Commissioner Murman quoted in this StPetersBlog article on Hurricane Irma:


Irma causes estimated $9 million in Hillsborough property damage

by Mitch Perry


Even though Hurricane Irma was “downgraded” to a Category 1 storm by the time it ripped through the region last week, it has definitely made a financial impact in Hillsborough County.

Preston Cook, Hillsborough County’s director of emergency management, said Wednesday that while the storm wasn’t nearly as fierce as initially feared, Irma damaged 287 single family homes, 140 mobile homes and 14 businesses. That adds up to a total of $8.9 million in property damages to date.

The estimated costs for debris damage is now at $15 million, Cook says, a number that is also likely to grow.

At their meeting Wednesday, the board approved spending $1.25 million in costs associated with the storm: $750,000 on overtime for employees who worked throughout the storm and another $500,000 for disaster-related emergency equipment.

In assessing how they performed during the storm, Commissioner Sandy Murman said that communication needs to be improved between the county and the city of Tampa regarding evacuation orders.

Just hours before the storm was about to blast through the region on Sunday, Sept. 10, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhornand Police Chief Brian Dugan declared a curfew in the city of Tampa, beginning at 6 p.m.

Hours later, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said that was not the case — that the power to declare a curfew resided with his office, and he wasn’t declaring any curfew.

Three days earlier, Buckhorn declared a state of emergency in the city, which he said gave him the power to declare a curfew. While he didn’t order anyone to immediately evacuate at that City Hall news conference, Buckhorn made it known explicitly that those living in evacuation area Zone A would be making a “big mistake’ by not evacuating.

“This ain’t Indiana. This is serious stuff. You will die if you’re not careful, if you don’t take the appropriate steps,” he ominously warned.

Hillsborough County officials declared a state of emergency for the county later that day. The next day they announced that they would begin voluntary evacuations starting at 8 a.m. Friday for residents in Zone A who were registered for special needs shelters. Mandatory evacuations for everyone else living in Zone A happened that Saturday when the majority of shelters opened up.

“There were quite a few concerns and confusion about as we move through the process in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) about declarations of evacuations,” Murman said Wednesday at the board’s first meeting since Irma passed through. “People were confused,” said, adding that it was a “huge concern” over the 48 hours leading up to Irma’s arrival, and stated that confusion needed to be cleared up in preparation for the next major storm that will inevitably take aim at the Tampa Bay area.

Commissioners were lavish in praising Tampa Electric Company, even though some residents in the county did not receive power back until last weekend.

“If it was a competition with Duke Energy, you definitely won,” Murman proclaimed.

Commissioner Victor Crist also took a dig at Pinellas County’s government, saying that he was not happy in attempting to get information from officials there as he tried to aid his elderly father.

“It’s amazing that one bridge can separate two different markets as vastly different as it does,” he said.

Crist also said he was unhappy to learn that some of the public schools used as shelters during the storm were trashed, saying he’d like to know who was responsible.

“That type of behavior is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Monday that the path of Hurricane Irma “could not have been more lethal” to the state’s farmers and the scope of damage to the state’s fruits and vegetables is unprecedented.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham said he is extremely concerned about the agriculture industry: “I’m seeing strawberry fields that don’t have plants in them.”

Some Hillsborough County rivers suffered from post-storm flooding. The Little Manatee river sustained less flooding than some of the other rivers, prompting Commissioner Pat Kemp to suggest that perhaps it was because more ELAPP lands were surrounding it. ELAPP is a land acquisition and protection program in the county.


Commissioner Murman quoted in this Tampa Bay Times article on hurricane recovery spending:


Hillsborough okays $1.25 million in Hurricane Irma-related spending with more to come


Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer


Wednesday, September 20, 2017 11:19am

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners approved $1.25 million in expenses related to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday with many more costs expected to come.

The county will spend $750,000 on overtime for employees who worked throughout the storm and another $500,000 for disaster-related emergency equipment.

The money was pulled from a $3 million fund set aside for emergencies. It doesn’t cover other expenses from the aftermath of the storm like debris pickup, flooding and damage.

There’s more than 1 million yards of debris to pick up, public works director John Lyons said, which is about what the county normally collects in one and a half years. It may take four weeks or longer to get to all of it, he said.

