Gaining voter approval for the $110 million annual Greenlight Pinellas tax hike requires political skill, finesse and connections. It requires wealthy donors to support a massive campaign and people to take that money to help “communicate the message”. Building a $2.4 billion, St. Pete to Clearwater train that few will ride is requires donors who will benefit directly. That is why big groups donate big cash like the National Association of Realtors (that’s right, NATIONAL) has donated $250,000, Raymond James ($50,000), Duke Energy ($50,000) and the Engineering/construction firm Parsons Brinckerhoff ($25,000) and many more to be highlighted here soon on The Sunbeam Times. Convincing a community to quadruple the amount of money they give to a poorly managed, untrustworthy government agency like PSTA is not easy and costs a lot. That money must be spent properly as well, and the people with the “connections”, the “insiders” must get their cut along the ways. Ladies and Gentleman, meet Danner Consulting, Inc.
Jeff Danner served on St. Petersburg City Council for 8 years (2006-2014), served as Chair of the PSTA Boad (Pinellas Suncost Transit Authority) and is now on the “superstar” advisory committee of the Greenlight Pinellas Campaign. While No tax for Tracks, the group opposing Greenlight, has a steering committee, these are all volunteers. Not so for Jeff Danner. Danner Consulting, inc. has collected $12,000 so far from the “Friends of Greenlight” political committee. Danner’s company, which describes itself on Linked-In as a “Government Relations” company, collected the funds for “Communications Consulting”. Mr. Danner formed his Government Relations company while still in office on 10/9/2013 (St. Petersburg City Council). So Mr. Danner, a former elected official, formed a political consulting company while ending his term of office and now collects checks from the Greenlight Pinellas Campaign to help pass a massive tax hike in Pinellas County that will make many very wealthy people even richer. The question arises, will he continue to receive more checks from these people in the future? The answer is certainly yes, especially if the referendum passes.
Greenlight Pinellas is an insider, corporate crony boondoggle. It is not about transportation, it is about making certain people rich at the expense of others. It is not about expanding buses since the Greenlight Plan and interlocal agreement protect rail at the expense of buses. It is about “Transit-Oriented Development” and all the money that brings to the wealthy and well-connected donors. Remember that when the rail initiative lost in Hillsborough (58% no) , big moneyed interests donated $1.7 million to try to pass it for their own benefit. There is no difference today. Jeff Danner used to be in the pocket – the beneficiary – of these political donors when he sat in seats of government. Now he is wearing the pocket and making the money. This is yet another reason to vote against Greenlight Pinellas – the corporate cronyism of the inbred Greenlight Pinellas political machine.