Could L.A.'s gambit to get fast track federal funding for light rail help out Hillsborough County?

We reported last night on the glacial pace of discussions yesterday at the Hillsborough County Commission on the proposed one cent sales tax referendum for transit.   It came on the same day as our big feature in the current edition of CL on the battle for light rail was published.  We disdain any attempt at self indulgence, but we do belief the piece is more prescient than ever after sitting through yesterday's meeting.

Ballot language is no closer to being approved than it was a week before. A week ago Monday, a group of attorneys and key officials with the county, the city of Tampa, TBARTA and HART all gathered around a table to discuss some of the key issues that needed to be resolved.  They came up with what they believed was the definitive 75 words that should be placed on the ballot on the rail issue.  Nearly all believed that they would prefer the flexibility of not including the 75/25 split of how the penny cent should be spent for the 30 years of the tax (75% for buses and light rail, 25% for road improvements).  They opted to give County Commissioners a second option of including that language in, because they believed they might get some pushback on it.

That they did yesterday.  The motion to approve the ballot language spelling out the 75/25 split explicitly was rejected, in part because Commissioner Rose Ferlita said she wasn't comfortable with it.  Discussion about what would go in the other 25% (what actual road projects) never came up, pushing the issue back further.  We reported in our piece that it looked like commissioners would not vote on the issue until April, but now there is a good chance it will not happen until May.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will appear in Washington today to go before California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer's Committee on Environment and Public Works.