After recently devoting more space on this blog to covering the Greenlight Pinellas campaign — most of the coverage being critical — more than one political associate has told me that the proponents of Greenlight Pinellas, such as campaign manager Joe Farrell, are alleging that my coverage is being influenced by Greenlight Pinellas’ not paying me or because some third-party is paying me to “attack” the initiative.
I guess this is the kind of criticism I will have to get used to in light of this discredited accusation.
First of all, Greenlight Pinellas does pay me, or more specifically, it advertises on this blog. It has for approximately a year, beginning when the mass transit initiative was in its “education” phase. In fact, Greenlight Pinellas and PSTA began advertising on SaintPetersBlog after I wrote in March 2012 that I was opposed to bringing light rail to Pinellas County.
Now, I did offer my strategic partners at Tucker/Hall (mostly to their Senior Vice President Tony Collins, who has since parted ways with the firm) a caboose worth of advice on how to win a campaign like the one they had planned to wage for Greenlight Yes! This is because my relationship with Tucker/Hall superseded my personal views on a single public policy issue.
Even though Tucker/Hall is no longer a part of the Greenlight Pinellas effort, I am still interested in making sure that the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce’s Chris Steinocher, who is now leading the initiative, doesn’t lose the momentum he has gained for the Chamber since becoming its executive director. My fear is that the Chamber’s reputation will suffer if the referendum fails because it will be the third losing horse in a row that the Chamber has backed.
All of this said, I also consult for state Sen. Jeff Brandes, the most prominent opponent of Greenlight Pinellas. But Sen. Brandes would never ask me to be for or against something just because he is for or against something. That’s the strength of our relationship; I can support his efforts on education reform, Google Car, and Uber, but disagree with him on, say, gun-rights legislation.
The bottom line: On Greenlight Pinellas, I have so many financial conflicts on this issue that they cancel each other out. I realize this makes me a wild card on this issue. On Monday, I might commission a poll about Greenlight Pinellas, then on Tuesday expose how PSTA’s planning is running into opposition from CSX. Then again, if you tell me Greenlight Pinellas is really about blowing up the armpit communities of central Pinellas County, I might write an op-ed in support of the initative.
You never know. But what I do know is money has nothing to do with it.