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Teabag City

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"Poke around the White House website,and you'll still find a hopeful “fact sheet” for a 324-mile high-speed rail line linking Miami, Orlando and Tampa.


No such system exists, of course — it was killed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Today, there’s a 40-acre vacant lot where the Tampa terminal would have stood. And when Republicans arrive for their national convention in about a week and catch a glimpse of it, they’ll likely see a big win. In fact, the GOP will find a lot of things in Tampa that exemplify their commitment to not investing in the future.


“The trend [in Tampa] today is to say, ‘We don’t need it — no new taxes — we are not going to invest anymore,’” former Pinellas County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan recently told Tampa Bay Online. “And that message resonates from not only the constituents, but the leadership of the Republican Party.” You could fairly call the GOP vision for the country the Tampafication of America.


Tampa is a hot urban mess, equal parts Reagan ’80s and Paul Ryan 2010s. Urban renewal projects decimated the city in the ’60s, but its current persona was forged in earnest starting three decades ago, when finance and insurance companies started moving their back-office operations there, attracted by the sunshine and low-cost labor. The 1988 bestseller “Megatrends” declared Tampa “America’s next great city.” Real estate joined the service economy as a major economic pillar, and the city embarked on a building spree, sprouting large glass towers disconnected from the city itself, a development pattern that offered little incentive to invest in things like parks, transit or walkable spaces.


This left little of the quality urbanism people now pay a premium for. And while other cities made similar mistakes, Tampa has been slow to correct theirs, stymied by tight-fisted Tea Party politics. “We look at Dallas or Houston, with all the same challenges we have; they’ve managed to start changing their patterns of development and attract the creative-class younger folks who are looking for alternatives to the suburban lifestyle,” says Steve Schukraft, the Tampa Bay area’s representative to the Congress for the New Urbanism. When you’re wistfully pining for Houston’s urban virtues, things are not going well.


But that’s where Tampa finds itself. Even Houston, like other Sun Belt cities, has been working to rectify its mistakes, constructing successful light-rail lines and some lively mixed-use neighborhoods. Meanwhile, in 2010, voters in Tampa’s Hillsborough County rejected a one-cent sales tax that would have funded a new light-rail system. (That same year, the Tampa Bay area saw the nation’s largest increase in traffic congestion.) Fifty percent of the urban core is now set aside for parking, says Shannon Bassett, assistant professor of architecture and urbanism at the University of South Florida.


These choices have left their mark. In 2010, Forbes ranked Tampa dead last out of 60 metro areas for commuting. Transportation for America declared it the second-most-dangerous city for pedestrians. And a 2007 survey of 30 metropolitan areas found exactly one with no walkable destinations: Tampa, Fla. “Tampa is not a particularly pedestrian-friendly city,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn recently admitted.


Bassett is working to “de-engineer” the city from this current state. “How do you address the lack of pedestrianism, the lack of civic space, the lack of shade, which is crucial for Florida urbanism?” she asks. “There’s some bike paths now, and landscaping, but to me it’s not integrative. I think it needs a larger rethinking of its infrastructure. It’s operating in more of an ’80s mentality.”


But de-engineering isn’t easy in a city with an aversion not only to public spending, but urban planning. Tea Party paranoia includes a bizarre fear of smart-growth policies, in which more intelligent land-use management is seen as a shadowy United Nations conspiracy (complete with a scary-sounding name: Agenda 21). And while the city of Tampa might not be hard-right politically, Hillsborough and Pinella Counties, which control many of the decisions that affect it, are bona fide birther territory. “The county commission is much more conservative now than it was in the late ’80s, early ’90s,” says Robert Kerstein, who teaches the city’s history and politics at the University of Tampa. “They have a strong religious-right orientation.”


One of their commandments is Thou Shalt Not Densify. Sprawl is gospel in Tampa Bay — the city itself has only about 4.6 people per acre. Rather than build up, in 1988, Tampa annexed 24 square miles to its north, filled it with low-density development and named it New Tampa (the name itself implying that “old” downtown Tampa is obsolete). The Suncoast Parkway, opened in 2001, is emblematic of the area’s development, and one reason why the region’s growth is mostly occurring 50 miles away. Downtown Tampa, meanwhile, has a windswept, desolate feel outside of business hours. “It still suffers from CBD (central business district) syndrome,” says Bassett. “People come to work and then leave. To me the city is rural-urban. Not to the extent of Detroit, but kind of comparable.”


