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Hillsborough PTC approves new rules — Future uncertain for Uber and Lyft

The Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission Wednesday voted 5-2 on proposed new rules that still include requiring Level II background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers — a mandate representatives from those companies have said would compel them to leave the market.

Though theoretically the new rules would allow new ridesharing companies to enter the market, the proprietor of one such company said after the meeting he would not enter the market operating under different rules than Uber and Lyft. The new rules could be implemented after a public hearing is held next month. Board members Guido Maniscalco and Ken Hagan dissented.

Other new provisions approved include allowing a driver to operate a car up to 10 years old, and allowing surge pricing up to 10 times their normal fare, but not during a time of emergency. However, the board did jettison two other controversial provisions voted on in a committee last week that would require a seven-minute waiting period and a $7 minimum fare.

When asked if the Level II background checks approved will now compel Uber to leave the market, Colin Tooze, public affairs manager with Uber, said that was a “business choice that we’ll have to make.”

“We’re going to wait and see what the rules look like,” Tooze added.

In addition to approving the new rules, the PTC board also voted to continue negotiations with the two rideshare firms to resolve ongoing lawsuits. A settlement agreement certified by a court could end the legal battles, but PTC Chair Victor Crist said the agency must maintain the Level II background checks as part of operating under a Special Act. Commissioners, however, could lobby the state Legislature to change that requirement.

Tooze said he thought the vote to discuss a possible settlement was a positive move, and unveiled a copy of the company’s own temporary operating agreement, which he said would include background screening requirements for all drivers before they are allowed to operate an Uber vehicle, including criminal and motor vehicle records screening along with national databases. It would also include $1 million in commercial auto liability insurance for every trip, semi-annual audits, and record checks by the PTC. He dismissed the notion that the PTC’s hands were tied because of the Special Act requiring Level II background checks.

“I’m skeptical that anyone’s hands are tied here,” he said about the PTC’s Level II requirement. “They’ve shown remarkable latitude in how they interpret the rules, how they interpret the Florida Constitution … where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

More than a hundred people — most of them Uber and/or Lyft drivers — flooded the county center’s chambers for the meeting.

Zach Jacobs presented a petition with 4,189 signatures of people in support of Uber and Lyft operating in Hillsborough. “Tampa’s only getting bigger, and we need to start acting like a big city” he said in support of why ridesharing services were essential to the region’s economic growth.

Topher Morrison dismissed the notion that using background checks that require fingerprinting is the gold standard and would guarantee customers a safe ride. He cited a National Institute of Justice report released earlier this year that reported that on average, 1,100 police officers (who are fingerprinted) are arrested every year in the U.S. He also mentioned the scandalous case of former Tampa school teacher Debra Lafave, who pled guilty to lewd or lascivious battery following a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old male student in the summer of 2004.

“This teacher and every other teacher in America needed to get fingerprint background checks,” Justin Morganman said. “Do you really think fingerprint checks are going to be different in any other industry? The answer is no, they won’t. Because past records don’t predict future behavior. We live in a weird world. And some people commit crimes.”

But Morganman said it was a “myth” that if forced to undertake Level II background checks, Uber and Lyft would leave the region. “They can stay. They can follow the rules, I know this because they do this in other cities like New York and Houston.”

“It’s time we passed these rules,” said attorney Seth Mills, who represents taxi companies in Tampa. “The truth is, they probably won’t follow them anyway,” he added. “We’re going to be in litigation, but don’t let that stop you.”

This is by no means the end of the road to this process. If the rules are approved again at the Oct. 13 PTC meeting, Uber and Lyft could request another state-level hearing to review the rules. If that is upheld, the PTC would then request an injunction to enforce the rules.

Also today, Hillsborough-Pinellas state Rep. Jamie Grant voiced his opposition to the proposed PTC rules via Facebook, where he showed a letter he sent to the Federal Trade Commission asking whether or not the proposed rules violate federal laws because they were written by taxicab and other ridesharing companies and not the PTC.

