Pinellas commissioners aren't moving 'FAST' to support group
Faith and Action for Strength Together has announced a 100-person strong protest at Thursday's 5:30 p.m. meeting on Pinellas County's budget at Gibbs High to protest money for affordable housing being cut.
But there's more politics behind the scenes. Last year, Commissioners Calvin Harris, John Morroni, Karen Seel and Ken Welch promised to seek $5 million at a FAST event. The budget came out without the money and FAST made a point of being disappointed, to the discomfort of county officials.
This year, the Bay Buzz hears there's only one commissioner with the group's April 19 Nehemiah Assembly on his calendar. And it's not written in ink, despite FAST announcing he has "committed.":
"I did not commit to that. It's on my calendar. If I can go, I'll go," Morroni said Thursday afternoon.
From FAST's announcement:
“We are concerned that there is a growing lack of accountability with our county government. What the county is proposing is breaking a promise made to voters before election day. We are asking them to come and be part of a discussion about this issue in front of 3,000 voting citizens who are looking forward to hearing their responses. When you break promises made to voters, there needs to be some public accountability. The fact that six commissioners and the county administrator are not attending the Nehemiah Action is unacceptable and we will be there on March 18 to tell them that,” said Rev. Walter Campbell, pastor of Bayview Baptist Church and co-chair of the Affordable Housing Committee of FAST.
The group opposes the county's plan to cut a $30 million plan to buy land for affordable housing to $15 million because the Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenue is plummeting (and last year, the county wouldn't put any more money into a trust fund for housing, either). The money was included when the tax renewal was passed by voters in 2007. But sales taxes have fallen, prompting cuts to many but not all projects.
-- David DeCamp, Times staff writer