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Archive for the ‘Pinellas County’ Category

BARB HASELDEN TAKES ON THE BIG PINELLAS MACHINE

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 27, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– How one outsider is attacking the political status quo.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The Florida primaries are now just a month away (Aug 28th) and it is interesting to note the influx of non-career politicians running in the various races. This is perhaps inspired by President Trump, a person from the business world, not political. For example, in Pinellas County you have investment adviser and retirement planner Terry Power (R) for Florida House District 64, and restaurateur Leo Karruli (R) for Florida State Senate, District 16. In the south you have Barb Haselden running for the Board of Pinellas County Commissioners, District 6.

What these people lack in political experience, they have made up for as successful business people who are emboldened by the president to toss their hats in the ring. In the case of Barb Haselden, for example, she was a pioneer in the long term care insurance industry where she served as an independent agent. In her 30 years of business, she never had a claim denied. Despite her success, her interest in politics was piqued in 2014 by the Greenlight Pinellas project to introduce light-rail service to Pinellas County and Tampa Bay overall. Smelling a boondoggle in the making, Ms. Haselden founded the “No Tax for Tracks” initiative which helped to defeat the project 62%-38%.

Having studied the Greenlight Pinellas initiative, Barb found this to be a brazen attempt by a Progressive-leaning Pinellas Commission. She claims their use of the “Pennies for Pinellas” money keeps her up at nights. Just as she carefully researched the long term care industry, before making a career move, she studied the Greenlight project carefully and found the numbers didn’t add up properly. In other words, she found some serious flaws in the spin proposed by the Pinellas Commission. She notes how the Commission tries to sell their proposals based on emotion, when, in reality, we should be looking at it from a logical business perspective.

Barb became incensed by the political gamesmanship of the commission, which explains why she decided to run for office. For example, she points to last year’s renewal of the “Penny for Pinellas” referendum in an off-year, claiming the Commission knew it would be easier to pass it then as opposed to a midterm or presidential election year when more voters would turn out. Keep in mind, the tax itself didn’t have to be renewed for another two years. Why else would there be a push for it in 2017? This strategy resulted in having the penny tax be passed by only 26% of the voters in Pinellas County. In other words, 74% didn’t vote in this off year (Source: Pin. Cty. Supv. of Elect.).

To help sell the renewal of “Penny for Pinellas,” the commission often quoted the success of the three-year-old $81 million Pinellas Public Safety Complex used to house county emergency workers during Hurricane Irma. A recent report in the Tampa Bay Times reveals there are some serious structural problems with the building. Even Sheriff Gualtieri describes it this way, “The place looks like a dump,” and the County is now involved in a lawsuit with the contractor over shoddy workmanship.

As an outsider, Haselden finds it disturbing her political opponents only talk about the goings-on in Tallahassee, not in Pinellas County. Whereas one of her opponents for the Board has made a campaign issue of mental health, Barb has three different priorities if elected:

1. Enact term limits for serving on the Board. Barb points out that in 1996 a bill was passed by 73% of the voters in Pinellas to enact such term limits, but the Florida Supreme Court found the wording of the ballot to be unconstitutional, thereby negating it. Nonetheless, if Barb is elected, she plans to get it placed on the ballot again for a general election, thereby putting an end to career politicians on the Board.

2. Correction of the county’s sewage problems. Pinellas voters will remember the 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg discharged into local neighborhoods and waterways in 2015 and 2016, along with other spills throughout Pinellas County. Some might believe the County corrected the problem since then. In reality, No, it did not, as proven by Hurricane Irma. Most residents are unaware sewage problems erupted during the storm. Throughout the county, 33 spills were reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) totaling millions of gallons. According to the Department, Clearwater alone experienced sewage spills of just under two million gallons, and St. Petersburg just under 500,000 gallons during this period. Sewage spills are common when inundated with water, but this was after only 3.67 inches of rain and low tides, a scenario that should have been easily accommodated.

Haselden contends the Board has kicked the can on this issue for far too long. This is an important environmental issue affecting both our tourist industry and property values.

3. She wants to become a watchdog against wasteful spending and pet projects by the Board. In addition to snafus like the Pinellas Public Safety Complex, Barb is very much concerned with the Board moving forward on another attempt to pass the Light-Rail initiative without voter consent, something overwhelmingly defeated by voters just a couple of years ago. Like term limits, the will of the voters is seen as an obstacle to be overcome by political maneuvering.

