By Jim Bleyer
The transparent smear campaign by pro-light rail public officials and supportive media outlets against opponents of a Hillsborough County sales tax increase boomeranged on a gargantuan scale this week.
The embarrassing fallout traveled 650 miles from Raleigh to Tampa.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who tried to peddle a sales tax increase to Hillsborough voters in 2010, is receiving national criticism for his rabid defense of subverting local anti-discrimination ordinances that extended rights to the LGBT community.
The Charlotte Observer, North Carolina’s largest newspaper lambasted McCrory’s record of sanctioning various legislative measures that are anti-LGBT and anti-black.
Mitch Perry of SaintPetersBlog reminded us two days ago that Moving Hillsborough Forward, the 2010 version of the Go Hillsborough mass transit effort, brought then-Charlotte Mayor McCrory to Tampa three times to meet the press and advise local officials on how to pitch the sales tax referendum.
The 2010 pro-taxers, a small but vocal cabal that nearly clones this year’s Go Hillsborough list of apostles, proudly proclaimed McCrory as their transit guru.
His participation didn’t help much. Voters emphatically scuttled the transit tax, 58-42 percent. The 2016 Go Hillsborough proposal faces much much taller hurdles.
With no bona fide arguments to convince voters to tax themselves, proponents of this year’s mass transit scam have been relentless in attempting to marginalize their most vocal critics by labeling them as extremists, right wingers, and tea partiers. The fact is that the large and growing opposition to Go Hillsborough is broad-based and bi….bipartisan that is.
The mudslinging perps include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, County Commissioner Ken Hagan, Connect Tampa Bay executive director Kevin Thurman, and the editorial staffs of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times.
The Go Hillsborough effort has been marred from the start–a no-bid contract, specious, unverified “poll” results, public records law violations, a contractor with a scandal-plagued history, a biased law enforcement investigation, and a vague plan that includes light rail but barely mentions it because that component is kryptonite to the vast majority of the electorate.
Meanwhile, public officials have no plan B to widen, build, or maintain Hillsborough’s neglected road system while fiddling around with a mass transit tax referendum that is doomed to fail. Voters are burning.