04/28/16 Local Government
TAMPA — The day after Wednesday's failed transportation vote, one question loomed over Hillsborough County:
Sitting in his downtown office overlooking Kennedy Boulevard, County Commissioner Les Miller leaned back in his chair, shrugged and offered this simple and sobering reply:
"I don't know."
Commissioners, activists and residents all agree: Something needs to be done about the county's overburdened transportation network. Roads need to be fixed, transit options are limited and a study has found that gridlock consumes 40 hours of drivers' lives each year....
TAMPA — After three years of planning, debate and controversy, Hillsborough County is right back where it started: with no idea how to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transportation needs.
The county commission voted 4-3 on Wednesday night to reject the proposed 30-year, half-cent sales tax, refusing to put it on the November ballot and letting voters decide.
Commissioner Victor Crist, long considered the swing vote, swung against the plan around 10:15 p.m. after residents and commissioners spent four hours debating the measure....
TAMPA — Victor Crist is over it.
The chair of the Public Transportation Commission, which regulates for-hire vehicles in Hillsborough county such as taxis and limos, wants out....
GIBSONTON — The first vote was the easy one. The Hillsborough County Commission on Tuesday night unanimously approved charging developers more to help pay for the county's mounting transportation costs.
The second vote, though, will be the hard one.
The will take place Wednesday night, when the seven commissioners will wrestle with a much harder decision: whether to put a half-cent sales tax to fund decades of transportation improvements on the November ballot....
The Florida Department of Transportation is putting the brakes on buying up land around the Tampa downtown interchange, but the state said its plan to expand the highway is still going forward.
FDOT reduced the money budgeted for voluntary property acquisition downtown in fiscal year 2017 from nearly $25 million to about $500,000, Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Beth Alden told an MPO committee Tuesday morning....
TAMPA — It's an important week for transportation in Tampa Bay, and it took a long time to get here.
After years of political campaigns, public outreach, an investigation and seemingly worsening traffic, the Hillsborough County Commission is finally poised to vote on two separate funding sources which together could bring in more than $130 million annually for roads, buses, sidewalks and other improvements....
Uber users will see an increase in their fares after the rideshare company announced Thursday it’s raising its rates an average of 11 percent.
The company enraged drivers in January when it slashed its fares to 65 cents a mile. Because Uber takes 20 to 25 percent of all fares, that meant drivers were making between 49 and 52 cents a mile, compared with the 54 cent mileage deduction rate set by the government....
TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce teased to the results from a recent transportation poll in a news release Thursday, but was unable to provide specifics.
Hillsborough County Commissioners are poised this month to vote on whether to put a half-cent sales tax for transportation on the November ballot....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners say this is the month when they will finally decide how to fund the county's transportation needs — including whether to let voters have their say in November.
After 2½ years of meetings, postponed votes, countless delays and a sheriff's investigation, commissioners on Wednesday settled on a decision-making timeline — and they say this time they mean it....
TAMPA — Records show the controversial investigation into the Go Hillsborough transportation initiative cost taxpayers nearly $100,000, a tally that doesn't include many hours of work by county employees and prosecutors.
And while officials say the investigation was needed to put allegations to rest, the report seems to have resulted in little but frustration....
04/02/16 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — The girls shared memories of their friends as the wind threatened to blow out the candles and the too-fitting song played from the car's speakers.
"It's been a long day without you, my friend, and I'll tell you all about it when I see you again."
The Wiz Khalifa lyrics hung heavily in the air as nearly 150 people gathered Saturday night at Campbell Park to remember the three teen girls who drowned in a stolen Honda Accord that plunged into a weed-choked pond Thursday at Royal Palm North Cemetery....
TAMPA — Two planes sat at the end of their respective runways, the only two at Peter O. Knight Airport, preparing to take off shortly before 11:30 a.m. on March 18.
One, a twin-engine Cessna 340, idled on runway number 4-22. The other, a single-engine Cessna 172, waited just to the west. ...
Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, who chairs the local group which regulates for-hire vehicles, revealed Thursday his latest attempt to regulate ridesharing companies.
One problem: it’s not a plan Uber has much interest in.
“Once again, the Hillsborough PTC has demonstrated its complete unwillingness to understand the ridesharing industry it seeks to regulate,” spokesman BIll GIbbons said. “Financed by fees from the taxi and limo industries, the PTC has turned around and used those public funds to harass and intimidate hard-working Uber driver partners under rules the PTC admits, and a state court agreed, do not fit the Uber ridesharing model.”...
Residents of Seminole and Tampa Heights voiced their frustrations Tuesday night, arguing that community outreach for the Tampa Bay Express interstate expansion only seeks to build consensus for the project, not listen to critics' objections.
The Florida Department of Transportation partnered with the University of South Florida's Florida Center for Community Design and Research for its latest charette -- detailed planning sessions. They're part of a series of community outreach meetings organized after members of the Metropolitan Planning Organization called for more public engagement on the controversial TBX project....
Sen. Bill Nelson came to MacDill Air Force Base on Monday to pledge that the hurricane hunter aircraft that will have to give up their longtime home at the base next year will not leave the Tampa Bay area.
But the senator couldn't say how the squadron will be able to stay in the bay area, or where, or who will even pay for it.
"I want you to understand that this important NOAA mission is not going to leave the Tampa Bay, west-central Florida area," Nelson said Monday. "You can nail that down … to uproot this operation, to take it to a different part of the country, would be highly disruptive of an exceptionally important mission."...