About 35 waste water pumps that were without power overflowed during the storm and it’s not yet clear how much sewage may have spilled out.

An early assessment found about $9 million in damage to homes and businesses. About 290 single family homes and 140 mobile homes were damaged or destroyed, said emergency operations director Preston Cook.

The damage would have likely been much worse had Hurricane Irma followed its projected path through the heart of Tampa Bay, county leaders acknowledged. Nevertheless, the event was a live test of the county’s emergency protocols, including the new emergency operations center that opened this year.

At its height, Hillsborough had 45 shelters opened servicing 30,000 residents.

“It was scary, it was big and we really took it seriously,” Cook said.

Commissioners and county staff lauded efforts by TECO to restore power to customers swiftly, noting the prolonged outages many Duke Energy customers experienced in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

“If it was a competition with Duke Energy, you definitely won,” Commissioner Sandy Murman said.

With nine weeks left in hurricane season, County Administrator Mike Merrill said his staff is assessing improvements that can be implemented immediately in case another storm hits.

Murman said the county needs to do more to ensure there are enough shelters for pets and cooling stations for seniors. She added that she hopes Gov. Rick Scott can pressure nursing homes to ensure power at their facilities during a severe weather event. Commissioner Stacy White said he wants to explore weather the county can require generators at assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Commissioner Victor Crist said the county must also ensure that schools that served as shelters are left in better condition, noting that some faced problems from damage and theft.

“We didn’t dodge a bullet but we dodged a bomb,” Commissioner Pat Kemp said.


Commissioner Murman mentioned in this Tampa Bay Times editorial on generators in nursing homes:


Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 4:54pm


The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments. It’s inconceivable that this tragedy already has devolved into finger-pointing, and it will test the resolve of state government to continue to stand up for the state’s most vulnerable seniors against a powerful industry that routinely protects its bottom line.

There is no rational explanation for residents at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills dying after being without air conditioning following Irma — and with the full-service Memorial Regional Hospital right across the street. The residents were evacuated the morning of Sept. 13 hours after the first resident was taken to the hospital. A criminal investigation is under way, and the state suspended the nursing home’s license to operate Wednesday. There should be a call to action in the state with the highest portion of residents who are 65 years old or older.

Yet just a week after this sickening loss of life, Scott is getting attacked by this very same nursing home. The industry is raising concerns about implementing the governor’s emergency rule that would take effect in less than 60 days and require the state’s 685 nursing homes and 3,109 assisted living facilities to have a generator and fuel to keep their facilities reasonably cool for at least four days following a power outage. While it’s reasonable to discuss logistics, no Floridian should fear dying in the heat in one of these facilities because the electricity goes out and there is no air conditioning following a hurricane.

The Broward nursing home defends the indefensible by pointing to calls it made Sept. 12 to the governor, which were referred to appropriate state agencies. But the detailed time line released by Scott’s office shows the nursing home reported no issues after Irma made landfall Sept. 10 even though that is the day its air conditioning system lost power. The problem was noted the following day by the nursing home administrator in a call to the state, but the state says there was no indication that conditions had become dangerous or patients were at risk. The evacuations occurred the morning of Sept. 13 after nursing home patients began arriving at the hospital.

The welfare of seniors in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other homes after power is lost following a storm is not an isolated concern. Officials throughout Tampa Bay rechecked facilities following the news of the deaths in Broward. Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard says some of those facilities in Pinellas were not prepared for power outages, and some of their residents were taken by EMS to shelters. Hillsborough County commissioners discussed the issue Wednesday, with Sandra Murman urging Scott to remain firm in ensuring those homes have power after a storm and Stacy White suggesting the county explore whether it can require generators at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Local officials should remain vigilant, but ultimately this is a public health and safety issue for the state.

Florida can have zero tolerance for allowing nursing homes and other facilities to keep vulnerable seniors in sweltering, dangerous conditions when the power goes out. The governor’s aggressiveness in response to the Broward tragedy reflects the appropriate sense of urgency, and he and state lawmakers should not back down in requiring better.


Commissioner Murman quoted in this Miami Herald article on Hurricane Irma:


If path holds, Irma could swamp Southwest Florida, Tampa coast with surge



SEPTEMBER 09, 2017 7:44 PM

As Hurricane Irma began assaulting Florida’s west coast Sunday, it threatened to hit the nation’s most vulnerable target for storm surge: Tampa.