PTC board members spoke excitedly about getting new ridesharing companies to begin operating out of Hillsborough County, such as Phoenix-based Fare. However, the company’s CEO, Michael Leto, said after the meeting that he wouldn’t dare try to operate in the county until he knew everyone was working under the same rules. Fare went into the Austin, Texas market after Uber left there in May.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.14.16 — Steve Crisafulli goes there

Outgoing Florida Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli penned an opinion piece yesterday slamming Hillary Clinton‘s now-infamous “basket of deplorables” phrase to describe half of Donald Trump‘s supporters.

“By calling so many of our nation’s citizens ‘deplorable’ haters and racists and the other half too stupid to make their own decisions about who should be our next president, Hillary once again revealed how the elitist Clintons really view Americans,” Crisafulli wrote.

Similar Trump surrogates echoes similar statements last weekend, but not that many House Republicans.

As the New York Times reports this morning, GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence pretty much struck out in a visit to Capitol Hill in getting his former colleagues to join in deploring Clinton for her “basket of deplorables” remark.

In separate news conferences, House and Senate Republican leaders declined to join Mr. Pence, the Indiana governor and vice-presidential nominee, in rebuking Mrs. Clinton over her remark.

Mr. Pence wound up raising the subject only when pressed by a reporter — and then gave a halting answer in which he would not call David Duke, a white supremacist and onetime Ku Klux Klan leader, “deplorable.” He insisted instead that Mrs. Clinton did not have “that bad man” in mind when she assailed Mr. Trump’s supporters.

You might have seen Pence on Monday night, when he refused to take the bait from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked if Duke could be considered “deplorable.”

“The simple fact is that I am not in the name-calling business,” Pence said, which he again repeated yesterday in D.C.

“Is the factory worker looking for a job that Hillary helped send overseas deplorable?” Crisafulli wrote yesterday. “Are the families whose sons and daughters fight for our country deplorable? Are the millions of Americans who simply want her to tell the truth deplorable? If asking these questions is reason for Hillary to put someone in a basket — she can throw me in too.”

Needless to say, Crisafulli is all in when it comes to supporting Trump for president. Obviously, the rest of his party isn’t nearly that unified.

Meanwhile, the Real Clear Politics average has Trump up by .01 percent over Clinton in Florida, and down only two points nationally.

In other news…

Patrick Murphy used the opportunity of getting endorsed by a political action committee formed after the Pulse nightclub shooting to blast Marco Rubio’s votes on gun safety.

Tampa millennials gathered Monday night in Ybor City to talk transportation and how Hillary Clinton’s plan for infrastructure improvements could help the area if she’s elected.

Dana Young and a host of other (mostly Republican) state lawmakers from the Tampa Bay area are warning the Hillsborough PTC not to pass rules that could prompt Uber and Lyft to leave Tampa.

The AFL-CIO is dropping more than 50,000 mailers to union families in Florida this week touting their support for Hillary Clinton.

CD 15’s Dennis Ross has signed on to a House bill that would prohibit any further payments to Iran from the U.S. government.

Dana Young urges Hillsborough PTC reject new rules proposed for Uber, Lyft

Writing that “Hillsborough County is better than this,” Dana Young is the latest Tampa Bay area lawmaker calling for the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to reject proposed new rules that ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say would force them out of the local market.

In a letter Tuesday to PTC Chair Victor Crist, Young says the current proposal set for a vote by the PTC “is plainly designed to be an anti-competitive attempt to push ride-sharing companies out of Hillsborough County.”

“If this occurs,” she added, “our constituents will pay the price by losing a safe and reliable transportation option.”

Young’s letter was co-signed by 12 members of the local Tampa Bay area legislative delegation.

Last week, a PTC subcommittee approved new regulations representatives from Uber and Lyft have said are unacceptable. They include a seven-minute wait time for a passenger to get a for a vehicle for hire in the county, a $7 minimum fare, and Level II backgrounds checks that require fingerprinting their drivers. That last demand actually compelled Uber to leave the Austin, Texas market this past spring, so both companies appear serious about not bending on that issue.

