Murman switches tracks on rail
March 5, 2011
So does Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman support high speed rail or doesn't she?
On Wednesday, Murman voted against a resolution supporting the Tampa-to-Orlando rail project after voting in favor of a nearly identical resolution two weeks earlier.
Murman was the one who introduced the original resolution on Feb. 16. Reading from text she said was supplied by the county attorney's office, Murman praised the high speed rail project for its economic development potential and urged Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature to support it.
Murman then voted with a majority in favor of the resolution, even though just hours earlier, Scott had rejected a $2.4 billion federal grant for the project.
But Murman said Wednesday the latest version of the resolution had new language she couldn't support. At the direction of commissioners, the county attorney's office had changed the wording from urging Scott to support the project to urging the governor to reconsider his decision and accept the federal grant money.
"I've never been for spending public monies for high-speed rail," she said after the Wednesday meeting.
Some commissioners said they were surprised the resolution had come back to them on Wednesday.
"The resolution should be in Tallahassee," Commissioner Les Miller said.
Commission Chairman Al Higginbotham, who voted against the resolution the first time around, agreed with Miller, saying he thought the matter had been settled.
After a long discussion about parliamentary rules governing whether commissioners could reconsider the original resolution, Murman made a motion to rescind it. She then voted against the revamped language. The resolution failed on a 3-3 vote.
Murman defended her action, saying she could not support asking the governor to reconsider taking the federal money. Regarding her Feb. 16 vote, Murman said she wanted to bring up high speed rail so she asked the county attorney to draft language supporting it for a resolution.
But she is not clear about whether she voted for her original language or voted to change it in light of the governor's decision that day.
"I just brought it up for discussion," Murman said. "I didn't think anybody was taking a stance."
But a transcript of the Feb. 16 meeting indicates Murman knew what the resolution would say and supported it. Higginbotham even asked Murman to clarify what the vote would cover.
"I'm a bit confused here," Higginbotham said at the Feb. 16 meeting. "You have made a motion to send this resolution, changing some of the language to the â?? to the House leadership and the governor?"
"Uh-huh," Murman replied in the affirmative.
Murman was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1996 as a Democrat, but later joined the GOP.
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