Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rashid puts Hillsborough commissioners on notice about transit tax



East Hillsborough County activist and businessman Sam Rashid has been less visible on the political front in recent years than he has in the past. But that may be changing.

Rashid sent an email to four of the county's Republican commissioners this week warning them that the board's vote last week to put a transit tax referendum on the ballot next year could spawn a backlash. From him and others. The email went to personal accounts of Chairman Ken Hagan, Mark Sharpe, Al Higginbotham and Jim Norman, as well as a dozen or so others who follow county politics. (Higginbotham and Norman voted against the resolution.)

Interestingly, the email singles out Hagan as recommending the 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for rail, buses and roads. So far, much of the push back from conservatives has targeted Sharpe, who has played a more high-profile role in promoting the proposal. But it was a task force created by Hagan that recommended the sales tax referendum, which he has supported.

Rashid said in an interview that he believes Hagan signed a pledge when he first ran for office that he would not support any new taxes if elected.

"I consider the rail tax a brand new tax," Rashid said. "I also consider a vote to move forward with the referendum a vote in support of that tax."

Here's the body of the email:

"'...Chairman Ken Hagan is recommending that commissioners put a 1-cent sales tax increase proposal on the November 2010 ballot.'" SP Times 11/2009

"That's $170 to $300 million per year taken out of our local economy to pay for a few miles of track. I would like to be on the record as opposing your vote to move forward on supporting the largest single tax increase on the residents of Hillsborough County and would recommend to the local party leadership that they use their influence locally to indentify and inform their members those Republican Commissioners that have violated their core pledges of no-tax increases on residents of our county -- prior to the next election. Since, as one Commissioner recently stated, (late political activist and fundraiser) 'Ralph Hughes is no longer around' to fund such a mailing, we will have to do so ourselves without the help of Ralph. Remember, at the end of the day, this is still a swing county. A few points either way can made the difference in any elected official's chances of re-election and I believe we're obligated to do our part even if it is a Republican that has decided to tax and spend the taxpayer's money contrary to his pledges made to voters prior to his first election."

-- Bill Varian, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:17pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours