Friday, June 22, 2018
Opinion

Column: Hillsborough commissioners should act on transportation

Editor's note: Sandy MacKinnon, a former chairman of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce and husband of the late Hillsborough County Commissioner Dottie Berger MacKinnon, has written this open letter to commissioners in advance of their Thursday vote on whether to place a proposed transportation tax on the November ballot.

In 2002, I stood in front of the Hillsborough County Commission as chairman of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce on this issue. The chamber's request was to allow a referendum for a sales tax initiative to support the growing needs of this community for improved transportation. Commissioner Ronda Storms, who took the lead in the discussion, said that "Hillsborough County did not have a transportation issue and getting around in our community was a nonissue.''

The vote on the referendum failed.

We had a transportation issue then, and today we have a far worse and more expensive problem than we did 14 years ago. The hand-wringing and continual dialogue that produces nothing needs to stop. We need solutions desperately today and not on somebody else's watch. The time to act is now.

I am reminded of my late wife, Commissioner Dottie Berger MacKinnon. During her tenure, the Community Investment Tax came to a vote. The tax was partially to save the Tampa Bay Bucs, who would leave Tampa unless a new stadium was built. New schools were needed to avoid half-day sessions. Police cars, fire trucks and ambulances were breaking down on the way to emergencies. Dottie and others, including Mayor Dick Greco, led the charge to get it on the ballot and campaigned furiously to get voters to pass it. Certain activists warned that she would not be re-elected, but she stayed true to her convictions and held tightly to her hopes and dreams to make this community better. She stood tall for what she believed in and what the community needed to keep moving forward. She would not be bullied by certain activists or individuals who believed you don't need infrastructure enhancements to grow a great community.

If Dottie were alive today, she would tell you she did the right thing for the right reason, and you need only look at the improvements that continue to be made because of the investment tax vote. Raymond James Stadium took less than 10 percent of the money that has flowed from that investment tax vote but transformed this community in its attitude, quality of life, pride and standing around the country. Just imagine if the Bucs had left.

I encourage you to follow Dottie's example. Don't be intimidated by those who threaten your re-election. Go into your commission chambers to find solutions to our growing needs. Leave your political aspirations at the door and take a leadership role to see the entire program, whatever it is, through to completion. Once you put the referendum on the ballot, work to get it passed. We need your leadership on these issues.

As the owner of a business in Florida and Georgia with five locations, I know we are falling behind in Hillsborough. I have employees trying to get to work every day and more than 50 delivery vehicles and service vans on the roads. Customers and manufacturers are refusing to pay travel dollars because of elongated travel costs that are growing because of congestion.

I urge you to be bold, do what's right for this community and begin to leave a legacy like Dottie did. The price she paid at the voting booth was devastating to her, but the legacy she left will live on for years.

Comments
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18