‘Peter, you’re killing me on light rail in Pinellas’

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A political friend whom I really respect is actively involved in attempting to bring “light rail” to Pinellas County.  They very much would like to see a referendum placed on the ballot in the fall of 2013 to allow voters to decide whether to bring “light rail” to the community.

As I wrote on Wednesday, at this point I am opposed to bringing “light rail” to Pinellas.  I outlined my reasons there, to which my political friend emailed me to say, “Peter, you’re killing me on ‘light rail.’ Gotta work on you.”

Here’s what I (basically) said in response.

Am not going to be with you on light rail.

In my heart of hearts, I know it will never, ever work.  No one is driving from downtown St. Pete to a train depot in the middle of the city for light rail, so they can get off at a depot in Clearwater without their car.
Especially not in the Florida heat.
I’m sorry, but it’s just never going to happen.  You have a better chance convincing folks to put their finger in a light-socket.
This is issue is also shaping up as a disastrous political fight.
I can see exactly what will happen.  All of the usual suspects who usually can’t get something done will band together and promise the world, hiring the wrong consultants, etc., etc.
PSTA just did this by hiring XXX — the people connected to the people who just lost in Hillborough. Fantastic hire there.
Still, there will be a lot of money coming from land use lawyers and developers, spouting all of this baloney about economic development, because they know the first purpose of light rail — you know, to move people — is a non-starter.
The good ol’ boys will raise hundreds of thousands.
And I will smite them.  With about hundred grand raised by XXX, still seething over the miscues made by PSTA.
I say this with all the certainty in the world because I trust my gut on this issue more than I’ve ever trusted it on an issue.
This is from the guy who predicted in the fall of ’09 that Rubio would win; that Buckhorn would wint, the result of every state legislative race in Tampa Bay and finished second in Politico’s contest for accurately predicting the results of the Florida primary.
I absolutely hate to warn you but I’d rather do that than say I told you so come November 2013.
This is a losing issue.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.