23 August 2012

Tampa-fication Thru Tea Party Temperance Not Spend-thriftiness

Democrats claiming credit for Tampa's triumphs 

In anticipation of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Salon Magazine (no conservative rag) published a piece entitled: “Tampa: America’s Hot Mess”, which details how a city which the 1988 bestseller “Megatrends” has degenerated into what is derisively called a “Hot Urban Mess”.

Columnist Will Doig uses the empty 40 acres in Tampa which were slated for the aborted $2.4 Billion Sun Rail project in July 2011 as an example of what he considers the short-sighted parsimonious civic spending in Tampa as a foretaste of what is in store for America if Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is elected as President.

The article seems to presume that Hillsborough County’s rejection of the ½ cent sales tax increase scotched the light-rail deal and unwisely condemned them to congestion.  Actually, the transit tax was a 1 cent sales tax increase which failed to get 60% of votes in 2010.

The presumption that light rail would be a transportation panacea is questionable on a cost-benefit analysis.  Mass transit works well in several cities with established urban cores, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C. and Chicago.  But then there is the infamous example of the $200 million Detroit monorail.  Baltimore’s light rail is not touted as a solution to urban congestion.  Presumably, progressives love choo-choo trains because of centralized planning, emulating European examples and employing municipal union employees. Light rail costs lots of money to establish the infrastructure and maintain it.  Perhaps express busses (which could be designed to look like street cars) running in HOV lanes could more efficiently comnbat congestion. But that derails the dream of urban railroads so beloved by progressive politicos.

Doig recounts that when Tampa went on a building spree spurred by real estate and the financial and insurance markets, there were tall glass buildings that were detached from the city itself and did not offer incentives for parks, transit or walkable space.

Perhaps the author is unfamiliar with Joel Garreau’s theory  why businesses were inclined to relocate to an Edge City  in the 1980s instead of urban centers.  The lower cost of office-space, cleaner campuses (without Superfund cleanups) which the companies control, modern infrastructure and municipalities which offered tax incentives for relocating rather than soaking supposed deep pocket companies to “pay their fair share” of taxes and graft.

It is unsurprising that the Salon columnist blames the Tea Party for not submitting to smart growth policies contained in the non-binding United Nations Agenda 21 document (not a treaty).  But without worrying about conspiracies over international Sustainable Development initiatives, the consternation can more easily be explained by the urban, suburban divide.  Democrats love centrality and dense populations, as this requires active government, lots of municipal employees and empowered politicians who bring home the bacon for their constituents.  Suburban sprawl denudes the density which requires the infrastructure and activist progressive politicians.  Of course the urban core of Tampa are Democrats and suburban Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties (St. Petersburg) are conservative strongholds.

Hurricane Isaac may make shuttling the 400 buses slated to transport RNC delegates to the Tampa Bay Times Arena more complicated, but it will be embracing the consequences of Tea Party Temperance on Taxation.  It is the height of hypocrisy for the Democrat Mayor and City Council to claim credit for the Tampa triumph and then backbite the conservative Tea Party types and conservatives

Considering the empty coiffers of many state and local governments due to boondoggles, overstaffing municipal union employees and ridiculously generous pension packages, there may be much more Tampa-fication in America rather than spend thrift states like California and Illinois.

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