On Monday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn headlined a news conference featuring members of Hillsborough County’s entrepreneur, tourism, and business sectors. They also called on the PTC to reject the proposed rules.

Although the state Legislature failed to come up with statewide regulations of ride-sharing companies, Young’s letter vows the issue will finally be addressed in the next regular Legislative Session, which begins March. Young says the PTC board should hold off on any action regarding ridesharing in Hillsborough until the 2017 legislative session ends next spring.

Joining her in co-signing the letter are two local Republicans well-known for their enthusiasm for ridesharing and loathing of the PTC — Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant. Republican legislators Larry Ahern, Danny Burgess, Richard Corcoran, Bill Galvano, Jake Raburn, Shawn Harrison, Wilton Simpson, Ross Spano, Dan Raulson, and Democrat Darryl Rouson also signed onto the letter.

Some Hillsborough Democrats have been much less vocal in criticizing the PTC and speaking up for the ridesharing companies than their Republican brethren since Uber and Lyft began operating in Hillsborough in the spring of 2014.


Bob Buckhorn, others call Hillsborough PTC to reject rules that Uber, Lyft say could drive them out

Two days before the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission looks to approve new regulations that representatives from ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say could compel them to leave town, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and others in Hillsborough County’s business community had a simple message for them on Monday: Don’t do it.

Specifically, they warned the agency not to approve new regulations approved by a subcommittee of the PTC last week that include a $7 minimum fare and a seven-minute wait time for passengers — and absolutely do not approve Level II background checks which include having Uber and Lyft drivers fingerprinted.

“We are not going to a city that’s going to be held down hostage by any cabal of any industry,” Buckhorn said, a nod to the fact that the taxicab industry in Hillsborough — as has been the case all over the world — objects to the Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) operating under different rules of the road.

Since they began operating in Tampa in April 2014, the PTC has been unable to bring the two companies into compliance with their regulations, many of which the companies believe are onerous and out of date. It’s not unique to this community — the ridesharing companies also remain at odds with regulators in Orlando and Jacksonville, for example, while the companies have come into compliance in the past year with local governments in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

But Uber and Lyft did pull completely out of Austin, Texas, earlier this year over a similar impasse regarding those Level II background checks.

Buckhorn also used the opportunity at the press conference to once again call for the outright abolition of the PTC, the controversial agency created by the Legislature in the 1970s to craft regulations for vehicles-for-hire in Hillsborough County. It’s the only such agency in the state.

The PTC’s heavy-handed tactics in previous years have led to the belief by some that it is a handmaiden of the taxicab industry. It’s a perception that only gained more currency when former PTC Chair Kevin White was convicted of charges of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI after he was found guilty of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and a luxury SUV exchange for helping three prospective wrecker company operators win certificates from the PTC.

“I continue to believe it is a dinosaur,” Buckhorn said about the PTC, a belief shared by Tampa Bay area legislators like Jeff Brandes, Dana Young, and Jamie Grant. “Dinosaurs are extinct. The PTC should be extinct.”

“We are not trying to keep anybody out of the marketplace,” insists Kyle Cockream, the executive director of the PTC. “Instead, the focus is on consensus on regulations that ensure rider safety,” he said in a statement. “We want a solid framework that welcomes TNC’s while making the safety of our riding public a priority.”

Buckhorn was surrounded by more than a dozen people at the news conference, held at the Attic, a downtown coffee shop/bar. Many were representatives of the business community and entrepreneurs who don’t want Uber and Lyft to leave, saying such a loss will hurt with the recruitment of businesses and the retaining and/or luring millennials to stay in the Tampa Bay.

“The whole country took note when Austin passed its draconian legislation,” said Christopher Emmanuel, director of infrastructure and governance policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We ask that the PTC suspend consideration of this extreme rule, and work with the new business and responsible partners that are hoping to bring transportation solutions for Tampa and Florida’s future.”