Unlike career-politicians who bait voters with a carrot and stick mentality, allow for cronyism, and make back-room deals, business people like Haselden and company do not accept the political status quo making them persona non-grata to those in the political swamp. The fact such people are willing to give of their time and bring a common-sense approach to the administration of our communities should be applauded and embraced. Voters are now gravitating to non-traditional candidates with a business perspective and results orientation as opposed to the classic political personas where they promise everything and deliver nothing. If Donald Trump taught us anything, the time for political facade and gobbledygook is over. The people are tired of playing games and want practical solutions to their real problems. In other words, they are entitled to new champions who will lookout for the interests of the taxpayers, not for personal gain, and certainly not for ideology.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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COMPARING THE THREE GOP CANDIDATES

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 9, 2014

BRYCE ON PINELLAS POLITICS

– 3 Questions for the 3 Republican candidates who want to replace Congressman Bill Young.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

We’re coming down to the wire for the District 13 Republican Congressional primary to replace the late Congressman Bill Young, which will be held January 14th. Three candidates are vying to challenge Democrat Alex Sink – Mark Bircher, David Jolly, and Kathleen Peters. To make a comparative analysis, I contacted the three candidates and asked three simple questions. I wasn’t so much interested in their resume or list of supporters as this is already known. Instead, I wanted to get their perspectives on the problems facing Pinellas voters, why they feel they are the best challenger, and their impression of the Democratic opponent, Alex Sink.

To be fair, I listed their answers in alphabetic order according to their last name.

1. In priority order, what are the top three pressing problems facing the country?

Mark Bircher –
Rein in the federal debt and deficit and balance the budget, repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and restore individual liberty and freedom (return federal government to the limitations of the US Constitution).

David Jolly –
Create jobs and grow the economy, repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and replace the National Flood Insurance Program with a new Natural Disaster Insurance Program.

Kathleen Peters –
Address the Flood Insurance problem, Repeal the Affordable Care Act, address the national debt and economy.

All three seem to understand the problems of our economy and the Affordable Care Act. Although I had specifically asked for problems facing the nation, Candidates Jolly and Peters wanted to bring attention to the local problem of the National Flood Insurance Program which is affecting the sale of homes and condos in our area. Bircher stressed the need to adhere to the US Constitution.

2. What are your strengths as a candidate? Why should people vote for you? (In their own words)

Mark Bircher –
“My strengths are my 33 years of federal military service and the experience gained from being accountable for leading large organizations. People should vote for me because my entire career, both military and civilian has taught me that true leadership is about providing support to those around you. In the military, as an aviator I supported infantry men. In industry I support my customers. As a Representative to Congress I will support constituents interests.”

David Jolly –
“The loss of our dear Congressman Young leaves an immeasurable void in the Congress of the United States, but also in our Pinellas County communities. This is what this race is about to me. I’ve worked on behalf of our community and this Congressional District for 20 years alongside our late Congressman, as he consistently found ways to grow high-tech and defense manufacturing jobs here at home, invest in transportation and infrastructure improvements that affect our quality of life, expand higher education opportunities, protect and nourish our beaches, and support our men and women in uniform. I got into this race because I humbly believe I have the qualifications to step in on day one and be effective for the people of Pinellas County in Congress. I also believe I can bring together Republicans, Independents and Democrats to work together.”

Kathleen Peters –
“For the last 28 years – I have made Pinellas County my home. From starting a small business to raising four boys and serving as your State Representative, I have dedicated my life to serving this community. That’s why I decided to run. I am the only candidate that has the experience and the background to get things done locally and in Washington like Congressman Young did for so many years. As a Member of Congress, I will fight every day to create an environment for good-paying jobs right here in Pinellas County and stop this partisan gridlock.”

All three noted the need to maintain the local interests of Pinellas County. Whereas Bircher touted his leadership skills, Jolly and Peters claimed they could work well with people on both sides of the aisle.

3. What are the weaknesses of Alex Sink? Why should people NOT vote for her?

All three candidates commented on Sink’s lack of familiarity with Pinellas County, and her embracing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

According to Jolly, “She (Sink) fully supports Obamacare despite recent public outrage over the failed rollout, increasing premiums for individuals, cancelled policies, and additional costs and administrative burdens on Pinellas businesses.”

