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Mitch Perry Report for 10.8.15 — Will the Hillsborough BOCC have the votes to put transportation tax on ballot?

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Watching the Hillsborough County Commission yesterday discuss the latest with the Go Hillsborough effort was a fascinating glimpse of where this experience may be heading.

The headline was that the Board of County Commissioners beat back a feeble attempt to remove Sheriff David Gee’s office from investigating the charges on how consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff  received its $1.35 million contract to lead the effort on transportation that the county has been undertaking the past two years.

The board also rejected Commissioner Stacy White’s call to fire Parsons immediately, even though it is expected to provide its final work product next month on what should be in the plan, and whether it should be a half-cent or full-cent sales tax that commissioners will decide in December if they want to put on the 2016 b allot.

Assuming that the Gee Report finds that there was no criminal behavior (and how many months will it take for that report to be concluded?), will the BOCC even vote to put the measure on the ballot? That appears to be very much in the air at this juncture.

Fact: White has already declared he’s a no vote, and he was essentially joined yesterday by Al Higginbotham. who ran and won countywide office last year by saying that he would back the Policy Leadership Group if they came out in support of a transportation tax. Two months ago he said that he was “undecided.” He says that he always gave himself some wiggle room if there was a lack of transparency in putting the plan together, something that he now says that the Noah Pransky WTSP report has provided for him.

Kevin Beckner, Les Miller and apparently Ken Hagan look supportive of the measure as of now, and Victor Crist and Sandy Murman? Who knows where they stand on it now, or more importantly, will in a few months.

Murman says that she’s now convinced that Gee’s investigation will be independent enough, after saying in the past week that she agreed with GOP activist Sam Rashid’s criticism that it wouldn’t be appropriate.

Speaking of Sam, he apparently was disappointed in his fellow Republican when Hagan blasted the Go Hillsborough critics.

Hagan cited “blind ideologues” whom he claimed had hijacked the process. “The hysteria has gone far beyond philosophical differences of honest intellectual disagreements and I think it’s time for the board to say enough is enough,” he said.

Rashid responded via his Facebook page. “If you think my asking for an independent review is ‘absurd,'” he wrote, “fasten your seat-belt because that will not be the word you will be using to describe my efforts to provide a semblance of integrity to the process of an investigation to which you will be held responsible for failing in your fiduciary duty to the very taxpayers that elected you 4 terms ago.”

There’s so much more to say about this, but those are just reflections on what went down yesterday…

In other news…

The Draft Joe Biden movement released its first television ad yesterday — no word on whether the VP intends to actually run for office.

The Tampa City Council votes tonight on different proposals for the composition of a civilian review board.

Activists at the University of South Florida say they aren’t giving up their quest to have former Pinellas County legendary U.S. Rep. Bill  Young’s name removed from an ROTC building on the campus because of his association with the homophobic Johns Committee back in the 1960s.

Alan Grayson files an ethics complaint against House Republicans Kevin McCarthy and Trey Gowdy regarding BENGHAZI!

And Patrick Murphy airs a web ad calling out his Democratic Senate opponent for saying contradictory things on housing to two different audiences.

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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