Tampa is especially prone to flooding because it is low lying with a big bay and inlets that face the shallow, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And just about every other Gulf Coast community in Irma’s track — Everglades City, Naples, Cape Coral, Bradenton, Sarasota — is also at high risk.

Tampa leaders are all too aware of this scary natural phenomenon.

“Storm surge is real. I think it’s ‘You run from the water and hide from the wind,’ ” Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said, urging residents to take all precautions at an emergency briefing on Saturday.

“Well, you better run from this water because if that storm surge hits six to nine feet, I know I’m going to have six feet in my house.”

Based on its track coming off the Lower Keys on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center projected storm surge — the difference between normal high tide and storm tide — reaching as high as 10 to 15 feet along Southwest Florida’s coast from Cape Sable to Captiva. The Tampa Bay area could see four to eight feet.

“If you’re in an evacuation zone, you do not want to be there when the surge comes,” NHC specialist Mike Brennan warned Gulf Coast residents. “You can lose your life. It’s as simple as that.”

The Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area — Florida’s second largest — has been rated as the nation’s most vulnerable region to a major storm surge with estimated property losses of $175 billion in the event of a 100-year hurricane, according to a Boston company that specializes in assessing the risk of catastrophes.

In Tampa, the 100-year hurricane would be a Category 4 storm with winds as high as 150 miles per hour. The last major hurricane to strike the Tampa Bay area — a Category 4 with maximum winds of 140 miles per hour — was in 1921.

“A severe storm with the right-track orientation will cause an enormous buildup of water that will become trapped in the bay and inundate large areas of Tampa and St. Petersburg,” with 50 percent of their population living on ground elevations less than 10 feet, according to a 2015 report by Karen Clark & Company.

The company rated Fort Myers No. 5 in vulnerability with estimated losses of $70 billion, and Sarasota at No. 7 with losses estimated at $50 billion.

By comparison, Miami came in at No. 4 with estimated losses at $80 billion. Miami’s coastal profile is less prone to storm surge than other areas because the continental shelf falls off steeply, the report said. But its potential property losses are still high because the city boasts some of Florida’s most expensive real estate.

Irma, which earlier in the week was projected to strike South Florida, started shifting to a northwest track on Friday toward Southwest Florida. Typically, in this region, storms travel east to west or southwest to northeast — as Hurricane Charley did in 2004, when the Category 4 storm made landfall west of Fort Myers.


Commissioner Murman quoted in this FOX 13 article on Hurricane Irma:


Local leaders: The time to leave is now; tomorrow may be too late


By: FOX 13 News staff

POSTED: SEP 09 2017 08:01PM EDT

UPDATED: SEP 09 2017 11:22PM EDT


TAMPA (FOX 13) – Tomorrow, they said, may be too late.

As Hurricane Irma approaches the Tampa Bay Area, evacuations will become too dangerous, they said. Efforts to rescue those who decided – against all advice – to stay, won’t be possible.

Hillsborough County Fire-Rescue Chief Dennis Jones said Saturday, crews are prepared to respond once the storm passes, but “during the storm, we are unable to respond due to high winds and the danger to the crews”.

Jones urged people in mandatory evacuation zones to heed the warnings.

“This is for real,” he said. “Evacuate now, so we don’t have to come and rescue you later.”

As evacuation orders went up across the Tampa Bay Area Saturday, and the entire region was placed under a hurricane warning, local leaders hammered the message home:

“Heed the warning.”
“This is not a test.”
“The time to take action is now.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman said anyone in an evacuation zone who thinks they can ride this storm out is wrong. That includes some of her own neighbors. 

Murman‘s home is an evacuation zone and says many of her neighbors have decided to stay put.

“That is scary,” she said. “They think they can tough this out.”  

Murman, herself, is heeding the advice and getting out. 

“If that storm surge hits nine feet, I’m going to have six feet in my house,” she said. 

Col. Chad Chronister with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office echoed the message.

“This is not a test,” he said. “We are all going to be affected. Do not delay.”

Chronister said his agency has put additional patrols on the streets to help with evacuations, but “the threshold [for when it’s too late] is going to come rather quickly.”

“The time to take action is now,” he added.

