Rick Scott names virulent light-rail critic to HART board

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Burgin, 35, of Plant City, once worked as vice president of information technology and social media for the Holtec USA Corporation. That's the company run by prominent Eastern Hillsborough County Republican activist Sam Rashid, a prominent critic of the light-rail initiative in 2010, and a strong financial booster of the anti-rail effort. He also provided a generous severance package to Burgin when he left Holtec, a move that was written about extensively by Tampa media at the time.

Burgin now joins a HART board that includes Karen Jaroch, a Tea Party activist in Tampa who was a prominent critic of the one-cent sales tax proposal, which would have helped pay for the construction of a light-rail line in the county.

Burgin succeeds John A. Byczek and is appointed for a term beginning February 6, 2012, and ending October 31, 2012.

Scott also named Carlos “John” Melendez to the board as well. Melendez has been an engineering consultant with CPH Engineers Inc. since 2004. He succeeds Alison Hewitt and is appointed for a term beginning February 6, 2012, and ending October 31, 2012.

  • Josh Burgin

As the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority continues to try to maintain as much bus service as possible even as revenues continue to decrease, the words "light" and "rail" are rarely if ever heard at HART board meetings. The rejection by Hillsborough voters on Election Night, 2010, still carries an overwhelming impact.

And don't expect light-rail discussions to resume anytime soon. Today Governor Rick Scott named a major critic of the rail ballot measure, Josh Burgin, to the board.

You might recall that Burgin decided in 2010 to challenge County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, a fellow Republican, in his bid for re-election to the Hillsborough County Commission. Sharpe had alienated a swath of people in his own party for his unstinting cheerleading for the rail initiative, and Burgin answered the call of those who wanted to teach Sharpe a lesson.

It didn't work, however, as Sharpe skunked Burgin in that August 2010 election.

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