Without a downtown that bustles beyond the 9-to-5, “America’s Next Great City” has fallen to last place among six nearby economies as measured by the Tampa Bay Partnership’s economic scorecard. The median family income in Tampa Bay (which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater) is $55,700, lower than most others in the region. And business owners are starting to panic that letting the city go to pot will start impacting the tourism industry. “Behind the scenes, [business leaders] have discussed the need to provide ‘political cover’ for elected officials interested in working toward infrastructure investment,” reported Tampa Bay Online.


Some of those elected officials, especially the ones in the city proper, are doing their best to push through improvements even as their countywide counterparts just say no. Mayor Buckhorn, elected last year, spoke in July at a Politico-hosted discussion about the RNC, and talked about the need for the city to transform both physically and philosophically. “It’s a city that’s trying to change its economic DNA from real estate and tourism to a more technological, value-added economy,” he said. “I’ve got a 6-year-old and an 11- year-old … and if I want them to come home someday, and not go to Austin, Texas, or San Diego or to some other technology center, I’ve got to create an environment that allows them to come home to a job that wants the education my wife and I are going to give them.”..


.."But Tampa can only do so much thanks to a toxic combination of hostility toward government, revenue and collectively used amenities. What’s the matter with Tampa? The Republican conventioneers will get to see for themselves when they arrive. Except that some of them will be staying up to 90 miles away from the convention venue. “Tampa’s reeeally spread out,” the host of the Politico discussion observed to Mayor Buckhorn. That it is. And because of this, the city has chartered over 400 buses to move the convention visitors around while they’re there. It’s an inconvenient, makeshift, make-do solution — the kind that’s necessary when you don’t plan and don’t invest — and a cautionary tale for America at large should a Romney-Ryan ticket reach the White House."

http://www.salon.com/2012/08/18/tamp..._hottest_mess/

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Comments

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  1. oldsquid's Avatar
    It's to third world status we'll be aheadin'. Guys like Romney don't care about urban decay or lack of transportation. That's for the masses. They have all the transportation they need. So what's the problem? Guys like Ryan don't care either, because he expects to in the House (or higher office) until retirement, and he'll be set. That other stuff is for po folks and nooooooobody cares about them.

    We asked the wingnuts for a viable alternative to Obama, and this is what they trot out.
  2. Grillz's Avatar
  3. Grillz's Avatar
    Officer James Niggemeyer came in through the back door, behind the stage. Gale only saw the officers in front of the stage; he didn't see Officer Niggemeyer, who was armed with a 12 gaugeRemington 870 shotgun. He approached Gale from the opposite side of the stage to avoid hitting the hostage and fired a single shot just as Gale looked towards Niggemeyer, striking Gale in the face with eight of the nine buckshot pellets, killing him instantly. Gale was found to have had 35 rounds of ammunition remaining.
  4. baikal's Avatar

  5. Grillz's Avatar



    Michael Mendez is seen in an undated photo provided by the New Jersey State Police. A state police gang unit was searching Michael Mendez's Paterson, N.J., apartment for drugs Thursday, Aug. 8, 2012 when detectives found Mendez's 44-year-old girlfriend in a locked bedroom. Police say the woman may have been padlocked in the bedroom of her boyfriend's New Jersey apartment for long periods of time over the span of years
    or even up to a decade. Mendez is charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and other counts. The woman is receiving a medical evaluation.
    Mendez is reported to be a
    member of the Latin Kings
    street gang.(AP Photo/New Jersey State Police)
  6. Grillz's Avatar
    Texas oil millinaires LOLz but it should be updated to Texas oil and adult toy billionaires. I think Eisenhower misunderestimated the power of technology combined with brainwashing propaganda.

    Updated 08-19-2012 at 11:16 AM by Grillz
  7. oldsquid's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Grillz
    But GI's aren't supposed to think this way. We are all supposed to vote lock step with the far right lunatic fringe. Eisenhower was da man. Something tells me that he would be kicking ass and taking names in what now passes for a Republican Party. That man was a Republican. These clowns today are the real RINO's.
  8. Grillz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by oldsquid
    But GI's aren't supposed to think this way. We are all supposed to vote lock step with the far right lunatic fringe. Eisenhower was da man. Something tells me that he would be kicking ass and taking names in what now passes for a Republican Party. That man was a Republican. These clowns today are the real RINO's.
    Good one oldsquidster. You mean that Eisenhower did his own, perish the thought, thinking?
  9. Uncle Larry's Avatar
    Interesting, the same people who want to “warehouse” humans in high-density urban environments are also opposed to “factory farms”. Free range chickens = good. Free range humans (suburbs) = bad.

