Tampa Bay TidBits

* Signs of the new-normal times we live in:

^ Pinellas County has an administrative position called  “violence prevention specialist.”

^Earlier this month First Baptist Church of College Hill held a two-day “Church Intruder Training workshop.

* The Tampa Bay area, with Tampa as its hub, has been, as we know all too well, an unconscionable outlier when it comes to mass transit. Remember T-BART (Tampa Bay Area Rapid Transit) from the 1980s? It was a San Francisco/Oakland-esque rail proposal that would have connected Hillsborough and Pinellas counties via the Howard Frankland Bridge. We also had Orlando-to-Tampa, high-speed rail derailed by Gov. Rick Scott. As a result, we have done more sprawl, poured more asphalt and voted down more than our share of transit proposals.

Then one, manifestly imperfect, referendum (1-cent sales) tax finally passed last month, because it was well organized, well financed and well received outside the city. It was for 30 years and would raise nearly $16 billion. The voters spoke. Our retrograde transportation past would start receding. Tampa Bay would no longer be notorious for its counterproductive, 21st-century-defying, stupid history on transit. A history that transcended generations and defied common sense and blatant self-interest. Finally, there was a sense of progress and maybe a last-gasp chance to “re-imagine our transportation future,” to quote Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen, who is also vice chair of the Hillsborough County MPO.

What could go wrong now? Well, this is still Hillsborough County, voter epiphany notwithstanding. So a county commissioner, Stacy White, has filed a lawsuit against the transportation tax. It’s either pragmatism at play so possible legal issues can be sorted out now. Or it’s the politics of spite.

* Pasco did not join its county counterparts on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s coalition dedicated to addressing climate change and sea level rise. The reason: Pasco’s representative, Commissioner Jack Mariano, doesn’t believe in “climate change.” Maybe we shouldn’t be shocked given the high-profile of other Republican climate-change cynics such as the president of this country and the senator-elect of this state. But we should be angry and alarmed when another politician of this climate-vulnerable state doubles down on “Flori-duh.”

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