Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tri-Rail's Need for Dedicated Funding from Tallahassee

Received the email below this morning from SFRTA Executive Director Joe Giulietti.

I especially urge you to read the Douglas Lyons essay from Saturday's Sun-Sentinel, which describes the perspective of State Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey on Tri-Rail's desire for a dedicated funding source.
In essence: It's all South Florida's problem.

The reason that matters is because Fasano is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations
  • Members: Chair: Senator Mike Fasano (R) Vice Chair: Senator Anthony C. "Tony" Hill, Sr. (D) Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R) Senator Paula Dockery (R) Senator Andy Gardiner (R) Senator Christopher L. "Chris" Smith (D) Senator Ronda Storms (R)
H-m-m-m, what do you know, two South Florida State Senators on the list, de la Portilla and Smith.

Here's a reasonable question for you to ponder:
Just where the hell exactly is State Rep. Joe Gibbons?

Gibbons, the former Hallandale Beach City Commissioner, who happens to be the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee

He was a noteworthy no-show at the regional Transportation Summit held in Fort Lauderdale in February that I attended, just a few minutes away up at the Broward County Convention Center.
To be honest, I never really heard why Gibbons didn't appear for even a little bit, though the same could be said for many other elected officials in the region, too, he just happens to be the one who actually is supposed to represent ME.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I did keep track of which city, county and state officials were there, and which ones took a powder.
Besides FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos, which was predictable given her track record.

And trust me, I wasn't the only one who noticed who showed-up -and who didn't.

That's one of the primary reasons why it was scheduled for a Saturday in the first place, to be over by Noon, so folks couldn't claim time conflicts with their official responsibilities.

This endemic pathetic passivity is made all the worse by elected officials and govt. officials in our area who give lip service to regional transportation issues, but who, truth be told, when push comes to shove, are woefully ignorant of even some of the most basic issues and facts on which no one disagrees.
They apparently take the approach that they know what they know, and they don't want to be confused by the "facts."

I know about this head-in-the-sand approach first-hand from last year, when I took a chance and gave a copy of an interview with SFECC head man Scott Seeburger in the Daily Business Review to Hallandale Beach City Manager Mike Good.
Within weeks, my good intentions were completely tossed on their heads when Good proceeded to completely mis-state some of the key facts in the story weeks later at a joint City Commission with the City of Hollywood.
I was cringing in the back of the room!

But because of how Mayor Cooper was conducting the meeting, I couldn't go up to a microphone and correct the record, even though I had a copy of his interview with me.

By the way, just for the record, the only elected official from Hallandale Beach to attend any of the recent SFECC Second Round workshops in Hollywood and Aventura was Comm. Keith London, at the Aventura meeting, which was also attended by Aventura Commissioner Zev Auerbach.

Not present at either meeting, both within a ten minute drive of Hallandale Beach City Hall: Mayor Joy Cooper, Commissioners William Julian, Dorothy "Dotty" Ross and Anthony A. Sanders.

I know that you're shocked to see that list, huh?
Yes, it's the "Usual Suspects," that apathetic crew who can't ever seem to see what's happening directly in front of them, much less, be bothered to go just a few miles to become better educated about an important issue to the community.

William Julian, Dorothy "Dotty" Ross and Anthony A. Sanders?
Those names sound familiar.

Hey, aren't they the same three HB City Commissioners who never went to next door Hollywood for any of the preliminary meetings on the Beach One Resort property proposed for State Road A1A on the city's border with Hollywood?

The same commissioners who never even went to one of the the two readings of the proposal before the Hollywood City Commission?

The same exact ones who never said anything publicly when Mayor Cooper actually said after the second Hollywood meeting, less than 90 minutes later, that she was considering charging an access fee to use the public beach, which would be completely illegal under the Florida Constitution?

The meeting where City Attorney David Jove acted like a bump-on-a-log, rather than properly representing the legal interests of this city's residents,
and intervened?
Yes!

Why yes they are, short-term memory, thanks for reminding
me once again of each of their
longstanding apathy and shrugged-shoulders approach to problem-solving, which explains why this city is such a mess for both residents and visitors.

I know, they must've been waiting for Mayor Cooper or City Manager Good and his staff to send them each a memo on what happened, so they'd know what to think and what to say.
You know, just in case any of the city's residents asked them a perfectly reasonable question about the matters.

