Greenlight Pinellas’ “Last Call” phone banking to reach 2,000 voters

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Greenlight Pinellas supporters are taking to the phones all day today in a last minute effort to rally support for the transit referendum on tomorrow’s ballot.

Beginning at ten this morning and trucking right on through to eight this evening, local elected officials and volunteers will host a “Last Call” phone banking session at the Pinellas Realtor Organization office on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.

On the slate this afternoon beginning at 4:30 Indian Rocks Beach Mayor RB Johnson, Pinellas County Commissioners Karen Seel, John Morroni and Janet Long, Belleair Bluffs City Commissioner Joe Barkley and Clearwater City Council member Bill Jonson will take to the phones in an effort to reach 2,000 voters.

Earlier, Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala and St. Pete City Council member Wengay Newton took their turns.

Voters who did not already vote during Early Voting or by mail will cast a yes or a no vote on the referendum asking voters to approve a one-penny sales tax increase to improve public transportation in Pinellas County. If approved the measure would largely contribute to an increase in revenue for the Pinellas Suncoast Transity Authority from $30 million to $130 million.

It would fund increased bus service, bus rapid transit and a passenger rail line connecting downtown St. Pete to downtown Clearwater through the Gateway business district in mid-county. The plan would also boost ancillary services for areas feeding into the rail line.

The opposition group No Tax for Tracks is finalizing its own campaign to kill the referendum. The group was largely outspent by Greenlight Pinellas. No Tax raised just under $100,000 while Greenlight Pinellas brought in more than $1 million. Despite the funding deficit, No Tax for Tracks is expected to give Greenlight a run for its money. The vote is expected to be close with some polls even favoring the referendum dying.

If Greenlight fails, PSTA officials say the transit agency will be forced to cut services by 2017. Critics of the plan say the agency should be able to live within its means and doesn’t need to build a rail line that will require taxpayer subsidies.

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 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