Tony DiBenedetto is the chair and CEO of a tech company called Tribridge. He said he doesn’t even own a car these days, and instead takes Uber to wherever he has to go.

“I think it’s sending the wrong message to everybody,” he said about the proposed regulations, which could prompt the companies to leave the region. “I think this is a devastating decision on their part. I think it would hurt us from a recruiting perspective; it’s already hard to recruit to Tampa.”

Although the Level II background checks have garnered the most attention, Uber and Lyft have serious issues with other proposed rules going before the PTC board on Wednesday, such as a seven-minute wait time for anyone to hail a vehicle-for-hire car in Hillsborough County.

“You request a ride, said Blayn Shamble, a Tampa Bay area Lyft driver.”It takes two minutes to get there, and now I have to lock my doors and roll my window down and say, ‘I’m sorry, you cannot legally get into my car until five minutes passes.’

“In my opinion, that is just picking your winners and losers in a free market,” Shamble added.

The PTC has said the new rules were promulgated by members of the cab industry and would-be TNC DriveSociety, who are pushing the PTC hard to pass the new rules.

“Are you a believer in public safety?,” shouted out DriveSociety proprietor Marcus Carter after Buckhorn explained how he believed competition was good for business. “You’re not a member of the media,” barked Buckhorn, who later said that he “welcomed” DriveSociety to the industry.

The Tampa mayor also said the cab industry needed to “up their game” to stay competitive with the new technology.

Louis Menardi, the chair of the Florida Taxicab Association and president of Yellow Cab of Tampa, issued a statement shortly before the press conference took place.

“Uber and Lyft’s approach to this issue is not unique to Hillsborough County or Florida,” he said. “All across the U.S., many local communities, including Portland, San Francisco, San Antonio, Austin, and Orlando are raising significant concerns about fundamental public safety issues and background checks, whether TNC drivers have any or adequate insurance, and whether the local communities should require better service from them for passengers in wheelchairs.

“In response, TNCs flout the law, ignore local regulations and resort to threatening local cities and counties with leaving and/or state and federal forced deregulation when they are questioned about their business practices as they relate to public safety and well-being.”

The PTC board meeting on the new rules will take place Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy, Tampa, 2nd floor.

Uber, AT&T to give Orlando football fans free rides this weekend

Ride-sharing service Uber is delivering football fever to Orlando this weekend.

In celebration of the start of college football season, Uber and AT&T have teamed up to provide free rides for sports fans in Orlando this weekend.

On Saturday, Sept. 10 and Sunday, Sept. 11, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, riders can open the Uber app and request an exclusive “football” option.

This unlocks access to AT&T enabled cars, each equipped with AT&T LTE-enabled tablets.

Fans will be able to watch the game of their choice without interruption, as they enjoy a free ride to their destination courtesy of AT&T Thanks, a service that provides perks and exclusive discounts to AT&T customers.

Demand for this service — which is available to everyone, not just AT&T customers — is expected to be high, but Uber users can request and ride more than once, depending on availability.

If there is one member of the PTC who should support Uber, it’s David Pogorilich

David Pogorilich 2
David Pogorilich

Beyond convenience and affordability, ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber have become an essential, safe alternative to drunken driving.

One person who should understand this best is David Pogorilich; Uber could have prevented his DUI nearly two decades ago.

An Uber ride — at only a few dollars — is certainly preferable to a DUI, which brings thousands of dollars in legal fees, not to mention the possible tragedy of a wreck.

Pogorilich, a member of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission who also serves on the Temple Terrace City Council, is pushing for new regulations on ridesharing, including controversial rules on minimum fares, as well as requiring fingerprints be taken of all Uber drivers.

The PTC also seeks to include ridesharing vehicles in PTC rules mandating minimum wait times so traditional taxicabs can stay “competitive.”

Pogorilich is on the PTC rules committee, which voted Tuesday to send these new restrictions to the full PTC governing board at its meeting next week.