    The construction of high-speed rail between Miami, Orlando and Tampa is stupid and horribly expensive. Rick Scott was wise not to burden his taxpayers with that boondoggle. And, BTW, those routes are already serviced by a new fangled modern invention; I think they call them “airplanes”. Anyway, I’m told that airplanes are much cheaper and faster than choo-choo trains.
  10. oldsquid's Avatar
    You mean that Eisenhower did his own, perish the thought, thinking?
    He did indeed, gritz, Today's Republican Party doesn't permit such commie activity. Tow the line or you are out. It's why so many of them lament having to "settle" for Romney as their presidential candidate. We have one here who won't even admit that they "settled."
  11. Grillz's Avatar
  12. Grillz's Avatar
  13. baikal's Avatar
    Larry Sez:

    Mmm' Good!

    Now available in BBQ, Antibiotic or Corporate flavors!

    Bad:

    Hippy Chix.....blahahckk!


    Wide Open Freedom!


    Stifling Left Coast Oppression:
  14. Antonious's Avatar
    All that whining over Tampa voters not wanting to waste billions on a rail line? Why is that bad? Rail lines are pushed by special interest groups, just as happened here in Austin. Why is it good to kowtow to a special interest group, whether rail or any other group? This writer obvious supported the waste so is now slamming Tampa for not doing the 'right' thing.

    As I said rail lines are extraordinarily costly. And if population centers or destinations change it is extremely costly for rail to buy new property and lay down new rails to the new population/destination site....with a bus you just set up a new route on roads that are already there...which are free and sooo much quicker than moving rail lines. But the rail lobby still wants the govt to spend billions on their products....and most of these politicians who push these programs are bought or rented by these special interest groups...just as they are in Austin. That is why they keep pushing these rail projects though most voters oppose the waste of time, energy and tax money. Even the best laid plans for rail in Austin call for taxpayers to pay millions for those vacant seats. Bad politics, bad decision.

    Why are you Dems quoting Ike? None of you would of supported him. Once again if you put the quotes in context they are the same thing current Republican politicos say....because Dems tell voters that Republicans will get rid of these govt programs. Not true of course but from Ike's statements you can see it has been going on for at least 60 years now and he was trying to ease voters minds that the Dems charges were not true. Same thing is happening today.
  15. baikal's Avatar
    Why are you Dems quoting Ike? None of you would of supported him.
    I'm not a "Dem", and I'd vote for someone like Ike in a heartbeat. The fact is there is not one, Democratic or Republican, who would ever say any of this today. He'd be branded a political heretic, worse than Dennis Kucinech or Bernie Sanders combined.

    And the article is not really about a rail line. It is about the pervasive, adolescent, penny-wise, pound-foolishness of the Teabaggers.
  16. Antonious's Avatar
    Reminds me of the two rail lines proposed in California. One is a rail from San Francisco and Los Angelos. It will take five times as long as an airplane flight and will cost 'twice' as much....and since they haven't even started the line yet that 'twice' figure is probably low. So who would ride this train??

    Another one pushed by Reid is from Los Angelos to Las Vegas. Trouble is the property around LA is too expensive so the train will start about 50 miles away. Making you drive 50 miles, park, buy a ticket, get on a train. Once again the train will take twice as long as driving and will leave you at a train station at the edge of Las Vegas...costing you an expensive taxi ride into town. Once again, who will ride this train? It will take you twice as long to get to LasVegas and instead of being free will cost about $100 for the four hour trip. As I said special interests are pushing these boondoggles....and only politicians being rented by these guys are pushing rail.
  17. oldsquid's Avatar
    Ant, you are absolutely correct about how expensive it is to buy and operate passenger rail. Too fucking bad you are so fucking dishonest or perhaps just ignorant to present the complete picture. Passenger rail is the problem. Freight rail is the solution. In competition with long haul trucking, cost wise, it isn't even close. Rail wins by a long way. They can haul more freight, cheaper over long distances than trucking ever could. Soooo, you cut down or even eliminate long haul freight trucking, replace that with rail freight, initially to major hubs, and then use short haul trucking from the major hubs to final destination. That way, you have the rail lines in place and maintained, and paying for themselves. Then, you just add passenger trains to already existing rail lines.