It’s a message that comes all the way from the top. At a news briefing Saturday evening, Governor Rick Scott put it in clear terms: “If you have been ordered to evacuate, go now,” adding, “this is your last chance to make a good decision.”

He urged Floridians in evacuation zones to “do the right thing for your family.”

Governor Scott said the storm surge predictions and the projected wind strengths are “unlike anything” most people have ever experienced.

FOX 13 Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto said those who do stay behind will face several long hours of extremely high winds which will be louder than most of us have ever heard. He urged people in evacuation zones to go to a shelter.

He said anyone reluctant to do so because they don’t want to be around a bunch of strangers have the wrong idea.

“You’ll make friends for life,” he said, adding, “there’s always comfort in numbers.”

He said riding out the storm by yourself, isn’t a good idea.

“You wanna talk about a feeling of isolation? When the power’s out and it’s pitch black at 2 o’clock in the morning, and the house is vibrating – you’re going to wish you had someone around you.”


Commissioner Murman quoted in this article on Hurricane Irma:




Author Floyd Cook

10 September, 2017

If you’ve ever watched how a storm surge works, it flows in fast, very fast, then it flows out.

Officials said that hurricane-force winds are expected in the Floriday Keys around daybreak on Sunday. I think it’s ‘You run from the water and hide from the wind.’ ” Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said, urging residents to take all precautions at an emergency briefing on Saturday. The area hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 1921.

It is then forecast to change direction and head north towards the USA stateof Florida, where a state of emergency has been called. The Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando airports shut down.

If Irma’s eye wall cuts across the Tampa-St. It was set to close at 8:00 p.m. with no word yet on when it would re-open. “The hurricane is expected to move along or near the southwest coast of Florida Sunday afternoon”.

As of early Saturday morning, the storm was still making its way across Cuba with the full extent of the damage unclear.

Evacuations were ordered for several areas in South Florida and the Florida Keys this week.

She said the storm hit at about 2 a.m., and at 4 a.m., they realized the 7th floor of the hotel was flooded.

Orange juice prices have already been creeping higher as Florida braces for the storm.

Throughout this week, Irma’s projected course has changed multiple times.

Florida’s agriculture, fishing and horticulture industries bring in $150 billion per year.

“This is your last chance to make a good decision”, Rick Scott, governor of Florida, warned residents in the state’s evacuation zones, which encompassed a staggering 6.4 million people, or more than 1 in 4 people. Almost 30,000 people had lost power, mostly in and around Miami and Fort Lauderdale, as the wind began gusting.

Some 54,000 people have already taken refuge in the 320 shelters across the state – and the number of evacuees continues to grow, Scott said.

“We are in touch with community leaders in Florida area”, Indian Ambassador to US Navtej Sarna, told PTI after a review meeting he had on hurricane Irma preparedness. “This likely will be one of the most challenging restorations that our country has ever seen”.

Jaspert made the announcement Friday telling residents; “I come to you with a heavy heart after experiencing and observing the extent of devastation caused by Hurricane Irma”.

– HurricaneTracker App (@hurrtrackerapp) September 9, 2017There is the potential that up to 20 million people lose power!

Flood-prone Miami Beach, also under mandatory evacuation order, has been emptied of people but is bracing for high waters. Almost 40% of Miami’s gas stations, for example, were completely out of stock Friday. Even 25 miles off the coast, the Gulf of Mexico is only about 60 feet deep.

Florida is also home to thousands of Indian-Americans. And visitors pump billions of dollarsinto the state’s economy every year.

And hurricane-force winds are expected to lash the peninsula as it rolls north toward Georgia. It’s unknown how many pythons are in the Everglades – estimates range from 10,000 to 100,000 – but the evidence of their presence is the eerie, near-total absence of rabbits or other small animals reported by the hunters now paid by the state to kill pythons on public lands.

Florida’s economy has been chugging along lately, showing promising signs of recovery after the 2008 market crash wreaked havoc on the state.



Commissioner Murman pictured in this Tampa Bay Times story on equal pay:


Commissioner Sandy Murman speaks on differences in pay between men and women.

Commissioner Sandy Murman speaks on differences in pay between men and women.

Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

  • By Malena Carollo, Times Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 10:04am


Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]


When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

According to the study, Florida has the smallest gap between men and women for unemployment rate, second smallest income gap between men and women and the second smallest gap between hours worked by women and men.

