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Mitch Perry Report for 4.28.16 – Go Hillsborough goes down. Now what?

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

It came down to, as we all knew it would, to the enigmatic Victor Crist.

After more than four hours of discussion and debate, the decision about whether to place the Go Hillsborough half-cent sales tax on the November ballot was deadlocked between the Board of County Commissioners 3-3, which is what we had known for months.

Crist mentioned popular opinion – according to his count, there had been 62 speakers who came before the board to say “yay” or “nay,” and it was deadlocked at 31 apiece.

As mentioned by several speakers, however, was an online poll being taken over the past 48 hours by the Tampa Bay Business Journal which showed that 69 percent of the public was opposed.

As you can read in our story – Go Hillsborough is historywith Crist delivering the final blow against the measure.

Now what?

After coming on to SaintPetersBlog/Florida Politics in the fall of 2014, one of my first assignments was a sit-down interview with Bob Buckhorn. It was a week after Greenlight Pinellas, the one-percent transit tax in Pinellas County, had gone down to an overwhelming defeat.

Buckhorn was not in good spirits at the time about the prospects for a measure in 2016. You see the entire political and business establishment was pretty united that the Tampa Bay region was poised to pass Greenlight, and then would come back around and pass what would later be called Go Hillsborough in the fall of 2016, and this region’s screaming problems with transportation was finally about to be addressed.

But Buckhorn realized that Greenlight’s big loss had already produced a brand new obstacle to what was always going to be a large lift – having Hillsborough voters pass a tax.

I’m sure he never imagined that there wouldn’t at least be a vote this fall.

There will be no vote, however. Certainly none in 2018, so maybe – just maybe – another measure will come before us in either Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties in 2020 – maybe both?

There’s lots more to say on the subject, and plenty of time probably to rehash it. There wasn’t one Tea Party activist or simply self-described conservative Republicans who didn’t admit that Hillsborough County has serious transportation issues. However, they insist the county has the money to fix the problems.

The county administrator says that’s not the case.

This conversation, of course, will be continued….

In other news…

We wandered over yesterday to Port Tampa (the former Tampa Port Authority) to listen to Adam Putnam speak about Florida’s promising agriculture future worldwide.

Educator and radio show host Walter Lee Smith is now part of the House District 61 contest in Tampa.

Vern Buchanan has unveiled a proposal to cut taxes on small businesses that has won the heart of famed tax cutting activist Grover Norquist.

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 mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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