Florida State Supreme Court ruling was unanimous. Many citizens were involved. Politicians and special interests used to be the only ones who mattered in Florida.
3/5/11, "Rail fight reaches end of the line," Tampa Tribune, Ted Jackovics
"The dream of a high-speed train connecting Tampa Bay and Orlando will remain just that.
A plan to construct a high-speed rail line linking the two metropolitan areas appears to have officially died Friday, the victim of an unfavorable legal ruling and Gov. Rick Scott's unwavering decision to turn down billions in federal money.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled early Friday that Scott had the authority to refuse $2.4 billion in federal funding for the rail route between Tampa and Orlando.
- The court case was seen as a last shot for rail supporters, with two state senators arguing unsuccessfully that Scott overstepped his authority when he said no to the federal cash....
Scott had a telephone meeting with the secretary at 9 a.m. Friday in which he reiterated to LaHood that the state won't take the money.The unanimous Supreme Court ruling issued about the same time as their conversation smothered hopes that a rail network eventually connecting all of the state's major population centers would come to fruition, at least in the short term....
Scott's office released a statement saying he was
- "gratified that the court provided a clear and unanimous decision."
"He is now focused on moving forward with infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs and turn Florida's economy around," his spokesman, Brian Burgess, said in the release....
Opponents of the rail proposal celebrated the Supreme Court ruling and Scott's resolve. John Hendrix, a founder of the No Tax for Tracks group,* said the court's conclusion "was the only decision that made sense."
"Rick Scott is the chief executive that was elected," Hendrix said. "He ran on a platform of skepticism toward these public works projects such as light rail. After considering it, he determined that this was a bad decision for Florida taxpayers and U.S. taxpayers. We feel gratified that he has held true to his promise to defend taxpayers from bad projects."
Sharon Calvert, one of the founders of the Tampa Tea Party, took the anti-rail case directly to Scott in a February meeting at the Capitol. "It appears politicians and special interests wanted the rail, but I certainly didn't see a groundswell of support from taxpayers and citizens," she said Friday. "I think he made a bold decision, a courageous one, and he stuck to it and held his own."...
- But November's nationwide conservative electoral landslide raised problems for the Obama administration's rail vision.
Newly elected Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin rejected federal allocations intended for rail enhancements labeled "high-speed," though of a much smaller scope than the Florida project that was envisioned to extend to Miami by 2018
- if more funding were made available.
The governors sought to use the money for non-rail projects, but the federal allocations specified high-speed rail uses only. LaHood, the U.S. transportation secretary, redirected the Ohio and Wisconsin funding to other states,
- including Florida."...
*11/4/2010, "Most rail tax support came from voters along proposed lines," Tampa Tribune
*Tampa/Hillsborough County citizens were galvanized in 2010 against another rail project, called light rail, to operate within Hillsborough County. A ballot measure to finance it with a sales tax increase was defeated in November 2010. Grassroots groups (ie, no Soros money) such as 'No Tax for Tracks' (mentioned in first article above) were active in doing so. The recently proposed rail projects would delay if not prevent solving the entire state of Florida's real problems. Taxes such as property tax are already far too high and their proceeds squandered. Hundreds of millions are lost through government neglect and fraud. Competent leadership might redirect those funds into infrastructure projects. ed.