“Women’s rights in the U.S. have made leaps and bounds since the passage of the 19th amendment,” the study reads. “Yet many women still struggle to crack the proverbial glass ceiling because of their unequal treatment in society.”

Florida also had the sixth smallest gap between pay for men and women in minimum wage jobs. The study was based on factors in workplace environment, education and health and political empowerment. Nevada came in first for workplace environment, followed by New Mexico at No. 2, Montana at No. 3 and Hawaii at No. 4.

Despite the high category rankings, WalletHub pegged Florida as No. 35 overall


Commissioner Murman mentioned in this Tampa Bay Times article on the Port:


Overspending accusations spur stricter policies at Port Tampa Bay

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 2:24pm


TAMPA —Port Tampa Bay’s governing board approved a new spending and expense policy Tuesday amid recent reports of excessive spending among its employees.

The revised policy, which went into effect Tuesday, forces port officials to forgo renewing golf memberships or Tampa Bay Lightning season tickets and will require detailed documentation of all business and travel-related expenses. Port employees will be required to attend a training session about the new policies and to fill out a new form to document every expense.

Staff members made it clear during a presentation to the board that alcoholic beverages paid for during any business engagement — which came under close scrutiny after a local ABC Action News investigation — will not be reimbursed for employees. However, port employees can pay for alcoholic beverages for guests who could potentially do business with the port.

In addition, the board will require all employee expenses to undergo a third-party auditing procedure by Tampa accounting firm Rivero, Gordimer & Co. every quarter and annually, for review. The port’s ethics commission is also reviewing the accusations of overspending.

Several instances of overspending, which included port employees using port-paid-for golf memberships for personal use, lavish meals at expensive restaurants like Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, and season tickets for the Tampa Bay Lightning games, have been reimbursed, said Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay president and CEO.

“It’s our goal to be the region’s economic leader. We work tirelessly to bring state, national and international companies and jobs to the Tampa Bay area,” Anderson said at the meeting. “Recent questions about our expenses have prompted us to take a closer look at the controls in place. We want to infuse greater disclosure, clarity and accuracy when it comes to our expenditures. It is my responsibility to make that happen.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Mike Griffin to the Tampa Port Authority. Griffin, 36, fills a vacant seat on the board, but Scott touted Griffin as a new overseer of the port’s operations after the overspending accusations. Griffin is the senior managing director of Savills Studley Occupier Services in Tampa and is also the current chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

“Recently, I was concerned to see media reports detailing wasteful spending by the executives at Port Tampa Bay. The actions detailed in these reports should serve as a reminder of the importance of the oversight every appointee is charged with providing. I look forward to the Tampa Port Authority governing board reviewing policies to prevent wasteful spending by employees,” Scott explained in a statement when Griffin was appointed. Scott was a major supporter of Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, two statewide public agencies that marketed Florida for tourism and corporate development. Both agencies faced scrutiny from legislators this year about overspending.

Port Tampa Bay board members seemed pleased with the swift action to revise and implement new policies.

“Some things that took place were unnecessary and unreasonable, but the port’s staff recognized that and have taken the aggressive steps to fix its culture,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman said the revised policy was among the most conservative she’s seen at a public agency.

Meanwhile, Vice Chairman Carl Lindell said “We don’t want to take the tools away to compete globally. This port is subject to competition. We need to assure that we’re still backing them up and giving them the proper amount of dollars to make business happen.”

Contact Justine Griffin at or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.


Commissioner Murman quoted in this Tampa Bay Times article on storm water rates:


Stormwater rate hike coming to Hillsborough residents, businesses


Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer


Wednesday, August 16, 2017 11:41am

Single-family households will pay $36 this year, an increase of $6. Apartment complexes will now pay $18 per unit and non-residential parcels will pay $0.03 for every 1.5 square feet.

The new rates, approved 5-1, also give commissioners the option of raising the rate for residents to $42 next year.

Commissioners hope the hike can help the county address a significant backlog in the kind of culvert and watershed improvements that can alleviate flooding that habitually occurs after even modest rains.

“I’m exhausted in my office dealing with situations of storm water problems. My staff is exhausted,” Commissioner Sandy Murman said. “We are trying to answer the needs. This is a quality of life issue that’s really important to our residents.”