“It’s not directed at pushing Uber or Lyft out,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s providing a framework allowing any TNC (transportation network companies) to operate in Hillsborough while ensuring the safety of the traveling public.”

David Pogorilich 4
David Pogorilich (1997)

Be that as it may, in 1997, Pogorilich, then-director of Chitester Management Systems, faced a charge of DUI with Property Damage or Injury by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

That makes Pogorilich the exact type of person who could have most benefited from the safety of an Uber ride. At the very least, he would have saved the $1,000 bond.

Ironically, Pogorilich now stands in the way of allowing other Hillsborough residents in similar situations avoid a DUI, something he indeed could have used 20 years ago, if Uber were around. Ridesharing wasn’t available then, but it is here now.

A 2014 study shows the arrival of Uber in the city of Seattle resulted in a significant drop in DUI arrests — as many as 7 per day, or 10 percent. When given the option, likely drunken drivers will choose affordable, safe and convenient ridesharing, instead of putting themselves and others in danger.

While some may dispute the statistics behind the “Uber effect,” no one can argue that ridesharing offers Hillsborough County a real potential to save money — and lives.

And if anybody can get behind that, it should be David Pogorilich.

David Pogorilich 3 (Large)David Pogorilich

Mitch Perry Report for 9.7.16 — Pam Bondi’s reluctance to investigate Trump University resurfaces on the campaign trail

Who knew Hillary Clinton was a fan of the University of South Florida Bulls?

“Hello, Tampa! Hello, USF! I know I’m only the second-most exciting thing that’s happened here in the last few days. Your big win to open your football season got some attention,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to the audience who gathered at the rather intimate student recreation center on the North Tampa campus on Tuesday (And yes, that 56-20 victory over Towson was impressive).

After dispensing further pleasantries (including a nice shoutout to outgoing Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner), Clinton got down to business, which was all about trashing Donald Trump as being hopelessly overmatched when it comes to discussing national security issues.

While flying to Tampa, Clinton held her second straight news conference with reporters, where she happened to mention the Donald Trump Foundation has recently been fined for illegal activity when it made a political contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. As most readers know, Bondi’s office had received complaints from more than 20 Floridians to investigate Trump University because of their negative experiences.

“And of course, as we know, there was a phone conversation between them — they contradict each other,” Clinton said, adding the “American people deserve to know” what was said in that call because “clearly” Bondi “did not proceed with the investigation.”

Trump was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine to the IRS over the $25,000 donation. The Trump Foundation had not listed the contribution in its tax filings, and Trump later reimbursed the foundation for the donation.

Last night on the Fox Business Network, Bondi told host Neil Cavuto that she wouldn’t be “bullied” by Clinton. “I will not be collateral damage in a presidential campaign, nor will I be a woman bullied by Hillary Clinton,” the AG said.

As an RNC spokesman said yesterday, only one attorney general in the U.S. — New York’s Eric Schneiderman — ever pursued charges against Trump U. True, along with a separate federal class action civil lawsuit filed in California. Both allege Trump University defrauded consumers by as much as $35,000 each with promises of a real estate investing education they either did not receive or found to be worthless.

While the fact that Bondi’s office decided not to pursue charges against Trump U. may be completely legit, speculation about “pay-for-play” continues to color this story, and it ain’t helped by statements that Trump has made on the stump, statements his fans love for “telling it like it is.”

“When I want something I get it,” Trump said at an Iowa rally in January. “When I call, they kiss my ass. It’s true.”

In other news …

SD 19 fallen candidate Ed Narain, who came so close before losing out to Darryl Rouson last week, said he’s optimistic about his future following last week’s tough election result.

After reporting earlier in the day that the Tampa Tiger Bay Club didn’t appear prepared to reschedule a debate between the candidates for state Senate District 18, the campaigns and the political forum have come to an agreement to host the debate between Dana Young, Bob Buesing, Sheldon Upthegrove, and Joe Redner on Oct. 21.

