Thursday, December 14, 2017
Opinion

Ruth: Horse-and-buggy crowd blocks tracks of progress

There are moments when it seems the grouchy, get-off-my-lawn mugwumps who haunt various corners of the community would prefer to see a Pinellas County where the order of the day would include doyennes in hoop skirts, horse-drawn carriages and John Philip Sousa Sunday concerts in Williams Park.

This isn't merely the party of No! It's a small but vocal cabal bent on being the party of woe. If these folks had their way, they would be inveighing against electricity as not only a passing fad but a communist conspiracy.

How else, really, to explain the opposition and disinformation campaign against Greenlight Pinellas, which is merely an initiative to enhance transportation throughout the county by expanding bus routes, extending service hours and developing a 24-mile light-rail system linking Clearwater and St. Petersburg?

All Greenlight Pinellas aspires to is to acknowledge that we do actually live in the 21st century. Oh, the socialism of it all.

Come this November, voters will be asked to approve a sales tax increase from 7 to 8 percent, which would replace the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's current funding, a property tax.

The new funding mechanism, if approved, would generate about $120 million to $130 million to enhance the county's transportation system. Imagine that. A major metropolitan area with a comprehensive transportation network. Oh, the Marxism of it all!

Opponents of Greenlight Pinellas have falsely claimed that the sales tax bump is really a 300 percent tax increase. Not true. They've claimed that the light-rail system would be little more than street cars. Nope. In other words, the Greenlight-Pinellas-as-a-tool-of-Satan crowd is endeavoring to scare people.

Ultimately the future of Greenlight Pinellas depends on how you answer some simple questions: What kind of community do you want? What kind of quality of life do you want? Oh, and how's that traffic jam working out for you?

Pinellas is awash in Bob's Barricades, detours and orange cones.

To paraphrase John Kennedy, a taillight has been passed to a new generation of Pinellasites, born into an endless line of bumpers, tempers rising, disciplined by a hard and bitter commute.

No doubt in the months ahead there will be many community forums and debates about Greenlight Pinellas. And yes, the yard sign war will take no prisoners if the lunacy that erupted over the Lens is any indication. A world-class piece of functioning artwork at the Pier?!?!? Well!!! We'll just see about that!

Forget the political back and forth. There's a simpler way to determine the efficacy of Greenlight Pinellas if you want to be your own political consultant.

Pick any weekday morning and try to get from downtown St. Petersburg to downtown Clearwater starting around 7 a.m. and then make the reverse commute starting around 4:30 or so. What fun.

And while you are sitting there and sitting there and sitting there contemplating why it is that sports talk radio stations seem to have an obsessive-compulsive preoccupation with who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will draft in the seventh round on the third day of one of the most meaningless events in sports, you might well ask yourself if there isn't a better way to move around in Pinellas County.

Take that ride a few times and you might very well be willing to pay a 300 percent sales tax bump merely to avoid having to sit behind that moron in front you blabbering away on his cellphone at 17 miles an hour in the left-hand lane.

And yet … despite the obvious need for a vastly improved transportation system integrating better bus routes with a light-rail network, the forces of "We're all doomed!" continue to wring their hands over the merest chance progress might be committed by the citizenry.

By the way, the always thrilling barbershop quartet competition begins at noon.

Comments
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesdayís special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17