It’s necessary for Hillsborough to address stormwater infrastructure because of its “special problems” as a coastal county that sees heavy rainfall in summer months and is susceptible to sea level rise and tropical storms, Commissioner Pat Kemp said.

Administrator Mike Merrill, however, said that while this is a step forward but many larger stormwater projects remain unfunded in the capital plan.

Commissioner Victor Crist was the lone no vote.

In 2015, commissioners raised the fee from $12 a year to $30, the first rate increase since the stormwater fee was first assessed in 1991.


At the time, county staff recommended a hike to $36 dollars a year but commissioners split the difference, fearing a 200 percent increase was too aggressive for residents.

The new rates will generate about $19.7 million a year.


Commissioner Murman quoted in this SPB article on TBARTA appointment:


Kathleen Shanahan appointed by HART to new transit board, but not without controversy

by Mitch Perry


The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) voted to appoint Kathleen Shanahan as its representative on the newly reconstructed TBARTA (the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority) board on Monday, but only after debating whether it was better to appoint an elected official or a member of the general public.

Shanahan is a private businesswoman who for decades has been a major player in Republican circles in Florida and Washington D.C. Originally nominated by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to serve on the board for a three-year term in the fall of 2014, she’s frequently discussed the importance of HART getting a seat at the table with state and federal officials to benefit the agency.

Shanahan initially declined the nomination and instead backed Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who was originally nominated by her Board of County Commission colleague Pat Kemp. 

But sentiment quickly grew on the board that it would be better if they selected a non-elected member of its board to TBARTA’s board.

“I don’t think there’s a confidence in our elected community at this point in time and I think it’s our responsibility to reach beyond that and bring somebody in who’s really passionate about this and has knowledge as well,” said HART board member Mickey Jacob, who then nominated John Melendez, an engineering consultant who has served on the board since being appointed by Governor Rick Scott in 2012.

During the 2017 Legislative Session, Florida lawmakers supported the proposal of reconfiguring the TBARTA board. Among those changes was altering the title of the organization from the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Agency to the Tampa Bay Regional Transit Agency, reducing the counties in the agency from 7 to 5, and creating a new 13-member board; Five will represent the specific counties in TBARTA (Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Manatee and Hernando); two members will be selected by the mayors of Tampa and St. Petersburg; PSTA and HART will select a single memebr, and Governor Rick Scott will get four picks.

It was a major priority for the Tampa Bay area business community, though some have criticized the fervor for what on the surface seems to be a simply reshuffling of an agency that hasn’t been very relevant in the discussion about improving transportation in the region.

While Kemp and Hillsborough County Commission ChairStacy White backed their colleague Murman’s selection to the new TBARTA board; Commissioner Les Miller said a non-elected appointee to serve would be a “breath of fresh air,” a sentiment echoed by Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez.

But Murman warned the board that the lack of a second BOCC member of the HART board could hurt Hillsborough County when it comes to funding in the future.

“Pinellas County is going to have two county commissioners on TBARTA,” Murman said. “Legislatively they have the power in Pinellas county right now, I think you need to understand that from a state perspective.”

Murman said she was stunned to see how much funding goes to places like Pasco and Pinellas Counties in the last budget. “It’s all in the political influence. And if you think otherwise, you’re just not looking at the facts.”

“Our county is far bigger than the other counties in the region and is really ground zero in the region for transportation,” said Kemp, adding that a decision not to appoint Murman would be doing Hillsborough County wrong.

But Murman said she could count the votes and realized they weren’t there for her. She then withdrew her nomination and asked that Shanahan be renominated.

Shanahan reluctantly accepted the renomination, but echoed Murman’s concerns that it would not be beneficial for HART to choose a non-elected official.

“We’re not being strategic about this and now we’ve turned it into a personality choice, which is unfortunate, because this is really an opportunity for the strength of building on regional funding,” Shanahan said.

She also said that the voters should be more involved in the process, and indirectly criticized Murman and White when she said she believe the County Commission made a mistake a year ago in not putting the Go Hillsborough transportation referendum before the public.

Shanahan, 58, serves as the CEO of URETEK Holdings, Inc., and has previously worked for Jeb Bush, George H.W. Bushand Dick Cheney over the years.

Page 12 of 81« First...1011121314...203040...Last »