Anti-rail advocates next talking point? City of St. Pete pushing Greenlight Pinellas yard signs

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The city of St. Pete is inviting residents to nab a Greenlight Pinellas yard sign in advance of a November referendum asking voters to support an extra penny sales tax to fund transit improvements.

The plan would replace the current portion of property taxes and boost revenue for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority from roughly $30 million to $130 million.

It would fund things like increased bus frequency, bus rapid transit and passenger rail connecting downtown St. Pete, mid-county in the Carillon business district and Clearwater.

St. Pete city council unanimously voted to endorse the campaign in December.

Even though they’re supporting the campaign touting a reduction in homeowners’ property taxes on average 6%, the move is likely to get pushback from the anti-rail group No Tax for Tracks.

That group has launched a grassroots smear campaign against Greenlight. Its spokesperson, Barbara Haseldon, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and there’s not yet mention of any qualms on the website.

But Ben Kirby, communications director for the city, said the plan to make yard signs available to the community has been vetted by the city’s legal department.

“We can’t advocate,” Kirby said. “We can’t say ‘Vote Yes on Greenlight.’ What we can do is educate and inform.”

The city’s website has a page dedicated to info on the transit plan. It lists details about what Greenlight is and a link to more information on the campaign’s website.

The black and green yard signs read, “Get informed. Get involved. Greenlight Pinellas.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, 11 municipalities have endorsed Greenlight Pinellas, the most recent being Madeira Beach. Just last week the City of Seminole rejected an endorsement.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.