Yes, the same folks who never ask a good probing question at an actual City Commission meeting of anyone, day or night, and who never seek reasonable accountability from the City Manager, his staff or other city employees, for their chronic and well-known inability to turn over documents before a vote and make
them public, actually meet deadlines they themselves set, or do their jobs with anything resembling what passes for competently in the rest of the world.

So let's see, who else is on that House committee with Joe Gibbons?
Here's the list as of this morning:

__________________________________

A Call for Help from the Executive Director

We are in a battle for dedicated funding in the Florida Legislation. I do not use the term "battle" loosely, because we are truly in a fight for survival. I am calling on you to support us as we need you more than ever!

We are facing reduced funding from the counties and the state legislature!

The counties cannot be faulted for their decision to reduce funding; they are struggling just as we are. As I announced at last Friday's meeting of the Governing Board, if the counties reduce their funding assistance and the legislature provides no dedicated funding source, we will have no choice but to reduce service to potentially as few as 30 trains a day and suspend service on the weekends and holidays, as of October 5, 2009.

I know these service reductions will create tremendous hardship for those of you who have come to depend on Tri-Rail to get you to work, school, medical appointments or for leisure travel. Your Governor, State Representatives and Senators need to hear about what these hardships will mean to you and your families.

Last year, more than 7,100 of you responded to our request for help. I cannot urge you strongly enough to let your voice be heard again this year. To send a message of support for dedicated funding to your elected officials in Tallahassee, log onto www.tri-rail.com/FundOrFail

I thank you for your continued support at a time when it is so important.

Joe Giulietti
Executive Director
South Florida Regional Transportation Authority

________________________

This letter follows on the heels of these recent newspaper editorials and news articles:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-editdltrirailpnmar22,0,6744946.story

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Tri-Rail's success is critical to mass transit's future in Florida

Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

March 22, 2009

The recent announcement that Tri-Rail will cut service later this year shouldn't surprise anyone. Tri-Rail has been on the financial ropes for some time. The fact that county budget cuts forced the service reduction is unsettling, however.

Starting in October, Tri-Rail will run only 30 trains during the workweek and offer no service on the weekends. The service cuts will undermine efforts to boost mass transit in South Florida and help convince federal transportation officials in Washington that Florida is a bad bet for commuter rail.

Officials in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties long have sided with the commuter line's operators in urging Florida lawmakers for a dedicated funding source to replace state general revenue and local government appropriations.

In recent years, Tri-Rail and its local government advocates have come close to procuring the elusive funding source. Unfortunately, this isn't horseshoes.

Efforts to create a new $2 rental car tax have stalled - again - in the Florida Legislature. All this comes at a time when lawmakers are considering legislation to start a similar commuter rail operation in Central Florida. While there's little in the SunRail proposal to prevent the new line from suffering the fate awaiting Tri-Rail, hard facts don't seem to be slowing down efforts to start a new rail line.

So now South Florida officials are left in limbo, hoping the Legislature does the unexpected. A new rental fee would not only help Tri-Rail , but also SunRail and at least two other regional commuter lines local officials in Tampa and Jacksonville hope to one day implement.

Unfortunately, state leaders are heading down the wrong track. Their insistence that local governments raise enough revenue on their own to operate commuter rail lines flies in the face of economic and political reality. But that won't become clear until Tri-Rail collapses and takes down Florida's hopes for successful, viable commuter rail service with it.

BOTTOM LINE: As goes Tri-Rail , so will Florida.

Reader comments at: http://www.topix.net/forum/source/south-florida-sun-sentinel/THNFOGEVLKL1R59NV

_________________

Broward County version:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/custom/consumer/sfl-flbrail0328sbmar28,0,6212484.story


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Tri-Rail considering raising fares, eliminating weekend service

Reported by Michael Turnbell

Related links

March 28, 2009

Passengers could pay more to ride Tri-Rail starting in June.

But looming larger this fall, there could be drastically fewer trains on weekdays and no service on weekends.

Tri-Rail's board of directors will hold a public hearing April 24 to discuss raising fares by 25 percent, the first increase since 1995. If approved, one-way fares to travel the full 72 miles between Miami International Airport and Mangonia Park would rise from $5.50 to $6.90 on June 1. A monthly adult pass would cost $100.

