Hillsborough County Commission mum on county mayor proposal

Also speaking out in support of the measure was former Tampa Tribune editor Rosemary Goudreau, who is working with Stiles on the cause.   She addressed the board by calling them " well meaning, likeable people," but said "something happens when you come together as a body that is holding Hillsborough back.  I can tell you that people want to be heard abut leadership at County Center.  They want something better.  They're frustrated by the dysfunction. "

One person spoke against the proposal.  Clearwater political lobbyist Todd Pressman said au conrtraire to the notion that a county mayor style of government won't end up costing Hillsborough taxpayers more, and argued that he was hearing conflicting arguments in support of the measure, saying, "I've heard it will create a strong county leader, but I've also heard it won't strip your powers.  They'll need staff and support staff and infrastructure that will grow year after year. "

The Board was under no responsibility to grant Stiles and her group a waiver from collecting signatures, and did not do so.  But it must be mentioned that in 2006, when the proponents came up about 3,000 signatures short of the 37,202 required, Stiles claimed that after conducting a private audit of the petitions, she claimed that Johnson's office had lost hundreds of petitions, while other signatures of registered voters were improperly rejected.

But that was the past.  The quest to have voters to have the opportunity to join other large Florida counties that have similar county mayors, like Orange and Miami-Dade, begins now.

At the Towers of Channelside this morning, supporters of putting a County Mayor proposal on the November ballot in Hillsborough County have scheduled an hour long news conference.

They're hoping for maximum media coverage so it will be a bit easier to gather the 41,161 signatures ( 8 percent of the votes cast in the 2008 election) on a certified petition in less than four months (the deadline is July 31).

The woman's who led the way on this mission, Mary Ann Stiles, went before county commissioners yesterday requesting that they bypass that requirement, saying that they'd be giving voters of choice (the argument that light rail proponents have made).

"We are in the process of collecting signatures, but in today's economy, and with the rules that keep getting passed by Tallahassee, it gets harder and harder and harder for citizens to have an initiative," she said yesterday. "We are not going to give up.  We do respect the request that you honor our request, and let the people decide.  There's a lot of misinformation about what these amendments do to the charter. It does not add build another layer of government, it simply replaces one position that is appointed with one who is elected by the people. It also would reduce costs in our opinion, and furthermore it does not strip you of all your powers, it creates a checks and balances, that our forefathers foresaw in government when they created the government and legislative type system and that's all were asking for today, just have another person speaking for the people, who has a vision, who can challenge, who can lead and who can follow when it's necessary, and there are certain provisions in the statute.  A county mayor will not have, and will never have, the powers of a city mayor.  The powers of a mayor of a county have powers granted by statute.  It does not take away your budgetary rights, you have to create the budget and the capital, it does allow have the budget presented to you, there is a line item veto, but if an item is vetoed, it can't be spent elsewhere. "

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