Tuesday, September 18, 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: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

After an encouraging start, the breakdown in America’s reset with Cuba is a loss for both sides and for the state of democracy across the region. Havana and Washington are both to blame, but the Trump administration’s hard line with Cuba is out of sy...
Published: 09/12/18
Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

If the swift departure of CBS Chairman Les Moonves has a bright side, it’s that a major television network took accusations of sexual harassment against its chief executive seriously enough to hold him accountable and obtain his resignation even at t...
Published: 09/11/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Two banks have taken the retaliatory step of closing down the campaign account of a statewide candidate because she received contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Nikki Fried, the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, has been...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Florida Supreme Court wisely kills misleading charter school amendment

Editorial: Florida Supreme Court wisely kills misleading charter school amendment

Voters should know what they’re voting on, which is why the Florida Supreme Court was entirely correct to strike the deviously worded Amendment 8 from the Nov. 6 ballot. The amendment would have significantly expanded charter schools in Florida by le...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/11/18
Editorial: Genshaft steered USF to new heights — and it should keep climbing

Editorial: Genshaft steered USF to new heights — and it should keep climbing

University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft, who announced Monday she will retire in July, will leave behind a remarkable legacy. The university’s longest-serving president led USF’s transformation from a commuter school to a destination univ...
Published: 09/10/18