Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Krise-O-Meter

Support referendum for Green Light Pinellas and route into downtown

Q: Pinellas voters are expected to vote in November 2014 on raising the sales tax by 1 cent to pay for better bus service and a light rail system? Do you support the referendum and the proposed route into downtown? A: "Yes and Yes. Light rail and other modes of public transportation are vital to our municipal and regional success and moving us into the future."


Sources:

Tampa Bay Times questionnaire, July 2013

Subjects: Transportation

Updates

Greenlight failed, but Kriseman did his part

Rick Kriseman promised during his campaign to support Greenlight Pinellas, the failed transit initiative to expand bus service and build a light rail line from St. Petersburg to Clearwater.

While the measure was soundly defeated on Nov. 4, 2014, it wasn't because Kriseman didn't hold up his pledge of support.

When we last checked in on this promise in June, we found Kriseman had mentioned "restructuring the bus system, adopting light rail, and even reconfiguring our tax system to pay for the way we travel in this region" in his Jan. 2 inaugural speech. He brought it up again in a recurring stump speech.

We further noted that his deputy mayor, Kanika Tomalin, was co-chairperson of the Greenlight Pinellas Business Committee. Kriseman and Tomalin made sure the plan was on the city's website, and Kriseman is the city's representative for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, which supports the initiative.

Spokesman Ben Kirby said the mayor had done more since June.

Kriseman stumped for the transit measure at a June forum in west St. Petersburg along with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

In the weeks before the election, Kriseman spoke in favor of Greenlight at a televised roundtable on the city's television station and at a news conference at City Hall announcing that city workers would ride free on Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority buses.

And the mayor, along with city council members, directed Greenlight informational brochures to be available at city recreation centers and libraries, said Kirby. He added that Kriseman raised thousands of dollars for the failed initiative by calling donors as part of a Tampa Bay Partnership fundraising campaign.

Kirby even pointed to his bosses' sartorial choices as evidence that he had fulfilled his promise.

"He wore a Greenlight button every day. We have pictures to prove it," Kirby quipped.

His efforts weren't wasted in central and southern St. Pete, the epicenter of the measure's support on Election Day (the referendum garnered barely any precincts north of 54th Avenue N). Kriseman said North Pinellas residents weren't sufficiently informed of how the plan benefitted them, and he said that should be a priority with any future transit plan.

"It means we have to work harder," he said after the defeat.

Although the plan was voted down by 62 percent of county residents -- mostly over the 1-cent sales tax increase for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority -- he delivered on his promise to support the project through speeches, providing information and soliciting donations.

We rate this a Promise Kept.

Sources:

PolitiFact Florida, "Mayor talks about mass transit," June 3, 2014

Tampa Bay Times, "Voters reject Greenlight Pinellas," Nov. 4, 2014

Tampa Bay Times, "Greenlight backers ponder what went wrong and what's next," Nov. 5, 2014

Tampa Bay Times Bay Buzz blog, "Map makes it clear where Greenlight Pinellas went wrong," Nov. 5, 2014

WTSP, "Buckhorn, Kriseman hopeful for another transit plan," Nov. 5, 2014

Tampa Bay Times, "Poll: Voters disliked Greenlight Pinellas' tax structure," Nov. 20, 2014

Interview with Benjamin Kirby, mayor's communications director, Nov. 20, 2014

Mayor talks about mass transit

One of Rick Kriseman's campaign promises was supporting expanded mass transit for St. Petersburg and the region. Since his term coincides with the Greenlight Pinellas campaign, he has expressed nothing but support for the measure.

With about five months to go before Pinellas County voters decide whether to approve a 1-cent sales tax to pay for light rail and expanded bus service, how much has Kriseman done to tout the measure? He certainly talks about it enough.

While the city can only inform and not advocate, Kriseman has been sure to mention it in speeches. In his Jan. 2 inaugural speech, he mentioned he and his transition team "have been engaged in the necessary conversation about restructuring the bus system,  adopting light rail, and even reconfiguring our tax system to pay for the way we travel in this region."

He also makes mention of it in a recurring stump speech his office says he last gave on May 30.

The mayor's communications director, Benjamin Kirby, also highlighted that one of Kriseman's first hires was Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. She was co-chairwoman of the Greenlight Pinellas Business Committee, which studied the workability of the mass transit plan.

Kirby also said Kriseman and Tomalin are the driving force behind including and updating information on Greenlight Pinellas on the city's website. Kriseman also is the city's representative for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, which supports the initiative.

Kriseman has voiced his support of the project, and there's plenty of time for him to do more before voters decide. We rate this promise In The Works.

Sources:

Tampa Bay Times, "St. Petersburg swears in Mayor Rick Kriseman with showy outdoor ceremony," Jan. 2, 2014

Tampa Bay Times, "Editorial: Kriseman promises, now must deliver," April 30, 2014

TBARTA.com, TBARTA Board & Staff, accessed May 30, 2014

PSTA.net, Greenlight Pinellas Plan Enters Final Phase, Sept. 24, 2013

Interview with Benjamin Kirby, mayor's communications director, May 30 and June 2, 2014