With the three counties it serves threatening budget cuts, Tri-Rail is trying to persuade the state Legislature to approve a new $2 rental car tax in South Florida.

If no new dedicated revenue source is found, Executive Director Joseph Giulietti said Tri-Rail will reduce service from 50 to 30 trains on weekdays and no weekend service starting Oct. 5.

Reader comments at: http://www.topix.net/forum/source/south-florida-sun-sentinel/T5BTGV5B2COG1TRM4

-----------------------------------------------

Palm Beach County version:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/custom/consumer/sfl-flprail0328pnmar28,0,234928.story

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Tri-Rail might raise fares 25 percent, sharply reduce service

Palm Beach County weighs funding cut

By Michael Turnbell

March 28, 2009


Passengers could pay more to ride Tri-Rail starting in June.

But looming larger this fall, there could be drastically fewer trains on weekdays and no service on weekends.

Tri-Rail's board of directors will hold a public hearing April 24 to discuss raising fares by 25 percent, the first increase since 1995. If approved, one-way fares to travel the 72 miles between Miami International Airport and Mangonia Park would rise from $5.50 to $6.90 on June 1. A monthly adult pass would cost $100.

With the three counties it serves threatening budget cuts, Tri-Rail is trying to persuade the state Legislature to approve a new $2 rental car tax in South Florida.

Cash-strapped Palm Beach County officials have said they will cut Tri-Rail's annual subsidy from $4.1 million to $1.5 million in the next budget year. If that happens, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are expected to do the same.

If no new dedicated revenue source is found, Executive Director Joseph Giulietti said Tri-Rail will reduce service from 50 to 30 trains on weekdays and no weekend service starting Oct. 5.

Under that scenario, Tri-Rail could be in jeopardy of defaulting on more than $300 million in federal grants it received to build a second track. The Federal Transit Administration gave Tri-Rail the money in exchange for a pledge to run at least 48 trains on weekdays.

Michael Turnbell can be reached at
mturnbell@SunSentinel.com, 954-356-4155 or 561-243-6550.

---------------------------------

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/columnists/sfl-dlcol28sbmar28,0,885706.column

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

TriRail derailment a bad sign for SunRail

Douglas C. Lyons, Senior Editorial Writer

March 28, 2009


"And where is Tri-Rail?"

The words hung in the air, like a foul odor.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, earned his reputation as a steely enforcer, going back to his days as the House Majority Leader who'd sit in on committee meetings in stony silence to make sure his fellow Republicans voted the right way. State Sen. Durell Peaden Jr., R-Crestview, a fellow Senate Judiciary member, apparently drew Fasano's ire by bringing up Tri-Rail while questioning a bill before the panel that would allow the state to pay more than $2 billion to use a stretch of CSX tracks in the Orlando area for a new commuter line called SunRail.

Peaden, staring out at an audience of lobbyists, local politicians and representatives of various business interests who had come to Tallahassee two weeks ago to support SunRail, worried that the state's seven-year commitment to pay to operate the rail line would take money away from other worthy programs, like educating schoolchildren or caring for the sick and elderly.

But Peaden apparently crossed the line when he mentioned Tri-Rail and then offered an amendment that would create a designated funding source that would take the financial burden to pay for commuter rail lines off local governments.

Fasano wasn't having it. After making sure Peaden knew Tri-Rail's location, he, in essence, went on to declare that if the residents of South Florida wanted Tri-Rail, they'd have to pay for it. This from the man who chairs the Senate committee that appropriates money for road construction and mass transit projects in Florida.

The audience seemed appreciative, but I'm not sure they got the point. Fast forward from that earlier hearing to yesterday, when Tri-Rail officials announced they would reduce the number of trains during the week and end weekend service because of cuts in local funding and the state's failure to come up with a designated funding source. Tri-Rail, they said, could cease operating within three years.

If SunRail becomes reality, its operators will discover the hard truths of running a commuter rail line on a wink, nod and annual appropriations from state and local governments, something their counterparts in South Florida have known for some time.

Doug Lyons can be reached at
dlyons@sun-sentinel.com, 954-356-4638 or 561-243-6601.