Bircher echoed Jolly’s position, “Ms. Sink is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. I support its repeal. I believe the states, not the federal government, are the proper venue to decide such issues as health care, flood insurance, education and similar functions not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.”

Peters focused on Sink as an outsider, “The people of Pinellas County have a choice: Do they want to elect a career politician that has no real history in this community? Or do they want to elect a mother, a grandmother and a community leader that has spent the last twenty eight years woven into the fabric of this community. Since Alex Sink has no real history of working with the people of Pinellas County, how could she possibly represent their values in Washington?”
 

Although the rhetoric is slightly different, all three GOP candidates appear similar in their positions. All three want to repeal Obamacare, fix the economy, and tend to the National Flood Insurance Program. The big question though is, “Who can deliver?” Pinellas Republican voters must consider not only who can best fill the shoes of Congressman Young, but who can also knock off Mrs. Sink at the March 11th special election. We’ll find out January 14th.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MY RECENT TRIP TO MARS – My preliminary notes on the red planet.

LAST TIME:  WHAT’S IN A JOB TITLE? – Evidently a lot.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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THIS WEEK’S COLUMN WITH THE ST. PETERSBURG TRIBUNE

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 24, 2013

“Wait for all the facts before voting on Clearwater aquarium deal” – 10/24/2013
http://tbo.com/pinellas-county/bryce-wait-for-all-the-facts-before-voting-on-clearwater-aquarium-deal-20131024/

Posted in Pinellas County, Politics | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

WHERE’S THE STORM WATER GOING?

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 3, 2013

BRYCE ON PINELLAS COUNTY

As Pinellas residents, we are fairly cognizant of the importance of managing water, be it from the Gulf, our aquifer, reclaimed, or from the skies. Storm water is of particular concern to us as we often experience torrential downpours or the occasional hurricane. Over the years we have developed rules and regulations to control flooding, such as the need for retention ponds and finding ways to dispose of excess water to the Gulf. This has greatly reduced flash flooding in Pinellas, but not all of our county was developed according to the rules, particularly older sections where flash flooding is still a serious threat to many communities.

The management of storm water falls under the jurisdiction of the Pinellas County Public Works, specifically the department of Engineering & Environmental Services (E&ES). In addition to drainage, they are also concerned with the improvement of water quality through the reduction of pollutants to downstream receiving waters. The clean up of our lakes and ponds are driven in accordance with EPA regulations which can be a costly proposition.

I recently met with County Commissioner Susan Latvala who is not only concerned about controlling flooding, but how we are to pay for it. According to Latvala, a Surface Water Assessment is going into effect October 1st which taxpayers will find in their Real Estate taxes and based on their impervious surface square footage. According to the County’s website, impervious surface refers to a “hard surface that does not absorb water, like parking lots and buildings. Impervious areas increase the amount of storm water runoff, which is the cause of much of our flooding and pollution problems.”

The County Commissioners anticipate this will generate $16.2 Million in FY14 to pay for storm water management and cleaning up our lakes and ponds (with a little bit coming from “Pennies for Pinellas”).

To calculate the square footage, the county will make use of records from the Property Appraiser’s Office, along with aerial photography. However, homeowners may question how their assessment is calculated and request an adjustment if they believe it is incorrect. To do so, they must submit requests by October 10th.

Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis and, according to the county’s instructions, “The applicant will need to demonstrate any unique features on their property to reduce the storm water impact to the County’s system either with a licensed engineer, or provide as-built plans, surveys or other supporting documentation.” Depending on how much the homeowner is assessed, it may very well be worthwhile to do so.

The “Pinellas County Surface Water Utility Adjustments and Credits Policies and Procedures Manual,” which explains how to apply for an adjustment.

Taxpayers may not be happy with the bump in their taxes, but as Latvala points out, “This is something we should have done forty years ago as flooding and water quality is a very serious problem in our county.”

Personally, I remember the building codes back in the 1980’s when we constructed our first office. This resulted in retention ponds on our property which saved us on more than one occasion. As a past president of a homeowners association in Palm Harbor, I am also very familiar with how flood waters are to be removed, involving some rather clever Civil Engineering. It is no small task, but I greatly appreciate the need for it.

In the 28 years I’ve lived here, there has been a lot of progress made in managing storm water. The fact remains though, we still have a way to go until we get all of Pinellas under control.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He is also a contributing columnist for the Saint Petersburg Tribune. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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