Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Call to oust Metropolitan Planning Organization's executive director goes unanswered

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe wanted to replace the longtime director of Hillsborough's transportation planning agency Tuesday, but he was alone.

Other city and county elected officials who oversee the Metropolitan Planning Organization want to keep its executive director, Lucie Ayer, in the job that she has held for 13 years.

Sharpe said he wants a more vocal advocate for mass transit running the MPO as some officials gear up for a sales tax referendum to be conducted at some point in the future. They would ask Hillsborough voters to approve a half-cent or 1-cent tax to pay for a beefed-up transit system, including light rail.

But several others on the MPO board turned the tables and said leadership on the light rail issue has to come from elected officials.

Tampa City Council member Tom Scott, a former Hillsborough commissioner, noted that the commission has repeatedly voted against putting a rail tax on the ballot.

"Until the Board of County Commissioners is on board and says let's move forward, mass transit's not going anywhere," Scott said.

The MPO is in charge of long-range transportation planning and distributes hundreds of millions of federal dollars for roads and buses every year. Its 13-member board is composed mostly of elected officials from Hillsborough County and Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace.

The board's chairman, Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti, defended Ayer and noted that the MPO's staff put together an updated plan for a countywide passenger rail network last year. The board approved it in November. "We're the only county in our region" that has such a plan, Affronti said.

Sharpe called the rail plan "thin gruel" and said the agency had supplied embarrassingly outdated maps for recent community meetings.

He's concerned that if officials don't have a detailed plan for rail that answers criticisms and questions, then "the voters, I believe, will vote it down."

Ayer, who disputes Sharpe's assessment of her performance, said nothing during Tuesday's meeting and declined to comment afterward.

The board voted to have a workshop to discuss exactly what Ayer's job should be.

Mike Brassfield can be reached

at brassfield@sptimes.com or

(813) 226-3435.

Call to oust Metropolitan Planning Organization's executive director goes unanswered 04/01/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dali a father? He would need to have sex first

    Opinion

    One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, 28 years dead, is about to be pulled from the grave to settle a paternity claim. The case could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Horst P. Horst's portrait of Salvador Dali from the 1930s. [Image from the Dali Museum.]
  2. Aramis Ayala defends her stance against death penalty: 'I did what I believe was proper'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Aramis Ayala, the elected Orlando prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty, defended her actions Wednesday as she faced a flurry of hostile questions from Florida Supreme Court justices.

    Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. With home demolition, Pasco begins effort to alleviate Holiday Hills flooding

    Local Government

    PORT RICHEY — Year after year, from his front porch, Jeff Ward has watched yards flood and rivers form in the streets, carrying canoes instead of cars after heavy rain.

    An excavator clears rubble from a razed home in Holiday Hills.
  4. Tampa Chamber of Commerce offers boost to black and Hispanic-owned businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — There's a disconnect in Hillsborough County's minority business community.

    Gaston Meredith of Gaston's Culinary Services listens to LaKendria Robinson, Director of Minority Business Accelerator & Economic Inclusion during an information session at the Robert W. Saunders Library in Tampa on Tuesday.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Dan Girardi the latest defenseman on Lightning radar

    Blogs

    Veteran Dan Girardi is the latest pending free agent defenseman to draw interest from the Lightning, the Times has confirmed.

    Dan Girardi, 33, spent the last 11 seasons with the Rangers, who bought him out this summer.