November 10, 2009

Rashid puts Hillsborough commissioners on notice about transit tax

East Hillsborough County activist and businessman Sam Rashid has been less visible on the political front in recent years than he has in the past. But that may be changing.

Rashid sent an email to four of the county's Republican commissioners this week warning them that the board's vote last week to put a transit tax referendum on the ballot next year could spawn a backlash. From him and others. The email went to personal accounts of Chairman Ken Hagan, Mark Sharpe, Al Higginbotham and Jim Norman, as well as a dozen or so others who follow county politics. (Higginbotham and Norman voted against the resolution.)

Interestingly, the email singles out Hagan as recommending the 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for rail, buses and roads. So far, much of the push back from conservatives has targeted Sharpe, who has played a more high-profile role in promoting the proposal. But it was a task force created by Hagan that recommended the sales tax referendum, which he has supported.

Rashid said in an interview that he believes Hagan signed a pledge when he first ran for office that he would not support any new taxes if elected.

"I consider the rail tax a brand new tax," Rashid said. "I also consider a vote to move forward with the referendum a vote in support of that tax."

Here's the body of the email:

"'...Chairman Ken Hagan is recommending that commissioners put a 1-cent sales tax increase proposal on the November 2010 ballot.'" SP Times 11/2009

"That's $170 to $300 million per year taken out of our local economy to pay for a few miles of track. I would like to be on the record as opposing your vote to move forward on supporting the largest single tax increase on the residents of Hillsborough County and would recommend to the local party leadership that they use their influence locally to indentify and inform their members those Republican Commissioners that have violated their core pledges of no-tax increases on residents of our county -- prior to the next election. Since, as one Commissioner recently stated, (late political activist and fundraiser) 'Ralph Hughes is no longer around' to fund such a mailing, we will have to do so ourselves without the help of Ralph. Remember, at the end of the day, this is still a swing county. A few points either way can made the difference in any elected official's chances of re-election and I believe we're obligated to do our part even if it is a Republican that has decided to tax and spend the taxpayer's money contrary to his pledges made to voters prior to his first election."

-- Bill Varian, Times staff writer


Posted by tampabaycom at 06:47:13 PM on November 10, 2009
in Hillsborough | Permalink


Concerned Tampon

This is all posturing to get approved for the federal stimulus money for sun rail. Too bad the fed doesn't care about hillsborough county. They would rather see south florida do something about sunrail.

Instead why can't we have a local gas tax to incentivise people to start using public transportation and stop using their cars.

This is the kind of policy Tampa needs.


You are not the word of God in Hillsborough County and your money will not determine the future of this county. Hillsborough is decades behind the cities across the country - Dallas, Denver, Charlotte, Houston - all now have light rail approved by taxpayers because taxpayers understand that its the only was to build a modern, livable county with a high-quality of life. You, and your backward vision, developer-worshipping, all about you and the money in your pocket way of doing things is finally history. Sam I'm sure there's some warm, backward place you can move to where you can still try to be a kingmaker.

Taxed Max

I agree 100% with Sam, this is a 14% increase in our Sales Tax and not only would it be the largest Tax increase in the history of Hillsborough County, but it would also result in the highest Sales Tax of any County in Florida. This type of Tax proposal during a recession should be a call to action for all Hillsborough County Voters. First we have to fight the special interest groups, consultants and contractors who are pushing this cause with special funding and political donations. Then we must vote down this Tax proposal and vote out the elected officials who supported it. Yes, it will be a busy year fighting against "Penny Politics".

How can you possibly trust the five Commissioners who voted in favor of this Tax increase and did it in a way to keep fundraising out of the Sunshine and away from Florida's election laws?

Marcella O'Steen

The MAN has spoken. The whip has been cracked.

Does Sam Rashid think he lives in a Republican fiefdom with vassals to do his bidding? No thinking or acting outside the Republican box? That no real Republican can be for transit? Or in this case, for simply putting the issue on the ballot to see if the PEOPLE are for it and are willing to pay for it? I do believe that voting in an election is the democractic -- and Republican -- way.

Does Rashid believe that no Republican can look beyond the tip of his nose to a future, ten, twenty years hence, with no transit system, no express/commuter bus and light rail? That we can't take the long view and do the hard thing now to make the future more do-able?
Gas will never be cheap again and who of us can afford two or three cars anymore? (Rashid certainly can, but can our grown children and our grandchildren?)

Earth to Mr. Rashid -- Republicans do not march in lock step. And some Republican commissioners are not afraid to go against you and the late Ralph Hughes and the leadership of the party. So take your threats back to the smoke filled room. Hands off the BOCC as they attempt to do something that may be right, but not politically safe.

Bottom line - the voters will decide; so stop threatening Commissioners with your fat checkbook.

Marcella O’Steen , (R)

Big Pooh

That's what I got for Sam Rashid: a fat turd. And that goes for his step and fetch it boys on the county commission as well.

Who the hell does this guy think he is?

I am just another republican who wants mass transit instead of giving my money to the Saudi's for their oil. I will vote for a democrat over a republican when it comes to this issue. If your goal is to keep pushing the party back to the dark ages - go right ahead. But I will not vote for any republican who does not support mass transit (including light rail) 100 percent!

So, suck on that, Rashid.

sam the sham

Mr. Rashid hasn't had a success in years. Didn't he run Brian Blair's campaign? I guess Commissioner Beckner appreciates Sam Rashid more than most Republicans who consider him a big bag of wind!


The opposition is to raising the sales tax not rail. When there's no leadership, RINOs want to tax.

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