    That's how it's done. And it makes rail travel highly competitive with air travel, with more space and far less hassle.

    But Republicans won't allow market forces to push out long haul trucking in favor of rail freight, because big oil, big trucking, and big rubber is and has been paying those guys off for decades. That's why our rail system is the shits, not the reasons you are peddling.

    If you are going tell this story, tell the whole fucking truth, not just the parts you like.

    And BTW, don't include commuter rail in this. It's apples and oranges.
  18. Antonious's Avatar
    You can't put passenger on commercial traffic rails....not without expensive upgrades. Passengers need a much higher grade around the rail and must be in constant repair. Some freight rail is so bad you can only travel at speeds of 15 mph. A freight train will have a two/three man crew....a passenger train will have a ten man crew, minimum. Rail and trucks work together nowadays squid. Rail will carry stuff long distances on 'piggyback' cars and unload at a major intersection where a truck will deliver it to its final destination. Obviously rail can only deliver to very few areas...not door to door like a truck.

    Rail and air don't compete...because of weight and/or time.
  19. oldsquid's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Antonious
    You can't put passenger on commercial traffic rails....not without expensive upgrades. Passengers need a much higher grade around the rail and must be in constant repair. Some freight rail is so bad you can only travel at speeds of 15 mph. A freight train will have a two/three man crew....a passenger train will have a ten man crew, minimum. Rail and trucks work together nowadays squid. Rail will carry stuff long distances on 'piggyback' cars and unload at a major intersection where a truck will deliver it to its final destination. Obviously rail can only deliver to very few areas...not door to door like a truck.

    Rail and air don't compete...because of weight and/or time.

    Yes, you can, by simply upgrading them, and it's not that expensive. The infrastructure already exists. It operated that way for years prior to air travel, and worked just fine. No, Ant, what killed rail was Detroit and their buddies, big oil and big rubber, buying legislation that favored them and worked against the railroads. Those "subsidies" that I know you will now bring up were just window dressing from Congressmen in western states. It was just to cover the breaks that cars, trucks and related industries were getting. You guys scream about letting the markets work. Here's an example of the government getting involved, and that caused the decline of rail. I'm not saying that they would have been as big as in the past, but at least they would still be a viable part of our overall transportation net. The airlines had a role, but with rising air tickets and just the plain fucking crap one has to endure at airports, rail is looking more inviting all the time.

    And since rail can move a ton of freight using a tiny fraction of the oil per mile needed by trucks, it also lessens our reliance on foreign oil.

    Rail and truck are working together, some, but not to the extent I'm talking about. And there is still way too much long haul trucking for no other reason than we don't have the rail capacity to handle what is needed. We could change that.

    Got stranded in Newark Airport by a snow storm. Shut down the entire east coast. Got to my destination, Providence, by train. Even without bad weather, how many hours do you have to sit in a plane on a taxiway before it dawns on you, "I could already have been there by rail?"

    That east coast corridor, where that train would have terminated in Tampa, is already close to profitable. Price of gas keeps rising, more people taking the train, it was NOT the "boondoggle" you and your right wing buddies want to tag it with.
  20. baikal's Avatar
    how many hours do you have to sit in a plane on a taxiway before it dawns on you, "I could already have been there by rail?"
    I remember in the late 80s, my first real job, they'd fly me from Austin (Mueller) not just to Phoenix or DC, but also to San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Corpus, Harlingen, etc. Now all those TX cities (save maybe Harlingen) are off the list. It's understood nowadays that it's just faster and simpler to get in the car for a couple hundred miles than it is to get to the airport, find parking, wait an hour or three in SRO for TSA's masterpiece security theater, gate-check your roll-on bag, sit on the plane, taxi the plane, de-board the friggin plane, find your connecting plane (oops! missed it!), de-board your re-scheduled plane, take a slow shuttle to the rental car agency and repeat the agony again in reverse on your way home. The past few times I've had to travel outside the state it's been an all-day slog to and fro - truth be told, unless you live in a hub city, even 500 mile trips are now nearly as slow by air.

    bin Laden really fucked us good.
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