It’s getting rough and tumble already in the CD 13 contest between David Jolly and Charlie Crist, with Jolly bashing the former Republican for his “hidden” ties to Donald Trump.

A subcommittee with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Committee passed by a 2-1 margin controversial new rules that ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say could drive them literally out of town.

And there’s fallout in the local PR-political world, as Tampa’s Tucker/Hall is suing one of its former major principals, Tony Collins, for breach of contract.

Hillsborough PTC committee advances controversial new rule proposals for Uber and Lyft

A subcommittee with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has forwarded a recommended package of new rules for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft — which neither company wants.

The proposed rules would include the following stipulations for Transportation Network Companies:

  • Background checks: Level II background checks, including fingerprinting
  • Insurance coverage: As required by current state law
  • Required wait time: 7 minutes
  • Required minimum fare: $7

The Rules & Policy Committee of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission on Tuesday voted 2-1 to forward the proposal to the entire PTC board to vote on next week. Temple Terrace City Councilman David Pogorilich and Plant City Commissioner Nate Kilton voted yes, while Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco voted no.

Once rules are agreed upon by the PTC board, they will be scheduled for a public hearing to be held in October. PTC officials say anyone who would like to be heard on the rules will have the opportunity to do so at the public hearing.

“Our goal in creating these rules is to establish a framework that protects the riding public,” said Kyle Cockream, executive director of the PTC, in a statement. “Just as we focus on getting rogue taxi drivers off the road and helping drivers who’ve been towed illegally, our goal here is to provide the safest transportation experience possible for Hillsborough County residents.”

Officials from Uber and Lyft have said the passage of these new rules, specifically the Level II background checks for their drivers, which includes fingerprinting them, could be a deal breaker.

“We are not trying to keep anyone out of the marketplace,” Cockream insisted. “Instead, the focus is on getting consensus on regulations that ensure rider safety. We want to have a safe and solid framework that is not geared towards any one company, but rather welcomes all TNCs while making the safety of our riding public a priority. That is our goal.”

“The rules being considered by the PTC place unnecessarily burdensome requirements on individual drivers and fundamentally misunderstand how ridesharing works,” says Lyft spokesman Herbie Thiele. However, he emphasizes this is the first step in a lengthy process, which includes requesting a state administrative review.

“That is a lengthy process and Lyft will continue serving people in Hillsborough County during that time,” he said.

Late last week a spokesman for Uber also blasted the new proposals.

“The rules being proposed by the PTC, if adopted, would be the worst regulatory framework for ridesharing in the country,” Uber spokesman Javi Correoso said last Thursday night. “For more than two years, the Hillsborough County PTC has shown itself to be unwilling or incapable of developing the modern regulatory framework for ridesharing that the community they represent deserves. The PTC seems intent to continue a dysfunctional process of picking winners and losers rather than follow the lead of policymakers in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, the cities of Tallahassee and Gainesville, and 29 states across the country that have passed sensible ridesharing laws.”

The PTC’s regular board meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 9 a.m. at the County Center, 601 East Kennedy Blvd., 2nd floor in Tampa.


Mitch Perry Report for 9.2.16 – Tampa City Council approves $251 million to improve stormwater system

They did it last night.

After nearly four hours of discussion, the Tampa City Council voted 4-2 to support the biggest infusion of taxpayer dollars ever to attempt to improve the city’s stormwater infrastructure, which for decades has been a major problem in the city.

Mike SuarezLisa MontelioneHarry Cohen and swing vote Guido Maniscalco opted to support Mayor Bob Buckhorn‘s proposal, nearly a year after they rejected a similar one. Councilmembers Charlie Miranda and Frank Reddick dissented, while Yolie Capin was not at the meeting.

The improvements will be paid for through a fee on Tampa property owners. Assessments will be based on the amount of hard surface a property as. Hard surface area cannot absorb stormwater, so fees will be higher for people with more of it.

