The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tea party groups plan SunRail protest

21

June

With a decision on SunRail looming, Gov. Rick Scott is dispatching Florida transportation secretary Ananth Prasad to the Orlando area next week to meet with six different groups of city and county commissioners and their constituents.

And tea party activists and other opponents of the project are ready for the visit. Those groups will host a press conference and protest rally at 1 p.m. on the Orlando City Hall steps, and then attend Prasad's 2 p.m. meeting with Orlando city officials. The group will then move on  to Prasad's meeting with Orange County commissioners at 4 p.m.

From the West Orlando Tea Party news release: In an unprecedented move, FDOT announced that on Tuesday, June 28th its Secretary Ananth Prasad will barnstorm the Central Florida localities through which the 32 mile SunRail project will run, to notify officials that there will be “no State bailout if SunRail fails”. This is a very telling exercise because if SunRail was really such a solid project, why would FDOT have to make this pronouncement?

The SunRail commuter rail line requires funding from local taxpayers in Central Florida, state taxpayers and the federal government. Backers of SunRail say it's a job creator, economic development and growth management tool that will ease congestion on busy highways. But Scott has been under pressure from tea party groups and some state lawmakers to kill the project, who say it's an even bigger boondoggle than high speed rail, which the governor killed earlier this year.

"SunRail is the poster child for big government spending on a public project hat we don't need, and that will be paid for with money we don't have," said Beth Dillaha, a former Winter Park city commissioner and a founder of vetosunrail.org.

Scott has until July 2 to make a decision about SunRail. He froze the contracts for the project earlier this year, saying he wanted to take a closer look at the project. Last week, he told reporters he wants tto make sure Central Florida resdients understand the costs they'll have to bear for the project, and that he's trying to understand what he "can and can't do" based on "what's already been committed."

 

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 6:35pm]

    

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