Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough light rail foe seeks 'to seal the coffin'

TAMPA — Hillsborough County voters killed light rail last year, but a conservative activist worries it isn't sufficiently dead.

"I want to seal the coffin on this issue," said David Caton, a well-known activist who fought November's transit tax vote.

So over the past few months, Caton has been quietly floating an idea: a proposed amendment to the county charter to prohibit spending county money on rail.

His idea is short on details, but he said he thinks the best way to get the amendment on the countywide ballot is by a citizen petition drive.

He said he started pushing the idea because he thinks conservative political candidates in 2012 could feel pressured to support rail just to appeal to certain voters. His proposal, he said, could erase that as an issue.

One person to whom he pitched the idea is County Commissioner Mark Sharpe.

But Sharpe said he wouldn't support such a move to tie future commissioners' hands. What if one day in the future, he speculated, a private group wants to team up with the county to pay for light rail?

"You don't want to have a reactive referendum like that," said Sharpe, a rail proponent. "I just don't think that's how you make public policy."

In November, voters defeated the transit initiative, which proposed raising the sales tax by a penny to pay for rail, buses and road work.

Sharon Calvert, co-founder of the Tampa Tea Party and a rail opponent, said she has not been working with Caton on his idea.

She has, however, played a role in pushing other rail-related initiatives.

One of those proposals is on its way to voters next year after getting the blessing of the county's Charter Review Board in February. That proposal would require a financial impact statement for future local ballot questions.

November's transit tax referendum did not include such a statement.

Calvert said she and others also pushed to require a super-majority vote for public referendums. That one did not get far, she said.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't get as much traction with the charter review board," she said.

Caton, meanwhile, predicted that a citizen-led petition drive to put his proposal before voters would garner plenty of support if it moves forward later this year.

"I know that it will hit fertile ground. There's no more fertile ground than right now," he said. "We have the momentum at all levels of government."

Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

Hillsborough light rail foe seeks 'to seal the coffin' 06/07/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  2. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  3. Florida inspired new group focused on improving how elections are run

    Blogs

    A new group run by two lawyers and veteran Democratic operatives specializing in voter protection efforts is launching a pilot program in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to work with local elections officials to improve the voting process. Access Democracy, run by …

    Access Democracy wants to improve voter participation and how elections are run
  4. Super Nintendo is coming back to stores, and there's even a new (old) game

    Blogs

    If the overwhelming success of last year's NES Classic is any indication, you may want to get your hands on Nintendo's newly-announced Super NES Classic as soon as it becomes available this fall.

    Super Nintendo plans to release the Super NES Classic Edition.
  5. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)

    Blogs

    Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

    Dave Andreychuk battles Calgary's Andrew Ference during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.