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600 Hillsborough County residents have attended public transit meetings to date

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Hillsborough County Policy Leadership Group met again today to convene. Well, some of them did.

The PLG is made up of all of seven members of the Hillsborough County Commission, plus the mayors of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City. HART officials often sit in as well — all charged with crafting a transit plan that may be taken to the voters in the form of a transit tax referendum in 2016.

But nearly half the group at todays’ meeting were AWOL, with one of those members who did appear — Mayor Bob Buckhorn — strolling in a half-hour late. The mayor attempted to downplay his tardiness by joking that he was out looking for the remaining 3 percent of Tampa residents who voted for write-in candidate Jose Vazquez in Tuesday night’s coronation — er, election.

Then again, maybe the missing members knew what they were doing, as today’s meeting was about exciting as betting on a spring training baseball game.

George Walton is the point man for Parsons Brinckerhoff, the transportation consulting group that the county is paying over $900,000 to facilitate the public outreach portion of the transit effort. He gave a summary of what’s been happening in the community meetings being held throughout the county.

Six hundred people have attended the seven public forums held so far, he said, with approximately half that number writing down their comments.

Not surprisingly, Walton says that in the urban areas, the public’s preference has been for new and/or expanded transit routes. In the more suburban/rural areas, the public prefers more resurfacing and widening of roads, as well as making intersection improvements.

GoHillsborough, the brand’s website, has received a total of 4,030 visitors and 2,753 unique visitors since it went live last month.

There are five more public meetings in the current phase of the rollout spread out throughout the county, culminating in a one-hour telephone town hall meeting that will take place on March 19. Those listeners will be contacted randomly.  That will then prompt an “Issues and Opportunities report” to be released to the PLG.

After that comes four more meetings titled, “Exploring Options,” followed by another telephone town-hall meeting on April 2.


Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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