Critics blasted the proposal, which exempts property owners in New Tampa and Harbor Island, where developers have already paid for drainage systems that do not discharge water to the city’s storm sewers. Others complained that the only “discount,” if you didn’t live in those areas, was a 10 percent reduction.

Although there were people who opposed the project, there were more in the audience at City Hall who spoke out in support of the proposal, with the phrase, “we’ve got to stop kicking the can down the road,” being repeated throughout the evening.

Maniscalco seemed to be wavering in which way he would go and said at one point that the thought the vote should be delayed because many members of the public had stayed away, after hearing reports for days that Thursday night the city would get the worst brunt of a tropical storm.

In fact, the weather wasn’t that bad at all Thursday night, not compared to the evening before or another major storm that occurred early Friday morning.

Although stormwater improvements in South Tampa are among the first projects that will be built with the new funds, Montelione, in particular, emphasized that the problems when major rains come to Tampa are by no means limited to that region of the city, showing a map of areas in her North Tampa district that get flooded out.

Suarez said the same thing, adding that it seemed that the media only liked to cover major flooding in South Tampa.

In other news …

Darryl Rouson leads Ed Narain by 75 votes in the SD 19 race as the official recount in takes place this morning in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Gwen Graham says she gets why Donald Trump has emerged in American politics, and says his unlikely success should be understood by all lawmakers.

Uber is targeting two PTC members to oppose proposed new rules which they don’t like, but are they targeting the right members?

And Charlie Crist‘s campaign manager says essentially the race between his candidate and David Jolly is a mere formality in a memo distributed to the media. Naturally, Team Jolly disagrees.

Uber targets Hillsborough PTC members in advance of coming rules vote

After the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission began citing Uber drivers for operating without permission in Tampa two years ago, the ridesharing giant initiated a campaign against two of its boards members. Now with the PTC poised to approve new rules that both Uber and Lyft consider beyond the pale, Uber is doing it again.

Mailers targeting two member of the PTC, Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco and Plant City Commissioner Nate Kilton, have been issued in advance of the PTC’s Rules and Policy Workshop committee meeting next Tuesday.

“The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission (PTC) is considering a special interest-backed proposal to push ridesharing companies like Uber out of the market,” the mailer reads. It calls on citizens to contact Mansicalco or Kilton to vote no on the proposed new rules, which have been shaped by the taxicab industry and a startup ridesharing company in Tampa called DriveSociety.

Among the newly proposed rules include background checks that require that ridesharing drivers be fingerprinted, a bridge too far for both Uber and Lyft.

“The rules being proposed by the PTC, if adopted, would be the worse regulatory framework for ridesharing in the country,”Uber spokesman Javi Correoso emailed to SPB Thursday night. “For more than two years, the Hillsborough County PTC has shown itself to be unwilling or incapable of developing the modern regulatory framework for ridesharing that the community they represent deserves. The PTC seems intent to continue a dysfunctional process of picking winners and losers rather than follow the lead of policymakers in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, the cities of Tallahassee and Gainesville, and 29 states across the country that have passed sensible ridesharing laws.”

Steve Anderson, an attorney for Lyft, previous told the PTC that the company considers fingerprinting their drivers unacceptable, and said that the San Francisco based company operates in 33 other states where that isn’t the case.

Maniscalco was at a City Council meeting on Thursday night and unavailable for comment, but he’s indicated in the past that he doesn’t want to block Uber and or/Lyft. Neither now does PTC Chairman Victor Crist, who previously was scorned by the ridesharing companies, but now has embraced their demands.

“They need to do that,” Crist said of Uber’s full court press to persuade board members to oppose the new rules. Crist said that Uber should be targeting board members like Temple Terrace Council member David Pogorilich and Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick, who support the new rules.

“These are pretty significant rules that are being considered, and there’s provisions in there that make it difficult for their model to work,” he says, referring to Lyft and Uber.

If the rules committee approves the new proposals next week, the full PTC board will vote on them the following week.




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