
Citizens call for Resignation of PSTA CEO Brad Miller
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) returns $354,000 to Department of Homeland Security after public controversy forces investigation
St. Petersburg–The Pinellas County citizens’ group named No Tax for Tracks (NTFT), through their spokesperson Barb Haselden, has called for the resignation of Brad Miller, CEO of Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to step down from his post after a prolonged pattern of unacceptable leadership and lack of transparency regarding the Department of Homeland security Grant program.
In May 2014, concerns were brought forward by local citizens regarding the possible misuse of Federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant money by PSTA.
Since 9/11, DHS grant money has been available to public transit agencies nationwide to help citizens protect themselves from terrorism through education initiatives on how to recognize suspicious activities surrounding public transit, such as abandoned packages, and how to alert transit authorities if they see anything suspicious. PSTA applied for, and received grant money from DHS to create such a campaign according to the guidelines of the CARES program- Community Awareness Results in Everyone’s Security.
“Instead PSTA played loose with the rules and developed a series of feel good commercials and graphic bus wraps with no connection to protection of the citizens against the very real threat of terrorism in our community, who often target mass transit,” says Barb Haselden, spokesperson for No Tax for Tracks, a grassroots group out of Pinellas County. “These Bus wraps and tv commercials both directed the public to go to Greenlight Pinellas.com, thus using the grant monies to promote the Greenlight tax increase referendum in November.”
Congressman David Jolly was contacted by citizens and asked to bring the charges from local citizens to the proper authorities at the DHS for review. After review of the materials, the DHS informed PSTA staff in a conference call early last week that the radio and television ads did not promote security awareness according to information released by PSTA to the media. On Wednesday, July 30th, PSTA CEO Brad Miller sent a reimbursement check for $354,000 to Homeland Security. This grant refund was paid with precious operating dollars to cover the $345,000 which was spent.
Board of Directors meeting one month earlier on June 25, 2014
This turnabout is in stark contrast to the indignant PSTA reaction one month earlier when the story first surfaced on air.
Local channel 10 News investigative reporter Mike Deeson picked up on the story and reported his findings on the issue on June 23. Two days later at the PSTA board meeting on 6/25/14, under the direction of CEO Brad Miller and PSTA Board Chairman Ken Welch, they ridiculed the citizens involved, with Miller stating publicly they were spreading misinformation , and even a board member discussed demanding a retractionfrom Mike Deeson during the meeting.
Most importantly, when CEO Miller was asked directly by Board Member Mark Deighton to confirm that DHS was aware of how the funds were used and that they had no problem with the campaign, Miller stated flatly, “That is correct.” Now we know one month later that declaration was not accurate.
Also, Pinellas County Commissioner and PSTA Chairman Ken Welch added at the same meeting during the discussion, “On my Facebook page I have this slogan; Keep calm and support Greenlight. For those of us that have been in campaigns we know this is the way it will be all the way to November, opponents will use every tactic they have to defeat Greenlight.”
Citizens call for Resignation of CEO Brad Miller.
“PSTA has violated the public trust and fiduciary duty under the leadership of CEO Miller and County Commissioner/ PSTA Chair Ken Welch by misuse of DHS taxpayer funding designated to protect our citizens from violence and terrorism.” says Haselden. “PSTA will push their agenda to pass Greenlight at any cost even to jeopardize the safety of our population. They have mocked the public who questioned their actions.”
Among PSTA Guiding principles we find:
- Provide good stewardship of public funding
- Conduct business and activities with transparency, integrity and high ethical standards
“These principles have not been met and for these reasons and countless more instances of our perception of mismanagement of our public transit agency PSTA, we call for Mr. Miller’s resignation immediately.” states Haselden on behalf of No Tax for Tracks.
Watch Mike Deeson August 1, 2014 follow up on air report here following the return of the money:
No Tax for Tracks is a grassroots group who support sound public transportation. For more information on the group go to www.notaxfortracks.com Questions can be directed to Barb Haselden, 727-709-7039, spokesman for NTFT.
Paid political advertisement paid for by No Tax for Tracks, 319 39th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL 33703