Friday, April 20, 2018
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: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18