Reader comments at: http://www.topix.net/forum/source/south-florida-sun-sentinel/TVH8RLF4S23A7GMAF

(formerly known as The Slant)

STATE SEN. MIKE FASANO SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT.

Douglas C. Lyons, Senior Editorial Writer

March 30, 2009


I heard from state Sen. Mike Fasano, R.-New Port Richey, over the weekend. He had kind words to say about my Saturday column, but he wanted to set the record straight on two things.

First he has no problem with Tri-Rail obtaining a designated funding source. He just doesn't think the state government should do it.
Read the rest of the post at: http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/theslant/blog/2009/03/by_douglas_c_lyons_i.html------------------------------------

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Tri-Rail's success is critical to mass transit's future in Florida

Sun Sentinel Editorial Board

March 22, 2009


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Palm Beach County, Legislature fight looms over Tri-Rail

By Andy Reid

March 18, 2009

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

STUDY TO LOOK AT RAISING COST TO RIDE TRI-RAIL

By Michael Turnbell Staff Writer
February 28, 2009

Tri-Rail's fares, among the lowest in the nation for commuter railroads, may go up this year.

The agency is conducting a one-month study on the train's existing fares, which were last adjusted 14 years ago.

Tri-Rail's board of directors will review the results in March. If they recommend fares go up, a public hearing could be held in April with the hike going into effect on June 1.

Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Tri-Rail's board chairman, said he supports a fare increase but only if the entire fare structure, including the cost of transfers to bus systems in the three counties, is considered.

Broward County Transit, Palm Tran and Miami-Dade Transit have all raised fares in the last year.

But board member George Morgan said higher fares may be a tough sell if Tri-Rail can't run its trains on time. "What are we going to do about improving that?" he said.

In the past, Tri-Rail blamed its on-time performance woes on construction or CSX, the freight operator that dispatches all trains on the corridor.

Mechanical breakdowns are the main problem now, Tri-Rail Executive Director Joseph Giulietti said.

Tri-Rail hopes to purchase as many as five new locomotives and 10 additional passenger cars this year with federal economic stimulus money.

In 1995, fares went from a flat fee to a structure that charges riders based on how far they travel.

A monthly adult pass is $80. Among other comparable commuter railroads, the Virginia Railway Express charges $74.30 to $270 for a monthly pass.

San Diego's Coaster charges $144 to $182. Nashville's Music City Star charges $134 to $168.

Dallas' Trinity Railway Express charges $25 to $80 for a monthly pass, but the system also is funded by dedicated sales tax.

------------------------------

TRI-RAIL RIDERSHIP EXCEEDS 4 MILLION - 2008 IS FIRST TIME COMMUTER RAIL HAS THAT MANY PASSENGERS

By Michael Turnbell Staff Writer
January 6, 2009

If Tri-Rail trains seemed more crowded last year, it wasn't your imagination.

The commuter railroad carried more than 4 million passengers in 2008, the first time it surpassed that mark in its 20-year history.

With 4.3 million passengers, Tri-Rail's ridership jumped nearly 23 percent over 2007. As gas prices tumbled below $2 a gallon, the number of weekday riders has dipped slightly but still hovers between 15,000 and 16,000 riders per day.

Ridership has more than doubled since 2005, after Tri-Rail finished building a second track, increased the number of weekday and weekend trains and added rush-hour service every 20 minutes.

"These statistics show that the trend of double-digit growth that we have experienced over the past three years is continuing," said Joseph Giulietti,
Tri-Rail's executive director.

But Tri-Rail's future remains in doubt unless it gets legislative approval this spring for local dedicated funding, such as a rental car fee, to cover operating expenses.


Cityline on A1A and the beach

Cityline on A1A and the beach
Where Hollywood meets Hallandale Beach on State Road A1A, Hyde Beach Resort & Residences meets the iconic beach ball-colored Water Tower

Hallandale Beach City Hall

Hallandale Beach City Hall
May 30, 2017 photo by SouthBeachHoosier
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Me in the Summer of 2016

Me in the Summer of 2016
Above, me in June, pre-recent haircut, near acres and acres of orange groves off Scenic U.S. #17 in Frostproof, FL, while visiting hot/humid Central Florida, which I'm convinced is where heat/humidity goes in the Summer to get away from it all... The oppressive heat & humidity there is literally everywhere you go. :-(

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.