Mitch Perry Report: Tribune urges Rick Scott to veto study of HART/PSTA merger

Plus: Fireworks at the BOCC, Nan Rich and more …

The Tampa Tribune's editorial page today is coming out forcefully in advocating that Governor Rick Scott veto the $200,000 added into the state budget by Clearwater area GOP state Senator Jack Latvala for a new "desk study" evaluating the prospects of a merger between HART & PSTA, the two respective transit agencies for Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

The paper notes the $100,000 study conducted by the agencies last year (that one paid by the agencies - this one would be paid for by Tallahassee, or you could say, taxpayers). But HART objected to the desk study, and merger talks petered out.

CL spoke briefly to Senator Latvala earlier this week about HART's objections. He said further study should be something all taxpayers support, since it could show increased savings. He's fully aware of the opposition that board members there feel, particular those who believe it's a Trojan Horse to have Hillsborough help pay for Pinellas light-rail plans.

But he's undeterred, calling criticisms "turf wars."

The Trib writes: "As the Tampa Bay area grows, and its stifling commutes worsen, getting the public to support rail becomes more likely. And the reasons to consolidate transit agencies become more apparent," but they say you don't need a study to realize that.

Well yesterday was quite interesting over at the County Center in Tampa. First the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to agree to putting a referendum on the 2014 ballot asking voters to add another single-member district for the county, eliminating an at-large district. Arguments used by Commissioner Les Miller is that the population has doubled in the past 30 years, yet the board still has only four single member districts. That's far smaller than equally large counties throughout the state. And yes, the move could pave the way towards creating a district with a heavy Latino presence, which actually is something that Republicans and Democrats are in harmony about, since they both are pursuing that voting bloc.

Also at the BOCC -we've never seen Commissioner Kevin Beckner as impassioned as he was yesterday regarding the record that the board has on LGBT issues (manifested earlier this year with the board rejecting a domestic partner registry). It all centered around conservative firebrand Terry Kemple, and it was intense.

Are you aware that former Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich is running for the Democratic nomination for governor? She is, and we learned more about her candidacy when she visited CL's offices earlier this week.

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