Hillsborough County taxpayers were contractually promised in return for use of their property to run cable, a voice in the television medium... and that voice is public access television.
Cable subscribers support Public Access television through a monthly fee associated w/ their cable bill. So, what IS THE PROBLEM?
The problem is that Public Access TV and its programs has been a thorn in the sides of many Establishment politicians, through the unfiltered voice that Public Access TV provides.
The false rationale that we just cannot afford Public Access television operating for over 20 years, in such "lean times" because of the Florida Legislature's Tax Cuts and associated decreased revenue to the county, is pure NONSENSE.
It is purely an ALLOCATION issue. Where the funds are going, and as Rose Ferlita so clearly pointed out in her arguments, the generosity to areas that disproportionately "augment" private business enterprise e.g., sports authority beneficiaries, does not demonstrate a magnitude of benefit to justify the level in increased expenditure and are therefore... inappropriate when other services are being left... HIGH AND DRY!
As Mark Adams details in his presentation, the only decrease is in the rate of increase in revenues to the county. The actual revenues for this year and next year are in nominal terms, HIGHER... NOT LOWER!
See link to County Budget Summary here...
Jim Norman gives a circuitous discourse on the value of investing in the recruiting of sports events to Tampa. Comm. Norman uses the investment made by West Palm Beach in his argument which is inappropriate from a number of perspectives. WPB has no professional sports teams, no comparable venues so from a standpoint of desirability is non-competitive w/ Tampa Bay when marketing its assets to nationally recognized sporting events.
A true test would likely be to cut marketing dollars for a year or two and see if there was a dramatic drop off in attracting sporting events of this nature to Tampa in comparison to WPB.
In reality, WPB offers little in the way of competition to Tampa when competing for large, nationally recognized sporting events... given Tampa's professional sports and college teams, their associated venues, hotel and recreational accommodations. Ferlita trumps Hagen and Norman here...
This vote is purely political, and while I may have gotten the sequence of Commissioner Higgenbotham's phone call wrong in my address to the Commission,, the character of the discussion leading to the re-vote where Commissioners Higgenbotham and White changed their vote should remain open to further public scrutiny.
While some on our side may have cringed when I called the commissioners to account for their change of heart, please understand that these people are going to do, what they are going to do...
Giving them a pass on their actions, behavior and motivations demonstrated by the "character" of the vote, only emboldens they and their benefactors further, and does not bode well for the future. Considering the "filtering/censoring" currently undertaken at Hillsborough County Public Libraries re:Internet Access to sites such as Youtube, Facebook, Myspace and Equality Florida are examples. These are attacks on 21st Century political speech.
Circumstances call for courage in exposing the tentacles of the Establishment that are in large measure, all around us.
Free Speech was deemed important enough to enshrine in our Constitution, and what defines speech and "The Public Square" have, and will continue to change over time.
It is our responsibility to stand firm against the forces lurking in the shadows, (those who pull the strings!) and call them out into the open whenever possible.
This is one case where the evidence is about as clear as you'll find it in the public domain.
Let's hope that the Commissioners will see fit to sanction their own rehabilitation and find some funding to preserve the 21st Century Public Square in Tampa Bay.